Our first story this week is from Dave:
AWANA. AWANA was introduced to me when one of my children in Grade 3 brought home a book a classmate had given her while fulfilling her obligation to recruit “un-churched” friends. BTW, the parents of the recruiting child didn’t even know what sorts of things their child was being exposed to at AWANA summer camp. Most fundamentalist christians share similar beliefs to AWANA, such as “all men are morally corrupt, and of themselves utterly unable to remedy their lost condition” and AWANA uses children that have been indoctrinated before the age of reason to do their recruiting for them. That’s just wildly offensive to me. Every theist that I have asked and even the pope, disagrees with the idea that morality requires a belief in god. If we redefine god to be a supernatural being that can defy the known laws of physics, the majority of us become atheists. So there we have it; I’m out. I feel better already! Many thanks to GODLESSMOM for facilitating this catharsis!
Welcome out, Dave! I’m so glad to have provided you with an avenue to tell your story.
Next, we have a story from Chris:
I never really bought into the whole religion thing even as young child, despite being loosely indoctrinated into the Catholic religion by my “buffet Catholic” family. My godmother bought a picture bible (bible done in comic book style) when I was about 8 or 9 years old and I immediately made the correlation that this was fiction. Everyone was telling me that superman and green lantern weren’t real “they’re just comics”, so the whole Jesus thing was the same to me. As I got older I went along for the ride because of the taboo connotations of the word atheist. As I got a little older I became a searcher for “meaning”, Buddhism, Taoism, eastern philosophy… ect. I explored other less fanatical version of Christianity and settled into the Methodist church (somewhat uncomfortably) mostly to appease my wife and family’s questions. On the morning of September 11th 2001 I witnessed a horrific act that I instantly recognized exactly what it was, a group of highly motivated religious nuts carrying out a faith based attack of another group that didn’t have the same imaginary friend as them. I lost all desire to see religion as positive force or be a part of that community. I came to the realization that all of my personal heroes were godless. George Carlin, Douglas Adams, Penn Jillette!! The list goes on… Not long after 9/11 my grandmother passed and I noticed the religious services and talk of “better place now” made me angry and offered no comfort. I called myself atheist now, I had done it before as a rebellious teen mostly for shock value but now I meant it. I started reading more and evaluating things, I no longer used the bad apple excuse for all of pedophille pastors and priests. I learned the importance of critical thinking and being a skeptic, I no longer feared the taboo, I could say with without fear I am an atheist. As I started this transition I could have an open dialogue with people and after a lot of dialogue converted my wife and my children started to develop the same skills. My youngest child like the rest of my children was born an atheist, but unlike his older brothers he has had no religious influence at all, he’s still an atheist. The single biggest help and influence in my journey to Atheism has and continues to be Penn Jillette, I have and continue to thank him for showing me “the awful truth of how beautiful life can be” without god.
Finally, here is a story from Angela:
Going to church was not so much about ‘indoctrination’ or so I was lead to believe. It’s all about how God loves all his children. I had questions from the beginning (literally the age of 5) that were brushed off and answered with magical tales. It was more of a weekly social event for the kids and a 2 hour holy babysitter for my parents to have some time alone. I enjoyed the coloring books, the sing alongs, and knowing there was some magical being who loved us all. Then reality started to set in… A few events stand out clear as day. The first church I went to (Baptist) the pastor was discussing why it was important to accept communion. Imagine trying to explain the body and blood of Christ to a 5 year old. I asked him why we must accept eating *but not eating* the body of a man and drinking *but not drinking* his blood? Rather than answer the question in a way a 5 year old could understand I was ostracized and sent to ‘timeout’ and to discuss my ‘behavior’ with the head pastor. Rather than accept my ‘punishment’ I ran home and hid under my bed. Second traumatizing event: My Godmother was brutally murdered in 1994. Rather than to discuss the tragedy as it is I was given these ‘condolences’ and ‘answers’:
I’m so sorry for your loss and experience, Angela.