High school essay honorable mentions: Learning to trust myself By Christian Beveridge

I was born into a Mormon family, and my path to atheism was long and filled with stress and guilt.

Until I was 10, I lived in the Mecca of Mormonism: Utah. I remember when Hurricane Katrina happened, I felt horrible about the innocent lives lost and homes destroyed in Louisiana. I had been taught that God makes everything happen for a reason, so I wondered what these victims had done to deserve this tragedy? After much thought, I realized that these people did nothing to deserve this, God wasn’t trying to teach them a lesson, and I came to the first major conclusion of my secular journey: not everything happens for a reason.

Two years ago, I officially resigned my LDS church membership. Without learning to trust myself, this act would have felt impossible. It’s sobering to think that rather than starting classes at the University of Pittsburgh this fall, I could be a doubt-filled, proselytizing Mormon missionary somewhere. It was a long journey and it wasn’t easy, but I am proud to have chosen the freedom of life without God and religion.

Christian Beveridge, 18, was raised near Salt Lake City, then moved in 2008 to Pennsylvania, and graduated from Kennett High School in Kennett Square, Penn. He will be attending the University of Pittsburgh and plans to major in economics and statistics.

Freedom From Religion Foundation