sent in by Erin
You could say that I was raised in the church. I was christened as a baby, I attended scripture classes at school on Thursday mornings from Kindergarten to Year 5 (church and state are not separate in Australia by any means), and my family attended church regularly when I was in Year 4 (yes, it was only for one year). I was even yanked out of the local public school at the age of eleven and a half and enrolled in the local campus of the largest Christian school in the area. At that highly impressionable age, I thought it was the best thing since sliced bread. I ‘knuckled down’ and worked hard, I even willingly attended the start-of-year church service four years in a row, and I went to the local youth group every Friday night from Year 7 to Year 10 (at two different churches mind you – the Anglican church down the road and the Uniting church in the middle of town). But at the very beginning of 2000, my impressions of the church began to change.
For those of you who never attended a Christian school, take my word for it – it is not all it is cracked up to be. Religion is a part of each and every lesson. And I mean each and every. English, Mathematics, languages, Science, it doesn’t matter. And we were FORCED to sit in our roll call rooms while our roll call teachers dished out lie after lie. The teachers at the school I attended are hypocrites and completely insensitive to the students’ needs. They would tell the students to act like good little Christians, and when the students’ backs were turned they themselves would do the complete opposite. And for someone like me, whose self-esteem had already been destroyed by six torturous years in the public school system, who was far too trusting for their own good, and who was insecure both psychologically and emotionally, it was hell on earth. I contemplated suicide in the middle of Year 9, was depressed (but never diagnosed) for the remainder of high school, and tried my damnedest to be sent back to public school from Year 8 onwards. I pretty much just gave up on school – I didn’t want to be there, nor did I care whether I passed or failed.
Here is an example of how hypocritical and insensitive the teachers at the school I went to are. When I was nine, nearly nine and a half, my second cousin Wayne lost his parents in a murder-suicide. It happened ten years ago, yet to this day I am unable to forget one of the worst days of my life. Perhaps because it was my first experience of the brutality and cruelty of death and loss. My parents encouraged me to go to school the day after it happened, which I did, and my teacher explained to my class what had happened to my family. That was the first time I realised how loss can bring people together. Some years later, one of my roll call teachers must have caught me crying over what had happened, for the very next morning she launched into a spiel about how everybody MUST move on after losing someone they loved, looking right at me as she said it. I cannot even begin to tell you how outraged I was. My parents aren’t even aware of how much it still affects me ten years later – the only person I have ever told is my best friend – and yet some teacher can pass judgment without even knowing what happened all those years ago.
Another example involves my tendency to draw a complete blank during major exams. Ever since Year 8, when I started doing end-of-year exams, I have had the major misfortune of ‘freezing up’ during exams – I may have studied my arse off the night before, and yet I will still forget what I’ve learned. It even happened in the exams I did at the end of Year 12, which were the most important exams of my entire thirteen years of school. After roll call one morning during Year 10, the same teacher I have already mentioned pulled me aside as I was leaving for class and basically told me that my freezing up was simply a cry for attention. Believe me, it wasn’t, and to this day it still isn’t. But no matter. Her insensitivity horrified me to the point of tears.
Right up until the time I became an atheist, I was questioning what the Bible says about everything. I have since figured out for myself, using logic, that it is all lies. How could one lonely higher power create an entire world, when there is proof that it could never have happened? We have the fossilised skeletons of dinosaurs as proof – if there is some kind of god who crafted a whole world in one week, why don’t the aforementioned creatures rate a mention? Therefore science is the only proof we have. Does the Bible find cures for diseases? No. Does the Bible aid in medical research or advances? No. Science is the only thing that does this.
Another example. Christmas, Easter and Halloween started out as pagan festivals. And yet, Christians have laid claim to the first two. The school I went to wholly embraced Easter and Christmas, but shunned Halloween as being the root of all evil and associated wholly with the occult. The occult has nothing to do with Halloween in the first place! I repeat, all three began as PAGAN FESTIVALS. If Halloween is evil in every way, shape or form, then why in America, which lays claim to one of the largest contingencies of Christian-based religions in the world, is it celebrated year after year? Okay, yes, Halloween is not an Australian tradition, and I have never had the opportunity to experience it for myself, but no matter.
Ever since I became an atheist, I have been called a freak and a heretic, been followed around school by children up to ten years younger than me who at the same time had been singing sickeningly inane little rhymes, had massively heavy Bibles dropped on top of whatever I may have been doing at the time (no, they did not care if there was something breakable on the desk at the time), and been the constant focus of prayer, even if I have asked (and even ordered) the person doing the praying not to do so. It seems that in the company of Christians, the opinions of atheists and agnostics hold no sway. I am constantly asked by people I consider to be friends if I am a Christian yet. I seriously doubt they will desist anytime soon, despite the fact that my answer is always the same and will never change.
In summary, I have only this to say about Christians in general – they are sheep who blindly follow the teachings of a man who may or may not have even existed, and nothing more. I do not hate Christians, but at the same time I don’t like them; instead I merely tolerate them. Because of my experience with religion, coupled with my experience of school in general, I am bitter, I am cynical, I am hardened emotionally, and I am scarred psychologically. I do not know if the wounds will ever heal, or if the scars that already exist will ever disappear. And unless someone develops a way to do this, I very much doubt that I will ever know.
City: Albion Park
State: New South Wales
Became a Christian: I was born into the faith i.e. christened
Ceased being a Christian: Fifteen
Labels before: Church of England (now the Anglican Church of Australia)
Labels now: Atheist
Why I joined: My parents had me christened, therefore it was not my decision
Why I left: Actions of other Christians, started to question the Bible’s teachings
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)