sent in by J. Grant
I was brought into a Christian denomination because my family was poor. We were 4 kids, divorced mother, living on welfare, and lemme tell ya - that scenario is no treat, no matter what a lot of people think. We often didn't have food, and we lived at a level of poverty most people wouldn't believe still exists in America.
I was a believer. The church offered us food and clothing, got us into a better house, and baptised us. I was raised thinking Jesus and God and the Holy Ghost were all as real as the chair I'm sitting on now. I lived righteously, never smoked, never listened to "evil music", and a slipped word of profanity sent me running for a prayer. I wanted to live right, and go to heaven.
Looking back, it's hard to believe I was ever that kid.
When I was 15, I had my first real girlfriend. We'd been dating for 8 months when she was raped out in the woods. We'd never had sex. She lived with only minor injuries physically, but the psychological scarring hurt her. A lot.
I prayed night and day on this. One night, walking alone with a very atheist friend, I confided in him what was going on. I felt like God had let me down. I'd lived as perfectly as I could for 8 years, and although I'd believed everything was part of God's plan, I couldn't figure where God's Plan required my girlfriend to live through somehting like that.
My bro turned to me, lighting a cigarette, and with a wry smirk muttered "You sure hinge a lot on God's plan. If there's no God at all, you're going to be one sad m*therf*cker when you die."
Those words stuck with me all night. I knelt to pray before bed, and where I usually felt a connection, I felt nothing at all.
The next morning I tried again, but for the first time in eight years, I felt ridiculous even attempting to pray. It was the last time I tried in my life, at least to God and Jesus.
The sudden realization that you've spent years of your life imagining daily communication with a higher being is a hard one. But I accept my truths as they come, no matter how uncomfortable. I've never looked back, so to speak.
My realization DID drive me to make a lifelong hobby of studying religions from around the world, not as a believeer, but historically. It has taught me a great deal about humans and our need to invent gods. I've also stumbled across a few things that I believe may actually exist, but I don't worship or pray or follow anything. I call myself agnostic, because i maintain that there MAY be higher beings at work - I've just never found solid evidence of them, and they don't seem to much care what goes on here on earth. By the same token, I maintain that the atheists may be right as well. Either way, I won't know until it's too damned late to do anything about it.
I do know one thing - I have never found ANYTHING in all my studies that has led me to believe that Christianity is anything more than a very contrived, false religion. I'm not saying that all Christians are evil - many modern Christian organizations do good work with people. I've met many people I would call excellent Christians - I just keep in mind that they have a personal delusion that does not drive them to commit evil acts to others. There are also people who adhere to the Bible as a tome of Strict Rules, and these folks are damned silly at best, lethally dangerous at worst.
I merely refuse to live under that particular delusion.
Became a Christian: 7
Ceased being a Christian: 15
Labels before: Baptised, Christian
Labels now: Agnostic, Hedonist
Why I joined: Family
Why I left: Loss of faith