sent in by orzelw
My parents had given mainly only lip service to religion up until I was in my mid-teens. My mother was the one to rattle off bible verses, mixed in with other common folk sayings. Meanwhile, my half sister, fourteen years my senior, had become involved with the CoC and graduated from David Lipscomb College, marrying a preacher in the process. Then by the time I reached my mid-teens, my parents were having marital difficulties. My mother insisted they join the CoC and establish a religious foundation. I stood off to the side and watched.
When I reached high school age we moved to California, where I of course had no friends waiting for me. Eventually, the congregation my parents hooked up with managed to coerce me into coming to church and hobnobbing with the youth group. There I struck up friendships, but still managed to hang back on joining the church. I admit I was intrigued with the iconoclastic approach the CoC took, at least as regards the extrascriptural (read: pagan) traditions introduced into Xianity by the Roman church. The CoC was fundamentalist, and therefore stuck to scriptural doctrine (as they interpreted it). That meant no religious observance of Xmas, Easter, etc. Individual families still largely had Xmas trees and presents, held Easter egg hunts, and so on, on their own.
Eventually, with a little applied pressure, I was baptized and decided to go whole hog in church activity--two services on Sunday, Sunday School, Wednesday evening bible study, vacation bible schools, whatever. During that time--the Viet Nam era--I became eligible for the draft. Following the dictates of what I saw as Xian doctrine, I decided that I shouldn't be out participating in warfare (Who would Jesus bomb?--although that was way before the saying existed) and declared myself a Conscientious Objector. That's when I experienced the first flaw in the fabric. I had to get letters of support from church elders and the minister. Well, one of the elders was an old Navy veteran. To him, military service was a holy undertaking. Some people just can't separate religion and nationalism. My Dad was retired Navy as well, but he had no problem with my views. Anyway, that put the first bad taste in my mouth about my new affiliation.
Another disparity was the doctrine against divorce and the rationalizing the members would undertake to have divorces anyway. Yet another was the disconnect over logic. Erich von Daniken had burst on the scene with "Chariots of the Gods?" After we read the book I listened to my Dad discredit it using arguments that could have just as easily been used to discredit the bible.
Well, after about ten years of trying "real hard" to numb my mind to the idiosyncrasies of religious logic, I started work at a job where a fellow employee was a walking, talking atheist encyclopedia. He could rattle off names, dates, and facts like I could tick off the names of my relatives. It was difficult at first to admit that I had just spent ten years of my life running the wrong direction. I fought it, but it was like fighting my own mind with my heart not in it. Once I "gave in" and let the beautiful logic and reason wash over and through my brain cells, I felt relieved of a big burden. Since then I have embraced a secular viewpoint and studied the human inclination toward religious identity.
Everything makes a lot more sense now. I've had many years to acclimate to a life of nonbelief, so there's no vestige of trauma left. I've never regretted my exit from that madness.
Became a Christian: 18
Ceased being a Christian: 28
Labels before: Church of Christ
Labels now: atheist, humanist, freethinker
Why I joined: group pressure
Why I left: the absurdity of it all
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)