Early in the 1980s, while we lived in Florida, Mom got a religious streak or maybe she just felt bad that we hadn’t had any real religious upbringing. Of course, its also possible that the Sunday School classes seemed too much like free babysitting for her to pass up.
It was actually nice, The Baptist Church’s Sunday School actually taught some stuff that was entertaining to my then early teenaged mind. After classes we would then get escorted into the church with the rest of the people. The minister would talk, the people would “Amen”, stand, sit, kneel and pray making me feel out of place and without a script.
One particular day, perhaps even during the holidays, a man dressed in a red devil costume (complete with pointy tail)ran down the center of the aisle with a “ghetto blaster” on his shoulder that was blasting something popular at the time. The message was pretty clear, “rock and roll is satan’s music”. We laughed almost all the way home, it was so silly.
Things in Sunday School that actually frightened me, were the questions they asked every week: “Who would like to be saved today? Who would like to give their heart over to our savior Jesus Christ?” A child or two would raise their hand and be escorted out the back door, reentering moments later in tears if not wailing out loud. I didn’t know what this “being saved” thing was, but I certainly wasn’t interested in crying or being hurt.
But the day I stopped believing in God stand clearly in my mind. The teacher was explaining about how our should go to heaven. A young boy asked a question that had been on my mind for quite a while: “Do dogs and cats go to heaven?” The instructor said, “no, animals don’t have a soul. They are just mindless beasts.”
That statement crushed my hope in a lord greater than myself. I thought Frannie, my dog at home, and how they thought she didn’t have a soul. But, I had seen her life, her love and her soul in her eyes and knew there was more there than some mindless animal. That’s how I knew they were wrong, and if they were wrong about this one thing they were wrong about a lot of things.
So there isn’t a god after all, or if there is I want nothing to do with him…