I grew up in a Baptist church and was born again at an early age.
When I was in high school there was a lot of talk of "the end time," and there would be again in coming years. (Then, it was spurred by a book called The Late Great Planet Earth; I don't know what spurred it later on.)
I grew up hearing about Jimmy Swaggart and Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker. Their scandals were an embarrassment. So were the pronouncements of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson.
These people did not speak for me.
That was the end time for me.
It was a time when ministers asked their congregations to write letters to Congress — letters decrying legislation that, as it turns out, had never been written or proposed.
My minister. My congregation.
Some said the peace sign was actually satanic, as if peace were a bad thing. (I kid you not; I heard that in church.) There was even a period when kids like me were encouraged to use a different sign — to point an index finger to heaven indicating "One way."
It never really caught on.
I remember arguing with classmates that organized religion could be still be salvaged. There were still good people doing good things, after all. And there still are.
I studied religion in college and had professors who were good and wise examples. They helped me hold on to my faith awhile longer.
But I no longer believe there is one way (and haven't for a long time). One way is a mistake with disasterous consequences.
One way is wedded to intolerance and gives birth to tyranny.
I'm so done with that.