I came across this stunning letter in one of the forums I'm active in. I have placed it here on our blog with the permission of the author but she asked me to please remain discreet (so I think we should all honour her request). It's probably one of the most beautiful pleas for understanding and acceptance I have ever read from a fellow atheist. Enjoy.
Dear Mom and Dad,
It is with much trepidation that I begin to compose this letter to you. I’ve been debating for a long time whether to share this information with you. On the one hand, honesty is the best policy, and it pains me every time I have to lie or deceive you in order to hide this part of me. On the other hand, I know that what I’ve been hiding will cause you a lot of pain, and I have wanted to spare you that. However, I have come to realize that it is unfair to me and to you for me to continue with this pretense. I need for you to know this side of me in order for you to know *me*.
I am not a Christian. In fact, I am completely irreligious. Call me agnostic, or even atheist, if you will. I began to struggle with doubt when I was a teenager, though I did not fully come to accept what I knew to be true until about 6 months ago. Through the years of doubt, I have kept up the façade, trying desperately to believe or – failing that – to cover up my disbelief.
I often felt like I was going insane with all of the doubts that were swirling around in my head. I talked to pastor after pastor about my problems with God, and I even saw a couple of church counselors. I prayed and begged God for faith. I read countless books on grace and the mercies of God. I threw myself into Bible studies. But the more I read and learned and prayed, the more quickly the last vestiges of belief were stripped away from me.
My whole life as a Christian, I was under the impression that all atheists and agnostics are rebellious, God-hating people. I assumed that everyone *knew* God existed, but those heathens decided they wanted to live their evil lives not in compliance with God's gracious word, so they shook their fists at the sky and shouted, "I deny you!" to a weeping God.
As a Christian, it never occurred to me that, perhaps, they truly, honestly, simply found no evidence to support the idea that there was a god. It wasn't a matter of turning their backs on the God they secretly knew was there, in order to pursue their sinful lifestyle of choice; it was that when they searched the Bible or the heavens or their soul for confirmation, they found...nothing.
I don’t claim to have all of life’s answers, and there are still many things I’m seeking to learn and understand about myself and the world around me, but I do know this: I cannot go back. I feel like a child who has just learned that Santa Clause is not real. I feel a little betrayed, sad, and disillusioned, but there is no way I can choose to believe again, just as I did not choose to disbelieve.
I want you to understand one thing: I am the same daughter you have known for the last 36 years, and I love you very much. Nothing about me has changed for the worse. My morals are unchanged. My relationship to my husband is unchanged. I am still a loving wife and daughter. I am still a loyal, hard worker. And I am actually a much more compassionate person now toward my fellow human beings.
I wanted to keep this letter short and just give you a glimpse into my journey, to help you see that this was not a decision that I made impetuously – in fact, it was not a decision at all, but a realization I fought hard to avoid.
I love you.