Growing Up Atheist

I am a member of the most feared, hated and despised religious minority in the United States. I am an atheist. For years I never talked about it…because I’ve always been an atheist; I never thought there was anything particularly noteworthy about it.

But a few days ago I got into a conversation with an old friend who was in favor of tax-funded prayer in the public schools, and I “came out” as an atheist to him. The subsequent back-and-forth was long and deeply unsatisfying, and reminded me anew of the amazing array of our society’s misconceptions and fears about what atheists believe, about who we are, about what we’re like.


I grew up in a family of atheists, and most of the people I’ve been close to over the course of my life have been atheists, agnostics, secular humanists and Hindus. This article was originally written for the “Atheist Digest” series at Daily Kos, and I wanted to write it because one of the questions that is always asked about atheism is, more or less, “What shall we tell the children? How do we teach them ethics and morality without God?”

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