For the last 15 years, I have classified myself as "Christian". From birth to about ten years old, I was a Catholic, then I converted to being Baptist until I was fifteen. As a Catholic, I felt nothing but shame that I was too poor to go to Catholic school, and I hated being in the heathenish Public School. I read my Bible, praying for a better life.
I met a friend in the fourth grade, and she shared the gospel with me. At age nine. In Public School. I went to her church, read her Bible, and eventually converted when I was ten. As a Baptist, I felt nothing but shame that I was a sinner, that I wasn't good enough even though I didn't lie, or steal, and I left people alone. I felt nothing but fear for Hell, just as I did as a Catholic, but I also had a friend as a constant reminder.
At fourteen, I met another friend who told me about being an Atheist. At first, we fought, I continued going to church, I told my church friends about him. But eventually, without the knowledge of anyone else, I began to read books. I read The Origin of Species, I read the Bible (thoroughly), I read Letter to a Christian Nation, I read The Daily Bread devotionals. I read about all religions, what they believed in, and "lived" them for a week, reading, reading reading. asked questions, recorded the answers of all parties in my diverse high school, and eventually, I knew.
I never felt God, only shame. Only hatred for myself. But when I asked questions, only one party treated me with respect, and not outrage at questioning.
Last year, at fifteen, I left the Church.
I feel I have chosen wisely.