In 1991 I was 16 years old and I was what is known as “born again”. I got saved. I was introduced to what it is like to be a independent fundamental baptist at the age of 16. By the age of 22/23, I was 100% a baptist and fully brainwashed into one of the sub-sections of the IFB churches – which was First Baptist Church of Hammond Indiana. Before 1991, I was not religious nor did I consider myself even “spiritual”. Before 1991 – I considered myself just a teenage girl. In 1987 when I was 12, I questioned whether I believed in gods. It was when I was 12, when I told myself that God could be a woman if he wanted to be. I asked “Why does everyone say that god is a he? Why do all these people say that god is a “he” Don’t they know how to think for themselves?”
Between the age of 16 through 21 I was slowly brainwashed. Enter age 22 and I decided to go to a right winged baptist bible college. I was in a baptist prison for 4 years. For three years of those four, I desired to be there. My 4th year – age of 25, I magically woke up to the nightmare that I had put myself into. I thought I wanted this life of being 100% submissive to a husband and being told what to do – when do it, and why to do it (or not to do it). I had had enough of being told that I could not wear boots that go up to just below my knees on a cold day with 2 feet of snow outside that had 5 feet snow drifts. I was tired of being told that I couldn’t tap a a dude should just to get his attention.
By the time 2001 rolled around I left Hyles Anderson College around June 1st. It was the same year that Jack Hyles died. I was tired of hiding my bisexual curiosity and I was tired of pretending to be something that I wasn’t. My values did not match that of the baptist church that I was in.
I came back home to Southern California in June 2001 and I was confused, angry and alone. By the time 2002 came around, I was introduced to bars, drinking and dancing. Sometime before May 2003 I had blown a rod through my oil pan in my Sentra. I think it was Jan 2002. I had no money to get a rebuilt engine for $700. I had alcohol at home and I started to drink coffee with alcohol daily. I did that for 6-12 weeks. I slept in to 9am or 10am daily. I’d lay on my bed all day long.
By 2003 I was smoking marijuana every week (every day if I could get my hands on that much money for the month or week). I was in a bad car wreck in May 2003 and I was on my way to work. I had just gotten hired as a temp on Friday and Monday was my car wreck. I was not high when I was driving to work. My car went out of control and my car was totaled via landing in a ditch. I had no money to get a new car. I did have access to my mom’s car.
I was still attending a baptist church during the entire time. It was not until 2008 that I started to question what my values were and where I stood in the area of religion. I was 33 years old in 2008. But that’s when I started to question things. And question things I did. I became a full fledged atheist in 2013. I had came to the conclusion after all of my anger outbursts (those were between 2007-2011) to this “god” that “loved me and died for me” — was full of shit. I was watching many many videos on Youtube from a group of athiests that had a radio show. Now, I can’t remember the name of the show. It was not a radio show. It was a TV show based out of Texas and they’d have callers – call in and discuss why they believed in a god or why they – didn’t believe in a god. Most of the time it was Evangelical Christians that would call in and state their case of why they believed and why everyone else should believe too. But it didn’t work with this group. The group kept on saying “The burden of proof is for you to prove to me that your god really does exist” and what the atheists were saying – made complete 100% sense to me. Everything they said was logical. And they also didn’t put down people saying things like “Well, your an asshole for believing in god” or “Your a dick since you can’t prove to me that your god exists”. They’d used sound “Judgement” (for lack of a better word) in telling people that since they were a Christian, they must prove to atheists (and anyone else that does not believe in their god) that this god does indeed exist. Christians on the show – would just site bible verses over and over again. It got so freaking old. I had to decide If I believed in this god or if I was on the side of “evidence” is what is needed to prove that any god exists and the logical stance for me in 2013 was – to declare myself an atheist.
Since I had the conclusion on god – that god can not= love. God = Love was an equation that made no sense to me. I said to myself “So if someone – lets say 5 kids were raised in a family with no gods, you mean that family has no love for their children? You got to be KIDDING ME!” That
if love – sometimes hurts…..I couldn’t prove that any gods existed and I certainly couldn’t say that I KNEW for sure that I’d be going to heaven when I die…so since I couldn’t say or even THINK that – I knew that I could no longer consider myself a Christian. I did a lot of thinking between 2008 and 2013. But I also had a lot of anger between 2008 and 2012. It wasn’t until 2013 – the year of my total hip replacement – that I had a change in attitude. My attitude was keeping people away from me. And it had nothing to do with me being an atheist. I was not positive at all. Everything with me was negative. I don’t think I ever meet anyone as negative as I was. Really. The reason I never meet anyone so negative – as much or more than I was – was because all of those people – also – like me – had no friends.
2011 – It wasn’t until 2011 that I left the baptist church all together. I left since I knew my values were never going to match that of any baptist church. I knew I was bisexual in 2011. I knew it. How could I continue to be going to a church like this and pretend to be a straight woman? So I left. And I told them why too. I started going to a Congregational church in 2011. I went for 8 weeks and then stopped. 2011 was when I started going to a new church (open and affirming- meaning they are open to gays) and I went for all of 2 months.
It was a part of the United Church of Christ, not to be confused with The Church of Christ – which is somewhat very similar to baptist churches with all of the damn freaking DOGMA. I knew that I had to get away from the baptist churches if I was going to stop my anger.
I stopped going to the UCC Church in Riverside sometime in the fall. I didn’t attend any church from the fall of 2011 to fall of 2015. Fall 2015 I started attending a Congregational Church in town. I was shocked to see someone that I knew. Apparently she was going to this church for about 40 years or more. Her daughter and my high school buddy – does not go. She is an agnostic. I think she also has other things planned on Sunday.
I decided to declare myself an agnostic in 2016 since I knew I could not claim that I know anything about gods. I could not say that I knew for sure that gods don’t exist. I can’t say that there are no gods, since I don’t know if that’s true. So I started going to this church in fall 2015, BEFORE I declared myself an agnostic. I didn’t go every single Sunday in 2016 since I worked some Sundays in the Spring and even less in the summer. I started to take care of my mom in the summer of 2016 which made it hard for me to watch any football the entire 2016 football season. Football and church with me – don’t mix. It’s either football or church. So half the year – I’m in church – the other half – I’m watching football – unless I’m taking care of my mom. Which I take care of her at least 8 hours a week. That’s only cooking her meals and going shopping for her and driving her to doctor appointments.
I have been going to my church for a good 6 months straight every Sunday. The church I go to reminds me of a Catholic church that practices Lent. I never been to a Catholic Mass. Just two Catholic funerals and I suspect the Catholic Mass is similar to a Catholic funeral. But I’eve never been to a church that puts ashes on your forehead. Baptists don’t do that. Re-pending of sins is really not all that much talked about either in baptist churches since we all knew that Jesus washed away all sins when he died on Calvary. And all baptists knew that we all were fine as long as we accept Christ as our Savior. All we baptists also knew that if anyone else was not born again – they were for sure – going to spend the rest of their afterlife – in a real fire and brimstone hell. We all KNEW IT. Or we acted like we knew it.
The church I go to does not say that anyone must be saved or born again. Yes, they used the name of Jesus Christ. Yes, they love people in the name of Christ. Yes, they do push ashes on foreheads during Ash Wednesday and Lent. I went to Ash Wednesday and I LOVED IT! I loved the message. No, my pastor does not yell when preaching. NO, my pastor does not preach again sleeping with women. No, she does not preach again sex before marriage. She does not even “preach”. She gives more of a heart to heart talk with us. She encourages us to go and love others – and she does it in the name of Christ. She would never tell a non-Christian that they are on their way to hell. She knows that she does not know the fate of many man, women or child. She’s too smart to say something like that. She loves people.
For me – church is essential since it keeps me from being judgmental of anyone and all people that may be a baptist or a catholic or anyone that believes in a god for that matter. When I became an atheist, I was a FIRED UP, ANGRY atheist and I raised my fist to god in anger. That was not a true atheist since If I was – who was I raising my fist to in my rage? I don’t know, but it had to have been the IDEA of a god. Or the people that told me that there was a god somewhere. Or may be I was raising my fist to myself since I was the one that believed all the stuff at the age of 16 and 18 and 23. May be I was raising my fist to the men behind the pulpit and mad at them for acting so male sleazy piggish. You know what I mean.
So I go to church to keep me loving others. I don’t ever want to fall into the anger trap again where I’m calling people names and “weak” for believing in a god – any god mind you. I don’t ever want to judge a baptist or anyone that has faith of any kind. I used to have a hard time saying or singing the word “GOD” in church when we sang. I didn’t say that word for 2 years from 2015 and 2016. I just started to say the word “GOD” in 2017. It’s no longer a big no no word for me. It holds no power over me. And I’m glad I’m not angry anymore.
So may be I’ll see you a First Congregational Church this Sunday. And may be I won’t.