A friendly hello and a little about my experiences
I was encouraged by another poster on this site to reveal a little about myself including my past experiences with religion:
I was born in Canada, shortly thereafter baptised, and consequently became a christian child. I attended an Anglican church and worshipped infrequently with my family. More frequent was my attendance to sunday school which I enjoyed because we coloured books, ate cookies and drank apple juice. Fortunately, my parents allowed me to skip the preachings in the morning and just go to sunday school. They understood much wasn't being accomplished in sermons with me because I would not sing, would not read from the texts, left for the washroom often, asked when it would be over every five minutes, and demanded peppermints from my mother to supplement by hunger. As a consequence actually attending Church became an occasional thing but Sunday School did not. Churches are like Tim Hortons here, there's one on every block. sunday school was a hop-skip-and-jump away where I received candy on special holidays and got to play with my friends too, so my attendance was fairly regular. Coincidence would have it that my Sunday School teacher became my grade four math teacher.
I never learned much about religion or the bible there or anywhere. I understood Jesus died for our sins and that it was our purpose as human beings to love and be respectful to each other. We often manufactured baskets of goods to send to children in Africa. I figured this was acceptable. After all, I wasn't knowledgeable enough to realize other religions existed yet, that perhaps a god did not exist, and I wanted to help people who I thought were suffering. Sunday school in our Anglican church was not about teaching us about the bible so much as it was ensuring we were enjoying ourselves and helping to make baskets for starving and illiterate children in Africa.
When I turned eleven or twelve years old I was told I would have to start attending sessions during sunday school with the other boys my age. The sessions were group sessions with the Reverend where we would begin to learn about Christianity and ask questions. When numerous sessions were completed we would be confirmed. The idea of confirmation was to confirm myself as a Christian in the eyes of god. I found this confusing, did god not already understand I believed in him? I asked the Reverend why I had to confirm myself to god and if I had to why did I have to do it infront of him or with other people around? I always shyed away from praying; I never liked it and found it embarrassing. If I was going to confirm myself to god I wanted to do it on my own in private. His reply was unsatisfactory to say the least... something to the extent of because every Christian does it. Following that day I never walked into a church again until I was old enough to vote in a municipal election. My extended family often questioned in private conversations with me whether or not I finished confirmation, if I actually attended church at all, and what I thought the consequences of not being confirmed were. Fortunately, my immediate family was more accepting and did not question my motives. I felt left out because my friends all received gifts on their day of confirmation and of course I received nothing having decided not to attend Church any further. Over the next couple of years I developed the idea on my own that a god did not exist, that any god could not exist, and that I was right to leave the church at my vulnerable age.
Against such abominations, we organize our defenses on the principle that one strong and able mind can shield the many.