Like many here, Christianity was a part of my daily life from birth. My mom is a fundamentalist Christian and self-proclaimed Jesus Freak. She is also bi-polar, which layers visions and depression on top of religion, which makes her almost completely unbearable. I "asked Jesus into my heart" when I was 7, at an Assembly of God grade school. I memorized bible verses for school and at home, and was routinely spanked in both locations if I failed to memorize my lessons, which was explained as "better to learn now than spend eternity in hell". I survived a Baptist Junior High and Catholic High School. When my sister died and I was 15, my mom sent me to one of those renewal meeting (Road to Emmaus - Chrysalis). Does Anyone else here have an experience with these? I was 15, impressionable, my parents were recently divorced and I lost my sister to hepatitis and my mom was afraid my soul was lost, so I was sent to a mountaintop in the middle of nowhere where they deprive teenagers of sleep and have them listen to Christian testimonies, and sing along with guitar music and write down their sins and nail them to a cross. By the end of 4 days with no sleep and constant manipulation and chanting about being part of the body of Christ, you'd give your heart and soul to a squirrel if someone set the idea to music while holding hands in a circle. That aside, I continued in my "faith". I even chose a Christian college and danced professionally with an evangelical dance company for 4 years, while the owners took hefty salaries and treated trained performers as missionaries who needed to raise our own support. I did all of these things to please an invisible deity and keep my mother quiet. I married someone else from the performance troop. A Christian man who treated my body as his own. His view was that the man was the head of household and, if I expected fidelity from him, I had better do absolutely anything he asked, and be happy about it. The most horrendous 10 years of my life until he cheated with a younger woman and ran off to another state before even bothering to divorce me. And there I sat. Praying for healing in my marriage, secretly hoping that God was of better character than the old testament God and would give me a reprieve from that hell. And it was somewhere in my grief over a broken marriage that I realized that if a being cruel enough to perpetrate these horrors on his creation did exist, I was certainly not going to worship him. And there my journey began. I started to live, really live my life in the present. Be kind to people, for my own well-being and theirs, and not for future heavens, but because it's right to be good to others. And sometimes it comes back to you and sometimes it doesn't, but there's amazing freedom in living in the present. Now, years later, I am living with/dating an atheist who was once a youth music pastor. It's amazing to me how many friends have abandoned me because of my beliefs. I haven't bothered to speak to my mom about it because I know there is no reasoning with her mental illness. I just find the hypocrysy astounding. We used to sing a song as kids "They will know we are Christians by Our Love"...couldn't be farther from the truth. Hatred of women, disdain for our president, disrespect for the rights of the less fortunate, cruelty to minority groups...it makes me sick that I used to spread the gospel of these people. Now, compassion for all, tolerance for things I don't understand yet and a shield against oppression and violence by religious fanatics. I will not waste another minute of this one precious life.