6/30/2010 | Share this article:By J --
Looking back at at my slide from the Xtian faith I can honestly say it wasn't the tortured, drawn out experience that many have had. There were times when I became frustrated and generally angry at God, my family and the church, but for the most part, it's a time in my life when I really came into my own being.
Image via WikipediaI was always a skeptical thinking, somewhat pessimistic person so being a Xtian was at odds with my personality. Intellectual dishonesty is a key component to faith in any religion.
I come from a fairly Fundy family, though I have watched a slow slide to a more liberal version of in recent years. We attended mostly non-denominational type churches throughout my childhood until we finally landed in a baptist church (Canadian version) in my teens. My summers were spent at Xtian camps and the rest of the time I was either in Sunday school or youth group. I don`t resent my childhood, for the most part it`s full of happy memories but looking back now it was the fun I had with friends and not the indoctrination part that I enjoyed. I remember young earth creationism was important when I was younger and then it kinda just slipped away and no one talked about creation/evolution type discussions. I remember asking the toughest questions to my parents at a young age, probably 8-10 and then just sliding into a don`t ask don't tell type faith in my teen years. I just didn't want to upset anyone, back then it was easier just to keep things on an even keel. Over time though, those tough questions are like a time bomb in your head. I made the decision to get baptized at 16 after pressure from my mother but ironically it was all downhill (or uphill) from there.
I remember attempting to ``get saved`` basically every night before I went to sleep, scared shitless that I would die in the night and somehow still not be good enough for the good Lord and burn in hell for eternity.My late teen years and early 20`s became less and less about church and more and more about partying, women and generally just having a good time. Time at church was disconnected dull and guilt ridden. I grew to despise it, I never enjoyed singing, praising, praying or listening to a boring middle aged man interpret a 2000-4000 year old collection of bad writing. I began examining my past and one testimony of a camp counselor who spoke one summer when I was about 13 kept popping in my mind. I knew who he was because we had attended the same conservative bible church as children. He described ``excepting Jesus into his heart`` over and over growing up and I had done the exact same thing. I remember attempting to ``get saved`` basically every night before I went to sleep, scared shitless that I would die in the night and somehow still not be good enough for the good Lord and burn in hell for eternity. This testimony would pop into my mind on a regular basis planting seeds of doubt.
For a few years a basically just drifted from church and didn't replace my faith with anything. Life was good however , I finished college, moved in with friends, partied lots, and just generally followed my interests and didn't answer to anyone but myself. Morally I didn't change much, I still gave money to charity and even a little to my missionary cousin. I turned in to a more positive fun to be around person. I was so restricted from religious b.s. and over-zealous parents that I turned into a kind of depressed shut-in during much of my early teenage years. It just felt so good to get out and experience the real world that I forgot about years of indoctrination.
It wasn't until I moved in with my girlfriend and slowed down my lifestyle a little did I begin to fully examen my beliefs. Politically I had been drifting to the left for years, Colbert and Stewart were among my favourite TV personalities and although I am Canadian, I follow US politics closely because its just so much more fascinating down there. I laugh now because my fall from religion can at least partly be attributed to George Dubya. I remember thinking if this guy is a Christian than god has some pretty bad advice for the most powerful man in the world. I started reading a little Chomsky and that eventually led me to Hitchens, Dennet, Dawkins and Harris (the four horsemen of course). The way these 4 dismantle religion is just relentless and I still can`t get enough of it. Another great book I discovered is ``The Evolution of God`` by Ronald Wright. Theres nothing I can say in criticism of religion that these men haven't already said better.
The strange thing about these years of religious decline is the lack of intervention from friends and family. I think this is partly because became a much more confident and outspoken person than I was before and they were and are still afraid of what I have to say. My Mother finally confronted me about a year ago and I didn't pull any punches. It went well however, we ended up hugging at the end of my explanations and we still enjoy a good relationship to this day. I consider myself lucky because I have read many testimonies of family`s that have been ripped apart. I think this is partly because so many of the church family of my generation in our area have walked away from church life, she knew it was coming. I`m lucky Canada is an increasingly secular country. The friends I have left in the Church are still close, we don`t talk about faith because they know what I think and it would just drive a wedge in the relationship. I do however consider them to be hypocrites, they drink, party, and have premarital sex but theres really nothing wrong with that is there.
In closing I would just like to proclaim that I have never felt more comfortable in my own skin than I do now as an atheist. History, Science and Honesty are the enemies of religion. Thank you to all who have shared your stories, its great to connect with people who have experienced the indoctrination as I have. All it takes to get rid of it is a little common sense.
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