Sent in by Jamie Q
I am sorry this is long but this is My Story.
I was not born in a Christian family, in fact far from it. My brother and I was raised by our dad alone. Although I remember as a five year old visiting a local church with my mom only a handful of times before they divorced religion was never brought up in our house. I don’t remember my dad talking about religion at all (except after I became a Christian when he told me that he didn't want to talk about it). In fact, my dad was your typical grade A ‘heathen’. Don't get me wrong, he was an awesome father, there was no doubt that he cared for me and my brother, but he definitely loved the ladies and going out to the local honky-tonk. Plus with him being a Vietnam vet made him a little rough around the edges. Out of me and my brother I was the quiet easy-natured one interested in academics while he was the athlete. I was shy and unassuming and generally very naïve.
When I started seriously dating at 14 I met a girl whose family was big into church. I decided to visit her youth group at the local United Methodist Church so we could hang out. I was told I had to get ‘saved’ before I could go to Discipleship Youth Camp. The youth director sat me down and walked me along the ‘Romans Road’ to salvation. At that point I didn’t care and was willing to say anything to hang out with her. It was at camp being exposed to all the indoctrinization and emotionalism that stirred my heart, but what really sealed the deal for me was all the acceptance I got that I never got before. When I got back from camp I made a confession of faith in front of the church and when everyone cheered for me I became hooked. I dived in hard to reading the bible and getting as involved as I could in every program and event being offered. I strove to excel and began very early on being involved in several different leadership type positions. I was even sent to a nation-wide youth leaders convention to ‘train’ future leaders in the UMC.
On the home front my dad was very upset that I became religious. The stuff really hit the fan when I told him that I was giving up my life long dream of being a doctor and becoming a preacher/pastor. He told me that there were two things he would NEVER talk with me about: politics and religion. I was very discouraged because I prayed how could I lead my dad to Jesus if I couldn’t talk to him about it. My ‘answer’ was to let my life be an ‘example’.
After I broke up with my first serious girlfriend I met another girl in high school who would become my future wife. She was going to a Pentecostal church and her and I clashed as I thought her and her speaking in tongues was ‘of the devil’. She invited me to a revival and I went reluctantly. I ended up having a religious mystical (and very flaky) experience that convinced me to start speaking in tongues. Her step-father was a leader in the church and he took me under his wing and started teaching me all the charismatic stuff. He and I were very close. Still extremely naïve I overlooked a lot of inconsistencies in his home life, as he put on a good show at church but was living a bad example at home, and condemning my wife and her siblings for not living up to his level of ‘holiness’ like he thought they should. This convinced my wife to move out on her own. After some bad things went down in the church we were going to, an Assembly of God, where the preacher was cornering and fondling women, including my mother-in-law, and the previous pastor got caught masturbating on the interstate highway, I left the church.
About this time, while I was in college at a liberal arts university, I had a class on logic and critical thinking. I almost gave up completely on god as I began to realize how ignorant ‘blind faith’ was. But I wasn’t willing to make the leap so struggled through the rest of my ‘atheist’ professor’s classes and ended up quitting college not long after. I knew I had to get back into church and immerse myself and quit hearing about thinking critically and objectively.
I started visiting a lunch bible study of a pastor looking to form a non-denominational charismatic church in our town. He was very down to earth and spoke to me on my level and also had a high level of personal integrity (or so I thought) so I decided to get plugged into what he was doing. After he established a church in our town he felt ‘lead’ to move back to his home state of Pennsylvania to start a church. The guy who took over was a layman in our congregation. I really hated this guy…seriously. I didn’t think the guy had any real common sense and he was always preaching hateful condemning messages disguised in slick flowery ‘god loves you so much’ bunk. I was involved in leadership and one time he asked me to do something extremely immoral. I refused and he decided to convene a ‘jury’ of my peers (other leaders in the church) to condemn me. I refused to participate and told him that if he didn’t want me there all he had to do was say so. Needless to say they used the session as a time for character assassination of me (very Christian like). It pissed my father-in-law and my best friend off so much that they left the church a few months later after I did. The pastor thrived on bully tactics to get his way and since I was growing up and learning to not be so naïve I decided to get the hell out of there. I also had a problem with the doctrine and beliefs, as this church was very involved in the Word-of-Faith movement with leaders like Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland, and Creflo Dollar. Of course they preached the typical ‘only we have the REAL truth’, and although their bullshit theologies convinced the ignorant masses I wasn’t exactly convinced.
My wife and I started attending in a city 50 miles away a church of a friend of ours who was the pastor . Although this pastor operated with a high level of personal integrity (again, so I thought) he was still preaching doctrines that irked me. And since it was such a long drive and my wife and I were desiring community we quit going. It was at this time that I started reading stuff about ‘messianic judaism’ and the ‘hebraic-roots’ of the Christian faith. I figured the best way to live a Christian life is to live and think how Jesus would have thought. I started learning the ‘pagan roots’ of a lot of the Christian tradition so I began rejecting a lot of the basic tenets of Christianity. Again I dived in head first in my personal studies, completely getting rid of all my word of faith books and buying all the messianic jewish stuff. I also started buying traditional jewish books to learn more about 1st century thought and practice in Judaism. My wife wasn’t real keen at first about messianic Judaism, but later came around after she started reading a few of my books. While involved in many messianic jewish forums and websites I got exposed to the thought and belief that Yeshua (Jesus real name in his native tongue) was not god as evangelical Christianity taught, but that he was only a man, as Judaism teaches about the messiah that they are still expecting.
After I realized that Yeshua wasn’t god I started snowballing further into questioning everything Christianity had to say. I finally was convinced through several jewish anti-missionary sites that Christianity was bunk so I denied jesus and Christianity. But I still wasn’t ready to start thinking objectively so I started studying up on orthodox Judaism and conversion. My wife had a conniption after finding out that I gave up on jesus and said basically it would be a cold day in hell before she converted to Judaism and denied jesus. So I was left with the jewish teaching of being a Noachide. I wasn’t happy with this choice and began to realize that even Judaism had some serious issues just like Christianity, that they worked very anachronistically in their theologies and that they weren’t open to dissenting opinions either, and that they had some serious flaws as well.
I think the biggest thing that really convinced me on the errors of Christianity and Judaism was in the area of biblical criticism. Both religions solely depend on the truth of the Bible and without that they don’t have a leg to stand on. And since I wasn’t convinced what either fundamentalist group had to say about the bible I realized that it was all bunk and lies. Then it hit me….it’s all bullshit!
I was severely pissed off because I just wasted 12 years of my life and thousands of dollars on nothing more than bullshit. But yet it was like a freakin’ ton of bricks had been lifted off my shoulders. There was no longer a burden to perform like a monkey in a circus, I could now live my life how I see fit. And that’s what I intend to do. My wife is still struggling with the whole issue, she thinks I have really flipped my lid, but I trust that my wife will come around.
And after all these years I have a renewed respect for my father, who was his own man and didn’t give into all the fake bullshit religion had to offer, that he told all those bible thumpers where they could stick their holey book. If I could only be half the man he is for the rest of my life, I think I would be very happy.
And by the way, I like saying bullshit and not feeling like I am going to burn in hell for saying it, so here it is... Religion is bullshit!!!
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)