sent in by Tyson
Wow! Where do I even start? I want to try to make this as short as possible if I can.
Ok, I was born on St. Thomas United States Virgin Islands and raised 150 miles southeast on an island known as St. Kitts (Christopher). From the time I knew myself, I was going to church because I went to St. Kitts when I was 6 months old.
My grandmother raised me Catholic and you guys have got to realize that 30 years ago, the Caribbean was a bastion of Christianity of all types of faith. Slavery's legacy of learning the religion of the slavemaster for 400 years was deeply entrenched. I don't even remember Muslims, Buddhists, Jews, Taoists, Wiccans or Hindus in the community much less the island. You were either Catholic, Methodist, Lutheran, Moravian, Baptist or Pentecostal. In fact, considering this was back in the mid to late 60s, we had no television at the time and all my grandmother did was have her radio locked on a Christian station 24/7/365. The radio was NEVER off so I was deeply indoctrinated with Christianity. I knew every Gospel program theme song from the Haven of Rest to R. W Schambach and the likes. I did not even know what a secular song was. I knew Bible stories like I now know sports teams today.
Because I was a wild and hyper kid, my grandmother was so sure I was possessed so on Sundays after coming home from mass, She had the Baptist neighbors take me to church at 11 am then at nights, she sent me to church with some other neighbors who attended a Pentecostal church. Like I said, I was inundated with Christianity, but I knew I was going to be trouble when I asked my grandmother why we went to mass to bow down before images when one of the Commandments stated we should not. I don't recall an answer. I knew I was going to be a curious kid.
Jumping about 10 years ahead after a 4 year stay in New York City with my dad who also made sure I went to church, I moved back to St.Thomas to live with my mom. One night as I was taking out the garbage, one Christian friend of mine invited me to church. For years I had a problem telling people NO and I caved in and went. It was some kind of evangelistic week and the guest preacher yelled and carried on which had no effect on me. I have no idea what the hell he was even babbling about, but at service end when everyone was in "silent prayer" while the altar call was given to the scumbag sinners, I was sitting there looking around at all these kneeling people. It was a classic case of all the soldiers taking a step back to make it appear you stepped forward to volunteer. So I'm one of the few people sitting down looking around like an idiot clearly making me a "sinner." Next thing I know my friend was in my ear "witnessing" to me. Again, having no spine to say NO, I caved in to his sales pitch because he asked me what if I did not make it home and died, would I go to heaven. Hey, who did not want to go to heaven? That night I "gave my life to the Lord."
The church I was attending was big on witnessing and they had a subtle way of suggesting that if you did not "lead someone to the Lord," your salvation was questioned so the first people I decided to beat over the head with a Bible were the growing group of Rastafarians that were emerging. Many of them were about my age and of course, they were heathens that needed a good piece of saving. They and I went back and fort in debates with me basically telling them they're going to hell for not accepting Jesus.
The next thing I had to do was become "baptized in the holy spirit." If you were not a fundamentalist, don't even ask me to explain. Anyway, under pressure to prove I was graduating upwards in the faith, I went home one night and in prayer I babbled off a few unrecognizable words and came to church on Sunday and declared I was now baptized in the holy spirit. My "baptism in the spirit" was not accompanied by any cartwheels, however. This would have only been necessary if it had happened in church where you would need some external evidence to convince the crow you really got him (the holy spirit). This now meant I could now preach, teach and sing "anointed specials" on Sunday morning.
After berating the pagans (the Rastafarians and Catholics whom I now, through Protestant indoctrination, saw as the Great Beast of Revelation and red Harlot), like the state sponsored church of the 4th century under Imperial guidance, I turned my attention to the heretics...you know, those Baptists who believed you could NOT lose your salvation and those "liberal churches" where women wore jewelry and makeup. I had to teach them they were wrong and did not have the right brand of salvation. I had all kinds of debates with them basically telling them that with their kind of teaching and looseness in dressing, they were not going to heaven. That's right! I had a hell to take 'em out of and a heaven to put 'em into.
I then moved back to New York at age 17 upon graduation and found a branch of my church from back in St.Thomas. They were just as stiff. They had what I called a group of "sin sniffers" in the church. These folks made sure they were all up in your business making sure you were following every rule in the Bible and the church. For weddings, they sat at the edge of the aisle to make sure the females and the bride were not wearing ANY makeup whatsoever. If they were, this made fodder for the Sunday morning service. Like my church back home, they loved a good message about rebuking women for wearing makeup and flaunting themselves to make men "fall." They loved a good old fashioned telling off from the pastor which would be greeted with tons of "amens."
One of the big things was that they placed a lot of pressure of 19, 20, 23 year olds to get married because there was no way you as a young couple could be dating for 1 year or more, in their estimation, and not getting "some" on the down low. In other words - FORNICATING! To ease the suspicions, young kids would dive right into marriage barely knowing one thing about the world. Worse if you were like say, 25 and you had a younger sibling getting married. You would eventually be asked, "So, when are you getting married?" Needless to say, many of those couples are trapped in living hells, but the church also frowns on divorce and does not allow it using the Bible as their basis. This also led to many secret affairs many of which I knew about.
During this time, I bought just about every book there was on Christian apologetics from authors like Josh McDowell, John Ankerberg and Henry Morris. I learned about all the critic's arguments and objections and how to counter them. I had a massive library of Christian material. I then studied about all the cults and what they taught and how to counter them. I then turned my attention to studying world religions and this is about where the wheels began to fall off in addition to something from a Christian author, Phillip Yancey.
The same guy who "led me to Christ" lost his mother. I was living in Florida at this time and I decided to go to the Christian bookstore to find some book to read to come up with some comforting words. I stumbled into Phllip Yancey's book titled, "Disappointment with God." The book was very pro-god despite the title, however, Phillip used a real person in his book, whose story he sprinkled in between his arguments for God. In short this person lost faith in God after first writing a great thesis on the book of Job elevating God and promoting his faithfulness only to come around later and find out that the story made no sense and if it did, God was actually the villan in it all. All I can remember reverberating in my head was him saying, "GOD MADE A BET WITH THE DEVIL!" It stuck with me and I could not deny the validity to that statement. I did not want to admit it, but that is exactly what happened.
That seed of doubt grew and I began to look at the Bible more critically and began to realize some off the wall things. I used to have problems with certain passages, but figured the problem was me just not understanding the mysteries of God. Now I stopped thinking like that and went full speed ahead in critically analyzing the Bible. The story of Job was a great example of how brainwashed I was. Here I read in black and white that God obliged his own sworn enemy (allegedly) by ALLOWING him to torture his servant just to prove a point. For what reason? To get an orgasm over it? In addition, the story made no sense. Satan hanging out in god's court. Wasn't he supposed to be God's great enemy? What was doing in god's presence? Wasn't this the same god who could not tolerate evil in his sight? This coupled with a few other things dealing with the Bible such as now realizing the Bible was not as unique as I thought and what I read in it was an evolving theology where on era contradicted another, I just decided to give it all up as a pile of crock! The one thing I am left determining is whether or not god actually ordered and did those gruesome things mentioned in the Old Testament or was it just simply the author's who placed words in his mouth and actions in his hands to explain and/or justify certain things. Like, did he really tell the Israelites to wipe out the Canaanites or was it just a case of a bunch of land hungry nomads who envied the Canaanites, wanted the land (the motive), scandalized the people as wicked idol worshipping pagans (the propaganda) then saw the need to make sure they tossed in God (as per their holy writ) in the mix to justify their barbaric means by which they would acquire this land (the act).
I left out a whole deal that would make this story all the more amazing. I did not even mention "Prophet Brown" who scammed whole congregations or the pastor who slept with a church member's mother only to have that member tell him off during a big broad Sunday morning service. I did not tell how when the church members found me asking too many questions how they try to subtly RE-convert me and how they used to follow me around to see what other churches I was visiting, like the Brooklyn Tabernacle Church on Flatbush Ave in Brooklyn. Now today I visit three sites and post reasons why I can't believe the Bible is the word of God, doubt Jesus ever existed or if he did, did the things claimed of him or that the way to God is even through him. I'm not an atheist nor did I go to those sites as an atheist. They know how to deal with them. I'm an apostate (as I've been labeled), one from the inside who knows every thought, every move, every response and objection they will bring. I'm a traitor and they don't know how to deal with me. I've been called "Satan's Spawn" by some wide-eyed new 23 year old Christian and some other Christian lady in convinced there is NO way I gave up on the faith unless I did something bad, could not deal with the tough road the Christian must travel or I wanted to simply give it up so I can party, have wild sex and just live carefree. Oh, and I've also been told I'm being led by the devil. Regardless of what they want to say, all I know now is that I am free. I feel so good and so free and so at peace when they think I am so trapped, lost and deceived. LOL!!! is all I can say. I now finally have seen the light! Now to deal with mom!
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)