I was known as the godless cowgirl
Salutations Friends! My name is Angie and I’d like to share some of my life with you all, in hope that it helps someone find courage, conviction, peace, validation, and comradery.
I wasn’t raised in the Christian faith; my idea of a God came from the 700 club on tv (teleevangelism). And he wasn’t a nice guy. He wanted money and had control over everything, rewards for the pure, punishment for the evil. Which confused me horribly because my life was full of abuse from a drunken, druggie mother, and sexual abuse from my dad. This story begins in 1978, when I was 4. My mother married a guy who adopted me and became my dad. This man has taken an underage girl across state lines where he could have sex with her as the state laws differed there. My mom knew. His first wife left him (with my adopted half sister) after he confessed he was attracted to young girls. My mom knew. And she married him anyways. Shortly after their wedding, the sexual abuse began. My mom worked 2pm-10pm, so he had full access to me without fear of being caught. As a small child I thought I was bad, the tv God guy said God punished the bad, and I was always punished by my mom. And since daddy always wanted to touch me and thought it was funny when I cried when he wanted me to pleasure him orally ... I was bad. And deserved everything I got. At one point I tried to reach out to my mom for help. I told her daddy always asked me to put my mouth on his peepee. And she smacked me so hard that my nose bled and I got a fat lip. I was 6. Six! That was the day I decided that God was as real as Santa Claus. There was no way this God could let anyone live like me. No one was that bad.
I worked hard in school to try to rise above the social hierarchy, as my family was very poor, and in our small town, everyone knew everyone’s business. I wanted to prove that I was good. I failed miserably; no matter how good my grades were, no matter how much bullying I took without fighting or revenge, I was the bad seed. Often called a devil worshipper. So at age 16 I dropped out of school, began working full time, and lived out of my car. Once I saved enough money, I got an apartment, moved my younger brother in, and put him the rest of the way through school. And I was still labeled as the bad seed, they said I drank blood and worshipped Satan. All because I didn’t believe in God.
Roll forward to 2003. I had 2 children and was trapped in an extremely abusive relationship. He had successfully isolated me from friends and my siblings. When his grandmother invited me to church, shockingly he said yes. So I dove right into the Quaker church, where I could actually have a conversation and contact with people. I studied their discipline, studied the Bible, was the head of the hospitality committee (funeral duty), ran the food pantry, and taught Sunday school. The church, oddly enough, that had always been my source of punishment, was my escape, as long as I said I believed. So I did. As I built friendships, I rediscovered my confidence in myself, and I left my abusive husband.
As my self confidence grew and I returned to the workforce, I began dropping my volunteer activities. It became harder and harder to keep up the face of a believer; especially after my intense study of the bible and all of the absolute insanity it contained. I was hoping that I could retain my friends I had grown over the last 2 years, but once I stated that I just couldn’t convert to Christianity, everything fell apart. Despite all the good work, honest love, tears, dedication, and time ... I was scorned. I was called names, they said I was a devil in disguise, and EVERYONE I was friends with refused to answer my calls and ignored me, even the woman who was godmother to my children shunned me.
That’s when I decided that I would always live my best life, always donate time, items, money to those truly in need. I started my dream job of training horses, as I had always had horses, giving riding lessons and showing. I frequently gave free lessons to kids who would never have a chance to experience horses. I did training for low cost for families and horses that needed help but didn’t have the income. It was hard to exist in the horse world socially because I live in Iowa, conservative bible country. Everyone always assumed I was Christian and if I spoke how I was atheist, I frequently was held at arms length despite how my behavior spoke loudly of the kind of person I am. But, I refused to back down, and I was known as the godless cowgirl.
Years later, another child, a good, healthy second marriage, and a permanently crippling accident via my profession later, I continue to carry on just being me. I’m openly atheist, unafraid to speak out, because America needs to see that your moral compass doesn’t come from religion and open their hearts and minds to those that don’t think like they do.
Ritual and symbolism is one of the most ancient of human traditions, from the first cave paintings in the Franco-Cantabrian regions, Notre Dame, ritual and symbolic nature even finds it’s way into our homes in the way we careful decorate and arrange our belongings to symbolize who we are.
The Invisible Pink Unicorn pendant helps me symbolize who I am via a piece of jewelry, which is unusual in the atheist community. And that is the best part about this necklace; it offers me a sense of pride, no longer hiding from the social stigma attached to atheism. I work in a customer service environment, and converse with people of all faiths, backgrounds, and I’m positive there’s other atheists who are cautious about revealing their lack of faith in this conservative Bible Belt area of America. I hope this necklace opens conversations with them, so they know they’re not alone, let them join our friendly atheist community, and most important, let everyone see that atheism isn’t evil, and let my good works and attitude speak for us all.