A reader recounts a horrifying early childhood in which she was regularly abused—physically, sexually, psychologically—by her mother’s boyfriend. That suffering severed her faith in God:
I feel compelled to share my story because it illustrates a fundamental flaw in religion that is often overlooked. As a young child, I enjoyed Sunday school, and I learned to put all my trust in God. I was five years old when my mother, who had divorced my father when I was two, met a monster and moved him into our house. He was a violent child molester who tortured me for the better part of a year, and the abuse was too graphic to describe here.
I prayed constantly for deliverance, for help, for relief, for anything other than what was happening to me. He told me he would kill my mother if I told anybody what was happening, and he showed me a handgun to prove he could do it. My five-year-old self was convinced that he could do it because he was just so mean.
When I found a few baby birds that had fallen from a nest in our backyard, he fed them to his dog. When he entered a room and I flinched, he would slap me for flinching. He forced me to drink beer out of a shot glass, pouring more and more in until I got sick. He threw me into a swimming pool and held out a hook for me, but once I grabbed hold of it, he dunked me over and over. He did a thousand other horrible, inscrutable things to me.
But before long, my mom married him, and I couldn’t understand how God could let this happen to us.