As a very young child, we went to the public library every week and checked out all the fairy tale books (Grimm's, etc.). On Sundays, we went to Sunday School and received our religious education. At Christmas, we hid under the covers for fear of seeing Santa, because if you saw him you would not receive any gifts. My point is, of course, that you were supposed to conclude (because you are told to do so) that all this information was fantasy EXCEPT for the stories of the Christian faith... that Jesus was born of a virgin, was the only son of God, walked on water, etc., and that if you believe the story you will live forever in heaven on streets paved with gold. HOWEVER, should you not believe it, you will perish for eternity in a lake of fire. (Control through fear (your natural fear of death) and intimidation...believe or burn in hell.)
It makes no more sense to me as an adult than it did when I was a child. I have the highest of moral standards, honesty, and integrity. I don't believe I am destined to perish in a hell invented by men who wrote those stories in the Bible. When I look in the sky at night and see the incredible creation, I think, "How Great Thou Art." That is my perception of a God. I feel that we do not have the ability to perceive what God is, but surely there is a higher power. I have never been an atheist, but revealed religion insults my God-given ability to reason. I enjoy the writings of Thomas Paine and consider him a great and courageous man.
If I tell people that I am Unitarian Universalist (which includes Deists and everyone else for that matter), they look at me like I am from another planet. They have never heard of UU or Deism, of course. I live in the South, and everyone is Baptist or Catholic, except for an occasional Jew. Education is long over due. We need to come out of the closet.