My husband recently informed me that he thinks I should not use the term "deconversion" to describe my path from Christianity to atheism. "You didn't deconvert from anything," he said. "You were a Christian and then an atheist. It's just a conversion." Implied within this is that atheism itself is a religion of sorts since it is, in his mind, a belief system. This is one of our major sticking points when it comes to my atheism, but more on that in a moment. My reply? I wasn't born a Christian. I didn't have any faith when I was born. He shrugged. "You may as well have been. You don't remember a life before religion." Although it is true that I said the sinner's prayer at four-years-old and have no memories of being non-religious, the truth is that I was actively indoctrinated and converted to Christianity. My parents were not Christians when I was a small child so I wasn't born into a religious family either. Nevermind that I was not born a Christian. Period. Indoctrinated at a young age, but there is no such thing as a Christian newborn. Frankly, I really don't think there is such a thing as a Christian four-year-old.
As for the whole, atheism is a religion thing, this just bugs the shit out of me. Atheism is not a religion. It's right there in the word. There are no gods, no deity to worship, no rituals, no holy book, no set guidelines to follow, no definitive philosophy. Atheists can span the spectrum politically, socially, and philosophically. I am against the death penalty, but I am sure you can find atheists out there who aren't. There is a common misconception by the religious that atheism is the belief that there is no god. That is not what it is or at least not what it is supposed to be. It is the understanding that there is no proof that there is a god and unless there is some kind of evidence to back up the extraordinary claim, there is no point in worshiping one. Agnosticism is wholly separate and asks whether one can truly know or not. I don't think it is possible to know, but I am aware that there is not good enough evidence to support the claims of an all-knowing supernatural being. To worship a god without evidence is something I can no longer do. Hence, I am an agnostic atheist. It isn't a belief system as much as a demand for truth and information. Until recently there weren't even organizations. I'm a bit iffy on these secular Sunday services that have started around the country because it just feels way too much like former religious people trying to recreate the things they miss about the church sans the actual deity worship. It's weird.
I am a word person. I don't love labels, yet at the same time I think it is important for people to find words that best describe and define them in order to clarify their position in the minds of others. And I don't think anyone has the right to tell you what you are and aren't. I am a deconverted Christian. It is the best way I know how to describe myself with the understanding that I have. It may not be a perfect word, but it sure is better than the words that Christians have come up with. Apostate. Backslider. Defector. Heretic. Those words give them the power. I like the word deconverted. It recognizes that at one point I was converted to that religion, even if it was at a young age. It also recognizes that I have not converted to a new faith.
My husband may never understand this, blinded by the rhetoric that his faith has filled his head with for four decades. I love him anyways, but this may be one of those things that we will never fully agree on. Does it bother me that he thinks I have converted to a new religion? Yes. But I can't make him believe something different and I'm not going to bother trying. If he wants to believe atheism is a religion, then so be it. He's wrong, but there isn't a damn thing I can do about that. Other than to just keep talking about my deconversion.
This is a personal, but secret, blog archiving my deconversion from a Christian to a non-believer.