sent in by Joe
I was raised in an Assemblies of God church in upstate NY since I was born. My parents are devout born-again Christians and have forced…um...highly encouraged me to attend all services (negatively termed indoctrination sessions) and to live my life for Christ until I finally moved out of the house. I can remember when I was a young boy and had asked my father if he also had a stomach ache every time we went to church. It never felt comfortable for me there but all I knew was to obey my parents and do as I was told. I loved and trusted my parents and wanted to please them very much. I honestly believed in everything that was taught to me and was a self-proclaimed Christian by age 4.
In 1989 (Age 9), I remember a member of the church coming down to teach our children’s church. Her goal was to have all of us young kids speak in unknown tongues and be “slain in the spirit” aka "baptized by the holy ghost". As a young boy, I was very confused by this and it didn’t seem normal or natural to utter nonsense. The other kids were doing quite nicely and when I asked why I couldn’t do it, the answer was something along the lines of, “well, you aren’t Christian enough yet, just keep praying and you'll soon mature in the faith.” I specifically remember her coming to me and “praying for me”. She asked me, “Do you hear the funny voices coming to your head??” This, of course, freaked me out and I had no idea how to respond to this type of question. So, I started making up words and doing what I thought would result in leaving me alone. It was a very awkward and uncomfortable situation for me.
As I grew older (early teenage years), I was very limited to what I was allowed to do. Growing up in a strict Pentecostal household, I had two choices for my Friday night endeavors: Go to Youth Group or stay home. Being a normal teenager and possessing the natural need to be social, I opted for the Youth Group. What fun we had. While my friends from school were going to movies or the mall, I was at Goat Island in Niagara Falls passing out Chick Tracts to random tourists. The overwhelming pressure to tell people about Jesus. Witnessing. What more could a 13 year old ask for?? Oh, I know! We would return to the church for a praise and worship and an alter call. Alter calls were super. Was I supposed to raise my hands and wail and cry and shout Jesus?!! This didn’t feel right. But it was supposed to feel right; my parents and everyone at the church told me so. These type of praise and worship sessions always gave me an icky feeling inside. I honestly felt more comfortable and free at a secular punk show. As time went on, I felt pressure to please my fellow youth groupers, my youth pastor, and my parents.
By this time, (about 14 years old) I’ve read the entire Bible and gave in to it all. All the Youth Conventions, Jesus Encounters, and Youth Camps had rendered me officially “on fire for Jesus.” I wanted to be accepted and this low esteem and insecurities with myself made me vulnerable for any way to be accepted. But, these “spiritual highs” started lasting about as long as a joint once I began really thinking for myself.
I started thinking logically about things and that’s when the crap really started. When I was about 17 I started questioning all aspects of Christianity. For instance, if a born-again believes as hardcore about his God as a Hindu believes about their Gods…..um…..who is right? I began realizing I had never opened my mind before and based all my “factual” biblical evidence on blind faith. Uh oh…I appear to be “backsliding”. I took a step back and really started thinking about this whole Christianity thing. Everyone just accepted it without question. Most Christians I ever talked to always had the same story about how their life was complete crap before and then they found Jesus and now everything is perfect. People in the same predicament who found Percocet can probably say the same thing. I actually started to feel guilty about questioning the presence/reality of God and the divinity of Jesus Christ. This created my own personal hell in my parents’ home. Getting me up for church became a problem. I didn’t want to go anymore. I didn’t feel comfortable there. Ultimately, I was losing my faith. In terms of Christianity, I formulated the basic idea of how life is:
“God is this omniscient, omnipotent being that created a tiny little planet in this infinite universe. On this one and ONLY planet there are many little beings, (quite similar to owning an ant farm) and their sole purpose of existence is to worship and use blind faith to accept Him. Any one of these little beings who don’t do everything according to “his plan” will be flicked into the infamous lake of fire. BAD ANT.”
In conclusion, I am now 24 years old and would claim myself as Agnostic. I am very open-minded and feel free. I feel less judgemental towards other people and don't believe that god has interest in every little thing you do. I have finally shed the intolerability I was brainwashed into believing. I have been “saved” from all this fantasy and all in all, I am much happier person. I feel free and I'm finally allowed to use my brain that "god" gave me. Thank you for reading.
Joined at 4
Left at 18
Was: Pentecostal/Assembies of God
Now: Agnostic, Freethinker
Converted: Early indoctrination
De-converted: Grabbed logic and common sense off the shelf and put it back into my head
email: xcrispykfc at hotmail dot com