sent in by Matt
"Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free"
I was raised in a devout Roman Catholic family. The most important thing to me was raising my children in the church. However, I fell in love with a half hearted Catholic. We got married and had two kids. My wife's irregular attendance at Mass and animosity toward the church caused a lot of friction in our marriage. I was worried about the effect my wife's attitude toward the church would have on our children's attitude. I was deeply concerned about my children's eternal well being if they rejected the church.
Over time the Catholic sex abuse scandal had a huge impact on me. At first, I defended the Church but it's complicity with child abusers at all levels got to me. I had never questioned my faith before but I started to now. I no longer trusted the Church and finally concluded that Roman Catholicism was not the truth.
I started attending other churches and to avoid making this testimony ridiculously long, I will just say I always found problems with their doctrines.
One day, a man came to my house to give me an estimate on getting it repainted. As he was about to leave he gave me his business card. There was a Bible verse on the back. I asked him about his religion. It turns out he was an evangelical and attended one of those mega churches. He invited me.
I went to his church and I was literally overwhelmed with emotion during the service. It was like nothing I had experienced before. It was uplifting and positive. People were friendly and the church felt like a community, unlike my old RC church. My wife was troubled by my involvement. She called evangelicals arm waving idiots who wanted to destroy women's rights. Of course, I ignored her.
However, my initial positive impression soured fairly quickly. I was troubled by the hostility toward gays and women who had abortions. I did homework help in an afterschool program at an inner city school when I was in college. I met so many undereducated girls with no prospects who had been abandoned often by both parents. For them interest from boys was the only thing that made them feel good about themselves. So they slept around and got pregnant. Some had abortions, some kept the kids but had nothing to offer them.
So, the judgmentalism and hostility of comfortable middle class folks toward these troubled, impoverished, insecure girls got to me. My best friend growing up was gay. Being gay was extremely difficult for him. It caused depression and all kinds of problems for him. Again the judgmentalism and hostility of others towards someone who is really struggling and suffering because of something they can't control troubled me. I had read the words of Jesus and he had said not to judge and to love others. I realised that the evangelicals were not true Christians. They did not understand the teachings of Jesus. They were the false prophets sent by Satan to deceive and confuse believers. They were the wolves in sheep's clothing.
After having attended numerous churches and striking out with all of them, I became confused and unsure of what to do next. I really wanted to have a faith, a religion, something to raise my kids in and get my wife to whole-heartedly follow.
One day, my department at work went out for a big celebratory lunch. A few coworkers at the end of the table were having a conversation. I honestly don't know what they were talking about, but I heard one tell the others that belief in gods came about because people could not understand natural phenomena. When lightning struck people assumed that there were some beings in the sky who were angry with them and punishing them for some misdeeds. People believed they had to appease these angry gods with sacrifices, animal or human.
When I heard this the image of primitive people cowering in fear at a lightning strike or a fiery meteorite popped into my head. I immediately knew that what I had heard was the truth. God was simply then unexplainable natural phenomena.
I mulled this for a couple of days before telling my wife. She was stunned at my sudden change from devout Christian to agnostic. A few days later she told me that everything I said made sense. We literally went from marital misery to marital bliss overnight. I was so caught up in my wife's lack of religion, I failed to see what a good person and mother she really was.
My outlook on life has completely changed. A few years ago I could not have imagined I could function without religious belief. I thought religion was something I couldn't live without. But losing my faith has been nothing but positive. I have a happy marriage now. My kids don't have to listen to fighting parents anymore. I used to drink heavily due to all the stress in my marriage. I don't drink much anymore and I feel a lot healthier as a result.
When a good friend of mine was killed in a car accident last year, I was devastated. But I felt some comfort in knowing it was bad luck and not the work of some supernatural being playing games with people's lives. I didn't have to ponder why God killed my friend rather that a gang member to fulfill his plan for us.
The truth has definitely set me free. I don't necessarily see religion as a bad thing. It can be good or it can be bad. But I have concluded that it isn't necessary. As a religious person, I really lived in fear of my "father" in the sky. I have joy and meaning in my life now.
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)