I am from the eastern US, both north and south in my lifetime.
What was the final "trigger" that convinced you to become an atheist?
I started doubting in the 80s when the whole "animals don't have souls" thing was being argued in my family, and pretty much every Christian backed that up - since they don't sin but act "instinctively" (oh, and we don't ever act instinctively?) then animals cannot make the "choice" to follow Jesus, therefore their lives simply are done when they die, and cannot be present in heaven. This opened up so many cans o' wormies for me, first off, why would I want to spend eternity somewhere without animals? What about human tribes who never made that choice either? I was always assured that humans who never heard the word of God would be in heaven, because they had never "denied" him. OK, so then why be a missionary, if you can keep people from hearing the "Good News" completely, then they are guaranteed salvation due to ignorance, right? Shouldn't we keep them in their blissful state and they get a free pass to Nirvana? Or do they not have souls at all, like animals? And what about angels? They don't have souls either, so why are they in paradise? This heaven theme park sounded very unappealing to me.
But I put all this aside for 30 yrs.
My final trigger was very recent. I had been doing reading over the past 4 yrs about subjects I would never have considered before. But a year ago I was victimized by a serial stalker/predator. I survived unscathed, but the way Christian groups, victims groups, and law enforcement have treated me (as if I had done something to provoke this, or didn't follow chain of command in pursuing the pervert, or just flat out disbelief that an older woman can be victimized in this way).
To sum up, Church, Police, Victim's Rights Groups, and a few hundred others have treated this entire matter with a lot of shoulder shrugging. I have done everything I can to nail this guy, and my efforts are treated with a yawn by police. I hired my own investigators, body guards, and videographers to show how this guy operates, and still police can't be bothered to even show up, even when they themselves admit there was more than enough on my videos to make an arrest. They want to wait until this guy kills someone, I guess, which he probably will.
No amount of praying will stop this psychopath.
And no God is helping me seek justice. most Christians have advised me to "pray for peace with this and move on with your life". Really? REALLY? It's OK if he does this to other women? Shrug my shoulders and turn a blind eye? REALLY?
How did your decision to become an atheist affect your life?
I feel greater peace knowing that all my non-Christian dead friends are having a nice long dirt nap instead of crying out in agony & eternal torment.