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When I think of who I was during my teenage years, I cringe. I was against gay marriage, disliked Obama, and didn't believe climate change. That's right, I was a Republican. Looking back on this I can't really blame myself. After all I was raised in a conservative religious home. Brainwashed by my conservative dad, I believed liberals were sissies and that Hillary Clinton was a demon. Sixteen year old me would be horrified to find out that twenty-three year old me voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election.
Fox News was always on TV in my house, and my dad bought it hook line and sinker. When you're a kid you assume everything your parents say and do is right, which is why I began to mimic the beliefs of my father. You should have seen the proud look on his face when I made my concentration in AP Art about politics, which I used to funnel my conservative politics. I mocked Obama and thought illegal immigrants were criminals, I thought democrats were communists that wanted to destroy the world.
Hell, I even promised my dad when I went off to college that I wouldn't get brainwashed by college liberals. Boy was he wrong about that. It wasn't that I was brainwashed by liberals, it was more that I started learning new things, listened to other people's points of view, and realized how wrong I was about politics and the world around me. This of course, included questioning Christianity.
I started looking up skeptic arguments about the Bible; how certain books contradicted each other, why God would allow slavery if it's morally wrong, why he views women as second class citizens etc. I began to realize that there was no difference between the Bible and the Roman myths of Zeus, or even Egyptian god stories. At first I was a deist, believing that all religion was wrong but that there was a supernatural force that created the universe that wasn't the Judeo-Christian God. However, slowly over time, as I watched more atheist videos, I began to realize the proposition that there is a God is most likely not true. Letting go of the idea of an afterlife and hell was difficult at first but eventually I began to settle into my views and accept them.
Nowadays I mostly keep my political and religious views to myself not wanting to start any arguments with my parents. I sort of came out to them that I wasn't religious but gave them false hope that I still believed in a vague supernatural God. I know it's not nice to trick them but with all the bad press atheists get these days, can you really blame me?
Living in LA, I'm lucky that I can be myself around friends and coworkers. I have no problem telling them I'm an atheist but God forbid (no pun intended) I tell someone I've known all my life. Just the thought of it gives me a panic attack. I think the hardest thing about telling people you're an atheist is not making it sound like a challenge to their beliefs. Saying 'I think X doesn't exist' when said person believes in X almost feels like you're insulting them and their beliefs.
I'm not gonna lie; knowing that entire my family voted for Trump makes me sick to my stomach sometimes. With all the scandals that have been exposed out of the white house, I'm almost afraid to ask my parent's opinions about them for fear that they'll be to despicable for me to tolerate. Just the idea that my parents could be in favor of separating children at the border, putting them in cages, cutting Medicaid and Medicare (even though they'll be retiring soon and my brother is on state welfare because he has autism), colluding with a foreign dictator and all the other disastrous things Trump has done makes me scared of them.
I'd like to be able to have conversations with people across the political divide but until both parties agree on viewing people as equal no matter their race or gender, I really can't compromise with someone who thinks they might be superior to me because of their gender or race. The choice of political parties shouldn't be the one that views everyone as equal and the one that's racist, sexist, and homophobic.