You are my never healing sore, a cancer that I can’t seem to shake.

I grew up in a fundamentalist Christian community. My friends were Christian, every adult I knew was a Christian, my parents were Christian, and my school was Christian. I was indoctrinated as a child and believed everything that I was taught. It wasn’t until I left for college that I truly came to question my reality and ultimately embraced true freedom. But up until that point, I was miserable.

To begin with, I cannot blame my parents for my upbringing. They truly believe that those who are without god will suffer for eternity. These are beliefs passed on from their parents and they passed them on to me. From the perspective of a Christian, it would be negligent and cruel to not lead me to salvation.

This situation is not my parents fault and is not their parents fault. Religion is deeply ingrained in our culture. For many years, the primary religion of America has been Christianity. It is shoved down our throats by propagandists, our peers, our parents, and the government. Religion is a problem that pervades society.

Most people never come to question what they are taught. When everyone that you have ever respected and trusted says the same things, it’s easy to just accept it as truth.

Warped logic and emotions are exploited as evidence that Christianity is truth. When you go to a church service, they play deep, emotional music that resonates inside you. Usually this is called “feeling the holy spirit”, but it’s just normal human emotion when you hear heavy music. Have you never gotten chills listening to a secular song?

You’re brainwashed as a child and then they try to explain away the remnants of indoctrination as the holy spirit calling to you. I’ve often heard things like “if god isn’t real, why do atheists spend so much time thinking/talking about him?” This not evidence of god, it is evidence of brainwashing. It doesn’t just go away the moment you leave the faith.

The Christian institution ensures that children grow up with this form of brainwashing because adults are much harder to convince. When you teach your children they will teach their children, and the cancer spreads exponentially through generations. Let’s stop this cycle.

“If anyone causes one of these little ones … to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea.” — Mark 9:42

Christianity teaches that we are inherently evil and in need of saving. Human nature is demonized and people are forced to “deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”

A religious upbringing has an intensely negative effect on children of all kinds. For me, this manifested itself in stunted social growth, serious anxiety, a fear and hatred of those who are different, a complete lack of real scientific knowledge, and a warped sense of morality.

I was taught that sex before marriage was evil. My experiences in church and church events like purity conferences made me fearful of interacting with women until I was in high school. I always felt like I would be in trouble or committing sin just for interacting with them. You’re made to feel like men and women are not capable of controlling themselves.

Because of this, I grew up with very poor social skills and a fear of women. Many of my friends had the same experience. I remember when I was a sophomore in high school and my friend was afraid that his mother might see him speaking to a girl.

But for me, it was deeper than just purity. I am bisexual. Of course, I didn’t realize this at the time. I was so afraid of my feelings that I convinced myself that everyone else felt the same thing. But I still lay awake at night terrified of my existence — thinking that I might be gay.

My first sexual act was with another male classmate at 15. I was unable to resist my desires and this terrified me so much that even after that, I managed to convince myself that I was straight until I was around 20.

The idea of being gay is horrifying to someone who grows up in this culture. The bible describes me as an “abomination” simply for existing. Homosexuality was addressed heavily at every purity conference I had to attend (there were many). It was addressed heavily in church. Our church was a strong advocate of Proposition 8 (repealing legal gay marriage in California).

There was a gay child at our Christian school who was bullied so hard that he left after a single quarter. My friends joked about wanting to go “fag bashing” and I joined in because I thought this was normal. My best friend protested Harvey Milk Day at the public school by wearing “Straight And Proud” t-shirts. Naturally, he was one of the ones who wanted to go “fag bashing.” I remember when the school found out that a graduate was gay and he was ridiculed in private.

My Christian indoctrination taught me that it is okay to hate people just because they are different — women, gays, atheists. It is much, much easier to accept people for who they are when you do not have to see them through a Christian lens.

Since I’ve left the faith, I have become a much happier and loving person. I can finally accept myself for who I am. I no longer need to “deny myself.”

My science classes taught Creationism instead of evolution. After I left the faith, I realized that I could not trust anything that I had been taught about science. Nothing at all. The first thing I read after coming to terms with my atheism was “A Brief History of Time” by Stephen Hawking and it really opened my eyes to how incredible the universe is. Trust me, the universe is a whole lot cooler when you can understand how it works and not have to accept that it just sprang into existence at the whim of god.

Our math classes did not go beyond “advanced algebra”, but people still sent their kids there because the school had a bible class. I am an engineer and yet my weakest subjects are math and science.

The church teaches a worldview that has no place in our society. Science is false. Anyone who is not a Christian is evil and cannot be trusted. Gays should be oppressed. Your natural, sexual desires are filth. It sows bigotry and stunts our country’s social and scientific growth.

Indoctrination is child abuse. Even if you are a Christian, I plead with you to let the cycle end with you. Do not indoctrinate your children. If you do, they will either resent you for it or turn around and do the same to their own kids. Let them experience the world for themselves and form their own opinions.

For those who have grown up in the same kind of culture: leaving the faith will not be easy. You will question everything you think you know and lose many friends who refuse to accept you for yourself. You have a long journey ahead of you, but at the end of it you will find freedom. You will eventually meet like minded people and the friends you lose will be replaced with real friends who love you for you.

Anyone struggling with religion should feel free to reach out to me as I have made the same journey and am more than willing to help others along the way.

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