This is me in the Hague in 1984. I was enjoying a trip through Europe after graduating high school. I was a typical teenage party animal at the time. I drank heavily, I smoked cigarettes heavily, and I smoked pot every chance I got. I remember getting so stoned in Amsterdam one time I almost passed out. I was barely conscious as I went from the bar where I was partying to a bookstore down the street to browse. Those were fun times, and I had an absolute blast in Europe. The tragic thing is, though, just nine or ten months after this photo was taken — in March of 1985 — I caught the religion mind virus bad, and it took me 15 years to get free. I went from being a typical teenage party animal to being a young religious fanatic in record time. The transformation didn’t take long, and in retrospect it was not a good change. Sure, I temporarily dropped the alcohol and drug use, but in exchange I bought into the religious bullshit hook, line, and sinker. I know my friend Mike meant well when he “witnessed” to me about Jesus, but I have to say now that getting so heavily involved in religion for such a long time is one of the worst things that ever happened to me. I lost 15 years of my life that could have been spent much more productively. I missed out on the opportunity to grow out of my “party animal” days normally, without religion. I lost some of the best years of my young life to religion, and in retrospect it’s hard to fathom the change I went through from having so much fun in Europe to being a religious fanatic in such a short amount of time. I was not just your average religious fanatic either. I annoyed everyone I came into contact with about Jesus. I wrote evangelistic letters to my family. I handed out those ridiculous Chick tracts to convenience store clerks and toll booth operators. I told my loving mother repeatedly that she was going to hell if she didn’t get saved. We fought over religion many times, and I couldn’t be reasoned with. I had religion really, really bad. I hate to admit it now, but I sent money to the 700 Club and TBN back in those days. What a fool I was… I once pledged $1000 to the 700 Club during one of their telethons back in the late 1980s, but they never got the money. I didn’t have it to give. I just wanted to hear my name called out on TV… lol…
It took 15 years, but now I am FREE and I have been that way since early 2000, with the exception of a few short-lived bipolar-induced “re-conversion” experiences. The last one of those happened last year and I was rapidly becoming a fanatic fundie again. It was a scary time, but I came back to my senses as I always do, and I am still FREE. I plan on staying that way for the rest of my life. I had some good times while I was religious. It wasn’t all bad. I made some good friends and had some fun times at church. But overall, religion had a profoundly negative effect on my life. It made my suffering from the effects of bipolar disorder much worse than it had to be. I was prayed for many times back before I was diagnosed and I hit the floor many times for Jesus, but I was never healed, of course.
I know now that the Bible is mostly ancient religious mythology with some known bad “history” and some atrocities thrown in for good measure. It hardly qualifies as the “word” of any god worth worshiping. But I bought into it for a long time. If I had read the Old Testament much back in those days, I might have broken free a lot sooner. But, of course, I back then I stuck with the “church-approved” “good” parts of the Old Testament. I never knew about the atrocities depicted within its pages until after I broke free. If I had known back then that the god I was worshiping was guilty of ordering or directly committing mass murder and genocide on multiple occasions, I would have broken free a lot sooner, I think. If it had dawned on me when I read Acts 5 that killing people simply for lying was a harsh and totally inappropriate punishment, I might have broken free a lot sooner. If I had considered that if the book of Revelation were to come true today, BILLIONS of non-Christian people would die horrible deaths, I might have broken free sooner. But… I was always reading the Bible back then with religious blinders on. I had my Jesus Goggles firmly in place. On the rare occasion that I read the Bible now, I see how ridiculous blind belief in it as a literally true divinely-inspired book really is. I can’t believe now that I ever believed it to be a book sent straight from the throne of God. I know now that several books in the New Testament (Ephesians, Collosians, 2 Thessalonians, Titus, the letters to Timothy) are known forgeries. And we have no idea who wrote the Gospels (it wasn’t Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John).
I bought into a pack of ancient myths and lies for 15 years of my life, and it’s 15 years that I will never get back. I deeply regret my religious years (I was young and foolish) and I wish that things could have been different. I would love to have lived a normal life free of religion. But that wasn’t to be… but I am FREE now, and I plan on staying that way for the rest of my life. Glory!