No Amount of Praying the Magic Spell Ever Made Me a Christian but Baptism Did

I Was “Born Again,” and Again, and Again, and Again, the “Sinner’s Prayer” Did Diddly Squat

MaryClare StFrancis, M.A.
2 min readAug 26, 2022


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Actually, I take that back. The “Sinner’s Prayer” did plenty, none of it good. It terrified me that no matter how much I really, really, really, truly and for real this time actually meant it, I knew I wasn’t “saved.” There was an eternal lake of fire waiting to consume me after death.

The maggots and worms would feast on my flesh forever, I’d burn to a crisp but never be burned up, I’d be thirsty for eternity. Terrorizing little girls isn’t really the best way to go about advertizing for Jesus. It is a great way to get them to comply and say whatever words you wish them to say.

If I left toys on the floor after I was told to clean up, I was disobedient, which meant that unless I was “saved,” I was a wicked little girl, a rotten, vile sinner, who deserved to go to hell when I died. It had to be true after all, if I’d truly meant the “Sinner’s Prayer” the first time I prayed it, I’d not have left toys on the floor because I’d be growing as a Christian and not keep being naughty.

It seems to be that it’s completely and utterly sadistic to attempt to scare the hell into children. In the end, I came to Jesus as an adult, and it wasn’t over any fear of hell, it was the fact that I was in darkness and Jesus was light, Jesus changed my life forever, his way is life-changing even if it’s difficult and I wanted to serve him.

What caused me to become a Christian had nothing to do with magic words, but there was holy water, the waters of baptism, involved. I had lived in a hell on earth for over three decades, so I wasn’t much afraid of hell. I have seen hell, though, and there’s no fire. What’s there, or rather what’s not there, is much scarier, at least to me.

Hell is the complete and utter lack of the presence of God. There’s no beauty, no company, no love, no anything. It’s a thick gray mist that is so thick I could feel it. A place that I believe is reserved for Satan and his band of evil spirits, but not for humanity.

Evangelicals and fundamentalists (same shit, different name), need to leave people the hell alone. We don’t need your magic formula, or your fear of fire, we just need Jesus.



MaryClare StFrancis, M.A.

I write memoir, nonfiction essays, and poetry