Joseph Vincenzino

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I have always said, and I think that it's true, that I've been an atheist since I was 8 years old. There was no crisis of faith, no reaction to a very religious upbringing, but just a realization that god didn't make any sense. I do come from a very religious Italian Roman Catholic family in a house filled with saints, including a special celebration once a year that even included something of an alter. I went through 12 years of Catholic education. Even thought about the priesthood (for a second). Despite all this though, I guess in me reason ruled and I never really believed in god. I always say that my Catholic education helped me become an atheist, and it's true, but not in the way that most people probably mean it. I was in school just after Vatican II, the changes made by Pope John that actually liberalized a lot of Catholicism, including things like nuns not wearing habits and eating meat on Friday, but more importantly, I think it allowed education to be more liberal. Combined with the liberalism of the 60s, some of my religious education included things like rock song analysis, American Pie for one, a survey course of other religions, a course in thanatology (the study of death) and another in futurology (the effect of progress on society). Definitely not your run of the mill religion classes, but more a curriculum designed to broaden and educate the mind and learn about the world. Also, I called myself an atheist before I knew atheists existed. I called myself a humanist before I knew they existed. I didn't read any books about atheism or humanism. Didn't watch any films. I grew up before the internet. At some point though, I came to realize that there were others out there like me, who labeled themselves the same as me. I actually hadn't been active in the atheist/humanist community until the last few years. I am currently a member of the New Jersey Humanist Network, and the co-organizer of Madison Atheist.

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