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My story. Well I was raised in the Church of Christ, my father is a minister. If you are not familiar with this group, allow me to explain. The church of Christ is a evangelical conservative protestant group found mostly in the south and particularly strong in the mid-south from Tennessee to Texas.
The church teaches a “strict” adherence to new testament teaching and believes itself to be an accurate representation of a first century church.
It believes adult baptism is necessary for salvation, that communion should be taken every week, and that musical instruments offend god. The church fancy’s itself as being aware of the pagan influence on catholic and others, and therefore does not celebrate holidays such as Christmas and Easter.
There is no hierarchy in the church of Christ, and no written creed, and it seems that local churches are often caught up in fierce doctrinal squabbles over different issues, often resulting in a preacher getting fired and/or a church splitting.
One such issue I remember as a child was the issue of translations. Some in the church believed that only the king James version of the bible was truly inspired and without error, while others held that other translations were just as good or better.
This is just one issue that I saw churches split over and individuals fight about.
So I went off to college and began to read and study. I was not trying to read my way out of religion or faith, but I began to have serious doubts.
I had really never been a gung-ho bible thumper, but I was a reader and spent all those years sitting in the pews with my head buried in the Bible, actually I preferred reading the Bible to listening to the singing or the lesson. So I knew the Bible really well.
It was Twain that may have given me my first healthy dose of skepticism. I began to see the evil nature of god as described in scripture. Years of teaching literature in high school also exposed me to a lot of wisdom from artists like Shelly, Coleridge, Hemingway, Emerson, Thoreau and others.
Human wisdom and humor began to chip away at my faith and strengthen my skepticism. Then at the age of 34, I came across Bart Ehrman's Misquoting Jesus. The ball began to roll and it only picked up velocity. Now I had the gross error, plagiarism, and lies that are scripture.
In a matter of months I had revisited old studies like evolution. It was really strange how 20 years of education seemed to suddenly become clearer in a matter of about two months. The last straw was the admittedly brief study of the myth and religion of India, Egypt, and Greece. The evidence of parallel myths and astrology brought it all together for me.
So here I am, atheist and free at last. The problem that remains is my wife, parents, her parents, and siblings, etc are all still Christians. This makes things difficult. I enjoy a good debate, but these people are not open to discussion.
So I try to keep things civil and for the most part quiet. I really wish that those closest to me were of a like mind. I do have some friends that are like minded and the time I spend with them is very refreshing. I love my wife very much, but we have a difficult road ahead.
Three children in the barging only increase the potential for conflict. But I have no regrets. And I will just try and keep a sense of humor and take it one day at a time. I look forward to meeting others of a like mind.
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