sent in by Brandon
One of my earliest memories is of being "saved" in my church when I was six years old. I remember feeling that I absolutely must accept Jesus into my heart to let him forgive me of my sins, so that I could live in Heaven forever with Him. It was a powerful emotional experience. I felt like I was bathed in the light of the creator of all things, that I had found the ultimate truth.
A part of me was saddened by the thought that I would never grow up, that the rapture would come and take me up to heaven before I could experience being an adult. I wondered what was wrong with my peers, why they wouldnt rush to save themselves from the eternal torment of Hell? I suppose my vivid imagination and sensitivity contributed alot to the fear.
Another childhood experience that stands out involved a church-sponsored "haunted house" type of walk-through exhibit. I am not quite sure how old I was when my ever so thoughtful parents took me to this, but I think it was a few years after I was baptised, so maybe 8 years old. If you are from the Bible Belt like me, you probably know how these things go...milder versions, like "Judgement House" were popular with the religious folks when I was in middle school.
The point of these programs are to put the fear of god in you. They take place during Halloween, which of course is evil and should not be celebrated. The one I visited as a child was an outdoor exhibit called the "Chilling Fields." It was supposed to simulate life on earth after the "rapture" had come and taken all the good christian folk. It was in the middle of the night, in the woods. There were men in horror make-up running around with chainsaws at screaming dismembered victims. Victims of demonic possession murmuring about the "mark of the beast" and so forth. Car accidents in which the christian driver was suddenly beamed up to Heaven to be with their loving God, leaving the passengers to die in a horrifying crash. Seizure-inducing light effects. Simulations of abortions, murder, rape, war, blood, screaming, agony, horror. It scared the living shit out of me. I had nightmares for months.
What angers me the most about my christian upbringing is the sexual guilt. I started having thoughts of naked women as a young boy, and it made me feel filthy. I constantly tried to push the thoughts out of my head. I prayed to god to make them go away. They didnt, and I felt guilty and ashamed of myself.
I know better than to jump to conclusions, and possibly confuse correlation with causation, but I have also lived in a state of near-constant depression and general anxiety since I was a child. I had been able to hide these feelings, and appear as the "strong silent type" until I got to college. I got all A's at one of the top 5 public universities in the country, but have left for the second time because of my depression. It has gotten bad. I have lost most of my friends-I used to have quite a bit. Most of them are christians, and a few are very religious. Not a single ONE of them ever asked me about my problems, much less had the balls to tell me what they think of me. I have found that most religious people are gutless and live in constant fear.
Thinking about death constantly has led me to do some real thinking on what exactly I believe. My interest in science and reality pretty much already had me to the point where I thought of religion as a joke...but now I dont think its that funny anymore. It is not a benign disease.
Depression and other mental illnesses run in my family, and my mother has always been pretty miserable, as have her parents. Faith in nothing is literally all they have to live for at this point, so Im sure not going to speak up about it to them. My family of course, even though they put on the veil of sympathy, see my problems as a moral failing, that its because I have rejected God. Funny that I started off as the most religious one of all.
I am willing to rattle some cages. We have been submitting to this twisted bullshit for too long. There needs to be a movement. A movement for real morality and truth.
Joined: Born into Church
Left: Admitted it to myself at my current age of 20
Was: Baptist, "saved"
Now: agnostic on my good days, usually athiest
Converted because: Fear, childish naivety
De-converted because: Started thinking about religion