sent in by Don
Grab a snack and a beverage and settle in. This might take awhile.
I was baptized and brought up as a Roman Catholic. My first three years of education were spent in parochial school. Here I first learned about Christian behavior when the nuns thought they had a right to administer corporal punishment.
We moved to the suburbs and I started attending public school. This meant I had to attend Catechism, or CCD, we just called it "catecrap". The curriculum was heavily influenced by what I call the "1970's Folk Mass Crowd". I was b-o-r-e-d. At home, I was given the Baltimore Catechism to study.
This of course, showed me that anything I may enjoy is a sin; and lead to feelings of guilt over the human emotions and drives that "God" gave me. That I was to avoid all the books and movies and "immoral associations" where I could encounter differing ideas.
I took all the sacraments, (except marriage) for the laity: baptized as an infant, first communion, and was confirmed.
I was also an altar boy.
I would like to stress very strongly that I was *never* sexually abused by any member of the clergy. I dated a woman who thought she was at times possessed by evil spirits. While I didn't believe it, I thought having her talk to a priest would help. This priest dismissed both the idea and us. (Even if he didn't believe in a case of demonic possession, couldn't he have tried to help a distressed and troubled young woman?)
I went on religious retreats and on one occasion a deacon of our church revealed that one of the priests was an alcoholic.
Whoa! Didn't Jesus help the troubled? Isn't there something about not being a talebearer? I was in my late teens, and for the first time, my eyes began to open to the hypocrisy present in our church. If "A good tree does not bear bad fruit...." where was this coming from?
I tried to keep myself in a state of grace, fearing to go to hell. I went to confession regularly, but never seemed to be able to certain desires. If the sacraments didn't strengthen my ability to resist sin, what good were they? I was beginning to fall away, but tried desperately to hold on to my faith.
Then, in my early twenties, my father died. My mother said the priest at the hospital told her that it was St. Joseph's day as a means of comfort. How inept could you be? After the funeral, there were no visits from clergy, there were no parishioners stopping to comfort her. Just collection envelopes the Parish never bothered to remove my father's name from. I saw how the church took our money and gave nothing in return.
I looked for solace at the church where I attended college and found only emptiness. I read the bible and found atrocity. I studied history and found that the cruelest forms of torture were inflicted in the name of a "Loving God". The neatly packaged message, couched in pious talk, was becoming unraveled. I stopped going to church, but still struggled to reconcile what I knew from the bible and history with the idea of a perfect, loving and merciful God.
As the years passed my mother's health declined and she stopped attending church. Again, no call or visit from clergy, no interest on the part of parishioners. When she died a eulogy was delivered by a priest who knew her not at all.
I also met a man who was turned away when seeking charity at the rectory. These same priests that mulct the congregation for their hard earned money so the "Princes of The Church" can live in luxury, could not help Simone in need.
After reading the bible, and seeing how the Christianity operates, I cannot believe in Christianity, or in Christianity's god. Like many who have posted here before me, I cannot reconcile the doctrine of hell with a perfect Deity. This character of Christ contradicts himself in the gospels. A church who marginalizes women, who denies birth control as a means of population growth, who sets itself up as inerrant when speaking "Ex-Cathedra" on faith and morals while priests abuse innocent children is not worthy of my belief and respect.
The protestant faiths are no better. Saddling their flock with guilt, threatening them with hellfire, sowing, at the least, condescension and at the worst hatred in the minds of their congregations for other faiths, and growing rich in the process.
I am thankful that I have few scars from being a Christian. I still have insomnia from being told that the day of the lord was coming like a thief in the night, and that I was going to burn in hell forever if I was not in a state of grace when that happened. I know now that it is an irrational fear, but I still have trouble sleeping nights. It's gotten better since I abandoned my beliefs - but I don't know if I'll ever be able to shake it altogether.
At this point, I am seriously thinking of writing the Archbishop in my area outlining my beliefs on the church and asking for ferendae sententiae excommunication. Having a formal acknowledgment from the church that I no longer belong to them in any part of my mind and body could well give me the healing I need. To know that I will not be listed as a member of an organization that has wrought so much evil in the world.
Joined at: About 3 Months
Left at: Twenty-seven
Was: Roman Catholic
Joined because: My Parents baptised me into it.
Left because: Hypocrisy of the members and the doctrine of Hell