I was three years old when I asked Jesus to come into my heart. Kneeling beside my grandmother's bed, my cousin Jarrod's hand in mine, we bowed our heads and asked for salvation. Of course, I worried that it didn't stick. I "rededicated" myself to God at age 5, 6, 9, 12, 15, and 19. I was 6 the first time I led someone to Christ, a little 4 year old girl who was attending the same "Fall Festival" party at a church that I was. I tried to convert gay friends in high school, by telling them that God loved them, even if his people were bigoted jerks. When I attended Vineyard Christian Fellowship, the pastor, his daughter, my mother and I used to go to a nude dance club to tell the women who worked there that they were beautiful daughters of God, and that they were always welcome to come by on Sundays. I really wanted God's love to be true. But the Christian definition of love includes condemnation and damnation. In defense of this harsh father figure, Christians will justify torture (hell), calling it correction; subjugation of women, calling it a parable for our relationship to God; and child abuse, calling it discipline.

That's not love. And that's why all those times I gave my heart to God, the loving feeling faded, and guilt and fear crept steadily in. Christian theology states that God is knocking on the door of our hearts, that Jesus is merely waiting for us to accept his gift of salvation and his love. But looking back on a lifetime of belief, I was the one who made all the overtures. I was the one who knocked, who asked, who gave. Like a bad date, time after time, God stood me up.

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Comment by Angie Jackson on June 5, 2009 at 9:10pm
A friend told me he's not even sure "brainwashing" is the right term in my case, since it was during my formative years. He thinks brainwashing suggests having a brain prior to the indoctrination, and mine were concurrent experiences. IDK what the right word would be, but it's an interesting concept to think about.
Comment by Drew Polvora on June 4, 2009 at 5:16pm
Sounds like you were just as annoying as I used to be when I was Christian.
Comment by Mel on June 4, 2009 at 5:13pm
I thought you were gonna talk about the Terminator movie :(
I was "saved" at age 12 or so by charasmatic pentecostal types - while on a 2 week camp I didn't realise was religious until I got there, completely cut off from my normal sources of discussion and support. That stuck for about 6 months and then I went pagan with a vengence. I can severely upset my Xtian freinds by saying I was brainwashed into it, but I do feel thats what happened.
Comment by Jude Johnson on June 4, 2009 at 12:23pm
That's it exactly Angie. You nailed it.

By the way -- just took your survey.

Have a good day and all the best wishes for your book!
Comment by Angie Jackson on June 4, 2009 at 11:00am
Oooh, like right when I was *just about to* thank the cookie lady at the store and grandma would pipe in with "And what do you say?" Totally robbed the joy of being polite and thanking her myself.
Comment by Jude Johnson on June 4, 2009 at 10:54am
He's so undependable! Probably every time he gets close to your door, someone somewhere yells "god damn it" and he keeps having to go damn things. I'm pretty sure Jesus is in prison -- most people seem to find him there.

I used to be "saved" on occasion when I was young too. Church camp was always a hoot!
I found the whole "saving" process to be anticlimatic. It felt good to do what everyone wanted me to do, but I get much more positive internal feedback by doing good things "for goodness' sake". I think doing the right thing because of god/jesus/whatever robs us of the opportunity to be good simply because we're good people. (Like a parent who forces every task on us as a child so that when we become adults, we don't know how to self-motivate/reward.)



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