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Why We Left, The Real Reasons.

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Akheia

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This poor kid's parents told him he just wanted to sin.

 

The Church Lady thinks it's because the pastor offended someone or there wasn't enough parking.

 

This guy claims that people "tell him" they're just too spiritual, darn it, or they'd rather do yoga at home. (Note to the preacher: this is the Christian version of friendzoning.)

 

And this blog cites a chain letter that blames ungratefulness--that people who leave church are just too used to God's "blessings" and get all complacent about them being showered down on them all the damn time. No, really. Read it; it's a hoot.

 

I read a number of pages and studies about "why people leave Christianity" and the one thing that really springs out at me is that all these "reasons" are made up by Christians with, it seems, very little honest input from the actual deconverts.

 

I'm not surprised, of course. If someone leaves the fold, Christians bash their brains out trying to figure out what was wrong with that person that he left. There's this insatiable need to figure out a reason, push the whole issue into a file folder marked "resolved," close it, and put it away and not ever have to think about it ever again. I used to do it too, and I really think the reason why was I was terrified of finding out there might have been a damned good reason that person left. The problem might not be the person leaving, but with the message itself.

 

And that's what turned out to be the case when it came to be my time to walk away from it all.

 

We all have different stories, but Christians don't tend to want to hear those stories. They may say they do, but really they just want to hear it so they can discount it or try to explain it away. No matter how many hours or weeks or years you put into researching your decision, they are the magic Christian who will explain it all away and it'll all make sense and you'll leap back into that church pew and give thanks for having such wonderful Christian friends. They don't listen; it's a lot easier to just make stuff up, and when you do that, you don't have to worry about engaging with the real reasons people leave. And when you make stuff up, what you're really doing is comforting yourself: you're assuring yourself that YOU'D never leave. YOU'D never deconvert. YOU'D know better. YOU'RE the true Christian. The apostate is clearly deluded, stupid, vain, arrogant, or just wasn't a "real Christian" (like you are), or didn't know the Bible (like you do), or was in the wrong denomination (ie, not yours). When you're tilting at windmills, you don't really engage with the message you hear. Stop listening to that craziness and really listen to what we're saying here. This is why we're not coming back, and this is why we left.

 

I do not speak for all deconverts, but these are the common threads I see in deconversion stories:

 

1. To our shock and pain, we discovered that the Bible isn't true at all. Not even a little. There's no evidence that prayer works, no proof that miracles ever happen, and every time history examines a Biblical question, the Bible turns out to be almost completely mythical. Not a one of its dogmatic claims holds up to even cursory argument. Very liberal Christians may not care, but for ex-Christians from a conservative evangelical background, discovering that there couldn't possibly have been a worldwide flood or a person fitting the background given for Jesus is devastating. Not for nothing do atheists claim that the easiest way to make a Christian deconvert is to make that Christian read his or her own Bible; some of the most prominent ex-Christians ever were people who went to seminary to learn more about their beloved Bibles only to emerge with their faith destroyed by simple reality (like Charles Templeton, one of the founders of Campus Crusade for Christ!). Most Christians have no clue in the world what's in there: God condoning--even ordering--rape, slavery, murder, trickery, witchcraft, incest, genocide, abortion, war, abuse, infanticide, and more. Most ex-Christians, however, are very familiar with these myths and commandments.

 

We're not idiots. We studied the Bible and found it full of contradictions and monstrous, inhuman crimes against mankind. We read the apologetics books and found them struggling to doublespeak themselves into a god against all evidence to the contrary. We attended revivals to try to recover our faith and heard ignorant speakers misstate science or parrot claims we knew weren't true. We prayed, and nothing we prayed for happened even though the Bible says it always will. We begged for a sign, and got none even though God did tons of signs just like what we'd requested in the OT and in Jesus' day. We wept and we fasted and we drilled down on acting right and talking right and doing right, and nothing changed even though change is promised if we do those things. There's no amount of arguing that'll change the simple fact that the Bible is a book of myths, and nothing it really happened, and nothing it promises really comes true through any means other than human effort or coincidence.

 

2. Christians aren't better people with Jesus, and non-Christians aren't worse people for not having Jesus. For a religion that stresses "spiritual fruits," Christians have next to none; states and countries that are known for having a lot of Christians in them do worse by every conceivable measure than those who are more secular. The news is filled with "god-fearing Christians" tearing each others' faces off, abusing their kids to death, or getting caught in this or that sex scandal. We realized that there can't be a god inhabiting us and informing our every move, because if there were we'd sure expect to find Christians to be at least as good as non-Christians. But arguably they are, by and large, worse. Every ex-Christian has horror stories about abuses at the hands of Christians (more on this further down). We heard the platitudes about Christians not being perfect, just forgiven, and we heard about how church is a "hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints." And that was obviously horseshit to everybody but the pious Christians trying to explain away their total lack of fruits. Whatever you gotta tell yourself, sparky. But we know the truth: there is no god inhabiting Christians and making them wonderful people, and there is no devil influencing the lost making them worse. When we do run across Christians who are genuinely good people, we are forced to conclude that it's not an invisible sky friend making them so, but the sheer fact that they are good people regardless of what religion they follow.

 

Once the threat of becoming a murderous, raping arsonist upon deconversion is removed, a lot of the scariness and Otherness of deconversion is gone.

 

3. We learned logical fallacies and cognitive biases, and we learned how Christianity uses all of them. We also learned that this faith that we thought was loving and caring is in actuality controlling and callous, even resorting to threats and cruelties to keep its members' butts in seats. If your religion is true, it shouldn't need to threaten a person's reputation, his/her connection to family and friends, his/her livelihood, his/her home, even his/her job to maintain compliance. These maneuvers did a lot to show us how false the religion must be if it stoops to such low levels of shoddy reasoning and cruel behavior.

 

Christianity is a supremely manipulative religion. As any blogger can tell you, anybody who speaks against Christianity is lucky if all s/he gets are a barrage of death threats and insults from those who follow the supposed God of peace, love, and mercy. The threats are designed to chill us and silence us, to scare us into at least acting compliant even if we struggle with the certainty that it's all fake. If we're quiet, it doesn't matter. If we speak up, we become the enemy, and Christians know what to do with those who are different. They've had two thousand years to practice.

 

For all the "it's not you, it's me" breakup statements Christians may hear, it really boils down to a few: we realized the Bible wasn't true. We realized that Christians don't act like they're inhabited by a god--most don't even act like they really believe in most of the myth at all. We realized that Christianity's arguments were shoddy and that its treatment of dissenters was nothing short of inhumane, making its validity highly suspect.

 

The awful truth is that almost every one of us would have gladly welcomed an argument that actually made sense, or believed in evidence once it was provided. We would have gladly accepted the truth had Christians had any to present. I'm probably spitting into the wind here when I tell Christians that we know the Bible very well; we understand it perfectly well; we have looked at the "evidence" and found it seriously lacking.

 

But Christians don't want to hear that. They have to cover that up somehow. It's terrifying to imagine that we might know the Bible better than they do--that might mean the fault isn't ours for leaving. So they cloak these simple truths in belittling us, or claiming we're stupid or misinformed or rebellious or "too spiritual" (seriously, WTFH).

 

Of course they do.

 

The truth is dangerous. It's scary. It's messy. And breaking free of living a lie, with all the threats and cruelties Christians have in store for the unwary deconvert, is so very, very difficult. Yet more and more of us are doing just that. And we will continue to do so. Ignore our real reasons for leaving at your peril, churches; the more you ignore and misstate our reasons, the more you demonstrate how totally out of touch you are.

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I was told I'm "crazy" for wanting evidence. smile.png

 

Great article.

 

SK:

If there was actual evidence, you can be sure they wouldn't say that you were crazy for wanting it. Every time someone gets some kind of half-assed pseudoscience "evidence" for Christianity, just watch how quickly the Christians leap all over it and bleat that HERE IT IS, HERE IS THE PROOF! The only reason they have for vilifying evidence is that they completely lack any.

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