I turn 32 in eight days. I was raised a christian. Not like loony evangelical Christian. Just like little country church, comb your hair, be nice, bring a covered dish to the potluck methodist church kinda situation. I mean my parents believed in it. Believed in the Bible and all, but they believed in real life more. They both worked hard their whole lives. They didn’t take handouts but they gave plenty. Looking back it seems like they believed in hard work and community more than miracles and superstition.
When i was fifteen I fell in with a different crowd. I met a group of people who really did believe in miracles. Some of them even claimed to have seen a few. Things like healings and demonic possession. Even exorcisms. I got caught of with these folks in a real bad way. I was very gullible. And why shouldn’t I have been? I was a kid and grown ups were claiming to know absolute truth. They told me that every word of the Bible was true and that if I believed in it, I’d see miracles too. Not only that but that GOD had a plan for me. That he wanted to use me to save other people from HELL.
Well long story short that went on for about fifteen more years. I started having doubts, not fearful or dreadful doubts but bitter, disolusioned doubts. When I went to my most trusted elders with questions I was met with tired rhetoric and weak excuses. They would often shrug. I grew tired of shrugs. Some time after a fairly catastrophic event came to pass I was ready to say peace. And after having several tiny epiphanies, here I am. A divorced, thirty one year old, agnostic father of two. I came to realize the same thing that so many former cult members do. We don’t really know anything. And what we do know is that all of the Abrahamic religions (ie Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Mormonism, Jehovah’s witness, and so forth) have a rampant number of contradictions in their religious texts, promote an exclusive “us vs them” mentality, exercise a tremendous amount of oppression on the gay, immigrant, intellectual, and impoverished communities, and are responsible for almost every war in human history. And I for one have not met a single member of any of these religions who will admit that these clear historical facts are true, much less apologize for them.
Okay, I’m bitter. I am however much less bitter than I was say, a year ago. Do I regret the 14-15 years I spent as an evangelical? Sure, sometimes. But you know, everything we experience makes up who we are. If I had grown up an atheist in Berlin, or a Yogi in Portland, I wouldn’t have the perspective that I have now. And I’m grateful for that. I have the unique position of a man who escaped from the P.O.W. camp of western conservatism. And hopefully I can help others escape as well.