sent in by Travis
I was born into a upper middle class, white, southern baptist family. I was required to attend church since birth, raised by very conservative parents, and went to a christian school. Life was going fairly well for me, I had my first real girlfriend who was the text book definition of a christian fundementalist, all of my friends were just as religious as her, I at the time was perhapse even a big more religious then them. My life revolved around the church and my religion, when I was 7 I tried very hard to read through the bible, and even though I could hardly understand any of what it was actually saying or knew what any of it meant I actually made through it front to back in about a month or so. The use of what seemed to me to be mystical words, not to mention that all my life I had heard how divine it was, it impressed me so incredibly much. From about 7 on I was determined to be a preacher, a missionary, to use what I thought was the ultimate weapon against evil... the bible. I would use the bible as my sword and fight away satan like a mighty warrior, using the word to crusade for christ. I would practice what my church called cold witnessing, it basically meant going up to random people and preaching the gospel to them. my young, boyish innocence, my naive, cute smile, and dare I say... my charm... won over many converts, my parents would invite associates over who were not religious and before they came they would have me witness to them, sometimes it was adults and other times it was entire familys, I lived to do this.
By the age of 12 I was one of the leading members of my churches youth group, I was hitting puberty and as funny as this may sound to all of you... I was determined to never masturbait nor have any sexual relations(not even making out) with a woman untill I was married. I actually was very successful at this, however I was not limited to this. I would not listen to anything besides christian music, whether it be gospel or contemperary(relient K, P.O.D., Norma Jean,) if I found a friend who had anything other then christian music I would try my damndest and usually was successful in convincing them to come over my house and bust them up and have my father dispose of it. My father would then usually take us to a store and buy tons of christian music for me and whatever friend(s) were there. I also was heavily active in the pro-life movement, I wore pro-life tshirts, carried around pro-life propoganda pamphlets, buttons, stickers on my books, ect. when I was 14 I also focused my attention on being anti-evolution, my church gave me plenty of fuel to feed me and I would spend hours and hours on the internet posting religious spam on the internet and evolution sites. I honestly and truly thought I was doing the lords work. I think I was as devout as a person could be, I remember spending hours alone, in my room in the dark. I'd close my eyes and basically meditate in prayer, this would last for hours, sometimes more then 3 or 4 at a time.
So what changed, you may ask? One day I answered the phone and it shockingly was my estranged grandmother, whom my parents had told me was dead along with my grandfather. Somehow she looked us up on an internet search and wow... at first I was scared as hell. However my grandmother had a 3 hour conversation that night, and let me say... my entire world was whirling a million times a second. I found out my grandmother was... JEWISH. Wow! wow! wow! let me tell you... I almost fainted. All my life I was taught that the jews crucified MY messiah, that the jews were so ignorant to call him a demon, that to this day they shame god by rejecting his gift of eternal life. Don't get me wrong I and my family were nice to jews, we invited them over, however the sole purpouse was to try and convert them. In privacy I heard nothing but bad things about jewish people, how they were controlling the world market, how secular jews were the ones who created hollywood, and how the anti-christ would be a jew. So when I found out my grandparents whom were very alive and well, my mother, and more importantly... ME were jewish... I went into a total state of depression. I would not talk to anyone, I said nothing of my parents... I was too shocked and hurt. I kept to myself using the excuse that I was praying, I kept myself away from my friends and girlfriend, finally after a few weeks of this I started reading the bible, hoping to find an answer in it, I'd open the bible to a random page and start reading. I'd try to warp whatever I could to make me feel better, I eventually started reading the entire bible, I read through it 3 times, and it did not help my faith whatsoever, in fact it blew me away. I could not believe what I was reading, massacres, contradictions, absurdities, none of it made sense! I was so angry I finally vent my rage and confronted my parents. They called my preacher over ASAP. We all talked and talked and they gave me their reasons for doing what they did and how they had good reasons, how my grandparents would not accept jesus and they did not want them to bring me to hell and that as long as I accepted christ his blood washed away any chance I had of going to hell. I realized that I had no choice but to fake a smile and play their game. I started reading christian apologetics online http://answersingenesis and tektoniks.org. I then decided to get the opposing view and devoured sites such as Infidels.org and talkorigins.org. I was absolutely shocked again... I soon found out how truly mislead I was. I read the case for christ and case for a creator by lee strobel among, however I then read atheist literature, which tore up the christian literature in both logic and evidence. The work of Dan Brown and Richard Carrier especially sticks out in my mind as being especially powerful to me. I think I came close to reading most the tektonics page however alot of it was because I found J.P. holding to be pretty damn funny, reading tektonics actually made me feel silly for being a christian. I soon became a deist, and then an agnostic, and as I researched more and more, and discovered that it was not weird at all for not believing, as I read the korahn, the hindu vedas, as I studied all kinds of theology that I could get my hands on I realized how truly human it all was. I have fell in love with science and the scientific method, I actually read all sides of issues now and I must admit once you truly start understanding and examining the naturual world... it quickly makes you realize how un-needed the supernaturual is, how beautiful life truly can be.
I now live with my grandparents who are both secular jews and more importantly long time subscribers of Skeptic Magazine! Life is beyond good... for once I finally feel free, un-chained, I see the world as one great big mystery and puzzle waiting to be explored. My grandparents and I have an unbelievable relationship, I am a high school senior now with a 4.0 GPA and am headed towards the U of M where I will major in Political Science. I have had great success at my new high school, and find the environment much more open to all kinds of opinion, in fact I have liberated pretty much over 25 of my friends from dogmatic world beliefs, some are atheists, some agnostic, and actually a few are deist. Every friday a big group of us meet at my schools media center durring lunch where we discuss religion, talk about books we had read the previous week and give new book assignments to eachother. Each month we have a theme, 2 weeks we spend reading for example christian apologetic books and then the next two weeks we read atheistic and skeptical literature and then we debate and discuss it all. Topics range anywhere from Evolution and Creationist to spirtualists and near death experiances, to alien abductions and intelligent life on other planets. The feeling and joy I get from this outdoes any type of witnessing or church activity I ever did. I love my life, for once I actually feel free. I now realize that god is not found in the sky or in ancient texts, it is found in holding a new born, in playing baseball with little kids, and even simple things like reading a good book. Once you discover this though you realize that it is not god at all, it is love, happyness, and freedom. Afterall though... that is what god is claimed to be, is it not? I know the above must sound VERY corny but I do believe it to be true.
My goals for the future is to get involved with charity, politics, and perhapse law. I currently am very active in flint soup kitchens, I'm doing whatever I can to raise money for the tsunami victims, and I live for food drives. I believe that what atheists, humanists, and all other like minded people need to do is show our society through our actions what we are all about, that religion is not what gives somebody morals, that all humans are capable of love and caring. I believe this is the only successful way of changing the negativity projected upon non believers.
Anyways I have ranted for far too long and for this I apologize oh and in case your wondering my parents refuse to have anything to do with me and blame my grandparents for "dirtying my soul". I honestly don't care though... if they ever want to get back in my life I will be there with open arms.
City: Genesee County
Became a Christian: Christian from birth
Ceased being a Christian: 18
Labels before: Evangelical, Southern Baptist, Born again, Jew by blood
Labels now: Atheist, Skeptic, Secular Humanist, Jew
Why I joined: Born into a christian family
Why I left: I actually read the bible, researched both sides of the issues, and discovered my judaism.
Email Address: rrwf2001 at yahoo dot com