When I was about 4 years old my father (conservative jew, but not very observant even for that watered down branch of judaism) taught me that God was everywhere and watched over children and other weaklings (my word). That would be the god that let, when I was an infant, the next door neighbor nearly suffocate me while using me for sexual purposes, perhaps god was trying to help me avoid the sin of homosexuality by making me feel frantic whenever a penis is shoved near my face. What really made that event stick in my amygdala was that my father’s approach to comforting me immediately on rescue was to hold me close and start kissing on me in a fashion I took to be a preamble to one of his frequent molestations of me, kind of an out of the fire and back into the frying pan event (thank you Balcones Fault for related lyrics). Not much of a choice: suffocate or be molested. Perhaps that is why I am so averse to islam, ye olde “submit to power or die” dialectic.
Switching back from 4 months old to 4 years old my brother would punch my upper arm as a way of saying hi when he came home from school, he would often make me request being hit as a requirement to get him to stop. I asked god to make him stop, in return for my worship which was of the form of saying ‘I thank you for every breath’ with nearly every breath for hours on end (or at least what a 4 year old thinks an hour is ;). I eventually reduced my request to just one day off for rest (hmm, maybe I did get weekends off, I don’t remember getting abused on weekends much if at all), and then for just an afternoon off from lunchtime until dinner. No response, no relief. I stopped praying, no reciprocity so why bother?
A year or so later at Vandenberg AFB’s non-denominational sunday school a teacher (young female, well fleshed at least in the face) fed me the omniscient,omnipresent, all powerful line which I responded to by thinking:
If god knows all then he knows when I am about to do something (that I don’t yet know is) wrong and he could have stopped me. Instead I do the ‘wrong’ thing and get punished, quite often physically. God could undo my mistakes and explain them to me so I find god is severably liable for my mistakes, or cruel, or simply unbelievable.
So by the time I started hebrew school when 7 or 8 or so I was already quite a doubting person. Around the age of 10 (sometime around one of the Arab-Israeli wars so probably 1967) the leaders of the temple decided to show us films made by the Nazi’s in the concentration camps. The one that sticks in my mind (and which constitutes child abuse by today’s standards) is one where stacks of naked bodies are being bulldozed into graves. Instead of being inspired to rally round the gene pool I was angry at the temple and only secondarily and more weakly angry at the Nazi types that would punish me for being genetically related to these horrible people. Plans for rhinoplasty and creating false ID papers came to mind.
A scant 2 years later I am preparing for my Bar Mitzvah. The positive inducement was the gifts expected, but fear of performing in public eventually persuaded me to give up on that and tell my father that I was an atheist and I didn’t want to be lying in front of all those people. His response was a red faced proclamation that “there are no atheists in foxholes” and that I would be severely punished if I didn’t go through with the ceremony, and something about how my grandparents would be hurt in some fashion if I skipped out. After the ceremony he tried to take the money gifts from me, unsuccessfully (I am least that much of a jew).
Within at most another year my mother was given the “you have 6 months to live” speech by her doctors and I did a quick review of my religious faith and decided that I would rather not believe and not pray for her rather than for even a moment worship a cruel god, and that in fact if I were given clear proof of the existence of the jewish god I would have to publicly criticize him in any form or forum that I could. I took the coward’s way out and decided that he didn’t exist.
When I was 18 to 19 I joined a psychotherapy cult (yes, cult) and was treated to a review from the present into the past of all the major (and quite a few minor) traumas of my life. Amidst all of the pain I tried to reach out to god, a presumed creator behind the biblical myths but not necessarily as described therein, for just a bit of moral support or encouragement as I tried to purge my present self of fears due to past abuses, some reason to tolerate the pain and all I got was a faint hint of laughter in the distance. Either god is amused by human pain, OR residual memories of a few particular abuses were still ringing in my head, or perhaps a T.V. was playing barely out of ear shot. Either way the god of abraham could not spare me a single word of encouragement, leaving me to find my own way out of hell.
At the age of 29, after nearly 9 years of abuse of myself and my children by my not-quite-wife I was coerced by the nature of Texas family law to file for divorce. In the hearing my wife who had violated all 10 commandments (yeah, I know there are more than one version of them but they don’t vary enough to make the preceding statement ambiguous) claimed that I kept her from going to church and got me to state the truth that I was an atheist. Other negatives brought up about me: I am smart (but she had more degrees than me), about her: admitted purgeries and demonstrated purgery within that hearing, and yet she got custody of the kids and significant spousal support. Her lawyer said to the judge (actually just a master) “see you in church next sunday”.
Organized religion is the tool of tyranny.