Breaking away from a religion with compulsory beliefs means you no longer have to be afraid of doubt. This is incredibly important, because you cannot really reach out and learn about the world as it is unless you are unafraid to doubt what you think you know for sure. Unafraid of the possibility that you might find out that you are wrong. Now there is some normal fear at the prospect of being proven wrong (that’s just human nature, apparently), but not the paralyzing phobia that compulsory belief gives it. Not the agony that comes with the idea that if I were to disbelieve this thing, whatever it is, that I will be punished severely either in this life or in the next. The fear of a freethinker is one that is mixed with the exhilaration of the possibility of making an amazing new discovery.
Here is a lovely old song about what I am talking about that I first heard Dan Barker sing at the FFRF convention last weekend. Enjoy. 🙂