Re: kicked out for not believing the bible as fact...
very interesting reply - I agree with a lot of what you say.
My view of the bible is that it is a book of morals, not a book of fact.
A lot of what you mentioned sounds very similar to Eastern writings that I enjoy. I am far from a religious scholar but have read many different things from different cultures and have cherry-picked what seems to be the most sensible ideas from each to create my own world view.
I believe that what part of the world you are born in has the greatest impact on what religion you fall into - and believe as fact. If your family and neighborhood is all one religion, it takes great self discipline and courage to stray from the popular belief.
I am very socially liberal - I don't care about drugs, gays, abortion, or anything else that does not concern me... but am also very fiscally conservative. I make very little money and would probably benefit from social programs but absolutely disagree with redistribution of wealth in any form. Personal Responsibility needs a revival if we don't want to go bankrupt as a country. I fall closest to the Libertarians.
So my problem is that I talk to a lot of conservatives, and they immediately tie being conservative to Bible slapping, anti drug Christianity. I ruffle feathers when I try to talk logic instead of bible verses.
Anyway, this was a disjointed ramble but it kinda points to where I come from.