When I was a wee lad I had 2 imaginary native american friend named Walking Stick and Buddy. I guess it because of my dark skin and the fact that my mother always told me that she found me on an indian reservation that my imaginary friends were native americans. I was an only child and sometimes we lived where other kids my age were not readily available to hang out and pal around. Walking Stick and Buddy even went to Disneyland with my mom and I when I was five. I really loved those guys. I could see them at the time we would hold really deep conversations.
Then came religion. My mother claims to be religious, like most do. She does not go to church except once every five years she will get a wild hair up her ass about her immortal soul and go for 3 weeks straight. It was time to get me into a nice religion like, oh I don't know, St Joseph's Catholic School in Marietta GA. I think I was 5 at the time. So off we went to sign up for 1st grade and get some religion into me. All was well with that, except for the occasional visit to the head nun for a knuckle shot. Swear to god, they hit with rulers back then!
So anyway, flash forward a few years and my mom had decided catholicism was indeed evil and had the whole family converted to Baptist (of the southern ilk). During a meeting with several deacons at our house, they were trying to get me to be baptized again. I argued that I did not indeed need a second one and what was wrong with the first one? They told me that catholics did not follow the same god as they did etc. etc. etc. I find it to be the usual argument.
That's not the story I want to convey. And I do not want to convey that I feel that I was damaged by religion by the arguments I had. The real argument came when they told me Buddy and Walking Stick would not go to heaven. When I asked why, it was not because they were imaginary, but it was because they were native american. I asked if any "indians" would go to heaven and they of course told me No. Indians would not go to heaven because they had not heard the word of christ. Even if they were here before him they would not go to heaven. I argued with the deacons for what seemed like eternity to me at the time (I was really into indians at the time). I was finally asked to leave the room so that they could talk to my mom. I'm sure they had kind words to say about the precocious son.
I never did get re-baptized although I did go to that church for years. I always knew where it counted that if there was a god, he did not have anything against the "indians" and that if there was not then it did not matter. What I did know at the age of 7-8 was that religion is highly judgemental by nature and wrong. I knew that no one was put in a special place to make such decisions or even comments about a whole nation of people. How can a child understand such a thing that adults refuse to contemplate? It seems to me that it must be a fundamental understanding of the way the universe is, before the un-teaching begins.