Ey was raised Catholic, and I was raised in a succession of small Protestant churches which, as far as I can tell, my parents chose mainly for their smallness and lack of internal politics/drama. For most of the time span in which I was old enough to actually pay attention, we went to an American Baptist church. So Sparkly’s and my experiences are pretty much completely opposite.
The American Baptists barely have a hierarchy at all. There’s a huge emphasis on the autonomy of individual churches, and of individual members, to choose what they believe and how they practice. I remember hearing the phrase “soul freedom”, which meant an individual person’s autonomy to follow whatever they deeply believe, whether other members of their church, their pastor, regional or national organizations, etc. agree with them or not.
And at the time that didn’t seem super important to me? It was mentioned in passing, and the thing is I had nothing to really compare it to. I had no experience of being Told to believe things beyond the very vague and basic, and no experience of focused individual pressure to believe or profess anything at all.
So I have to keep reminding myself that that’s a pretty unusual experience of being raised Christian.