The following describes one of three major events that led to my rejection of organized religion the minute I hit high school. Other factors were involved, but this--yeah.
I was in junior high, seventh or eighth grade, and sitting in the chapel of my father's Assembly of God church for youth group. Other kids surrounded me, kids I neither knew nor liked and who neither knew nor cared for me. But I was there because it was the week I was staying with my dad and, for some reason, I had agreed to this shit.
My youth group pastor was a young, energetic man, probably in his mid-twenties. His wife was super nice, a woman with big hair, a lot of makeup, and a Louisiana accent I adored. He stood at the front of the chapel and asked us all a question.
"If God offered to tell you where you'd end up after death--Heaven or Hell--would you want to know? Raise your hand."
Of course we all raised our hands.
"If God told you you were going to Hell, would you try your best to go to Heaven instead?"
Uhm, yeah I would. Apparently--and not surprisingly--everyone else felt the same way.
"You can't do that!" he said. "God told you you're going to hell, you're going to hell. There is nothing you can do. Now, who would still try to get into heaven anyways?"
What the fuck is this?! I wondered.
Yet my peers and I insisted, all raising our hands.
Again, he told us we were stupid for even trying because God said it wouldn't happen. Who are we to challenge God?!
So again he asked. And again we all raised our hands except for one kid. He was done with this shit. If he was going to hell, he was going to hell. Fuck it. I couldn't help but admire him for this and also couldn't help but think that it would make life a bit nicer if I could just enjoy it without worrying about the dangling, annoying carrot that was heaven.
Alas, he continued.
"What if God told you you were going to heaven?"