I just read some posts on "coming out" and wanted to share my own history.
I was raised Episcopalian, the best description of which I've heard was comparing to Catholicism - "All of the pageantry, none of the guilt" (St. Elsewhere TV show). My family and I were involved in the church in many non-trivial ways: Dad was on the vestry (the members who actually *ran* the church business), both parents were in choir, Mom was periodically involved in helping in the church office, my sister and I were in the childrens/youth choir, and I was an acolyte (altar "boy") when I entered my teens and outgrew the children's choir. The idea of sitting in the congregation for a church service was foreign to me!
The children's choir director was one who didn't just teach us to sing the music, she gave us liberal doses of vocabulary, church doctrine (academic type, such as what is Advent, what is Penecost), and music theory along the way. I understand Latin and Greek roots for words NOT because of school, but because of this wonderful lady. We received points and received prizes (candy) at the end of practice.
As I got older, I began to question the words I knew by heart that I was hearing and mouthing every week. I think the first question that started percolating in my mind was, "Why would God expect us to praise him?" Similar other questions started coming to mind and I started feeling increasingly uncomfortable in the services. I began refusing to attend if I was not actively involved in something to take my mind off of what was actually being said.
In high school, Christian education became less about BIble stories (which fascinated me) and more about Jesus and God. I am not sure if this was planned this way, or simply because of the church member who ran the high school sunday school. Talking about loving Jesus or God made me shake my head in confusion - how could I love someone who doesn't exist on my plane? I began hiding rather than attending Sunday school.
The last straw, for me, was spending time in Germany as a foriegn exchange student. While Germany is certainly a predominantly culturally Christian country like the US, the culture shock I experienced caused me to understand how closely cuture and religion are bound and how few absolutes there really are.
The kicker for me is that the Christian faith believes that Jesus is the only way. There's little or no wiggle room in that. You can probably get around the question of those who lived before him, but what about all of those millions - billions? - of people since, who were simply born in areas where that message was not heard? Once I started questioning that, I started seeing many other flaws in mainstream theology and completely walked away from any faith.
I'm not rabid; I believe it is an inherent right - and duty - to follow your own conscience and heart in terms of religion. I have been an elementary school teacher and was known for my understanding of the Jehovah's Witnesses and Seventh Day Adventists in my classroom. I believe I was *more* accommodating of these children because I did not have the bias of a particular Christian denomination to cause me to judge them: since I don't believe *any* Christian doctrine, it didn't bother me that they had a different interpretation of something than the mainstream.
So that's my story, and I'm sticking to it...