Living a fulfilled life without God
On Father’s Day in 1995 the Brownsville Assembly of God church in Pensacola, Florida broke out in a revival that they termed the Father’s Day Outpouring. This was a revival that lasted many years in which people like me would travel from all over the world to come and hear what worthless pieces of shit we were. I lived in Beaumont, Texas when I started making the trek around 1997. I would travel to Pensacola, Florida and wait up to fifteen hours in line at the church to go in and hear how dirty I was and how I needed to repent if I didn’t want to burn in hell. I should add that I was a really devout religious adherent at the time who didn’t watch television, say bad language, drink, smoke, etc. However, I, along with the thousands in attendance, was still a piece of shit according to the great revivalist, Steve Hill.
Somehow I bought this message. On some days it made me try to be their version of a better person since they told me that I was such a selfish human being who was being controlled by the desires of my flesh. That feels so weird to write now. What a strange life I lived! The “better person” that was sold to us at these revivals was a person that can’t exist since we were all so terrible. We were taught to strive for something that was absolutely unattainable outside of the few anointed imbeciles who stood up front yelling at us in their expensive suits. They literally had us groveling at their feet and soaking the carpet with our tears. How I ever believed this horrible message is beyond my understanding. The real piece of shit was the one yelling at us in the microphone. Here is some of the groveling I am referring to:
Today is Father’s Day 2014. I’m hanging out in the house with my three sons and reflecting on how happy I am that I have left that life behind me several years ago. Through the brainwashing that went on in the particular religious groups I was involved in, it has taken me years to comfortably acknowledge to myself that I am a decent person. The American Humanist Association has a “Good Without God” campaign. To this day I feel weird posting pictures of this because I am programmed to think that acknowledging any goodness in myself is conceited. I’m programmed to think that I am a terrible person and still occasionally have to shun thoughts of this nature.
I’m happy to say that my kids will never have to hear such garbage from me. I’ve occasionally had conversations with others since becoming an atheist about my mental well-being. There is this strange concept from the religious that when people leave their religion that they have nothing to live for and will sink into a depression. To me, it was far more depressing to walk around knowing that I could never measure up to god’s requirements and to wonder what I did wrong anytime something bad happened to me. They can call their revival of mental illness a “Father’s Day Outpouring” if they want, but it has a nothing to do with what a Father’s love is supposed to be.
My real Father (not the imaginary one) was and is a great Father. Although my father is religious, he wasn’t the one who introduced me to the hateful god of the Brownsville Revival. In fact, my parents hated that I was getting sucked into that. My Dad loved us, provided for us, and was always willing to help others. When we were young, he always looked for ways to stay connected to us as we grew older. He would give up his hobbies to start doing things his children liked instead. He still loves us all. Even now, he doesn’t like that I’m an atheist, but he doesn’t let it be an issue that causes strife between us. I’ll never understand why I fell for the hateful, imaginary Father of the Brownsville Revival when I already had a great example of a Father.
So on this Father’s Day I reflect on what I can do to always show my kids what it means to be a loving Father. I want to be a Father that teaches them to love and value themselves. I want them to know that the best thing they can offer to the world is to always be comfortable being themselves. I hope they never fall for the lies that I fell for that taught me that I was never good enough. I hope my boys are able to reflect back on their lives when they are older and be able to talk about an outpouring of love from their Father rather than the outpouring of mental illness I experienced from the Father introduced to be through the Assembly of God church in Pensacola, Florida.