Fitting in as an atheist in Iowa can be a challenge. During her upbringing in a mostly white, Christian state, Stef McGraw knew many young people who discussed how God was influencing their lives. Most of her peers were involved in youth group. Raised in the Unitarian Universalist Church, which, more than anything, emphasizes respect for people and the environment, she had the freedom to educate herself and decide which religious -- or nonreligious -- perspective would work best for her.
The group that she joined as a freshman in college, the University of Northern Iowa Freethinkers and Inquirers, provided a supportive community that grew her confidence and comfort in her identity. Stef, like many involved in the secular movement, recognizes the lack of women within it. The characteristics that are generally associated with those who do not believe in God -- coldness, lack of emotion, etc. -- are, according to her, both intimidating and untrue, encouraging women to distance themselves from the possibility of atheism.