sent in by Alison Randall
I enjoyed church really for one reason: when I took home the information they gave me, I would get a great and horrified reaction from my parents. They wanted to be Christians; they really did. They were very young and strangers in a new town. My Mom left her Quaker family, my dad's was Methodist, but he never really went to church. My dad was a music teacher and got a position as choir director. I think this got my brother and I places in the private school in this independent evangelical church we went to. I ended up practically living in this place.
Yesterday I had a long conversation with my mother. She really regrets what "that church did to you." She told me that, along with my brother and I, the two children of their best friends will never darken the door of a church again. She relayed a story of one of my horrifying church school-lessons. Apparently, my teacher taught us that, since we were all made of clay, Jesus left some in the sun too long and they were "ruined." These clay people were the black and brown people. I also informed my Mom that my heart was black until Jesus could wash it white again with His blood. One day, after I has received a spanking, I tearfully said to my father, "thank you." This spooked them, and their fears were confirmed. My teacher had told me to say this.
It took them a long time to get out of there. They waited until some scandal split the community in two before they left. I was spooked this time and asked to be baptized. I was, but to my disappoinment, nothing happened. I left the church, because I had no one to go with. I begged my family, and for several weeks, we went from one church to another. Fancy hand-waving churches, bluegrass churches, fire and brimstone churches. Mom chose a stained-glass church with a big organ. Many members of the symphony went there. she liked to sing. I went for a couple of years, but by this time, I already had been trained not to trust christains. Too many christians were my babysitting clients, and they were just too weird. Besides, my father was educating me in science, philosphy and other ideas, and Mom was educating me on women's rights and good taste: something she taught me was absent from Christianity since the Victorian era. You could tell good art from bad art, and gone were the Michelangelos, here to stay were the Helen Steiner-Rices and the Precious Moments.
I went to a very progressive college after that and was educated in comparative religion. I found skepticism, which was handy in a college that embraced New Age and Paganism. It was during one summer after my sophomore year that I knew I had to say the words to myself: I am an atheist. It was sometime around the "Brief History of Time" craze. God just didn't fit in anymore. And that was ok. It was a huge relief, and I felt proud of myself for taking that stand.
Today I am living in Quebec, Canada, the least religious place in north America. It's a great step away from even Seattle, where I lived before. Religion is for the elderly, and for the token french-canadian catholic culture that's lost any deep spiritual meaning since the sixties. I have a weekly internet audio show now, and a station, and I write and record every day. It's called The Hellbound Alleee Station, at http://www.hellboundalleee.com / My husband and I have many other websites, including Strong Atheism dot net, the Graveyard of the Gods ministry, and our site about Crackpottery, Insolitology. My husband and I are very fond of our inlaws, and he even got along well with the religious ones I only see at Christmas.
I am much happpier being morally autonomous. It's exciting, and sometimes a bit stressful to confront Christian fundamentalists, but I think it's important, and I've come to be used to being courageous. It makes me feel like I'm not wasting the short time I have on this little planet.
Became a Christian: I don't think I ever truly was a Christian, but I was put in a Christian church/school at about 1 1/2 years old, through to age 7. I went to church until I was 15.
Ceased being a Christian: I stopped being a christains at about 16, when I decided I would never set foot in church again.
Labels before: I was a member of the Calvary Bible Church, then I was a First Presbyterian-in-law. Through my parents. They almost had me. I even have a "born again birth certificate" from 1976.
Labels now: I am a rational/spiritual material individualist
Why I joined: I became "born again" through peer-pressure only. I got baptized at 12 because of fear alone.
Why I left: I deconverted because I listened to the minister, and I was fed up with the sexism in the church. I peeled away christainity starting with hell and the Devil, and I went from there.
Email Address: afrpennycentury at hotmail 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)