Author Emily Dietle
My focus is on state-church separation & social issues. I'm an avid reader, and feel that one of our most valuable tools is the free movement of information and ideas. | @emilyhasbooks
Unless I can edit this clearly, the following will be both a dialogue with myself and a letter to those of you outside of the walls of my skull. This revelation has been waiting for seven years.
There was a point in my life that one could label me a Christian; that ended when I was around fifteen. I was always the questioning type, and after enough years of my inquiries being stifled, I swallowed the religion of my parents. Rebellious youth kicked in after a while, and no longer was it necessary to be silent with my questions. I found support in none other than my preacher, who had advised me that I should question everything, even my faith; little did he know what personal journey this mentoring would take me on.
From years fifteen to nineteen, I must have tried every religion, cult, et cetera on for size. I read the Christian bible cover to cover, 1/3 of the Koran, large chunks of the Torah, multiple ‘sacred’ texts from obscure religions and cults, practiced witchcraft, and played with so many other ideas. After this flood of exposure to the faiths on Earth, it started to all become meaningless, so I headed to the library to steep myself in the philosophy of the ages. Thus, came a list so long of books over two years, it would blind you and break your back if taken in at once. By age twenty three, I considered myself an agnostic. My level of disbelief only strode so far across the bridge and paused from absolute fear; fear driven in since I was old enough to understand the English language. For nearly a year after these studies, I tried to think about nothing related to religion, and then simply couldn’t any more; I just couldn’t push away everything I’d learned from those books and from my own examinations of life, it was all very clear.
I have been so cautious about protecting this piece of myself, I’ve gone to great lengths to hide it; since 2004, I’ve considered myself an atheist. There, I typed it; much relieved. This will be extremely confusing to many of you, and you may already be worrying about me. I will likely never be able to explain or convey to you all why and how I’ve come to my conclusion, and you may find this hurtful in some way; though I have my suspicions that a large portion of you realized this about me already, and have been hiding it from yourselves.
Seven of my years have been spent worrying about others’ feelings and hiding my own, daring not to draw too much attention to my own thoughts. You may have noticed an increasing amount of brashness in conversations with me on and offline about my stance on dogma and belief, this ‘coming out’ has been progressing for a while now. It is only through the strength of community that I have been able to stretch out my neck and my voice, and I thank everyone who has supported me in this journey.
There will be many more opportunities for dialogue about this, especially now that everyone knows. If you were one of those in the dark about my non-belief, I hope that you recognize that this is not a mere phase, and that you feel pleased that I have come clean and can be honest with you now. By not being open for so many years, I was distraught with such dishonesty and dishonor. I’ve posted this as a blog and not sent this out in a personal letter, with the full intent that it not be too personal. I am still the same Emily that you all have always know, I’m just a bit more honest now. Sharing this feels absolutely overwhelming and at the same time extremely refreshing.
Now that you have all of the ingredients, you can bake the cake. I am a freethinker, reason-based, skeptic, doubter, cynic, questioner, naturalist, humanist, rationalist, and atheist.
If you have been contemplating ‘coming out’ and have concerns about the process or want someone to listen to your thoughts, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will help point you towards the support you need.
Update: My story and related video have been posted to the ‘We Are Atheism‘ website.