sent in by Ryan
As fortune would have it I was born into the Apostolic Christian church. Not a well-known church, it can be understood as one of the anabaptist churches--like the Amish--from the post-Reformation milieu. They are not bearded nor do they wear the "uniforms", but they forbid jewelry, including wedding rings, and allow no music in church, or dancing anywhere. Ditto movies, rock music, smoking...uh...you get the picture.
My mother was a religious weakling and my father a drunk. He was not a member of that church so I had a bit of freedom to read paperbacks; things that would not have been permitted if both parents were xians. By 15 I had read things like Ayn Rand and Thoreau. This was the beginning of the end. I knew other ways besides religion, and I was bright, thus my conversion at 18 was damned. The poison they shoot in places like that become part of you--when they preach hell every time you're in church it runs in your blood. I'm not telling any of you anything new. I knuckled under out of fear of god, but at the same time I could not believe in god.
My father never joined the church nor attempted any kind of conversion, but having been raised an "AC" as they call themselves his mind was warped. As an AC you're fucked from birth; stay or leave, brother, you're fucked. Please overlook my vulgarity but it feels like I had been raped. My father was a pathetic, self-pitying drunk, a failure as a father because he was a failure as a man to begin with.
I will never know how, but after many years the curse began to lift. Does this mean that reason is ultimately the victor in the end? I started to say out loud the things that I knew already: that god does not burn us in hell because we have honest doubts; that god does not burn us in hell because we do not grovel; that god does not burn us in hell because we have sex or jerkoff when we don't. In short, god does not burn us in hell. A year later I lost the god part.
As a self-centered atheist, my goal (insofar as goals are possible) is to never again be neurotically divided against myself; that what I think shall be one with who I am. I have been put back together, seamless and whole. I learned quickly that a xian's reaction is dismally predictable: we are not responsible. We were only following orders.
Became a Christian: 18
Ceased being a Christian: 30
Labels before: Apostolic Christian
Labels now: Atheist
Why I joined: Fear
Why I left: Confidence