Atheists in Oklahoma talk about their lives and perspectives

Oklahoma atheists discuss how they thrive living in a culture of religion.
by Carla Hinton Modified: July 6, 2013 at 12:00 pm •  Published: July 5, 2013
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In addition to Red McCall, president of Oklahoma Atheists, and Michelle Ellis, 32, the group's outreach coordinator, The Oklahoman also met recently with three other members.

Sean Braddy, 41, of Norman, said he grew up in church but decided when his son was born in 1982 that he was completely done with religion.

“I wanted him to be able to think for himself and not be controlled,” Braddy said.

Braddy, who is black, said he grew up in the 1970s and saw the Ku Klux Klan and other white opponents of desegregation do many un-Christian-like things — all in the name of religion. He said he considered himself a Christian at that time, but the disturbing behavior of people who also called themselves people of faith was confusing.

“When I was in college I would ask friends, ‘You can be as wicked as you want to — throw rocks at people, spit on them and you still go to heaven?' My conclusion was they believed in God just as much as I do,” he said.

He said two years ago, he did a Google search of the words “atheists” and “Oklahoma” and found information about Oklahoma Atheists. He said he has been with the group ever since.

Melissa Walkup, 33, said she was not raised in church, and her parents never spoke about religion. The Del City librarian said she started researching different religions including Buddhism and “all the different flavors of Christianity” and also explored secular humanism and paganism.

Shelley Rees, 44, an Edmond woman who is a professor at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma, said she grew up attending a youth group at her church in a small Texas town. She said she felt she belonged to a nonbelievers group she found in college much more than she did the church youth group.

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by Carla Hinton
Religion Editor
Carla Hinton, an Oklahoma City native, joined The Oklahoman in 1986 as a National Society of Newspaper Editors minority intern. She began reporting full-time for The Oklahoman two years later and has served as a beat writer covering a wide...
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