Its amazing how being “saved” can begin to change your attitude towards religion. My family did not regularly attend church, but as an young teen, my mother brokered a deal with my sister and I that if we attended church on Sundays, our chores would be waived for that period of time. Sounded like a great deal to an adolescent. After a couple of weeks of attendance, I was invited to an event featuring a religious speaker who everyone said I would really enjoy listening to. After receiving permission from my mother, the trip was set and we arrived there on a weeknight evening to listen to the individual.
I honestly remember very little of the specific lecture, probably what you would hear at any event of this nature. It was more so about the excitement in the air and the big smiles and glassy-eyed gazes. The next thing I know, I’m being SAVED! All I needed to do was accept jesus christ as my savior. Easy enough. Whoopee!
I arrived home to tell my mother of the exhilerating experience and when I had finished, there was a confused look on my mother’s face. I mean, it kind of didn’t matter what I did, if I asked for forgiveness, I could still get to heaven. Surprisingly, my mother stated that if I didn’t want to attend church anymore, I didn’t have to. Well, that was just fine as well because there was really no enjoyment in that anyways.
You would think that getting a free ticket to heaven would be a life-changing experience, and you would be right. Just not towards a life of religion and worship. I began to feel as if I had been tricked. How could you do things that might be considered immoral, or at least wrong in god’s eyes, and still get to the pearly gates by saying you were sorry? It didn’t work with my parents. It didn’t feel right and it actually made me feel kind of dirty, like I had been “mentally molested” or manipulated.
Well, that was the start of my journey into reality and clear thought. Within the next year, several close relatives died.One was my uncle, who was in a coma for four years from an accident before dying (asked myself, why did we keep him alive to be a vegetable?) and my grandfather, who I watched suffer and die a slow death from pneumonia and emphysema. Upon his death, I felt a great sense of relief that he was no longer suffering. Relatives questioned my lack of emotion and it was difficult to explain by telling them I was relieved that he was gone.
Those events sealed the deal for me and I have never looked back and never questioned my decision. I have spent time in the military and had to keep my views to myself to keep from being ostracized. My professional and adult life has been spent primarily if the Southeastern United States where faith is as important as cornbread and fried chicken. I even work for a Fortune 100 company and still have to keep my lack of faith thinly veiled to keep from missing out on opportunities or being socially ignored.
Its amazing to me that with all the emphasis we try to put on our freedom of thought and of speech in our country, those with the freest and clearest thinking are the ones who have the least amount of acceptance to excercise those rights without being shouted down or threatened.