sent in by Nikki
First, I would like to start off by saying that I am no where nearly as knowledgeable about the bible or Christianity as those I’ve observed on this site. I have been involved in many different faiths and sects of the Christian religion.
My mother was a free spirit raised in a Catholic family. My dad was a drunken druggie who came from a drunken family. He was never around though so, that’s it about him. When I was born my Grandmother begged my Mom to have me baptized, and my Mom refused. She told my Grandmother that she wanted me to be able to make my own decision about religion. I was still raised in Catholic Tradition, that is, Latino Catholic Traditions. Latino Catholicism seems a lot more superstitious, I guess a mix of indigenous rituals of the Aztecs and the Spanish Christianity that was forced upon them.
I still had family members that believed in healers, curses, and “evil eye” or “ojo” as it’s referred to in Spanish. I remember when I was a little girl and got sick; my Grandma would run an egg over my body saying the Hail Mary, just in case someone had given me “ojo”.
Jesus Christ and Lucifer were the other superstitions I was raised with. Luckily, it was no where near as oppressive as most of the stories I have read on here, or would later witness for myself.
When I was seven, my Mom got married to man I can only describe as an asshole. He was physically and mentally abusive to both my mom and to me. He had complete control over my Mother, and I still feel to this day that she put his needs before mine.
He was a Jehovah’s Witness, so guess what we became. He was never overly religious, but my mom wanted to be; thinking it would make her marriage better. I remember when my Mom and step dad first started to “study” with them at our home, I over heard the bible study leader telling my mom that children were like sponges, and it was good that she got me involved in the religion when she did, although if she would have gotten me involved sooner, that I probably would have received the “training” (brainwashing) better.
My mom stuck with it for a while, and then she started backing away (Not sure why, too young to remember). When she did they came after her. They told her if she didn’t come back to them, that when rapture came she and her children would die. They started sending people to our house at random times to talk to her, and one time accused her of peeking out of the window and then not answering the door when she saw it was them. (Although that is what we always did when Jehovah’s Witnesses came to our door before she converted.)
We were “godless” again for a while. Slowly but surely her husband started letting us get Christmas Trees and celebrate birthdays. As far as the abuse, nothing changed. Later on when I was a freshman in High school, she started attending a “Non-Denominational” church. I will tell you it was a sick strange blend of Baptist and Pentecostal. Talking in tongues, rolling around on the floor, and fainting—it was all there! By this time, his abuse had started to wear on me as well as my mother. I was looking for something, anything, to help me escape my destructive home life. I was following in my Mom’s pattern of looking to GOD to make it all better.
I flew head first into that Church, I prayed and prayed and then one day received Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I began to attend church with my Mom every Sunday, some Wednesdays and then I started to attend youth night on Friday nights. Since I lived in a poor Mexican neighborhood, I was told it was a place for kids to go and hang out instead of on the streets. It was fun! Basketball, games, and friendships-- I ate it up! I threw away my secular music; I prayed and tried to help others see the light that was helping me through my hardships! (Now I know I sounded like an annoying ass!)
Then the Church’s Youth Ministry took us to “Acquire the Fire,” some of you may have heard of it. It is a traveling youth ministry that teaches kids the evil of “the secular world”. When we came back the youth minister (head pastor’s son—about to graduate Med School) was “on fire for God.” He decided that he was called by God to minister to the youth. Only problem, the Church couldn’t pay him. So he told these poor Mexican kids he was trying to keep off the streets to each bring in $10.00-$15.00 every week. Our youth group now had a cover charge. It wasn’t even fun anymore. We would pray and cry and faint and roll on the floor the WHOLE time; no basketball, no games, nothing.
Kids starting dropping out like flies, and it went from the youth pastor wanting to keep kids out of the streets to “Now we have weeded out the non-believers.” I still stuck with it.
About this time my mother was pregnant with my youngest brother. She was suicidal, depressed, and did not want her baby. The abuse had escalated, even while she was pregnant. She went to the Pastor’s wife and asked for help. She told them how she felt; and more so that she felt evil and horrible for feeling the way she did. They told her that she should feel guilty for those thoughts, and that she must not have much faith in God; because if she did, she would not have those thoughts. Guess you can figure how much that helped. Luckily she made it through.
In 1995, a Tejano music superstar, Selena Quintanilla was murdered; many young Hispanic girls looked up to her. Everyone Loved her. So when she died many of the girls (me included) were very upset. That week we went to youth night and we were told that Selena had gone to Hell because she sang secular music. It broke so many girls in that room. It was horrible.
Then one day, a man from the Church came up to me, I was wearing a crucifix with Jesus on it; this Church did not believed in the idols, since Jesus had risen from the dead, he should no longer be on the cross. He asked me why I wore it if I knew how the Church stood on it. I explained it was a gift from my grandmother. He told me that she would go to hell since she believed that way. I was PISSED! This was a man who had a child out of wedlock, and now acted as if the child did not exist even though the child attended the church. Now that he was a Christian he was ashamed of the boy. HYPOCRITE!
Now, the straw that broke the camels back: As I said the youth pastor decided to quit his job and school, and preach and he wanted 10 bucks from each of us poor ghetto children. Well, some kids stopped paying, some didn’t pay every week, and so one night the head pastor comes in and starts preaching about the importance of tithing. This was normal, we were used to it. He then starts screaming at us, and tells us that we were cancers of God and that God spit on us (as he theatrically spit on the floor). God meant for his churches to be taken care of and blah blah blah.
I never went back. Like every other religion, they started coming after me when I left. I was so over it though it didn’t bother me much.
I know that many of you Christians out there are thinking, just bad experience with Churches. Here’s my retort: First of all, you would think that. You are too blind to see these things happening in your own church, you are too blind to see that you are doing these things yourself. Second, I prayed and begged God for years to stop the abuse on me. Why did he never answer? Am I supposed to believe that it was Gods will that I got my ass whooped by a grown man? Am I supposed to believe that God wanted me to become suicidal at the age of 8? Just to try, I prayed my last time for forty days and forty nights to show God my vigilance. I prayed that the abuse would stop, that I would not want to kill myself anymore, and that God would be the Father I never had. Just like the other two fathers, he wasn’t there. He never answered.
Now, I’m 25, I have let go of hoping my dad would be a real father; I have stood up to the man that beat me all my life and am no longer afraid of him, and I have stopped depending on god for my happiness. I have piece of mind of knowing those men that hurt me was not my punishment, I did nothing wrong. It is them who are sick.
I stood up for myself and made myself happy. I have a great job in nonprofit work, where I actually do help people with no strings attached, I have my home, my dogs, and best of all a wonderful husband (he post on this site as fool_ps14:1).
It was not god who gave me this new found power; he was the one who held me back from finding it within myself.
Became a Christian: Off and On since birth
Ceased being a Christian: 17
Labels before: Catholic, Jehovah's Witness, Baptist, Pentecostal
Labels now: Atheist, Happy Person with a free mind!
Why I joined: Looking for love in all the wrong places!
Why I left: Stopped looking in all the wrong places.
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)