sent in by Jen
I was raised christian. My parents are divorced and I spent half of my childhood with each parent and each parent had different beliefs but were (and still are) christians.
The first half was with my dad. He attended a Church of Christ. They believe music (even in church)is a sin, dancing is sin, etc. along with all the usual "sinful" things like cursing, impure thoughts and so on. My dad made me go to church everytime the doors were open. I remember always falling asleep it was so boring. Even if I was sick he made me go. He was very strict and everything was a sin. If we rented a movie that had anything remotely suggestive in it he would go nuts and make me turn it off. He read his bible all the time. I remember once buying a teeny bopper magazine and he got really mad and told me not to buy another one because it had lustful pictures of boys in it (who were fully clothed mind you). He would tell me that if I sinned he would go to hell too because the parent is held accountable and will be punished for the childs sins. His church did not believe children should be baptized untill they are old enough to know the difference between right and wrong though so I wasnt saved or baptized untill later when while living with my mom she started going to a baptist church and got saved herself.
She encouraged me to go with her and my stepdad. She attended a "spirit filled" southern baptist church with a choir and recorded music, shouting preachers, laying on of hands, casting out demons, speaking in toungues, foot washing, altar calls, etc. This was very different from what I had seen at my dads church.The first time I went they had the children come up and do alittle song. I dont know why but I started crying and couldnt stop. Then after the service they had an altar call,and asked if anyone was lost and felt the lord calling them to come forward and give their life the lord, repent of their sins etc. I assumed that the reason Iwas crying must be god pulling on my heart strings so I went forward. I remember thinking,when the pastor was praying the sinners prayer with me, "what am I getting into here? This is a big commitment." He talked about turning my life over to god and thats just what I did.
I dont know how many of you have ever attended a church like this but they believed that if you did anything sinful and did not pray for forgiveness right then and Jesus came back and you had sin on you then you would go to hell even if you were saved. They preached about being a witness and a warrior for god all the time. This meant wearing christian t shirts and handing out tracts and such. I spent alot of allowance money on that junk. They also believed satan and his demons were literally fighting a battle with god and were trying to trick christians into sinning or whatever. And that they are all around us all the time. Anything you did should involve god. And you sould not do worldly things when you could be worshiping god or studying the bible instead. If you were going to listen to music it better be christian music. In other words every second of your life should be about god/jesus.
I really fell for it for a while. My mom and stepdad were very devoted and we were at church most of the time. It was my life. I didnt have any friends and was very shy so I had nothing outside of that environment really, I guess that is partly why I got so involved with church. I became more of an outcast at school because of my witnessing. I wore a christian tshirt everyday because I felt like it was my duty and I would be letting jesus down if I didnt. I got so paranoid that I would do or think something sinful. I was praying and repenting all time. I thought there were demons around me. I slept with a bible under my pillow. I even thought I was possessed at one time because I would have these terrible sinful thoughts.
Finally I was introduced to a boy my age (by this time I was 16) at church.He wasnt really a christian he was just forced to go like I had been. I started having more of a social life outside of church after we started dating and I had someone to talk to about things that didnt set right with me or I didnt understand about the bible.
I started really listening to some of the things the preacher was saying and how hypocritical and contratictory it was. During sunday school we were reading the old testament. I remember "thinking how could a loving god do all these things to his children?" It talked about plagues, killing people, sacrifices, all kinds these terrible things. I began to open my eyes and see how I had been brainwashed. I got discusted with how everyone just seemed to act like zombies. If one person started clapping or raising their hands durning the singing everyone would follow along. If one person stood up and shouted "amen" ten more people would. I realized most people were just playing follow the leader but I didnt want to play anymore.
Unfortunetly I had no choice. I would still be forced to go. My mom would be devistated to learn I didnt believe and think I would surely go to hell. There was always an altar call at the end of the service and if I didnt go up they would wonder why.
Finally when I moved out on my own I didnt have to go. I was able to think for my self and had access to other belief systems and points of view. I decided I no longer believed or wanted to believe in their god. I have struggled with it though because I was taught all those years that the bible was true, Heaven and Hell were real, and Jesus died for my sins. Some part of me still feels guilty for not believing it. My parents dont know that I am not a christian and I dont see how I can tell them. It would break their hearts. Not to mention all the preaching at me they would do. I dont know I will ever tell them. I m not even sure exactly what I do believe I m still trying to figure that out. I do alot of reading about didnt religions and beliefs. I also try to read about science to get a grasp of how things really work instead of going on myths and superstitions. I hope this made sense. Any input would be appriciated.
How old were you when you became a christian? "saved" at 15
How old were you when you ceased being a christian? 17 or 18
What churches or organizations or labels have applied to you? Baptist, Christian
What labels, if any, would you apply to yourself now? athiest/pantheist
Why did you become a christian?f orced to go to church, felt guilty
Why did you de-convert?l earned to think for myself
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)