I was raised in a Christian 'Church of God' church.
The sect was actually called "Pentacostal Holiness".
Speaking in tongues, dancing and other mystical entertainment was a weekly experience for me. We were taught that this was a necessary step to really be close to god and have him speak through you.
We were put into a room on Sunday mornings to hear and memorize stories and verses. The women didn't cut their hair and they wore long dresses. No jewelry. The men couldn't wear shorts and couldn't have long hair. This was REAL Christianity. No filler and no fluff to make it look good to the world. The world didn't matter. It was all about Jesus. I wasn't even allowed to have sleep overs and we purposely lived outside of the 'city' to be in solitude.
I remember being a child and having frequent nightmares about going to hell. It seemed that there was always another step to take to be more holy. Once, I went to my parent's room and told them I had a bad dream. My father told me that it was Satan coming to me and that I should go back to my room and pray. Obviously, I walked back to my room shivering in fear.
In church, it was very common to be half asleep (unnoticably because my father would have surely snatched me up and taken me outside to the nearest tree branch for a switching) from a boring sermon only to be suddenly startled by a screaming lady running around the aisles of the church speaking in tongues.
The church mostly consisted of 2 families: mine and the preacher's. Needless to say, I was thoroughly brain-washed and basically taught to stay away from anything "ungodly".
Having said this, all of these people were good people. I cared for many of them.
I questioned religion more as I hit puberty and knew that my natural attraction to other men was not in my control like I had been taught.
You like what you like and that's that.
I was being taught to hate myself.
The idea of teaching that natural feelings are wrong really opened my eyes and made me decide that I would live my life in quiet and go to church as I was told until I was able to get away.
At one point, we had boot-camp weekends for a few months where we had to memorize pages of the bible and were forced to run laps around town following our preacher (who was a young obese man that was in his truck ahead of us) to learn discipline. If you didn't memorize correctly, your rights to sing in choir and sit with friends were taken away until you learned it. This was only done for the teens and young adults.
I didn't see anything wrong with this until years later when I decided to leave the church.
Needing something to believe in, I studied Juddaism and was very attracted to the idea of Buddhism. I found a temple and practiced Juddaism for many years.
My fall from grace came when I started college.
I was introduced to the world, traveled internationally and slowly things made sense to me. Just a simple look at history, mythology and genuinely learning how contorted the ego is made a big difference in my life and perspective.
I decided that stories of history are sometimes wonderfully interesting, but that the emphasis isn't on truth in mystical storybooks.
I have found happiness in atheism and the understanding that we actually have the control in our own lives and don't have to make up fairytales to feel accomplished or important.
Right now, I am living with my partner of 7+ years and having an incredible life away from the horrible judgement of religion and it's people.