The Free Press, Mankato, MN


September 3, 2007

Becoming atheist akin to finding religion


“In my judgment, for many young people, public statements by the religious right are very troubling,” Jodock said. “They are uncertain whether their displeasure is with the spokesperson, or Christianity.”

Manahan calls his acceptance of atheism a “relief.”

“Since my years of doubting were resolved. It was a relief to tell my family and friends, and since I believe strongly in the value of honesty, it is a pleasure to answer your questions. However, it is not a subject that I talk about unless asked.

Manahan said he enjoys reading books such as Sam Harris’ “Letter to a Christian Nation,” which he says present “irrefutable reasoning against religious belief, whether it be Christian, Muslim, Jewish, or other.”

Berkshire compares his revelation to friends and family to a gay person coming out of the closet. When he told his family, it led to a decade of strained relations.

“They felt as though they had done something wrong in raising me, until they realized I was still the same person,” he said.

Without believing in the promise of life after death, Berskshire says he finds a lot of reason to differentiate between good and evil.

“Heaven and hell are both here on earth,” he explains. “Good and bad have to do with consequences. Bad actions are not good for the other person, not good for me, and not good for society. It’s a better life if we do good. It’s not perfect, but it’s better if we mean well.”

Manahan has represented some unpopular clients in his career as an attorney, but he says that is not necessarily due to anything related to religion or the lack of it.

“Part of my humanism is the belief that people’s rights should be respected, which is why I have been active in the American Civil Liberties Union and the American Bar Association ... Obviously, there are many good people who believe there is a God, but I think they are in all likelihood mistaken.”

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