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by Donna Manning on Thursday, October 21, 2010 at 9:10pm Before I go into this long and messy story keep in mind a few things: 1. I am not trying to convince anyone to change their beliefs. 2. These are MY personal experiences and feelings, and no judgement on my part. 3. If you take offense to any of my opinions, please keep in mind that they are mine alone and you do not have to agree with them at all. 4. I did not proof read or edit this... I wrote it in about an hour and a half and there's a LOT I could add or edit. Please over look any glaring issues. I a lso did not fact check, most is from memory. I am in no way a professional write r so don't expect anything amazing. If you find inconsistencies speak up. :) 5. I welcome any and ALL questions, even if some may stump me for a bit. 6. Please be Respectful to myself and all who may reply because I know many of you in real life and I also really appreciate input from my online friends and r eal life friends alike. I just ask that we all be nice. Keep in mind that more t houghts occur when there is a non-defensive environment where respect is given. I love you all and let's get along (my point in this! :)) 7. If you read it, please let me know you did. I put some personal things in h ere and would love to know that you are aware of them. 8. Most importantly... I have this hidden from several people who might be upset by some of what I am about to say. Please keep the personal parts to yourself if possible. I understand the internet is not fool proof but in an attempt to k eep it somewhat private I'd request respect in that area. If you are reading th is I feel I can probably trust you to that. If you would like to share it with people you think it might help, feel free to. Again... sorry if you find it rambling... I do tend to ramble. Thank you! I was raised as a Jehovah's witness. I was taught that we were the "good" religi on and that everyone else was "worldly". There was no hell, however there would be death for all those that weren't perfect Jehovah's witnesses. This meant: not participating in ANY holidays, not hanging out with any "worldly" people (which I did.. talk about an internal struggle), not swearing EVER, and basically ever ything every other conservative religion says not to do. Once you get past the no hell thing and the no holiday thing they are basically all the same when you look at conservative religions. They are all very restrict ive. One of my first struggles was watching my cousin, who was only about 5.. which m eant I was about 8 ish. He was clearly "different". Instead of playing with cars and doing "boy" things he was more interested in playing with dolls and doing m y moms hair every chance he could. My grandma would call him back to her house a nd tell him to play with cars. I always got a strange feeling something just was n't right in that situation. Why did it matter what he played with if he was hap py? (they didn't talk about what they knew in their hearts... he wasn't "differe nt", he was gay.) They were fighting who he was and trying to stop him from it because it was "wrong".
Rolling on.... as I got older I had other questions. Why, if my religion was so great, did I live in a mentally abusive family. Why did I get yelled at, why did my parents fight all the time, why was I talked so poorly to by my father? If t hey were such "good" people, why did I have to suffer? Why would "God" want that in heaven? Why, if we hy, in the as another Then there s illegal. were supposed to love everyone, did so many terrible things happen. W name of religion, were so many terrible wars created. History class w big eye opener. WOW... think of all the Catholic wars that occurred. was King Henry (the 8th) who killed 6 of his wives because divorce wa
I questioned why.... if person was so unhappy why were they forced to live that way. How was killing them any better??? It was ridiculous. It was better to kill a woman than it was to divorce her???? Eventually divorce was legal but not aft er a long and bloody battle of religion. In the bible, women are treated as prop erty. They are no better than cattle in many instances. This is testament not to a God, but to how men viewed women in biblical times. I t's very sad. The whole story of Adam and Eve, to me, is horrific. From the very start women are deemed "lesser" and the "root of original sin". As I got older (late teens) I saw more things I questioned. My sister got very i ll. She was in ICU for a month. At one point she desperately needed a blood tran sfusion. My mother said no. It was against God's law. It was a sin. She would ra ther have seen my sister die than give her the blood. Because of her devotion t o her idea of God. Luckily we were able to get that idea overruled and my sister lived through that ordeal. The hold religion had on my mother and family was frightening to me. She regularly went around saying there were devils and demons in us and our hous e... my sister made a totem pole at school once and my mom woke up one night scr eaming that a devil was in the room with her. Ridiculous stuff all through my ch ildhood like that. I questioned all the atrocities in the bible.. the stoning of children, God aski ng men to sacrifice their children to him (but not going through with it... beca use he was just "testing" them).... God turning Lotts wife to salt for merely lo oking back.The ark... what a crazy story. He fit ALL the worlds animals into an ark? I think not. More than likely it was a geographical flood and he put his li vestock into it and it felt like the entire world was flooding to him- because t hat was his entire world. I saw a lot of great people in my teen years that were (according to my thoughts ) were going to just die at "the end of the world" because they didn't believe t he way I did. It made NO sense to me. These people told me I was wrong and I th ought.... how am I wrong, mine is the "right way" and theirs is wrong. Who says what is the right way and the wrong way. Who decides this? These were the que stions my 13 year old mind would ask. Even then I questioned but held hope. I suspect everyone has some part that questions but dares not to deny. These people were nicer and kinder than some in my own family and religion. I ju st could not reconcile that. Why would God want them in his peaceful utopia cal led Heaven? So... eventually I fled my mentally abusive home. Only after being called a slut and whore by my own father. Being completely unsupported in so many elements of my teenage years. The straw that broke the camels back is when I couldn't conta
ct any of my friends because he has unplugged all the phones in the house. I wrote a letter to my boyfriend (whom became my husband later) and he came to " rescue" me. The violence was escalating and I was afraid for my life. Mind you I was a very GOOD kid. I made good grades, I was respectful and considerate of ot hers... I was sweet and sensitive. Most of all I was neither a slut or a whore a nd I definitely did not deserve those words. Total and complete opposite in fact. My father and I had very different ideas a nd he was very controlling. At this point I should mention I still believed in God. I prayed, I cried, I wis hed for better. I wanted him to help me find my way. I was lost, scared, lonely and really needed something to look up to. I needed hope. I was living with Mich ael after I ran away (I had just graduated HS and was only 17 btw). He was very good to me and we had a lot of conversations. He considered himself Agnostic aft er having been raised in a Methodist household. He had a lot of good thoughts on God and religion which I really couldn't grasp yet, due to my devotion to the idea of God being up there and looking over me.. I was lucky because he is the one that caused me to really start thinking about all those discrepancies I'd realized in the past, those nagging feelings that th ings didn't always add up properly. That the bible was full of violence, jealous y, desire for control, and desire for discord, desire to be praised constantly, to be adored and adulated. Things I had noticed growing up but was too fearful t o question. It was truly scary for me to question these things because that meant I could be damning myself to never seeing an afterlife. What would become of me? It took me over a decade of research, heart searching, mind racking, and reading to finally come to the conclusion that there is no God. Now, to the nitty gritty of why. First... there are just TOO many Gods. They did not start with the Christian ver sion either. In fact, he's a newer idea. http://www.letusreason.org/Cult11.htm If you look here you can see a timeline of religions and when they first started .IMO... these were all created by man to answer "why's" that were impossible to answer back then. They didn't have science yet, there were no telescopes, not mu ch in the way of travel, and there was nothing to base ANYTHING off of. They wer e truly reaching for straws. One day I was driving down the road... back around 21 or 22 years old... having a really really bad time of things during that point (not even sure why now) but I was crying and pulled off. I asked for some sign that God was out there and c ould hear me praying. Suddenly, lightening struck not far from me. RIGHT in fron t of me. That was enough to reaffirm to me he was real at the time... I needed h im and he was there. Not long after that, a Jehovah's witness came into the store and started talking to me, handed me a watchtower (their magazine) and her information. I have to t ell you it all seemed like huge signs to me. I struggled.... should I go back, w as i on the right path, what was going on with me??? Tears... so many tears! Su ch is the life of a religious conservative child.
It didn't take too long for me to start opening my eyes back up after pulling ou t of that dark period and seeing that it wasn't any outside force pulling me out , it was ME. It was my strenght and perseverance that pulled me through those to ugh times. Decisions I made, thoughts I had. I saw a woman come into the store I worked at with her little girl. She was ver y abusive to this little girl. It was heart wrenching. I was young, and an emplo yee and felt frozen to do anything. I could lose my job for angering a customer. I never forgot it... why would a parent treat a small child so harshly. She spa nked her and yelled at her RIGHT in front of me. The little girl just seemed los t. The bible justifies "spare the rod, spoil the child". I truly think it's one of the reasons we find the need to hit our kids. It's jus tified behavior. I can say it's not healthy. It's moments like this that gave me so many "ah ha" moments. To this day I wish I could have walked up to that mot her and told her exactly what I thought of what I saw. I went through similar th ings... it destroys a child. Some VERY good friends of ours became unrecognizeable as themselves after "findi ng" religion. They dumped everything about their "old" lives, which, IMO was a g reat and good life, and turned their backs on it. We were seen as "worldly" and "bad influences". I cannot tell you how much I struggled over that. I, in all w ays, lost my best friends. It was another moment in which religion ruined relationships with otherwise kind and loving people. We were told that we were trying to send them to hell at one point, for what? Inviting them to an English eatery that had a pub inside. They just automatically assumed we were going to try and "entice" them into bad beha vior by inviting them to a place that served alcohol. These were people I love d early and would do anything for, even today. I wanted to spend time with them. P reviously I'd always done things with them and visited my friend almost weeklybecause of LOVE. Nothing more. But, religion has ruined it. They now looked at the people they previously trust ed (us) and, because of religion, they can no longer trust our intentions becaus e we don't believe the way they do. So, it's assumed we will try and "turn them away from God". After that happened with my friends... i was about 23-24 ish whe n it started and escalated downward. I just started pounding the books, pounding my soul... it was emotionally hard and a VERY sad time for me. So much pain fro m what? People's opinions on who's "up there". People so intensely devoted to something that cannot be proved that they are wil ling to divide people over it. They are so locked into their fears... their worries over "afterlife" that they are willing to destroy relationships with their fellow humans over it. IMO it's just all horrible. WE are what we create. WE are to blame for what we create. The bible, IMO, is a book with a lot of stories. It was written over periods of time by many, many men. Note that they are all men. Note that it's very old and has been translated many, many, MANY times not only in English but in other lang uages. People have been known to change things to suit their own ideas. I would venture to guess that these "rules" written by men are exactly that... rules written by men. In the history of all religions and books written by men, the story is the same. The book of Mormon is a pretty new idea. It was written by a man. If you read the story of how it was created you will probably be shocked that anyone to ok him at face value.
The bible, to me, is no different. Nor is the Quran, or Tanakh or any of the oth er holy books written over thousands of year.It was all created to answer questi ons people couldn't answer. Unfortunately it's also all biased against other gro ups. Look at the histories in these books. There is active division and reasonin gs. God created language as a punishment. According to the bible... to help us. To prevent the tower of Babel. In reality, people learned languages because o f geographical locations. They created language out of necessity. It all goes against the grain of my being. I feel that it's all so wrong. I don' t feel the desire to divide but to unite. When I was religious I believed in all of that. I know, we all want to believe God is good and God is love. IF I could believe that was true then I'd probably just go along with it too. However, the bible tells me a different story. SO does the Queran. They all have some divisi on. Notice there's been no incredible biblical insights in the last hundred or s o years. Science has made major leaps in explaining a lot of things people were unable to answer even just a hundred years ago. Science can do that without dividing peop le, without wars, and without having to say "have faith". It's cold, hard, facts . It is also debunking some of our "creationist" values from the past. We see a lot of politicians these days claiming to be religious men. They do it to get ahead. They are preying on people's beliefs because they know how STRONGL Y people are tied to their religions. They know the buttons to push. It's hurtin g us as a country and as a world. These people are not good people. I see a lot of that. Men using religion to say or prove they are honest. "We are a Christian company". I actually think it's all smoke and mirrors. You prove ho nesty through actions, not words. Why would you need to say that? Can't you be h onest without Christ? Why do we need God or Christ to be honest? We don't. We are free thinking humans and with or without God, we can be good. It's ALL ch oices. I could get more specific about this or that or the other, and if you ask me I w ill. But, for now, this is it. About two years ago I decided there are NO Gods, they are all man created to explain things people couldn't explain hundreds of y ears ago. They create wars, division, the idea that women should be subservient to men, and a myriad of other ideas that only hurt humanity. And that's my story . :) The ONLY thing I want in this world is UNITY and LOVE and PEACE. I know it's a p ipe dream... but I can hope like hell it will one day be this way. If not in my lifetime, maybe in my children's. I can't see it happening while religion is in place. There are too many different ways to believe and people believe very st rongly in THEIR way. It's hard to see past that when it's all you have heard yo ur entire life. It takes a lot of struggles to see past it. I will forever be haunted by it because it absolutely affected every part of my life, even today. Only now, I have to accept that I am the "odd man out" in man y situations because I am a minority still. I am the one people are fearful of because I might "try to take them away from God" or "lead them to hell". Nothin g could be further from the truth, but there it is. I won't put that on my children. If they choose that path later, so be it, but for now... no. However... they will learn about the Bible, and they will learn about all the other religions. Education is a powerful thing and so is truth. Fear can be so blinding. They will learn to love everyone in spite of people's beliefs and sexual orientations, color, heritage.
In the end I am a happy person with ethics and love for others. I am hurt by oth ers, but I forgive. I can hope for better, and I can hope that people can under stand me without "looking down on me" and worrying I will go to some bottomless burning grave (that I feel lives only in those that believe it to be true). Life is good for me, good for my kids, and I am happy to be where I am today. I have no desire to hurt anyone and only wish for the happiness of all. Donna. Manning