Funny as it may seem, it was a couple of church leaders who convinced me it is all a big lie they tell themselves. I think they just like to manipulate people, and if they ever really listened to their own voices they would lose that position of authority.
The church I left 21 years ago was Struthers Memorial, based in Greenock in Scotland with branches across the country. They got me when I was 17 and feeling lost in a new town where you had to be related to 5 other families in order to be accepted. I think they are called tight knit communities and why my mum moved us there is another story. When you are shy they do try to involve you without ever actually spending time talking to you and finding out why you find it hard to integrate. That was the part that finally got to me after 12 years of being on the fringes. I told the branch leader in Falkirk, the unfriendly town, that I was struggling with a lack of faith. She never asked why, just prayed over me. Not with me, just over me in that intimidating way Pentecostals have of shouting at their God to keep the flock in fear. Three months earlier another leader had prayed over me and then left me with the words' you failed in this before and you will fail again, it's up to you". I had spent 12 years being told God did not want me he wanted my funeral, so now he wants the will power his appointed people have spent all that time taking away from me.
When one of the Sunday School teachers told the youth meeting I helped with that she needs to buy new clothes to make herself feel better before she goes to church (or something along those lines) I knew they really were deluded and hope the teenagers who heard that had enough intelligence to get out while they could.
The worse part is that 20 years on I still get angry at these people and a narrow minded neighbour who talks endlessly about God every time we meet in the communal lounge. People on Television who refer to everything as absolute and absolutely just annoy me too. There are no absolutes unless you are selling false religion and the word provokes me to turn off. I know, it's crazy, but that's what wasting a quarter of your life being bullied and manipulated does to you.
Thank you for reading, hopefully I'll have time to read more in the next few days.