I am a twenty year old who grew up in a very religious family of ten. I spent a childhood of Sundays going from church to church, because no church took the bible literally enough for my parents. Me and my siblings were home schooled to keep us from being “poisoned” by the teachings of evolution in public schools. I know everyone has there opinion of homeschooling, but I can definitely say that it taught us to think for ourselves and if my parents could have seen the future they may have reconsidered their methods.
For most of my childhood I was sexually abused by my god fearing father. Who was also unfaithful and abusive towards my mother. When they went to church counselling for their marital issues, the pastor always told my mother all sins are equal, that Christians always forgive and that the children having a father was most important! Wanting to be a good Christan, my mother did her best and soldiered on under the circumstances.
Until one day in Sunday school, our teacher decided to tell us the story of David and Bathsheba. As she told the story I suddenly became very aware that what my father had been doing to me was wrong! I felt guilty, confused and dirty. By then I was twelve. I had never been a happy child and I had always assumed it was because I was displeasing god in someway. Now I felt as if I knew why. A week later my mother sat me down to explain why her and my dad had been screaming at each other daily, why he had thrown a computer across the room at her, why there were holes smashed through her bedroom wall. She had come to her senses and realised this man was a terrible person and wanted to know if he'd threatened me or hurt me…I said no. We hugged she left my room, but I rushed out after her and said I needed to tell her something important. She looked at me questioningly. I started to think about how mad she'd be for I had committed a horrible sin, So I told her I'd wait and tell her the next day, half hoping she would forget, half hoping she would remember.
She remembered. I told her everything. She sat there like a zombie, then asked if I was saved. I said I didn't know, because I always had heard that when you truly get saved you feel a burden lifted. You feel amazing! But I had never felt this way when I prayed. So we prayed there and asked god to save me. I mistook the feeling of relief that came with telling my mother what my father had been doing with the feeling that all my Sunday school teachers went on about.
Because the very next day I didn't feel saved. I spent the next four years praying to be saved almost every night till I fell asleep to no avail. I wasn't being heard. The feeling of salvation didn't come. I would be crying in hysterics into my pillow. Saying god I believe in you and I'm truly sorry. Still nothing. I made sure to read my bible and to pray every night. People all said that what had happened to me had happened for a reason and that it was part of god's life plan for me. They said I shouldn't feel too bad about it because I wasn't the only one. To be honest I would have preferred I was the only person to have to go through that. By the time I was sixteen I was suicidal and constantly having panic attacks. I no longer put much of an effort into pleasing god. I rarely went to church and only prayed on occasion.
My older sister had gone to study theology in Wales and had planned on becoming a missionary. So when we were driving home from work after my brother had been unexpectedly arrested for check fraud and she blurted out “I don't believe in god anymore”, while crying I was shocked and saddened. Her reason was that if there was a god he would not have allowed all the hardship my family had been facing. I dismissed her reasons. Doesn't god have a bizarre life plan for us all that includes terrible things? I wrote it all off on her anger at life. She was just blaming god. She meant business though when she said that. She had read all about different Christian religions. Now she dove into the religions of the world and other alternative beliefs. She declared herself an agnostic.
I had been becoming less and less enchanted with the idea of god as time went on. As I had had the seed of doubt planted in my mind by my sisters words. Soon there were rumours that my sister was *GASP* an atheist! They said she had been reading a book called “The God Disillusion”and had watched the bill marr film “irreligious”. She said it was hilarious so I rented and watched it. By then I was working with refugees and reading a lot of material written by established refugees. I borrowed a book from my sister that everyone in the office had been raving about titled “infidel”. I read it in a day. The writer of the book went from devout Muslim to atheist. Now I was really curious what exactly do atheist think. I wanted to know everyone's take on god. I remembered my sister talking about a book she wanted to read by a prominent atheist named Christopher Hitchens. I went out and bought “God is Not Great”. Reading it at work I agreed with it, as I read into it about halfway I put the book down and started crying.
Everything I had ever been taught was a lie! I had wasted so much time! I was devastated, filled with questions and angry. I finished the book feeling a sense of freedom creep upon me, but at the same time I felt almost sick to my stomach. I had to read “The God Delusional”. I had to know more. I went out and bought it and started reading that night, but stopped a quarter of the way through, it was too much. I took a break for a few months to give myself time to digest everything I had learned. After clearing my head I went back to reading it and once I closed the book after finishing the last page, All I wanted to do was run around dancing, yelling for joy! I was fascinated by everything around me. I suddenly realised how complex and amazing even the most mundane things that surrounded me were. I finally had an understanding of evolution. It made sense. I wanted to tell everyone I knew about what I had learned. I wanted to know more. I discovered a Secular Humanist group on Facebook and joined it. An hour later my mother called me seething.
My Brother wanted to know why I had to upset my mother. That's when it slapped me in the face that if I declared myself an atheist, I would become the enemy to my family, to my little brothers, who after my father's disappointment, My older brother's disappointment and my sisters becoming an atheist although, she told them agnostic.I'm left as the only one they look up to.
I know that if i make my belief clear I will be cast as a villian, another disappointment. It may sound silly, but after everything my families been through, I don't have the heart to make my mother think I'm done for, another lost child and to let my little brothers think that the last person they look up to in the family is one of the bad guys. I told my mother when she called about the Secular Humanist group that it was just a mistake. I didn't really know what they believed, a friend had invited me and then promptly deleted it. For the most part I keep my beliefs to myself, but I am so grateful that someone is putting out such resources of attainable knowledge. Thank you for helping to open my eyes to a world so much more amazing and beautiful then I knew.