Why I Am Not a Believer

Harry Greenberger

Because I was born an atheist, I was spared the indoctrination (brainwashing, child abuse) that produces helpless followers of one’s parents’ religion. With nonpracticing Jewish parents—including a father who’d become a Christian Scientist following his successful salvation from death (the prognosis of his medical doctors)—and living in a small Southern town that had neither a synagogue nor a Christian Science church, on weekends I attended neither Sunday school nor church rituals.

I later realized that my mother was a closet atheist who had worked out how to live comfortably among the Baptist and Methodist townspeople. But inside our home, there were never any nighttime prayers for my siblings nor me.

Somehow in my teens I became aware of the Haldeman-Julius “Little Blue Books,”* which I could secretly order for five cents each, and I learned that I was an atheist—and not the only one in the country either.

No life experience I have had in my four-score years has convinced me of the existence of a supreme being and an afterlife, and I can say with confidence and pride that “I am not a believer.”

*Emanuel Haldeman­Julius (1889–1951) arguably invented paperback publishing by marketing excerpts of classic literature, sex­education texts, and a stunning number of short freethought tracts into several series of booklets sized to fit in a working man’s shirt pocket. The best-known of these series, the Little Blue Books, debuted in 1923 and eventually included hundreds of titles.—EDS.


Harry Greenberger was an organizer of the New Orleans Secular Humanist Association (NOSHA) and its president for thirteen years. He delivered secular invocations for the New Orleans City Council on six different occasions. In 2012, NOSHA presented him with its Humanist Award, renaming it the Harry Greenberger Humanist Award for future recipients.

Harry Greenberger

Harry Greenberger was an organizer of the New Orleans Secular Humanist Association (NOSHA) and its president for thirteen years. He delivered secular invocations for the New Orleans City Council on six different occasions. In 2012, NOSHA presented him with its Humanist Award, renaming it the Harry Greenberger Humanist Award for future recipients.


Because I was born an atheist, I was spared the indoctrination (brainwashing, child abuse) that produces helpless followers of one’s parents’ religion.

This article is available to subscribers only.
Subscribe now or log in to read this article.