For a long time, I've been a faithful Christian. Even before my conversion in college, I held basic Christian ideals, and was always uncomfortable with anti-Christian art and literature.
I remained Christian until several years ago, when personal issues led me to reevaluate the basis for my beliefs. As a Christian, one of my favorite activities was Christian apologetics. I loved to argue, and it was fun to pry into someone's arguments and take them down.
My conversion began for two reasons: 1) the conversion of someone near to me to another religion and 2) the realization that I was not applying the same rigorous standards of belief to my own faith as I was to other religions.
The first forced me to look at my religion from a neutral standpoint. If I were to honestly evaluate this person's new claims, I would have to be dispassionate about it. Begging the question by assuming either viewpoint would obscure the truth.
The second came at about the same time. As I was grappling with this perceived attack on my religion, I also became aware of the fact that I let a lot of claims about Christianity slide. While I was perfectly happy to debunk Mormon claims to miracles, for example, I was unwilling to see that my on religion had its set of outlandish beliefs.
So, I set out to rebuild my faith, seeking a more mature and defensible position. And that's where it all fell apart. All of the little doubts I had about Christianity came back, and this time I couldn't just sweep them under the rug.
So, one night, after reading for yet another several hours on the Internet, I sat back, took a deep breath and admitted out loud that I no longer believed in God. It was an odd moment, full of fear, yet also in a way freeing.
I'm still in the closet about my new position. It's a painful place to be. I go to weekly services. I play the part of the Christian parent, while at the same time, I worry about the things people are teaching my children. My family are almost all strongly religious, and they will view my conversion as a direct attack upon them, no matter how I approach it. Many of my customers are Evangelical Christians, and they tend to try to avoid atheists. I am without a doubt going to lose business if I go public.
But then, how much longer can I go on? It's becoming increasingly apparent to some that something has changed in me, and this will eventually be brought out in the open, since I am not going to lie about it. In addition, my children are getting to the point of life where they begin questioning, and I am not going to lie to them. At that point, I would imagine that it will be impossible to hide.