As I reflect on the past, my early life growing up in Brooklyn, New York was heavily
influenced by a father who never attended church (he thought they were “fools”) and on
the other hand, by a mother who was a committed Christian who rarely missed going to
church. Fortunately, for us, neither myself nor any of my siblings were forced to go to
church. If and when we went it was of our own volition. Whenever I attended church
(not often), I enjoyed being there, because I (naively) equated it to being with God and
that made me feel good.
As I think about it, I believe my father came from a long line of Deists for two reasons;
first, I don’t think it is coincidental that the names of his grandfather and his
grandfather’s twin brother are Thomas Jefferson Warren and George Washington
Warren, respectively. Apparently, his great grandparents admired and respected both
of these Deists, and secondly, most of his family, like him, believed in God but were not
avid church goers. Despite this, I have very fond memories of them being a very large,
close-knit and very loving, Georgia-bred family.
My mother’s family was also very close and loving, but unlike my father’s family, they
attended church regularly on Sunday’s, and sometimes, even during the week. In fact,
on a visit to my mother’s ancestral home in Virginia, it did not surprise me at all to learn
that there was a family church there, also, an adjoining cemetery where many of my
ancestors are buried.
Although the two families differed in their approach in relating to and believing in God,
somehow they found common-ground and got along very well with one another. It
taught me, at an early age, that people can get along despite their religious differences,
and can love God and do the right thing (if they want to) whether or not they go to
In 1956, at the age of 17, I formally became a Christian and was baptized in a
swimming pool at the U.S. Naval Training Center, Bainbridge, Maryland. For the next
twenty years (during my Navy career) I didn’t attend church much. However, I went
whenever I could, and read my Bible and any other Christian material I could get my hands on. In 1975, when I retired from the Navy, I resumed my Christian endeavor on
a regular basis. With my Navy career behind me, I joined a church, became very active
in the church school program, and eventually, became a member of the governing
In 1987, at age 48, and in the same year that my mother died, I preached my initial
sermon, entered the seminary, and began serving in the Christian Ministry. This would
have really pleased my mother, but unfortunately, she did not live to see it. For twenty
years, I served the Church in three different denominations (The United Church of
Christ, The Full Gospel Baptist Church, and The African Methodist Episcopal Church)
until I got sick and tired of the politics, and all the other nonsense having nothing to do
with serving others or reverencing God.
To the uninitiated, the church seems like such a wonderful thing to be a part of, and it
can be . . . That is, until you come face-to-face with the unbelievable coldness and
opposition that is dished out to those who don’t “go along with the program.” In a
nutshell, there is no room or tolerance for independent thinking, serious inquiry, or
creativity, or personal interpretations of bible verses. The unspoken, and unchallenged
mandate was to be like everyone else . . . “Attend church regularly, pay your tithes and
offerings, be humble and obedient, keep your mouth shut, and conform!”
As a minister who relied very heavily upon reasoning in my preaching and teaching, I
wasn’t very popular with the “powers that be.” On more than one occasion I have faced
the wrath of a (fired-up) ministerial examining committee. It’s really disgraceful (and an
affront to God) that when they come after you, it’s not in love with the intent of building
you up and restoring you, but instead, they come with a vindictive, “lynch mob”
mentality, ready to tear you down and even destroy you, if necessary. And, they will do
just that unless you show deference or fear, or be apologetic and convince them that
from now on you’re going to “stick to the program.” It’s all about control . . . If they can’t control you, then they can’t use you; and if they can’t use you, then they don’t want you; and if they don’t want you, then you are not welcome, but . . . your money is!
However, groveling is not my cup of tea. When I feel in my spirit that I am right, and I
know something is wrong or unfair, I am outspoken, argumentative, and can be as
stubborn as a mule (traits I inherited from my father). As a child of the Creator, I refuse
to sacrifice my personal freedom, also, my ability to reason, upon the altar of abuse
that is so characteristic of the Christian religion. By the term “altar of abuse”, I am
referring to the tactics of fear, intimidation, superstition, and greed that are exercised by
the leadership (clergy) to gain economic, political, and religious power, as well as,
recruit, retain, and control the followers that make up the (laity). It’s needless to say it,
but a defiant spirit does not fit well in Christian circles. Amen?
So in 2007, being very unhappy and disgusted, and being completely worn-out from
trying to be “joyful” and “faithful,” I withdrew from the Ministry and the church I was serving in at that time which was in Spring, Texas. Then, for about a year afterwards, I visited Joel Osteen’s church (Lakewood) in Houston, Texas, but soon grew tired of that too. Some time in 2008 I walked away from Christianity altogether, and I haven’t looked back since. Ironically, although I miss some of the people, I do not miss the Church and the day-to-day habits and routines of being a Christian, and since embracing Deism, I feel closer to God than ever before.
My introduction to Deism came from a cousin many years ago when I was just a young
boy. He didn’t say much about it but just simply stated, during a conversation, that he
was a Deist and that’s why he didn’t go to church. Being young and immature at the
time, I didn’t give it much thought, and didn’t even ask what being a “Deist” meant. It
was only after the disillusionment of my Christian experience (many years later) that I
remembered what he said and decided to look it up for myself.
When I entered “deist” in Yahoo’s search engine, I saw “Welcome to the Deism Site!”
and clicked on it, and the rest is history. Not only did I learn what a Deist is, but I found
out that I AM one! Everything I have read on the site, thus far, has been enlightening,
helpful, and a wonderful blessing. At last, my mind is free, my spirit is peaceful, and I’m
happy. Thank God for Deism and the WUD!