Sent in by Ryan
Southern Baptist; my parents didn't want the stigma attached I guess. Some of my earliest memories were at a church. Some were fun memories (youth group trips)...some were terrible (vacation bible school, church camp, everything else).
I always resented going to church. It was always boring and I almost always fell asleep or tried to read something other than my Bible. I would doodle sometimes.
I never had a "passion" for church. I always just went along with everything and pretended to be happy or feel touched in some way. It was the thing to do.
Eventually we (my immediate family) stopped going to church because everyone would gossip about my father's alcoholism. My mom got fed up with it and we stopped going to that particular church. It took several years before we tried other churches; each one was just as uncomfortable and uneasy as the next. In small-town Texas it's easy to find another church.
My doubts began to expose themselves as soon as I started to mature. I suppose me being gay didn't help anything. I was always told it was a choice and that it was basically the worst thing a person could be. For the Bible says it so. I just couldn't get it around my head. Why was I this way when I never chose for it? Why does God allow such things? Was I born this way? Those questions were just the beginning of my eventual enlightenment. All throughout my teen years I halfway considered myself agnostic. I kept appearances around my family and other church people, but it was just a matter of time until I saw the logic of it all.
It was a month before going off to college that my grandfather, church deacon and co-founder, told me he was concerned about "my walk with Jesus". I was going to a private fundamental southern baptist university in Texas (only because it was a private university, and I was on scholarship, not for the religious experience). My grandfather told me to find a church when I started living there, and to really get involved in that church. He had hoped that since I was going to a religious school I would finally become the good little Christian they had hoped I would be, but the complete opposite happened.
I never realized how Jesus-y the school was until my first hour there. They really forced it on everyone! I never realized I would be stuck at this awful bible camp for several years. I mean, within the student handbook there was a "statement regarding human sexuality" which stated what you'd expect about "homosexuals" ( I hate that word...it's pretentious). Basically this statement said that the school forbade any student involve themselves in advocacy groups for the LGBT community or anything like that. Also, if a student had a "problem" of this nature then they should "consult campus counselors" immediately.
I was supposed to finally be free of all this church stuff in college and I realize that my school is much more churchy than even my home life. There was no LGBT student organizations or anything you'd expect on a college campus...just Jesus people...who looked down on "homosexuals livin in sin."
I couldn't stand it. I wasn't out to anyone there, and I intended to keep it that way. I wasn't really out to anyone except certain close friends.
It was just all very fucked up. I began to get cynical about everything with church. I had to attend chapel twice a week for class credit, and I had to take classes on the old testament (which was taught by a preacher and his wife, bias much?). I stopped going to chapel because I had decided that I wasn't going to that school anymore. I was backward, and so were these Christians. All of my positive Christian thoughts had been dissolved a few weeks into the first semester there. I just did what I had to do to get through class. I decided that I was going to move to Austin over the holiday break, and I did just that. I'd never have to go back to that school again.
Anyways, all of that to say that I stopped believing in God when I began going to that university. I realized that religion was man made. I realized that some of man's worst atrocities were justified by religion. I realized that the Bible was written by ancient desert people ignorant of the world around them. Nothing is divine, nothing is sacred.
It's absolute craziness to believe a Jewish Carpenter who lived 2,000 years ago is the savior of mankind.
I'm so glad I'm not living in blind faith like other people.
I'm so glad my eyes were opened to truth and logic.
I hope that one day people won't need religion, especially Christianity.
Sometimes I feel so frustrated and angry about it all, sometimes I feel exhilarated and enlightened...
I haven't told my parents or grandparents that I'm an atheist. I think that they would be kind of upset. Just wait until I come out.
That will be some day for them.
At least I'm finally 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)