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Name – Josh Helton
Born – 1980
Location – Hays, KS
Label – Atheist
Former Affiliation – Methodist

My Story

I was brought up in a Methodist household, going to church most every Sunday as long as I can remember. I came from a small town (roughly 1500-2000 people), and almost everybody there went to one of the many churches there. I was intrigued by the stories, but never once truly believed in them.

I felt like there was something wrong with me for the longest time. I thought that there was something missing in my mind, that I was defective somehow for not believing. I put on a good front, reading the Bible and listening to Christian music, trying to find something that would make me feel like I really belonged. This went on for several years, with me driving myself crazy, wanting to believe but not being able to. I was driven to tears several times because I felt inadequate, as if I was a lesser person than everybody I knew, just because I didn’t think how they did. I didn’t have any specific doubts, no big glaringly obvious reason for not being able to believe in God, I just lacked any faith at all.

Talking to my classmates wasn’t really an option, because most were religious also, so I suffered in silence. I wasn’t even aware that atheists existed during most of my time growing up. Around the start of middle school I started looking into more religions, trying to find something that fit for me. I looked into Judaism, Islam, Anton LaVey’s Church of Satan, Buddhism, Wicca, Paganism, anything I could find, and nothing fit for me. I had a hard time coming to grips with the fact that I was an atheist.

After realizing this, I knew I wasn’t defective. I know my place in this beautiful, chaotic, glorious mess that is our universe, and felt better. I didn’t suffer any more personal shame from not believing, from feeling broken. Coming out was not an easy process. Family didn’t want to accept it, some still don’t, 15 years later.

Now I’m doing my part to make sure people don’t feel alone, or inferior for not believing. I proudly have a license plate on my car that says “ATHEIST” on it. I’ve heard conversations at work between people I don’t know that well discussing it, how it’s changed their minds, or having somebody stick up for me because they know I’m a good person. I hold doors open for strangers, I donate to charities I deem important, and I think for myself.

I’m happier now than I ever have been before. You don’t need God to be good, and once you realize how honest it truly is, you’ll feel great.

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