Sent in by Christine
I grew up in a Christian family but we never belonged to any particular church . In my early youth I remember going to different protestant churches until my dad, a retired teacher and somewhat reclusive, decided to "church" us at home. Every Sunday we had church service and bible study around the dinning room table. It was very sweet actually, it bonded us as a family. I thought Christianity was all about the love of Jesus. By my latter teens the home church ended due to my dad's health, so I began my own personal journey into Christianity. Where did I belong? I began to read up on all the different denominations, visited many churches leaving disappointed, sometimes in tears, other times offended or completely freaked out (ex. speaking in tongues!) I never felt like I belonged anywhere, so I read the bible myself, listened to Christian music (how I met my husband, long story) and Christian radio, on which I found a ministry that I agreed with. It was called People to people, it was (maybe still is) a grace based ministry. I felt like I found "it", they focused on all the good stuff, love, kindness, etc. I read all their books, listened to the radio program, and eventually found a bible study group through them. This went on for a few years until there was a sex scandal at the ministry (surprise surprise) and Christian radio stations pulled them off the air. I realized these people were not perfect, they were human, and since no human was perfect I should not be afraid to question anyone(except Jesus) . Eventually the bible study fell apart, so once again I was on my own as a Christian doing my own thing. I became more skeptical, my mantra became find at least one thing to disagree with from any human being. Question everything.
I thought this mindset would keep me safe from getting too caught up in anyone or any group. So for years I was content being a Christian on the outside of Christianity, I loved Jesus(my idea of him), but most of the Christian subculture annoyed me.
My thirties have been a tumultuous time, both of my parents died, I gave birth to two boys, life was getting harder, so we found a church. It was a new church, upon the first visit I thought we found "it" again, they claimed it was all about" the love", we found a home. Looking back, it was like falling in love before you really got to know the person. I remember being so excited at first, after all these years I found a church I liked. After the honeymoon wore off we started to see many of these people in a different light. Many of these people listened to talk radio(or as I like to call it HATE radio).We heard them on many occasions saying derogatory things, hateful unkind things. Most loved Bush, and supported the war, we did not. The divide grew deeper, we stopped going. Once again, were there any Christians like us?
Thank goodness for the Internet. I started to investigate and found progressive Christians out there, of course most churches of that kind were found in big liberal cities. One of the most progressive Christians I found was Bishop Spong. After reading his book Sins of the Scripture it changed my view even more. Also thank goodness for the Daily Show, they had many authors of books that caused my conversion Sam Harris(End of Faith) , Bart D Ehrman (Misquoting Jesus). My husband admitted to me first that he didn't believe anymore. I knew he visited the ex Christian website, so I was curious, it's is where I found out about Dan Barker. His book Loosing Faith in Faith helped me take that last step of letting go.
One day at work I was in the break room with a couple of coworkers, both born-again and very voca. As usual with them the subject of conversation went to God and church. I told them I didn't go to church anymore, I was "done". One of them said to me " So what are you an atheist now?" To my own surprise "yes" fell out of my mouth. AWKWARD! That was the first time I said it, so it was very weird for me. It's still a little weird to me, being a Christian used to be the foundation of my identity. But I'm on a new journey now, I'm still a kind and loving person without Jesus, (I just drink and swear more:). Life has become even more fascinating to me now. There is still so much for me to learn.
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)