Here is an edited re-post of my old anti-testimony that I wrote on May 26 2003. It pretty much sums up my christian life and my first reasons for leaving it.
I spent most of my church life amongst the youth groups of the many different types of christiandumb. One in a Assemblies of God (wacky pentecostal charismatics!), the next in a Catholic church (laid back nondenominational), and the last in a Methodist church (serious and bland). Then I went to the Church of Christ church (the fundamenatists of fundamentists!) but they didn't have a youth group and I was too old by then anyway. Ah, but it was a great learning experience as I look back:
I remember that in the Assemblies of God church we went on this big youth retreat to this AoG youth convention in up-state New York. There was a small stadium filled with them. Lot's of teens and their leaders speaking in tongues and being "slain in the spirit".
Though all my friends "recieved" the gifts of tongues I never managed to get it. I think you have to totally "let go" of your speech control and just blurt out what comes to mind. Try speaking while thinking of nothing. Or some wacky meditation technique. I never mastered it, but I do know it's purely in the mind, an involuntary blabbering once you "recieve it". So there are those that do actually "speak in tongues" but I'm sure many people just make it up to just go along with the crowd.
There's some good studies around on how it's all psycholigical. But that's what the Assemblies of God amounts to, lot's of signs searching, and trying to make god's power manifest itself physically. Ends up being all jibberish and hoaxes, people unintentionally deluding themselves.
Next was the Catholic church. Now my friends and I were protestant and from the same group that I went to the AoG youth group with. This Catholic youth group was accepting of us though (or at least they tried to be). We went on yet another retreat again up-state in some monastary/retreat center thing. This was smaller, just our group and we had the run of the place. So it was fun.
I got my first girlfriend there. I asked God to "give me the strength" to ask her out, and I did and she said yes. See... god does answer prayer ...or maybe it was just me. Little did I know that she was anorexic/bulimic and demon-possed! No... I am serious.. she was demon-possed... like in "The Exorcist" except slightly less extreme. She would go into these fits, generally when we were praying in a group, or silently meditating on something, it was pretty much random.
Anyway, my girlfriend AND sometimes her friend who was also anorexic/bulimic would convulse on the ground [seperately] with this awful screaming and clawing... you know demon possed stuff. And no they didn't spit out pea soup when "possesed"... at least not till they found a toilet to do it themselves! I don't think they cursed or talked in such states, just lots of screaming, convulsing and clawing the ground or whoever dared hold their hands. Their eyes were always closed too like they were sleeping. They would never remember what happened to them when they came out of it (which could take hours).
We would try everything to "exorcise the demons" from my girlfriend and her friend. There was the hail maries and lots of prayer mostly, while laying on of hands over them. One time the youth pastor even got a huge bowl of holy water so he could splash some on her!
Eventually the whole demon thing was getting old. We'd wonder if it's all just psychological, a symptom of them being anorexic. We were at my friend's house once and my girlfriend started to freak out again. But my friend, who was more of skeptic then a christian said "I swear to god if you start that demon possed shit again I'll kick you out!" so she stopped. So maybe it was all in their wacky fucked up minds, maybe their way of getting attention and love, that anorexic-bulimics crave for.
Eventually we went another retreat, this one was a big Catholic youth retreat. So it catered to Catholics mostly and shunned me the prostant (I went because my wacky girlfriend went). There was cool anti-authortarian catholic teens with me though so it wasn't so bad. Then again there was the bus ride. They would make all the catholic kids on the bus say the hail mary for hours upon hours, endlessly. The same chant over and over. Yeh that not brainwashing!
When we got their we set up camp. There was alot of boring church services (masses). They told the few protestants that they couldn't recieve the host (cracker) at communion. So we'd have to put our hands over hearts to signify to the priest not to give it to us. Or maybe it was optional..i don't remember. There was some outdoors lectures and other boring shit.
One night me and another friend there stayed in out tents. See, they had this special thing after this night mass where everyone had candles and would go through the woods. They'd go down the hill below us to pray by the statues (or whatever) of these martyrs, missionaries who got shot up full of arrows by the native amerian indians in the frontier days or something. Anyway, we stayed behind which was dangerous because the church had these people patroling the camp ground with flashlights for any non-comformists! We hid under the cots while the light of the flashlight passed over our tent!
Later we snuck out and watch the parade of conformist catholics' candles march through the woods. It was pretty. Just like in the end of Disney's first "Fantasia" movie. When they stopped at their prayer spot we heard this FREAKY chanting! Like the type in "Omen" movies. I guess they were chanting to their demi-god martyr saints or whatever.
That youth group disbanded some time later after much cat fighting from the college age girls there. My protestant group of friends and I also refused to participate in the communal drinking of wine ritual that they tried to make us do. All this led to the youth leaders getting stressed out and fed up. So it ended. Later we had a small reunion party, and the youth leaders' had their new youth group serve us pizza.
Are you still reading this?! One more... I promise! Ok the final one was the Methodist youth group.
We went on a trip to a Promise Keepers convention. It was a christian convention just for men. They had this in Veterans Stadium in Phildelphia PA. It was big! As we aproached the stadium you could hear all the men singing their praises in unison. It's an amazing sound when it's a whole stadium full of em! I had a video camera with me but they wouldn't let me in with it, so we had to bring it back to the van and come back again. They didnt allow cameras because they were selling videos of the event you could order later. Eventually we got ourselves seated on the first base line on the field.
Promise Keepers was really hyped up back then. All the news commentators and a bunch of fundy Christians inferred that is was a dangerous evil thing. But it wasn't bad. Very pluralistic though, men from every denomination there. But being plurastic it had a tendency to be too vague and politically or religiously correct. I still felt it was good to gather for gathering sake I guess.
I bought a shirt that said "stand and be counted" part of a bible quote...but what the hell does that mean?! Greater number of people = truth?! So they had a bunch of talks on men stuff, like how you shouldn't beat your wife, or not masturbate. "Throw out your computer," I remember one speaker said, "for it better to be without a computer then to be thrown in hell"... I almost did too. Good thing I didn't.
Later in the youth group we went on my final retreat. We planned to go up to vermont to this nice lodge and read the entire bible. But lo! God sent forth a blizzard and thus forceth us to maketh camp in the home of the youth leader's mom's house. What a let down! On top of all that we had to read the entire bible. I think in 3 days too. We played pool in their basement on our time off. Soon I came down with a horrible cold though. We would each have to a section of the bible. No commentary, no pausing to reflect just reading. I wanted them to use the audio tapes I brought instead. I think I pleaded with the youth leader but he refused. Being sick was no help to my tempermant so I blurted out "ASSHOLE!" to him in front of everyone.
With my sickness and everything I asked to leave and was reluctantly granted. His wife drove me and my new girlfriend (I broke up with the anorexic one) home. And that was the end of my youth group adventures. I guess I literally became sick of it! Though mainly I just grew too old, into my twenties, to be considered "a youth".
My final days as a Christian had me studying the scriptures like crazy. I made a webpage called GOSAVETHEM. It even made into into an acronym dictionary on the net! It stands for Global Online Service Achieving Victory Everyday Teaching His Eternal Message...phew! I spent my days trying to e-vangelize to the lost heathens, the athiests, the "false christians", the sick, the muslims, whatever there was. My online exploits got me mixed up into the Church of Christ church, another story entirely...
To sum it up, I found the whole Religion (or Relationship) to be man made. Utterly man made. When I was in the Church of Christ, I was taught that every other denomination as false, I changed my entire webpage to reflect it's strict salvation views. I saw that the "remnants of true Christianity" have dwindled to a mere one million, give or take. They believed only their church followed bible correctly. You know how fundamentalism goes!
It was the creationism debate that freed me. In my studies I found a webpage "Greene's Creationism Truth Filter" that knocked my fundy views on it's ass. The preacher in the Church of Christ, said my believing in evolution will send me to hell and wanted me to have these in-depth studies with a "mentor" or something. I knew this was somewhat culty (this is a mainstream CoC not ICoC). So I just said "No". I think they tried to call my place once and send me a few IMs but they soon wiped the dust off their feet and gave up.
I've been searching for truth via the internet ever since. I've been studying christian universlism (universal reconciliation), buddhism, asatru, and many other religions. I suppose I'd best define myself as agnostic for now. I dont hate christians with as much passion as others do. I understand why they believe what they believe. I've been there done that. Some of their actions and beliefs do annoy me sometimes though.
My screenname as a christian was ChristianWarrior.
But now i'm just TruthWarrior.
I go wherever the search for truth takes me.