Before I came to the conclusion that organized religion was actually quite unorganized, I made an honest effort to find a brand of Christianity that best represented my beliefs. I'm fairly open-minded, and I'll try most things at least once. So like an investigative reporter who's gone deep cover to understand the inner workings of an organization, I have tried more branches of Christianity than your average person.

I grew up going to a Baptist church. The kind where the Pastor kept a new Cadillac and the women wore big hats for no reason. This particular church didn't require people to be immersed in water (baptized) in order to be considered saved. You just had to join their congregation on paper, and give money. They took 3-4 collections every service and made it known if you didn't put any money in the plate. After they collected, they would say something like, "stand up if you gave $100 or more". They would go through every denomination down to one. Then they would say, "well, stand if you gave nothing". It was the first church that I knew of that gave W2s to people to file taxes with. Anyway, except for the musical distractions I didn't like that church very much.

I courted this Apostolic Church for a while. When I decided to join, some ladies took me in this room in the back. They told me that in order to be considered a member, I would have to speak in tongues...on the spot. So they gave me these phrases to keep repeating over and over really fast, and that was supposed to make me speak in tongues. Because I was really giving a valiant effort, for three hours, I had to say things that sounded like "tie my bow tie" and "alibaba". Say "tie my bow tie" to yourself repeatedly. I felt like a fool saying "tie my damn bowtie" over and over. And they wouldn't give me any water. My mouth all dry and stuff, and naturally I didn't speak in tongues. When I left, I never returned. They called me every day for about two weeks, and when they got the hint they stopped.

Then there was COGIC (church of God in Christ). That place was a joke. Period. The choir was horrible; full of kids and old people, and although the pastor was male, he only spoke on Men's Day, which was every 5th Sunday. There was little emphasis on the bible, and the congregation was made to believe that they weren't qualified to understand the bible on their own. Long story short, it was a chick church. They were only interested in fashion anyway. I only went because my ex-wife went, and they were all family.

After that, I tried White Jesus...

There was the Seventh Day Adventist church. Since I believe that Saturday is the Sabbath, and they got together on Saturday, I thought I'd give it a try. They believe that one must be immersed in water (baptized) to order to be considered saved, that the day ends at sunset, and that the body is "sleep" until judgement day. Unlike Baptist, COGIC and Apostolic, the Adventists do communion four times a year instead of  "First Sunday". The teachings were nice, and so were the people, but I eventually decided to further my search.

Last but not least, I began studying with the Jehovah's Witnesses. Now, people tend to prematurely dislike the Witnesses without really knowing why. It's just one of those thing you grow up learning from your parents. I liked them for the most part. They do go door to door to preach the gospel, and that's cool because the Apostles did it. That's something no other church I've been a part of has done. They teach you the bible so you can teach someone else, so learning the bible for yourself was a big plus. They teach you public speaking if you don't have experience, and they teach you how to turn a "no" into a "yes". They never asked you for money. If you walk two steps inside of a Kingdom Hall, you have already walked past the box where money is placed. There's no choir. We sang hymns from a book just like the Adventists. There were some concerns that eventually led to me sneaking away under the cover of darkness: They believe that Jesus took his throne in Heaven in 1914 after amending it from 1874 when absolutely nothing tangible happened on earth then. They believe that Michael the Archangel and Jesus is the same person. If the logic behind that were an SAT multiple choice question, it would read, "The bible says that Jesus leads an army of angels. It also says that Michael the Archangel leads an army of angels. Based on the information given, which of the following is probably true? A.) Jesus likes candy B.) Michael Jackson is an Archangel C.) Tupac is still alive D.) Jesus and Michael is the same person". With the answer being D.). I don't want to go any further because I don't want to come off like I'm bashing the Witnesses. I've met some wonderful people, but it's just not for me at this point in my life.

I now read and study the bible on my own. No distractions, no fake preachers, no big hats, no assumptions and no tying any bow ties. Since doing it on my own, I've gotten more out of the bible and learned more about myself and people in general than all the years spent searching for the right brand of Christianity.

You don't have to answer, but I'm going to ask anyway. Do you go to church? If so, which brand works for you. Do you know of any churches that would be considered a cult? For the Atheists: Is religion as big a joke to you as it is to some Christians? For the Muslims: What do you think about Christianity?

About the Writer

Ed "Mr. Chap" Chapman is the warden of the Insane Asylum Blog and contributor to www.dangerouslee.biz.