I’ve really enjoyed reading your forum, but haven’t participated until now (does that make me a lurker?) But I’d like to share my story. You can tell I’m new at participating in forums or blogs, so be gentle with me.
For the first 15 years of my life I was brainwashed by a combination of Southern Baptist stupidity/bigotry and the really fundamental Church-of-God-brand of hellfire and brimstone. To say that they scared me to death is an understatement. Watching those people flailing around on the floor talking gibberish (sorry, “speaking in tongues”) was probably not the healthiest thing for a child (or adults for that matter). I felt like there was something wrong with me that “the spirit of god” wouldn’t enter my body and “speak” through me. The Baptists baptized me twice (I guess I was a really sinful 9 year old). I really wanted to believe and because my mom spent her life looking for a god that would save her, we went to every service, event, crusade, evangelical retreat, and revival we could get to. I was ideal fodder for the Baptist fear machine….dysfunctional family, lots of insecurity and fear.
When I was 16 my mom discovered Herbert W. Armstrong and his Worldwide Church of God (very weird church/cult). I started having nightmares about my mom suddenly disappearing to the “place of safety” (Petra in Jordan). Somehow I found the courage to tell her that I wasn’t going to church any more. Since then (many years….I may be older than any of you!) I’ve tried hard to believe in god (lots of praying….to no avail) at different times in my life; it felt like trying to believe the earth is flat…..just wasn’t going to happen.
Some of the questions I had even as a teenager were:
1. That whole John 3:16 thing….it doesn’t seem like a huge sacrifice for a god to have his “son” killed and then get him back in 3 days. The Baptists likened it to watching my brother hanging on the cross….I would never get my brother back…..that would be a real sacrifice indeed.
2. How can god “know every hair” on our heads, intervene and direct our lives and still allow us free will? Also, is it really free will if the choices are “my way or eternal torture”….that seems more like coercion and threats.
3. If god made us with our logical and wonderfully curious minds, why are we not to use them?
4. If there were a god as Christianity describes him, why does he get all the credit when things go right (i.e. a cancer healing after chemo) but none of the blame when things go wrong? Although I did see where some of the extreme fundamentalists said that god was punishing Haiti for homosexual behavior by sending them the earth quake. Have they never heard of tectonic plates?
Anyway, you get the drift. Until I discovered some of the atheist blogs and websites, I thought that religion was not for me, but was mostly benign (well, except for the bloody crusades, Spanish inquisition, etc. throughout history). I can see how believing in something/someone to come save and comfotrt us would be nice if you didn’t think about it too much (and if it actually worked) It scares me that the religious right in this country is getting more and more fundamental and have so much power.
Thanks for helping me along my path away from all that fear and superstition.