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Why 4 Year Olds Shouldn't Go To Church


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It was 1969 when a orange bus showed up at our cul-de-sac offering to show the kids of our neighborhood a movie about the life of Christ. My mother was freshly divorced and welcomed the absence of kids for a couple hours. I was only 4 years old, but I love watching movies. I remember watching the film. It was a low budget black and white film that the bus driver had set up in side the bus and about a dozen kids sat in the seats watching the film that covered everything from the birth of Christ to the crucifixion. I still remember my feeling sad that Jesus didn't just go ahead and ask angels to descend and keep him from getting killed. I just never understood why such a nice man would be subjected to such a horrible fate. After the film The bus driver gave us a permission slip in order to pick us up and drive us to a Baptist church about 20 miles away. She agreed since this would provide free babysitting for 4 hours every sunday. My brother was only 3 1/2 but he wanted to come along because his big brother was going. Its weird to imagine a place that would evangelize a 4 1/2 and 3 1/2 year old, but the 70s were a different time I suppose.

We attended that Baptists church for about 2 years until the bus driver told us he was switching churches. It was a Four Square church and my mother had no problem with us attending this church either for the same reason as before. One of my earliest memories of this church was winning a costume contest for Halloween. I came as a bat. My reward was a Tootsie Roll bank. I recall I was 12 years old when I started having real questions about why do we go to church? The kids there were rewarded each week with church dollars for every bible verse we memorized, and I remember thinking, aren't we supposed to do this regardless of a rewards of little toys and candy? Isn't know the creator of everything reward enough? Okay, yeah I was a little weird I admit it.

It was around this time my mother was evangelized and came to accept Christ as her personal savior. This meant we had to go to her church now which was an evangelical church which was miles a way from what I grew up with at a Baptist and Foursquare church. In the main church I first discovered the use of tongues and terms like being slain in the spirit. My mother took me to a healing service at another church her friend told her about.

The woman up front claimed there was a young man in the audience with severe allergies. I had major hay fever but I was convinced she HAD to be talking about someone else. Well when no one spoke up I reluctantly raised my hand and she made a point to say, "and the bible says the children shall lead". She called me up to the front and tapped my head repeatedly like it was supposed to mean something. After about 5 or 10 minutes of prayer she asked me how I felt and I said , "good". Then without any notice a girl about my age runs up to the front, and the faith healer turns and shouts, "Child of God you are healed!" She stiffened up and hit the floor like a block of wood. Everyone got to their feet praising the lord. I slinked back to my seat feeling like I just got told by God I was not worthy. I remember praying for God to do his will, so I had no idea what I did wrong.

I talked to my youth pastor and he told me, not everyone is called to serve God in the exact same way. We all have different strengths that God knows all about so He deals with us within our skill set. I have to admit,, I appreciated his explanation, but on a weekly basis I say people get slain in the spirit which is that state of rigor mortis that supposedly comes with being overfilled with the Holy Spirit. I was 13 at the time and as far as I knew now immersed in sin so what was my problem? Around that time I joined the Royal Rangers which was a Christian version of the Boy Scouts. There I think I learned a lot of life lessons. Christian boys are by no means any different than non-Christian boys. My brother got into quite a few fights and I found myself dismayed by the lack of diligence to know God, it was all about the activities.

When I hit 15 I decided to go live with my father and his new wife. The school I attended was so much better than the school I used to attend that got closed due to a shooting once. My father attended a non-denominational church and there I was relieved to see no one spoke in strange languages or lost control of their bodily functions. Being raised in church since age 4 I showed up in a tan suit and often found myself being asked to usher. Kids my age wore jeans and t-shirts so I figured I'd prefer to wear clothes that kept me glued to the pew. Once again kids my age really didn't take to sermons as a place to learn more about god, but a place to waste time. Some of the guys would take the hymnals and mark out words so the title or verses would say something perverted. You'd be surprised to find how easy that is to do.

When I was a senior in high school I met a girl at Senior Pictures that invited me to go to their church. Their church was called Church of Christ. I was amazed at the diligence shown there by everyone I met. Even the kids my age were absolutely on fire to know the will of God. No crazy speaking in tongues and being slain in the spirit so I immediately like that aspect. They also didn't have musical instruments in the church which I've never experienced and any church before. I guess that was my first clue that this church was a little bit different. My relationship with the girl got more involved and because of that the elders wanted to spend some time with me. They wanted to know how I came to know Christ and I recounted all the churches I had attended and how I was baptized with my father at age 12 in the First Assembly of God. Since this was an evangelical church they informed me I would need to be re-baptized. Apparently those who believe in the gifts of the spirit are not only ill-informed, they are following satan. I let them know my mother was still attending that church and although I had never experienced these so called gifts, my mother had and I don't think she's going to hell for that. They respectfully disagreed and spent about 2 hours trying to convince my by using several versions from the old and new testament to prove their point. I still disagreed and then the next thing I know I'm uninvited to Wednesday group.

My girlfriend was asked to discontinue working at Sunday School as long as she insisted on dating me. She refused and we both left the church. This was my time of doubt and when I truly believe for the first time I lost my moral compass. Up to that point I had avoid premarital sex and had tried my best to adhere to the the ten commandments. But hey, I was a 17 year old so cut me some slack right. My girlfriend and I made love for the first time and I remember wondering if God really was going to strike me down. Well the next day I was still alive and kicking so I guess that was my first indication that my beliefs may have been based on more fantasy than fact. Being in love and young we ended up having an unexpected pregnancy. Having no real income we opted to get an abortion. I remember feeling that I truly was no longer under God's graces and that my place in hell was now secured. I didn't tell my girlfriend this was how I felt, I did my best to give her the utmost support during a difficult time. We did both agree that if this came up again, we would keep the kid. A year and a half later our son was born and another year and half our daughter was born. She was 14 days old when her mom and I walked down the isle in a cheesy church that used a Sears recorder to play the wedding march.

Neither of us had any interest in pursuing our faith since raising two kids was a LOT of work. A month after my son was born my father was shot at his video store and after I rushed to the hospital the only thing he could tell me before getting wheeled into surgery was that "Life was F*%#ed". My father survived but I remember thinking that I truly felt that I had lost any hope of ever returning to the fold. Being married at that time was just too much to deal with and we separated. As agreed I would pick my kids up every Sunday and I took that opportunity to take them to a more traditional church.; At first they really took to it. I on the other hand had to deal with introducing myself as a person who was getting divorced. Talk about Christian Girl repellant. They clearly didn't think God would send me on their path to finding a righteous man of God.

It was around this time I took a World Religions and Sexuality Studies in college. Both were eye opening experiences. The world religions class reveal such a gap of knowledge about the beliefs I had been carrying around for decades. I just took for granted that the people behind the pulpit knew their history, but clearly from what I learned, they either didn't bother or opted to ignore the truth behind where many of our beliefs really came from. I remember being told by our pastor that the King James Bible was a perfect representation of the nature of God in every way and even went as far as to say if anyone says other wise if of the devil. Yet here I learned how much of the Christian Judean religion was actually based on a much older religion created by the Sumerians who I'm sure would be considered idolaters by the pastors I grew up listening to throughout my life. Human Sexuality had a session where they talked about gender reassignment. All my life I was told anyone who deviates from God's design is following the Satan. But here were people claiming to be born in the wrong body. These were real people with tears streaming from their eyes and being so relieved to hear that their DNA did in fact show they were right all along. How can gender reassignment or homosexuality be a choice if God made them this way???

Well I was done with church and since then I've been relieved to hear that science continues to prove the truth about who we really are and where we really come from. Then Proposition 8 came. The Mormon backed California legislation that asked voters to decide what the true definition of the term marriage was. I read the the proposition many times and I found myself in a quandary. I was literally raised to believe the definition of marriage was the bond created by God to bring together a man and a woman in order to propagate the species. To go against this precept was to deny almost 4 decades of learning. I knew I was having a lot of doubts about my faith, but this was one of those no brainers. My daughter and her boyfriend was vehemently against the proposition and they spent a good hour trying to convince me to change my vote. But unlike those elders that used manipulation and fear tactics, they spoke to me with respect and love. When I told them I really couldn't change my decision, but I definitely appreciated their concerns they accepted my position and I voted yes on the proposition.

 

To be honest, I really didn't think the proposition would pass. When it did, I saw a movie called, "The Mormon Proposition" which detailed how the Mormon church went out of their way to deceive the public about what Proposition was really designed to do. Remember, from my perspective, they were simply asking how do I define marriage. Go to a typical wedding ceremony and they pretty much spell it out. But if the Mormon church was fighting to preserve God's design, why take such lengths to lie to the public and use loopholes regarding funding to spend millions of dollars on a major TV and internet campaign to promote non-truths. Why does God need deceit to get His point across? Well for me this was the final straw. I went on Facebook and announced to the world that I reject the idea that Jesus Christ is in fact the son of God. I also included that I wouldn't blame any of my Christian friends if they "un-friended" me but none of them did. They did say they would pray for me which I took as a kind gesture.

 

The only person that gave me zero support was my mother. She told me "as far as I am concerned, you are insane", "You have no love in your heart!" and "This is by far the worse thing you could have told me as a son". She hung up on me and we haven't spoken since; well that's not entirely true. I went to my nieces wedding and she said said my suit made me look like a, "used car salesman" which I assume was supposed to be an insult of some sort. I feel relieved to no longer be subject to beliefs I feel are not based with humankind in mind. They didn't even know that Earth wasn't round or not the center of the universe, so why the heck would I give them any credence into them knowing how the universe was really created. As far as I'm concerned, science is the only religion that makes any sense these days. It's so cool to hear about the latest discoveries about the nature of the universe and even the nature of DNA and the wonderful things that humans have accomplished when we stopped letting superstition get in the way. I still can't say there is no God, because I have no proof of that. I simply accept that Earth is just a speck in the cosmos and assuming the creator of the universe would pick our dust bowl to decide the fate of all life in the universe is insane to even contemplate. What arrogance people have to think our planet matters so much. I think without the promise of an afterlife I have been given a promise of a life I alone can make as fulfilling as I can contemplate. My value is based on how I treat myself and how I treat others, not based on how many points I score with some made up deity.

 

I look forward to living the rest of my life appreciating the gift of life and I will devote myself to support those around me in the best way I know how. I always say trust your heart. If being a Catholic makes you happy, then pursue your Catholism. Just don't get hung up if loved ones don't heed the same calling. We all get one shot at this thing called life so I figure cling to the beliefs that get you to the next day feeling better about yourself and your place in the world. An interesting note, both my older children are agnostic and atheist. I asked my son if he resented me taking him to church as a child considering his current beliefs and he said he was glad he had the exposure. In a lot of ways it was helpful to question the nature of God. He also appreciated that when he and his sister both asked if they could stop going, I only asked that they give it a few more weeks and if they still felt the same way, we'd find something else to do with our Sundays. Well after 3 Sundays they both wanted to quit and I have no regrets about that. I raised to loving intelligent kids who grew up to treat people with respect based on the content of their character, not the aspects of their ideologies.

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Wow. Thank you for sharing. You and I are about the same age, so I can relate to a lot of the specifics of your statements. Welcome to the world of rational thinkers. Most people here have had a tough time separating from religion--myself included--so we understand how hard it is to let go.

 

I am glad you mentioned the religious position on the Proposition. It always cracks me up to hear a xian call for traditional marriage. Which tradition: Polygamy, concubines, sex with relatives, incest, etc. The Bible had many, many leaders who had many women (or men I suppose). Traditional marriage being called for the Mormons is also cracks me up, considering they were the original American polygamists. And the Catholics need to clean up their own house before they tell anyone what to do.

 

Religion from my persective as a female also made me realize how awful the majority of women were treated in the Bible.

 

Keep reading. Read everything for yourself, don't take anyone's word for what you should or should not be, they are just trying to control your life because they are terrified of their own death. Think on that one a while.

 

Trust yourself. It is also true in most situations that require thought: Use your critical thinking skills and they will never let you down. True love and compassion for others did not come to me until I left religion. Losing the religion boundaries, as everyone here will tell you, losing your religion gives you the best freedom and peace you will ever find. Nothing else like it. Hope you enjoy how you will soar :)

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Hey, Bill! I really enjoyed your story. I am so glad you are finding peace. I too have found God to not intervene; this was a major factor in my deconversion. I wish you peace.

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