First, a preface to a preface.  I am an atheist.  I am not agnostic, I am not confused, I am not searching.  I do not believe that there is a greater power or a greater being or some grand scheme of existence.  I believe that humans are animals just like the rest of them, and that we evolved to become what we are today.  

But I am not writing this to discuss my beliefs, and I personally don’t care to discuss the beliefs of others.  To each her/his own, and I sincerely mean that.

So it was about 10 years ago when I began to have the thoughts which were the seeds for my current beliefs.  I grew up in a family very involved in the UCC (I believe Congregational Church was still the going term).  My mother studied to become a pastor until we could no longer afford for her to be in school.  I was confirmed at 16.  

Some of my first doubts about religion were formed around my dislike of the rites, rituals and seemingly mindless tasks performed at my church, and even moreso about those of the Catholic Church (attended Catholic H.S.).  So as time went on and I grew away from the beliefs I had been raised with, I became more cynical and distrustful of the “institution” I saw my church as.  

Fast forward 10 years.  The election was just a few months old, and I was still reeling from it all, and especially angry about the wedge issues (gay marriage in particular) and the bullshit that was brought upon Democrats from the other side.  A news article flashed by without much notice in January.  It was about the advertisements that the UCC had made welcoming EVERYONE into their church (the ads on dKos are about these commercials).  

I wrote my old pastor an e-mail and thanked him from the bottom of my heart.  I expressed how happy I was to have grown up in such an honest and open religion.  I knew that he had given sermons that were too liberal for some, who eventually would leave for another church, generally Catholic.  But I had never imagined that my pastor was part of the larger community of acceptance – TRUE acceptance – that is displayed in these ads.  

My beliefs remain the same today, but I have come to appreciate my upbringing in the United Church of Christ for many reasons — particularly the amazing display that was presented in the message of their ads.  

I have now rambled way beyond the point of bringing this together in a conclusive manner, but I hope that I have explained myself well enough for now.

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