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.

Views: 38

Comment by Morgan Matthew on November 2, 2009 at 3:27pm

Wow, thanks for sharing! A great story indeed!
Comment by Dave G on November 2, 2009 at 3:53pm
Comment by Stefftastic on November 2, 2009 at 7:05pm
Beautifully written, and bravely lived. Congratulations and welcome to T|A <3
Comment by Doug Reardon on November 2, 2009 at 7:39pm
There, but for the grace of God, go I.
Comment by Galen on November 2, 2009 at 8:15pm
I'm curious to know if you're "out" (in both the atheist and gay contexts) to your parents and, if so, what were their reactions? I can't imagine that went well at all.
Comment by Daley on November 2, 2009 at 8:27pm
Absolutely. My mother comes to our house often and loves my partner. I introduced him into family functions and as time passed, people just figured it out, but I never had a confrontation other than telling my mother. By then, she had already figured things out and already had a relationship with the both of us. I'm no activist by any means, but I don't hide my life. Although my father has been dead for years, he also liked my partner very much. As tough as the "rules" of everything were/are, I found that my parents aren't bigots and living an example in front of them was my best tactic to show them there's no harm in being happy. Of course, it was very uncomfortable for me at first, though I never lied. I do consider myself "out" in both respects. Admitting to being an atheist got, by FAR, the worst reaction.
Comment by Daley on November 2, 2009 at 10:02pm
Yes, it can be very chaotic.

The Church of God denomination won't allow you to be a preacher or have any sort of leadership position unless you speak in tongues and it has been witnessed. We went through a sort of training process that involved lots of music and loud people and just basically screaming and speaking complete nonsense until some sort of pattern or acceptable babble was cheered at and then you were considered to be "filled with the holy spirit" and so on. This happened to me a few times since I was highly involved with the music. It was a very chaotic experience and, out of a lack of words, it was psychedelic and filled with adrenaline. We know that loud music stimulates our senses and in these situations I was taught to "play louder to set the mood". I sang/worked the sound system/piano for the church.

Yep, there are even people who translate. That sort of thing usually happened during a sermon. Suddenly, there would be a person babbling then it would get very quiet and another person would stand up and "translate". It was always generic, but a sure show stopper.
Comment by shawn brian judd on November 2, 2009 at 11:05pm
I have noticed over the years every time I attend an Atheist function there are always a good portion of the group that are gay. And at first this made me feel uncomfortable ,and asked myself why are so many gay people Atheist ? or is Atheism a gay belief ? Over the years after making many of them friends I realized the truth both are shunned by Christians and are made to feel what they think are wrong.So why wouldn't gay people naturally gravitate to people who don't judge you for being who you are.Atheist only judge you if they think your a little to old for an invisible imaginary friend.
Comment by Daley on November 2, 2009 at 11:12pm
@shawn brian judd, Absolutely.
Even though odds are there are a few unaccepting atheists, this community is very open and friendly to it's own. It's a very warm feeling. Thanks.
Comment by Galen on November 3, 2009 at 10:13pm
Well I'm glad to hear that you're "out" and that your parents were so surprisingly accepting. That's awesome!


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