In high school, I read a book called A Child Called "It", written by Dave Pelzer, a victim of child abuse. I remember him noting that if he could go back and prevent his own abuse, he wouldn't, because it is what made him who he is.
I grew up in an evangelical Christian household. Religion was the single most important part of life in my family. I missed perhaps a total of five Sundays of church in the twenty years I lived with my parents. From an early age, I read three chapters of the bible and spent a half-hour in prayer by myself every morning. Every night, my family read three chapters of the bible as a group, and then prayed together.
As I grew up, this would become a major source of problems in my life. I began to question my parents' beliefs at age 12. By the age of 18 I had made a slow journey from deist to agnostic to atheist. During these years I prayed and fasted, read thousands of pages, and searched, trying to find evidence for the existence of god. I desperately wanted to believe. With my teenage hormones came the sin of lust, which I could not suppress. Jesus mentions that thinking about a sin is as bad as committing it, a concept that is devastating to a teenage boy. Between this and my internal heresy, I lived in constant terror of hell. Even well into the time when I considered myself an atheist, I would relapse into religion frequently, spending hours crying and begging god for forgiveness. All the while, I told no one, hiding all my internal conflicts. I was trapped in a system of belief that would tolerate no questions and condemned all doubt.
Pelzer's book puts my life in perspective. No matter how bad it was for me, it was worse for him. I have no doubt in my mind that my parents love me and wanted only the best for me. That alone makes our experiences incomparable.
But if the comparison could be made, I too would not change a thing about my childhood. My ideological struggle has made me very good at identifying and excising illogic. This has made me better at programming, better at finding the truth in the media, and in general a better person.
So my question to the atheist community is; if you grew up in a religious home, would you change that if you could? And for contrast, if you grew up in a non-religious home, would you change that?