I'm not sure if thsi is the best place to post this. I'm new here. But I wrote this and wanted to share it with someone.
I was born in 1967 in a small Scottish town.
My parents were born in a time and place where everyone was expected to be religious. Or at least, everyone was expected to be a member of the church. My father, always the rebel, took nothing to do with religion. He only mentioned it as a joke. Such as when having a bad day he'd say "you know I think there really is a god, and he bloody well hates me!" But my mother was an active member of the church. She didn't go every Sunday, but did attend for all special events. And from her turn of phrase it was clear she believed in an omnipotent deity.
When I was four years old I was sent, along with my ten year old sister, to Sunday school. Or bible classes. So every Sunday morning we would go to a class room attached to the church and listen to a man tell us stories. Some were of his experiences as a missionary in Africa, some were from the bible. I really didn't mind as the bloke was a good speaker and told an entertaining story. We also had to sing hymns which I hated. I never sang the correct words and made up my own. As I was the youngest in the group of about fifteen it was never mentioned that I was not taking part and I was left alone. One of the songs I sang was about a duck and I was quite pleased with myself for creating lyrics which fitted, almost, the tune of the hymn.
When I was six years old I was given a bible of my own. I had learned to read by this time and started reading random parts of it. I also started to listen to the teacher at Sunday school and tried to understand what he was telling us about the bible. This led me to become quite confused and concerned. Particularly about the premise that Jesus died for our sins so that we may be forgiven. But wait a minute, Jesus lived 2000 years ago in another country, how did he know what sins I had committed. And I'm six years old, what have I done that would make a magic man from across time insist that I needed forgiven? I hadn't done anything! OK, I put that semolina pudding in the bin and told my mother I had eaten it, and I had looked at those topless girls in my father's custom car magazines. But give me a break, these were not drastic crimes. And why did he have to die for my sins? You can say what you like, I had nothing to do with his death. I was nowhere near the place. In fact I had the perfect alibi. I wasn't even born when it happened. Make whatever allegations you want, I didn't kill the dude. If he decided to end himself because of something he thought I had done, it was nothing to do with me.
I asked the teacher about this and hoped he could explain it in words I could understand. But he waffled on about god being all knowing and all seeing and working in mysterious ways. Eventually I just said "OK thank you" and walked out to meet my mother. I remember turning to look at the huge towering gothic sandstone church thinking, "these people are different to me. I don't fit in here". I stopped trying to understand anything I heard in this building from then on.
One day I was playing with some toy cars on the floor when my father and mother sat either side of me.
My mother said "I have something to ask you. It's something very important so you have to think very carefully before you answer".
"Okaaayyy". I was suspicious already.
She continued. "Next Sunday is when the new term of Sunday school starts. Do you want to go or......"
She continued again. "Now think very carefully because this is important. Do you want to go to Sun....."
And that was the end of God in our house. I later learned my sister had also answered in the negative and we were now officially considered to be atheists. Occasionally church was mentioned but only as an explanation of where my mother would be on Sunday. None of us were ever expected to go with her.
Later on I realised that this situation must have been an agreement between my parents. My mother wanted her children to be church goers, my father wanted his children to choose for themselves. So we were sent for two years and then given the free will to choose if we wanted to continue. It was like when two people claim ownership of the same dog and the dog is placed between them and allowed to choose which owner to run to.
I did not become an atheist at six years old. I was born an atheist. At six years old I decided that the bible was just to mad to be real and chose to ignore it. I like to think I'm a clever man, but in reality I'm of average intelligence. And at six years old I could clearly see that religion was bullshit. What is wrong with people who let themselves be brainwashed into believing biblical fairy stories??? If I really was a clever man, I would be able to answer that.
I should make one thing clear. My mother is a wonderful woman. She is kind, caring and patient and is everything any man could ever ask of a mother. She is the one person who has never doubted my ability and has supported me without question. Her desire to indoctrinate her children into her supernatural beliefs were her one and only questionable act. And to be fair, as soon as she realised we did not want to, she left the matter well alone. We were not forced into it, we were given the choice.
But even so, I will always believe that indoctrinating children into religious belief is one of the most evil things anyone can do. It takes away their ability to reason and spreads sectarianism and lies. If we could stop this one practise, the world would change in a generation.
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