sent in by James
I too, am a non-believer. I have lived in the south all my life but was not raised in a religious environment. My ethnicity is half-Japanese, half-Caucasian. I do not look Asian, so all my life I have lived as a white man. My beloved mother was the Japanese military wife of my father who is a southern Alabama native. Although my father was raised in the Bible belt, there was not practiced religion in our home. My mother never forced me to learn any of her beliefs, but told me of her experiences in Japan. Buddhism and Shintoism were the prevailing beliefs that she had been introduced to. She had a hard life as a child in post-WW2 Japan, but she taught me that love for family and one another is paramount. My brother was born when I was ten with Down’s syndrome. My father took several tours of duty overseas, but we stayed stateside. The burden on my mother was tortuous. Nevertheless, she managed to learn the American language, culture, how to drive, and even got her GED and pursued secondary education. I won’t even mention the challenges she had being an Asian in southern Alabama. She was taken from me after her second bout with cancer in 2001. Throughout my childhood my father always made sure we were cared for financially and otherwise, but could not verbally express his love.
I am married and have two children with a wonderful woman who is a Southern Baptist and regular church-goer along with our two children. I do not attend church, but I believe our children benefit from the environment of church (if in no other way than socially). My father remarried less than one year after my mother’s passing. His wife, a woman who has redecorated our family home with cheesy velvet Jesus paintings and dime-store figurines of frogs, is a devout father-flocker (my term for Christian). She has my dad and brother attending church regularly. He and I have not spoken much lately, but I do recall a recent conversation when he asked me if I was still attending church. I said no. Not much else was discussed. This past Christmas he gives me a Bible as a gift.
I have always dealt with much frustration when it came to describing what or who I was. I am a non-believer. Why should I be a Christian? Why would I take the route to heaven if that meant never to see my mother again? Although she was introduced to Christianity (who can escape it in the south?) she never affirmed that she accepted Christ into her life. If I were to accept Christ, it would mean that I understand that mother was sent to eternal damnation upon her death. I do not believe that. I have never believed that. I don’t believe that every time I hear thunder, that it is Thor’s hammer banging against the clouds. I do believe that I am a compassionate person with more tolerance and brotherly love for my fellow man than most of the bible-bangers out there. I am socially an outcast. But writing this, and affirming who I am, makes me feel better.
Became a Christian: Introduced to Christianity by a childhood friend at 9
Ceased being a Christian: 35 after the passing of my mother
Labels before: Southern Baptist, Assembly of God
Labels now: Non-believer
Why I joined: Initially to make friends, but later I felt compelled by my environment
Why I left: I no longer need to live a lie