Sent in by G.C.
I am here to bear my testimony about straying from the fold. I grew up in Samoa which is probably one of the most religious (Christian) countries in the world. My parents are devout Mormons and as such I grew up indoctrinated in its teachings. It is not so bad as some people make it out to be, it is pretty much the same as any other religion, it makes stupid people think they have all the answers, good people feel better about themselves and everyone else like that homicidal monk in the Da-Vinci Code.
Having visited some of the exmormon sites online, I came across a common theme with them in that many of its proponents gave it up for another sect of Christianity. That wasn't really the flavor I was looking for so I didn't spend much time there. Then I found this pot of gold. I have lurked and read so many testimonies, articles (thumbs up to DagoodS and the webmaster, you guys rock!) and stories that really hit the nail right on its head for me.
I cannot remember the time when it started, when my non-belief started, my father gave us lunch money for school and he would sometimes ask us to pay tithe from it, I never did but my siblings paid. There is this first Sunday of the month thing at church where the congregation is invited to step up to the pulpit and profess their love for the Lord and truthfulness of the church, everyone who was able in my family did, except for me... it was a mixture of shyness and not knowing what to say really. I have now just finished my degree in Computer Science in New Zealand, with my family back home in Samoa anticipating my return so that I can fulfill the 'call'- you know, be one of those guys knocking on your door. That scares me but not as scary as the inevitable time when I have to tell everyone that I don't believe anymore. I have already gotten a lil taste of this exclusion from my Christian friends, whom have not responded back to me since I put up a blog piece about my atheism on a popular social networking site. They usually come and pick me up for Church (an evangelical one) on Sunday and youth meetings on Tuesday evenings. No phone call or text replies which is unusual because they knew that I had difficulties accepting their church's message. Maybe it's from the fact that I forgot to mention to them that I am an atheist, like this sermon I heard there a few months back saying that most lost souls out there believe in God, the 'creator', they just need to fill in the details, details available only with their church.
Yes, I am an atheist, I have tried to find books by Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins in the bookshops here but to no avail. I have read the Bible and the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine of Covenants and most religious publications, the most recent was A Case For A Creator by Lee Strobel and in all of them I could write my own book on what I don't agree with, with them. I have read excellent critiques of them online so i will spare myself that task.
So, having that off my chest I am looking forward to reading and finding out more about why most people around me subscribe to this divisive and apocalyptic world view. Yes, I know you and Jesus love me but I will have a hard time being happy in heaven when either my family or friends, depending on who is right, are roasting in hell. If the off chance of this hell being, and I am going there, I hope and pray to this almighty and cruel God to spare me my wits and not to replace my fearlessness of it when he sends me there. Give me all the pain you can muster but please don't take away my reasoning ability. I value it so much in this lifetime and whatever illogical and eternal damnation waiting for me.
Thank you for reading.