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Growing Up Baptist

Guest GeminiGem

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Guest GeminiGem

I found these boards a couple of years ago and reading them has been a great help to me. I finally feel ready to share my own "testimony"


The story of my experience of Christianity pretty much began when I was born. I have been told that my mother was a Christian growing up but fell away from it in her twenties. Yet, when I, her first born, came into her life she claims to have known that she had to “give me up to God” and raise me for His will. She deiced to go back to the church of her youth, a Reformed Baptist church.


When I was really young I mostly just enjoyed myself at church. I was a friend of the pastor’s son. The church members would tease us about getting married one day. Several members were like family. One woman, my sisters and I even called grandma. It was a fairly large church that seemed to run smoothly. Sunday morning church services, Sunday school services for different age groups, Sunday evening services, fellowship meetings one Sunday evening a month that included snacks like macaroni salad or little triangular egg salad sandwiches. There was spring clean up days, Church picnics out at the beach, and Vacation Bible School for the kids during the summer. I can remember just generally having fun.


I knew about hell and heaven. I knew that it would make my mother very happy if I were a Christian, but I can also remember thinking that it was an adult issue… something I didn’t have to worry about for several years.


When I was around the age of six something went wrong in the church. The pastor and his family decided to leave and many members never came back. I never found out the real reason behind the split but I did find out that people who left ours started a couple of other churches.


When all was said and done there were a total of 5 members left. The woman who played the organ, our “grandma”, another older woman, one older gentleman, and my mother along with me and my three younger sisters.

The set up for the next seven years consisted of these members meeting faithfully every Sunday morning, evening, and Wednesday night. There was an out of town pastor who traveled to our town on Sundays and any day we did not have a pastor there was a tape player set up at the front on the communion table (“this do in remembers of me” was carved into the front of the table) to play a pre-recorded sermons.


My mother and these others members prayed and prayed for church growth and a pastor to lead them. They quoted over and over again the passage that states, “Where two or three are gathered, I am there in the midst.”

There were no longer any church kids to play with. The sermons were boring. And as I was getting older the message that kept coming my way was how I should be a “Born again”, learn how to do wifely and motherly things, and aim to marry a “good Christian man.” I became guilt ridden. I would pray for forgiveness about the smallest things I thought I had done wrong. I would fake illness Sunday mornings to get out of going to church. I had other physical illness issue that I now know were psychosomatic but my mother never paid any attention to them. I felt trapped and guilty most of the time.


After many years and many pastors being interviewed our small group finally found a young man from New York State. He had a young family, two girls and a boy. The churchwomen were automatically taken with him and hired him on. The one man in our congregation had a bad feeling about this pastor and left the church soon after. We later discovered how right he was; as one might put it… this minister was a “wolf in sheep’s clothing come to divide the flock.”


At age thirteen I was invited to a family conference by the pastor who had been overseeing our church. His daughter was my age and we had become good friends over the years. At this conference I was “born again”. I can remember sitting through a sermon that I now recognize to be the “power sermon” that one sermon that is meant to scare as many people as possible into becoming Christians. The minister yelled into the microphone explaining that humans are like a cockroach walking up to God’s foot and shaking their fist at Him. All God would have to do is step on us and we would no longer be alive. For emphasis and stomped his foot down thunderously on the stage. I was freaked. I had experienced one other time in my life where I thought I had been converted. I had spent time after time praying, begging, God for forgiveness along with the ability to be a Christian. One night I had done this alone in my room and I suddenly decided that maybe I had been forgiven. I felt so happy! I wanted to tell my mother. But it was late at night and so I left it. The next day I didn’t feel the same and thought maybe it had not stuck. But this time, this time I was scared so bad, I didn’t want to go to Hell. I prayed that night and cried myself silently to sleep. The next morning at breakfast I told my friend that I had accepted Jesus into my heart. She had been a great influence to me because she was my age and had been a Christian for several years already.

(The funny thing to me about including this "born again" story in my ex-Christian testimony is how it had also once been included in a positive light for my Christian testimony :-P)


When I got home from the conference, I told my mother what had happened. She was so happy for me, she told the other church members and she set up a meeting with our pastor, the Wolf. He wanted to interview me. He told her that they needed to be sure I was serious about this, that I wasn’t just yanking their chain.


I sat in a back room of the church with him and I was already scared of him. I do not remember the questions he asked me but I can remember making statements about how sorry I was for all my sins, the sins of a thirteen year old. What sins could I have possibly committed at such a young age? Swearing, stealing penny candies, bad thoughts about my sisters, masturbation was a big one in my mind (but oh gods I never spoke a word of that to anyone! I felt so dirty and confused because that was something only boys did, right? so what was wrong with me?). I just knew I did not want to go to Hell and I knew that is where God wanted to send me if I didn’t straighten up.

I cried in front of the Wolf and he was convinced that I was repentant enough. My mother was thrilled and I was happy that I had passed the test. If only I had known the pressure and anxiety that would follow for the next four years.


I was told I needed to become baptized as soon as possible. It was implied that if I were not baptized then I was not truly following God’s will and would be punished. The only thing that kept me from caving into baptism was the added fear of what it would mean when I finally did it. The church was still small. They desperately wanted numbers and adding me to the members list would mean big things for them. For example, I took piano lessons and they thoughts it would be great if, as a member, I could take over some of the organist duties. As a member I would have to pray out loud during Wednesday prayer meetings. I would be responsible for so much and I didn’t want to be. I was thirteen! They never let me take communion because I was not a baptized member.


Another one on one confrontation with the Wolf happened in his home. For whatever reason, he wanted to start having monthly meetings alone with me. I always sat as far away from him as possible since he was one of these men who invaded your personal space. Sunday mornings after church when leaving and you have to shake the pastors hand, he would be so close to my face that our noses almost touched… that creeped me out. Anyway, this time at his home he began to attach my faith by telling me that if I were truly Christian, I knew I had to start converting people and one of the most important people was my father. Now, my dad NEVER attended church with us. He did not want to hear anything about God or the crazy Christian things my mother was teaching us. I was raised to believe he was a bad man and needed the Lord. I was raised to fear him because he was the “head of the household.” I once again began to cry because I knew my father could not be “saved” and that of all things I didn’t know why I was the one who had to do it.


After this meeting I had had enough of this man. I avoided him as much as possible. My sisters and I would run out of the church at the end of sermons and hang out in the car until our mother was finished talking. We could take the back exit instead of the front, just so we would not have to shake this mans hand. The guilt and anxiety did not leave me but only got worse. I started to feel like every Sunday sermon was about me. He would glare at him while talking about hell and damnation. I tried to avoid eye contact. I suffered alone, because as much as I wanted to say something to my mother, she was taken with him. All the ladies in the church were. They thought he was God’s gift to them. I would have been figuratively stoned to death if I were to say anything negative about the Wolf. So I remained silent and confused and saddened my mother when I had no answer for her about why I would not be baptized.


There was one final confrontation with the Wolf in our home. He once more came to talk with my mother and me, about me. Again, I don’t remember any words but I know I ended up on the floor, back against the dining room wall, curled in a ball, crying, and clutching my pet dog to my body keeping her between the Wolf and me. My mother sat there watching and doing nothing. I still hold resentment towards her for that.


I suffered all the more at age 16 when I became involved with a boy. It was a weird relationship but harmless. I thought people would be happy for me because he was a good Christian boy, a musician, and he lead worship in his church. At 16, I thought I would marry him…But at least he made my life happier for a while. My mother told the church members and Wolf everything that was going on with him and I was lead to believe that I should not be in a relationship. I started to get the fucked up Christian messages about sex and marriage, leaving me scarred and distrusting of men.


How do I even wrap this chapter of my life up? The Wolf was eventually discovered for what he truly was. After he and his family moved away the church finally decided to disband and go their separate ways. By now I was happy when we did not go to church some Sundays. I had always had questions about faith and the Bible and this might have been the time to ask, but I had been trained so well to not question that I still remained silent. When we finally did find another church, it was a more liberal setting then I had ever been in. The pastor did not preach about hell fire, instead he preached about love. I found a youth group that was fun. I had something to do on Friday nights. I went to some more conferences but they were youth oriented and entertaining. Or course they always had their last night push for souls, a manipulation that is clear to me now but was an experience of the “holy spirit” at the time.


When I graduated high school, I was accepted to a youth leader exchange. I got to go and live in England for 9 months while being involved as a youth leader for church groups and the local Youth for Christ. It helped me start to heal a lot of hurt I had suffered in Christianity but it also helped me start to open up to more of my questions. I sometimes wonder what my YFC teams members would think now to find out that they assisted in my walking away from God instead of becoming closer to Him.


When I got back to Canada after my time in the UK I was reunited with my best friend from high school whom I had missed greatly and we started to go out together. He is a massive reason for me being able to question my faith and what I truly believed. He was so open with me and expected none of the traditional, subservient, Christian relationship that I thought I was suppose to have with a man. He has encouraged me in higher education as I now work on a double major in Psychology and Women’s Studies. I had once been told that I should be careful with education since many people have ended up losing their faith because of it. I suppose I have ended up being an example of that to some Christians I used to know.


I am now 25 and the last five years have been my true deconversion from the Christian faith. I can now call myself an Atheist and feel no need for a personal god. My mother managed to find the courage to try and ask me about my faith about three years ago. She used the lines about how I might think I’m doing fine without Jesus right now, but someday my life will hit a spot and I will realize I truly need him kind of garbage. At that point however, I told her I was doing a lot of questioning, but had not lost my faith yet. Now, I’m unsure how to tell her of my atheism… It will hurt her so much because it means I have damned my soul to Hell. I want to tell her, but I’m waiting for a time when she brings up the topic.


All I can say now is that the guilt and anxiety have finally left me. I am happy in who I am and my abilities without having to attribute my accomplishments or confess my failings to a deity.


This was very long and rather emotional to type out. But I thank anyone who took the time to read it.

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Guest Conspicio

I have had my share of crazy run ins with "god" and his people. What I used to take for fact fell apart when examined with but a fraction of thought. Welcome to our forums. =D

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I can remember just generally having fun.

Some of my fondest memories as a child and teen were church camps, lunches and other activities. I had a lot of good friends.


My mother and these others members prayed and prayed for church growth and a pastor to lead them. They quoted over and over again the passage that states, “Where two or three are gathered, I am there in the midst.”

One of those promises/gaurantees that Christians always claim. The fact they need to continually claim it means it's not really happening, otherwise they wouldn't need to mention it.



Your story was enthralling. It's sad you had to deal with the negative things you did. Thanks for sharing.

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GeminiGem: Thank you for your story and welcome. I was raised in an Independent Baptist Church. I heard many "humans are cockroaches " sermons of the kind that you describe. The coercion of "Just As I Am" sung over and over a thousand times until someone would come up to the altar to be "saved" ---whatever that means. Having been in the church from age 7 to 17, I could never figure out what being saved meant. I tried to believe I had been and also I wanted to please my parents.


Sorry you had to endure what you did at the hands of the Wolf. Pastors seem to have absolute power over their congregations, which the people give to them.


Another thing I thought about as I was reading your post is why these churches had services called "revivals." You can only revive something that is dead to start with.

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Thanks for sharing. I can relate to your pain and suffering. The one word I think of when I look back at my churchianity experience is "abuse". That abuse came in about every form imaginable, either personally or for family and friends. That also includes what I call "spiritual abuse", meaning using the Bible, which is preached as a book of love, to hurt people. That, I think, is the most painful thing I experienced, i.e. having to listen to people taunt you with sermons, sermonettes, homilies, Bible studies, etc. about the "love of God", while those same people absolutely refused to actually love you. You could be sitting there dying in one way or another, and no one would do a damn thing about it. There aren't many "good Samaritans" in church.

Recently I left a job in which the two people I had a problem with were the resident atheist and Christian. They harassed me, etc. I'll just leave it at that. The thing is, though, the atheist was actually nicer than the Christian. The second to last day at my job, the Christian started giving me lip, and I just let him have it. I said, "You're the only one here thumping a Bible, and you're the meanest person in the company!" He just ducked his head, said, "Whatever you say", and walked away. Needless to say, he didn't exactly exude compassion or remorse.

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Rightfuckin'on Gem...


Keep walking in the direction that pleases you. Seems like you have the right start on the rest of your life, being able to pick, choose and do as ya damn well please.


Good for you.


After years of being beat down and forced to wear a suit that did not fit, feels good to dress self in what feels good...



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Thanks for the post, GeminiGem. You went through hell - I don't think many christians consider that their threats of hellfire are really damaging to most people. It's good to be free.

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