This is part of an ongoing conversation I am having on myspace. As this last response from me partially explains my decision to become an atheist, I will post it here.
DEAR STUMP~~MY REAL FRIEND~~~
I WILL CALL YOU MY REAL FRIEND 'CAUSE YOU ARE SO BLATENTLY, BOLDLY HONEST~~~
SO AM I~~~
AFTER ALOT OF DAYS AND PRAYER AND THOUGHT, IT ALL BOILS DOWN TO ONE WORD FOR ME~~"FAITH"~~~ A SMALL WORD FOR A HUGH BELIEF!~~TRUST THAT!! IF NOTHIN' ELSE,
TRUST ME ON THAT ONE!!!~~~
SEE, I'VE ALWAYS BELIEVED IN GOD...I JUST NEVER REALLY THOUGHT HE BELIEVED IN ME~~NOW~~I KNOW HE DOES 'CAUSE I TOOK THE TIME, AT LAST, TO DEVELOPE A REAL RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM~~NOT BECAUSE I'M TERMINAL, BUT, BECAUSE I WANT SO DESPRETLY TO LIVE!! I KNOW THAT IT DOES NOT MATTER IF I'M IN A WHOLE ROOM OF PATCH ADAMSES~~JF GOD CALLS ME HOME~~I'M GOIN' HOME TO AN ETERNAL LIFE...I'VE HAD THIRTY SURGURIES...THE LAST 3 FAILED MISERABLY~~I WAS A FOSTER KID...STREET RAISED~~A CHILD OF THE 60s IN EVERY SENSE OF THE WORD~~THEY CALLED ME "TRIPPER"!LOL! I WAS A RUN-AWAY ...FROM INCEST~~~I'VE SEEN WAY TOO MUCH AND ,AND, THROUGH THE GRACE OF GOD~~I HAVE FOUND A NEW LIFE....I WANT TO LIVE AND I KNOW' NOW MY PURPOSE, MY GIFT IS BEIN' REALIZED~~ONLY 'CAUSE I'M PUTTIN' MY ALL INTO IT~HIS WORD~AND, I TRUELY KNOW, BY THE CHANGES IN MY LIFE, I AM GETTIN' ALOT OUT OF IT!
SO, MY FRIEND...AGAIN, I SAY FAITH...I DON'T KNOW WHERE YOURS WENT...BUT, YOU CAN ALWAYS GET IT BACK!(SMILE!)WHAT I DO KNOW IS THAT THERE WAS A TIME WHEN SOMEBODY REALLY LOVED YOU...THAT WAS THAT WAS BECAUSE OF GOD, BECAUSE GOD IS LOVE AND HE WHO ABIDES IN LOVE, ABIDES IN GOD~~~JUST ME~~~WITH RESPECT~~YOUR FRIEND xxxxxx (name deleted for privacy reasons)
I would like to start off by asking you to call me Rick. I will also state that I am honored to have you call me a friend considering our different opinions.
I am child of the 70's myself. I was raised with out any religious training as we never attended church, even though we lived beside one in Virginia for almost a year. This was not a subject that was even discussed in our family. The only religious activity I remember as a child was a birthday party my mother threw every Christmas for Jesus. When we moved to South Carolina in the early 70's it became impossible for my parents to ignore the church. Mormon missionaries came to our house and taught us their beliefs. We were baptized Mormon shortly after this. We attended church haphazardly for about a year. I remember very little of this period. My problems with religion started with my first girlfriend. Her father was a very religious man and yet the most persistant memory I have is from the day he stood in his church and gave a powerful testimony about God. Later that same day I walked in on him molesting his daughter, my girlfriend. That was the day I began to question religion. Countless other examples of the hypocracy in our local Baptist Church only added to my questions.
I thought very little about religion or it's effects on my life for many years. As I progressed towards adulthood I began to wonder why so many of the pseudo Christians around me behaved worse than I did, which was quite a feat to say the least. I have never attempted to read the Bible which is amazing considering the amount of reading I have done over my lifetime. I know that taking anothers word for what is in the bible is a mistake. I just can't devote the time required to reading something that I don't believe in.
I don't remember the exactly when I decided that God was not for me. For many years I pretty much ignored religion all together. I have spent most of my life on the road, never staying in one place more than a couple of years. Each time I returned to the Bible Belt I was amazed at the control over my life and personal choices the church had. I could not understand how these people demanded I live according to their beliefs while they refused to do so themselves. What I have learned on my own only reinforces my beliefs concerning religion. I am very interested in history and I can't help but accept the facts that religion has done everything in it's power to keep knowledge from the general public. I cannot accept a belief that contradicts science. I cannot retain a faith that tells me to ignore what I see with my own eyes. For the most part the less educated a person is the more religious they are. Please don't assume I am referring to you, ok, lol.
I have never once attempted to change someones own beliefs. I prefer to present the points as I find them and let others make up their own minds. I am longing for the day that I get the same treatment from Christians. As soon as someone finds out I am an atheist they are on (exuse the pun) on a mission from God to save my soul. I am not working for an atheist country. I am working to retain the separation of Church and State we are guaranteed in our Constitution. The level of ignorance about our laws and our founding father's beliefs is unbelievable in the south.
I have a tremendous problem with the tax-exept status of the churches in my area. These churches operate businesses ranging from day cares to manufacturing plants and pay no taxes while competing with legitimate businesses that are required to pay a host of taxes.
In closing let me say how sorry I am to hear about your personal troubles and I am actually glad you have something to hold on to during this time. I would also like to thank you for taking the time to attempt to get to know me and not simply passing judgement on me. I look forward to continuing this and a host of other conversations if you feel so inclined. I will close with a statement that is made out of respect for your beliefs.
Rick "Stump" Parrish