When people say are you a Christian and what denomination are you, I have to be real and say I’m not religious or a Christian. Whaaaaaat, they say?!!!? Sometimes it’s accepted; other times it is met with cynicism. I will tell you the reason why I left Christianity.
I grew in a Baptist home, primitive Baptist to be exact. My mother was formerly Catholic and became a Baptist when she met my father. Now, primitive Baptist are known for feet washing (like Jesus did with the Disciples) and drinking the blood of Christ and eating the body of Christ, homemade wine (the goooood stuff) and wafers. Shouting or catching the Holy Ghost Spirit is very common to see. You’re expected to attend church every Sunday in your Sunday’s best.
The best part of church for me as a child was the singing (I’m a singer/songwriter) and sneaking off with my Grandma to the kitchen to prepare the after-service meal. Helping in the kitchen with my Grandma was short lived when my mom found out I was missing out on service (Whomp, Whomp, Whomp!!!!). I had to stay and sit through the whole church service. That’s when I stopped looking forward to going to church. I loved the Sunday’s where we skipped church and stayed home.
I was young. I didn’t really understand God and the Bible. I knew Him as a man that lived in the sky and Heavens. As I got older, I began to learn on my own. I read as many children’s bible stories as I could and absorbed them up. Next, I tried reading the King James Bible as that is what we used in church. Mannnnn, that text is hard to read still today!! My high school English classes helped somewhat as it is alleged that Shakespeare wrote the text (don't quote me on that lol).
Anyway, I became more involved with my church. I joined the choir (I loooooove to sing, la la la), became choir treasurer (but I don’t think I ever took one coin lol), read the church announcement news every Sunday morning (public speaking skills were on lock!!!), and helped run the yearly vacation bible school series with my older cousin. I did all of this while maintaining a 3.8 GPA in college, multiple college society clubs, recording and singing gigs, working part time as a preschool teacher, and having an active social life. When did I take a break??!!! I don’t remember if I did lol.
My last year of college I met my first true love. There was an 8-year age gap between us, but you couldn’t tell it at the time. We seemed like we were made for each other. By this time, I had stopped working as a preschool teacher and became more involved in my college major, Recording Industry with a focus on Music Business. I was interning for a music publishing company and working on the weekends as an on-air personality/DJ for a radio station. I would see my then boyfriend on the weekends while still going to church on Sundays. He wasn’t hugely religious, so I would go alone.
One day, I remember sitting in the choir stand reading my King James bible while the pastor was preaching. Something told me to stop going to church. Now, I don’t feel it was an evil influence or anything like that. Things just weren’t making sense to me, and I had been internally questioning God and His existence. What the pastor was saying wasn’t the same interpretation I was receiving from the text. The goings on the in the church weren’t reflective of the text like people trying to outdo one another, the flashiness, the backbiting and bickering, and tithing 10-20% of your money.
Where was all this in the bible? I still can’t find anywhere in the bible where it says you have to tithe a certain amount of your income. Hell, the money we know of today wasn’t even around then. You had bartering systems in place, and most people didn’t have gold or a monetary denomination to exchange for things. And don’t forget how the old Testament and new Testament have differing views.
So, with all these confusing thoughts in my head and maybe a little because I was missing time with my boyfriend, I left the church. I sent letters with my dad to give to the pastor, lead choir director, and my other responsibilities telling them I was relinquishing my roles and leaving the church. Boyyyyyyyy, you would have thought the world had ended!!! My parents told me the pastor had come to our house looking for me one day when I was not home, as I still lived with my parents at the time. He also left messages on our voicemail machine for me. I didn’t respond to any of it. I had made up my mind, and I felt very comfortable with my decision.
Time goes by, and one day I’m at the grocery store shopping. I see one of the pastor’s older adult children. I remember this day very vividly. She asked me why I was no longer a part of the church. I told her I wasn’t getting anything out of it anymore. She said you get out of church what you put into it. Her child was away at college at the time and still very active with the church. My many responsibilities with the church plus my outside responsibilities were basically dismissed. I was admonished like a child and that put an even further distaste in my mouth for church life.
Now, I didn’t totally give up church all together. If people asked me to go to their churches, I would visit them. I was going to a megachurch one of my best friends attended pretty regularly for a short time. But after a while, that same feeling of this isn’t right for you would come up each time. I saw the same things I disliked in my old church in each of the churches I visited. At the megachurch, the kicker that ended my attendance there was one day the church announcements were being announced. The pastor’s 20-year anniversary was coming up in the next few months. The congregation was encouraged to give $20 for every year the pastor had been the leader of the church. Instantly, I felt a sick feeling to my stomach and knew this church, and any church period isn’t the place for me.
I haven’t been to a church service in years. The only other time I have stepped inside a church has been for a funeral. I refuse to go for anything else. If I ever get married, it won’t be at a church.
I just don’t believe an all-powerful man looks over all of human and animal kind and makes a decision for us all. One day, I was at home (at my own home I had purchased) and I was thinking to myself about God. In my head I heard, “Don’t call me God.” I thought to myself, what should I call you. That’s when I started using the Creator.
Today, I don’t even use the Creator. I've evolved to using the Higher Power, Divine Light, Spirit, and other terms. I believe there is a Universal Power that connects us all. We all have this Power or energy inside of us that interconnects us to it and each other. I feel there isn’t a one man, being or entity that guides us all. My belief there is a team of Higher Beings that help us all.