The next episode in my experience with organized religion and why I am grateful to have been a life long atheist, is from my time in College. Not well known is the fact that I worked my way through college in restaurants. There I met a mormon woman, I will call Cheryl (not her real name).
Cheryl was in high school, and knowing that I was studying physics and math, she asked for some help with her schoolwork. She was a junior and was taking AP calculus, so without a doubt she had aptitude.
After these mentoring sessions (really, it wasn’t tutoring, she just needed some blocks to her thinking removed), we became friends. As friends do, we shared stories about ourselves, mostly just topical themes (completely platonic.)
As with many religious people, she was completely molded by her religion, chosen for her by her parents and enforced by her familial ties. I had known she was a “Mormon”, but at that time I really didn’t know what that meant, other than that it was some form of Christian.
As time went on and I was helping her more with her math and science topics, I asked about where she was going to go to college, and then I was floored with her response. She wasn’t going to college. She had a husband arranged for her, and he was on his “Mission” in some place of the world. When he returned they would be married, and she would be the homemaker, raising their kids, and doing her part.
Wow. Here was a very bright, gifted young woman, who because of the religious indoctrination of her family would be trapped at home to care for a gaggle of kids. And she seemed to be satisfied that was her place in life. At the age of 17.
Not to denigrate the role of homemaker, and stay at home mom, but to have that decision made (for you) before you finish high school seems really whack to me.
Years later, when I was learning about contemporary religions, I learned about the story of Joseph Smith, and the genesis of the Mormon church. 100% quackery and bullpuckey. Thanks to the boys of South Park who did a quite factual episode describing their beliefs and origins (and not making fun of their special undergarments).
I was quickly learning that there was little positive about the blind following of a religious sect. And up to this point I had only experience with “christian” denominations.