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  1. 17 points
    If someone told me that I would be on this website posting about de-converting from Christianity, I would have said laughed at the idea. Then probably started praying for that person to come to Jesus and for him to lift the veil from their eyes so that they could come to the truth. My name is Aaron, and I’m an ex-Christian lol! Is this what an AA meeting is like? This is awesome. I feel like I’m 16 again, rebelling against the machine all over again. I became a Christian when I was 18 years old. I attended a very loving church with an extremely empathetic pastor. For the first 4 years or so of my conversion I was extremely happy and very involved in my faith. I held bible studies, witnessed to many people, and even led some close friends to Christ during that time. I was forced to attend Methodist services as a kid with my mom but I hated it. When I became a “born again” believer it was a huge event in my life. I experienced a radical change and stopped using illicit drugs and partying and improved my grades enough to graduate high school. I was basically a kid who felt very lost and alone and Jesus gave me something I didn’t have before. I was what you would call an “on fire” Christian. I ate this stuff up. I was like a sponge. For the first few months after I became a Christian I read the Bible for at least 4 hours a day. Sometimes as much as 6-8 hours. I loved going to church. Sunday, Sunday night, Wednesday etc. If church was open, I was there. Anyway, at 22 I joined the Marine Coprs as an infantryman. I just recently got out after 14 years. While I was a Marine I went to Iraq, Kuwait, Philippines, Japan, Australia, Afghanistan, just about everywhere I guess. After I joined the Marines, or even slightly before, I was in a “backslide” as some call it. I was very much a believer but I no longer was “on fire.” I basically just felt guilty all the time. Through the years, I was up and down in my faith. Always chasing those early days of my faith when I felt so good about everything. So sure of my salvation. My first church I got saved in was a Baptist Church in Texas. It would be considered more of a non denominational church though. They had a band and always made alter calls at the end of service. That sort of thing. I tried to find that in California but I never did. The closest thing was Calvary Chapel. But I never really felt connected to a church like I did the first one. Through the years of bible study, I found numerous contradictions in the Bible. I wasn’t researching them online. I was finding them in my own. Very early on this happened. The first one I remember or one of the first ones was Judas’ death. Another one was conflicting accounts of the same story of David counting the army in Samuel and Chronicles. Actually there were several contradictions I found in Chronicles where numbers and names were off. I went to the pastor and he explained them I’m sure the same way you’ve probably heard yourself if you’ve went to someone for clarity about scripture. So then I began reading apologetics. Case For Christ etc. I was always searching for more answers. But I always had that fear of finding out things I really didn’t want to know. I couldn’t even fathom this not being real because of the big conversion experience I had. But my questions got deeper and deeper over the years as I got older. Especially into my 30s. Understand that I converted my wife, her brother, and her sister. I was as serious and strong a believer as anyone I know. And I felt more versed in the Bible than most as well. So these were serious problems I was having in my mind. Meanwhile I also cannot live it anymore. I was a Marine. I was a part of a warrior culture in every sense. I was just having internal conflict in general after a while with all of it. My self esteem was really suffering because of the unrelenting guilt. God it was bad. I felt guilty all the time. I stated having serious issues on my Iraq deployment. My platoon sergeant was killed and I knew he was not a Christian. He was a good dude and I had a real problem with believing he was in hell. Not just him but the Iraqi civilians that sometimes got caught in the middle and were killed. They were Muslim and didn’t believe in jesus either. And this bothered me. And for years I had all this guilt that we had sent people to hell. Fast forward to this past year. I heard about the Epic of Gilgamesh and then I watched a video or series of videos on YouTube one night. My mind was blown. Absolutely blown away. I had finally started to thoroughly research non religious sources for all these questions I had had. I was a sponge all over again. Day and night reading. Mind blown over and over. This was all fake? I had to reevaluate everything I had ever known. I had this strong feeling that I had been in this system of control. The more I researched the more I was floored. Literally. For about a week I was depressed. I was extremely disturbed at all I had learned. Because I was no longer trying to spiritualize the Bible or the contradictions. What am I now? Atheist? That one didn’t fit for me. I knew I believed in the concept of a higher being, god, the universe or whatever you want to call “it.” I just didn’t even know what that even meant. I definitely had zero belief in the god of the Bible and had zero interest in religion. After about a week I came to the realization that I just didn’t have all the answers and that was ok. I accept it. That’s when I had a strong feeling that everything was ok. And I became very excited about living a new life at 37. It’s like I got re-saved. Or the realization that I was never lost. I found myself again so to speak. And it was and still is amazing. I absolutely love life now. I’m very interested in hearing others stories and what they believe. Naturally because before I had all the answers and thought I had the truth. Now I’m very open. I’ll never go to another religion but I feel very spiritual (not sure if that’s the right word) in the sense that I just feel connected to everything and everyone. Before it was such a “us vs them” mentality. I think that’s why I feel that way. I don’t pray anymore but I found that taking to myself is still a positive thing. I’m just so excited about life now and for my family. I even called off a divorce and got my marriage back on track. I’ve so much enjoyed learning subjects that I was previously afraid to learn about. I’ve really enjoyed reading Allan Watts and others like him. But I’ve also enjoyed hearing atheists lecture and agnostics. I’m not sure what I would classify myself as now (maybe a deist?) and not sure it even matters. In fact it doesn’t. That’s the beauty of life for me now. I'm living it on my terms without religion! Ugh! What a drag that life was. So free to be out of it. Never looking back. Super excited to be here and happy to be apart of this community. Proud EX-christian!
  2. 14 points
    My grandma died last weekend at age 96, one month shy of her 97th birthday. She left instructions that she didn't want a funeral saying that as she had outlived all of her friends and most of her family (my dad being her sole surviving child) so she wished to be cremated and have her ashes added to my grandads in the veterans cemetery. She made sure to state that she wanted no priests, no prayers and none of her money to go to the church. She was born and raised a Catholic but turned against them when her sister had a still born baby and the church said as it was unbaptised and born into sin it couldn't be buried on church grounds. There was no support just rejection and the whole family broke ties with the Catholic Church most switching to Anglican or deist beliefs. My grandad was anti church but wouldn't talk about his belief so I don't know if he was deist or atheist. He said that his dad was a vicious abusive man who quoted the bible to justify his violence (spare the rod, spoil the child), he literally had religion beaten out of him. What really amazed me about her life is the massive amount of change she saw occur. Born in 1922 she was a teenager during WW2, married my grandad when he returned from the campaign in Egypt and had my dad in 1945. In her lifetime there has been cars, planes, TV, computers, phones, even electricity itself. The nearest supermarket was a 5km bicycle ride and she had to buy lamp oil to keep the home lit as they didn't get electricity connected until the early 30s. International travel was primarily by slow boats, with air travel only becoming available after WW2 but with very limited runs and high prices. As far as I know she never travelled outside of NZ. She lived through the depression, WW2, Korean and Vietnam wars, was married for 66 years with 2 children, 4 grandchildren and lived long enough to meet my daughter, her great grandchild. Sadly my daughter was too young to remember the meeting but I gave her my grandmas name Kathleen as her middle name. A full happy life through some of the worlds years of turmoil. A long life of joy without religion.
  3. 13 points
    Hello, My name is Jerry, I am a closet atheist, and recovering Christian. It isn't that I'm ashamed of being an atheist. I'm proud of myself for realizing the lies that I've been spoon fed over the years, and for coming out of the dark ages. I must remain closeted in fear of losing my family, friends, even my job. You see, my wife is a still a practicing, and enthusiastic, Christian. I must go through the actions and pretend to believe what she does in order to retain my family. As terrible, and deceitful, as that is, it's the life I've created for myself. I first began to question the very existance of a god several years ago. The whole god narative didn't match what I knew to be true from science classes, books, and common scientific theory. The more I learned about the world around me, its history and the history of mankind, through evolution, the more I realized the lies I had been told for almost forty years. I must admit however, it was difficult to give up on god. I was taught that we were nothing without him. I truly believed that without his "guiding hand" my life would spiral out of control. Regardless of my common sense, telling me that it was all a hoax, I was actually relunctant to step away. Then, one day I just stepped away, quit praying, stopped looking for his presence, basically just stopped believing. After two years of being free from religion, at least internally, I'm still fine..and a lot happier. I feel as if I can accomplish great things by myself, and feel free to relish in my achievements. Nothing is the work of an invisible man in the sky. However, it is the work of humanity. I'm glad that I escaped the hand of religion and the hatred it breeds. I am glad to be free from its sexist, abusive demeanor. I'm proud of being wise enough to decipher fact from fiction.
  4. 13 points
    Kia ora (Hi) everyone from New Zealand. I've been devouring the material on this website over the last few nights since I searched Google for "Former Christian Forum"! Thought I'd say thanks for the material, and also how great it is that other people are going through or have gone through similar journeys to me. This post is also somewhat for my own sake to help order my thoughts, keep me accountable for continuing to ask questions, and learn in community, so hi! My name is Sam you can also call me by my handle (Rangi). The brief version of my story is as follows- raised in a Conservative Christina home by two parents and three siblings- had a great, happy childhood and was loved and looked after by my family. Always went to church, went to a Christian university, lived in a Christian hostel etc. My journey of questioning started around this time as I made a close friend who was a very liberal Christian, and we had many great (and friendly) debates where my faith was questioned. I was very black and white in my worldview at the time! A few years later and around 4 years ago I had had enough of Church (the institution), as it was the same every Sunday, nothing really changed in anyone who went, including myself, so I thought "If I'm really a Christian, I should be able to live my faith out authentically without a cheer-leading session every Sunday." Well. after a couple of years of trying to do that and slowly feeling like I was losing this battle and losing myself, I questioned everything layer by layer, all the way back to "Does God exist?". I decided that yes, he did, and rebuilt my faith from there, finding a Church and life/small group that allowed me to throw controversial subjects up for discussion. The result of this was that I regained my faith, but I was different to other Christians- I saw the world as more grey than black and white, and kept asking questions until this year, when I identified with Universalism (scandal!). However, once you decide that there are many roads to God, even if Jesus is the bridge over which these roads go, it's very difficult to reconcile Hell for any reason, so I then came to an impasse. I then had a conversation on a date last week where we both got very deep and discussed our spiritual journeys (she isn't Christian, but has a religious background). I struggled to justify the main tenets of the Christian faith and had to honestly say I really don't know what I believe. This motivated me to resolve this tension that has been going on for the last decade, and so I ended up here, and as a result have been having my mind blown constantly for the last few days. I know I need to take time and work through things, and I know I'll get through this, but man...it's kinda terrifying to have the entire framework on which your life has been based slowly torn away! So yeah, good to meet you all, and thanks in advance for your patience, support and help!
  5. 12 points
    @ConsiderTheSource @Geezer @Weezer @DanForsman @disillusioned @DestinyTurtle @Fuego @LogicalFallacy @TheRedneckProfessor @ag_NO_stic @Citsonga @Mariana @Margee @florduh @Joshpantera @DevilsCabanaBoy @RealityCheck @sdelsolray @Derek @Lefty @Lerk @LifeCycle @Blood @buffettphan @Positivist @Realist If I forgot anyone....that's the Alzheimer's setting in...
  6. 12 points
    The land of enormous flags and women with perfectly coiffed blonde hair. I wasn’t born here though. I’m from the north east and it was me,my younger brother,mom and dad. We moved a lot and didn’t have much. Focus on the Family came with us and blared from moms kitchen radio wherever we went. Dad’s narcissism and listening for the Holy Spirit on every detail of my life was just normal. We were charismatic,speaking in tongues,fundies with no Santa or Easter basket, or god forbid trick or treat. I just feel sad now remembering it. I grew up,went to a small Bible college,met a good man and married him my senior year. I found a gentle parenting internet site and told my dad “women aren’t less than” and “god isn’t punitive”. That was my first big step away. I had three kids and suffered anxiety and depression while trying to read the bible to scare it all away. I prayed so hard. I guess maybe this all would have continued for much longer but for two things. 1. My brother is gay and I couldn’t deny the conditional love he got from my parents. 2. Trump came on the scene in 2016. I watched the map turn red Election night and realized I didn’t want to be associated with evangelicals anymore. Two years of depression later,I went to therapy. It took about a month for everything to just crash down to my feet. My brother and I talk every day now. My kids went trick or treating for the first time this year. I dressed up as a red devil and it was awesome. A lady invited me to her church. This is Texas after all. So that’s my story. I guess I’m a hopeful agnostic. I like the idea of a higher power in nature or something like that. But mostly,I love my freedom to live my beautiful life.
  7. 11 points
    ...I could not reconcile that a god could make something perfect only to have it rebel and suddenly is not perfect. How can a perfect entity suddenly be not perfect? Makes zero sense. That was when I started researching, even more, then one day the question hit me..."Where have all the gods gone?" It was at that point I realized that the truth is far from true! From then on, I smelled the stench of man, not the hand of a god in writing that book. So, after much thought and research, I came to the conclusion that I had to admit there are no gods. We have so many religions because we have so many people with their own understanding of why we humans even exist, but we all wonder why we are here. And it is that very wonder that has moved some people to offer up their own answers, even to the extreme of forming a religion behind it. Some are sincere, some are not and have had ulterior motives for their doctrines, but the bottom line, not a single god has come forward and saved their creations from themselves. NONE. Humanity is the same now as it always has been. Nothing has changed but the humans involved. Dare I say, I found the truth to be that humans who sincerely just want to know the truth have been played by their fellow humans. If you really want to know the truth of a matter, go looking and you will find it, but be prepared for the answers you might not want to hear.
  8. 11 points
    I got that same error the last time I prayed.
  9. 11 points
    I’ve shared my xtestimony briefly on the introduction forum but I wanted to share a video I made of my story. The reason being, watching ex Christians share their stories on video was extremely helpful for me during the pre and post deconversion process. Eventually I worked up the courage and did one of my own. I hope this video will encourage you on your journey out of Christianity and into reality. If you think it would be helpful to someone else, pass it along. I thank all of you who invest so much time and energy into this website and community. You have truly helped me grow.
  10. 11 points
    My Deconversion TL;DR: A husband and wife are at a party. The wife is in a room alone and her husband has gone to look for her. As the husband is about to round a corner he hears voices in the next room and so stops to listen. A third man enters the room with the wife and he asks her to leave with him so that he can show her a good time. The husband hears this but waits to see how his wife replies. She tells this stranger that she is married and not interested. The man then grabs her wrist and tugs a little trying to goad her on, telling her not to worry, it’ll be fine. The husband waits. She pulls her arm back saying that she doesn’t want that and to leave her alone. The man then tightens his grip, starting to hurt her, telling her she is coming. She gasps out in pain and starts to call out for her husband. The husband waits. Finally, the man is twisting her arm so hard that she collapses to the floor gasping and sobbing and at last says, “Yes, I’ll go with you, just please stop hurting me.” And the husband thinks, “I see, she never truly loved me.” My Deconversion; The whole story: I grew up a true believer. As a kid, there were those in the church who just went but didn’t live their faith and were no different from anyone else. We were different. Though, not a whole lot different I suppose. We were not the ultra-hard-core types who never watched movies or thought that women should only wear dresses. But we did take our faith seriously. More than that, we believed our faith was self-evident. So, easily provable and denied only be those who obfuscate the truth or confuse themselves with their own convoluted thinking. And so began my journey. Having a logical faith, I pursued the evidence for it. I read the books of many apologists like Norman Geisler (one of my heroes even to this day) who wrote a book on formal logic and is still one of the best books on logic I have ever read. I highly recommend it. I devoured everything that came out of Answers in Genesis. I revered people like Dr. Jason Lisle (a legit peer-reviewed PhD) and all of the scientific minds in Creation research (yes, I have since learned that most are not legit). It all seemed legit to me at the time. I as a kid. But I wanted to understand so I became an amateur Apologist. My faith had reason, other faiths were wrong and I could explain why. After high school, I joined the Navy and served for five years. Admittedly these were hard years of my life. I was so ill-equipped for this world that I didn’t even know how to apply my faith while I was in and had several crises that my brother helped me through. The Navy changed my faith hugely. See, it would have broken my faith completely because my faith was rigid that rigidity could not survive the military. But his faith was much more fluid and dynamic. In other words, it's not that we can’t understand the minutia of scripture, but not to get lost in it. Ultimately, God’s nature is goodness and that he wants all to repent and be saved. John 15:17 “This is My command to you: Love one another.” It gave me a new approach to my faith. Don’t sweat the details. You know God’s nature because you are a reflection of His nature. God is goodness and mercy and salvation. So too this should be you. And I came home from the Navy reconciled and ready to save the world, only to re-enter the one of rigidity I had left. I went to my parents Sunday School class and was shocked and horrified by how bigoted and closed minded it was. The views expressed were shockingly dense and ignorant. I didn’t understand what corruption had fallen on my church since I had left. It was losing members and dying. But I wanted to do something. I got active. I wanted to do outreach programs, go to the hurting and the suffering. I wanted to save the world. But more than this, I wanted to find a wife, settle down and have a family. I wanted very much to be a pillar of the community like my dad. The family thing wasn’t happening but the with a great deal of tugging and getting other young families (Gen-Y’ers) excited and active I got the church to begrudgingly start doing outreach. It wasn’t nearly enough so far as I was concerned so I started going out and seeking those who were lost and abused myself. And the world got a little bigger. I started hanging around with subcultures, fandoms and people who even normal society would eschew. This was also at the peak of the gay marriage debates and I met many hurting and disenfranchised homosexuals who I befriended. I was shocked by number of people who were lost and confused and “…where the bloody hell is the church?!” I asked myself. I spent time with the lost and disenfranchised, the very people Jesus spent time with and there were no church, no missionaries, no preachers, nothing for these people. Not even secular help! I tried to get the church involved. They wanted nothing to do with these people. I tried to take aspiring preachers, elders, anyone who felt we didn’t have to travel to Timbuktu to send missionaries but that there were people just outside our doors for missionaries and missions to focus on. I got no help. This began my disillusionment and my loneliness. I was frustrated with the church and it’s un-Christlike behavior. And I tried to pursue a family. I bought a house, I secured a good job, I remained celibate (no easy feat to do while in the Navy) but it wasn’t happening. I prayed often for God to watch over my future wife and that we may soon meet. And so passed nearly 8 years, trying to get the church off its ass and petitioning God for my future family. The thing that was confusing me more and more with each passing year was how I wasn’t finding a wife. This confuses my family terribly as well. I didn’t understand why God willed it this way, or if I was doing something wrong. I was told he must have someone REALLY special in mind or that we had not reached each other in our own Christian walks yet and I kind of went along with this. But I was not faring well by doing this and no one seemed to know how to help. I moved to Chicago (well, near Chicago) and this loneliness hit harder than ever before. Family helped stave the loneliness some though not fully. But without family, I was deeply lonely and increasingly frustrated. And then began my rapid decline from faith. It started with one young gay man in deep Kentucky. He was a broken soul and one who I help through his depression and abuse. I came to care about him quite a bit and hoped for his future. And one day… he told me how special I was to him. How much he wanted to be with me. That he loved me. And he often fantasized about a future with us together. I did not relent on my convictions then, though he spoke right to the very core of my deepest longing. The thought then was that this was a test. God was testing me to see if I would trust him or give in to the sinful ways of the world. And this thought infuriated me. Why this? Why THIS? A point of greatest weakness. But then, would that not be the best angle for Satan to get at me? Would that not be the truest test of my devotion to God? Yet so long denied companionship, so long denied sex, I couldn’t shake the feeling that this test was utterly cruel. Like starving a friend nearly to death then calling the cops on him if/when he steals food from you. What kind of monster are you to do this to him in the first place? But the Bible is not short on these types of tests. Job being the number 1 example. As time went on, I grew bitter and I decided that I was going to experience sex. Marriage be damned, I resolved in my heart that this was a thing that was going to happen. And it was already sin, so being that it was with another male didn’t really make a difference. I did not lose my faith, I just decided that I’d accept the consequences of my rebellion, whatever they may be. And so I did. And nothing happened. I mean, sex happened, but there were no consequences. Nothing changed. And I remember the very first thought I had after being with another male. It was, “Huh… So that was it?” Like, don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it, in spite of it being awkward and uncomfortable (first-time after all) but nothing in the world changed. Except perhaps me. You see, I for the first time experience a level of intimate connection that I have NEVER experienced in my life. And I wanted more. And so I continued to pursue that intimacy where-ever I could. Around this time, I met who is now one of my dearest friends, Chris, a gay man, a then employee of mine and blindingly intelligent (though no small amount of flaky). But most relevant to me was that he is an ex-Christian. And I do not mean he fell away as a kid. Rather, he converted in his adulthood, took his faith as seriously as I took mine, and fell away. He and I had many many discussions. He was once a young-Earth Creationist, as I was. He was once a Biblical literalist as I was. But what he had that I did not was time. When he started his adult Christian journey, he was homeless at the time living in a warehouse whose owner knew he was there but allowed it and didn’t call the cops on him. Chris at that time read the Bible. Prayed constantly. Went to churches all over. Asking preachers questions, trying to understand himself and understand God. He wanted to KNOW God. But he is gay in attraction and desire. Whereas I can leave it if I so chose, he could not. And he prayed fervently for God to take this away from him. He resolved that he’d have to be celibate for the rest of his life. And after a few months of celibacy, he had dreams of other men. And Chris was confused why God was not helping him. And once he told me in a drunken moment of honesty that he nearly committed suicide because he could not bear the shame and pressure of it. To me, this is the instance where God should have reached into Chris’s life. This is like, all of the conditions for God to rescue someone. He was homeless and broke. He was hungry and cold (winter in Wisconsin). He read scripture and prayed. And nothing. Even to this day he still asks Christian apologists for answer to his questions just to make sure he didn’t miss something but when he tells them the story of his adult Christian journey, the usual response is, “You just weren’t sincere enough.” Which he takes great offense to. When I started to debate with him, I knew instantly I was outclassed. He took his blinding intellect and pointed it at deconstructing his faith far more than I ever had. My intellect was just pointed at how to patch the holes. And he pointed out a few times with frustration that my faith seemed to be very flexible. Like, too flexible. Like I was making shit up as I went along. And I could see what he was saying. It did seem that way and it ran completely opposite of what I actually believed about my faith. But by this time, my questions and frustrations had done nothing but grown. I tried to resolve again and again how I found myself in a gay relationship with this young man from Kentucky. I concluded that I must have failed the test. But then, my life seemed no less blessed than before. Should God’s blessings in my life have gone away? Then I wondered if maybe this relationship was what God actually DID have in mind for me and that thought scared me the most because if that was true, then everything was broken. I am ignorant in all ways and everything I once understood is now broken. Or could it be that God is… inactive? Chris was the best person I have ever talked to because he never found talk of God to be ridiculous. He took it seriously and he took my faith serious and even tried to help me resolve my own misunderstands at times. He actually corrected my theological misunderstandings when I was making them. And he had no agenda to de-convert me. If my conclusion was “God” he was not threatened by that in the least, but he did have some questions for me if that was my conclusion. But by this time, the idea that I was being tested was started to turn my hurt and confusion into anger. Like a person who is being abused when they suddenly realize that the relationship isn’t getting any better. Here’s the analogy I can give for how “God’s test” felt to me: A husband and wife are at a party. The wife is in a room alone and her husband has gone to look for her. As the husband is about to round a corner he hears voices in the next room and so stops to listen. A third man enters the room with the wife and he asks her to leave with him so that he can show her a good time. The husband hears this but waits to see how his wife replies. She tells this stranger that she is married and not interested. The man then grabs her wrist and tugs a little trying to goad her on, telling her not to worry, it’ll be fine. The husband waits. She pulls her arm back saying that she doesn’t want that and to leave her alone. The man then tightens his grip, starting to hurt her, telling her she is coming. She gasps out in pain and starts to call out for her husband. The husband waits. Finally, the man is twisting her arm so hard that she collapses to the floor gasping and sobbing and at last says, “Yes, I’ll go with you, just please stop hurting me.” And the husband thinks, “I see, she never truly loved me.” That is what it felt like to me. I spent many hours sobbing and in prayer. No one came to save me. But this was not the end of my faith. I was still confused as hell. I listened to Christian Apologists. I studied scripture again and again. I started studying and talking about my faith more than I ever had before. I needed answers. The one thing that I held to was at the very center of it all, I knew God’s nature. God’s nature was of mercy, peace and love. That was God’s nature. I didn’t understand why I wasn’t observing that. The world I knew to be true was not lining up with the world I observed. Then, not long ago, I was discussing with Chris about our thoughts on God and the various models for him that we understood and in a rare moment of emotion, Chris said, “If my God actually does exist, I have nothing more to say to him that I have not already said. I am resigned to the fact that he will torture me for all eternity. But at the very least, I will not do it to myself.” And I replied that “If my God does not show mercy and compassion to those whom I have come to love, then I harbor nothing but hatred from Him. Because…” And then I saw it. I saw it plain as day. And I cried for a solid hour before I could even finish that sentence. “…because those are my values.” What I saw in that moment is hard to describe except in metaphor because I have no words to describe it. I held true to my faith because I knew I was created in the image of God. That my goodness was a reflection of His goodness. And in those words I spoke, it was like I turned to look upon the face of God and… it was my face. God, at least as I understood him, as I worshiped him, as I was confident in his nature of goodness… was me. I had taken my values and personified them into god. And while a Christian would argue that this should have been the time for me to let go of my false idol and turn to the Bible (Chris actually had a great C.S. Lewis quote I wish I could remember about our mental idols) I had been training my skepticism since I was a kid. It was the tool I used to field strip other religions and denominations and see their flaws like a Marine could field strip a rifle. And Chris had helped train my skepticism even further by pointing me to the “Less Wrong” community. But I learned that day that skepticism is like a wild animal, looking to tear apart anything that shows weakness. And I showed weakness. And I could not stop my brain from deconstructing every facet of Christianity piece by piece. It was, not a pleasant experience. But at the end of the day, the lynch pin of my faith was predicated on knowing God’s nature. And when I realized I did not know God’s nature, I lost everything. Since then has been a hard road. But perhaps my first moment of shame came when my roommate asked me a question. He knows I am very Biblically literate and sometimes asks me what things are really in there. So one day he was watching a YouTube video where someone made a glib comment about God killing you because you jerked off onto the floor. My roommate asked me if that was in the Bible and I nodded. He paused the video and asked me to explain. This may seem off topic but follow me for a moment. Once when I was a kid, I played Final Fantasy 10 and loved the story. Soon after, I was explaining the story to my mother and it sounded like utter madness. Within the game, the story made sense because you had time to accept its rules. To explain the story to someone else who had not played the game was just complete nonsense. And so I just said casually that it wasn’t the whole “seed on the ground thing” that upset god but that the man, Onan, did it so that he wouldn’t get his brother’s wife pregnant. Which caused my roommate to give me an even more ‘WTF’ kind of look. So I started at the beginning with Judah’s three sons, Er, Onan and Shela and God killing the first two and Judah not allowing the third to impregnate his brothers widow so she dressed like a prostitute and tricked her father-in-law to impregnate her and he got upset and wanted to kill her because he thought she was being a prostitute… the illegal kind… but called it off when he found out the baby was his and called her more righteous than him because he did wrong by withholding his son and she did right by, well, getting pregnant because that was the highest honor for a woman. My roommates jaw was hanging and he just said, “THAT is some f***ed up shit!” And I actually let the raw madness of the story sink in for the first time as I actually felt it and felt crazy even recounting it. And all I could say was, “Yeah, it really is.” My family does not know. I cannot yet bring myself to tell them. About my love life, or my deconversion. I do not know which would hit them hardest. And part of me just wants the lie to continue. I don’t know what to do. But I do not think I am ready for action yet. If you made it this far, thanks. I really wrote it more for me than anyone else. I kinda needed to, to get this all off my chest. But thanks for listening. It means a lot.
  11. 11 points
  12. 10 points
    I'm finally ready to post this... Where to begin? I grew up in a very dysfunctional home with alcoholic and addicted parents who, despite all that, did their best to love me. As an adult I see my parents for what they really are: Humans who make mistakes. They never physically or verbally abused me, but there was a LOT of neglect and a lot of loneliness. My grandparents swooped in to save the day on many occasions and, as a result, I was very close to them. I spent at least some part of every day at their house and if they knew my parents were in a bad place, they would just keep me with them until something else was sorted out. They were kind, loving people who I looked up to with starry eyes and always looked forward to seeing. My Granny dedicated her entire life to religion, a fact I am now a bit depressed thinking about at times. She had a very tragic and gripping tale about how she lost a daughter in a car-wreck and became angry with God for many years. She said she one day found healing and rekindled her relationship with Jesus, remaining faithful until the end. When she passed away she was 93 years old. This story of hers, along with many others, always led me to believe she was an incredibly strong human being to have survived some of the things she did. From picking cotton in the southern heat as a child, to escaping a horribly abusive marriage, to somehow surviving the unthinkable and continuing to live after the loss of a child... Through all of this, she kept her faith. I wanted to be just like her. Oh, how I prayed for such strength and unwavering faith... The trouble was, I just couldn't be that faithful. I didn't have whatever it was that my Granny had that allowed her to remain a believer until death. When I was 17 I thought I was saved and born again, but I was never certain like my Granny. I believed very much in God and Jesus, but I didn't think I could ever reach the top of this faith mountain I had built in my head. I didn't think I would ever be good enough for God and that led me to some very destructive thinking that I will likely suffer with forever. I was incredibly depressed and anxious the entire time I was Christian, terrified that I had purchased a one way ticket to hell somehow and was well on my way, along with everyone else I loved. If only I could be stronger like Granny... When she passed away in August of 2018, I felt the weight of grief for the first time in my life. I tried to turn to God, but my deconversion had already begun. In the last few years of her life, my Granny suffered with dementia. This was something I knew she prayed to avoid for many years prior to getting it. She became angry and scared and was barely recognizable at times. I watched the light fade from her eyes and questioned how a God she had served so diligently for almost an entire century let her slip away with the one disease she begged to never face. At this point in time, I was already living with my Atheist partner who was there for me through every bit of the ride. He watched me cry countless nights and, of course, could not answer my questions about why this was happening. Why had God turned his back on my Granny, our family, on me? Somehow, through all of the pain, I had to start finding answers. The answers I found were not in God's favor, but they absolutely set me free. I sometimes feel I attended my Granny's funeral as a Christian and left as an Atheist. As if enough damage hadn't already been done, the Pastor who had supposedly known and loved her for decades said the names of her children wrong, gave a really BIZARRE speech about the rapture that took up far too much time, and generally dishonored her in every way possible. I was sad and offended by everything that took place, but I also wasn't surprised at this point. This was because I had already been asking questions, praying, and reading for years in an attempt to get my answers from God. Shocker, he didn't answer. So.. I then had this task to figure out how the hell I was supposed to move on. How would I live on this planet without my Granny and accept what had happened to her? How would I live with her passing now that I no longer believed in Heaven? I could no longer take comfort in knowing that she served God her whole life and was now enjoying paradise. I spent my whole life believing that the only way I could ever cope with anyone's death was by being certain they made it to heaven. Then one day I had a groundbreaking thought: My Granny's faith didn't matter in the way I originally thought it did. When I removed faith in God from the equation I realized she was still a strong, loving, patient woman who adored her family and did what she believed was best in her time on Earth. She laughed hard, helped anyone she could, and loved me more than words can describe. She cooked amazing fried chicken, could grow anything in her garden, and had an excellent sense of humor. She was still my Granny and I will always remember her fondly and strive to be even a tenth of the woman she was. I realized that all I want out of life is freedom, truth, and love. When I spend time with my loved ones, especially that pesky Atheist partner, I simply don't need God to be happy anymore. In letting go of God, I have gained so much more than I ever could have imagined. I get to share my life with people who love me for who I am and vice versa. I can look forward to constantly learning new information, growing, and changing my mind. I can help others solely because I feel it is the right thing to do. The anxiety and depression caused largely by indoctrination will continue to plague me, but I'm determined to carry on anyway. Seeing as I now believe I only get one shot at life, I want to make the most of it while I'm here. Goodbye means something different and more permanent to me now, but life just seems that much more precious as a result. I will never have that faith that my Granny had in God, but I believe in love, kindness, and hard work. For the first time in my life, I also believe in myself.
  13. 10 points
    My parents flew in before Christmas and stayed for a week. Within 10 min of walking in,my father asked my oldest child if he could lay hands on her and pray her fever would be gone. She said no,thank goodness. The visit was tense,all parties were careful to avoid religion and politics,except my dad asking my children to pray for him and their siblings. I let my parents pay for nothing. They tried to buy my husband and I for years and that’s over. They looked at houses two hours from me while they were here. I felt sick about it but said nothing. Finally, They flew back home and I sent them a text that they might want to choose another place to live because two get togethers a year is the absolute limit for my emotional and mental health (yup,I said it just like that.) I know my parents choose their god and their fundie Pentecostal religion over me. I accept that and I will do all I can to protect my kids and my family. I even made out my will to ensure my kids will never fall into their hands. I hate fucking religion.
  14. 10 points
    Been there, done that. I no longer play chess with pigeons. Arguing can be fun and even informative for lurkers, but serious debate with someone who already has all the answers from on high, one who plays by rules that don't include logic, has proven to be a waste of time for me. I know how useless any cogent, informed arguments are against a Christian apologist because I used to be one. Nobody other than myself could dent my armor.
  15. 10 points
    I was able to have a nice conversation with my grandma today about how I felt growing up as a closeted gay man amongst religious Christians. There has been this massive fire here in Southern California. I could see that flames all the way from the coast, one of the first things that came to mind was how a lot of Christians would appropriate this natural disasters to blame one of the groups they disagree with, particularly gays. Maybe not all Christians, but on some level they’re thinking it. They’re thinking sodom and gomorah. It just makes me realize that no matter what happens if I get hurt someday or something bad happens to me, there’s going to be someone in my family or former community whose going to think, that happened to him because he was gay, and then to think it is justified and that they’re the ones who are on god’s side. It’s covert narcissism, because first of all it’s ignorant, and then it comes in the guise of being righteous. And no where in there does Christianity allow for the person to think that there is just something in their own mind and life and experience that they have to re-examine to put themselves on equal footing with a person of a different sexuality. As as I left my grandma’s house today she said make sure to remember to pray for so and so (though I’ve told her before I’m an atheist, she didn’t seem to believe) but I’ve felt a little less detached from community being part of this group this last week, and I just told her flat out, “I don’t pray grandma” and I meant it, and I felt it stuck a little more. I’m still emotionally coming around to appreciating how to interact and adjust to social norms as an atheist. It’s also my world view as well, not believing that magic help is coming, but learning and discovering how you can and cannot rely on other people and yourself. So many people have prayed for me at times when that was so far from what I needed. These people patted themselves on the back for essentially not being there for me. But also really helping people can be hard or complicated and is worth respecting. The hollowness of prayer is something that I am happy to be someone who can say no thanks to. It’s also sort of an invitation, like, participate in the real world and keep you imagined powers to yourself. Not having this social nicety to hide behind makes you a better person, gets you off your butt, helps you know what you can and cannot do, what you are and are not willing to do, gives you real world experience, and can led you to accept things as they are, not happily sit at home condemning some people to hell without ever meeting them. I suppose looking and experiencing the world as it is, is probably one of the fastest ways to lose your religion. Although for me going deeper into religion was my way out oddly enough. Prayer is one of those things that stops people from facing reality, the reality of other’s suffering and one’s own limitations(both things which lead a person to treat others with dignity).
  16. 10 points
    FYI I fancy myself a (very amateur) novelist, so I am honestly incapable of brevity… really sorry about the length of this Soooo, I wasn't raised in a super religious family, more a middle-of-the-line Catholic tradition. Christmas, Easter, weddings and funerals, that's about it. Which is weird, actually, because my father is an ex-priest! He maintains to this day that the only reason he left was that he fell in love with my mom (that's another story I should tell someday, it's adorable) and never understood why priests had to take a vow of chastity, but considering his lackadaisical take on faith, I think there's more to it. Not that I'll ever ask. Anyway, I'm the last of six kids, and all six of us were baptized, confirmed, and sent to all-boys or all-girls Catholic high schools. Not for the religious aspect - I can't even remember my parents ever talking to us about God and Jesus. I had a big children's Bible that I read a lot on my own, but that was about it. Religion just wasn't a big part of my parents' lives; instead they preached to us about science, critical thinking, and following your conscience. They taught that everyone, by virtue of being human, has a conscience, and that is the basis for all morality. So they sent us to Catholic school just for the academics, which, I will definitely admit, were amazing. I loved high school, despite being boy-deprived, and got the best education in the city for it. Not to mention, I finally learned the truth about Catholicism... See, in junior high I started playing the viola pretty seriously, so I joined my church's music group just to get more practice. Over the next five years I wound up going to church almost every week, and I became fairly religious, albeit only in a personal way; I didn’t subscribe to everything the priests said, and I never cared to “spread the word” (although I felt guilty about that sometimes). I never once believed in hell because, well, if hell existed, then my dad was definitely going there for breaking his priestly vows. Yet my dad was and is the most wonderful, gentle, selfless, kind person I've ever met, and if there's anyone who doesn't deserve an eternity of torture it's him. I decided long ago that any God who sent any person to hell - even Hitler - was a tyrant, and I was willing to go to hell myself just to stand up against him. So instead, I started to get really good at manipulating the religious teachings around me – those of every religion, Islam and Shintoism alike – to fit this quiet, personal, ecumenical faith of mine. Then I took a class called Theology of the Body. No joke. Basically, we went through the Catholic catechism and debated all the most controversial topics - particularly those surrounding the female body. (What a weird dichotomy, this attempt to mesh biblical misogyny with an all-girls college-prep curriculum. We literally went from this class, where we learned that contraception in any form is inherently evil, to Environmental Science across the hall, where we learned that contraception is the only way to prevent overpopulation and save the planet...) The one that got me the most was gay marriage because, as it happens, my older sister - the only "hero" I've ever had - came out to my family as gay that same month. But whatever, even then I could handle the dissonance, telling myself that people were just misusing the Bible and interpreting it differently, and all that really mattered was that you follow your God-given conscience. I still considered myself a strong Catholic, right up until our teacher - a woman who had "successfully" used Natural Family Planning and ended up with nine children, btw - lectured about how immoral it is to be an "a la carte" Catholic, a fake Catholic who picks the teachings they like and discards the rest: essentially, exactly what I was. Apparently, you must trust completely in the magisterium and the catechism, no matter how starkly your conscience disagrees. She went so far as to illustrate this point with her own struggle to understand the Church's teachings on embryos. (I never wasted my time to look this up, but according to her, the Church says that any frozen in-vitro embryo should be left to die naturally rather than be "unnaturally" implanted into a woman's body. That, despite all the Church's insistence that an embryo is alive, apparently if it is created "unnaturally" in the first place, it would be another sin to unnaturally help them live than to just let them die.) She could not fathom how that teaching was moral, but she expounded how virtuous she was for accepting it as truth anyway. I could not. This was the beginning of the end for me. Theology of the Body taught me, for the first time, what Catholicism – or any religion, though I wouldn’t admit that for a long time – really means… control of the body. Especially women’s bodies. Catholicism isn’t just faith in the Trinity, inspiration from the lives of Mary and the saints, and wise words from scholars of the Bible. It’s a fucking game based on a strict rulebook written by old, western men who have never even had the influence of women or people of another culture to wisen them. Well, I wasn't going to let someone call me fake for following my conscience, so I just said fuck it, I guess I'm not Catholic. At the same time, my family went through some shit, and I ended up with severe depression that has followed me ever since. In my depressed, youthful impulsivity, I graduated high school and decided to move 2000 miles across the country to Portland, OR for college, where I thought I would find a liberal non-denominational Christian community I could really feel I belonged in. God was I wrong. Somehow I wound up in this little pocket of conservatism that I didn't even know existed on the west coast, and fell into a group of cultish Evangelicals. Their campus club was called, with no iota of sarcasm, "Campus Crusade for Christ." I once mentioned that maybe an effort to convert modern youths would do well not to evoke war, medieval ignorance, and the slaying of infidels, but they just laughed that off. I mean, these people thought that the Bible was literal (before this I didn’t even know Biblical inerrancy was a thing), that drinking was a sin, that science was a sham, and that distance from Jesus was what caused mental health issues. Of course, I didn’t know all this at first. They were just a bunch of fun, silly kids like me – they did watch modern TV, after all, and make jokes and even cuss sometimes. And besides, I was lonely and seeking adventure, and these were the kids who were going spelunking and hiking every weekend. Slowly, over time, little things popped up. One: My first ever boyfriend broke up with me because I got drunk on New Year's Eve (he also wrote a silly blog post about not letting your girlfriend use you as a "ladder to Christ" when she's less pious than you, which hurt me a lot at the time). Afterward, when a friend invited me over for what I thought was a shit-on-boys, tub-of-ice-cream, 13-Going-On-30 type of night, she ended up missionizing me. (Which makes sense since she had actually spent eight or so years in Indonesia because her parents were missionaries... So she also had lots of backwards arguments and circular thinking that I just could not penetrate or even recognize at the time.) She told me that he was right to break up with me, that I should never have drunk because it's a sin, and that everything I believed about God was "illogical." That the only morality that exists in the world comes directly from the Bible, so if we didn't have the Bible, everyone would be raping and murdering nonstop. She told me, unblinkingly, that my beloved uncle, who gave me shelter and food for three years rent-free, was going to hell just because he was Muslim. The next day she took me to church, and as I stood for the Eucharist (or whatever those heathens called it), she stopped me and told me I couldn't take it because I wasn't a real Christian. Two: A bit later, I opened up to all of these friends in a Bible study night and told my religious "testimony." At the time, much of it surrounded my struggles with depression and finding a church community where I felt I fit in. A few days after that, a different friend invited me to Panera for what I thought was a white-girls-giggling-over-Pumpkin-Spice type of lunch. Instead, without wasting a goddamn minute, she asked what I believed about God and regurgitated everything the missionary girl had said. But here's the kicker: this one told me that the reason I have depression is because I don't have a good relationship with Jesus. Not only am I seeking help the wrong way by getting therapy and medicine, but I need help in the first place because I'm not a good enough Christian. Three: Another girl in our group came out as bisexual, and she had just met the woman of her dreams. One night she opened up to us all about how heartbroken she felt, how lonely and alienated, how unfair it seemed that God would give her true love and not allow her to have it. She wanted to be with this woman so badly, but didn't know what was right or wrong anymore. Well take a guess what everyone else said... "Obviously your feelings are wrong, you know you can't, God will provide, don't stray from the Word, it's a test, that woman was sent by Satan, blah fucking blah." I later took this girl aside and told her to ignore everyone else, because if God is love and what you feel for this woman is love, then it can't possibly be wrong. I don't think she heard me that night, but I certainly heard everyone else. Soon thereafter we had a camping trip, and everyone went around gushing about how welcome they always feel and how they're so lucky to have found this group where they truly belong. That's when it hit me like a fucking rock, after four whole wasted years: I wasn't one of them. I had never felt welcome because I had never belonged. I was just lonely and desperate and they were just waiting to win my soul. I went home after the camping trip and deleted every one of those fuckers off of Facebook and my phone contacts, and I haven't talked to them since. For a little while I tried to continue to be spiritual. But it gradually waned. I got a major in psychology and a minor in anthropology, where I learned about the neurological effects/causes of prayer and religious experience in the brain. Also that the neurons in our brains literally build highways, connections directly from one neuron to the next, such that a particular stimulus physically leads to a particular response - unless, over a time of being unused, that highway atrophies. And I think that's how thinking about God and religion works, why you're encouraged to pray every night and why traditions are so effective. It all seemed so mechanical now, so evolved, nothing mystical about it. My "Jesus highway" atrophied when I stopped hanging out with people who constantly talk about Jesus, and soon I stopped getting the same emotional response to prayer or mass or Biblical verses. Then I learned about a cave in France with a pseudo-religious burial of Neanderthals. A fucking family of Neanderthals was buried all facing one direction, all in the same position, with flowers and herbs by their side, suggesting their own belief in an afterlife. Not to mention the (roughly) 44,000 years of prehistoric human culture, and the Neanderthal and Denisovan DNA present in most modern humans. I mean, if all these "prehumans" were human enough to conceive of an afterlife and, in fact, are our greatx1500 grandparents, then at what point did God give us souls? Why us and not them? What makes Homo sapiens more special than Homo neanderthalis? My manipulations weren't working anymore. Finally I was able to look at the Bible as a piece of archaeological literature, at the cultures of the people of the time and the people prior, and understand how it all came together. Eventually I just said fuck it, I guess I'm not religious. I was comfortable for a long time with religions existing, as long as they didn't bother me personally. I figured if they help some people, good for them. Then I started dating my current boyfriend, a man who never stops analyzing and never accepts a fact at face value. His favorite music group is Bad Religion haha, and he's the first person I've ever talked to who openly admits that religion is a net negative influence on humanity. He slowly chipped at my indifference, encouraged me to question every belief and thought I have, and taught me to pay attention to the emotions that cloud my logic. What a man About a month ago he and I watched Religulous, with Bill Maher. I had another sudden realization: religions, by nature, are wrong. The very basis of faith is "believing without seeing," which is the opposite of science, the opposite of anything we know to actually be helpful in this life. Religions at their core urge people to forgo critical analysis, to forgo their own conscience, in favor of what someone says. That's the most absurd and tyrannical thing I've ever heard, masquerading successfully as the only morality in the world!! What the fuck?? I felt so stupid, so duped. I started looking up anti-religious arguments for the first time, to hone my thoughts and relieve a little bit of the anger, and voila. Here I am! I feel eased, mostly. I don't struggle with cognitive dissonance anymore, I don't worry about fitting my beliefs into the teachings of Christianity. I feel free to criticize, and everything makes sense now. I don't feel as lost as many of you, since my worldview hasn't actually changed too much. It's not like I ever thought Genesis was literal, or morality only came from the Bible. I never even believed in hell, just heaven - and that's the only thing that bothers me today. I spent 22 years believing I will get to meet my saintly grandma, being comforted with the idea that I won't really be saying goodbye when my parents inevitably pass (I was a very late "oops" baby, so their impending death has always been on my mind). My own death doesn't scare me in the least; I won't be aware of it. I just hate saying goodbye to others. But I'm coming to terms with death by thinking of life, every individual life, as a beautiful, complete story, one that would only be diminished by a sequel. That helps. Thanks for reading (if you got this far), and for being such a welcoming community. It's nice to actually belong I'm looking forward to some awesome conversations! [Side note, if you're interested: I recently did some Facebook stalking and, get this, the dude who broke up with me for drinking... he's now a bartender. The missionary chick is now a neuroscientist. The Panera girl got married and her pastor father gave a sermon at his own daughter's wedding about men being the head of the house and women being obedient to their husbands. And the girl who struggled with loving another woman? She has now been happily married to that woman for two years, and they have two kids. I couldn't make this shit up.]
  17. 10 points
    Wow, that was a rather lengthy way to say, "You were never a real Christian anyway." Thanks, because we never heard that one before. Thanks for playing!
  18. 9 points
    Any idea why that is? Perhaps because Islamic countries can get away with throwing homosexuals from rooftops and more enlightened societies can't. It takes a special kind of hero to come out and admit who they are when their life is in constant danger. It's tough in an open society, suicidal in repressive regimes.
  19. 9 points
    Hey everyone, Since the last time I shared my back story in detail was probably years ago, I suppose a little summary is in order before I share what went on today. I'm in my mid-forties, adopted, raised in a fundamentalist Christian household. I got in a lot of trouble as a kid, did very poorly in school, and was never very good at typical good Christian Behavior. As a young adult, I moved out of my parents home and began to pursue a career as a songwriter and professional musician. I spent a couple of years actually paying the rent and feeding myself playing music and not having any other job. It was of course, not glamorous, but it was exactly what I wanted to do with my life, even after I had heard all the speeches about how unlikely it was that I would succeed at such a choice. I had a few opportunities to take giant steps forward in my music career, but for reasons that I am only just now beginning to understand, I undermined and sabotaged my work by not following through. Fast forward to my mid-twenties. I got married to a woman that I had known since I was a child, and had dated for almost seven years previous to our marriage. I decided, in a misguided attempt to conform my life to what I imagined my parents wanted from me, to quit playing music and settle down, or so I thought. I moved to the southeastern United States and went to Bible College, with an eye toward a degree and a position as a preacher or evangelist in a church somewhere. I involve myself in contemporary Christian music, on the local church level and also in an experiment to see whether my chops and experience would translate to the kind of thing that the Christian music industry recognizes as Talent. Lots of ups and downs, a few Church changes and more than a few struggles and arguments. What I did not realize, at least not to any real extent, was that I had attempted to conform myself to the imaginary standards of a god, and to the pressures and expectations of religious community, all for the sake of building some false sense of security oh, so that I would not have to fear testing my potential at the things I was really good at. I came to realize recently, after two bouts with severe, crippling depression, that I could no longer pretend that I believed or even tolerated the nonsense that had come to Define my wife's daily activities and inner life. Anyway, fast forward again, this time to this morning. Over the last couple of weeks, I had a sudden Resurgence of creativity after years of writer's block and near-total disinterest in my musical creative processes. I knew that I had to pursue this flow of creativity, and I had to be free of the self-doubt and fundamental self mistrust that typifies Christian religion. I told my wife this morning things that we had already discussed, things like the idea that we love one another, but are no longer in love, because we both silently understand that our lives are inevitably going in, and are meant to go in, two very different directions. I explained to her that it did not matter whether she was willing to continue to imagine that we still had a married relationship. Ultimately, I knew that her adherence to the Bible as the word of a god mint that regardless of how she tried to ignore it, her religion dictated that I am an outsider, failed, sinful, and Bound for hell, because I do not believe there is a God, let alone the Christian one. I told her that we needed to accept that, practically speaking, we were always going to have this huge difference between us, and that clinging to these beliefs is what has been helping her, while letting go of these beliefs is what has helped me. In short, we have reached the place where we both understand that if I continued to pretend that I can tolerate insinuating myself into her Social Circles, exclusively Christian people, which are the only friendships that she has, there would sooner than later, time when my attitude and our relationship would implode. I recognized, and told her as much, that I now understand my propensity for Bridge burning, and I wanted this to be an understanding, not a destruction. I want to be able to move forward in positive ways, and I want her to value the community and friendships that she has, that she will continue to have even if I am out of the picture. For all of their sincerity and conviction, none of the people that we are surrounded by have been inspired by their spirit to ever contact me, asked me to spend time together, pray for me, or in any other since be anything but friendly and smiley on Sundays. In other words, there's no reason for me to expect that this community of Christians is good for me, but that does not at all mean that I want to disabuse my wife of her beliefs, in so far as her involvement in the Christian world seems to be a source of comfort, safety, and worldview that she can be comfortable with. I am finally free, in the most honest sense, from any obligation to pretend that those beliefs and that environment needed to be meaningful to me at all. I have had the first important conversation about it with her. The next conversation will have to be with her and my children together. Then, there will be the conversation with the pastor of our local church, who admittedly has been compassionate and a good listener, even welcoming questioning, doubting, critical topics of conversation concerning the Christian religion and Church in general. I know this has been a long post. I wrote it to encourage anyone in a similar situation to embrace honesty about what they believe, or don't believe, rather than trying to handle the weight of how it is going to affect others. If, in fact, you really do not believe these things, you can be completely honest about it without having to scream, without having to blame, and without any expectation that the other people in your life are going to follow you down that path of thought. It's not necessary for anyone else to be convinced of your rightness... It is only necessary that you are honest with yourself and everyone around you, so that the cognitive dissonance and pressure of forced conformity do not bring about ugly, destructive, and scarring consequences. Thank you all for reading. Please feel free to comment or ask questions as you see fit. I'm sure I may have left out a detail or two in trying to explain this journey, and I'm more than glad to talk about it.
  20. 9 points
    Overcoming Religious Indoctrination: 6 Steps Towards Sanity David Nicholls Religious indoctrination is real. It is a traditionally-based process of all cultures. Its power is such that peoples so affected have a ‘belief’ they have chosen their particular ‘faith’ above the many on offer throughout the planet. All religions work on the principle of exposing each new generation to a single worldview, to the exclusion of all others, in a repetitious and authorative manner. Doubts, as to the veracity of such ‘teachings’, are not encouraged, indeed, are not tolerated. Once learned, the information so gained is retained for life, allowing it to take on an instinctive mantle in later years. As with all acquired knowledge, such as learning to ride a bicycle or rote remembrance of mathematical time’s tables, once taught, unlearning is not an easy option. This is not to say that the results of such methodology are not practically overcome-able. Youthful brains soak up information with little effort, establishing permanent neuronic pathways. Older brains require considerably more effort to alter this situation. There are many Atheists to attest to this. In fact, it is the rule rather than the rarity that most Atheists were raised from infancy under some religious regime or other. Even the most intense religious indoctrination can be overcome. Here is how it is achieved: First, one must become acquainted with and become used to the correct terminology pertaining to religious indoctrination. Even though the religious are quick to point out that others have been brainwashed (such as communists, other religious adherents and even Atheists), it is they who have succumbed to this process. Brainwashing/inculcation/indoctrination is one in the same word in meaning. These words are used in reference to promoting a one-sided opinion as being truthful, without allowing access to other ideas and with no reservation in calling it unjustifiably, the ‘truth’. Considering the adverse ramifications of such methods and results of brainwashing, this is nothing less than mental child abuse of the worst kind and one day it will be viewed that way. Just seriously think about this for a moment. If you are religious or harbour religious thoughts, it is more than most likely the result of being abused and mentally used as a child. There is no escaping this fact. That the abused can then go on to abuse others in a likewise fashion is near enough to proof positive of the reality of the situation. Under the guise of a good for humanity, the fear of death and/or eternal damnation is instilled into the pliable and susceptible minds of children and continues into adulthood. Sprinkled with tales of eternal life, temporal wishes supernaturally achievable, the unworthiness of humans and the existence of a ‘good’ and an ‘evil’, sets the mental scene for subservient confusion. Second, after recognising one has been abused and brainwashed against their will and without their knowledge, if escape is required, then effort to combat this negative outlook must be more intense and prolonged than the unwanted religious input. A good start is to fully appreciate that all religious people of the thousands of religions that have and do exist, have been similarly abused, with them considering that they have the correct religion and all others are wrong. Even religions under the same name can state unequivocally that their counterparts have it incorrect. As an example, fundamentalist Christianity classes the Pope as the Anti-Christ and Catholicism a heresy. Third, take a proper look at Earth. 50,000 Iranians have been recently killed by earthquake, 3,000 many-denominational people died in the Twin Towers, 6 million Jewish people died in the Holocaust etc etc. Where were their respective gods? They were remarkably silent as they have been throughout history in humanity’s darkest hours. Look at the system that sustains life on our planet: Every life form preys on another life form to exist. Some of this in such brutal and horrible fashion as to totally exclude the idea of a ‘loving’ god as the creator. Look how the dice of life favours some and is more than wretched to others. Look how natural disasters and pathogens kill and maim indiscriminately. Fourth, it must be consciously recognised that books and ideas of old came from ignorant times, and were written and passed on by ignorant men living by the malleable rules of all-encompassing superstition. Fifth, and most importantly, it must be remembered that religions have held sway since consciousness arrived many tens of thousands of years ago. It is only in the last few hundred years that science has leapt onto the scene, and in doing so, has began to devour the very pillars holding superstition aloft. Although it is not fully accepted yet, the one part of science that will eventually be seen as the most profound is the principle of evolution. Not only has science found no evidence for a supernatural realm, it has shown that evolution requires no such thing to sustain it. Sixth and lastly, it therefore has to be asked as to why a super-being or thing would initiate a universe with us as only an infinitesimal dot within it. The Universe works on definite laws in a rational manner. Even if quantum structure appears not to be so! Such a rational creative force would hardly expect us to accept the irrationality that is religion especially as it is introduced in the heinous form of child abuse. An all-loving god with control over every particle in existence, that chooses to allow immense suffering, cannot exist. An all-powerful god incapable of creating perfect happiness for its creation is an oxy-moronic concept. An all-knowing god that cannot see the inherent goodness of humanity and does not nurture and aid its creation in a fair and equitable manner is a god of immeasurably immoral proportion. These thoughts and similar must be the constant companion of the adult psyche wishing to escape the foolishness of religious mind control. Victims of child abuse can overcome the strong hold it has on them and in doing so can benefit greatly from the conflict. The brainwashing will always remain but in its subjugation it will eventually be replaced with feelings of pride of accomplishment.
  21. 9 points
    Well, where to begin? I'll start with I grew up in church. Went to a Baptist Church most of my life. With stints in assembly of God etc when we moved. However I eventually found my way back to the baptist Church of my childhood. The one my grandmother always went to. I attended a Christian private school from 5th grade until my freshman year of high school. I knew that school was expensive and I knew my family barely made it happen; plus I wanted to be in a school with more than a couple hundred kids ranging from kindergarten to 12th grade. I also simply didn't fit in there too well. I was a metal head and while I listened to many Christian metal bands, I was repeatedly told that Christian rock was an oxymoron, a contradiction I should pray about because I was being decieved by Satan with such "music." Well, I got out of the school but stayed in chruch. Then I joined the military and left my hometown for good. And in doing so, left my church. I never really went back but I always believed. Fast forward to a couple months ago... I just started listening to podcasts a lot and one of my absolute favorites is the Joe Rogan Experience. He hosted Megan Phelps Roper, the grand daughter of Fred Phelps...founder of the westboro baptist Church. Now, we all know how disgusting they were and are but one thing that can be said about then is they taught the Bible. Literally. She was the beginning of the end for me. She's out of the church now and is very open about her reasons for leaving and abandoning her faith. She quoted Romans 9:22. Now, I've read the Bible a few times. Probably in whole at least once but always in pieces... This section here, this section there. Always handpicked to help prop up the lesson my Bible teachers in school were teaching or the pastor was preaching. Some of what she said flew in the face of everything I had ever been taught to believe and it came straight from the Bible. So deeply contradictory to so many other verses and lessons. I started really reading but it didn't take long for me to find out just how bad it was. Thanks to the internet I quickly found all I needed to know to decide I had been living a life believing so many false things. How could this book be God's ordained words when it literally disproves itself time and again? And if it isn't God's word then that makes it a lie. And if it is that then that makes god, well, not real. I've been devouring information since. And stumbled upon this website. Glad I did and glad to see I'm not the only one who's experienced this. Thanks for having me. Looking forward to using this site and learning what I can. Aaron
  22. 9 points
    "7Then I cried out unto my Mod, and saith, 'Oh merciful Mod, how long shalt thou suffer this false prophet in thy midst? 8For he hath surely come that he might deceive the people and lead them astray from thee. 9Cast him down into The Lion's Den that he may be torn limb from limb by thy faithful servants, 10even unto the depths of Sheol, that thy name be glorified.'" The Book of Second Redneckians chapter 6
  23. 9 points
    It’s Spring of 2004. I thought I was finally in the place I was supposed to be in; God’s perfect will for my life. I was being paid $300 a week to play piano and lead worship at Living Water Church in Fort Worth, Texas with my husband, Bob, who was also part of the worship team. I had been redeemed from the guilt and shame of past divorce and choices that took me out of God’s will. Every Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night, I went early to church to prepare my song list with the band and vocalists for the upcoming church service. I lead the church people through the worship portion of the church service, then played piano and sang during the altar call part of the service, after the pastor’s sermon. The only glitch in “God’s perfect will” was that my unhealthy marriage and home life were taking a toll on me. Since my marriage to Bob in January of 1999, his untreated and uncontrolled mental illness had put me in a state of depression and hopelessness. I came to a point where I felt I could no longer continue in my present home situation, so I went to my pastor for help. He was aware of Bob’s mental condition and encouraged me to seek help from a professional counselor. He gave me the number for a Christian counseling referral service. I made an appointment for Bob and I, but never expected Bob to go with me. Sure enough, he didn’t. My new counselor was very understanding of me, but said she wasn’t able to counsel Bob and me as a couple. From what I described of Bob, she told me she didn’t feel he would be able to participate in a relationship until he received therapy on his own and took control of his mental illness. She saw how I was hurting and told me I needed to focus on taking care of myself and not expect anything from Bob without years of therapy. I felt I had to separate from Bob and get healthy myself. Although I wasn’t happy about another divorce, I felt it was necessary for my mental and emotional health. I was concerned about the security of my church position as worship leader while going through divorce and my counselor advised me to ask my pastor and his wife for support before continuing as worship leader. After I got home, I thought about who I could talk to for support. I had been in Living Water Church for a few years and thought of the church people as my extended family. I called a lady who was the leader of the church’s version of AA, a twelve-step Christian-based program for people with addictions. I knew this woman was doing community service for a drunk driving conviction and had been divorced a few times herself. I felt since she wasn’t the stereotypical church person, she would be the one I could confide in. Moments after I hung up the phone from talking to her, she called the pastor and told him everything I had said. When I told Pastor Wade of my counselor’s advice to divorce Bob, he was not happy. He said she wasn’t a Christian counselor and thought I should find a different one. That wasn’t an option for me. I felt freedom and hope just at the thought of getting out of the marriage and there was no going back. Dr. Kathy Foster had not only understood me, but affirmed me and gave me hope. I asked the pastor whether or not he would be able to support me through the divorce. He was very vague in his answer, but he wanted me to continue as worship leader. In the next couple of weeks, I began the process of separating from Bob. I couldn’t afford to keep the apartment we were in, so I began packing up to move all Kory's and my things into a storage building. I planned to stay with friends until I could get on my feet and get us a place of our own. This was a very stressful time for me and I felt very alone. I was not only going through a third divorce, but also financial uncertainty. On Wednesday night at church, Pastor Wade told me the church board wanted to meet with me the following Friday morning. They wanted to discuss my reasons for getting divorced and determine if they would allow me to continue my position as the church worship leader. I was planning to move out of my apartment the next day, Saturday, at which time my son and I would basically be homeless. It wasn’t a great time for such a meeting, but I wanted to continue my job as worship leader if at all possibly, so I agreed. I felt uneasy about the church board meeting and I had typed up a letter summarizing my years with Bob and why I felt I could no longer stay in the marriage. I also mailed a copy of the letter to my parents because I couldn’t bear the shame of telling them in person that I was getting divorced again. The church board consisted of four men. I asked another woman, Debbie Oliver, who sang with me on the worship team to attend the meeting just so I wouldn’t be the only female in the room. Friday morning, I walked into the pastor’s office with my letter in my hand. The six men, wearing suits and ties, were all sitting in a half circle with fake Christian smiles on their faces. They greeted me and offered me a donut and a cup of coffee, to which I declined. I was in the process of packing up to move, so I arrived with no makeup on and dressed for a day of working at home. My friend and supposed support person, Debbie, had not yet arrived. My pastor began the meeting by asking me to chronicle my personal life with Bob and give my reasons for wanting out of the marriage. I sobbed as I told my story and answered his questions. As I cried and sat in that chair being judged by those six men, I felt emotionally naked and vulnerable. Just when I thought it was over, an African man named Brainwave stood up and began pointing his finger at me. His voice was loud and accusatory. He began asking me more questions while throwing in his personal opinions of people who are divorced, specifically women who divorce their husbands. He kept yelling “can you submit?” This continued on for a few minutes, then I was allowed to leave. My insides were completely torn up. After the meeting, one of the men came up to me and told me to please let him or his wife, Phyllis, know if they could help me in any way. I thanked him. I didn’t understand why he or anyone else in the room did nothing to help or support me. Debbie showed up late, but never said a word. Brainwave is from a totally different culture than American. As far as I know, women are abused in his culture. Why was he given so much power in that room? The next morning the pastor brought a group of teenage boys from the church to help us move. My son, Joel, drove up from Tyler, Texas to help as well. We moved all our belongings into the storage building, then came back to spend the night in a virtually empty apartment. I woke up in the early morning hours just physically and emotionally spent. Even though I had passed the test with the church board, I just had nothing left to give. I woke my preacher dad in the middle of the night to tell him about what was going on and to ask his advice. He said he felt the pastor was out of line with his interrogation meeting and it would be okay for me to take some time off from my church ministry to get through this difficult time. I immediately went to my computer and typed up a letter of resignation. I got to church Sunday morning and waited until Pastor Wade had left his office to slip my letter on his desk. I led the worship service as usual, only I cried through the whole thing. I’m sure the church people just thought I was deeply moved by the Holy Spirit. As soon as I finished my duties at the piano, I went to the car to wait for Kory and Joel, hoping the pastor would read my letter after I had gone. No such luck. As I sat waiting in my car, the pastor came up to my window and questioned me about my resignation. He asked me why I hadn’t resigned before he had helped me move. I told him I was hurt by Brainwave at the church board meeting. He said, “Why? He had every right to ask what he asked and you answered appropriately.” I asked him, “when will it be your turn to answer questions about your personal life?” He said, “that’s part of being a church leader.” I told him, “then I’m done with being a church leader.” The next day, I called my sister to come and help me load up my piano with her truck and take it to the storage building I had rented. Kory continued going to the church youth group for a while so I had to go back to the church to drop him off and pick him up. Also, the couple Kory and I moved in with continued going to Living Water Church. They told me the church never acknowledged that I had left or said anything about me. They just had someone else take my place. As I vomited up that old memory of abuse by church leaders, it brought up feelings of hurt and rage. It seems like a huge hurdle to think about forgiving those ignorant people so I can heal and move on from it. I'm hoping after I completely deal with the injustice of the whole thing, I will be able to thank them all. This is the event that finally broke the camels back. The hurt of staying was worse than the uncertainty of leaving. Even though I had no job and no home, the pain of staying was worse. The woman I am today, post-church, would never allow herself to be mistreated like the church woman I used to be. This woman is not vulnerable and refuses to be a part of any group or system that treats people like they are "less than" for any reason. I love the new freedom and life I have found since this horrendous event.
  24. 9 points
    I am so happy lately to be learning. I am 39 and finally learning about evolution. I am learning about things outside of the Bible. The Bible is not and should never be used as instruction for history or science or well anything. The day my children are forced to learn anything from the Bible in their public schools will be the day I come unhinged and out of the closet as an atheist. I will come out loud, proud, angry, and shouting. I just recently told my oldest children that if this ever happens to let me know. I told them that if they feel their teachers aren’t fully teaching them about things like evolution to let me know. We live in the Bible Belt so I’m pretty certain only the basics may be taught. I am going to take it upon myself to make certain my children learn the truth. Soon I am taking my girls to the Natural History Museum which is about 2 hours from our house. I am 39 and I have never seen dinosaur fossils except in videos. I saw a replica at the O’Hare airport but never the real thing. The replica literally brought me to tears. I can’t explain to everyone how much happier I am to have finally fully escaped the religious delusion I was living under. Sometimes I am angry and sad about the whole ordeal and you may sense that in my posts from time to time. I am not simply blaming my parents for this. The indoctrination was wrong yes, their continued pushing beliefs on me and my children is wrong. I however take responsibility for not pulling away from all of this sooner. I take responsibility for ignoring truths which were directly in my face and I also take responsibility for my own ignorance regarding scientific truths. I want to learn and know. I have been watchcing a lot of AronRa’s videos lately and I’m loving it! If anyone can point me to more learning resources I would appreciate it.
  25. 9 points
    Seriously, it takes a lot of courage to face the unknown in a very real way, and to stick to what you know and feel is right despite a tidal wave of social conditioning. Browsing here the past year has been an experience of relief of knowing that I am not alone, and also an experience of awe of people standing up for themselves under extremely difficult circumstances that dwarf mine (not that it's a competition). Give yourself a break. Pat yourself on the back. Take a deep breath and 'remember who you are' a la Lion-King style. This has been: A Random Shoutout. -DT
  26. 9 points
    I see a lot of unusual aliases in use here but even the more mundane often have a story as to how they came about. So how did you decide to use yours? My nickname Wertbag is from when I first learnt touch typing ~30 years ago (manual typewriter back then, but one skill that carried through to modern tech). The exercise asked for top row with the left hand then bottom with right. I slipped up and typed Wertba, but my brain read it complete. It amused me, was unique and i needed something for the bbs sites (like websites prior to the Internet) and have used it ever since.
  27. 9 points
    @Axelle That’s awesome. Very happy for you. “What do I do?” If you choose to tell your parents about your situation then do so without apology or self guilt. You’ve got nothing to apologize or feel guilty about. You’re a grown ass woman with the world at her fingertips. You can’t control their reaction. Maybe they do flip their shit on you. Guess what? They will get over it. And if they don’t, that’s not your problem. Christianity teaches people to feel bad about who they really are. It teaches you to go around and apologize for literally just being yourself. Do you and fuck what anyone thinks about it. Period. To reiterate; be yourself and offer no apology for it. Sever the cords of self guilt that Christianity planted inside you. Cut ties with that mentality and accept every single aspect of yourself as best you can. You need not explain your actions or living situation to anyone, including your parents. Form and shape your own destiny based on what works for you. People have a hard enough time living their own life let alone trying to live yours for you. Do what thou wilt.
  28. 9 points
    You can take the woman out of religious patriarchy, but you can't take the patriarchy out the woman, at least not very easily. That's what I've learned in the last two years. I want to speak about this topic, because I've considered myself a liberated woman (even before I left religion, as ironic as that is). But sometimes, you don't see the ropes, until there's another mind shift, and only then do you see the ropes that were tying you down. I want to speak in particular to any women out there, particularly those of the ex fundamentalist variety. Maybe they might benefit in some small measure by this insight. The patriarchy is so invisible sometimes, that even we women don't recognize it, or how it works. In particular, it's difficult to see if it has been upheld in some ways by the women around you, who have played a large role in your life. I have a relatively forward thinking mom. She always impressed upon me that it was OK to desire the best of both worlds, a career, a husband, and a family. However, even if it wasn't said, it was taken for granted that every woman in the church wanted a husband and family. You were abnormal somehow if you expressed another wish. I was one of the ones that actually wanted a husband and family, so I never struggled with that issue. I always struggled more with what I wanted in building a career. But I excelled in education and I loved learning and would have continued down the academic path as a career, if things hadn't become so challenging on some levels. Anyway, fast forward to my mid 30s, and deconversion, at which time I started to pick apart the patriarchy on a whole other level, and recognize how religion had influenced and ordered my life. One of the first things I did relatively soon after escaping the church was join the dating world. That can be summed up in one word: disillusionment. A few people close to me questioned this. Didn't I want to find out who I was without religion first? Why didn't I take some time? I myself figured I was doing it because, well, I could (dating outside of the church was outlawed and I had no interest within the church). Well, fast forward one year later, and another mind shift, and I can tell you guys, I'm unsure how many fetters of the religious patriarchy are left to tie me down, but some clearly were. It's so difficult to recognize how deeply we have internalized all the messages in religion, culture, the surrounding world around us. I somehow thought I was immune to all the messaging in the church that a woman is less/diminished without a man in her life, but no, I had internalized that on a deep level, and the first thing I wanted to do after getting the hell out of the church was find myself someone, and prove that I was an equal to all those women (and the system as a whole) that had made me feel less than. In hindsight, it's so easy to recognize this motivation. But, I've only been able to recognize it now that I've made a more conscious decision, because I really want to, to exit the dating scene and focus on my own life and finding my own happiness. It really doesn't matter how much of a liberated woman you tell yourself you are. You're only liberated when you begin to truly believe that your value isn't tied to any other person, or relationship. And the patriarchy, particularly the religious variety, will have you think otherwise.
  29. 9 points
    TABA, Here's what works for me and many, many other women that I talk to. When she is overwhelmed, hurt and upset, ask her this one question: ''What do you need from me right now and is there anything that I can do for you to help you feel better''. Most of the time we will tell you. Do not try to fix the situation because we already know basically what we are going to do. We just need to vent and want you to listen. Give it a try and see what happens. Best to you hon. Big ((hug))
  30. 9 points
    Maybe if you just give her support without criticism then she wont feel like she has to be in defense mode around you. Which hopefully will allow her to relax, be more objective and discover for herself that she has been adding to the problem. My wife has my back even when I do or say something kind of stupid. LoL. I think that's what she does for me: allows me to figure it out on my own. Put a positive supportive spin on what she does. It seems better than being angry/hurt all the time. We all need someone in our corner , even when we're being an idiot.
  31. 9 points
    Me: “Have a nice day” Them: “I prefer have a BLESSED day” Me: “I hope you get a paper-cut”
  32. 9 points
    Having lived in the state for the past 33 years it is clear to me that the correct spelling truly is FLORDUH, emphasis on the DUH.
  33. 9 points
    Hello I'm 36, preacher's/missionary's kid, former southern Baptist. Almost 2 years ago I began to accept the scientific evidence that the universe is old, rather than 6-10k years old. Because my faith had been built around the necessity that the bible must be interpreted literally, and considered inerrant, my faith began to fall like a chain of dominoes. First was accepting evolution, then rejecting the idea of original sin, then rejecting the concept of hell, then believing possible universalism, then deism...which is where I am now. Its been a difficult two years, but I think when I come out the other side of all this it will be rewarding. My husband is still a believer, but is extremely understanding of my situation. I've explained to him that through all this I have realized that nobody on this earth has any more control over what they believe than they do which country they're born in. We have 4 young children and I'm concerned that they will be confused about receiving different answers to questions as they grow, but hopefully we will figure it out together. We haven't been to church in 2 years, so at least that's not an issue. Anyway, thanks for reading, I'm glad I found this forum.
  34. 9 points
    This is actually a valid argument. There is absolutely no reason that we should expect to be able to understand God, His mind, His will, His plan, or anything else about Him. But it works both ways. Christianity is specifically a claim to know the will of God. Hence, on this line of reasoning, there can never be any reason to think that it is correct. So much, then, for Christianity.
  35. 8 points
    I have found for me that guilt is quite a good thing. I look at the 'feeling' and ask myself if it is valid? Guilt reminds me that I might have hurt someone with the way I have spoken or acted. That's when I change my behavior to try to become a better person. You have done nothing wrong just because you don't believe the same things as your in-laws. Shame is when we hold on to the fact that we aren't good enough. Well, guess what? Humans aren't good all the time. We blow it. We make mistakes. We screw up. We fuck up somewhere just about every day. We don't share the same beliefs. So do not allow yourself to hold on to the shame because it's a totally useless emotion. Be yourself!! This is where your in-laws come in and you feeling like a piece of shit for something they believe and you don't. That's not your fault. You are allowed to be different and they should not be allowed to hold that over your head. You cannot change them. You can only change yourself and only you have the ability to change how they make you feel. Some may feel that I am a phony person. In a way, I am....but I like getting along with people. I do not like confrontation at all. (I am a natural born people pleaser myself) But now I have the ability to smile and say hello and in my mind say 'fuck you' at the same time! Lol ( One lesson I have learned in my life is that if you yourself don't really like someone, most of the time, they don't like you either.) But we can still be kind and that's what I try to do. Even at family gatherings, I have the ability to be nice to family members and I know deep inside, we really don't like each other a lot. And that's OK. Allow that elephant to be in the room. It will only be for a short time. Just time enough to get along with each other and then when they leave, you can have a nice feeling that you really tried. It's the best you can do. We all have different personalities and beliefs and sometimes, personalities clash. You can't make someone like you. Even if you believed in their religion, there would be something else you would do to try to do to be accepted by your in-laws. That's the people pleaser in you. You'll waste your whole life trying to get everyone's approval. Only you and your husband can set the new boundaries of how you will allow anyone to act or treat you in your home. Talk this over with your husband. I have lost friends over some of the new rules I have for myself now. And then again, I have gained great respect from others and those are the people I like having in my life. It normally goes one way or the other when you clearly tell someone how you want to be treated. Just last week I had to tell one of my friends who is a bit of a bully and quite aggressive of something I couldn't accept. She wasn't happy with my assertiveness but she will respect me or go away. I'll leave that up to her because as I said, I am the one who looks after me now and I refuse to be bullied by anyone. It's not easy being assertive (when you're a softie) but each time you take care of yourself by speaking up (in a loving tone) it gets easier. Do not put off being happy, even for the smallest thing. This is a daily challenge for most of us because we want everything to be perfect and it never will be. Something or someone will always be there to try and screw up your happiness. This is why you can never depend on people (anyone) to make you happy. I hope by sharing some of my own struggles, this might help you in some small way. Take control and make your life what you want. It is not your job to try and change anyone. You can always offer support but you cannot make someone change. It's a huge lesson in life. I have someone extremely close in my life right now who is practically killing himself and I cannot rescue him. I offered all the support in the world but he refused so there is nothing I can do now. I hope so much you and your husband can reach a decision on how you are going to work this out with his parents. Stick to your guns, honey. If they leave and cannot accept you guys, there is nothing you can do. One thing that always helps me with my christian family and friends is to remember how brainwashed I was. This helps me to be a bit compassionate when dealing with them. I wish you the very best. Keep us posted on how it's going. More hugs........Hundreds of them!
  36. 8 points
    I'm here sweetie but I can't stay right now because I have a very important appointment to go to. I will be back later. I have a few things to add to what everyone else is saying. I am so sorry for what you have to go through with the in-laws right now. So for now, let's all have a group hug and I'll get back to you later. My heart just breaks for what some of us have to go through when we lose our faith in the christian god. You're going to make it through this honey. I'll be back. florduh always said this to me after I wrote an upsetting post, ''Now, go do something fun for yourself today.'' And I did. So go now and do something that makes you happy. We got your back hon. Thank you all for the compliments about the 'hugs' but I tell you the truth...I could not have made it through this horrible bullshit of losing my faith if it had not been the love I received from all of you at Ex-c. Love to all of you today. ((hughughughughughughughughughug))
  37. 8 points
    I started studying the cults back as a believer in the 80s to try and learn the differences between Christianity and "them". When I described how they often get converts through love-bombing, a friend asked me how that was different from what we were doing. That made me pause. But mostly I just assumed that we had it right and the big difference was what we believed, not the entire mindset of making belief critical instead of demonstrable facts. Whenever I spoke with JWs or Mormons at the door, it was always about doctrines or exposing the corruption of their leadership rather than going after faith in myths being critical to a god's judgment of my life. I was a strong believer for 30 years, the last 9 of which were spent promoting a particular preacher from the south who claims thousands of outstanding miracles, the most notable being several people raised from the dead. While I promoted him and defended him online against critics, I brought up comparisons to the faith we put in the Bible where we didn't see those miracles either but have no doubt they happened. I pointed out that everything he preached was biblical, that he was going to "the least of these", and showed a life of utter commitment to Jesus. Then one day I caught him making up a long involved tale about a witch coven challenging the power of god at one of his services in Germany. I had just watched those services on video, and no such thing happened. His translator had trouble understanding his southern accent, that was all. But he turned it into a huge tale about witches falling under the power of god and all getting born-again. That was the slap in the face I needed. It began a year of questioning why he would need to make up anything. Keep in mind, I had felt power in his services, the body shaking and trembling like electricity was coursing through my body. That was unique from all the other church involvement I'd had. But this fact staring me in the face couldn't be denied. During this year of questioning why, the evening news was reporting about the Oklahoma polygamous cult and I wondered out loud "Why would anybody believe such crazy stuff?" Then I realized with chagrin that I had believed some outstandingly stupid things. Then I asked the most important question, "I wonder what else I've believed that is a lie?" I had a visceral reaction to that question, actually squirming, because I knew it struck at the root of my own faith. But I persisted in the question, and lots of other buried questions began resurfacing. Why is the god of the bible such an arrogant asshole? Why are all the obvious myths of the bible "true"? Why is the church divided instead of filled with almighty power and doing miracles? Why are most prayers for healing completely ignored? Why is hell not mentioned in the old testament? On and one the questions came. I revisited why I had first believed. It was out of a childish fear of monsters. When I'd see a monster movie (not the campy Godzilla ones) that monster was real and waiting for me in the dark hallway. When I saw an advert for The Exorcist, I felt a cold fear to the core of my being and read the Bible looking for protection. That was it. A stupid childish fear led to 30 years of committed belief, thousands of hours or praying to no one, tens of thousand of dollars given away to promote the cult, my own sexual life messed up with rules and fears of demons and judgments. I went searching online for "ex-christian" and found this site. I realized in short order that these folks had the same kinds of experiences, and I then posted my own realization that I was no longer a Christian. I was part of a cult called Christianity, and the last decade was part of a more classic cult with a charismatic leader that couldn't be questioned by his closest "fellow missionaries". It took an emotional shock to get me to even start questioning the faith. I also realized that reality hadn't changed at all by my deconversion, but that I had taken off a blindfold or filter through which I had interpreted reality. The same question "I wonder what else I've believed that is a lie?" still applies daily because I spent so long assuming I had things right. It applies to culture, politics, and science because where people are involved, there can be falsification of evidence, people seeing personal wealth at my expense, and so on.
  38. 8 points
    Now that there are no devote Christians to report me to my church or my family, I HATE CONTEMPORARY WORSHIP SONGS!!! God, they are just awful. Just whiney mopey drudges of insipid trite! Oh, this is not my first complaint as even as a Christian I'd gently critique that "I feel many of these praise songs are somewhat repetitive and... guitar-centric." But no, let's not mince words kiddos, it's musical cancer. It's made of music but it's gone completely rogue and is filling musical works with this tumorous mass that devours anyone with skill. These songs were written by stoned out college students who were trying to serenade some shallow girl who was completely enamored because her talentless boyfriend is an "artist" for being able to play 4 whole cords on an acoustic guitar. And I say talentless because most of this music is four cords and a handful of lines repeated FOREVER! “I could sing of your love forever?” YES! I believe you! Now stop it! Holy hell in a hurricane, batman! These songs are just awful. I would say they are like the high of snorting pixie sticks of they weren’t – so – aggressively – earnest. It’s like they have stumbled upon some secret first uncovered by the Gregorian Monks, only, it’s like they are pining over their highschool sweetheart who’s about to dump them. I am convinced with a little more repetition the singers will devolve into Pokemon. Yes, I’ll match up your Shouttothelord against my Goodgoodfather. You can keep your Woahs and your Yeahyeahs because they are about as effectual as a Rattata. Meaning you should grow out of it almost immediately! SO, IN SUMMARY!!! I don’t really have a strong affinity for modern praise and worship.
  39. 8 points
    That sucks; and I won't pretend to know what you're going through. I did have a fiance dump me because I wasn't as "holy" as her; but that's not entirely the same. It rocked my world too. Time and distance will help heal you, though I know that offers little consolation right now. You want to know "what you could have done differently" or "what you did wrong". The answer to both is "nothing". This was a glitch in his matrix, not yours. If you loved him the best you could, then count yourself fortunate for having the capacity to love like that, and for having the experience. In time, you will find that capacity again, and another experience.
  40. 8 points
    It made me believe that by myself I was immoral. It made me believe that no one could be good to me. It made believe that I couldn't do anything without a supreme being. It made me believe that I couldn't help myself. It made me believe that little children were going to go to hell. It made me believe that all human effort was useless. It made me believe that I all I needed to do was rely on the promises and blessings of God. It made me believe that all my actions were only rags of dirt. It made me believe that I knew something I could never prove.
  41. 8 points
    When I was a practicing christian, I would not ever join a site like this except for one reason and that would be to try as hard as I could to win you all back to god. But if you all came at me with your testimonies, links and video's to watch....and I actually did read them and watch the video's with sincerity, I would totally understand deep, deep down, why you lost your faith because I was already questioning many, many things and every christian does doubt to some degree. (Why do you think they sell thousands of self-help christian books on the very topic of doubt? ) So 'worldly' information like what is posted here at Ex-c would have scared the crap right out of me....and I would have turned a blind eye and run for my life, back to where the christians would have reassured me that you guys were wrong. That's why I think so many christians who join this site don't take long to leave. I even believe that our dear friend 'End' knew the truth deep down inside even though he probably would deny it out of fear. It is 'fear' of gods' wrath. (for many people) This is why they cannot cut that last string. I see that all the time on this site when we have a newcomer. Fear of hell. Learning the truth ain't easy for some people. It wasn't for me.
  42. 8 points
    Get a GOOD divorce lawyer and let them advise you ASAP.
  43. 8 points
    I now swear releasing anger and feel I can now enjoy myself. I watched a cartoon with magic and feel I no longer have guilt and pain inside me anymore. I feel I don’t have to live a certain way or please God. I have stopped crying and screaming at God for answers. I have stopped praying and feel so liberated!
  44. 8 points
    What amazes me is that they never take it to the next logical step. If god wants this so bad, why does he leave it to fallible humans to make it happen? Why doesn’t He do it himself? He’s all powerful, right? Where is his “hand” in all this?
  45. 8 points
    There are only 3 things that still REALLY bother me 5 years after my faith left me: (1) Regret for the staggeringly countless hours, dollars, emotions wasted over 44 or so years of having an imaginary friend. (2) Most of my kids are are still infected with the virus, several of whom have directly told me that my being in Hell for eternity won’t bother them as they’ll be worshipping Jesus in person. (3) I cloak the truth from my parents as it’ll kill them. When I was in I was REALLY in: Christian schools through college; married into a family full of pastors, Christian educators, and such - I was proud that they were Jesus Royalty; involved in lay leadership and ministry as much as one could be; and more. It’s pretty fucking embarrassing, frankly. It was a several-years-long process that I went through. It involved massive amounts of reading, studying, debating, and listening. It wasn’t easy and I was pretty unhappy about it. I didn’t really want to leave the cave, but as soon as I suspected that I had been just looking at shadows on the wall I couldn’t rest until I knew for sure. Once I knew, however, I was in the real world and the efforts to climb out were perhaps the best moments of my life so far. One thing that that hasn’t happened and I seem to be in a minority, is that I remain politically a classical liberal. For some reason, rejecting supernatural claims seems to result in many people taking up a position on the left (or far left) of the political spectrum. I don’t see how rejecting faith as a valid way of knowing all of a sudden means that individual liberty and freedom are somehow less valuable. Other than for the Objectivists or a handful of outliers, being faith-free seems to be (mostly) synonymous with progressive. A buddy told me of this site and im glad to be here! Thanks, HeartFromTexas (a fake name designed to hide my identity and location, lol)
  46. 8 points
    My last nine years of faith were spent promoting a preacher on a website, and his catch-phrase was "Fire of God!" or "Fuego de Dios!" because he is a missionary in Mexico. I used those flames as part of the website. When I deconverted, I formed them into a question mark and used Fuego as my nickname. It's also the name of my orange cat/peacock (constantly whining because I'm not petting him at the moment, sounds a lot like a peacock).
  47. 8 points
    I'm sat at my laptop. It's Sunday morning. And that is significant. It's been no secret that I am married to a Christian, and, for years, I've been attending church every Sunday with my wife. It was my decision years ago to quietly withdraw as far as I could but to do nothing that would upset her social and family circle - after all, she was brought up in this church (which I was not) and it seemed unfair for my issues to affect her more than was necessary. Well... There have been a few rumblings for a couple of months that Mrs E was dissatisfied with the church we attended (going back to what was, effectively, a change of management, for want of a better description, and the antics since). This week, whilst I was in work, she announced to her mother and one of her sisters that she was considering walking out. She also told them that she didn't think I would bat an eyelid if she did so. She had a sleepless night or two, then asked me what I thought. I told her I would not influence her either way, but that, if she left, so would I. She is aware I have no intention of joining another church, though I've promised her a lift if she wants to go elsewhere. I also informed her that I have no obligation or desire to explain myself to anyone in the church if we did leave, though she must decide for herself what she wishes to say if asked. Her only request was that I be "civil" if anyone visits - and I've informed her that I will be so, provided I don't have to repeat my refusal to engage on the subject of my reasons for leaving more than three times. In the face of such insistence, however, unpleasantness would commence. A point she seemed to find reasonable. So, it seems I have an unexpected level of freedom, all of a sudden. Still a bit surprised, to be honest.
  48. 8 points
    On the other hand, why not be concise and honest? I look forward to the day when I can say (if asked), "Im sorry, but I no longer support relgious missions. Secular, yes. Religious, no. Best of luck to you." If that prompts the question as to why, then maybe another concise answer: "because I'm no longer a Christian." And if that doesn't end the discussion (and I wish it to end), I'll politely reply that I really don't wish to discuss it any further, and refer them to this website (or other resources) for more info about how it is possible for a Christian to become an ex-Christian. I just think it would be nice if more ex-Cs came out of the woodwork. This little light o' mine . . . I'm gonna let it shine . . .
  49. 8 points
    Hi everyone! I feel like I already know so many of you, I've been lurking here for almost three weeks! (Actually, lurking is barely accurate... Stalking? Voraciously consuming? At any rate, this whole time my phone has been lugging around 30+ open internet tabs like a little Hydra in my pocket.) I don't know when I'll have time to write out my rather unexciting testimony or contribute to any other posts, but right now I just had to say - to shout: This is the kindest, most caring group of people! Earlier today I read through several old threads started by someone recanting their atheism, even trying to preach to and reconvert the rest of you. And your responses literally brought tears to my eyes. Instead of scorning the OP, teasing them, or immediately blocking them, you all expressed honest concern for their mental well-being and total acceptance of them, even if they ultimately would choose to reconvert. Further, someone who did scorn them even retracted that post, apologizing profusely for being rude. It was one of the gentlest, most compassionate online conversations I've ever witnessed. And not one loving word was said out of a desire to prove your worth for an eternal reward, but out of a genuine desire to make life as pleasant as possible for as many people as possible. Nothing could be more pure, more GOOD, than that. Thanks, guys. I'm excited to finally join
  50. 8 points
    Well then you've missed that. Because many people have declared all or some of the above. We're made up of many different denominations of ex christians. It's not impossible, though. Many here were once more pious than yourself, among clergy, studying to be clergy, etc. Zealous evangelizing, faith healing, speaking in tongues, etc., etc. There's nothing new under the sun for this community. And yet, upon waking up and realizing inside that the fairy tale is not literally true, the whole game was over just like that. The problem here is that you're clearly engaged in a form of self delusion. It's difficult for you to see it because you're right in the middle of it and are not looking in from an objective outside perspective. But it's very obvious for those who were once in your shoes and have since opened up and moved forward. For instance, many of us have experienced the world through eyes very similar to your own. But you have not experienced the world through the eyes we see through now. So that puts you at a disadvantage among an audience like this, where we know you but you do not know us, at least not yet. We'll see how history unfolds.....

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