Hi Jerry, I found a couple of YouTube posts with you talking about your experiences, and was really struck by your story. Something that grabbed me was at some point, you were talking about your hopes for the future where someone declaring themselves an atheist would be no big deal. I just wanted to tell you, it does happen - Australia is a secular country, and while I won't pretend that no atheists here have suffered from discrimination, by and large it doesn't happen. I've been an atheist my entire life, the third generation in my family (on all sides) to be so, and I feel like I'm a normal person in my society, nothing unusual or out of the ordinary. Our Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, is openly atheist, and there has been more discussion about her being a red-head than about her lack of religion. I guess I'm telling you this because I know that for many Americans, it's subconciously ingrained that the American experience is the universal experience. My sister lived in the US for many years (Tallahassee, Florida and Bloomington, Indiana) and I've lived for a short period of time in San Francisco, with a large number of American I met and got close to during my lifetime. We both made the discovery that even our well educated, well travelled, broad-minded friends struggled with the "emotional-intelligence" understanding that the (English speaking) world had different experiences.
I hope it helps to know that what you want - a society where a person's belief, or lack of it, does not affect their social standing - can exist, and a secular society is within America's grasp. And I also wanted to say, if you ever plan to come to Australia, whether to speak or just for a holiday, please let me know: I've got a network of friends all over the country who love playing host to overseas visitors, and my house is always open to you, your wife and son.
Good luck with your journey.
Have you written anything on tongues since leaving the Faith? I grew up Assemblies of God (although my paternal grandparents were UPC), so I'm intimately acquainted with glossolalia and used to engage in it myself. I have my own ideas about how it actually happens. I was just wondering if you have any thoughts about it.