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Showing content with the highest reputation since 01/23/2018 in all areas

  1. 16 points
    Hi, ex-c fam! Wanted to let everyone know that I was recently involved in a car accident where I fractured my skull, got myself a couple concussions, a subdural hemotoma, broken capillaries in my eye.....and I'm alive. I'm okay. I'm here, been healing for about 6 weeks now. And with all the "God has saved you," "what a MIRACLE," "God had his hand on you," "I've covered you in prayer," yada yada yada. No, I didn't see Jesus. No, I didn't experience some miraculous epiphany that I've been saved from my "sins." No, he did not use this to bring me back to him. No, he does not have some kind of plan that involves using a severe brain injury to reclaim my faith. I have a shit ton of medical bills now, thanks for that, Lord. I just wanted to let you all know that I'm okay, still kicking, and more determined to see the reality of life as it is than ever before. I can't believe I ever fell for that shit.
  2. 13 points
    I've been a member of these forums for a few years, mostly just lurking and very occasionally commenting. I've never actually dropped my story in here. Like most white Americans, I was born into christianity. My dad was never what you would call steadfast, or devout, but he claimed to be a Christian and as far as I know, still does. My mother on the other hand, was a christian fundamentalist, through and through. She was fanatic about her faith, and tried to instill that fanaticism in my brother and I. When we were little, it worked. It was easy. Why wouldn’t it be? We were little kids and we believed anything our mother told us. We grew up right in the thick of the satanic panic, and man, that shit had me and my brother terrified. I can remember, very clearly, the fear that any talk about “the devil” invoked at the time. We were afraid of everything. Cartoons, toys, movies, games, you name it. It all had the power of satan behind it. When mom told us the smurfs were satanic because there was magic in the show, we believed her and we became afraid of the smurfs. When she told us He-man was satanic, the same went there, enough that when I would see a He-man toy at a friend’s house, I would be afraid to touch it or even be near it. The same went for Dungeons and Dragons (kind of a given), rock music, MTV, you name it. If someone at church, or on the 700 club, said something was satanic, my mother was all over it, and it was banned from the household. My brother and I saw the movie “E.T” in the theater when we were kids, and of course we loved it. We had the books, the toys, the story cassettes, the stuffed animals, the posters, the t-shirts… E.T. was huge to us. Then one day, I believe in the third grade, it all just went away. I never saw what happened to it all but the murmur about the church was that it had all been burned. When I was four or five years old, we lived in a little trailer park on the outskirts of Casper, Wyoming. My parents had somehow decided to take in a foster child. She was a teenager and her name was Claudia. I’m not sure if it was supposed to be a permanent situation or if she was just staying with us for a while, but the situation was volatile right from the start. Somehow, my mother had become convinced that Claudia was practicing witchcraft. My mom claimed to have seen a demon in the living room, and that Claudia had made the vacuum cleaner move on it’s own. Again, being a small child, I believed all of this without question. I would go on to repeat the stories my mother told me about Claudia, to my friends growing up. At some point, Claudia packed up her things and ran away in the middle of the night. I never did find out what happened to her. Looking back, I feel sorry for her. I have no idea what kind of family situation she came from, or how she ended up in foster care, but to get dropped into our family… that had to be awful. I haven’t thought about her since I was a kid. The rest of my childhood, up until high school, was a parade of incidents like this. Not knowing anything any different, I never really thought much about it all. It was the world I knew. Demons, witches and satanists were every where. The devil was constantly trying to influence us, and he had followers sacrificing kids, and raping babies in day care center basements, in his name. God was around, but you had to spend a lot of time looking for him. Or rather, you had to spend a lot of time looking REALLY HARD for signs of him, but you’d never actually see him. He worked in mysterious ways and such. The turning point for me started in high school. I got a job, a car, and started making friends and having a life away from the church, something that didn’t go unnoticed by my mother, and by the church. It wasn’t as if my friends and I sat around picking apart christianity, quite the opposite in fact. My friends all thought of themselves as christians. The difference was that their christianity was not the focal point of their lives. It was peripheral. It was something they believed, but that belief did not occupy every waking moment of their lives. This did create enough distance for me to start seeing things just a little bit differently. I had time to start actively contemplating some of the things in the bible that just didn’t add up, and to take a step back and actually, critically think about some of the things I was being taught in church and at youth group. I started to notice patterns of behavior in the church that bothered me. I remember standing in the church one day after a sermon, looking around the room and listening to what people were saying about homosexuality, and thinking to myself “This is not love, this is hatred disguised as love, and no one here can tell the difference”. At some point I went out and bought myself a Strong’s Concordance. I was then able to cross reference things, look for other places that certain things were mentioned, and instead of revealing more godly wisdom to me, it cast a glaring spotlight on all of the cracks and inconsistencies in the bible. Shit didn’t add up, and no one in the church wanted to address those things. It was a collective willful ignorance, and I was chastised for speaking up about it. Pretty soon I was asking who Adam and Eve’s children married, and what people was Cain worried about so much that god marked him to tell them to leave him alone, if there were no other people around? I wanted to know how we knew that so many other civilizations existed in the world, at the time of “the flood”, and yet they were not wiped out, and apparently failed to even notice the raining for forty days and forty nights, and the subsequent flooding. Egypt was a perfect example. They kept impeccable records of everything they did, and yet somehow this flood is never mentioned, and their civilization was untouched by it. I had a lot of questions. The answers were usually something along the lines of “I don’t know, but god does”, an answer which somehow satisfied everyone else in the room, all of whom were more than happy with the non-answer, and who felt comfortable with the idea that god knowing the answer was good enough. It wasn’t good enough for me though. Eventually my questions were brought to my parents’ attention, and what I was told by them and the church elders, was that I should spend more time meditating on god’s word, and less time asking questions. They didn’t put it like that, of course, but that’s what they were saying. It wasn’t just the unanswered questions, it was my increasing awareness that all of these people, not just in my church but every other church I had dealings with, were incredibly judgmental. They were spiteful, and hateful, and yet utterly convinced that they were the exact opposite of those things. By the time I hit college, what was left of my faith was hanging by a thread. The only thing that kept me calling myself a christian, was fear of the unknown. Christianity was all I had known, all my life. I was twenty five when I was finally comfortable saying out loud that I was not a christian. Nothing monumental happened that lead up to this, just more little experiences. Lots of little life lessons that showed more and more, that everything I’d learned growing up, was wrong. Not simply factually incorrect, but often morally wrong, and even harmful. I didn’t want to be a part of it anymore. To say that I have some lingering anger at christianity doesn’t really describe it. Yes, I am angry. It’s an internal struggle that I deal with every day. I’ll admit that when I learn that someone is a christian, it colors my view of them immediately, and they have to work harder to earn my respect. I know this is wrong. It’s difficult to shake. The de-conversion process was mostly about learning to recognize old behaviors, and eventually to see them coming so that I could choose to behave differently. Things like attributing every good event to god, and whispering a prayer of thanks under my breath, or a prayer of forgiveness when I did something I thought I shouldn’t have been doing. It took a while to shake attitudes toward women who behaved, or dressed in ways that the church taught me were unacceptable. It became this game of asking myself why I felt the way I did about certain things, and boiling it down to one simple question. Is a behavior harmful? That simple question became the litmus test by which I judged everything I did, and everything I saw other people doing. If I couldn’t find some harm in an action or behavior, then I could begin to see it differently, and think about it more critically. This was quite different from what I’d grown up with, which was simply “because god” or “because the bible”. It took years to change my thinking. I still look back at old behaviors, I look at the way I judged people, and I feel utterly foolish, even ashamed sometimes. I’m now forty-two years old. I no longer look at anything through the lens of christianity. I also no longer have to consciously play that mental tug of war with my old, christian beliefs. I don’t live in constant fear of the devil and satanists anymore. I no longer spend all of my time wondering what god thinks of what I’m doing at any given moment. In general, I’m a much happier person, and to be honest, much less of a judgmental ass.
  3. 13 points
    Hey guys... I'm new to the site & newly ex-Christian. Born & raised in a southern Baptist family, I am now 41yrs old. I married a Christian minister in '96 and we had 2 kids. We continued in the Baptist religion & raised our kids in its teachings. Fast forward about 20yrs - I started stepping away from Christianity. Bored & worn out with all the "churchy" stuff. It felt so fake to me. I quit going & I started re-examining my entire life. I divorced the minister, married an atheist! lol. (side note: I never knew he was an atheist - we never talked about religion). He's been so good though. He hasn't pressured me in any direction. So last year we started watching that Scientology series by Leah Rimini. Its funny because I actually think everything started making sense when I started watching those shows - I was like "that is such a cult! I can't believe people would believe such nonsense & follow it without question." It was then that I started researching more into my own faith. Much to my surprise, I saw some of the same type things in my own religion!! Believing nonsense blindly, but calling it "faith"...and so much more. I remember thinking "I can't believe Scientologists believe in the Xenu story".... but yet I believed the story about Eve and a talking snake. It was like a light bulb came on in my brainwashed mind. And immediately I felt sick & like I was going to pass out. Everything I had ever been taught & raised was "right" was suddenly a bunch of lies. Anyone else feel this way? I'm still in the early stage of de-conversion... any advice to share? I have read so many posts on this site & it has helped me SOOOOOO much! I feel such a connection with many of you!!
  4. 12 points
    Hi, everyone. Missed many of you, I've been insane crazy busy pursuing my baking business dreams, working, etc. I hope everyone is doing well. I haven't been active, because the forum posts were starting to blur together into this left vs. right bullshit of which I grew quite weary. I had a few minutes, logged in, and kinda skimmed through all my notifications. After reading through several forum posts with inflammatory titles and/or responses, I was getting worked up and crafting all these responses in my head....and then I realized that there is no point to it at all. Why should I bother to respond to things and throw in my two cents? Nothing happens. There are some people I truly respect on this site, I respect sticking to the arguments and disagreeing without being an asshole. Bouncing ideas off each other, challenging your thinking together, and checking your own biases and misinformation. But there is MUCH assholery here and I'm pretty done with it. I'm barely even on this site anyway and one day of scrolling through all of these posts has me heading straight back to my busy life without looking back. How are we supposed to grow together, learn from each other, help each other navigate through life, or do anything remotely productive on this site when we're too busy slinging shit at each other? There is pure gold in these forums from people who lost their faith and we are going to lose people who need help freshly deconverting by demonizing each other and put each other in boxes, with labels like "snowflakes," "racists," "ignorant," "stupid," etc. As someone who prefers to think critically about any various issue as opposed to holding to some party line or whatever, I'm seeing it on both sides. I don't know how many of the people on this site that I hold in high regard have the diligence and patience to respond to such mind-numbingly dumb shit with respect and thought-provoking material. I will fiercely defend anyone's right to say whatever they want to say, free speech and what not....but god DAMN what is the POINT of trolling? You think it's funny or something? What is the POINT of trying to make another person feel inferior or ill-informed? Sure, I'll chuckle at a potentially offensive meme every now and then....but like, there is just so much unproductivity in many of these discussions that it's overwhelming. Congratulations, you have free speech, now are you gonna doing anything useful with it? You're free to say whatever you want, by all means, but I don't have to listen to you say it. And before a select few of you want to say I'm throwing a snowflake tantrum, do me a favor and f*** right off. I won't put up with it, the way this place has been lately. It's called self-respect, not inability to hear things I don't like. I can't be the only one observing this crap or feeling this way, for the love of Zeus.
  5. 11 points
    Hi all, First of all, thank you for your warm welcoming. Specially to Logical Fallacy and Travi for being so nice in Discord. Alright here it goes, I hope it's not too long. Be aware that some of this content may hurt some people's sentitivities. Oh well, my dad has been a missionaire since he was 14. My mum became one when they married. I was raised into ministry- I started my pastoral leadership training at 8 years old so go figure. And here's soemthing you may find unusual to say in an ex christian testimony. My childhood was awesome. Looking back, there is very little I am not happy about with my childhood. My mum and dad were loving, supportive, I always had my little brother with me and he was the best friend I could have. I went to kid's christian camp, I was allowed to play / hang out with as many kids as I wanted, my mum was the kid's bible Sunday teacher. My dad was my hero, I thought of him as the most perfect human being ever existing, probably the most powerful man on Earth in the eyes of God, and I wanted to be just like him in every way possible. So I behaved extroverted like him, intellectual and imaginative like him, and always tried to plan my life day to day (like him) and follow ''God's will''. Despite of having to move to 2 different schools, since I was very little I didn't feel like that had an impact on me, plus most of my friends were of the church. We went to the beach, we had barbeques, we sang and played games, what else could I ever want? I loved my life, and my childhood, from ages 1 to 11 years old, and no matter what I will always be thankful to my parents for these years of my life. There was a moment where things got lamer, very boring and depressing- Puberty. I was no longer allowed to play with the boys at the church because my body could tempt them. EVERY DAY I would get a thorough clothes check from my mum to make sure I wasn't revealig too much of my body at school. Any time it was too hot (we are talking about Southern Spain FFS!) and I took off clothes in front of others, they'd ask me whether I was trying to seek attention from guys. I dismissed all their overwhelming protection, a careless child I was. My first years of high school, I still found kissing gross and had no idea of how sex work or wanted to know. What for? I didn't have to care, I hadn't met my future husband! But when I turned 13, since we had moved yet again to a smaller city in the countryside, I changed high school and it became impossible to hear sex jokes and puns everywhere. I wasn't living the normal high school experiences (crushes, hanging out with people on my free time, all the dumb teen stuff) so I could no longer relate to the people around me. I would refuge myself in books, prayer, and developing a core made of intellectual superiority. It became obvious to me that I didn't really have friends. But I wasn't allowed to hang out with anyone. This was weird, just because I have boobs now it means I have to be isolated? Even when my step brother came around (he is 4 years older than me), my dad would tell me off and many times yell at me because I wasn't allowed to have any physical contact with him. No hugs, no tickles ('Juego de manos, juego de marranos'), NEVER CLOSE THE DOOR when you are alone with him, better yet don't be alone with him, ''because he's a man and you're a woman, and you didn't grow up together like you and your little brother did''.My step brother complaints to this day that I have been cold and distant with him, oh well. My dad would tell me that friends are bad. ''You don't need friends, your best friend is Jesus. And one day, when you marry, your husband will be the only friend you need''. Since I adored my dad, I believed it, and concluded I didn't need anyone. I think this is when I became less and less social, leaning towards introversion. If someone invited me to do something like going to the cinema, they wouldnt' allow me (age 13 to 15) because I wasn't allowed to go out unless my parents came with me. Nedless to say my social skills vanished to many extents. I was used to always being around other kids, and now I was always alone because those other kids now were seen as potential sin influencers on me. When I was 14, my dad decided to let me and my older brother go to a youth group together. I was so excited! The music was awesome, all Hillsong in Spanish by the way. Lots of people I had met as kids (and lost contact with) were there and they were as cool as usual. I felt like I gained back a part of myself I had lost when we moved to this small town. I had friends, although I still wasn't allowed to hang out with them on the ''after-youth sermon-Burger King dinners''' I could still see them in the reunions. Only my older brother was allowed to go to the cool going-out gatherings like going to the river or barbeques, and that did upset me a lot. Maybe that's how my dad realised that we were getting too attached to this youth group, and he decided to forbid us from going again. I was 15. I remember I cried for days, hiding the sadness but ''acting out'' all angry teenager-like. Further proof that I had been under those teens' influence for long enough. My older brother would get away from still meeting with them and other people from other churches, and one day he opened my eyes ''You're sheltered. You and little brother, dad over-protects you and isolates you, although he does it for your own good''. The next church my dad helped, giving pastoral training, was a congregation of Bolivian and Ecuatorian people. They were kind to us, but they didn't have a youth group. There was only one teenage girl there I could talk to. Eventually, we met a family of musicians (father, mother and 4 children, 3 boys and 1 girl) that would help with the Music Ministry, along with my older brother. I used to participate in singing lessons, bass and guitar lessons too. That same year in high school, my older brother introduced me to the girl who became my best friend- and still is despite the distance. So life was looking up a bit again. I still felt like an alien in my high school class, but now I had people to talk to in the breaks. All thanks to my older/ step brother, without whom my teenage years would have been a complete hell and I probably wouldn't have any friends if it wasn't for him. The amazing musical ministry we had with that family vanished the following year after they decided to start their own ministry. I no longer saw my 'new' friends, luckily I had my best friend in high school. But by age 16, I had already become a skeptical pessimist without knowing. I became fascinated with Ecclesiastes' view of the world (I still am to be fair). Everything is meaningless, people leave you and nothing is guaranteed, everything changes but there's never anything new under the sky. I bet Nietzsche loved Ecclesiastes. This is when I became the most introverted, I would often choose to spend most of my time writing about deep philosophical thoughts that pretty much differed from ''all things God works for the good of those who love him''. My musician friends leaving plus two girls from high school saying nasty things about me after I gave them my friendship made me have the loneliest 1st A-level year ever (Primero de Bachillerato). But I was about to graduate, and go to university, so I had ''bigger things'' than my social awkardness in mind. On my last year in high school / A-levels, my dad decided he wanted to come and work in England because things in Spain weren't well economically speaking. My English was very good, I had studied English on my own and practised it with my older brother since I was 12. I had given up on high school English lessons and took charge of my own education in the language, which my English teachers noticed and encouraged me to keep learning. So when the moment came, I asked my dad to let me go to England too. I prayed, and fasted for 1 week for God's will and God's will only to be made: I was going to ask my high school's principal to let me finish my last year in April instead of June, which meant I had to take all my exams in 2 weeks. As if a miracle was happening, my school principal told me that she would allow it, but in the eyes of the City's Education Directive Board this wasn't happening because a student wasn't allowed to finish their school year ''express-mode'''. She said she was willing to take the great risk because she understood my need to find a job in London and help my family financially. So I did it, I passed all my exams in two weeks with an A+. I think I kinda became a legend amongst my teachers and the students, but that's anther story ;). I came to London and found a job in a cleaning company, because I needed to start working as soon as possible and that's the first thing they offered me at age 17 only, decent pay and with no work experience. This part of the story is where things get really messed up. My dad hated London, I loved it. His plans of creating a ministry here and finding a good job didn't quite work out (what a shocker! Wanna make a decent living in England without bothering to learn English first!!??). I became the only person of my family who was working full time. At first, that felt like a privilege. I woke up at 5 AM, spent 2 hours a day travelling by bus to the workplace, worked for 8 to 12 h a day, spent another 2 h in the bus going back home, and went to bed at 1AM to wake up at 5 AM again. Luckily, this lasted for only about 3 months. My dad changed. Maybe the loneliness, maybe missing home, maybe feeling like he was too good for such poor living donditions. He became hostile towards me, and made me cry almost daily. My mum and brothers were still back in Spain so it was just him and me, and the family with whom we were living. I have always been so vulnerable to WHATEVER my dad thinks of me that he didn't understand he could make me or break me with a single word or action. Really don't wanna go into detail, but here's where I started to question why was all this happening, when I had prayed and fasted for God's will to take place in my life. My dad would travel to Spain every moth to visit my mum and the church. When that happened, I was left here alone with the family that was hosting us. One day, I got harrased and abused. Somebody insisted that God had revealed to them that I had to lose my virginity to them, and if I didn't sleep with them, I would be disobeying God. This person was one of my spiritual mentors, this wasn't something I could think ''happened by accident'' like when someone walks alone in a dark alley late night and gets abused. I got verbally harrassed for entire days, me trying to ignore it, until one day I was forced to masturbate this person. They said if I didn't, they were going to go crazy because they couldnt get off on their own, and since I was there under that roof I would probably suffer more severe consequences than this. He had tried to force himself into me, I feared for my safety, so I had no choice than giving that hand job while trying not to cry loudly.There were kids sleeping in the house. I was 17 and I had never had a boyfriend, no proper sex ed, I hadn't even kissed a guy, I had the sexual awareness of a 13 year old. This was somebody I trusted like a family member. And it happened again, this situation and the mental torture didn't end until my whole family moved to London. I went into a mental state that was so dark sometimes I have trouble remembering exactly what happened. I never told my family, because of reasons I don't want to disclose- But basically, this would jeopardise entire family relatioships like one of us was the abuser (I know reading it like this doesn't sound like I had a motive to hide it, but remember I am not giving you BY FAR all the facts. This is like the movie adaptation of Eragon). I tried to come to terms about this with God, why would this happen to me after I prayed for his will on my life? Did this have a purpose? What kind of loving God would allow me to go throught this just because he had a purpose? Was there any at all? My dad always used to say that the 'chosen' of God don't have freewill, like Jonah. He tried to scape God's calling and he ended up in a whale's stomach, to then be thrown into the coasts of Nineveh. I became obssessed with the topic of Freewill, years after this I had stopped taking prayer seriously, but was in denial of my faith crisis. I enrolled to university and studied Law, while working pretty much full time hours as a receptionist. My mum and dad had cleaning jobs that made them too tired for anything. They were no longer the happy, friendly parents I had as a child. I hated London, I hated the system, I hated religion. My years in university were lamer than my high school years. I made a couple of friends, but my university was heavily involved in religion- Muslim to be specific, so I had no interest on participating in most of their social stuff. Besides, I didn't have much free time due to also working. I came across a typology site where people discussed topics like religion and politics, where I found lots of the resources I was looking for in my study of the logical flaws in religion and freewill, the damage religion dogma causes in society (especially for women), and how Christianism was no more perfectly founded than other religions. This helped me overcome a lot of doubts and self -questioning, and I will forever be grateful to those who provided me with a safe place to talk about my doubts. I was no longer welcomed to raise theological questions at home. Now that I had read books like ''Jesus Interrupted'' by Bart Erhman and ''The illusion of Freewill'' by Sam Harris, I asked things I never thought about before. My dad accused me of trying to corrupt my little brother's view of christianism for saying in front of him that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were not written by the apostles and were more likely recollections of verbally transmitted narrations. I was so upset, I thought we were different! I thought we supported asking question! Apparently not, if those questions raise doubting the bible's validity. But the environment at home was very tense, not only due to my irreligiousity. My mum and dad were unhappy about their jobs, plus they couldnt continue with half of them. I again was the only person working full time in a family of 5, my brothers had no luck one due to visas, the other due to being underage. This situation lasted for most of my undergraduate years, and I became the ''main provideder'' and the one my mum and dad would nag the most. I didn't do anything besides working, studying and reading, yet everyday they would find reasons to nag me and tell me off. I felt like everybody was taking advantage of me and planning my life for me (I guess you're also more prone to take verbal attacks more seriously after an abusive experience). Maybe they took their life frustrations out on me. This lasted after I finished my degree, gathered some savings and the strenght to move out. My boyfriend is an atheist, and he has been a great support in my life, making me grow as an independet thinker since the moment we met.I met him in that typology site I mentioned before, and he has been the most patient, logical and understanding friend too. I pray (lol!) that he doesn't get shot by my dad or brother when I introduce him to them. I believe I have been an agnostic athesit for over a year. When I moved out, my relationship with my family improved after they accepted that children move out and it's natural (I try not to talk about religion with them as it's still a sensitive area). My mental and physical health have improved, I've talked to a counselor about my bad experiences and that has helped. I have finally come to terms with the fact that no suffering of the innocent has a greater good purpose, ever. Not the fact that millions of children die of starvation, not the fact that 1 out of 20 children in the UK have suffered sexual abuse according to the NSPCC, not the deaths caused by Earthquakes or Tsunamis. ''God's Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question — Why We Suffer'' By Bart D. Ehrman was another great help for me in regards to all this. I know I still have a lot of work to do, a lot of life to live, and although I get frustrated to see how much I've missed out sometimes, I am more excited than ever to live my universally-unimportant, ephemeral and meaningless life, free from the dogma of thinking that nothing I do should come from my own wants or wishes but from the questionable Will of an an arbitrary God. I will just conclude here: Living for learning, living a life of meaning and learning to enjoy what I live. “Do you really mean to tell me the only reason you try to be good is to gain God's approval and reward, or to avoid his disapproval and punishment? That's not morality, that's just sucking up, apple-polishing, looking over your shoulder at the great surveillance camera in the sky, or the still small wiretap inside your head, monitoring your every move, even your every base though.” ― Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion
  6. 11 points
    I wanted to write this post because I believe there are others who can benefit from it. The journey from believer to atheist is difficult, more so if you were truly committed to the belief system. Though this process probably applies to other religions, I will strictly be speaking to Christianity because that is the only religion I have serious experience with. As I have stated more in depth elsewhere, I was an extremely committed Christian. What I mean by that is that I took the faith seriously. So serious, I was dedicated to figuring out what God wanted and what was my duty as a believer. This was actually one of the major reasons I left Christianity. I was never so hubris to think I had all the answers, I thought everyone else did though. I would scour through CARM, GotQuestions.org, Apologetics Press, and any other Christian website out there, no matter how wacky it was (for example, Dan Corner's Evangelical Outreach). Problem was, none of these groups could agree on anything. The nature of God, what did God want, what was orthodox, what was heresy. It was such a huge mess I just became disenchanted with all of it. It occurred to me that my potential eternal fate was on the line and I did not know how to get on track. Did Jesus really teach pacifism; were we supposed to sell our goods to the poor, if so, why....what would that accomplish other than everyone is poor? That does not seem like a long term economic plan (teaser....if Jesus taught the end of the age was right around the corner, it does make sense....and the NT does teach that); was God predestining people to hell; was there freewill. On and on it went and there were no answers, because there was no evidence to back up the claims. That is the game being played - merely make a statement and then proof-text the Bible to back up the statement. Everyone in the Christian community does it, and nobody is winning. Through all this, I went through the various stages of deconversion: full on Calvinistic fundamentalism (eventually the idea God was jettisoning people into hell started to make me physically nauseous), Arminianism, Annihilationist, Universalist, Deist, agnostic, now atheist (technically agnostic/atheist since I cannot say I know there is no god being). The deconversion process is fairly ubiquitous in the main points, that is, Believer - then Universalist - Deist (perhaps followed by spiritual but not religious) - agnostic - atheist. Make no mistake, this process can be especially painful to go through. When I was a through and through believer, I could not even frame what atheist were trying to say. I was taught to read the Bible one way, and as Dr. Robert M. Price would jokingly put it, "The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it." Of course I believed it only from a fundamentalist standpoint. It was all I was taught growing up. I thought liberal theology was flat out heresy, and truth be told, I never even heard of the historical-critical method until a year ago. The process of leaving religion starts with losing fear, at least that was true for me. I spent so much time defending the Bible, God, and dogma out of a fear of hell - that is, punishment. I did not want to be punished so I toed the party line no matter how absurd it may have been. It is not until you are able to defeat your fears will you be able to start framing dogmatic stances differently. My first breakthrough was when I said I would no longer defend God's character when it came to difficulties in the Bible. I stopped trying to play the game where God was innocent of all wrong doing in every circumstance. I then decided I would be honest about how I really felt about hell, especially those who believe infants are in hell. I just could not do it anymore. I could not see how eternally punishing someone was just or fair or loving. It is not, it is terrible; and to say a being that "is love" is doing so is just ridiculous. It completely evacuates the word love of any real meaning. These were my initial breakthroughs, after which, I realized that other people do not have the answers. They do not know the Bible, God's heart, or whatever else they are attempting to claim; they are just as lost about the nature of reality as everyone else, if not more so. I say this because at least secularist are willing to go wherever the evidence takes them. Seculars do not believe something and then attempt to rationalize it (well, this holds true if they are doing it right). It was at this moment where I was feeling extremely tumultuous. I remember getting on my knees multiple times asking God to reveal to me what it actually meant to be a Christian. I would give anything if he would just give me one hour of his time to answer my questions and get me on the right path. As others before me at this point in the journey, my fervent prayers were met with silence. Not to deviate too much from the topic, but I find this to be a good talking point. For all the talk about how much the Christian God is so loving, and can be viewed as a father, does it not seem odd that he will not actually fulfill that role? What father, or mother, if they truly had the authority to judge their child's life would not fully explain what to believe, what to do, what not to do, and the consequences for each - in person. Why the hearsay? Why the divine hiding? If this deity is so damn concerned with what we are believing and how we are living our lives, then why not just come to everyone and lay it out. To me, any good parent would do so, and if mortals are so terribly horrible compared to this thrice Holy God, it would seem the aforementioned would be natural action this deity would take. Talk is cheap, no matter who is talking. After the failure of any deity to show up and give me divine inspiration, I finally broke down and decided to listen to what the secular atheist had to say. I had one condition, I was not willing to listen to any atheist who had not been a former Christian. Only former believers know what it is like to be in the game and to make their way out of it. I started by visiting sites such as this. After that, I began to watch YouTube videos by atheists: Seth Andrews, Matt Dillahunty, and the like. I was obsessed with what they had to say. It was the first time I ever heard anyone actually question the existence of God in a rational manner, and it made me pause. I must have listened to 24 hours of videos before moving on to other media formats. I joined the Bart Ehrman blog and ordered a few of his books. Reading what Dr. Ehrman had to say regarding the veracity of the Bible was completely uncharted territories for me. Little by little I was able to start pivoting from a fundamentalist reading of the Bible. Again, it was not easy, I was often afraid. Afraid of being wrong, that was my primary fear. I felt as though I was opening a can of worms that cannot be put back once they were out, and if I was wrong, I was going to pay for it eternally. Following Dr. Ehrman, I ran across the name Dr. Robert M. Price. He has a couple podcasts, The Human Bible, and The Bible Geek. I went back and downloaded every Human Bible episode I could as well as Bible Geek episodes. What an eye opening discussion from Dr. Price. I listened to all the Human Bible and Bible Geek (there are a ton of these so I have not been through all of them yet) episodes I could download on Podcast Addict. I then ran across other names such as David Fitzgerald, Dr. Richard Carrier, and Jerry DeWitt (former Pentacostal preacher). Each with YouTube videos, audio books, and the written word which aided in breaking the spell of fundamentalism. I also found websites ran by former believers that also helped to break the spell: https://brucegerencser.net (was a pastor for 25 years) https://rejectingjesus.com https://christosophical.wordpress.com I mention all of these names because I believe others will find value in hearing and reading what they have to say. It was these authors who helped me on my journey. There were so many times I wanted to run back to the safety net of fundamentalism, but more and more I realized, I can not go back, there is nothing to go back to. Nothing changed in the Christian community, there was still no unity. Each church believed the church across the road was going to hell. In reality, hearing these secular authors discuss the Bible was the first time I was getting an honest and frank discussion regarding the Bible. No spin doctors, just academics seeking to know and understand....you do not get that in church, you get a theologically loaded discussion with an endpoint in mind. As I mentioned before, the journey is wrought with self doubt and fear. Each breakthrough is a major victory because it is so difficult to get there. My advice would be to keep learning - keep listening and keep reading. Over time, the dogmatic beliefs you once held will start to loosen, little by little. At first it is terrifying, but as your skepticism grows, you will look back and be astounded at the ridiculous notions you once believed. Do not get me wrong, every now and then I am blindsided by my own mind and wonder if I have this all wrong and will be eternal BBQ; well, if that is the case, then so be it. I did my best to figure out the truth and if I end up eternally punished, it is the deity's fault I am there (this is a discussion for another time - long story short, the Christian God only has himself to blame for the sin in the world [not that I believe this is a true story, but merely speaking to the logical conclusions you would have to draw from biblical narratives]). Looking back, I am not really sure when I started on the journey towards atheism, but it was relatively recent, only within the past year and a half. I can say this, if you stick through it, it can be liberating. No longer the guilt, the shame, the sense of worthlessness, but it can also be troubling. I had to come to terms that this is probably the only life I have to live. Once I go, I likely will never see my son again, I will never experience pleasure, or pain, or love, or a sunset, or all of these aspects of our human existence. That was a tough pill to swallow, but I got through. I gave other religions a cursory look to get over my anxiety regarding death, but none of them made any sense either, and eventually I abandoned the whole notion. All I can say is this, I made peace with the idea that this is probably my only life to live. How I did it, I am not exactly sure, it was not one single thing that brought me peace about it, it was a myriad of thoughts; again, this would be a whole other conversation. Perhaps another time when I am able to put thoughts to words. Everyone on this site is at a different point on the path. I happened to be on the super highway to atheism, but for others, it takes years to find chinks in the armor and expose them. Make no mistake, I am still educating myself and re-framing Christianity. I am currently listening to The Case Against the Case for Christ by Dr. Robert M. Price and On the Historicity of Jesus by Dr. Richard Carrier. Never hesitate to reach out to me if you are questioning and are stuck on the path. I may have some words of wisdom to impart (or at least I have some resources you should look at) because I have been there, and likely I know what it is like to be where you are. I hope this post helps some people. I am grateful for the fact this website exist and there are others on here who have helped me escape the death grip of religion.
  7. 11 points
    I've been active for several years, with a few years interruption when the site crashed, on a Christian site. I'm really amazed their admin & mod over there has allowed me to post virtually the same things I post here. They have a section set aside for non-believers to post their thoughts. I noted my wife's recent cardiac event and the passing of my DIL. A diehard fundy recently signed on over there. He's been posting all kinds of far out fundy nonsense since he signed on. I've totally ignored him after reading a couple of his whacky posts. He has clearly been reading mine though. I got a PM from him yesterday. He told me Jesus has spoken to him and he is very displeased with me. He also said my wife's cardiac event was a warning to me that I must repent and return to Jesus. I sent him a return PM and I used a lot of four letter words that I'm sure he hasn't heard in a long time. I also noted he had better not tell me my DIL's recent death was punishment for my sins. I affirmed that he is a brain washed idiot and that it would be unwise to send me any more PM's. I also suggested he might invest some time studying the creation & evolution of both the Bible & the Christian Faith instead of listening to a bunch of brain dead fundies make believe bullshit. I felt better after hitting the send button and drinking a cold beer.
  8. 11 points
    Hi everyone. I actually signed up here in December, 2016, but haven't felt ready to start sharing. I spent a good deal of the past year or so dealing with significant emotional wounds, and I only now feel healed enough to be safe interacting with others. Hopefully this isn't as tough a crowd as where I came from. 😉 As for me: I spent 25 years of my life in evangelical Christianity. I wasn't fundamentalist, but the denomination (Baptist) was pretty conservative. I was one of those sold-out, all-in believers that signed up for every ministry, and every outreach. I headed up women's bible studies, did outreach to the homeless and did recovery work at rescue missions and the Salvation Army. I was also a professional (blues) musician prior to my conversion, so worship team and choir were also in the mix. During my time in the church, I "filed away" many things that either were "not OK to ask" or were "just the way things are." But cognitive dissonance as a coping strategy can only get you so far. Looking back, I'm amazed that I lasted as long as I did. Especially since I didn't come from a religious family upbringing. When I finally had my done moment and left, I'd been wearing a mask, hiding so many areas of disagreement with church doctrine or policy, that no one really "knew" me. I was a perfect little rule-follower, and as long as I did as I was told, or as I should, all was well. Except for all was not well with me. My husband and son and I had moved up to the Pacific Northwest from California, and our entire social life was wrapped up in this church. When we left, I lost every friend I had. Worse, after 25 years, I literally had no idea how to make friends outside of belonging to a church. It's been a long, hard road, but I think I'm going to make it. I look forward to sharing my ex-timonial at some point soon, and thank you for being here for those of us who arrive as walking wounded.
  9. 11 points
    I was taking the public bus home from work last night, when a lady struck up a conversation with me about nutrition. During this conversation she asked me directly, "Do you believe in Jesus as your savior?" In the past, I would have projected fear of her response and said yes just to keep the peace, but this time, I flat out said no. She didn't try to convert me or anything.
  10. 10 points
    I remember the first time I stumbled onto this website. I was deep in ministry, saving souls for Christ, and left the site in prayer for the souls of all those who’d turned away. Today, after 30 years of devotion to the faith I proclaimed as a kindergartner, I revealed to my husband of 11 years that I’m no longer a Christian. This five-year deconversion comes as the biggest part of a life change I’m going through. Personality-wise, nothing has changed, but as far as beliefs go, everything has. It’s challenging and unnerving, but necessary. My husband, who’s been in ministry for several years, who I built a life with on the foundation of Christianity, was more understanding than I’d anticipated. I’ll spare the details for now, but man, I don’t really know how we can make this work. Anyhoo, I’m glad this space exists, as opposed to a few years ago, when I wished it didn’t. Irony. 😏
  11. 10 points
    Alright, people of Ex C. Are you ready? At the outset, I’m going to make one promise, and one promise alone: This Rant Is Not About Donald Trump. It's not about politics. That's why I'm posting it here, and not in ToT. Caveat: I will discuss Trumpipants before I am done. Relax, libruls. I’m one of you at heart. Relax, others. I still love you. Disclaimer(s): I’m not a leftist. I’m not pushing an agenda. I’m a Canadian, not a MURICAN (™). I don’t align myself with either the left or the right, but rather with those who attempt to think clearly. So we’ve got that out of the way. Are you ready? Are you sure? Here we go. This is what it looks like when disillusioned speaks his mind. Brace yourself. How. The. Fuck. Did. We. Get. Here. It’s 2018. I’m tempted to ask you to consider where we were ten years ago. But, at the pace that life is currently moving, that’s way too far back to try and go. Five years? Still, too far. Three years. There’s the sweet spot. 2015. It was an intrepid time. Something about ISIS, Crimea, Ebola, Castro, etcetera, etcetera. Somehow, none of that matters anymore. Do you feel disoriented? Confused? Wondering how the hell we got here? #metoo. What the fuck is going on? When did white men become the victims? Am I, admittedly, a white man, an asshole If I’m not on board with the faux anger, the faux outrage, the faux hurt that is driving my fellow alabaster (and, in some cases, shall we say tangerine (deepest apologies; I said I wouldn’t go there)) gentlemen if I don’t subscribe to the narrative that we white men are being oppressed by the minorities? Am I a traitor somehow if I think that black lives actually do matter? Am I just a librul fucktard if I think that NATO is more, not less relevant than it used to be, and that the reason for this is that the US now represents a clear and present danger to the world at large? Am I less of a man somehow because I think that women have, in fact, been oppressed for a long time, and that I think that we men should probably try to rectify this situation? Is there any sanity left in the world? For fuck sakes. I’ve been absent on this site, which I used to consider to be a paragon of clear thought, for roughly a month now. Prior to my absence, I was heavily engaged in an effort, along with certain other members who shall go unnamed, to steady the proverbial ship, as it were. A number of us had noticed a general decrease in civility, and an increase in hostility. This was associated with declining membership. Some people were just not stopping by anymore, and some others were overtly making their exits. Either way, it wasn’t cool. So my colleagues and I tried to do what we could to limit the damage. To try and mend the rift. To try to help people remember that we all share a common purpose: to help and support those who are newly deconverted. Politics is lovely. It’s an interesting topic of conversation. And it is incredibly, fundamentally (these days, especially) important. But it is not the point of this site. Here, it is an aside, at best. We are here because we used to be Christians, and now we are not. Some of us have suffered incredible abuse at the hands of Christianity. Some of us struggle with mental health issues. Some of us are entirely nonplussed by discussions of politics, and that’s just fine. Such people may simply stay out of ToT. But, at the same time, some of us are deeply interested in discussing politics, but would rather engage in discussion of the actual issues than in ad hominem attacks, non-sequiturs, and general shit-slinging. Politics or otherwise, I think we’d all be well-advised to try this approach. This is why I’ve always maintained that I try to live by two rules: 1) Do whatever makes you happy, and 2) Don’t be a dick. The thing is, rule #2 is really fucking important. And somewhere along the way, we’ve lost sight of this. Don’t get me wrong; it’s not as important as rule #1. Not by a long shot. In fact, rule #2 doesn’t really matter at all as long as you’re content to live your life in isolation. If you’re only worried about you, then just do whatever the hell you want, and be a dick, if that tickles your fancy. That’s just peachy. I don’t have a problem with isolationist assholes, or even with assholes in general, so long as I’m free to tell them that they are assholes. They can fuck right off, and I’ll just move on with my life. Free speech, and all that. Yay! But here’s the question that I really want to ask: if that’s you, if you’re an asshole who isn’t concerned with rule #2, then why the fuck are you here? Have you lost sight of the purpose of this site? We are supposed to be helping ex-Christians. And we are all ex-Christians. So why are we pushing each other away? How can we help each other if we insist on being dicks? Before I go any further, I should say that I appreciate that I don’t make the rules for this site. Dave is the Admin. It’s his house, and we’re all just living in it. And, if he decides he doesn’t want me, or anyone else to hang out here anymore, then that’s his business. See, the thing is, I get that free speech doesn’t extend everywhere, and that it shouldn’t, necessarily, extend everywhere. I also get that I’m just another passenger on this train. My opinion doesn’t matter that much. I’m not a mod here. I’m not even that influential of a regular member. Sure, I’ve been around for a bit, had some good discussions, racked up a few reputation points, etcetera, etcetera, but what does that matter? In principle, it doesn’t really, and in practice, it doesn’t at all. Nevertheless, here we are. The fact is that for a while now, people have been leaving this site because of the inflammatory bullshit that has been getting posted. And, some people have been banned for dissenting. Is this the ExC that we want? Really? An ExC where people feel unwelcome because of their political leanings? An ExC where people, who should be free to explore their new-found freedom of thought, and apply it to all areas, including politics, are finding themselves badgered into thinking a certain way, or pissing off for all eternity? Is that who we are? Really? (Dave and mods, please don’t take this as a critique of you. Please realize that I know that this is not a true democracy. You reign supreme. If I must be silenced, then so be it. But, dare I say, so much, then, for tolerance and free speech. And further, if I may be so bold, so much for the purpose of this site: for I, too, am an ExChristian, with my own need for support, and need to express myself. This is a topic which has been bothering me for quite some time now. Silence me if you will: that is your prerogative. Either way, know that I appreciate you, what you are trying to do here, what you have done here, and, above all, that I value the point and purpose of this site. There are members here who are, and will always be, my friends. Some of them are amongst your ranks. For that, you have my sincerest thanks.) Life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness. And something about guns. That is the essence of America. But I’m Canadian. From up here, things are a little less (or, perhaps, more) murky. Sure, we all want freedom. And, for the most part, we have it. But it isn’t guaranteed. We need to be able to say the things that we want to say. For those South of the border, the first amendment comes to mind. For those of us to the North, we’ll cite the Charter. Others from around the globe will make their own claims. But the thing is, freedom of speech doesn’t mean, and has never meant, freedom from other people judging you for your speech. Sometimes that looks like people disagreeing with you on the internet. That’s fine. Sometimes it looks like you getting fired. And that’s fine too, as long as the people who fired you aren’t the government. This is all well and good. I don’t think anyone here seriously disagrees with me on this. Nevertheless, if I were to say that the president of the United States is a racist, sexist, asshole, who is probably a traitor and is definitely one of the worst presidents to ever represent the great country that is the United States of America on the world stage, I would, by the majority on this site at least, probably wind up being labelled as an intolerant ignoramus. And that would be fine. No violation of my freedom of speech. I get to say what I want. And you get to judge me for it. No harm, no foul. (See, libruls? I told you we’d get to Trumpipants sooner or later.) But there’s one problem: there is harm, and I’m calling foul. Trump is not a normal president. He’s not just a republican that I don’t happen to agree with politically. He’s doing things which are genuinely disturbing from a humanistic perspective. Children in cages, and what-not. Fake news. Alternative facts. The media is the enemy of the people. I’m a very stable genius, who knows words, and has the best words. NO COLLUSION, LOCK HER UP, BUILD THAT WALL. WE’VE ALWAYS BEEN AT WAR WITH EASTASIA. SAD! He’s made it so that I, as a Canadian, now consider the United States of America to be the single greatest threat to my nation in the world. The USA, who used to be our brethren. It makes me sick to think this way. So please realize, my American friends, that I still love you. I have family in the US. I want nothing more than to go back to the days when our two great nations were BFFs. But that is not my call. It seriously looks to me like you have a president who is determined to make your nation the bad guys. I don’t want to be at odds with you. I seriously don’t. But here we are. If you side with that guy, then you are, axiomatically, placing yourself against the world. It’s your right to do so. But it does make you kind of a dick. So much, then, for rule #2. It seems that Trumpipants’ version of America is one that lives exclusively by rule #1. Are you all just dicks, then, America? The world needs to know. (Obligatorily, I’m sorry about all of that. I’m Canadian. Didn’t feel right to just lay it on you like that. I love ya. I feel the need to emphasize that we can still be friends, if you want.) More to the point of the site, are we all just dicks as Ex Christians? Or can we do better? For the record, I’m for trying to do better. Because rule #2 matters. Don’t be a dick people. Or, at least, try.
  12. 10 points
    I guess this is the appropriate forum. Just thought I'd share something that matters quite a bit to me. I no longer get huge anxiety reactions from religious art and buildings. I'm able to enjoy very old churches and cathedrals for the architecture and the artworks inside, just this summer I've visited a few already outside service times and I am looking forward to more. I even attended a boring Lutheran service, and it was tolerable. I still won't subject myself to anything like Pentecostalism, no point in that for now. Plus they don't have nice buildings, not here at least. Also, it no longer makes me feel ill to know people pray, or maybe explore other religions, do tarot or astrology or whatever to enrich their lives a bit. I do still wish people didn't look for gurus to solve their life problems, but I don't have a problem with people who take responsibility of their own lives and don't trust religious experiences to affect their decision making. I find I can very well be atheist, in the sense that I don't believe any gods with actual personalities exist, but I can still feel an intense, beautiful connection with everything around me that lives. People, nature, trees, animals, near and far. I can imagine myself tapping into a some kind of "life energy" (for lack of a better word) that is in living beings and meditate on it, and feel it move through me and bring calmness and peace. Purely imaginary or not, I find it beneficial. In a way it feels close to how I felt as a theist, but it's very different in the sense that I don't expect, or really even want, anyone to walk in on me and be like "btw god told me this about your future" (which was one of my biggest continuous wishes as a believer). It's me and the other living things, here and now, doesn't need to be anything more. No seeing the future, no new strange explanations of the past. Just a feeling of being connected with the bigger picture and maybe, just maybe, finding new points of view to what is right now. After all the drama around my deconversion I was very scared to even think of anything spiritual, but slowly, with time, it seemed the invitation to get back to it came from the nature around me. My pet giant snails, funny as it is, were the first creatures to invite me to re-think my stance. That was maybe two years ago. I'd describe what happened but it seems a little ridiculous... but if anyone is curious I will elaborate when asked to. At the time I posted a couple posts here saying I'm drawn to "a bit of woo", not wanting to be serious about it, not sure what I was thinking and feeling, just carefully seeing if the experience would return. And it did, repeatedly. In conclusion, I suppose I've spent enough time in the extremes, both in religion and also a really stiff version of atheism that denies everything and pretty much thinks that something that is pure emotion is dangerous for its potential for mind control and bad decisions. I guess I needed to live through all of that. I do still have regrets about the religious extreme end, but I don't regret the stiff atheism even though it was kind of dull. I needed to throw away everything for a while and then slowly start carefully choosing what I really, really, really wanted to keep and what felt right, instead of the crazy headfirst dives into "EVERYTHING jesusy here for me!! I have no brakes at all WHEEEE! Tell me what my truth should be!!! it's all safe because jesus!!!" that I used to do. I'm not one to say anything about what anyone else should be, but I'm finding a ground that isn't extreme and makes my life a bit more beautiful and comforting. I took a long time to not feel stupid about it, but I'm now accepting that I can't live without beauty and nature, I need them around me and I must make choices that lead me closer to them. I can also very well celebrate my imagination and my busy mind, and use it to my own benefit instead of being afraid of it. And, very importantly, I'm learning to live a life that is my very own. A life where I'm the person who respects and loves me the most, who is the one to stand up for me, who doesn't need divine intervention. I'm learning that disagreement in itself is not a threat to my existence or a sign that I'm somehow worse than the next person. I'm learning that mutual respect means I can have a conversation with someone who disagrees with me, and we can debate, share our very differing thoughts, etc, and still no one gets furious or calls names, and everyone gets new food for thought. I'm finding me, slowly. And I'm not so bad after all.
  13. 10 points
    When I first became a Christian, I was already an adult. One of the first things I was taught, was that we prayed for the president, no matter what the party affiliation. I can remember getting handed those, "Voter Guides" that I eventually realized had candidates from just one party. But aside from that, the takeaway was: The Bible tells us to pray for those in authority. As a new believer, wanting to follow what god said and take it seriously, I did so. I was one of those "all in" believers that took the bible seriously, and believed I should try to the best of my ability to follow it. And yet, during the eight years of Obama's presidency, my email inbox and Facebook feed was filled with Obama hatred. Jokes and memes of the most vile kind. I almost didn't survive the last election. One side note: I can get along with people of any political persuasion. I have friends that are Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Independent, Green Party, and so on. My issue is not with politics, my issue is with those who call themselves Christians, and then proceed to slander those they disagree with, in the most vile ways. (By the way Christians, slander is a no-no according to your god -- Psalm 101:5 and 1 Peter 2:1, Ephesians 4:31-31 to name a few.) But modern day Christians don't care with the word of their god says if it's inconvenient for them. Uunless it is to judge another with it. They largely ignore verses and teachings that touch any part of the way they want live their lives. So, moving on. The vast majority of these hate-filed, mocking memes I've had to endure are posted by my believer friends. How do I know this? As a good little evangelical Christian for 25 years, I was properly indoctrinated to associate only with my own kind. Therefore, 99% of my Facebook friends are evangelical. (At least they were at the time of my deconversion starting.) Evey time I saw this selective enforcement by my Christian friends, following only the rules they want to follow, it chipped away at me. They felt completely "justified" because they have "truth on their side" and that somehow invalidated how Jesus taught they should treat others. We have tried to raise our son to not "hate one party over the other" but instead to think critically about issues and make decisions based on thoughtful reflection. Most of all, when we were still believers, we taught him respect for the office, and to pray for who is there, regardless of party. The Bible actually has a specific verse for this, but again, Evangelical America selectively ignores what they don't want to do. Evidently, this measured approached was not appreciated in my son's youth group at the time, because he got "called out" for responding in reasonable and measured tones when some Obama hatred conversation was happening. (He was just 11 years old and already being subjected to the idea that if you don't conform to Evangelical “group think”, then you are rejected!) I'm not sure when being a Republican became a litmus test for proper Christianity, but I see and encounter this regularly. This was another reason we got out. I wasn't sure what scared me more: That my boy would be singled out for holding reasonable views, or that he would succumb to peer pressure and become like them. Let’s move on to Boy Scouts. No fewer than five of my Christian friends knew my son has joined, have had the following reaction (as either the first or second sentence out of their mouths): "Aren't you worried about the homosexual thing?" I have LITERALLY had to reassure them that, "No, I don't think there's any worry there." It's pedophiles we should be worried about, NOT gay men. Because, THIS IS HOW THEY THINK. For years I watched the subtle judging and shaming that goes on in Evangelical church culture. There is an "us/them" mentality that has become more and more prevalent. The silent judgment and not-so-subtle ostracizing of those whose political beliefs are different. The very subtle way they say, "We love you as a lost sinner, but once you become one of us, either you change or you're out of the club". So the "unofficial list" of everything we can't talk about, be involved in, or like, if we are Christians, grows ever longer. Christians: For the record, judgment is a very bad evangelism strategy. There were so many unofficial "litmus" tests to jump through. You learn early on that you don't ask certain questions, even if they are questions that stem from a true desire to understand. Back when I was a new Christian, spending a lot of time in the Bible, I did have some questions. Some things didn't make sense, some chapters seemingly contradicted other chapters, or events. I just wanted to ask someone to help me understand. I learned many, many years later that I had unintentionally bumped right up against the "inerrancy" doctrine of the Bible, and how we should never point out any flaws. (I believe the "inerrancy" thought is relatively new -- 19th Century?) You get branded as a "troublemaker" if you continue to ask questions, so you are shamed into silence. The litmus tests I've encountered are: You must vote republican, or you are voting for murder (abortion). This was literally said to me. If I'm not a "one issue" voter, I can't be a Christian. If I believe in man-made global warming, I'm clearly not in the fold, or worse, a liberal. Social justice. If I'm "for" helping the least of these, I'm clearly a liberal. (Ignoring all of the scriptures on this exact mandate to help those less fortunate.) Ironically, the Christian/Republican dogma of "pull yourself up by your own bootstraps" with no help from the government rings amazingly true to Darwinian "survival of the fittest." I digress. I have actually seen in the 25 years that I was a Christian, it go from "following the teachings of Jesus" when I help the poor, to "being a liberal." Seriously. Social justice issues used to be a ministry option, now it's a dirty liberal word. Or worse, Democrat! Helping the homeless in some church circles is considered "controversial!" I actually overheard a pastor in my own church refer to "those people" with disgust when discussing “the problem” that there are "more and more of them" in our town. Then the endorsement of Donald Trump by Jerry Falwell, Jr. happened. One became the front-runner of the Republican Party and the other was hailed with applause in the largest Christian college in America. Mic drop. The beginning of the end for me. And the silence has been deafening in Evangelical America. These preachers of hateful, xenophobic rhetoric are the only voices doing the talking. Of course mainline Christian pastors are talking, but as Franklin Graham recently said in his ridiculous "tour" to "save California" recently said, those in mainline Christian denominations are, "godless." His words! So now evangelicals are attacking any form of Christianity that doesn't mirror their echo-chamber truths. The bile is backing up in my throat just typing that. And I see the evangelical Christian churches falling in line with messages of nationalism over the teachings of Christ. Ignoring inconvenient teachings about enemy love, and instead proof texting bible verses, going to war against any other believer that sees it differently. Guns, borders, walls, immigrants --- are all political wars that have been brought right into the church. And the church wonders why there's a mass exodus. And the the fully indoctrinated continue to point out that those who fall away because of what "man" does, were probably never believers! Well, some of us fall away because we've bothered to study the bible critically and we're sickened by what the church has become. But that doesn't fit into your neatly tied little package of conditional grace and love, does it? My question is this: How can you Christians show the love of Jesus to all people, when that love has become so conditional? So politically entangled? When you've become more known for what you are against? Culture wars. Christmas wars. Offended at every turn. I spent more time undoing damage done by Christians when I used to talk to a non-believer than I did actually showing the love of Christ (when that was my thing). How is a dying and hurting world expected to believe Jesus loves them, when his followers clearly don't? And they are blind to their own hypocrisy! The church has always seen itself as counter cultural. Yet somehow American Christians think that conforming American culture to the church is an assignment straight from God Himself. We are just over 200 years old as a nation. 2000 years ago the early church did not think this way and a cultural takeover (or take back) is not a biblical mandate, although I'm sure plenty of evangelicals would argue that. You see yourselves as "being persecuted" simply because Christianity is no longer holding the same privileged position is has for so much of our country's history. Your solution? Legislate us back into the 1950s. No thank you. I've seen gay and transgendered people run out of churches. Why? Because they continue to live in "sin?" Because they "chose" that "lifestyle?" (I hate that phrase.) I have news for you. Everyone's got something they are dealing with in the "shit they need to deal with" category. INCLUDING YOU, CHRISTIAN. Every single one of you ought to think about that. Because that is conditional love. What happened to "come all ye who are weary and I will give you rest?" I know, I know, you have a thousand doctrinally sound reasons why people who continue to "sin" can't stay in your church. My only point is that if you could actually enforce the idea, with 100% accuracy, that those who are sinning (according to you) without repentance are not welcome in your congregation, your church would have to shut its doors due to lack of attendance. Starting with all the so-called Christians slandering others with impunity on social media. American Evangelical Christianity has become so wrapped up in nationalism that I barely recognize it anymore. Republianity. What happened to "this world is not my home" and that we are foreigners here? Political views have been elevated to the level of theology. Can anyone really say that a culture war to "take back the United States" is advancing the cause of Christ? It's not. It's repelling people. I've seen this a lot, given that most of the ministries I have spent my 25 years in the church in are "front line" where I had a high degree of contact with non-believers. For years, the conversations have gone something like this: "Wow, I would go to church if more people were like you..." Then they tell a story of being judged and condemned by someone who called themselves a Christian. What they are really saying is, "unconditional love is shocking, I want more." Christ could have not been more clear when he talked about this. In fact, I see more unconditional love, or acceptance, by those who hold no beliefs at all. Including my new friends here at Ex-C. I realize I'm not talking about all churches or even all the people in my own former church. I won't paint all evangelical Christians with the same broad brush I see them using against those who don't believe as they do. But these issues, along with a multitude of problem areas in the Bible itself, plus the disingenuous way that pastors preach from it, have repelled me out of that system. Good riddance, Republianity.
  14. 10 points
    I'm in the process of de-conversion. I'm not sure where I'll end up on the atheist-agnostic spectrum (is that a thing?), but I exited the evangelical church in November of 2015, right about the time several so-called leaders of conservative Christianity threw in for Trump. Talk about shattering everything that I'd always had crammed down my throat. All those voter guides. All that talk of electing "Godly men." It all got thrown out the window on the throne of political power. Instead I heard, “boys will be boys” and “locker room talk” coming from the same voices advocating for godliness in leaders for so many years. I digress. I was not raised in a Christian home. My mom gave it a go for several years when I was around seven or eight. It was enough to memorize, “Jesus Loves Me” and to know the basics. “Jesus loves me, and he died on the cross for my sins.” We moved shortly after that, and church was not on the docket again. In our household, it was my father’s way or the highway. His anger and rage ruled the home. I grew up waiting for the other shoe to drop, because I never knew what kind of night it would be when he got home. Drinking, drunkenness and anger permeated the home. Sometimes it got really scary. I kept my opinions to myself, because no other point of view was tolerated but his. I grew up without understanding personal boundaries. I grew up hiding all opinions and quietly deferred to his will no matter how unfair it felt. It was a survival tactic. Little did I know, this made me the perfect candidate to do well inside the church machine. I’ve had an interesting life. In my early 20s, I was fortunate to fall into a group of amazing musicians with big-time connections. I had backstage passes to NAMM shows, and concerts of some of the biggest names of the 80s. I opened for used-to-be-famous musicians in smaller venues. I also fell into a work situation that ended up being a tech start-up that grew out of a failed, larger corporation. By the time I was twenty-five, I had a life most envied from the outside. However, on the inside, things weren’t working. You know that gnawing feeling in the pit of your stomach that something is missing? Maybe not. But I had it in spades. After many years of reflection, I understand now that it was some major missing pieces from a traumatic childhood. Around this time, I was invited to an evangelical church for the Christmas program, and ended up going forward at the alter call. Unconditional love sounded pretty good to me at the time. Little did I know, this “love” would come at a very high price, with plenty of unwritten rules to follow. I would spend the next twenty-five years inside of conservative evangelicalism. It didn’t solve my problems, but did create plenty of new ones. So, I left my sinful life behind. Musical friends, drinking, the occasional drug dalliance, were all excised from my life. I threw myself into worship team, choir, ministry, outreach, short-term missions. I studied JI Packer, CS Lewis, EM Bounds – we used to call them “all the dead white guys.” I was discipled almost constantly for the first three years by both our senior pastor and the chaplain at the local rescue mission where I volunteered. It was a time of learning, and assimilating. The first time I bumped up against the “don’t ask” rule was after missionaries from Papua New Guinea came to talk about their work creating a bible from scratch, for a people group that had no written language. It was fascinating to think about creating a language from scratch, and they were very sincere in their efforts to “reach” these people. Later that night when I got home, it dawned on me that this tribe had existed from quite some time before the missionary family had arrived. I wondered, “what happened to all the people that had died before they got there?” I mean, did they go to hell? That didn’t seem fair. So I dropped in on our senior pastor the next day to ask my big theological question. I was proud of myself for thinking about this so deeply, and was sure I’d get another theological lesson out of it (which I loved). I had jumped into my studies with enthusiasm and was excited to learn. When I met my pastor and posed the question, it was the first time in all our meetings that I saw his countenance change in front of my eyes. He was not pleased! Why?! I suddenly felt nervous like I’d done something wrong. He quietly told me that at some point in every person’s life, god will make himself known to them in some way. Somehow there would be a reckoning where they would choose to believe, or not. It was all very vague. Now I’m not a theologian, but the question that popped into my mind, yet stuck in my throat refusing to come out was, “but if god shows up in our lives like that, why do we need churches to give the message?” But, my childhood training had taught me well: When a powerful man is upset with you, shut up. And I did. This event sticks in my mind because it was the first time I learned there was ground you didn’t tread on. If only I had known about the historical-critical method of bible study at that time. If only I knew that the bible wasn’t the inerrant word of god. If only I knew that there were no original manuscripts. If only I knew of all the discrepancies. If only I knew. Over the years, I filed away many questions I knew would label me a trouble-maker to ask. My good-girl, "be seen and not heard" childhood training was still my driving force. Don’t make waves. Don’t make waves. Don’t make waves. Say nothing. Put up with partial explanations. Turn a blind eye to hypocrisy. Endure voter guides and the pressure to vote “correctly.” Just fit in. Three years into my life as a Christian, I would get married to someone who put on holy face in church, but turned out to be worse than my dad ever was at home. I endured a divorce in those early years, and was told because it was “just” abuse, it wasn’t a scriptural divorce. I would never be free to remarry, unless it was him! It was floated that I should hang in there. Instead, I got out after fourteen months, and almost didn’t survive it. Feeling like no decent man would ever want me now, I did more than contemplate my suicide: I planned it. Ultimately I didn’t carry it out, but it was close. I stopped myself on the day I had planned to drive to the bridge I would jump off. My affairs were all in order, and letters were written and left in my apartment. It took three years of counseling to be OK again. And still, I didn’t leave the church. Not for a long, long time. Next up on the hit parade was the split of our 3,000-person church. This was something to watch unfold. It was deeply disturbing and ugly. I had a front row seat, since it involved a power struggle between two pastors, both of whom I deeply cared for. The church did split, and it was never the same. It then split again. A few years later, the building was sold and today it no longer exists. To this day, people don't speak to each other. Families were split. Life long friendships ended. All over two men's egos. The bible tells us that god will hold leaders to a higher standard of accountability. I've never seen any leader in the church act as if they gave a crap about that admonition. If there was a holy spirit guiding people, I never saw it. I saw a hell of a lot of self-will run riot though. I saw affairs that were tolerated by big tithers, while those that didn’t have the same financial standing, were thrown out. I learned the many unwritten rules of membership. Which TV programs were OK, which weren’t. Looking like you had it all together was approved of, having problems was not. If you had struggles, this meant your walk with the Lord was at fault, and the fault was always yours. People with real problems were shamed into silence. Including me. One of the Christianese sayings goes, “If you feel far from god, guess who moved?” This and other fluffy platitudes were highest depths of theological introspection that the laity could come up with. I grew to hate these sayings. They were an assault to intelligence. Still, I was silent. As the years wore on, I slowly began to see something more sinister take root. Maybe it was always there to a degree. I know the rabbinic tradition calls for questioning and reinterpretation of scripture, so I saw Jesus as simply operating within that framework. What's interesting is how everything comes around again. The Christian church (at least in America, which is all I can speak to), is very much like those Pharisees of old that Jesus railed against. Over and over I would wonder why leadership didn’t see it this way. Everything was cast in stone. Either all the bible was true, or none of it was. The earth was new. Dinosaurs and man coexisted. By this time, my counseling had served me well, and was getting more and more emotionally healthy. I knew this type of pseudo-reasoning was black-and-white thinking, which was dysfunctional. Their very own Jesus didn’t operate this way! He questioned the authority and wisdom of the current religious leaders and traditions. Critical thinking is completely lost today in general, but the lack of it is almost a requirement to subscribe to the tenants of evangelical Christianity. I'm teaching my son logic and critical thinking, because I want him to have the tools. I look up and down the comment sections on social media and I see nothing but ad hominem attacks, straw-man arguments, etc. And it's no wonder. Our politicians have been winning elections with this kind of rhetoric for... well, for a long time. Pair that with reality TV and the dumbing down of America is complete. The ultimate irony is that the church today teaches Sheep 101, and rewards you for falling in line, towing the party line and not making waves. The exact opposite of who their very own Jesus was. About the time I started seeing the tide of opinion changing on doing outreach to the homeless and the hurting, it was the beginning of the end for me. A deep dissatisfaction was growing at how the church was ignoring most of the teachings of Jesus. For years, there had been a growing faction that had turned into a groundswell that took on "biblical" causes that dovetailed with political positions. The hypocrisy of whipping out the Bible to discriminate or legislate against minority people groups, while simultaneously ignoring most of the very-well-spelled-out teachings of Jesus on enemy love, and other inconvenient teachings, was all I could take. One day the dam just burst. Everything I had “filed” for so many years under my “cognitive dissonance file cabinet” just exploded. I began to Google topics related to my dissatisfaction with Christianity and that was when I knew I could never go back. It took over twenty years to have my final straw moment, but as I began to learn about all the problems with the bible, my beliefs just evaporated. But it would take me another three years to do something about it. I was in emotional turmoil all of the time at this point. I knew I’d be leaving my entire social network. I poured myself into music. I joined a second band. I filled my days with busyness and outreach. I was running from myself, and the hard decisions I knew I needed to make. Maybe if I decide not to decide.... but the lyrics of RUSH’s song Free Will rang in my head. “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.” In the end, the church made it easy for me. My son was being picked on for not “hating Obama” enough for his peer’s satisfaction, I overheard the outreach pastor talk about how the homeless were “wrecking this town” and my main band threw a member out because they were divorced and weren’t qualified to minister from the platform. By this time, were in a new state, and our current church had been our home for five years. But no one knew I was divorced. Something inside me broke in late 2015. The final straw was Focus on the Family’s James Dobson advocating for Trump. I’d loved that organization, donated to it, and was completely dumbfounded at his defense of this man from a believer’s point of view. It was like I suddenly saw the truth. The church was a power structure, tapped into man’s need to believe in something higher than himself. Centuries of control, money, and forced adherence to man-made doctrine. Secrets about the bible’s issues and problems kept from the laypeople. I was sickened. I told my husband we were out of there, no matter the cost. I quit both bands, walked out, and never came back. I will close with something I wrote as a believer, back in 1998. Even then, I saw the problems. No more. Well, I guess you know the answer to that. There is no revival. There is, however, a hell of a lot of “Dones” like me, stampeding in mass exodus out the doors of the church. Now to that I can say, “Thank god!”
  15. 10 points
    Just talked to my mom. She has spent her life as a mainline Christian, but is a firm believer. For those of you that don't know, my dad was a pastor in a mainline denomination until he died of cancer in 2003. One brother married a cradle catholic and now they go to a mainline church. The other brother married an evangelical and attends an evangelical church. I was an evangelical from college until a few years ago. I have avoided telling her and have managed to skirt around the issue when it has come up ever since. Well, something my daughter said the last time we were there got her thinking and she called me to ask about it. One thing lead to another and she point blank asked me if I still believed. I have to tell you all, I am so tired of lying (yes, I admit I have lied, though I hated doing it) and of trying to dodge questions to avoid difficult conversations or hurt feelings. I am just so tired of it. I told her the truth and then had three conversations in succession (we would talk, then hang up, then she'd think of something else and call me back), and now she knows. It wasn't terrible, though she had some surprisingly good questions for me! Anyway, we hung up with love and a bit of sorrow on her part, but ok. She asked me to go to church with her the next time we visit, and I said I would. It's not that much to ask as we live four hours away and only visit 3 or 4 times a year. I really don't have much concern over this except for my evangelical brother and sister-in-law. They're actually pretty mild in a lot of things, but they are strong believers and I don't know how they'll respond when my mom tells them, as I know she will. My husband was wincing as he heard my side of the phone calls, but he congratulated me on my coming clean when it was over, lol!!
  16. 10 points
    Hello My name is Suzie. I was a worship director in a little baptist church in New Zealand, went to bible college, married a nice Christian boy, gave my entire life to God. Got fired as worship director because I didn’t want to force volunteers to practise too much. Had no chance to explain myself or talk about ways forward the pastor just decided to kick me out and tell the congregation I had decided to step down. Decided to leave the church but still kept my faith for a wihile. Eventually all the little things added up and I decided to try living for a day without God to see if it was any different.... it wasn’t. So I gave up trying to please a hateful God, left my abusive husband, came out as a flaming lesbian, moved out of town and here I am! It’s been horrible and heartbreaking I would never go back. I’m hoping to meet some nice like minded people here. It’s a tough world on your own. <3
  17. 10 points
    It’s been a long time since I’ve been here, but I had to come back. I just heard the news. I am so devastated. Too bad, Mark- I’m bawling my eyes out. You were a friend when I needed one. I can’t look at the old PM’s, I can’t bear to. I was okay until I read your final goodbye message to us all. I was lucky to have known you. Farewell, friend.
  18. 10 points
    I never in a million years as a Christian would have guessed that Jesus would be who lead me to reject him. But it is being a devout follower of him that made my faith cave in on itself. I was never that Christian that just swayed with the ebb and flow of cultural Christianity pervading almost every corner of our society. I wanted to take my belief to the next level and do exactly what I thought Christ was telling me to do. As so, I got very involved in my church's youth group, which, in retrospect, was an incredibly toxic environment for a prepubescent mind to be exposed to. I still struggle with self-esteem issues as a result of being told I'm essentially worthless without God! But I digress. At this time in my life, I read my Bible with my Matthew Henry Commentary alongside it every single morning. A chapter a day. And I prayed A LOT... probably at least once per hour that I was awake each day. I also tried to convert my lost friends like my church encouraged me to, but mostly to no avail. But I didn't let it trouble me. It was out of my hands and I already knew that most of humanity would reject God. Satan must have had a wicked strong grip on their souls for them not to see the miraculous joy of our Lord, I thought. Only now I see how neurotic this kind of thinking is... that a such small sliver of humanity, only a few "good" Protestant denominations here and there, are worthy enough to bask in God's glory for the rest of eternity, and of course, tragically, the vast majority of man will be subjected to eternal conscious torment, where the worm will not die and the fire is not quenched (Mark 9). Yeah, even then I recognized that this is pretty messed up, but it's just the way it is. That's the consequence of the Fall of Man in the beginning of creation. It's an impossibility than an infinitely good God could be in any way at fault for men deliberately rejecting him, for all men have an innate sense of the one true god out of probably millions of deities created since the dawn of man, Yahweh. And, of course, I mustn't trouble myself with the trifling philosophical details. That's for God to worry about - my only duty is to unquestioningly obey, I thought. I'm on the right team and that's all that matters - I'm assured of MY salvation. So I read my Bible and unquestioningly did as I was told. I thought God gave me the sense to do things. It lead me to do a lot of absurd things. I practiced speaking in tongues when I was bored, for example, and I once threw away a number of video games in middle school for having content that “disturbed my spirit”. But one thing I never experienced was actually “hearing” his voice. I never actually “heard” his voice like many believers claim to have experienced, but I always felt like his spirit was within me, leading me to do things I wouldn't otherwise do. The hesitance not to follow this sense within me, of course, was just temptation. I vividly recall reading my Bible at 6AM and sometimes thinking about girls I found attractive at my school without clothes. I remember I would, in my head, tell Satan to back off and pray to request God to cause the lustful thoughts to leave my mind. Sometimes it worked, usually it did not. In retrospect, it's funny how much more powerful testosterone was compared to God. My natural bodily urges made me feel like a dirty sinner who constantly needed to repent. I was always inadequate in his eyes and I always had to do more to get closer to him. It is both funny and troubling to me that such a normal expression of myself and my body was painted as such an unnatural, perverted, rebellious act against the Creator. But I knew that victory was inevitably mine and, with God, I would prevail against leagues of demons tempting me to be unrighteous and unholy. I could talk on and on for hours about how dehumanizing Christianity is, but I will write about this another time instead of writing this here. Anyways, moving on to the events leading up to my doubts. The Bible to me was easily the best book ever written. It was the only "living" book that I could think of (although I will admit that I was tempted to call the Lord of the Rings trilogy a living book when I first read it, but I quickly extinguished those heretical thoughts as I read about Sauron and Mordor crumbling into ash). I had read the New Testament over and over again, and though I found Paul to be a little politically incorrect at times about the gays, I had no qualms with the New Testament. They were wonderful stories of redemption, miracles, and the eventual return of Christ that legitimately excited me and gave me an abundance of hope. The four Gospels, however, were like a drug to me. I felt like, in the Gospels, Christ talked to me through the scriptures, painting vivid images of his life and crucifixion as I read those red letters over and over again. But one morning, I had a sense that Jesus was leading me to try something new! I decided he was telling me read the whole Bible cover-to-cover, starting with Genesis and ending with Revelation, and that this would help me see something important to bring me closer to him. So I thought that I should do that and couple it with the wisdom of Matthew Henry like I normally do, and prayerfully sit with the Lord and the Twelve Tribes of Israel in their numerous battles and plights against those evil heathens and learn about God's awesome power and infinite love. I had heard so many good stories about the Old Testament in the audience of a church service, but I had never read it for myself. What a great opportunity to grow closer to God, I thought. So I started in Genesis, like Jesus was leading me to. The first six or seven chapters were awesome, especially since I thought the earth was only 15,000 years old at this time like a lot of conservative Christians in the United States do. I did not think anything of it. But the rest of Genesis and the Mosaic books felt off to me. For one, I found God to be really legalistic, and I was previously told that Christianity was not about religion, but relationship, and that "false" denominations of Christianity like Catholicism were legalistic like that. I was shocked to see what I was reading. I can't eat shellfish or pork? I can't wear clothes with more than one kind of fabric in them? Women who cheated had to drink water that caused her bowels to swell? You cannot even put two different types of seeds in a single field?! Why would God care? Doesn't God just want you to follow and love him? But I had read in the New Testament that Jesus came to fulfill the law, not abolish it. This created a troubling dilemma for me and placed a knot in my heart that I simple could not unravel. And this not to mention the abhorrent moral code our great God advocated for and practiced in the Old Testament. I never knew God had rules for slavery. I never knew God said odd-looking people should be denied the "bread of his God" (seriously, see Leviticus 21:17-24). I never knew God commanded the Israelites to slay thousands in Bashan, Jericho, and the rest. And though I learned about the mass murder in the Noah's ark story and the slaying of infants in Egypt in Sunday School as a child, they felt a lot more disheartening and troubling to me as I read them on my own, framed in a more gruesome way than the colorful images on worksheets I completed in elementary school. And so many more atrocities I read of... it made my stomach churn. It made my whole worldview feel as useless as straw. And, more importantly, I felt like a major ass as I realized that the superiority I felt as a result of my religion was bullshit. I had a mini existential crisis and I felt like I was completely alone. I continued talking to Jesus, but I felt like he stopped giving me so many answers. I felt like he was disappointed in me that I could not accept God the Father. But I simply could not accept the behavior of such a moral monster. I tried devising elaborate theories, such as that the Old Testament was fabricated and distorted the true, loving God of the New Testament, but I knew that it simply did not add up. I was trying so hard to repair a wall in my life that was destined to crumble apart. I needed answers, and fast, because I was beginning to doubt my whole entire foundation in life, and it gave me a perpetual nausea and fear of a life without God. I felt liked I had been lied to and people were hiding the truth from me, and I did not know why. I also had a fear in the back of my mind that all of this was a waste of time and Satan was trying to trick me. Why did Jesus lead me into this trap? Why did he show me this scripture that is leading me to question his nature? I looked on dozens of Christian forums for unanswerable questions I had, read apologetic books, and read the New Testament exclusively all while I had my doubts, but I could not repair the blow that the Old Testament had inflicted upon my faith. None of the Christian answers were satisfactory to me and my beliefs started to morph into something completely unrecognizable. Somehow, in my search for answers, I stumbled upon a video series on YouTube by a channel called Evid3nc3. The series is an incredibly emotional, intimate story of how a fundamentalist Christian, much like me, deconverted and found that atheism was the only reasonable position to assume given our current knowledge about the universe. I highly suggest you look into this series if you are currently questioning your faith, if you recently deconverted, or if you simply enjoy hearing deconversion stories. There was so much I could relate to... how he started to have questions, much like me, as a direct result of reading the Bible... how he was actually genuine and not just a cultural Christian, just like me... how hard he tried to defend God to no avail, just like me. It all made sense. And the creator of the series really helped me cope with my growing skepticism and doubt about my faith. I watched all the videos in two sittings, and it was amazing to me how fast the other pillars of my faith crumbled once the fundamental aspects, such as the goodness of God, became less evident in my own life as I watched the videos. And with those chains being taken off my mind and body, it was only natural to accept the scientific truths revealed by denying Christian fundamentalism. Suddenly, the universe was no longer 15,000 years old but 13.77 BILLION years old. And the universe, physics, and biology were instantly way more interesting than God to me because it’s actually substantial, demonstrable, and not paradoxical. The universe does not have to sacrifice itself to itself to save us from itself. The universe does not have three consubstantial persons somehow wrapped up into one. The universe is a benign, indifferent machine. This thinking was so comforting to me… no more judgement, no more worry about an afterlife? I couldn’t have dreamed of a better universe to live in. In a sweeping motion, like a chalkboard being wiped clean, the earth and the cosmos were no longer depraved, evil, or soulless… they were beautiful and marvelous in their vastness and mystery. It’s funny how realizing how small and insignificant I am when considering the scale of the universe was so liberating. It’s almost paradoxical that moving from a worldview where earth is the primary playing ground in this universe made me feel more worthless than a scientific worldview that revealed we are just a speck of dust orbiting a star in a galaxy of 100 billion stars in a universe with 100 billion galaxies. Maybe it was just freeing to realize that there probably isn’t a god watching me while I am in the bathroom. Being able to take the reins in my life and come up with my own meaning and purpose makes life feel so much more important. And since I only have one shot at life as far as I can tell, I have to make this worthwhile. It’s a dramatic turnaround from the belief that this life is just a “test” for the next, eternal life that really matters. Anyways, as I was watching the videos, it almost felt like Evid3nc3 was reading my mind and deconverting step-by-step along with me. It's ironic to say this but those deconversion videos felt incredibly spiritual to me. I did not feel so alone in my doubt anymore, and I was delighted to find a plethora of channels on YouTube by other atheists, who further exposed the contradictions, absurdities, and ethical issues related to Christianity and religion in general. I eventually graduated to reading books by Dawkins, Harris, and related authors, and they absolutely blew my mind. I could not believe how blind and brainwashed I was. I consumed popular media associated with atheism and evolution for the next 12 to 18 months after my deconversion, and learning well established scientific data about the origin of life and the scientific method that I missed out on up until this point made me very angry. I hated Christianity and all religions and wanted to start a campaign to rid the world of all of them using reason and the rhetorical skills I had picked up, starting with my own community. Lofty goal, I know, but at the time I was really full of myself and thought I was actually capable of convincing people I was right and they were wrong. I eventually started discussing my atheism with my friends and many of them told me what I said made sense and changed their position on some of their views in life. From this, my ego was a little inflated so I thought I was ready to progress onward to my parents. One day from school, I randomly confronted my parents and told them I had my doubts and was skeptical about the entire Bible. I thought, naively, I would be able to deconvert them with the new knowledge I have gained and save them from a wasted life and perpetuating such a parasitic belief system. Boy was I wrong. They were shocked, concerned for my soul, and told me how arrogant I was and how I needed to repent immediately. It spiraled into a 4 or 5 hour gabfest and neither of us were willing to even listen to each other. It wasn't an argument at all. It was just preaching loudly to each other. Neither of us were willing to be open to the possibility that our minds might change on the issue... our minds were already made up. It was a dramatic waste of time, and I eventually lied and told them that I "have some stuff to think about" because I was sick of talking and tired. From here on, I decided to be less combative with not only my parents, but most people I encounter. Religion is not about reason... it's about emotions. And when you attack religion, you attack feeling and passion, not a cleverly designed intellectual argument. I sometimes talk to people about my beliefs if they seem open or ask questions about my religion over lunch or something, but I don't try to randomly debate my friends and family anymore. And, to this day, I have never followed up with my parents or told them exactly how I feel. I do not feel like it is advantageous to "come out" until I graduate college and live completely on my own. Now, a couple years later, I still read a lot and I am still pretty angry about the harm religious beliefs can cause, but not nearly as much as I was in high school when I was a baby atheist and tried to deconvert my parents. I found that I still have a lot of emotional problems as a result of my religious upbringing, but I am working on it. I think a lot of my normal development was stifled by my religious upbringing. As a result, I used to struggle with severe self-esteem issues, I continue to struggle with sexual expression, I regularly feel an incredible amount of guilt about trivial things among many other things. tried to reconvert back to Christianity a couple times, trying out the Episcopal Church and Eastern Orthodoxy on for size in an attempt to be "open-minded", but I just can't swallow Christianity's basic assumptions anymore. I think my attempts were more so to feel like I fit-in with the dominant culture and connect with my parents rather than from an actual conviction that Christianity might have some kind of mystical validity that needs to be reexamined. I follow what seems to be true where it lies, based on all the available evidence... and God, Christianity, and spirituality do not seem to follow from this path of inquiry. I still have a lot of questions about life and my purpose, but I now know that in my life, Christianity is a dead end road that for me only lead to emotional anguish, self-doubt, guilt, and a never ending sense of inadequacy beneath the eyes of a wrathful God. And that’s more than okay. In fact, it’s great that I am comfortable being as intellectually honest as possible. If you have reached this point, thank you so much for reading this very long story. I am interested in hearing your thoughts or answering any questions if you may have them. I hope that this is helpful or comforting to anyone who may share my background. It’s not the craziest, most dramatic, or most action-packed deconversion story out there, but it’s mine and I’m very happy with who I have become. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. There was a lot of growing pains involved, but deprogramming after years of religious indoctrination happens very gradually. I am a much more happy person without a religious faith and am way less anxious about life in general. If you just now started having doubts, please know that you will make it through this, no matter how hard it feels. You are stronger than the religion that binds you and any of its representatives. And for people that are out, please know that you are not alone. Many of us in your community are in hiding.
  19. 9 points
    Hi all! I finally decided I had better introduce myself. I am 63 years old and am disabled (I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia). I was born to Christian parents, and raised in a conservative evangelical church – at least it wasn’t a fundamental church. When I was 8 years old I said the sinner’s prayer and became saved. I loved god so much! I loved going to church – my deconversion did not have anything to do with my experiences at church. When I was a teenager the charismatic movement came to my church – which was absolutely wonderful. I started going to a charismatic church with all the woo woo – raising of hands, speaking in tongues, casting out demons, etc. I felt so close to god and loved him even more. I knew that I would never be one of those people who backslide and go away from god. Eventually I went to a Christian college – but I never learned about the background of Christianity – they never taught me anything that would shake my faith. However, after college I hit a real rough spot in my life. I prayed and prayed to god to help me. I was so desperate, but I got no answers. I thought that god didn’t love me, that I had done something wrong. Then I met some non-christians and got to know them very well. They were such good and kind people that I didn’t know how god could send them to hell. That was the beginning of my deconversion – I stopped believing in hell. This was all back before the internet and I didn’t know there were any books that would help me. So I lived in spiritual limbo for the next 25 or so years. I dabbled in the New Age movement – that gave me some relief from my cognitive dissonance. About 5 years ago I started searching for resources to help me and I discovered this site, among others. I’ve been lurking here off and on since then – but about a year ago I created a login and started spending regular time here. I went through all the stages of feeling anger, fear, feeling like I was going crazy, and sadness. I have finally gotten to a point where I am at peace with myself and my beliefs (which I don't know what they are anymore). The only time I feel cognitive dissonance anymore is when I get a little bit into the New Age type stuff (I guess I need to find a website to help me deconvert from that!). Now my beliefs waver between being an atheist, an agnostic, and a deist. I can never be a theist again unless I find a good explanation why a god would not prevent all the truly horrible things that happen. Anyway, I am now fully disabled – my health has crashed to the point that I am almost completely bedridden. You would think that would give me lots of time to study this stuff – but I sleep 14 hours a day. When I am awake I have only a small amount of time that I can study because mental concentration wears me out as quickly as physical activity. But despite that I am still at peace and content with my life. I am focusing on trying to learn more about ancient religions and the history of the bible; mythology; and critical thinking. I wish I had time for science also (including cosmology and evolution), but I have to prioritize myself. I also have a number of questions I would like to start threads about, but with my limited time I don’t know if I would have time to respond to others’ posts. But I’m going to at least start responding in others’ threads. Anyway, that’s about it until I have time to do a full extimony.
  20. 9 points
    I have just found out about BAA. I am deeply saddened by his passing. He was one of those whose posts I greatly looked forward to, and I learned a lot from him. He gave of himself, freely. As Florduh said: This site is diminished... I will remember him.
  21. 9 points
    I am truly sorry for the heartache you are going through. But being able to observe your situation from an outside objective vantage point, no, she was not the ideal girl for you. You dodged a bullet. Perhaps some day if she lightens up on her christianity, your relationship could work out. Right now her primary relationship is with her imaginary friend, not you. With that, you'd be in for a lifetime of hurt. Again, I am sorry. Welcome to Ex-C. What a way to become part of our community, right? I found Ex-C more than a dozen years ago by searching "atheist married to a fundamentalist christian" so I know a little of how you feel. (Or perhaps I'm projecting a little too much! ) There are quite a few of us in the "unequally yoked club" so please know that we are here for you. ((hugs))
  22. 8 points
    Hello! This is a great site. I am searching for truth. I got saved and became a born again Christian when I was 19 and am now 31 and have a lot of questions. So much of what everyone is saying on here is very relatable, especially things like being addicted to religion! At times in my life I feel I've been very addicted, scheduling life around church, looking for the next spiritual high, ect. Now many thoughts, realizations and things I read have rocked my faith to the core and it is unraveling very quickly aka I would say gone. The main thing was probably 3 or 4 months ago, I started having doubts which I would call "attacks from Satan " in my mind. I kind of ignored them and just thought I don't have the energy or brainpower to deal with this. When this had happened in the past, I would quote scripture back at the doubts or "voices" and I thought that made them go away. This time I just thought no, I am not even doing that... But one day I did try and I yelled back (in my mind) "Jesus is my Savior!" The voice that I said it in in my mind sounded like a child's voice. Recently when I was reading a science book it talked about some kind of belief or logic or something on our brains that we only have when we are children and then we grow out of it. I thought maybe that's what that was , my belief was very childlike logically? I don't know. I am struggling right now as I teach in a Christian school ( go back in early August ) and I feel I can't do it anymore. It is hard because that is what all the people around me want me to do. I am going to try and apply to public school. Thanks so much for listening. I am still in church and have many Christian friends and I haven't mentioned this to any of them.
  23. 8 points
    I used to believe that Unitarian Universalists had orgies during their congregational gatherings.
  24. 8 points
    Apologetics always has an answer for every INDIVIDUAL question. So, all of my individual questions always received an answer. Example: How can the earth be 6,000 years old when the fossil, geological, celestial, and DNA evidence clearly shows the earth at several billions of year old? The answer: "God pre aged everything to test your faith". And, yes, I was indoctrinated/programmed enough to accept this answer in my 30's; especially when it temporarily relieved a huge cognitive dissonance burden. For 20 of my 25 years in I "parallel processed" this world on two tracks: A church track and a semi reality track. I could not get the two to reconcile. It drove me crazy. The totality of everything was just too much. I "knew" there must be some way to reconcile both tracks. One day while looking out over Mt. Hood. a question came to my mind: "What if god was imaginary"? I processed this, and very quickly literally everything fell into place. It all made sense, especially people, their choices, communication, and behavior, made sense. I dumped my 25 years of indoctrination that day. I swear I could feel my mental operating system rewriting itself in my mind. That was 8 years ago. Nothing in that time has convinced me to reconsider the conclusion that god is man made and imaginary. These last 8 years continue to be the best of my life.
  25. 8 points
    In my experience, Christians will assign any reason but the primary one. True, some people leave a church because of leadership or people, but leaving Christianity altogether is another question. People don't stop believing the Christian myth because they want to "sin" and they don't stop believing because some prominent Christian or one they know personally acts like an ass. People leave the Bible story behind them because it doesn't make any sense, contradicts not only science and history, but it contradicts itself. It is usually quite painful and personally costly to leave this religion in America, so it's not something done without much consideration. But Christians, feel free to make up your own reality on this, too.