I was brought up in a strict christian household. In hind-sight I don't think it was a good thing to be told that if I don't believe I'll burn in an eternal pit of fire from as young as I can remember.  Please share your experience with religion and explain why it was bad, or maybe not that bad, and what pushed you to stop believing in it.

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Kudos!  (I needed to read this today) You Rock

Thanks, 108.  Did you get to see the Bill Hicks video at the end?  I think he was the first atheist stand-up comedian.  Well worth your time if you haven't heard of him.  His demise at a young age was a great loss.  Now, of course, we have Doug Stanhope who's filled in his shoes.  I think Doug is as pissed off as we are.  You can catch both these guys on Youtube or Rhapsody.com 

As far as your pious aunt goes, don’t even try to talk some sense into her.  I’ve been there, done that.  Just be cordial and friendly and hang with your own people.  Coming to A/N was a good move and there’re plenty of atheist/humanist groups around.  The idea is to enjoy life as much as you can and not get sidetracked by supernatural bullcrap.  The universe is indifferent to us, so what's the matter with that? 

 

 

 

Yes! As a child in middle school, I went through a period of extreme depression related to the fact that I doubted my religion and believed that I'd go to hell on the 50% chance that God was real. I couldn't sleep because I was afraid I would die in my sleep. If a plane went overhead, I feared it was a going to drop "The Bomb." This led to obsessive compulsive praying, and basically living inside my own head. My father had old fashioned ideas about discipline, which today would be considered physical abuse. It all added up to a period of living hell. Of course, I lived through all of that, and religion actually impacted me in some positive ways. Still, the a year and a half of mental anguish was a high price to pay for the positive aspects of religion. My children never had to suffer any of that and they have happier dispositions.

Oh, and I forgot to say: my religion taught me that people are basically evil. I am still unlearning this and nearly 25 years after my un-conversion to Christianity, I am almost totally recovered. 

Oh boy, where to start. I'd have to say the worst thing inflicted on me by being raised in a fundamentalist christian family was learning to swallow nonsense whole sale without any red flags going up whatsoever. I also developed an automatic fear response whenever I disagree with a religious authority figure. I've been listening to youtube debates between atheists and such religious athorities for months to try to break myself of this reaction. I've been an atheist for, what, six years now? Seven perhaps? I still can't go into a church building because my brain just turns off. I literally lose the ability to form a coherant counterargument. It scares and frustrates me. Granted I haven't been to church in *quite* a long time so it may be better now.

Second, I had the misfortune of being born female into a patriarchial religion where getting pregnant or contracting an std was the punishment for the heinous crime of having sex. I never actually had sex until I was 16, but that's a special case and while I am still uncomfortable talking about it, it's rather relevant so I'm spilling my guts here. My first boyfriend was from the same fundamentalist christian church I grew up in. He was a charismatic kid who seemed very nice in public, but turned out to be quite emotionally abusive behind closed doors. Being only sixteen and quite sheltered, I had no idea what was going on and proceeded to assume all responsibility for anything bad that happened in the relationship. Once he actually chewed me out for not calling him when I said I would even though I didn't have access to a phone. More the fool I, I swallowed the nonsense. See my first point. Several months of this culminated in my first sexual experience being a rape. As if that weren't bad enough, circumstances I wont get into resulted in my parents finding out that I had "had sex". The low point was when they brought his parents over to our house and explained that we had been having sex. When my father demanded I come out and apologize to his parents, I literally cowered and wept in the kitchen too overcome with guilt over the whole thing to face them (after months of emotional abuse it took time for me to even realize that I had been raped and this wasn't actually my fault). I also had the misfortune of being in a family with a history of mental illness, and this was more than enough to trigger a deep depression, but that's another story. I wonder how things would have been different if I hadn't been raised to think that sex was so morally repugnant. I still struggle with depression though it's gotten better in the last few years. I still struggle with sexual guilt.

Also not so great was how the church I grew up in believed that they knew the proper interpretation of the word of god and noone else did. They were rediculously dogmatic even on minor points like what our church should be called. In their view it had to be called the Church of Christ of wherever you were and nothing else was spritually acceptable. It was that crazy. It was that bigoted. It was that bigotry that cut me off from my parents. I tried talking to my father about differing views and he would just get so ...afraid. It was clear to me that if I didn't believe exactly as he did, he would be heartbroken over how his daughter was going to go to hell and it wasn't even up for discussion. I couldn't talk to my mother because the man was the head of the household and she'd have to tell my father. I'm making some headway on this at this point in my life. My parents have had things happen that forced them to lighten up a bit. My mom's going to school for counseling and though it's a christian college (and non-accredited ugh) and she's counseling through her church, I think it's helped a lot. But, seriously, I have a ways to go to sort through the tangled mess I got landed with growing up in that stupid faith.

Quite a story, Askleigh.  You're right to air out this situation with like-minded people.  Social interaction wards off depression, so if you feel yourself getting down seek out friends and do things of common interest—shopping, dancing, sports, or whatever young ladies like to do.

Your parents wanted you to apologize for getting raped!  How dumb and unfair.  Sounds like something out of Islam and Sharia Law. 

Try asking your parents if an omniscient, all-loving God would create us knowing full well beforehand that we were destined to hell.  But He created us anyway. Something wrong there, illogical.  Think of it, ETERNAL torture with no hope at all of reprieve, all for giving in to human desires that God instilled in us in the first place.  Makes no sense at all.  Is God a practical joker or sadist or something?   

As Christopher Hitchens says, "religion poisons everything."  Rich Goscicki says, "religion is cuckoo and goofy-ass.”  Just do your own thing and have as much fun as you can while you’re still young.  Let your parents live for the next life.  They can inherit the Earth, that’s what they deserve. 

Funny digression:  when I was in Catholic school in the ‘50s I learned about the “Mysteries of the Church” like the Immaculate Conception and Transubstantiation.  Now the only mystery I wonder about is:  how the heck can so many people believe this nonsense? 

 

You're preaching to the choir, sir. At any rate that all happened over a decade and some ago and they didn't know I'd been raped, they just assumed that it had been consensual. And I'm assuming it was because he was a christian boy that they assumed that. Funny thing is apparently some months later they had suspicions that it hadn't been consensual but I didn't hear anything about that until much later. As for your moral challenge, I can already tell you what they'd say because I remember thinking this same nonsense myself. Even if god knows we're going to hell, it's still us making the choice. What drivel. If any father tortured his children for disobeying him, we'd say the father made the choice to torture his children rather than the children made the choice to be tortured and we'd call CPS. If a husband told his wife he loved her and would never do anything to hurt her but so help him if she disagreed with or tried to leave him he'd torture her to death, well come on. I really started seeing the craziness of it all when I thought of my relationship with god in light of how those relationships are supposed to work between humans. I mean he's abusive in every sense of the word. Seriously. 

Wow, good point! I tried so hard to love God and be grateful while simultaneously thinking "but he seems like a big meanie." Also in my church, we were taught that all people are inherently evil, and if we do anything good, it is "by the grace of God." It took me till my college years to wonder, "Hey why do we get blamed for all the bad things we do, but God gets credit for the good things we do?" That's how brainwashed I was.

 

You used the right word, Ann, "brainwashed."  Ever since I was a kid I was a critical thinker and never bought any of it.  Take the story of Abraham and Isaac, the cornerstone of the three major religions.  When just a kid I asked, "What! you're telling me this old fuck heard a voice telling him to kill his kid and he unquestioning obeyed?"  They should have put him in jail for being a nut job. 

And what about sacrificing a baby lamb to the Sky God?  I love baby lambs, what the heck does an omnipotent deity get out of seeing lamb's blood? This Yahweh character is a pretty sick dude, and everybody accepted it like it was normal. 

That’s why I say, the whole religion is goofy. 

Yes, its so obvious a child can tell you that, unless of course you are brainwashed. My oldest child when he was in preschool got a Blible story picture book and he was all excited to read it, so even thought I didn't believe in God, I thought I should educate him: give him the opportunity to be a Christian if he wanted to. We got to the part about God sacrificing Issac and my little boy said in a very disapproving tone, "Why is God all the time so mean?" and he got off the couch and walked away from the story. I was astounded because I would have never been brave enough to say something like that. I felt so stupid for having believed something as an adult that a child could see was ridiculous. Years later in about the fourth grade, he turned to me on the way to the park, and said, "I don't see what's the big deal about Jesus dying. It's not like he's the first person ever to die." Another big gasp from me as I heard my child express thoughts that never occurred to me until I was an adult.

 

 

Ann, not only Abraham and Isaac, the entire Bible is full of illogic and amorality.  I was just recently talking about cursing the fig tree with my son. 

Jesus and the Fig Tree

Matthew 21:18-22

Early in the morning, as he was on his way back to the city, he was hungry. Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, "May you never bear fruit again!" Immediately the tree withered.

When the disciples saw this, they were amazed. "How did the fig tree wither so quickly?" they asked.

 

Talking about evil!  To my mind, Jesus wanted to stress to his followers that being barren is not the way to go.  All part of the “be fruitful and multiple” bullcrap.  The underlying motivation for this verse is that professional clerics want warm asses to fill the pews so they can increase their power and wealth. 

From a moral point of view, Jesus should have been teaching that the fig tree and humans, in fact all animals and plants, house the same DNA and have the same genetic code.  All life is one; we should treat the fig tree with love and respect.  Instead, he teaches that plants aren’t even alive, they’re mere playthings.  No wonder the U.S. is deforesting the hinterland so fast that being consumed by a mudslide is an actual threat in many states. 

Your son sounds like a bright boy.  It’s laudable to let him “do his own thing” as we used to say in hippie days.  Just answer his questions as honestly as you can and let him form his own conclusions. 

 

Wow, that is quite a story.  I'm 42, and my religious parents recently found out I'm an atheist.  There has been lots of crying involved (not on my part).  Every year that goes by gets a little better.  I gave up feeling guilty for being a human a long time ago.  Hang in there! 

Upon hearing that I did not subscribe to being Baptist, my mother said "Well, I tried." This was when I was 35 years old. I guess I'm an utter failure now? My parents only went to church on Easter. My father was more of a deist, or at least smart enough to know that claiming to be atheist wasn't worth the crap he would have to put up with. Under the command of my mother, he would drop my two brothers and myself off at church for Sunday school where I learned that angels were hovering over me while I slept, used the bathroom, and did other things that young boys do in private. When my grandparents died, I had to worry about them watching me too! I was eventually guilted by the church to be baptized.

I had a friend (I'm a closeted atheist, BTW) who pretty much made me get on Facebook. When completing my profile, it came time to choose a religion. When he clicked on the drop-down menu, I was amazed/disgusted at the number of options available for selection under religion. I commented in some way about the number and he said that "they (religions) all lead to the same place, they just get you there different ways." I don't know what I said after that, but I remember him saying "So what, you believe science?" He then jokingly said we'll just say you're "confused." I was truly offended.

I'll stop now for I am getting angry. I'm glad I found this place.

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