I have been all over the board when it comes to attending different denominations within the Judeo-Christian church. In high school I quasi-attended a local church that I’m pretty sure leaned on the charismatic side of evangelical, (though I don’t know that with certainty). And though it was not entirely uncommon for people leading prayers to start ‘speaking in tongues’, it wasn’t enough to scare me away from the church entirely – mostly because though I was a little skeptical of the idea that it was something everyone could do on command, it hadn’t been forced upon me personally, so I respected the fact that I simply couldn’t know if it was real or not for those who did it. Whatever.

So one evening, I went with our youth group to a larger church in the area to attend a youth conference. I’ve been to my fair share of youth conferences, and I get the pump-up idea of worship bands and clapping and testimonies from those who had been into DRUGS and OTHER DANGEROUS THINGS and that’s fine, I get it. But at this particular conference after the inspiring testimony, they told us to stand up and move our chairs and line up against the wall.

And then as one person stood on stage yelling (forgive me) gibberish into the microphone, other people started going down the line of kids, one by one.  These people would put their hands on your forehead, and with eyes closed, pray to impart the holy spirit into you, with the obvious goal being you started speaking in tongues to prove that God is real and He was there.

That was the very first time I was forced to admit that this HAD to be bullshit. That I disagreed with everything that was happening.

Not because I don’t believe in prayer, or because I think something like that couldn’t happen – I’m not sure it could, but I’ll resort to my above theory that I don’t know concretely it couldn’t happen either  – but because it was so embarrassingly obvious that there with enormous pressure to comply. I mean come on,  every kid down the line MIRACULOUSLY started speaking in tongues? No way. It was just anxious and pressured bullshit. If the holy spirit had actually invaded the room, I wouldn’t have been the first of.. thirty? to break the chain, leave the auditorium and go home, would I? No. Because we would have all been filled with the holy spirit.

People not yet touched were already dancing and mumbling, and I was standing there in shock with every fiber of my being telling me to run.

Whatever.

I liked that church well enough and liked the people in it; they seemed like genuinely nice people without much personal agenda. And in retrospect I still don’t think they were anything but incredibly indoctrinated. But that conference put a very large rip into the delusional wrap of ‘faith’ that I tried to use as excuse for my questioning, and it definitely was the beginning of the end of organized religion for me.

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