I am a recovering southern baptist. I phrase it that way because southern baptism, like alcoholism, is a disease. You can quit going to church but the sickness never fully leaves you. Every time I attend a funeral all the Jesus talk eats away at me and I start fearing hell all over again. I’m tempted to just give in, glory in the holy spirit and let His will be done. But I know I would hate myself in the morning.
I was exposed to the religion virus at a young age. For children it’s more like indoctrination than education. Scare the hell out of them and don’t give them a choice. When I was about 10 we went to a revival meeting where the preacher had me convinced that I would be tortured in hades for an eternity because I listened to a Kiss album. I was terrified. God was gonna kick my ass. I didn’t stand a chance. Fortunately for me, the heavenly family was a little dysfunctional because JC stood up to daddy and saved me anyway.
I didn’t think much else about it until my Sunday school teacher talked to the class about the miracle of Jesus turning the water into wine. This didn’t sound right to me because I had been told that wine was evil. Why would Jesus turn something good into something evil? I asked this very question and was assured that it was really just grape juice. “But then why does it say wine?” The teacher looked at me and replied “they just called it that, but there wasn’t any alcohol in it.”
That answer didn’t satisfy me. In fact it made me very curious. I started asking other questions, about dinosaurs, the age of the planet, the origin of Cain’s wife. I learned that there are a lot of inconsistencies in the inerrant word of god. This started me down a path of doubt, agnosticism and finally full-blown disbelief.
By my mid-teens I had recovered from religion but I still had to go to church. Like an alcoholic who still has friends who drink, it wasn’t always easy. I attended church until I was 18. The continuous need to resist the disease made me stronger. The more I went the easier it became to say “no.” By the time I learned that atheists are the most despised minority in America, hated even more than used car salesmen, politicians and homosexuals, it was too late to turn back. I was inoculated by rational thinking.
So you can see why I find the intermingling of politics and religion so disturbing. I don’t mean the rhetoric of a Dr. King or an Abraham Lincoln. I’m talking about the full blown merger of fundamentalist church and corporate state that is taking place in America right now. The destruction of Jefferson’s great wall of separation will be our undoing.