I was born and raised in a part of the world where Christianity is the dominant religion and it has influenced my life since my first encounter with it,
From my early adolescent years I challenged many of the things my family members, church pastors and elders tried to, what I will now openly say “brainwash me”.
My childhood confusion with Christianity began with my Grandmother Esmie who said that every bad thing that I did was because “the devil made me do it” she would insist that I get a “proper beating” for things that the “devil made me do” , I was really afraid of this “devil entity” because he, she or it sounded like someone or something with the sole purpose of making people, especially children do bad things.
My mind could not rationalize why I had to endure beatings for things that “the devil made me do”
It was also a little scary to think that all the surgeries that I performed on lizards and bats was not of my own free will but because there was a “devil” somewhere making me do these things.
I had this image in my mind of God with a long white beard sitting somewhere in the clouds, dressed in a white robe, in front of him he had this huge book with everybody’s names and a list of all their sins.
God sometimes put on his horned rimmed glasses and looked at the names in his book and decide on the punishment he would unleash upon whoever he decided to pass judgment on.
God also had a thunder stick that looked like an old world carpenter’s wood shaver which probably are not used today.
When God was angry he would pick up his thunder stick and do what my grandmother described as “Massa Gaad a roll im tunda” she would shout “mercy lord, mercy lord”
A really scary time was the Lenten season, my grandmother said that “the devil was loose and roaming all over the place”.
Even to be playing outside in the yard close to the house was very tense because the devil could be somewhere out there.
My childhood dilemma can be summed up this way; I was caught between the devil who was making me do all these bad things and God getting ready to punish me for my sins which the devil most likely made me commit, adding the beatings by my grandmother to the mix, life was pretty challenging to say the least.
I started loosing my fear of the devil my grandmother created for me when one day I caught a bat and decided that it needed some urgent surgical procedures, while I was opening the bat’s stomach with a razor blade, I suddenly thought “I was doing this of my own free will” not because the devil was making me do it.
With one devil out of the way, another one surfaced, the hellfire and damnation sermons preached by the elders and the pastor of our Seventh Day Adventist church, often focused on a devil much more dangerous and terrible than the one my grandmother spoke about.
This devil lived in a place of constant burning fire, where souls barred from entering into heaven, were sent to be eternally tormented.
I can still vividly hear Elder Clarke in his booming loud and commanding voice rebuking the devil and admonishing the congregation to “fight the devil” to save ourselves form “burning in hell”he would also pronounced judgments on certain types people and religious groups that were condemned to “go to hell”
Fortunately for me I was not deprived of the privilege of growing up and I have curious mind, I was always reading, researching, questioning and challenging systems and institutions which had a propensity to be imperiously didactic.
Two things still vivid in my mind was the time when a church elder vehemently castigated me and my cousin for playing cards on the steps of the church, this was a man who was doing things that would make two kids playing cards of the steps of the church look like a saintly action.
Then there was the time I was hitch hiking to church when an Anglican Minister who thought that I was an Anglican, gave me a ride, when I told him that I was a Seventh Day Adventist, he stopped his car and said “get out of my car and go to your church”, so much for unity in the name of god.
In those days I did not know any Catholics, my community was all protestant, as a child I was told that Catholics were “bad people and they worshiped demons”
My first discussion with a Catholic was in the 1970s when I lived in Mandeville Jamaica, I met a young man who was studying to become a priest, we had some really enlightening discussions which destroyed the demon worshiping myth fed to me by the protestants in my early years. I actually felt comfortable enough to allow my daughter to attend a Catholic School.
Christianity as a subject fascinated me but because of the hypocritical nature of the religious hierarchy, and their obsession with sending people and whole nations who believed differently, to hell.
I could not support a premise that anyone who was not a “Christian” was doomed to hell and should not even be associated with unless they repent and become a Christian.
Church members would be “excommunicated” if they marry someone who was of a different religion or not a member of their church,
I studied with the Jehovah’s Witnesses for a while, in the beginning of the association I actually liked them and was impressed by their diligence to study and verify the meaning of Scriptures but when I found out that I could not get on the list of 144,000 people carded to go to heaven, I became disinterested, I also could not accept the notion of a pre-selected number of people who were assigned to go to heaven.
For a while I dated a Mormon woman but further investigation into that religion led me to aspects of racism.
It is estimated that there are 30 – 33, 000 different protestant denominations, some say that this is an exaggeration so let us be conservative and suggest that there are over 20,000, these 20,000 groups all have some variation to what they believe and teach, most have an inveterate propensity to believe that they are the “true ones”
They have issues with what is the true name of god, which doctrine to preach, what is the status of Jesus Christ, which is the true day of the sabbath, who will go to heaven and who will go to hell.
Which prophet, denomination or religion is false, which church belongs to the devil.
Each little segregated group believe that they are the true servants of god and everyone else is wrong.
When you bring the Catholic Church into this mix, with its checkered history and present day involvement in controversies, it gets very interesting.
Looking at the evolution of Christianity over 2000 years, from Jesus Christ to the Apostles, its suppression and oppression by the Romans and its acceptance by the Pagan Roman Emperor Constantine and his manipulation of the structure of the church and the bible during the council of Nicaea, his incorporation of pagan ideologies and celebrations into Christianity.
The indisputable and irrefutable evidence of the indefatigable persecution, torture and execution by the “Early Church” of millions of persons who were deemed to be heretics. The atrocities committed by the Crusaders against Jews and Muslims in the name of God.
The tortures and atrocities that took place during the Spanish Inquisition and during the reformation, or to be more precise the era of the beginning of the fragmentation of the early church.
The genocide of the many American Indian Tribes committed by the miscreants miscalled Christians, who invaded North America.
The role that Christianity played in the defense and perpetuation of slavery, the brainwashing, de-culturalization and dispossession of the Amerindian people of the Americas.
It leaves an inquiring mind with a plethora of questions and uncertainties,