Westchester, Illinois USA
I couldn't take all the greed and general unholiness that I saw in Christian churches!
How did my encounter with Christianity begin? Well, "against my will" might be a good way of phrasing it. I was baptized in Mexico when I was born. A couple years after that, I attended school at various Christian or variant of Christian schools (Pre-school was Lutheran, 3 years of Catholic grade school, etc). However, the event that made me turn away from Christianity completely occurred when I was attending a public school, oddly enough.
One of my friends was a member of the congregation at a church in the town called the Westchester Bible Church, and he was as religious as could be. I should have known there were problems when I was over at his house one day and I said "Oh god" while we were doing something and he told me that I shouldn't do that because it's taking the name of the lord in vain. "What?" I thought to myself. Later, he somehow suckered me into coming to some youth activity group at his church. While there were some interesting activities there, one of the things I couldn't help noticing was the sheer number of ways in which they took money from the kids attending it. Dues of some kind, crafts, money for field trips, maybe others. Stupid me, I fell for it again by going to the vacation bible school there. Pretty much the same thing as before, except now we had to put up with people in suits, a talking cardboard robot, and a puppet (I am serious about all of this), talking about God somehow. In addition, now there were not necessarily obligatory but "greatly appreciated" donations to be made.
Somehow, I came closer to being a believer during this period of time than at any other moment in my life. I actually went and got myself "saved" because I was so scared of the Christian god. My thoughts began to change, however, when I found out that they were REWARDING kids to bring more people into this fold. Then one day, during the last session of activity that I'd ever attend at that church, my "friend" told me something: "If you're not a Christian, you're going straight to hell."
Shocked, flabbergasted, alarmed, confused, you name it, that was how I was feeling. I couldn't believe it. What he had just told me went against everything I believed in. Receiving eternal life, something we're not even sure exists, does not depend on the kind of life you live, but rather which deity you believe in?! This was one of the things that really began to make me lose interest in Christianity. An non-Christian can live a charitable, wholesome life, and goes to hell, but a Christian can steal, kill, and commit basically any crime they want, and as long as they repent for their sins they go to heaven?
That was it. I never went back there again, and if nothing else, I'd never go back to the Westchester Bible Church again.
Then came high school. I went to a Christian high school because it was the best option in the area in terms of education. I didn't care at all about the religion portion. However, at this point, I was thinking about following a religion of some kind, maybe even going back to a variant of Christianity. I then took courses on Church History and World History that showed me more of Christianity that I didn't like. I learned so many things about the religion that I didn't like, such as the Crusades, the corruption of the papacy during the Renaissance, etc. I wondered how anyone could have faith in an institution with such a terrible past.
The final blow against Christianity came for me in the form of the news of all the church scandal that has recently emerged. Reports of pedophile priests continue to pour in from around the country, and the church is promising changes, but from what I have seen, it's not enough. The church kept these scandals hidden for a long time, and what's worse is it doesn't end there. The church has a policy of keeping hidden anything that may incriminate the institution. I cannot support an institution that has this policy at all. I made up my mind to be an atheist when I was 15, and have stayed that way ever since. I consider myself agnostic, as I still consider joining a religion once in a while, but it certainly won't be a monotheistic religion. However, I have been living godlessly for 2 years, and am much happier this way. Therefore, I'm strongly considering being a complete atheist. Whatever the case, I'm never going back to Christianity.
What labels did I use to describe myself?
Mater Christi, Divine Infant, Westchester Bible Church
What labels do I use now?
Why did I join in the first place?
It wasn't my choice, really. I was baptized at birth, and didn't really think about it till I was a teenager
I left Christianity at age 15