Around the age of 12, I made the decision to put down my picture bible and pick up the King James Version that my grandparents bought me. My mother was never too keen on letting me read that version as it contains so much violence, rape, death, and everything she tried her damnest to shield me from in my adolescence. I read that book cover-to-cover. Once I closed it, I was terrified. I literally could not believe what I had just read. I have always been an analytical thinker, and even at that age, my view on that book was this: A horrible, contradictory, bigoted, mass of fables that is a very real danger to easily influenced minds. I was completely shocked that this institution condoned the indoctrination of young minds and others, under the guise of righteousness and morality.
We can thank this religion and others like it for gender inequality, sexual oppression, genocide, willingness to accept anything without empirical evidence, etc. With the story of Jesus, it almost seems as though the religious leaders of latter years thought the old testament seemed a bit rough and tried to sprinkle some sugar on the giant ball of shit their ancestors forced down the world’s throat.
Even before this experience, when I was extremely devout, I always felt so silly praying and singing at worship. I was embarrassed to tell people that I was a Christian because I would get one of two reactions: the person would become overly excited that I was “saved” and would proceed to blabber on about their pastor/their religious experiences/their family that left god and now they worry for their afterlife; the latter would look at me as if to say, “oh, so you believe that dead guy came back to life and I probably should stick to discussions about Disney movies for fear of making you cry about the real world.”
I was not allowed to cut my hair or play sports. I was not allowed to have a boyfriend. Anyone that was LGBTQ was not to set foot in our door. Girls that wore revealing clothes deserved to be raped. People who cussed were poor lost souls. As a woman, I was not allowed to make decisions for myself, however, my brothers could do as they chose.
Years later when I finally came out to my mom, she grabbed my plate of spaghetti, prayed over it, gave it back, and for years that was the last I heard about it. My step dad had taken off with another woman a few months before and I don’t think she really cared what my religious standing was at the time. I was elated he was gone; he thought it was his duty to beat me and berate me every chance he got. So because she didn’t say much and the iron fist was gone, I became more vocal about it. Let me tell you, being openly atheist isn’t exactly the easiest thing to deal with in Texas.