Our first story this week, comes from Brendan. We know him as Prototype Atheist and he can be followed at @ProtoAtheist:
The next one is from Tom:
I can elaborate on how it was, being raised by a born-again young-earth creationist, police officer father that praises every word that leaks out of Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck’s mouth. I can tell you how many times I’ve read the entire bible, what books I used to recite by memory or how many days I was “blessed” to fast as punishment for not doing youth group homework. Yes I was “indoctrinated” as a young boy, “obligated” to listen to hours of TV evangelicals, bible homework, taught to idolize Kirk Cameron, Ray Comfort, Ken Ham, Kent Hovind and the other bullshit pseudoscientists. But Fuck all that. I want to elaborate on the people that helped me emancipate my mind from the dogma, from a tyrannical “god”. The people that save minds from ignorance that aren’t honored. My HS freshman english teacher, who introduced me to the Transcendentalists, Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Self Reliance” which I couldn’t live without; Simon Schama who introduced me to Great Art, to Caravaggio’s disdain for the gods, Rothko’s gorgeous essence of tragedy and Van Gogh’s never-ending benevolence towards mankind; My HS senior art teacher who helped me get into art school and land a scholarship; My homie who introduced me to the Existentialists, Nihilists, Richard Dawkins; My christian friend who introduced me to Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, C.S. Lewis, Malcolm Gladwell and continues to teach me the language of Philosophy (logic I think ;); And finally, My father who steadfastly supports me (nowadays) my goals and problems. I am an Atheist, I am a Humanist, I am Bipolar, I am an Artist and Writer… and I owe many people my gratitude.
And finally, an extremely interesting story from Stevie:
I was brought up in a small Yorkshire village and attended a Church of England primary school. My parents are not religious, and the school was an excellent little school with the usual morning assembles with The Lords Prayer and the occasional visit from the local vicar. We’d learn the occasional bible story but it never felt like any of it was being forced down your throat, only pleasant stories to act out or paint pictures to. There was no indoctrination, and I can’t think of a single person that I know that has ended up religious or a ‘believer’ in any way that attended that school. So, although I was aware of some of the ‘child-friendly’ bible stories & participated on the typical Christian traditions, I never believed in God or Jesus. I was fascinated with wildlife, natural history, dinosaurs and fossils, and from that followed learning all I could about them. I still have a nice little fossil collection that I like to swoon over every now and again 😉 As I grew up and started University, my fascination hadn’t waned. BUT then I met a girl…after a short while and plenty of good times later, she told me that her and her family were born-again Christians….(??). I said I was cool with it (as she showed very little interest in it, so it really wasn’t an issue between the two of us) and a short while later as the time came to meet the folks, it became apparent that they would look more favourably if I went to church…which I didn’t see the harm in and agreed. It was clear from the church pastors sermons that dating a non-Christian wasn’t good. But I showed willing and thought ‘well I’ll see where this goes’. Most of time I would sit there thinking ‘what am I doing here’ and almost laughed out loud a few times. I persisted, until it started to get more serious with my gf and ‘marriage’ was talked about. Now, I knew it wouldn’t go down well, her marrying a non-Christian. But by saying the words ‘Jesus died for my sins’ it was enough to convince the whole family I had been ‘saved’. Now, was I really ‘saved’? Not really, I’d spent quite a while now engulfed in the Church’s way of life. I was given the honour of saying grace at meal times, and now had a more respected stance in the young men’s bible group….then my heart sank when I heard the word ‘Baptism’…….the Church pastors quickly convinced me that baptism was a great way to demonstrate my new found faith, and to ensure I brought my family along (gulp). So…lo and behold a month later I was being dunked in front of a packed church, my mum and dad standing at the back with that ‘what the hell is going on’ look on their faces. Well, now I was an honorary Born-again fraud. It wasn’t that I hadn’t tried, I listened to the sermons, I went to bible groups, I read my bible, but it just wasn’t enough. Privately I was dying inside, it was eating away at who I was. I was putting on this act for the sake of my relationship.