sent in by Paul Johnson
From the beginning...
First off, My name is changed here, due to the fact that my mother searches my name on the internet regularly to find out information about me.
With this being said...
I am a 22 Year old man who grew up in southern Indiana. Religion (Christianity) is not just a Sunday-Wednesday night thing in my home town, It is a way of life. There is no less than 20 various Christian churches in my hometown of 20,000 people. Therefore, hardly a soul you can approach that doesn't belong to a Baptist, catholic, church of god, etc.
I grew up in a Nazarene church. For those that do not know, they are fairly strict and Hell is a huge topic for Sunday sermons. As well, nazarenes believe that you can only go to heaven if you have been saved from your sins.. And if you sin again, you have to get saved again... As a child (age 8 forward) I would pray constantly for fear of going to hell if I screwed up during the course of the day and died. I remember walking around my school as a 1st grader, carrying the bible and reading revelation. Mind you, during the course of all this I was singled out by pretty much everyone... What kid is going to hang out with the weird guy who talks about hell, right? My mother explained to me various things, such as He-man toys were made by Satan worshippers... let me tell you that got looks from my baby-sitter when I would decline playing with them, again for fear of going to hell.
Psychologically, this was brutal. Having no friends, I spent every hour not at school in front of my television playing Nintendo, even telling people that it was my best friend. Of course, I also had my bible and my mother to tell me that all the people who I wanted to be my friend would go to hell, and it was best to stay away from them. They're just jealous, is all I was told.. right. That's why the beat me up, spit on me, and make fun of me every day at school. GREAT answer mom.
Slowly, I started changing, though. I would ask questions in youth group, such as "why would god send millions of people who grow up believing something like Islam to hell, when they've never got a chance to believe something else?" and more importantly to me, the thought that other Christians who didn't believe like myself would go to hell.. even when I was knee deep in theology I couldn't believe something that nonsensical. But believe it I must, as I was told, or else I too would burn for eternity...
But by the time I was 15, It was the beginning of the end. Inside it tore me up..but I couldn't help it. I started cussing... started listening to punk rock, instead of gospel gangstas...but only at school. At home and at church, it was tucked in shirts and prayer. but at school! I was accepted finally. Hanging out with people, playing football with friends, laughing and joking around, looking at girls. what a young person is SUPPOSED to do. I continued going to church, though, due to the psychotic nature of both my mother and the Nazarene church. However, others in the teen group could see I was slipping... hearing me say FUCK in the hallway at school, smoking in the school parking lot.. basically living 2 lives. But I was much, much happier being MYSELF, which was who I was at school, than the person I was at church.
my deconversion came to a head on a church camp-out. My cousin, who was 2 years older than me and in the same boat as I was, And I had walked away from the campsite to be away from them people and to talk...that and smoke cigarettes. Discussing things, we both were positive that we wasted our youth living in the glass box that was Christ. We were so scared to death of hell that we missed out on half of the things that being a kid is all about. And we both swore that we would never be that way again, or impose that on our kids when the time comes.
As I look back at those times in my life, I cant help but think how different it could have been if I was not involved in that sort of thing. To tell the truth, I still catch myself wondering if I'm the one whose wrong from time to time, and its been a long time since I went to church or cared...there's no point in re-iterating the awesome points that are made in the testimony reports on this website, only to say that I feel like I belong on this website with those who share my past. Now, at 22, I'm a very well adjusted, compassionate person to others. Unlike Christians, I do not hate that which I don't understand. While I still have to deal with the demons of Christ from time to time, mainly when I go home and get preached to, I look forward to a long good life..and a peaceful death.
Country: United States
Became a Christian: Birth
Ceased being a Christian: 16
Labels before: Nazarene
Labels now: none
Why I joined: Born into the fold
Why I left: See Above...
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)