Hello people of the Nexus,
I generally prefer to be a bit silly, so this is an early heads up.
I was born into a baptist household, both my parents graduated from seminary (but decided they were not "called" to ministry). One of my uncles was a pastor. Church was every Sunday morning, night, and Wednesday cause you know, can't get enough eh? I was dragged to all 3 services most of the time. I was a quick study and wanted to do the whole tub full of water thing, however I was very young so in order to be allowed to be baptized I was required to write a long essay (I was like 5 years old at the time I think), people gave me high praise for my insightful understanding of baptist doctrine (dogma). After that I did the prayer, got dunked in the tub and got saved, except.... I didn't. That night I reflected on what happened, nothing made sense, I felt no different than I had the day before. So I prayed again. Nothing. After a few attempts I asked my mom, "How can you be sure you're saved?" Her response was pretty simple.
Step 1 Do the prayer stuff (ect including giving your heart ect mumbo jumbo stuff)
Step 2 Your done, just go through life acting like you're saved and special.
She couldn't explain all the weird things believers said, she clearly felt the same way, but she couldn't describe any of it. I began to get the feeling they were just making all this spiritual stuff up. I was pretty much an Atheist from then on, I didn't buy the heaven thing, I also found much of what Christians say about sin and salvation to be disingenuous and rather offensive on many levels. BUT I really liked J.R.R. Tolkien so I really hoped magic did exist somewhere. I became fairly obsessed with religious studies, by the time I was 9 or 10 I had read all my parents books from Seminary, had even taught myself a small amount of "New Testament" Greek.
I had lost any ability to talk about the bible with church goers; I tended to just make people mad with my unique views. Instead I preferred to talk about the bible with pastors. These were always very interesting and enlightening talks, most of the pastors I knew were reasonably honest regarding many of the discrepancies I saw, they had fairly dishonest justifications on why they chose to teach the church goers the way they did, but I was in no position to fight them.
I studied, and I am empathetic and caring. Even though I never said a single word in support of god, never thanked him and never said anything embracing Christianity openly, people assumed I was a believer just like them (think about how many of the founding fathers talked about the whole god thing, something kinda like that). I did pick up a few bad habits that took some time to shake off (praying for god to show he's real, pro tip: It doesn't work). I never once thought there was an afterlife, and I never thought there was a soul (except maybe in the way artists use it to describe putting emotions into things). I never met an Atheist in person, I knew such things existed from how people spoke, but its hard when you never see it first hand, its not as real (Never met anyone in person who openly admitted they were Atheist, a few people I suspect might have been). Once I had finished consuming all the Christianity I could I moved onto Muslim, New Age Spiritualism, Paganism, Wicca, and any other religion I could get my hands on. I also loved history and English and Science so I guess you could say I'm a nerd by nature and I'm happy that way.
I experienced a great deal of abuse, its not something I want to weigh down my introduction with. I don't hate god, I don't hate my parents, or anyone else, and I have no desire or intention to allow things that happened a long time ago ruin my future. If its relevant or you really want to know I'll talk about it, however I really don't need/want sympathy for stuff long gone, it is what it is, lets learn and move forward! (The abuse was mostly thanks to military trained parents (before they wen't to seminary) and some substance abuse issues one of them had, religion did play a role but I'd rather oppose religion on its own poor merits rather than hold a grudge. Even without abuse I would oppose religion).
I stopped going to church about 7 ish years ago after my divorce (it was a really useful excuse, church was boring/annoying anyway!). I still live in a place where its not OK, or even safe to be a non christian, or LGTB, or Black for some of the people around here. Basically its about as backwards a place as you can find in the US. I listen often to neighbors, friends, family promote the establishment of a Theocracy, Imprisoning or killing anyone not like them (LGTB, Atheist, Any other religion, lots of racism against Mexicans here and I'm half Mexican). It may just be talk now but its pretty scary how wide spread it seems to be from my perspective, and how shameless and earnest the people are saying these things. One example would be my landlord wanting to make tattoo's illegal because it goes against god (and its totally something he should be stressing over -sarcasm).
At some point everyone will know what I think, and how I feel. That is unavoidable, hopefully I can be well established in a safe place, with lots of friends and support, far from the extremists i'm surrounded by now.
Thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed reading it
Called to the ministry, eh? Don't you wish they'd gotten a busy signal?!? [grin!]
Welcome to Atheist Nexus, BeeGee. We're glad you made it!
Thank you Loren, I've been pretty happy I joined.
Interesting story BenGee. I had a similar experience after being dunked into Mormonism. I expected to feel different, now that my sins were washed away, but felt no different. The next day in church, when dad laid his hands on me to give me a blessing and said "receive ye the holy ghost", I expected to feel the holy goat, but again, nothing.
It took me much longer than you to realize it was all bull pucky. I just put those two questions on a back shelf of my mind, expecting to understand them later. Same with other questions through the years. I think it took me so long partially because, unlike you, I had very kind, loving parents, so I knew they wouldn't lie to me.
The only thing I remember my parents being honest with us about as kids was the fact there's no Santa (just not something our family did, we did celebrate other portions of xmas though). My youngest brother got in a lot of trouble at school for telling an entire class of second graders there's no santa lol
My mom never really hid the fact that she'd lie about anything if it kept us in line
oh and I got distracted! Thanks for reading, and thank you for your story as well!
I had the same experience with baptism, except it was a Mormon dunking ceremony. Such malarkey. Welcome!
Did they at least heat the water?