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Journey From Religion To Reason


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Religion, for me, is one of two things:

1)A set of answers to the most perplexing questions of our existence such as how did we get here, what is the purpose of life and what does he future hold. Or,

2)The greatest deception in human history.

This is my story of how I moved from the former view to the latter.


I was born in 1948, the same year that President Truman narrowly defeated Thomas Dewey in an upset and three days before Hopalong Cassidy premiered on TV. I discovered this tid bit of trivia in a vain attempt to discover something of significance that may have occurred during the year of my birth.


My first recollection of religion is of being taken to Sunday school at age five. One of the stories I recall is of the flood. Although I now see it as an horrific story of worldwide genocide, whenever I think about it, now sixty years later, my first thoughts are pleasant scenes of contented animals walking happily up the gangplank into the ark which is a testament to the power of childhood indoctrination.


I split my time between my dad's church(Methodist- I guess he preferred a method) and my mothers(evangelical). But, in order to ensure that I was totally confused they sent me to a Catholic school but told me to ignore the religious teachings. They sent me there because it was close to home and free at that time.


At about 18y/o I began to have a deep interest in understanding the purpose of life but was confused about just who spoke for god and who had the correct path to salvation. One of my pleasures at that time was listening to baseball games at night on one of the electronic marvels of it's day-the transistor radio. Guess who I could also pick up? Radio preachers! One night I heard a voice that would change the course of my life and influence every major decision I would make afterwards. He didn't sound like a typical preacher. He spoke about current world events, international tensions, evolution etc. but would include an occasional scripture which gave him more credibility in my eyes. He was Garner Ted Armstrong speaking on "The World Tomorrow".


I discovered later that there was an actual church behind the broadcast. It was the "Worldwide church of god" started by his father Herbert W Armstrong. Their flagship magazine was "The Plain Truth" and it was FREE along with many other booklets and articles which were also FREE. In thinking back I'm reminded of the FRAM commercial "Pay me now or pay me later". I thought they had the answers I was looking for. They didn't seem to actively recruit members. You had to inquire yourself then be counseled. Becoming a member made you feel special. They said that god only called certain people.


We were not mainstream; it was a cult. We were a hybrid of Judaism and Christianity. We kept the Saturday Sabbath, we ate kosher at least in part. We didn't keep Christmas or Easter. We kept the Jewish holydays but gave them a Christian explanation. We felt they spelled out gods plan of salvation for mankind. We did acknowledge Jesus as the messiah.


We believed that Armstrong had been specially called to restore truth and to proclaim the true gospel to the world just prior to Christ's return so we believed he would live until Christ returned. Well, he didn't. He died in 1986 and soon after that all hell, which we didn't believe in either, broke loose. The one true church, as we viewed it, began to split because Armstrong's successor began a slow, subtle movement toward mainstream Christianity. Although I had believed for 23 years that the church would always be one I joined one of the splinter groups that retained the original teachings but soon after that I began to have doubts about the whole thing.


So, I decided to put everything on the table and begin at square one. At about this time a friend of mine had begun attending a synagogue and gave me some literature about Christianity and for the first time I realized why the Jews didn't accept Jesus as the messiah. It didn't take long after that for many other Christian doctrines to fall. I then began to think that the Jews were the ones with the truth and briefly associated myself with a group known as Noahides or righteous gentiles. So this was an intermediate step away from religion.


About a year later I picked up a book by Richard Elliot Friedman entitled "Who wrote the bible". From this book I learned of the "Documentary Hypothesis" which challenged Moses authorship of the Pentateuch which is the centerpiece of Judaism. Following that I read many other books and learned of the many contradictions and inconsistencies in the bible. I also learned of the atrocities and brutality of the OT god which I had somehow overlooked or just never thought about. I discovered many other eye opening things and realized there was nothing left to hold on to.


I had no choice but to walk away. It is now 20 years later and at times I feel I'm still reeling from the experience. However, there is some delight in knowing that I own my life and it's up to me to provide it's purpose.

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I knew I would miss something. We had what you might call a triple tithing system. 1st tithe was sent in for "the work" along with generous holyday offerings. 2nd tithe was saved  for your own use in keeping the holydays mainly the eight day feast of tabernacles in the fall which usually involved out of town travel.  If you had excess 2nd tithe you were encouraged to send it in for feast related expenses. 3rd tithe was sent in every third and sixth year in a seven year cycle and was intended to support the widows and orphans. Years later, I learned it was greatly abused.
So this is why I mentioned the FRAM commercial "Pay me now or pay me later".

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You are working through your childhood religious indoctrination (imposed upon you by trusted adults).  It is never too late to start a path towards intellectual, emotional and psychological freedom.

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Isn't it strange how the indoctrination gave us the contented animals walking happily up the gangplank vs. horrific worldwide genocide, and how we somehow overlook the atrocities and senseless brutality of the OT god until we get out of the religion?  It's strange how the brain works, but I guess as kids we are supposed to trust the adults in our lives and take what they say at face value and the truth.  I can remember thinking that those stories could not be real because they just didn't make sense, but because I was still young I thought it through and twisted it in my brain until I found some way to make it make some kind of sense.  Because those adults knew more than us and I knew they wouldn't lie to me.


How strange to think about now.


I'm glad we're out of that now!

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"Religion" is an act of oppression, pure and simple.


You did well to get out.  And by a fairly colourful path, by the sound of it.

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Ellinas, I suppose "colorful" would be one way to describe it. I certainly didn't take the direct route.

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