One thing I dodged by not going to church was being felt up by my youth pastor. Two of my girlfriends were initiated into heavy petting by men who stood in positions of trust in their churches. I was shocked when they told me and appalled at the hypocrisy. I was an expert at judging others in those days. This was back in the late sixties. Recent revelations of church hanky-panky just show that churches haven’t changed over the past fifty years.
Searching for my niche market of young unchurched families who might want to buy my children’s books, I came across a Facebook group called “Raising Children Unfundamentalist.” This discovery is really the reason for this whole blog thread. Most of the young mothers and fathers in the Facebook group were raised in strict churches and were deeply wounded by it. They were brainwashed to hate other people, to judge that others are going to hell, to feel superior for being “saved” when others are damned, and to espouse narrow ideas about gender roles. They are afraid to take their kids to visit the grandparents for fear the grandparents will pull the same stuff on the kids. Most of them are still believers in God, but not the God of their fathers. They struggle to find a church that thinks the way they do. They feel the loss of church community, substituting the Facebook group.
I feel for these young parents, and I find myself wishing they could have been raised as atheists, like me. Then they would not have to unlearn the toxic doctrines they were fed in their self-righteous churches. They would be clean slates, ready to receive God’s communications directly. The only flak they would get from their atheist parents would be a condescending shake of the head, not a fiery condemnation to hell. I have heard it preached that it is much easier to convert an atheist than to convert a self-righteous Christian. I believe it, from my personal experience. And that is the bright side of atheism, in my opinion. God can work with what you give him, and he doesn’t have to erase a blank slate first before writing his message of Love.