“The major religions on the Earth contradict each other left and right. You can't all be correct. And what if all of you are wrong? It's a possibility, you know. You must care about the truth, right? Well, the way to winnow through all the differing contentions is to be skeptical. I'm not any more skeptical about your religious beliefs than I am about every new scientific idea I hear about. But in my line of work, they're called hypotheses, not inspiration and not revelation. [Dr. Arroway in Carl Sagan's Contact (New York: Pocket Books, 1985), p. 162.]
I was raised in a Southern Baptist household. The brainwashing I received, the indoctrination into the Southern Baptist belief system, molded my perceptions of the world, the universe, and everyone around me in ways that have proven obsessively discriminatory and radically biased.
During Sunday School, we were taught that Jesus loves us. How do we know Jesus loves us? Because the bible tells us so... And so, through songs repeated every weekend, through the sermons preaching the opinion and interpretation of a verse or two chosen out of context and from completely different parts of the bible, I learned several important things:
- Jesus died for me by choosing to let himself be beaten, savaged, tortured, spit on, degraded, and crucified horribly so that I could get into heaven.
- As per the decrees of the Southern Baptist Church, the concept of Saints proves beyond a shadow of doubt that the Catholics are Satanic, by worshiping dead humans as idols between them and God.
- Sharpies smell funny, especially when you spend every Sunday marking out the word “Saint” and its abbreviation in the bibles and hymnals which were donated to the Southern Baptist church by the Catholic Diocese.
- There is only one true belief, and that is the belief of the preacher and his followers, no other preacher, even in fellow Southern Baptist churches, is correct. Those preachers are demons who misconstrue the exact message of the preacher at our church.
From this foundation, I was shocked and confused at the contradictory actions of these “faithful” men and women who praised their Lord every Sunday, then went out and became lecherous sinners every other day of the week. All the while, spouting that they were the Only True Christians, because their preacher told them so...
My family moved around a lot between 1983 and 1986. Due to that, we ended up going to other churches, where I saw similar hatred between congregations. Certainly, when preachers and priests from other churches met up, they were congenial and kind to one another, but when left to their own congregation, they lambasted and condemned all other churches.
A seed of doubt was planted in me when I explored what it meant to believe differently than my initial church upbringing taught me. As my eyes began to open, I felt fear, nervousness, and lacked confidence that I would survive just questioning everything I knew about God. But when I skipped a Sunday and survived (read: did not go immediately to hell), I had hope that I could be objective when examining my faith and that of my fellow congregation.
I noticed that one aspect of my indoctrination involved candy and gifts, given to us so we would come back, sit around, and listen to the sermons that made little or no sense to us in our world of cartoons and social studies homework. Reflecting now on it all, I can see what manipulation and trickery is used to ensure a child's openness to being brainwashed.
I must thank my Aunt M. She was a devout “First Church of God” member and preached to her children in the home, only allowed Christian Country and Gospel music to be played in her house, and then went berserk, cussing, screaming, and beating her children when they showed the slightest disrespect for her. She took the fifth commandment to its fullest extent.
So that is the context in which I found myself questioning what it really meant to be a Christian.
In Sophomore year of high school, I attended Latin 1 class. The following year, I took Latin 2 and Latin 3 simultaneously. Latin 2 class was developing conversational Latin, while Latin 3 was translating ancient Latin texts. One of the texts we were asked to translate was the Vulgate. The Vulgate is the 4th century translation of the Old Testament from the original Hebrew Torah. It contains countless words which can be translated into English using multiple synonyms, and dozens of instances where key information can be translated into words which mean completely different things.
I did some research outside of class and discovered a book called “Genesis Revisited,” written by the Sumerian Scholar, Zechariah Sitchin. In the book, as I found while trying to translate the Vulgate from Latin to English, I read about how – over the centuries – the translation from Sumerian to Aramaic to Hebrew to Latin contained countless word substitutions, complete paraphrasing, and sometimes even removal of context or back-story to summarize and shorten the writings so that the common individual could understand it all.
My mind was blown by the idea that the Holy Bible, that most sacred of King James' texts, could be in any way inaccurate, flawed, or even slightly wrong. Everything I was taught as a child, with all the essential Olde English “thee” and “thou” and “thine” and all the other weird words, could be questioned.
Today I am an Atheist.
I sat down with the King James bible, read it cover to cover twice and found so many inconsistencies and changes and weird little things that made no sense, when compared to the Vulgate and the Sumerian writings. I researched the legends and myths of ancient gods and kings, finding the exact same legends, as told in the Bible, that preceded the Bible by thousands of years, using different names, but having the same basic setup and payoff for the stories and characters.
I left the Christian faith in 1991, seeking truth and facts. I looked into King James and his editing and revision of the Bible, finding out that he removed complete chapters, entire books, and countless verses, which are obvious to anyone who reads the Bible straight through. This zealot King instructed how specific words were translated, changed, and manipulated to follow his personal beliefs, which rivaled those of millions of church historians and religious scholars of the day.
I encountered – with much trepidation – people called Mormons and Catholics, and found that they were real people with hopes and dreams and ambitions in this life, who just had a different routine every weekend. I gradually vanquished the hatred and disgust that was drilled into me from infancy by the Southern Baptist church and my family. Certainly, elements of that darkness still remains, but has been expanded to encompass all religious fanatics who just will not stop talking about heaven and hell and Jesus.
I no longer believe in Heaven or Jesus or God or Angels, nor do I believe in Hell or Satan or Demons, in the same way that Christians do not believe in Mount Olympus or Zeus or Unicorns. To be Satanic in the Christian sense, one must believe in God in order to believe in the Devil.
I also explored the Church of Satan, which has absolutely nothing to do with Satan. The term and reference to Satan is a reference to anything and everything that opposes the limitations on life, pleasure, and happiness in our current existence. I explored Wicca, finding it to be rejoicing of nature and life, treasuring the sacred life-giving womb of a mother. I looked into countless other systems of belief: my paternal grandmother's fanatical faith contradicts her donation of all her dead husband's life savings to a Psychic swindler who uses God and Jesus to break the classic mold. That untold sum of money contained at least five zeroes and was to be passed down to my brother and I, per her husband's (my grandfather's) will. Now, we would be lucky to get a single $5 lotto ticket each.
My outlook has continually evolved, beginning with the incessant brainwashing of my family and their church, followed by the exposure to other faiths, then finding written evidence of contradictions via my Latin classes, and finally coming to terms with all the proof that the Christian Religion is – like all religions – just wishful thinking by people who have been deceived their entire lives and have become so devout that they refuse to look at any evidence which would open their eyes and minds to how foolish it all is.
To those who say my loss of faith made me evil, or even anti-christian, I present the following statement I made 10 years ago to a religious fanatic who questioned me about my non-religious stance.
My most unusual associate of the internet,
I am not an Antichrist, for to be such an indigenous person would force me to believe in Christ and God and the Bible, thus making me a Christian. Let me clarify to you my status. I am not Christian. I am not an Antichrist. I do not believe that Christ existed nor in God. I am into PLEASURE, not pain. I am into PEACE and ANARCHY at the same time. I am into INSANITY and CHAOS but not the orthodox faiths that are so foully and obscurely contradictory to human life.
Please forgive me if I offend, but I am a chaotic, sometimes cruel, but most of the time peaceful unless you anger me, type of man. There is no such thing as the Christian God but in the minds and demented imaginations of those flesh-haters who are so confused and divided that they are totally useless. If you wish to discuss further these matters with me, please do so by refraining from the obsessiveness you have with flaunting and irrevocably attempting to force your own beliefs upon others who have individual and righteously unorthodox beliefs. I honestly despise the religion I was brought up in, HATE WITH ALL MY ESSENCE OF BEING the fanatics who do not understand how to leave alone anyone not of their own faith, as - in their actions - they are breaking the law.
The Constitution of the United States specifies that no law can be made by the government which restricts or grants privileges to any religion. Many people interpret it to mean "freedom to believe in God, without governmental interference." That interpretation is wrong. This law, this set-in-stone rule, allows for anyone in this country to believe whatever they wish without persecution yet it also prevents anyone of a particular faith to force upon another individual the religion of that faith.
Missionaries in this country, by the fact and rule of the Constitution, are inevitably and absolutely illegal. Do not force your faith upon anyone. If you attempt to do so with me, you will regret broaching the subject. I do not threaten, I merely suggest that we avoid such subject matter in our future discussions - unless you do not fear truth and facts which contradict every aspect of your declaration of faith. That would be much appreciated and would save both of us much time, effort, and mental anguish.