The following is an excerpt from the upcoming book "Exodus From Zion" by Angie Jackson.
I tried to cast a demon out of myself, in my bed in the early evening. I was wrestling yet again with depression and thoughts of suicide. My grandmother put a lot of stock in naming demons - if you knew its name, you could have dominion over it. I was 16 and anorexic and I hated myself. That's it - Self-Hatred! I sat up in bed and began to command the demon to come out of me.
"Leave in the name of Jesus!" I spoke, knowing that life and death were in the power of the tongue. I was embarrassed though, so I spoke softly, not loudly, but firmly all the same. Then I gasped and choked, dry-heaving, convincing myself I could purge Self-Hatred like my dinner. Ten years later, I would be an atheist.
Oddly enough, no one doubted the sincerity or conviction of my beliefs when I was in the cult or as an evangelical Christian. I sinned and smoked and drank and experimented with drugs. I had sex with men and women and listened to secular music. I dyed my hair purple, green, blue, and orange, and even shaved it off completely. I was married and divorced and got two tattoos while "saved", but once I became an atheist then people began to tell me that I had never really believed. So let me state it clearly here.
I believed. I believed in angels and demons, prophecy and miracles, heavenly protection and eternal suffering. I believed in a six-day creation in which God created the heavens and the earth and every living creature, and that it was good. I believed in the virgin birth and the resurrection of Jesus. I believed in the power of the Holy Spirit to change hearts and work wonders. I believed in Adam and Eve and the Fall. Cain and Abel and Original Sin. Noah and the arc with all the animals. Moses and the Pharaoh. Ten plagues and ten commandments. Forty days of flood waters and forty years wandering in the desert. Jonah in the belly of a fish, Elisha and the valley of the dry bones. Jesus and Peter walking on water and two loaves of bread and seven fish feeding the multitudes with baskets left to spare.
I believed there was a God-shaped hole in my heart that only Jesus' love could fill, and that all my friends who didn't accept His grace would spend eternity in the torments of Hell. I believed as much as any man or woman can for over twenty years. And now I don't, but it doesn't change what I believed then. After all, no one attempts a self-exorcism without serious intensity of faith.