When I was a little boy in Sunday school we had a visiting nun come and talk to us about how wonderful heaven will be. She said it will be fun all the time. You can fly a kite if want. Ride a horse! Play baseball! etc. Sounded nice to us first graders. Inevitably one kid asked if her dog will be there when she dies. The nun made a sad face and said "I'm sorry honey, animals cannot go to heaven." My hand shot up immediately. "You said we could ride a horse in heaven, but now you say there will be no animals! How can there be horses then?" Thus started my short journey to atheism.
A few years later when it was time for confirmation, I had to choose a patron saint, or whatever they call it. I chose Thomas. I thought I was clever but the bishop saw right through me. :-)
By age 13 I was fed up with the whole thing. I gave up the alter boy gig when my dad started doing it too. It was a different time then and I guess they thought alter boying with your dad would be a bonding experience. I think it was the final push for me.
Mom cried for a week when I told her the news. My dad just became unbearable. On Sunday mornings he literally pounded the bedroom door open so that it slammed into my dresser. "Wake up! time for church!" he would yell at my brother. Of course I wasn't going so he just had to make my morning as miserable as possible. But I got a nice long sleep on Sunday mornings until they came back several hours later, so what did I care. Even to this day there is nothing I appreciate more than sleeping in on a Sunday.
Mom made me go talk about my feelings with a priest, but she made the mistake of making an appointment with a young one fresh out of the seminary. He told me it was cool, not taking faith at face value is probably going to strengthen my faith in the long run. Well 33 years later I am stronger than ever, that is true, but not how I think he envisioned. My mother is in a state of denial I think. She thinks I am very spiritual and still need time before I come around. Oh boy.
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Thanks for that nice introductory story. Doesn't it just about sum up everything about religious indoctrinal threats?
Welcome to this friendly meeting place with freethinkers who recognise that fictional gods and crafty religions have always been used to deceive and control vulnerable superstitious people including defenceless children;
----and how tragic and inexcusable it also is that women and minorities have been oppressed these last two thousand years and longer.