I am an agnostic, for the time being, and trying to convince myself to go atheist. the problem is I was raised Christian (and not just the practice-easter-egg-hunts type of Christian- I went to a Christian school, my dad was an elder, and I held a high place in my youth group…) and am having a hard time “quitting”, as it were. My church is still the closest thing I have to an extended family, and my immediate family is still Christian (and not thrilled about my denouncement of God). I live in the Bible belt, where praying before lunch is common, even at school, and being Godless is a bit like not listening to music. My point is, I am immersed in Christianity. Even though I cannot think about God as real, I find myself actively participating in praise and worship, and youth group type activities. My question is should I stop? Can I call myself an atheist, and still like christian rock?
You can be an atheist and enjoy activities with your Christian friends. You can be an atheist and still like Christian rock (for the record, my favorite modern musical is Jesus Christ Superstar if that counts). But, I’d say that as a moral atheist, what you can’t do is be deceptive about it. You can respectfully lower your eyes while others pray before a meal, but don’t lead a religious prayer.
If there’s a group that’s exclusively for Christians, you should ideally either not participate or ask for permission to participate (perhaps they will let you participate in the hope that your mind will be changed). But, particularly because you are young and in a difficult position, I wouldn’t demand this of you. I would suggest that you answer honestly and politely when asked about your beliefs.
Being the only atheist around stinks big time. I’m not going to pretend that it doesn’t. But remember, you may be the only atheist these people know, so you have an opportunity to teach them that there’s nothing evil or immoral or in-your-face about atheism. You might also try looking around online for atheist groups, or perhaps even other atheists in your area. Nobody likes being alone.
Best of luck.
In: Atheists' problems, Personal account