Thank you, Davinci Code, A Brief History of Nearly Everything (Bill Bryson), and The Origin of Satan (Elaine Pagels)

sent in by Ellen

My first memory of Christianity would be the day I became "saved" at the age of 3. Sunday School was fun, but I was a bit confused. I came home from church singing, "Jesus Loves Me," only I replaced the word "Jesus" with "The Devil." That brought me quite a disgusted glare from my father. It also motivated him to sit down and have the talk with me, the talk that told me I would spend eternity in a fiery place called "Hell" if I did not ask Jesus to come into my heart and to forgive my sins.

The following 15 years of my life involved many nights of intense fear, worrying that my salvation prayer did not take. I didn't feel like I had anyone in my heart or that God spoke to me, like he seemed to so often with other Christians. I became an insomniac at the age of 3 and have struggled with insomnia and nightmares ever since. I lay awake at night crying and doubling over in stomach pain caused by anxiety (I believe I had an ulcer). For years, I wondered most nights whether or not I was truly a Christian and going to heaven, rather than hell. It didn't help when my Fundamentalist Baptist pastor said things like, "If you have never witnessed to another person and brought them to salvation, you are most likely not a true Christian, or, "If you didn't notice a complete change in your life after you became saved, you need to search your heart and see if you are indeed saved."

The intense fear I experienced as a result of being born into an evangelical Christian family did not stop at the idea of burning in Hell for eternity. My family took the Bible verse, "Spare the rod, spoil the child" to quite an extreme. I spent many sleepless nights worrying about what I might have done wrong recently that warranted a belt-whipping. Also, I often dealt with the worry that the devil was going to get me. For example, according to my father, my misdeed of listening to 80’s pop rock music was bad enough to open the door to my soul for Satan. God could not protect me from Satan if I opened this door. Speaking of Satan, I don't know if I will ever fully recover from seeing my father (who fancied himself a preacher) perform an exorcism on my 16 year-old babysitter. Interestingly, she took her own life one week after the exorcism. To this day, I have nightmares of demons and worry that maybe it is really true and maybe there are demons that can get you. I have never seen the Exorcist and never will!

My liberation from Christianity was actually a gradual thing that started in my childhood. Even as a child, I recognized the discrepancies and hypocrisies in the bible and wondered whether there really was a God. Sadly, my worst nights of fear were after I let my mind entertain this idea. Surely God would punish me for doubting his existence or the existence of his son. I made a small breakthrough not too long after I started college. I decided that I was so sick and tired of worrying about whether or not I was "saved" and whether or not I was going to hell that I finally said, "I DON'T CARE ANYMORE." Even if I was going to hell, I was not going to waste my time worrying anymore. What could I do about it anyway? If the salvation prayer didn't stick any of the first 20 times, how was it going to magically work now?

Then, at 25, I met my first Atheist (who later became my boyfriend and then husband). He was the only person I'd ever met who was not afraid to say that he didn't believe in God. Hearing his opinion of the ideas and behavior of "crazy Christians" made me realize just how crazy and bizarre it was. We loved to talk back then, as we do now, about science and the origin of the Universe. I have an intense hunger now for the truth, which I believe lies in science. It is so sad to me that so many people go through life blindly, never experiencing the awe of the universe or the wonderment of evolution, for the lack of being able to believe anything that is not in the Bible.

I cannot describe in words the feeling of freedom I have now. Like so many others who've given their testimonies here, I am the only one in my family now who is not a Christian. While they're praying for my soul and looking at me in judgment, I'm hoping that one day, they'll get to experience what I have - opening of the mind and eyes and realizing what a magnificent universe this is.

I'd like to end with a sincere thank you to all the people who have shared their testimonies on this website. I just found this website yesterday, and I'm comforted and thrilled to find people I can identify with so well. I'm excited to see that there's so many "thinking" people out there who have decided to seek the genuine truth. I must admit, I still have my days (few and far between) when I think that maybe I am wrong, maybe God is going to get me for doubting him. If anyone out there still struggles and knows of a book or a source of information for me to read (I love to read books that make it obvious that the bible is fallible and that man created Christianity, i.e., The Origin of Satan), please let me know. I would greatly appreciate it.

Thank you for reading my story!

Became a Christian: 4
Ceased being a Christian: 20 - 25
Labels before: Baptist
Labels now: Atheist, & FREE
Why I joined: I was scared into it by my father
Why I left: I had doubts about Christianity for years and finally gained the courage
Email Address: ellenteachout at earthlink dot net

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