I just grew up believing in christianity. I am a perfect example of what Richard Dawkins and other refer with their point about just accepting the religion of your parents and society. There was no real pressure, just the quiet understanding that of course that was the one true religion and all others were false. The biblical fables were taught as true and not to be questioned. Hell waited for any who doubted. It was safer to believe.
At 12 years of age the baptists got to me. An unhappy home life made the comfort they offered enticing and welcoming. And I took it all completely seriously. At a retreat I experienced the "saving" feeling and invited their Christ in to my heart and was baptized. It all seemed to make sense. I learned the lines against evolution and science and memorized the "good" parts of the bible. For the first time in my life I stood in front of a crowd, admitted my sins, and preached the holy word. I can still feel the power and respect that the crowd willing gave me and it has been 33 years passed. If I had wished to carry on that way I really think that evangelism could have been my life. scary really.
Like many it was studying religion that ended it all. If I was going to preach that being a baptist was the one true religion, then I needed to know what others believed in order to show that they were wrong. This is why know I think true religious education is the answer to ending religions hold on peoples minds. The more a person knows about the vast number of religions and belief systems, the less power that an individual belief system has. So many created, so many passed away. How can one stand out as the only. It becomes almost immediately apparent that as soon as a group gets together, someone knows what the gods want.
By the time I was 15 it was all over for me. From there I drifted along not being to concerned about the whole issue. Then I raised (step)children. All of the lies that I had been taught, from tooth fairies, santa and gods, seemed too ridiculous to keep spreading. Why on earth would I want to tell these young minds fables as truth, then take them away form them later. Why would they believe me about anything later? Unfortunately, their mother disagreed. You can imagine the fun that was. Fortunately, the children saw the truth.
What really changed things for me was two books. Classics of Freethinkers(?) and James Randi’s encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural. Randi’s book mainly for the contacts to the skeptics movement listed in it. That has lead me to Dawkins, Shermer, Sagan and others. They lead me to Paine, Voltaire, Descarte.
When I grew up, in a small isolated town, there were no conflicting views to read. Libraries didn’t promote secular views; bookstores didn’t dare stock that material. The internet has been the best thing to come along in order to reach people without access to other points of view
Religion has a terrible hold on our societies. It pisses me off that I have to hear about a god in my anthem. It pisses me off that Word wants to automatically capitalize christianity and baptist. I will decide who and what to show respect to thanks.
I work with youth now and constantly question their beliefs. They are a far better informed group then I remember being at their age.