One of my grandmothers was Catholic, and the other was Pentecostal. They alternated taking me to church on Sunday. Needless to say this was very confusing. Aside from the conflicts in dogma, the difference in the ceremony was difficult to keep in sync. I had to really focus to remember whether I was to jump, holler, and wave my arms emphatically or just stand still and hang my head in guilt. The real problem came when it was time for my 'confirmation' in the Catholic church. My Pentecostal grandmother said becoming a full fledged Catholic would mean burning in hell for eternity, because they worship idols (the saints). She insisted that I be baptized in the Pentecostal church, but my Catholic grandmother said that would result in me burning in hell forever because the Pentecostal religion didn't follow the Pope and was therefore not descended from Christ. Fuck, that was a hell of a conundrum for an eleven year old.

Then I had an epiphany. Both religions told me that Jesus would tell me what to do when facing difficult decisions. All I had to do was pray and believe. I prayed, and I prayed. I would stay up half the night praying, trying a Catholic prayer with my head hung in guilt, and Pentecostal prayers where I rolled around on the floor in a mock seizure. No luck. It made no sense whatsoever to me because I truly believed that Jesus would talk to me, and most of my family claimed to have heard from him on a number of issues. Finally I asked one grandmother what the voice of Jesus sounded like. That's when her story got shaky. She said that you don't actually hear his voice, contrary to everything I had been told up to this point, but that I would 'feel' what he wanted me to do. Thing was, I was getting no good vibes one way or the other, I was just filled with terror at the thought of burning forever in a pit of fire because God loved me so much.

The only option left seemed to be that God wanted me to read the bible - that I had to find the truth for myself. That's when I decided to put off confirmation and baptism until I solved my conundrum. I felt I had made a responsible decision, but the reactions of my grandmothers were less than encouraging. While at one grandmother's house I told her that I had decided to read the bible, because if that was the word of God then it should be clear what being a Christian means, and from that I could chose my path. She was horribly upset, and asked why I couldn't just believe her, and she told me how much it hurt that I thought she would ever lie to me. When I told her that she had already lied to me about Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny she slapped me across the face. When I repeated the conversation with my other grandmother, she hit me on the head with a wooden spoon.

I did read the bible, but at that age it took me almost 2 years. It was especially difficult because as I read it I wasn't finding any references to most of what either religion seemed to be about. The worst part was that there was no real dogma to 'worship' Jesus, in fact it seemed that we were supposed to 'follow' rather than worship. This did not sit well with any Christians I knew at the time.

Slowly I came to realize that if a god did exist, he didn't communicate with us - any of us. Furthermore, he offered no recognizable set of rules for us to follow, and really didn't seem to mind that most religions claiming to worship him seemed to make up their own set. So if there is a god, then he has completely hidden himself from us, covered up any trace of 'creation' with evidence to the contrary, and has no expectations of us whatsoever. With this in mind, he is not the god professed by modern religion in any way, and therefore the god they proclaim to exist does not.

I read the bible again, and partly read some English translations of the Koran, but eventually gave up looking. My crisis of faith eventually faded as I realized and gained confidence Atheism.

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I guess that last line should read "...realized and gained confidence [in my] Atheism."

Lol, what a story! The scene with the two grandmothers slapping you around seems like a scene out of the Blues Brothers. "I offered to help you. You refused to accept our money. Then I said, 'I guess you're really up shit creek". "Christ Elwood". Profanity and blasphemy ensues, and the nun whips out a yard-stick and swings it around to beat the hell out of both of them.

 

Ah, well, sorry to make light of your situation, but hey, you did the right thing! Those Pentecostals are nuts, what with their seizures and speaking in tongues. Wow. Catholics actually seem sane next to them. Of course its all lunacy and entirely made up. Welcome to the site and I hope you find some actual human beings here with whom you have a lot in common, rather than the religified zombies you have courageously rejected. By the way, how has your newfound realization gone over with your family, or how has it afected your life these days?

It's been 30 years since I made that decision to read the bible.  It took me 2 years to read it, leading to my years as a Deist, which were perhaps 3 or 4 in number.  My conscious conversion to Atheism didn't solidify until I was perhaps 22 or 23 - so 17 or 18 years ago.  I guess I'm just pointing out that it isn't a newfound realization - I'm just new to the site and thought I would share my history.

 

My Catholic grandmother was cold to me from the day that I refused confirmation.  My last conversation with her was in 02 or 03 I think - and I told her exactly how I felt, leaving no possibility of continuing whatever remained of the relationship.  On the fundamentalist side, well, I haven't seen my mother since 1992, and haven't spoken to her since a phone call in the late 90's when I just lost my will to keep pounding my head against that brick wall; I no longer know where she lives.

 

On the upside, with no family ties, I have really enjoyed a great deal of freedom in moving around the country and flipping jobs/businesses as I see fit.

Well that does make a difference, I couldn't tell from your story how long ago it was. I also enjoy not having any family to worry about, I go where I want and nobody to consider but me and the family I made. And yeah, beating your head against brick walls sucks, I totally sympathize with that.
I like the grandmother story too!  I'm sure it wasn't as funny at the time as you portray it here, but you seem to have an upbeat perspective on the whole thing. My experience with Catholics is limited but I can attest that it's not easy to maintain a sense of humor when dealing with Pentecostals.  Glad you're here!
Thank you.  It sucked at the time, but looking back I do get some laughs out of it.  My family was always shocked that I couldn't see the difference between the implausibilities of the various mythologies they had propagated.  I guess that when I was young I took everything adults said far too literally.
Children do that. It's a pity that trust plays right in to their indoctrination far more often than I like to think about.
It's odd that more kids don't make the connection between Santa and Jesus. I mean, after being told for years that Santa is watching you and then finding out it was all just a bogus way of enticing you to monitor your own behavior, how does anyone still fall for the whole Jesus thing?
Children are expected to relinquish the Santa belief at some point.  Not so with the Jesus belief. It is discouraged and sometimes punished, at least here in the bible belt of the US.  I think it's likely that many children do make the connection but are not given the opportunity to just say no to god, at least not out loud.
I agree.  Even when I still knew a lot of self proclaimed 'Christians' I can't say that a large percentage of them seemed to sincerely believe all that crap - although they sure acted like it when certain people were in the room.
Yeah I think this was one of the big early reasons why religion never made sense to me. A ten year old could (and did) figure it out. "Oh, there is someone called Santa Claus. And oh, there is someone named god. And oh, there is someone named the tooth fairy. Well, if two of them are completely made up, then what's the difference between them and god?" Nobody ever gave a good answer to that one, so I stuck with what I could verify. Hmm, a system like science based on verification? Genius! It's called 'reasoning'? Genius! It works and faith doesn't? Duh! Hello!
Well I was moved along by being indoctrinated into two versions at the same time.  My Catholic grandmother loved her wine (and vodka) but my Pentecostal grandmother said it was a sin to drink.  I think I was about 7 when I asked her why Jesus turned water into wine for all those people if it was a 'sin' and she told me he didn't make wine with alcohol, it was only grape juice;  I knew right then that something was sketchy.

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