I was born into a very fundamentalist Pentecostal denomination. My dad became a minister before I was born, and is still one. I was a good child, but I was raised with the fear of the rapture - that if ever once I slipped up, even for just a second, Jesus would come and leave without me, and I'd be left all alone; then if I wanted to meet them in heaven, I'd have to "give my head" so I could be one of the martyrs and God would let me in heaven with my family. I was told their memories would be erased in heaven, so they couldn't be sad over the people they'd left behind. I spent my entire childhood in morbid fear, terrified that I'd die and go to hell & that I wasn't good enough for God, or Jesus.
I wasn't allowed to have friends outside the church and wasn't allowed to go outside without a chaperone, even just in our yard, even when I got older. I was put into every church activity and asked daily if I'd read the Bible, and what I'd learned. Eventually, as you might guess, this strict atmosphere caused problems, and as I started to want to break free of the cage my parents and my religion had put me in, and live a normal life, and realizing I couldn't get out, I started having anxiety attacks, then depression followed, until it became a disorder. (I can't even remember certain years out of my life, they're just missing) I wasn't allowed to speak to anyone about my sadness or my desire to be free of Christianity and my "sheltered" life - I tried once, and my parents yelled at me and said that if I didn't watch my mouth we'd lose the church and be out on the street, and it'd be all my fault. So I kept quiet.
I think they finally got the hint when I nearly slit my wrists one time when they'd gone out to visit, and would have if they hadn't got back when they did. I was more afraid of living than death & hell to follow. After high school I went to a very strict Christian college, and my condition became worse (I slept all day & refused to eat or go to class & had spastic fits), but I refused to seek help or counseling, because my parents had told me "that gets wrote down, y'know" and it could be used against me (or them) later. I flunked out of that college after one year, and to this day I don't remember half of what happened there, just that no one there seemed to care about me or see what I was going through, and they didn't see it because they didn't want to, not because they couldn't. A place full of "caring Christians" and there was no one to help me. My parents put me through hell because I'd flunked out; my siblings were worse, and they said I didn't deserve another chance! , that I should just marry some poor boy and be grateful my life wasn't worse.
I didn't want to live anymore, and I felt I'd rather be in hell with the devil than in heaven with a God who would let me live such a horrible life, or a family who didn't really care what happened to me, only how it affected them and how people saw them.
I enrolled in another Christian college, at mom's insistence, and was terrified it'd be a repeat of the last one, but it was there I found my freedom. I found friends there who liked me for me, professors who cared about me and always saw the best in me and encouraged me to do more, and it was like the rest of my life had been a bad dream, and I was just now waking up. Christians and non-Christians went there, and were allowed to speak and think freely, and as I started studying the Bible for myself even more rigorously then when I was a child, I realized just how horrible most of it was, and how many mistakes and errors there were in it, and contradictions, and most of all, how awful God was, and I knew I could never believe in it - or "Him" - again.
When I told my family this, they panicked, and I was sent to live with my sister for awhile, and they hoped she could pull me out of it, and back "into the fold." But she couldn't, and now I'm more determined than ever never to be a Christian again, or marry someone who is, so I can't be put back into that hell that I lived until the last 4 years.
I still go to my dad's church sometimes, because over the years (and fights with me) they've loosened up some, even welcomed my best friend (who's an openly gay guy) in the house for dinner, and because I know they only thought they were doing what was right, and I know now they're getting older, they need me. In my heart & personal practice I'm a Pagan, because I find the Goddess much more loving than the Bible's god. But I still love them too much to hurt them, which is why I remain anonymous. I could be angry & vengeful, and I'd have reason, but what good could that possibly do anyone? And how much would I have learned about love, if I let my heart be full of hate? I can honestly say now that I've learned that love really is greater, and it's possible to love those who have done you wrong - not because "Jesus said so," but because I've lived it myself.
Before I end this, let me say thank you, for this site, and all the ones like it encouraging exChristians - they, and caring friends, literally saved my life and my sanity. THANK YOU, & Blessed Be.
I was born into Christianity, wasn't allowed to be anything else, and "saved" at 8.
I left at the age of 22 because I was finally free to do so.
I am a gal from Kentucky in the USA.
My past labels were Pentecostal, prophetic, and Christian.
My label now is Pagan.
Online Reading List
- An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish by Bertrand Russell (1943)
- Bible Teaching and Religious Practice by Mark Twain
- God is Imaginary
- Is there an Artificial God? by Douglas Adams (1998)
- Skeptics Annotated Bible
- The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine (1795)
- Which Way? by Robert Ingersoll (1884).
- Why I Am Not A Christian by Bertrand Russell (1927)