sent in by Ravnostic
My story begins with a secular childhood. My mother's family wasn't particularly religious and my dad didn't have time to waste in church, he worked 7 days to put food on the table and wasn't going to piss away 10% to a god he figured didn't need it (god's minions did, though.)
So at about 8 yrs of age we move to Arizona, in Mesa. Mesa in 1975 was nothing but a mormon community, and after a few months dad realized the only way to get by was to join the church. I was baptized at about 8 yrs old or so. Sure enough, dad did well, eventually getting the contract in his field to repair the churches. So having been established, he ceased to go. I was probably 10 or so then.
I was a smart little twerp--I knew I was gay all my life but didn't know the word till I was in 3rd grade, overheard it on TV and looked it up in the encyclopedia at school (you can imagine--book cracked open just a hair so no one could see what I was reading.) And having been to more than a few services, I knew it wasn't accepted in the Mormon world I lived in. But the encyclo covered all that--said that the Amer. Psychological Assn determined it was a normal variant, but that society hadn't caught up to that belief. So I kept going to church, but I took their teaching with a grain of salt.
Then came AIDS, in my early teen years. I figured I'd be dead by 30 (the outlook was pretty grim in the early 80's, but I'm now 36 and HIV-, so I guess safe sex is effective ), so I didn't really plan for the future. I was apt to be influenced and in my teens watched the Christian Broadcasts, did the whole 'Jesus free me from my sins' thing, but promply forgot it the next day/week whatever.
In my teens I had a guy who I fooled around with, and when we were 18 he met a girl who had moved in next door. Her mother was one of those who followed a guy named William Branham, a real whackjob prophet (his group is still around); I listened, but still didn't really believe--I just believed that she did (she had a near-death experience and believed she had seen Christ and the Devil while there).
He eventually married her and got sucked into her religion, his only former friend is another who got sucked in, too. She ousted me by saying that my 'illness' could infect her children. Her mother believed her providence protected her kids, I guess the daughter's faith was week. I didn't tell her that her husband had been screwing around with me for 7 years, I wasn't mean and he did have to live with her. But what a b*tch!
So religion wasn't particularly good to me. It was nice when my mom was in the hospital that the mormons brought us fresh meals, so I did learn compassion from them, but bring up homosexuality and the compassion fades fast. When my grandfather dies, I plan on requesting to be excommunicated (no reason to upset my grandfather, though, and not so important to me as in my heart I'm already a jack-mormon.)
Post 9-11, I started studying religion (what gives? I asked. Who are these nutballs?). I've read a number of books on the topic; I highly recommend Karen Armstrong, an exnun that has written great books on the history of God. I've found that religion evolves like everything else. It changes to suit the times, and if the change isn't wanted, that part of Christianity dies. I've learned where this current fundementalist agenda comes from, so I can at least understand it intellectually. Know thy enemy, so they say. Most importantly, I have learned to refute their claims in some pretty outstanding ways. I use the good book against them when needed. I've had discourse with one guy (who gave up when he realized I wasn't a seeker) who simply could not validate his positions intellectually.
Honestly, I view religion in general as a good thing, but the Fundy's have really started to screw things up in my view. I consider them intellectually inferior, simply because they do not use their 'god given' senses to rationally analyze the world. Their source material is 2000 years out of date, and they refuse to upgrade. It's rather sad that they produce like bunnies, as that is the surest way of increasing their #s.
Here's a few zingers I like to use when appropriate:
Have you been saved?: No, I haven't even been spent yet.
"The Lord is my shepard et. al.": You know why shepards keep a flock of sheep? It's not for the good of the herd. Shepards keep them to milk them of the food for their young, to fleece them for their fur, to eat them for supper, or in some instances, to fornicate with them. Now, I'd say I'd rather be on the shepard end of the bargain.
On the homeless begging: I have a little card that quotes 2 Thes:
For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies.
Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.
But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing.
And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.
Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.
So I give them a card that says I have no Money/food/time/sympathy/cigarettes for you today, with a smiley face and a Christian cross on the front, and that quote in the back. Quite effective, especially if you ask them if they are christian as you reach for the card IN YOUR WALLET (of course they say yes, so it's a double dinger.) Now, I should state, I'll buy virtually anything a homeless guy can make to sell, but I do not give to those who do nothing and just want a handout.
Anywho, some of you have been vehomently cruel in your Christian bashing, keep in mind that hatred stems from fear, and perhaps you're still a bit fearful that you're wrong. Don't be. There is no god, in the Christian sense anyway, but life has much to offer without him. Hatred gains no worth, just pity those too dumb to do better.
Became a Christian: 8
Ceased being a Christian: ~20
Labels before: Mormon
Labels now: consciously sentient
Why I joined: family
Why I left: did I ever really believe?
Email Address: notspent at cox dot net