I’m an atheist by definition, I guess. I don’t believe in any god(s), any sort of afterlife, any sort of divine intervention, or anything that can’t be backed by factual evidence. Religion for me, like virtually everybody, is an intensely personal thing that I have quite a lot of conflicting feelings on due to the way I was brought up. Religion and disability are two subjects that tend to dovetail quite messily(for me anyway). When I was a child I was told that God made me disabled to teach people what’s really important in life and things like that and I can remember, even when I was little, being overwhelmingly hurt by those sort of sentiments because they felt so patronizing. I didn’t ask to be disabled and I certainly didn’t ask to have that sort of burden thrust upon me for seemingly no reason. I’ve talked about this several times before, but it’s not my job to teach anyone anything. I’m no one’s crippled guardian angel and if you need someone “less fortunate” than yourself to make you see your life in colors or whatever then you have problems deeper than anyone like myself can fix. I don’t believe any God would be cruel enough to assign something like disability onto someone just to make a point. Even when I still believed in my own set of religious beliefs(i.e. ones that didn’t include fetishizing disability or anything like that), it just never truly resonated with me for whatever reason. So that was something I always struggled with as a kid and once I stopped believing in God(I wanna say it was around the age of thirteen or so?) I felt really relieved and free of those sorts of burdens. I never really felt connected to God and I always thought the way I felt like, around my family and friends and how I felt when I was doing something I loved, I always thought that’s how I should have felt anytime I went to church(on the rare occasions we went) or when I prayed(which was actually quite often for me) and things like that. Like that blissfully happy reassurance that religion should have given me I just found in other areas of my life that I felt were tangible. I don’t identify with atheism very much as a community though however because of how polarizing it is(not to mention often times how overwhelmingly out of touch and straight up mean it can be).
To be honest, my lack of faith isn’t really something I think very much about on a daily basis nowadays and isn’t something that guides my life or anything. I believe in making the most out of the time that I know for certain that I have and I just want to do right by the people I meet. I don’t believe very much in karma just because I don’t believe in doing good things just because you think you’ll be rewarded for it somewhere down the line, I just want to be decent person because I believe that’s the only way to live that makes any sense, ya know?
My relatively(but not really devoutly) Christian family doesn’t know I don’t believe in God and I’m okay with that(although I think my mom has an idea, she just doesn’t really bring it up). I never discuss my lack of faith because, as I said, it has little to no effect on my life so I don’t see the point in making a big deal about it. They definitely wouldn’t disown me or love me any less if they knew, I just think they’re happier believing that I do and I suppose I’ll just cross that bridge if and when the time comes.
I really do truly, with all of my heart, respect religion to the core of my soul though, because of the comfort it brings to those who believe in it and it hurts my heart to see people trying to discredit it. Of course it’s not right to use religion as some sort of tool to spread hate and prejudice, but it can be a really beautiful sanctuary for those who utilize it in healthy ways. I really hope people go to the heaven they believe in, even if it’s not something I personally believe in for myself. I think prayer is such a nice, peaceful thing and I always get very emotional anytime someone says they pray for me because it’s just a really sweet gesture to think of someone in that way and to wish them well. As a whole, I find the whole concept of religion very peaceful at it’s core and I’m glad it exists for those who need it.
Ultimately, it’s none of my damn business what someone else believes. I’ve found peace in my lack of faith but that doesn’t make me any better and I don’t have any sort of monopoly on knowledge or truth or anything of that sort as a result.
(This answer is long winded as hell and I apologize, but I enjoy this sort of discourse a lot)