As many of my readers know, I grew up on a farm in a very small rural centre, just outside a small town. I had a traditional upbringing, complete with Sunday church, close relationships with my grandparents and meat-and-potato meals. I was by all accounts a happy, trusting kid.
On Sundays I attended Sunday school, during which we learned Bible stories, did crafts, put on plays with a religious theme, and played games. The teachers were usually parents of other kids in our class or young adults in older grades of high school. Sometimes we had a substitute teacher. DUN-dun-dun!
One Sunday when I was about 9 or 10 years old, our substitute teacher told us all about sin. Keep in mind that up until that point my religious upbringing was gentle, all about how God loves us so very much, illustrated with pictures of Jesus surrounded by adoring children, blue skies, fluffy lambs and puffy white clouds. This teacher had a different approach and decided we needed to be scared of God, since he made such an example out of his own son. According to this teacher, everyone is born a sinner. What?! Even little babies are sinners?! Yes, she said, even little babies. This shook me to my very core. I had a younger brother whom I adored, along with every other baby I encountered. How could something so cute, cuddly and smiley be a sinner?! I just couldn’t wrap my mind around this.
It was on this day that I began to believe a little less in God, Jesus, Christianity in general, and adult intelligence. Maybe adults weren’t infallible and were actually WRONG about things. Whoa. I began to question and in fact reject ideas presented to me. Today I’m a full-on atheist and generally a rebel with various causes. I’m also vegetarian, a city dweller, on marriage #2, I had pre-marital sex, I did not have my children christened, and I certainly don’t take them to church. We do commemorate traditional Christian holidays and Jewish ones too now that I’m married to a Jewish man. Symbolic Christianity has a place in my life due to sentimental feelings, so at least the Sunday school teacher wasn’t able to stamp that out. I’m not saying my atheism is all her fault; I’m certain I would have come to this conclusion on my own anyway. But maybe when I was 9 or 10 years old I would have still believed.