From Lutheran to Deist
by DL Barrows, PhD
I was born in the Midwest at the start of WWII. My father went into the service and my mother worked (as part of the war effort) so I was raised primarily by my grandmother. Having come over from Germany, she made sure I attended the German Lutheran Church while I lived with her.
After the war, my father went back to college and took up teaching. We moved several times as I was growing up. Each town we moved to saw me going to a different “Sunday School” and my parents going to a different church. (This they did twice a year – Christmas and Easter.) The church was always a Protestant one but other than that, the only requirement seemed to be that it was the closest to where we were living. This gave me a chance to sample several different flavors of Christianity, from Methodist and Presbyterian to several different version of Lutheranism. Somehow they all seemed to be pretty much alike, except for the summer camps.
I had very little to do with church or Sunday School once I got into High School, always telling my folks that I had “School Work” so I didn't have time --- they didn't seem to care.
After I graduated, the “Draft” encouraged me to join the Navy. There I
first got a chance to use the religious training I had spent so many
Sunday mornings on.
In school, I had always been very good at debate and I enjoyed discussing different points of view on most anything. I had a couple friends in the service that seemed to like the same thing. Harry and Sol were in my unit and we would spend a lot of our free time together. Harry was Catholic and Sol was Jewish so it was only natural that some of our debates would be about religion. We had one rule, however, when we debated religion we could take any side EXCEPT our own. In other words, Harry could argue for Protestant or Jewish, I could argue Catholic or Jewish and Sol had to argue for Catholic or Protestant. It was amazing how much we learned about how others pictured our religion. It was also very educational in how much we did not know about our own religions.
When I got out of the Navy I decided to go to college and one of the first ones I attended was a private Catholic college. (Only because it was in the same town and therefore cheaper.) As a requirement of the school, everyone was required to take at least one “Religion” course a year. I chose a course called “History of The Bible”. The professor was a Priest that I would consider more Agnostic than Catholic.
I thank him, though, for not trying to sugar coat anything and being honest about the facts of history.
Anyway, it was there that I lost what little faith I had in “religion” – especially Christianity. I actually read ALL of the Bible and learned by who and when these books were written. Had anyone let me read some of the filth and terrible acts commanded by the Bible God before, I would have left the church years ago.
Years later, I took a course from The Universal Life Church (by mail) and became an ordained “Minister”. I figured that if these other phony idiots could do it so could I. Anyway, I had a little fun with that for a while, proselytizing (without the Bible) a creed of “Everyone is free to do whatever he/she wants, so long as it harms no others”. (I had a church called “The Eighth Morning Chapel”.) This was back in the time of the “Hippy/Grass/Free Love” movement (1960's - 70's) so I seemed to fit right in and got invited to a lot of Sunday morning brunches at local coffee houses and bars.
For the next 40 years or so I went without any interest in religion and just considered myself a loner for believing that there was a supreme being out there but not being able to swallow any of that Bible crap.
Then after retiring a few years ago, while reading a book about the history of the USA, I came on the term Deist. I had completely forgotten that term and only heard about it briefly when I was back in college.
Needless to say I “googled” it and began reading everything I could find. Now I know I am not alone in what I can and can not believe in. Now when I am asked my “Religion” at the clinic or hospital I proudly reply, “I do not believe in religions or superstitions – just put down Deist”. So far I have only been asked one question: "How do you spell that?"