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I have abandoned Christianity forever

By Morgan ~

Hi, everybody. My name is Morgan, and as a long-time lurker I've finally decided to post the story of my de-conversion. First, I'd like to commend everyone who has already done so, as I've been quite encouraged by the bravery of you who have listened to the voice of reason and walked away from Christianity. My story might sound simple, but it will be a relief to me to share it.

[254-365] MelancholyImage by Beatriz AG via Flickr
I hardly know where to begin. For context, I'm 17 years old, and I'm the eldest daughter in a large family of six children. My parents became Christians when they were in college. Shortly afterwards, they married and had me; the result of this is that I have known them for pretty much half their lives, and we are close, if different from each other. Growing up they expected me to be responsible, and supportive and understanding of their problems. They also adhered to a Dobson-esque parenting style and spanked me for acting out. I remember the fear I felt during punishment; not remorse, just shame and naked fear. Later on, I wasn't sure who I was. I thought of myself as a servant, and I felt guilty for thinking that something in my life wasn't right, even when the emotional turmoil raged inside of me. This intensity went unnoticed throughout my childhood. I was homeschooled from the age of about 2 onwards and was reportedly bright; I was reading and writing decent poetry by Kindergarten and at 10 I was published in a popular Christian magazine. Church sucked, and it was confusing as hell, but who was I to whine?

My family's non-denominational Bible church was not a terrible one. The pastor was a kind man, not a screaming, salivating dufus, and I grew up sheltered in a bubble of people who'd known me almost my entire life. In primary school at least, I kind of liked Sunday School. The teachers were motherly and kept order in the classroom, we sang songs (apparently I was also musical, but I've lost most of my childhood memories from trauma), and the basic message we were expected to synthesize at that level of our development was "Jesus loves me". Of course, the teachings grew steadily darker with the passage of time. I should probably pause here and explain that this was a mega-mega-church. There were many kind and caring people involved in "shepherding" roles, but they had no real say in what we were told after we graduated from their classes, said our goodbyes, and went on to the next grade. By the time I was 8, I was considered old enough to memorize scripture and begin my serious indoctrination. At home, we read the Bible every day, and accepted it as total truth. At church, we sat on the floor for several hours as the leaders drilled the fundamentals of what was essentially Evangelical Christianity into our psyches, laying the foundation for years to come. It isn't worth repeating. You are as familiar as I am with the confusion, the sense of anger that you can't explain at what you're being told, the loss of what is perhaps your dignity, even. It was horrible. I had no friends and often stood in a corner on my own, afraid of the other children, who were much noisier and better-coordinated than I. I was embarrassed about my body, my clothes, and my hair. After I was given a short scarf for my hair one birthday, I began to bind my waist very tightly, so tight that my stomach couldn't move when I breathed, and wear it like that on Sundays. I took pleasure in giving what money I had to the church and began attending the regular services with my parents along with my Sunday School classes. At home, I finished all the books in the library that I could reach on the lower shelves, and took to reading my parents' books. They never read fiction or anything besides Theological books, not because they considered it sinful but because they simply weren't interested. I read my way through most of the works of James Dobson and Kay Arthur, just to name two prominent authors, and I daresay I ended up with quite the specialized knowledge base. Anakim? Song of Songs? I knew and loved the sensual, Biblical "porn" - seriously, it's there if you know where to look.

And the pain continued to register at the emotional level.

It may sound silly, but what most likely kept me sane in those repetitive years of being shut up at home, looking after my younger siblings, tidying the house because I liked to and my mom hated to, reading religious tomes, and going to church, was my imagination. Like many children who have been alternately ignored and bullied into submission, I had a vibrant fantasy world. I constantly narrated a tale that was filled with excitement, and power, and freedom, and joy to an unknown listener, and in those moments I forgot my troubles and escaped. I often cried myself to sleep and had nightmares. So sleep provided little relief. But I could daydream, and that was something.

Then I hit puberty.

When the first painful nub made itself known under my right nipple, my mom looked at me soberly and announced that "that" was happening, as if I'd contracted a dread disease. Maybe I had. Unbeknown to those around me, I knew a little about sex and conception from a science book that gave a very cursory overview. The knowledge of the knowledge was eating me alive, and I remember asking God late at night to forgive me for what I knew. I prayed for my grandparents, very wonderful secular people, since I thought they were headed for hell, and I prayed for myself, that I would go to heaven, since I never felt anything when I said the sinner's prayer and never felt plugged in to God, or like He could hear me. Therefore, I did it often for safety. My mom didn't talk to me about becoming a woman, but she gave me a book on the James Dobson. Can you imagine this man, who believes that homosexuals are pedophiles and rapists, and that little children should be physically and emotionally abused, telling scrawny 11-year-old girls about their periods? I was lost. I was utterly lost.

And the years passed. I'll fast-forward through middle school and some of high school. By the time I turned 15, my life had taken a turn for the better. I had studied at an excellent performing arts school, and my Christian beliefs were crumbling. We moved away from our longtime home and church and by some miracle, my parents decided they didn't much care for any of the churches in our new area, so we never go anymore. When I turned 16 I developed an interest in Wicca, which just made sense to me, and appeals because of my draw to nature. I have since abandoned Christianity forever. Incredibly, my parents basically accept that. Of course, my life is still touched by it, for after about the age of 11 I was unable to concentrate in my academic studies, and now I am studying for my GED, since I dropped out of home-school high school. I am acutely and painfully aware that I am not as mentally sharp as I might have been with a different life, that I am socially awkward, and that I'm still afraid that people will react violently to me if I displease them. I have survived a heart surgery, a messy break-up, and anorexia nervosa. What this has proven to me is that I CAN survive. I am not yet an atheist, for to me the Divine exists in other people, in their love and perhaps even in their evil. I believe that we create heaven and hell right here on Earth. I have found considerable understanding for my suffering in astrology. I am not anywhere near whole, but I would very much like to be, someday. Most of all, I want people who are sitting on the fence to know that whatever made them intelligent enough to question Christianity would be more upset with them if they don't use it than if they do. That was the reminder that helped me to escape, when I felt guilty for doing so. I do not feel guilty anymore. I feel old. I hope that my story stands as a decent example of the reality that forcing a religion upon kids is another kind of abuse. I know that someday, people will know better.