Sent in by Joshua
Religion literally made me sick. In order to fully understand what I mean by this, it is necessary to go back to before I even became a Christian. I had always been raised in church and taught by my parents to fear God and all. I went to church every Sunday and did everything that a good "Christian" was supposed to do. I even walked the isle as a child to be saved. Well, to make a long story short, I was not "saved" when I was a kid and walked the isle.
When I was a teenager, I went through some trying times and had several illnesses, ultimately culminating in having surgery. This whole time friends of my mother prayed for me and my recovery. I even received a prayer letter from her friends' church. I decided that I should go and visit there. Well, we ended up joining that church and I became very active in the youth group there. Not long after joining this church, I went to an evangelism crusade and, while there, became convinced that I was not really "saved." Now, I got myself really worked up (about had an anxiety attack) and was afraid that I would die and go to hell before I could ask Jesus to save me. So, I became saved and this burden of anxiety was lifted because I knew for sure that I had truly been saved.
Fast forward about a year and a half and I was asked, by my principal, to be in a religious play at his church. It was "Heavens Gates and Hell's Flames." For anyone not familiar with it, the whole point is to scare everyone into accepting Jesus. This is done with the use of actors portraying scenes from everyday life and then they die and either are welcomed into heaven by Jesus or literally dragged to hell by the devil. Now, this would scare even the most devout Christian into making sure that they were "saved." Well, needless to say, it scared the mess out of me.
Now, let me take a brief moment to explain that I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). I did not know it at that time. I went through months of obsessively praying the sinners prayer over and over to "make sure" that I was saved. I could think of nothing else. Now, my parents did not take me to a doctor or anything and eventually I learned to cope with this. It sort of worked out of my system and I became assured that I was saved. So, I am going along and everything is fine and I am over all of this. I graduate from high school, go to college, graduate, and get a job. I change jobs and am in a much more stressful environment (school teacher) and eventually the stress gets the better of me and triggers another lapse into OCD. This time I go to the doctor and get into therapy and everything gets better. I am not obsessing about religious matters at this time.
Well, about this time, a friend of mine invites me to go with him (he is Catholic) to his church. So, I go and I like it, so I go more and become a regular. Well, I am upset that even though I am a Christian, I cannot participate in communion, so I decide to convert to Catholicism. So, in September of 2006, I begin to go to catechism classes. Everything is going along fine and I am buying what they are selling hook, line, and sinker. Well, things at my job continue to get more stressful and eventually I decide to resign at the semester break. Now, for those of you who do not know, extreme stress can trigger a lapse with OCD. Well, in January, I am at one of the catechism classes and the instructor asks the question: "How can we know that what we believe is the truth?" Well, ladies and gentlemen, that was the straw that broke the camel's back. I answered the question that it is all faith, but this answer did not appease my mind, which continued to explore this question.
I basically "fell off the mountain." What I mean by this is that I began to obsess about this question and the many answers or lack thereof. Clinically, obsessing over religious matters is known as scrupulosity. Even though I was going to the doctor and seeing a therapist, my condition continued to worsen. I fell into an extreme depression and basically had a hard time functioning. All of this was due to my constantly obsessing about whether Jesus really rose from the dead or not and how could we know for sure. Well, after months of therapy and a medicine change, I began to recover and in May, I was about back to normal. I was still a Christian and knew that I believed and the like.
Well, I still had the question about whether the resurrection was true of not and I began to scour the internet looking for answers. I was reading a biography of Benjamin Franklin at the time and the book mentions that Franklin explored Deism in his lifetime. Now, I knew a little about Deist philosophy but not enough so I Googled it and found a ton of information. I ended up on the World Union of Deists site and began to explore the links that were provided. The more I researched, the more that I found out that what I had always believed as a Christian was not true. I discovered the pagan origins of many of the stories attributed to Jesus. I learned that Paul made up a great deal of the New Testament and that the "gospels" were actually written decades after the events were supposed to take place and were written by people who were not eyewitnesses to the events. Now, many Bibles have the words of Jesus in red. If they were not eyewitnesses and the accounts were written many decades later, how do we know that Jesus actually said that? Now, come on. So, I became a deist. I gave up my belief that the Bible was "God's word." When I gave that up and de-converted, it was as if a weight was lifted. Only two of my family members know some of my beliefs and I am not sure that they realize that I am not a Christian anymore. My mother is devout and she said recently that she hoped that I still believed the Bible. She said this after I questioned her over an inconsistency in the Bible.
Now, I know that the Christians who read this will say that I was never really saved. Well, I can assure you that I was at one time but I am not now because I don't believe in the fairy tales anymore. My mind is clear, I do not obsess anymore. I have never been happier or felt as free.
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)