From an auto-bio provided by the contributor:
Judith Hayes, The Happy Heretic Author
For the first 20 years of my life, the most important part of my life was my faith. As a Missouri Synod German Lutheran, I knew I was destined for Heaven. But when I was around twelve and I formed a close friendship with a Japanese girl, I discovered to my horror that she was Buddhist! Can you imagine? And I could not figure out how she was ever going to get into Heaven, where I, of course, was going. Since I could not bear the thought of my best friend, Susan, spending eternity in Hell, I asked my religious leaders about this, and never received any satisfactory answer. I worried about it a great deal. Poor Susan.
So I decided to read the entire Bible, and thereby shore up my faith and answer all of my nagging questions. I couldn't have been more wrong. The further my studies took me, the less certain I became of ANY of my beliefs, and I finally arrived at some inescapable conclusions. My own logical mind proved to be my undoing. I literally reasoned my faith out of existence.
Such a metamorphosis is not to be taken lightly and does not happen easily when your faith is very strong to begin with. I understand now why the Catholic Church fought so hard to keep the Bible in Latin. If no one knows what it says, no one can question what it says. And almost anything sounds pretty in Latin. But if you read the entire Bible, not just prized snippets, you realize that it is a primitive, brutally violent, bigoted book. It stinks.
After my eye-opening reading of the Bible I naturally went on to read other books about religion, and these other books finished the process that the Bible had started. These other books, written by nonbelievers, simply rang out with logic and clarity. My faith tottered and then collapsed. The battle was over.
Although I was confused for quite a while after my faith left, I finally realized that there was a big, beautiful world out there, filled with promise, without a vengeful god or a pitchforked devil in sight. I saw that the possibilities for happiness were far-ranging and exhilarating. I seldom look back now; instead, I celebrate the fact that I am no longer hamstrung by the oppressive ties of religion. It was a long and arduous journey, but I can finally say, with a joyous certainty, that I am well and truly free. I feel, finally, at home in this world.
My second book, The Happy Heretic, to be published by Prometheus Books, will be out in the spring/summer 2000 season. It reflects my new outlook on the Bible, God(s), faith, and why Moses was such a klutz. My new opinion is simply that all God's children are orphans. But one of my all-time favorites, Mark Twain, said it succinctly and said it best: "Faith is believing what you know ain't so."
Judith Hayes California, USA
Her website (and monthly column) can be found at http://www.thehappyheretic.com.