So Bunny brought up a question and it is one I've heard before. Did someone in my past shove religion down my throat so hard that it scarred me and thus sent me on this crusade to rant against it so much. Ok, maybe not that starkly but you get the idea.
The answer in a nutshell is I can't point to one or two events that soured me. My views evolved over time and they continue to evolve. Who knows if I will be on the same lines I am now in 10 years, I doubt it. That is part of the fun, though.
Anyway, time to explore. I'm just more or less going to write down what I think influenced me and see what pops out.
My parents took my brother and I to First Christain Church in Hagerstown somewhat regularly. We would also go to Bible School over the summer's for a few years and did the one hour class after the main ceramony each Sunday as well. There would be times I would skip going or feign sickness, but I did that with school as well. I certainly wasn't against religion or anything at that age, it was all that I knew and I just assumed everyone went through it. I was just soooooooo bored in the ceramonies.
Time passed and we started going less and less and then just on special occasions, which was fine with me. I discovered some of my friends didn't go regularly and I remember a particular episode of a that TV show with the rich family taking in the two black kids regarding switching of to Judaism that started my first thoughts that not everyone was Christian. Looking back that was a bit of a shock to me.
Believe it or not, and I am somewhat ashamed to admit this now, I was a Rush fan for a bit and read two of his books. Some of what he said made sense to me and fit with some of the lessons I learned through church. Leslie can vouch that I refused to have sex for quite a while, for example. And I had other much more socially conservative values through High School. However, I was anything but a practicing Christian although I was very confused for a while. I recall an someone coming to the High School and passing out flyers that there would be a conference in the auditorium after school to talk about self-confidence and such. It turned out to an evangelical Christain talking about God and offering everyone to come down and be saved. At the time I actually went through it and became 'saved'. Now I look at that very differently.
Never during this time was I political in any real way, certainly not progressive like I am now. I hated Clinton during the 1992 election and was not happy when he was elected. I liked Reagan and Bush, etc. However, as I look back at all this now I can honestly say these views came from listening to other people and not really looking at what was going on nor by challenging my views. They were just adopted from others I assumed knew more and had my best interests at heart.
So when did it change? I have written about when my politics changed and I guess to a degree my views on religion started to then as well. My politics changed, and this happened pretty starkly, when I was in California working for Postal Innovations for 5 weeks. All I had was the job, so no social life. I remember every morning it would be all OJ all the time, and I remember being absolutely disgusted with it. That is what clued me in to how silly the mainstream media became and I started to not trust it as more. Then the Whitewater/Lewinsky witch hunt started and that is what pushed me left in a big way very fast. You want to talk about a fishing expedition that is example A of one.
That is when the I started to realize that the religious right had really gotten into power and was faith as a basis for law and not logic. That is probably the point I started to really examine motives and such. However, I was still not really pissed about stuff yet.
In steps the 2000 election and all the crap that has happened in the past 7 years. The Terri Shavio case puts what I rant against into perspective better than anything I could ever say. That entire episode shows just how powerfull faith has become in a place where faith is more of an obstacle than not. You can't argue with people about faith by its very nature. You have the Brownbeck's and Santorum's of the world pushing faith as the basis of law and that is clearly outlawed in the constitution.
In addition, you have a pretty underhanded way some people go about preying on people. That guy in High School is a prime example of it and it does bother me a lot. There was nothing about religion in the flyer and that type of person preys on people at age when they are confused and are looking for something with more meaning. The 'Jesus Camp' people are even scarier because they are preying on kids that don't even know what the heck is going on.
I guess what really bothers me, and what really fuels me, is that I was in a position that these people were in and looking back more people did try to prey on my insecurities and almost were successfull. I just happen to be lazy enough not to follow up on stuff that I let it slide and never went anywhere with it. As I said before, religion is deeply personal and I believe should be discovered by yourself. When it is 'passed down' or, worse, indoctrinated based on your insecurities or confusion or doubts it crosses a line and becomes dangerous. And this is true for any religion, hell for anything really.
Oh, one other point. Back when I really started becoming poltical I talked with a guy who was solidly in the religious right corner, nice guy though. Anyway, this was at a time when Bush was nominiating Ashcroft as the AG. I let this guy actually convince me that because Ashcroft was so devotely religious he could be trusted and would be a good choice. God what a dumbass I was. That was more or less the final nail in the coffin for me and believing that just because you were devotely religious you would be trustworthy in office.
In summary, I guess it is the preying on the weak that I get the most upset about because I was one of the weak for quite some time and I was preyed upon. That's why I keep saying that when people have well-thought out views and know why they believe what they believe, I have no problem with that. But when a person just spouts what they heard the last gasbag on TV say or whatever, I get kinda bent out of shape. I feel like they are being taken advantage of and so I challenge the heck out them.
Hurray for self discovery. Thanks for the question, Jesse.