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From birth I was raised in the Pentecostal faith by my mother, and I never really had any doubts about the existence of "God" or the claims of the bible until my mid to late teens. I just assumed that if your mother and your family tell you something is real it must be true, because they wouldn't steer you in the wrong direction, right?
My mother divorced her second husband (great guy) when I was 15 and we moved back to the home that we had lived in before they were married. They agreed that my stepfather would make the house payment and provide her with a late model car of her choice. He was actually the most honest used car dealer you would ever want to meet.
Now, back to the story.
After we were in the house for a while, at some point, my mother developed a compulsive disorder with the thermostat and the lighting in the house. She would constantly check and lower the thermostat and spent most of her time watching television in the dark. Many a winters night, I had to sleep fully clothed, with a coat on and in a sleeping bag to stay warm. The summers were just as bad if not worse.
She never let me starve but my diet only consisted of cheap frozen pizzas and soup most of the time. Home cooked meals were a thing of the past as was house cleaning. In her defense, she did tell me that there was going to be a change in our lifestyles before the divorce -- she wasn't kidding.
I started complaining about the conditions we were living in and she would always tell me how tight money was. Knowing that she was employed full time and paying no rent or car payment I knew something was wrong here. I started snooping through the bills to see if there was an explanation to where all her money was going, indeed there was.
She was paying Jimmy Swaggart's heating bill. Check after check after check she had written this man, not to mention what she was also giving to the church she attended.
This was the point I started questioning my beliefs, and stopped attending the church. I ended up holding on to the beliefs I was taught but Mr. Swaggart and her local church cured me of organized religion.
Fast forward to my final awakening 25 years later.
My grandmother was in a car accident the day after X-MAS 07.
She clung to life and finally passed on Valentines day of 08.
I had long before this time given up on the Christian lifestyle but still considered myself a believer. My family members, many who are Christians and myself prayed like there was no tomorrow in hopes of "God" healing her. One night I even told "God" that if he would heal her and let us have her around for another 5 years, I would devote the rest of my life to him. You already know how that turned out.
After mourning her loss for some time I wanted answers as to why none of the families prayers were not answered. I was tired of hearing that it was "God's" will and that were are not meant to understand everything.
The Bible says numerous times ask and you shall receive. There are no stipulations or strings attached. During my research I came across a few atheist websites that made me really look at the whole Bible and not just the feel good parts that I grew up hearing on Sundays. It took me many years to actually wake up and think for myself, and I will never go back to letting my mind being enslaved. I look at it as Grandma's final gift to me.
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)