sent in by Rian
Whew! Where do I start? How bout pre-me.
My parents met at a small fundamentalist bible college Minnesota, and married in 1959. They intended to become bible translators/missionaries following completion of bible translation school. However, my father decided to pursue an advanced degree in American history at the Univ. of Minn. and he eventually earned his PhD in 1966. It was during his graduate studies that my father began to realize the inconsistancies and ultimately, the complete errancy of Christianity. He attempted to deconvert my mother, which, over time, caused my mother to cling more closely to her fundamentalist Christian beliefs. This growing division did not, unfortunately, result in divorce. My father accepted a job at a state university in Illinois in 1966, and, with my sister (born in 62), and my mother, moved from Minnesota and started his teaching career. (To his credit, he loved teaching, excelled at it, and was beloved by many students)
I came along in 1968, my folks bought a house, and we pretended to be a "regular" family. Some time during the late 60's/early 70's my father came to the realization that he was a homosexual. In addition, he began drinking more regularly. We rented out a room in our basement to one of his early graduate students, Dwight, around 1971. I don't know if he and Dad were lovers prior to this new living arrangement, but they were lovers during the early 70's, and Dwight even accompanied us on our occasional family vacations during the summers. My mother, increasingly in denial, continued to take my sister and I to church, and pray for my father's return to the faith. When Dwight broke up with my father around 1975, he was devastated (as I discovered after finding old letters following his death in 2000). His drinking increased and he began his slow, painful descent into alcoholism. As the drinking increased, so did the fighting; verbal and emotional abuse toward my mother. By the late 70's, the drunken, verbal abuse was a nightly occurance, always beginning at the dinner table and continuing after dinner until Dad stumbled downstairs to pass out (by this time he was living in the basement; drinking and sleeping there) Mom continued her life of denial, forcing me to attend our fundamentalist church twice on Sundays and one weeknight (a youth night).
My mother's basis for not divorcing him was one ridiculous verse in the New Testament by that nutjob Paul, stating that the believing spouse could reconcile the unbelieving spouse. She also adhered to the utterly pathetic notion that the wife must be submissive to the husband (how submissive was it for her to continue to attend church?). The whole thing was one huge hypocritical mess.
I was indoctrinated with fundamentalist dogma my entire childhood. I remember being the only kid in Sunday school to outwardly question some of the garbage they were cramming down my thoat. It was around 14 & 15 that I began to realize the absurdity of the situation. I remember one night when I was 15, alone in bed, crying uncontrollably and knowing I had no one to turn to. Obviously, I couldn't rely on my parents. Every time I tried to explain a personal problem to my mom, her answer was in the form of a bible verse. She never knew how to just talk to me, mother to son. All the answers to life's problems were in the bible, even though I had no idea what these obscure and contradicting verses meant. I was even forced to memorize 4 entire books of the bible when I was 12 & 13. I can still recall a verse in Ephesians which was my mother's favorite to reference against 'dirty words' ("Let no corrupt communication proceed from you mouth..."). Yet, every evening a multitude of "corrupt communication" proceeded from my Dad's mouth in the form of "Jesus H fucking Christ," among other verbal tirades. Once, in a desperate attempt to inject humor into the situation, I asked what the "H" meant, but was not heard over the high volume screaming.
My mother expected me to grow up a wholesome Christian young man. She seemed to easily ignore (read deny) every aspect of my childhood surroundings, expecting me to follow in step with the fundamentalist ideals she (and God) had instilled within me. She was completely blind to the fact that she, with my father, were the perpetrators of continous child abuse.
Fortunately, my studies at the university, personal search for sanity, intelligent friends, counseling, reason/common sense, and an open mind to a variety of ideas, have helped me overcome the brainwashing and insanity of my childhood. I don't think I will ever fully recover, as my journey has not been without numerous difficulties; I have struggled with depression, drug addiction, a psychotic brother-in-law, as well as trying to maintain a relationship with my persistently evangelical mother (she is trying to convert S. Koreans as I write this).
My sister, now 41, continues to cling to fundamentalism, and to the best of my knowledge, has never strayed. Her situation is a continual source of pain for me, and if you're willing to keep reading, I'll explain.
She attended a strict fundamentalist college in upstate Indiana, where she met her husband, who "earned" a Master's degree in Marriage Counseling in 1983. They had 3 children together and currently live in California where they pretend to live the wholesome life. Reality, however, tells a different story. (From here on I will refer to her husband as The Counselor).
The Counselor, who no longer counsels because he lost his license (he's a patio salesman now), is a sex addict and a compulsive money spender. In 1996, he was caught masturbating in public and was bailed out of jail by my sister. Fortunately for him, the woman he exposed himself to did not press charges. Keep in mind that this family regularly attends a fundamentalist church where The Counselor teaches a Sunday school class. Let me interject here that I know all of this information because The Counselor decided to tell me (real smart right - telling your brother-in-law that you're cheating on his sister)
This is just the tip of the iceburg. The Counselor also told me that he regularly had strippers come to his "Christian" Counseling Agency to perform for him. He has had numerous affairs (which is odd because he is not very attractive), a few of which he has even admitted to my sister (who, in the pattern of my mother, lives in deep denial of the situation). I must say that The Counselor, upon initial meeting, is a very personable individual; that is why his abilities of deception are so acute. In fact, if I was not aware of all of his sexual and financial problems, I would probably still be friendly toward him.
The Counselor has twice filed for bankruptcy, cannot afford health insurance for his children, and has no retirement/college savings for his wife and children. Yet, the Counselor lives in a large house in S. California, where he owns 4 horses, maintains extravagant landscaping, and drives a gas guzzling Surburban. In addition, The Counselor enjoys taking showers with his children (I shudder to think).
My sister, in her infinite wisdom, has been "home-schooling" (I use the word schooling very loosely) her children since birth, because she is afraid that the secular public schools will imbue horrific worldly values upon her children. To say 'irony' would be a gross understatement. One of my sister's favorite sayings is "What Would Jesus Do?". Yes indeed, what would ole JC do?
Indeed, the "Christians" in my family have not been the best witnesses for the faith. Obviously, this has not helped their cause in their desire for my return to the faith. In addition, I do not reject Christianity because of their misgivings. I have a good friend who happens to be a Christian, not of the fundamentalist breed, who is currently working on his Doctorate in Theology at Cambridge. We engage in intelligible debates and I quite enjoy our relationship. I reject Christianity on philosophical and historical grounds, but I am willing to hear arguments and discussions from all angles, and from a variety of religions, if they are intelligible and thought provoking. I do not believe Christianity is wholly bad. I respect aspects of the Amish ideals (I grew up near a large Amish community), especially their cooking! At least they don't knock down your door asking you if you would like to have a 'personal' relationship with Jesus. What is that anyway, a personal relationship? Shouldn't it be a public relationship? Wasn't the early church based on community?
I digress. Anyhow, thanks for reading my story in a nutshell. I plan to write my life story in book form very soon (there is so much to tell). Please feel free to email me if you have any comments or would like to share your experience with me.
Peace to all,
Country: Germany (currently)
Became a Christian: 7
Ceased being a Christian: 18
Labels before: IFCA (Independent Fundamental Churchs of America) & Baptist)
Labels now: Atheist
Why I joined: My Momma said so
Why I left: Christianity is nonsensical
Email Address: socalsurfstrat at yahoo dot com
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)