For as long as I can remember I have been the object of ridicule, scorn and abuse as a result of a birth defect that was certainly no fault of mine. As a child I remember teachers making fun of me in front of my classmates; as a teen I hid my defect as best I could; as a young adult I tried to "fit in" in a culture that is unforgiving of nature's diversities; and now, in middle age, I demand my right to exist on an equal level with other, "normal," people.
Although my defect has been a curse, it, and the resulting discrimination, has shaped my outlook on freedom, individuality and morality. It has been the major influence in the development of how I relate to others in society and how I conduct my personal life and relationships. It is my firm belief that every individual has the right to the respect and dignity bestowed upon us by the words "All Men are Created Equal."
My Birth Defect: I was born an atheist! This is what my experience tells me. I have no memories of ever believing in a god. I have searched the world of knowledge and the depths of my mind only to find: NOTHING. There is nothing within me that can relate to the concept of god.
The first traumatic memory I have of discrimination is of a teacher's statement in about the fourth grade: "You don't believe in Jesus? What's WRONG with you?" I've been called a worm, an enemy of America, and a whole host of expletives. I've been told that I can have no moral values without believing in god. Countless numbers of people have told me they will pray for me, indicating that atheism is a defect needing Divine intervention. Even at the age of 62 I am still patronized, insulted and ridiculed for this defect that I did not choose for myself.
In this nation where individual rights and religious freedoms are espoused, those who do not believe in the Christian god are considered "defective." We are outcasts in our own country, often blamed for the social ills that have no ready explanation. The entire nation is being punished by god due to my defect of being born with no belief in him. Godless people are told to feel shame for being born "faithless," and "guilt" for bringing god's wrath upon America.
As I am entering old age I am beginning to realize that I do have Faith. I have Faith that "All Men are Created Equal." I have Faith that each individual has the right to respect and dignity regardless of their beliefs. I have Faith that everyone has the right to express their opinions and beliefs. I have Faith that my opinions and beliefs are just as valid to me as theirs are to them. I have Faith that I treat others as I wish they would treat me, a golden rule that Christians would be wise to adopt.
This was written in response to someone telling me that everybody is born with a link to God and therefore belief is innate.