sent in by Brandon
Ahh where to begin? As a child I was raised in a bible-thumping Baptist church until I was roughly 6 or 7. I am not sure as to the time my family stopped going. The church played a huge part in my family’s life, particularly in my mother’s. Rock music was evil, gay people were “ate up with the devil”…I’m pretty sure everyone has heard the rants of the church. Of course I was susceptible to believing these lies too. Iwas a naive child. Jesus loved me, or so I thought. I loved my parents and really wanted to please them. They were the moral authority in my life. I am not saying they were tyrants or anything. They were very loving and set me on a pretty straight course for life, albeit with some pretty disturbing Christian-opinions.
Anyway, my mother joined a local church and became pretty involved. She taught Sunday school and was involved in a lot of the church planning. She left because of the corruption she had witnessed within the church. After that our family pretty much stopped going to church. The word of God was still prominent within our household. The old ideas still stood regardless of the church not being part of the picture. The good old Ten Commandments plaque was a constant reminder. All of the relics of the “bible belt” adorned the walls. Having Baptist aunts and uncles also helps. I truly embraced this. Then again I embraced fairy tales and Disney movies too. What kid doesn’t like to believe in fantastical things and ideas?
I honestly believed that if I didn’t believe I was going to burn in hell. It is so horrifying to hear and to believe that at such a young age. Some nights I could not sleep because I thought a demon was going to get me. Anything I thought I did that would displease god worried me and I would obsess myself with it. I was also overweight and tormented by the kids at school. My first question of the existence of god (notice I am not capitalizing it) occurred somewhere along that time. I was reassured that he existed and that god doesn’t put anything more on your shoulders than you can handle. What a steaming load of bullshit. It sounded good at the time though. I hit the rebellious years in high school and had some atheist friends. I liked them as friends but worried about their souls. I also started listening to heavy metal music, another one of the “devil’s tools.” Once again I questioned god’s existence, and actually fell from the fold. I thought that my friends were good people, and wondered why they would be punished because they didn’t adhere to the laws of god? I finished school conflicted and angry yet I still believed in god.
I started college and began going to an Evangelical Church. The church had night services and primarily college students attended. The church had a very positive atmosphere. There was singing, sermons, and prayer at the end. I really thought god was reaching out to me and cried the second night I attended. I was severely depressed and wanted harmony in my life. However this joy faded quickly. I was still depressed. The depression extended to all aspects of my life. I wondered if god was so great why was I in so much emotional pain? If Jesus is in my heart why do I feel like killing myself? I left the church again. I still believed in god despite every contradicting idea in my brain.
Later on in college I began taking some classes in philosophy. Many times we studied theological ideas and arguments concerning the existence of god. Each side had good arguments. The arguments against the existence of god were compelling. This was the spark that led to my present beliefs. At the time I dismissed them as “merely arguments” and still believed in god because I didn’t want the consequences of not believing in case god did exist. On the other hand I really started to have more of an open mind. I was an intelligent person and thought that intelligent people should be open to both sides of argument, rather than sticking with one particular belief. If one does not, they are blinded and gullible. This was me before I started thinking for myself.
The final nail in the proverbial coffin was a few months ago when my father passed away. At his funeral, rather than remembering my father for the good things he did, the pastor instead deciding to pursue an open chance for some recruiting. He said that we were truly “preparing for our own funeral” rather than attending my father’s. He said that “if you do not accept Christ and walk in his blood then you are going to go to hell.” I couldn’t believe my own ears. How dare this man say this at my father’s funeral? I was mourning the loss of my father and this man had the nerve to preach about his fatalistic views? I came to realize that the bible actually supports this viewpoint (???!!) and began studying all of the contradictions of the bible. This book that I revered as the icon of morality was nothing more than a collection of stories promoting bigotry, misogyny, and death. I also came to realize that even though I don’t know how the universe started, that doesn’t mean some sky daddy created it. I was actually angry at myself for believing such nonsense. I found this website and was comforted to find that so many other people have had similar experiences and beliefs. I cease to be a Christian and am proud to be an atheist. Atheism was the key that freed my mind from its prison.
Became a Christian: 1
Ceased being a Christian: 21
Labels before: Baptist, Evangelical
Labels now: Atheist
Why I joined: Parents, fear
Why I left: Hypocrisy and reason
Email Address: bracox at highstream dot net