I grew up in a Christian environment, not in a severe and hateful such, but loving and tolerant one. I read the Bible as a fairytale book when I was about 10, and with "fairytale book" I don't mean "invented entertainment that is not true", but educational entertainment, useful life lessons for children, covered with enough magic to make the medicine go down, quick and easy. I was very interested of the stories and the people and what they had to say. I read Christian children's magazines, and loved them, I read Christian picture books and loved them. One of my favorites is actually a book written about a boy and his cat as an introduction to the 10 commandments :-D
My mother has a very warm and close relation to God. I think I inherited that attitude. God is a power beyond us, mightier than anything else, God is who created us, made us into what and who we are now, gave us everything, EVERYTHING, we have, and loves us, because God made us...
I grew up in a world where the religion was synonymous to Christianity. I was about 10 when I first met Jehova's Witnesses, but to me that was just another form of Christianity. We had been studying about the Revivalism in school, and I learned from that that everyone has their own form of religion. (that is, Christianity.)
Later we were to learn about other religions than Christianity, and to me they all were Pagans. Jews and Muslims maybe less so, but still... very archaic, aggressive, cruel, violent, hateful and primitive forms of religions, something that hasn't changed, ever, and not evolved, like Christianity. I was slightly interested in Pantheism and Animism, but... our teacher was Christian - as every religion teacher I've ever had - and so the teaching was infused with her attitudes, and that was "there is no religion but Christianity, and all the others are crude, primitive, superstitious crap". We were never taught WHAT Pantheism and Animism, or anything else, really was. These were never any feasible options to the One and Only True Religion.
My aunt had been "born again", and my grandmother - her mother - died. At the funeral, she had asked her Christian friends to help, and these people... My aunt also provided me with some of the publications she was reading, and... that was my first encounter with the Christian vitriol towards ANYTHING not Christian "enough".
My sisters had moved to Sweden and were introduced to New Age, and they forwarded that to me too, and even though it didn't fully resonate within me, this was closer to what I really felt was the truth than Christianity, and it was also the first encounter I had about an alternative to Christianity as a viable religion. As I am not an Atheist, but a Monotheist, with an exceptionally strong faith in God, I welcomed these ideas.
At this point of time, the Christian vitriol was poured over New Age, and thus over me, my sisters and all the nice people I've met in these circles.
The main point of change happened one day, when we were supposed to read the Bible in school, and I was met with the words "The man has now become like one of us"... It's not a "majestic plural". One of us - us... who? My teacher couldn't explain this, so she made me repeat "and so did God love the world blah blah blah". That was the end of it.
I have never been comfortable with the idea of Jesus being Son of God and God, having died for our sins, that he would judge us after death, and not according to how we have lived, not even according to what we believe, but arbitrarily, by mercy alone.... not deeds, not faith, but mercy alone... so there never was anything I could do to see that I wouldn't burn in hell the rest of eternity. One couldn't even trust in God's love, because God DID NOT love everyone. Only some chosen few. Everyday I was bombarded with the idea that some people DESERVED the fire of hell and so on. Then there were all these rules... The Old Testament had been, in all its cruelty, HUMAN, the New Testament was boring, pretentious, weird... with one word, fake. It was also very exclusive. They lived in a world where there was only a handful of women, and they were all called Mary, except for Martha. I know this is a very childish description of Christianity and its main tenets, but I have Asperger's Syndrome and I am very childlike in many ways. I also have to say, that if a religion, philosophy, ideology, doctrine, doesn't manage to convince a CHILD, what possibilities it has with adults?
So, at the age of 17, realized that I do not believe in Jesus, and there is nothing in Christianity for me, so I must be an Atheist.
Later my sisters gave me "Witch's Handbook", which was my first encounter to the idea of that there are people in this world who believe to be witches, and they call it a RELIGION. (Wicca) The ideas took some time to grow, and in 1999 I declared I was Wiccan, after having investigated it in the Internet. I was a Pagan, one of these people believing the "crude, primitive, superstitious crap", and that that crap was exactly what my spiritual soil needed to flourish and bear fruit. :->
At THAT time, I entered the USonian Christian vitriol shower, now as a witch and a Pagan.
Now, one needs to remember that I have actually READ THE BIBLE, and several times... Most USonians defining themselves as Christians HAVE NOT. I was being attacked by people repeating what they had been told and taught by self-appointed leaders and teachers, and I KNEW it was WRONG. When I proved it to these people, they started screaming about me being from Satan, and Satan putting words in my mouth, and that *I* was twisting God's Word, and what not.
They were also saying that my God - my good and kind and gentle and loving God, who had stood by me through everything, who had encouraged me, supported me, comforted me, walked before me into every fight, and carried me, when I was weak - they said my God was wicked, fake, evil whore. That I knew not faith, love, or any other positive feeling, that everything I was and believed was dirty, ugly, fake and wrong... My conviction was hollow only because they didn't share it, my faith was weak, because they didn't believe the same things, my God was a fantasy figure, because they used different words when they spoke about theirs...
The worst thing is that EVERY TIME it has been shown that it is they who don't have any faith in God, because if they did, they wouldn't be so defensive and aggressive and possessive. "The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord", says the Bible - THEIR Bible, and yet when ever Lord taketh away, these people cry, scream, fear and hate, swear revenge and start lynching mobs.
Just look at the USonian Republican Christian reaction on 9/11. "Let's go bomb Iraq, Afghanistan and everyone who looks in any way suspect." What happened to "turn the other cheek"? If someone wants your WTC, you give them the whole Manhattan? It's better for a man to loose his hand than his soul?
Not only are these people weak in faith, they are also disloyal. They don't do what their God told them to do.They do what their "authorities" tell them to do, hate by command of their leaders, fear what their leaders tell them to fear, start wars of any kind of reasons, against anything, have no tolerance, patience or kindness towards anything or anyone in any way different. They keep sowing disagreement and segregation around themselves, whine about people wishing "happy holidays" in stead of what ever it is THEY choose to call the holiday, about people not being "real" Christians, patriots, this or that, have temper tantrums and argue about everything. What ever happened to "love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance"? These people claim that these are the "fruits of Holy Spirit"; if you have it, you cannot but show these qualities, and if you show these qualities, you cannot but have the Holy Spirit. I'm sorry, but "decisiveness" is not a "fruit of Holy Spirit".
Nevertheless, even in spite of the vitriol shower I have been subjected to by these "loving and kind" Christians, FOR OVER 20 YEARS, I would like to point out - I only burst out in "vitriolic attacks", when I meet the most glaring examples of the ignorance, arrogance, egoism, aggressiveness and offensiveness of Christianity. You can call it an allergic reaction. :-> I would also like to add: when now these people think so highly of themselves and so lowly of everyone else, why the heck should I even TRY to be civil? They don't have any right to even expect a civil treatment from their victims, on the contrary. All they have to expect is to be bitten, whipped, bashed, spanked, DISCIPLINED, AND
THEY SHOULD ALSO TAKE IT AS A RIGHTFUL PUNISHMENT,
BECAUSE THEY HAVE NOT BEEN OBEDIENT
TO T H E I R G O D.I don't need to. Not my God. I'm obedient to mine.
About stealing other people's traditions, habits, Gods and what not.
Yes, we all do that.
But who has stolen another people's God and now claim to have more right to this God than His original people? As far as I know, only Christians (and Muslims...).
The God of Jews is the God of Jews, because when it was time to choose Gods, only Jews chose him. Not Arabs, and none of the European peoples, and no-one in Africa, Australia or China. Only Jews. So He chose them, because they chose Him. If you want to belong to Him and worship Him, CONVERT TO JUDAISM! If you think the Jews have misunderstood their own religion, CONVERT TO JUDAISM AND LIVE LIKE YOU THINK JEWS SHOULD LIVE.
But, no, these people didn't want to be Jews, so they just took everything Jewish and started calling it something else, and on top of it, now they believe it's theirs, and ONLY theirs!
I mean... Neo-Pagans "steal" Deities right and left. We have practically adopted ANY God, ever, in every religions. Some even count God and Jesus as "Pagan Gods"! (Some people really have no clue of what "Pagan" means.... *sigh*) But I have never heard a Neo-Pagan say to a Hindu, that the Pagan has more rights to Sarasvati, and that Sarasvati loves the Neo-Pagan more than She loves the Hindu, because She is a Neo-Pagan God and not a Hindu God. I have heard MANY Christians say bollocks like this to Jews.
Not only have the Christians stolen (yes, stolen - you steal something when you take something that doesn't rightfully and legally belong to you but someone else, without permission, without giving something in exchange, and claim it belongs to you, and you alone) the Jewish God, they also stole the Jewish God's promises to His people, the Jews, but they didn't take the obligations of the Jewish people... they just took what they wanted, and mixed it with other religious ideas, traditions and rulings, and created something they thought was "better". It's not that they created a new religion and called it that, no, they created a new religion and called it "the improved version"! Talk about invading your father's house and then kicking you out and saying that they are the rightful heir, AND YOUR FATHER ISN'T EVEN DEAD YET!!!
All the religions are practically taking, adapting, adopting and adjusting other people's beliefs and traditions into something one can live with, but the rudeness and arrogance of Christians! I know I'm not impartial in this discussion, I'm married to a Jewish man and thus know more of Judaism than people normally do, but I have seen what the Christians do all the time to Jews and Judaism, and it is disgusting.
And see what they did with Yule. It's not "Jesus' birthday". It's the birthday of Sun. Nevertheless, today we have a "war on Christmas"... These people who claim to express peace with their existence, to be unable to express anything opposite of peace, are ready to FIGHT OVER CHRISTMAS!!! IT WASN'T YOURS TO BEGIN WITH!
I don't mind people adopting others traditions and making them one's own, or giving them a new meaning, not at all. I do that all the time. We all do. But *I* don't adopt these traditions, fix them to suit my purposes and THEN say it's mine, mine, all mine, and always was and always will be, like the Christians do.
It might be unfair of me to speak of Christians as if they were a huge, monolithic group where all are the same, but I am sure we all know what I mean. If you define yourself as Christian, but don't recognize yourself from my description, then I'm obviously not talking about you. Unless, you cannot think of any Christian who behaves the way I have described, because then I AM indeed talking about you, but you are just too stupid to realize what you and your fellows are doing.