My Entry and Escape From Organized Religion
September 15, 2015
For reasons of safety, this post has been edited to maintain anonymity of the author.
Year one of college. I was a naive freshman looking to join every club that threw itself at me. Tunnel vision clouded my senses and I ignored the possible consequences that could come. I thought I was immune to irrational thought. It turned out that I was wrong.
My first semester was relatively awesome. I lost a lot of weight, made lots of ambitious friends, and had tons of fun. Once the second semester began, I was invited to join a mysterious Christian organization that was run by a powerful church which aimed to build branches on every college campus. At first, everything was great. People seemed friendly. Games were great. The food was great. Everything seemed fine.
As the semester went on, I uncovered some unusual behavior within the church. People were separated by gender everywhere to prevent “temptation”. Homosexuals were talked about badly and people were deathly scared of secular media. The church leaders controlled every aspect of the older students’ lives, especially the ones who didn’t escape early enough. A lot of the older students and alumni claimed that they were living a happy and healthy life, but what I saw was the opposite. The all nighters, delicious but unhealthy food, and brainwashing clearly had a negative impact on their health. A lot of what went on at the church was driven by dark, guilt-fueled psychology tactics. Love bombs, a lot of care and affection, were used on newbies. This created a psychological longing for more, essentially a mental leash. When you became a “mature sheep”, the true colors of the leaders emerged. They try to determine the person you can marry, where you work, and where you live. If you didn’t follow orders, you would be verbally assaulted to “correct your behavior”. Some were strong like I was and managed to snap out of it. Others, however, surrendered their autonomy to make their own decisions; they became puppets who couldn’t think for themselves. It took me a whole semester to leave. I couldn’t waste my time, energy, and money on a damaging delusion anymore. I had gained back the weight I lost, my GPA had fallen, and I had alienated some of my best friends. I barely scraped by the GPA requirement to stay in my school’s Honors College. It took a tremendous amount of willpower and strategy to leave the church. Their powerful persuasion left a deep scar in my mind.
What enticed me to join? Two gentlemen from top universities invited me one day. Their amazing credentials and work titles gave me the impression that these guys knew how to work with God to get what they wanted in life. They were successful and intelligent. Before I trusted anybody’s advice, I first looked at what they had done. These guys seemed to be credible. Both were respected scientists in their respective fields and used sophisticated rhetoric to reconcile religion and science. I was hooked onto their every word. As time went by, they talked badly about people who were in pursuit of health and wealth, claiming that those things were evil “idols”. What hypocrites. I thought that they were insane. Students I talked to at the church were virtually all STEM majors, which initially led me to believe that God and the church were legitimate. People boasted about their major while simultaneously preaching that health and wealth were evil. Picture this: future doctors who will make a lot of money while healing people were denouncing why they chose their major. That’s pure insanity!
This wasn’t my first negative encounter with organized religion. My family is Catholic and I grew out of it, managing to dodge all the useless magic rituals they had in order to attain a ticket to a nonexistent conformity-based theme park (Heaven). The cult-like church I was in is my second experience with organized religion delusion. It will definitely be my last. During my mental imprisonment at the cult-like church, guilt and feelings of obligation prevented me from leaving. Their deep-rooted manipulation was hard to let go. Once I left, I felt like I defeated a powerful enemy in a video game. The victory felt liberating. I blocked all contact from them and that was the end of it.
I hate being controlled by other people and entities, especially those who try to stop me from fulfilling my dream of becoming a famous filmmaker. I am a libertarian atheist, like my hero Penn Jillette (creator of the show Bullshit!). There are no gods. There are no masters. My experiences, thoughts, and fate are my own creation. I derive meaning from facts and experiences, not a fiction book. Humanity must progress using technology responsibly without the help of some fairy sky father who breaks his own alleged rules. One day, organized religion will cease to exist and everyone will be educated how to think, not what to think. Until then, the world will continue to be a beautiful but cruel place. Hopefully, religion will meet its Revelation during my lifetime and cease to be a memory. Pun intended.
About the Author: CFI On Campus
Center for Inquiry On Campus promotes and defends reason, science, and freedom of inquiry in education. We are committed to the enhancement of freethought, skepticism, secularism, humanism, philosophical naturalism, rationalism, and atheism on college and high school campuses throughout North America and around the world.
#1 Mike (Guest) on Tuesday September 15, 2015 at 1:59pm
I am sorry to hear that they turned out to be actors.
I know that feeling, bro.
Atheist booth at Balboa Park has also recognized these evangelical actors on Saturdays.
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