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  1. 17 points
    If someone told me that I would be on this website posting about de-converting from Christianity, I would have said laughed at the idea. Then probably started praying for that person to come to Jesus and for him to lift the veil from their eyes so that they could come to the truth. My name is Aaron, and I’m an ex-Christian lol! Is this what an AA meeting is like? This is awesome. I feel like I’m 16 again, rebelling against the machine all over again. I became a Christian when I was 18 years old. I attended a very loving church with an extremely empathetic pastor. For the first 4 years or so of my conversion I was extremely happy and very involved in my faith. I held bible studies, witnessed to many people, and even led some close friends to Christ during that time. I was forced to attend Methodist services as a kid with my mom but I hated it. When I became a “born again” believer it was a huge event in my life. I experienced a radical change and stopped using illicit drugs and partying and improved my grades enough to graduate high school. I was basically a kid who felt very lost and alone and Jesus gave me something I didn’t have before. I was what you would call an “on fire” Christian. I ate this stuff up. I was like a sponge. For the first few months after I became a Christian I read the Bible for at least 4 hours a day. Sometimes as much as 6-8 hours. I loved going to church. Sunday, Sunday night, Wednesday etc. If church was open, I was there. Anyway, at 22 I joined the Marine Coprs as an infantryman. I just recently got out after 14 years. While I was a Marine I went to Iraq, Kuwait, Philippines, Japan, Australia, Afghanistan, just about everywhere I guess. After I joined the Marines, or even slightly before, I was in a “backslide” as some call it. I was very much a believer but I no longer was “on fire.” I basically just felt guilty all the time. Through the years, I was up and down in my faith. Always chasing those early days of my faith when I felt so good about everything. So sure of my salvation. My first church I got saved in was a Baptist Church in Texas. It would be considered more of a non denominational church though. They had a band and always made alter calls at the end of service. That sort of thing. I tried to find that in California but I never did. The closest thing was Calvary Chapel. But I never really felt connected to a church like I did the first one. Through the years of bible study, I found numerous contradictions in the Bible. I wasn’t researching them online. I was finding them in my own. Very early on this happened. The first one I remember or one of the first ones was Judas’ death. Another one was conflicting accounts of the same story of David counting the army in Samuel and Chronicles. Actually there were several contradictions I found in Chronicles where numbers and names were off. I went to the pastor and he explained them I’m sure the same way you’ve probably heard yourself if you’ve went to someone for clarity about scripture. So then I began reading apologetics. Case For Christ etc. I was always searching for more answers. But I always had that fear of finding out things I really didn’t want to know. I couldn’t even fathom this not being real because of the big conversion experience I had. But my questions got deeper and deeper over the years as I got older. Especially into my 30s. Understand that I converted my wife, her brother, and her sister. I was as serious and strong a believer as anyone I know. And I felt more versed in the Bible than most as well. So these were serious problems I was having in my mind. Meanwhile I also cannot live it anymore. I was a Marine. I was a part of a warrior culture in every sense. I was just having internal conflict in general after a while with all of it. My self esteem was really suffering because of the unrelenting guilt. God it was bad. I felt guilty all the time. I stated having serious issues on my Iraq deployment. My platoon sergeant was killed and I knew he was not a Christian. He was a good dude and I had a real problem with believing he was in hell. Not just him but the Iraqi civilians that sometimes got caught in the middle and were killed. They were Muslim and didn’t believe in jesus either. And this bothered me. And for years I had all this guilt that we had sent people to hell. Fast forward to this past year. I heard about the Epic of Gilgamesh and then I watched a video or series of videos on YouTube one night. My mind was blown. Absolutely blown away. I had finally started to thoroughly research non religious sources for all these questions I had had. I was a sponge all over again. Day and night reading. Mind blown over and over. This was all fake? I had to reevaluate everything I had ever known. I had this strong feeling that I had been in this system of control. The more I researched the more I was floored. Literally. For about a week I was depressed. I was extremely disturbed at all I had learned. Because I was no longer trying to spiritualize the Bible or the contradictions. What am I now? Atheist? That one didn’t fit for me. I knew I believed in the concept of a higher being, god, the universe or whatever you want to call “it.” I just didn’t even know what that even meant. I definitely had zero belief in the god of the Bible and had zero interest in religion. After about a week I came to the realization that I just didn’t have all the answers and that was ok. I accept it. That’s when I had a strong feeling that everything was ok. And I became very excited about living a new life at 37. It’s like I got re-saved. Or the realization that I was never lost. I found myself again so to speak. And it was and still is amazing. I absolutely love life now. I’m very interested in hearing others stories and what they believe. Naturally because before I had all the answers and thought I had the truth. Now I’m very open. I’ll never go to another religion but I feel very spiritual (not sure if that’s the right word) in the sense that I just feel connected to everything and everyone. Before it was such a “us vs them” mentality. I think that’s why I feel that way. I don’t pray anymore but I found that taking to myself is still a positive thing. I’m just so excited about life now and for my family. I even called off a divorce and got my marriage back on track. I’ve so much enjoyed learning subjects that I was previously afraid to learn about. I’ve really enjoyed reading Allan Watts and others like him. But I’ve also enjoyed hearing atheists lecture and agnostics. I’m not sure what I would classify myself as now (maybe a deist?) and not sure it even matters. In fact it doesn’t. That’s the beauty of life for me now. I'm living it on my terms without religion! Ugh! What a drag that life was. So free to be out of it. Never looking back. Super excited to be here and happy to be apart of this community. Proud EX-christian!
  2. 14 points
    My grandma died last weekend at age 96, one month shy of her 97th birthday. She left instructions that she didn't want a funeral saying that as she had outlived all of her friends and most of her family (my dad being her sole surviving child) so she wished to be cremated and have her ashes added to my grandads in the veterans cemetery. She made sure to state that she wanted no priests, no prayers and none of her money to go to the church. She was born and raised a Catholic but turned against them when her sister had a still born baby and the church said as it was unbaptised and born into sin it couldn't be buried on church grounds. There was no support just rejection and the whole family broke ties with the Catholic Church most switching to Anglican or deist beliefs. My grandad was anti church but wouldn't talk about his belief so I don't know if he was deist or atheist. He said that his dad was a vicious abusive man who quoted the bible to justify his violence (spare the rod, spoil the child), he literally had religion beaten out of him. What really amazed me about her life is the massive amount of change she saw occur. Born in 1922 she was a teenager during WW2, married my grandad when he returned from the campaign in Egypt and had my dad in 1945. In her lifetime there has been cars, planes, TV, computers, phones, even electricity itself. The nearest supermarket was a 5km bicycle ride and she had to buy lamp oil to keep the home lit as they didn't get electricity connected until the early 30s. International travel was primarily by slow boats, with air travel only becoming available after WW2 but with very limited runs and high prices. As far as I know she never travelled outside of NZ. She lived through the depression, WW2, Korean and Vietnam wars, was married for 66 years with 2 children, 4 grandchildren and lived long enough to meet my daughter, her great grandchild. Sadly my daughter was too young to remember the meeting but I gave her my grandmas name Kathleen as her middle name. A full happy life through some of the worlds years of turmoil. A long life of joy without religion.
  3. 13 points
    Hello, My name is Jerry, I am a closet atheist, and recovering Christian. It isn't that I'm ashamed of being an atheist. I'm proud of myself for realizing the lies that I've been spoon fed over the years, and for coming out of the dark ages. I must remain closeted in fear of losing my family, friends, even my job. You see, my wife is a still a practicing, and enthusiastic, Christian. I must go through the actions and pretend to believe what she does in order to retain my family. As terrible, and deceitful, as that is, it's the life I've created for myself. I first began to question the very existance of a god several years ago. The whole god narative didn't match what I knew to be true from science classes, books, and common scientific theory. The more I learned about the world around me, its history and the history of mankind, through evolution, the more I realized the lies I had been told for almost forty years. I must admit however, it was difficult to give up on god. I was taught that we were nothing without him. I truly believed that without his "guiding hand" my life would spiral out of control. Regardless of my common sense, telling me that it was all a hoax, I was actually relunctant to step away. Then, one day I just stepped away, quit praying, stopped looking for his presence, basically just stopped believing. After two years of being free from religion, at least internally, I'm still fine..and a lot happier. I feel as if I can accomplish great things by myself, and feel free to relish in my achievements. Nothing is the work of an invisible man in the sky. However, it is the work of humanity. I'm glad that I escaped the hand of religion and the hatred it breeds. I am glad to be free from its sexist, abusive demeanor. I'm proud of being wise enough to decipher fact from fiction.
  4. 13 points
    Kia ora (Hi) everyone from New Zealand. I've been devouring the material on this website over the last few nights since I searched Google for "Former Christian Forum"! Thought I'd say thanks for the material, and also how great it is that other people are going through or have gone through similar journeys to me. This post is also somewhat for my own sake to help order my thoughts, keep me accountable for continuing to ask questions, and learn in community, so hi! My name is Sam you can also call me by my handle (Rangi). The brief version of my story is as follows- raised in a Conservative Christina home by two parents and three siblings- had a great, happy childhood and was loved and looked after by my family. Always went to church, went to a Christian university, lived in a Christian hostel etc. My journey of questioning started around this time as I made a close friend who was a very liberal Christian, and we had many great (and friendly) debates where my faith was questioned. I was very black and white in my worldview at the time! A few years later and around 4 years ago I had had enough of Church (the institution), as it was the same every Sunday, nothing really changed in anyone who went, including myself, so I thought "If I'm really a Christian, I should be able to live my faith out authentically without a cheer-leading session every Sunday." Well. after a couple of years of trying to do that and slowly feeling like I was losing this battle and losing myself, I questioned everything layer by layer, all the way back to "Does God exist?". I decided that yes, he did, and rebuilt my faith from there, finding a Church and life/small group that allowed me to throw controversial subjects up for discussion. The result of this was that I regained my faith, but I was different to other Christians- I saw the world as more grey than black and white, and kept asking questions until this year, when I identified with Universalism (scandal!). However, once you decide that there are many roads to God, even if Jesus is the bridge over which these roads go, it's very difficult to reconcile Hell for any reason, so I then came to an impasse. I then had a conversation on a date last week where we both got very deep and discussed our spiritual journeys (she isn't Christian, but has a religious background). I struggled to justify the main tenets of the Christian faith and had to honestly say I really don't know what I believe. This motivated me to resolve this tension that has been going on for the last decade, and so I ended up here, and as a result have been having my mind blown constantly for the last few days. I know I need to take time and work through things, and I know I'll get through this, but man...it's kinda terrifying to have the entire framework on which your life has been based slowly torn away! So yeah, good to meet you all, and thanks in advance for your patience, support and help!
  5. 12 points
    @ConsiderTheSource @Geezer @Weezer @DanForsman @disillusioned @DestinyTurtle @Fuego @LogicalFallacy @TheRedneckProfessor @ag_NO_stic @Citsonga @Mariana @Margee @florduh @Joshpantera @DevilsCabanaBoy @RealityCheck @sdelsolray @Derek @Lefty @Lerk @LifeCycle @Blood @buffettphan @Positivist @Realist If I forgot anyone....that's the Alzheimer's setting in...
  6. 12 points
    The land of enormous flags and women with perfectly coiffed blonde hair. I wasn’t born here though. I’m from the north east and it was me,my younger brother,mom and dad. We moved a lot and didn’t have much. Focus on the Family came with us and blared from moms kitchen radio wherever we went. Dad’s narcissism and listening for the Holy Spirit on every detail of my life was just normal. We were charismatic,speaking in tongues,fundies with no Santa or Easter basket, or god forbid trick or treat. I just feel sad now remembering it. I grew up,went to a small Bible college,met a good man and married him my senior year. I found a gentle parenting internet site and told my dad “women aren’t less than” and “god isn’t punitive”. That was my first big step away. I had three kids and suffered anxiety and depression while trying to read the bible to scare it all away. I prayed so hard. I guess maybe this all would have continued for much longer but for two things. 1. My brother is gay and I couldn’t deny the conditional love he got from my parents. 2. Trump came on the scene in 2016. I watched the map turn red Election night and realized I didn’t want to be associated with evangelicals anymore. Two years of depression later,I went to therapy. It took about a month for everything to just crash down to my feet. My brother and I talk every day now. My kids went trick or treating for the first time this year. I dressed up as a red devil and it was awesome. A lady invited me to her church. This is Texas after all. So that’s my story. I guess I’m a hopeful agnostic. I like the idea of a higher power in nature or something like that. But mostly,I love my freedom to live my beautiful life.
  7. 12 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.
  8. 11 points
    ...I could not reconcile that a god could make something perfect only to have it rebel and suddenly is not perfect. How can a perfect entity suddenly be not perfect? Makes zero sense. That was when I started researching, even more, then one day the question hit me..."Where have all the gods gone?" It was at that point I realized that the truth is far from true! From then on, I smelled the stench of man, not the hand of a god in writing that book. So, after much thought and research, I came to the conclusion that I had to admit there are no gods. We have so many religions because we have so many people with their own understanding of why we humans even exist, but we all wonder why we are here. And it is that very wonder that has moved some people to offer up their own answers, even to the extreme of forming a religion behind it. Some are sincere, some are not and have had ulterior motives for their doctrines, but the bottom line, not a single god has come forward and saved their creations from themselves. NONE. Humanity is the same now as it always has been. Nothing has changed but the humans involved. Dare I say, I found the truth to be that humans who sincerely just want to know the truth have been played by their fellow humans. If you really want to know the truth of a matter, go looking and you will find it, but be prepared for the answers you might not want to hear.
  9. 11 points
    I got that same error the last time I prayed.
  10. 11 points
    I’ve shared my xtestimony briefly on the introduction forum but I wanted to share a video I made of my story. The reason being, watching ex Christians share their stories on video was extremely helpful for me during the pre and post deconversion process. Eventually I worked up the courage and did one of my own. I hope this video will encourage you on your journey out of Christianity and into reality. If you think it would be helpful to someone else, pass it along. I thank all of you who invest so much time and energy into this website and community. You have truly helped me grow.
  11. 11 points
    My Deconversion TL;DR: A husband and wife are at a party. The wife is in a room alone and her husband has gone to look for her. As the husband is about to round a corner he hears voices in the next room and so stops to listen. A third man enters the room with the wife and he asks her to leave with him so that he can show her a good time. The husband hears this but waits to see how his wife replies. She tells this stranger that she is married and not interested. The man then grabs her wrist and tugs a little trying to goad her on, telling her not to worry, it’ll be fine. The husband waits. She pulls her arm back saying that she doesn’t want that and to leave her alone. The man then tightens his grip, starting to hurt her, telling her she is coming. She gasps out in pain and starts to call out for her husband. The husband waits. Finally, the man is twisting her arm so hard that she collapses to the floor gasping and sobbing and at last says, “Yes, I’ll go with you, just please stop hurting me.” And the husband thinks, “I see, she never truly loved me.” My Deconversion; The whole story: I grew up a true believer. As a kid, there were those in the church who just went but didn’t live their faith and were no different from anyone else. We were different. Though, not a whole lot different I suppose. We were not the ultra-hard-core types who never watched movies or thought that women should only wear dresses. But we did take our faith seriously. More than that, we believed our faith was self-evident. So, easily provable and denied only be those who obfuscate the truth or confuse themselves with their own convoluted thinking. And so began my journey. Having a logical faith, I pursued the evidence for it. I read the books of many apologists like Norman Geisler (one of my heroes even to this day) who wrote a book on formal logic and is still one of the best books on logic I have ever read. I highly recommend it. I devoured everything that came out of Answers in Genesis. I revered people like Dr. Jason Lisle (a legit peer-reviewed PhD) and all of the scientific minds in Creation research (yes, I have since learned that most are not legit). It all seemed legit to me at the time. I as a kid. But I wanted to understand so I became an amateur Apologist. My faith had reason, other faiths were wrong and I could explain why. After high school, I joined the Navy and served for five years. Admittedly these were hard years of my life. I was so ill-equipped for this world that I didn’t even know how to apply my faith while I was in and had several crises that my brother helped me through. The Navy changed my faith hugely. See, it would have broken my faith completely because my faith was rigid that rigidity could not survive the military. But his faith was much more fluid and dynamic. In other words, it's not that we can’t understand the minutia of scripture, but not to get lost in it. Ultimately, God’s nature is goodness and that he wants all to repent and be saved. John 15:17 “This is My command to you: Love one another.” It gave me a new approach to my faith. Don’t sweat the details. You know God’s nature because you are a reflection of His nature. God is goodness and mercy and salvation. So too this should be you. And I came home from the Navy reconciled and ready to save the world, only to re-enter the one of rigidity I had left. I went to my parents Sunday School class and was shocked and horrified by how bigoted and closed minded it was. The views expressed were shockingly dense and ignorant. I didn’t understand what corruption had fallen on my church since I had left. It was losing members and dying. But I wanted to do something. I got active. I wanted to do outreach programs, go to the hurting and the suffering. I wanted to save the world. But more than this, I wanted to find a wife, settle down and have a family. I wanted very much to be a pillar of the community like my dad. The family thing wasn’t happening but the with a great deal of tugging and getting other young families (Gen-Y’ers) excited and active I got the church to begrudgingly start doing outreach. It wasn’t nearly enough so far as I was concerned so I started going out and seeking those who were lost and abused myself. And the world got a little bigger. I started hanging around with subcultures, fandoms and people who even normal society would eschew. This was also at the peak of the gay marriage debates and I met many hurting and disenfranchised homosexuals who I befriended. I was shocked by number of people who were lost and confused and “…where the bloody hell is the church?!” I asked myself. I spent time with the lost and disenfranchised, the very people Jesus spent time with and there were no church, no missionaries, no preachers, nothing for these people. Not even secular help! I tried to get the church involved. They wanted nothing to do with these people. I tried to take aspiring preachers, elders, anyone who felt we didn’t have to travel to Timbuktu to send missionaries but that there were people just outside our doors for missionaries and missions to focus on. I got no help. This began my disillusionment and my loneliness. I was frustrated with the church and it’s un-Christlike behavior. And I tried to pursue a family. I bought a house, I secured a good job, I remained celibate (no easy feat to do while in the Navy) but it wasn’t happening. I prayed often for God to watch over my future wife and that we may soon meet. And so passed nearly 8 years, trying to get the church off its ass and petitioning God for my future family. The thing that was confusing me more and more with each passing year was how I wasn’t finding a wife. This confuses my family terribly as well. I didn’t understand why God willed it this way, or if I was doing something wrong. I was told he must have someone REALLY special in mind or that we had not reached each other in our own Christian walks yet and I kind of went along with this. But I was not faring well by doing this and no one seemed to know how to help. I moved to Chicago (well, near Chicago) and this loneliness hit harder than ever before. Family helped stave the loneliness some though not fully. But without family, I was deeply lonely and increasingly frustrated. And then began my rapid decline from faith. It started with one young gay man in deep Kentucky. He was a broken soul and one who I help through his depression and abuse. I came to care about him quite a bit and hoped for his future. And one day… he told me how special I was to him. How much he wanted to be with me. That he loved me. And he often fantasized about a future with us together. I did not relent on my convictions then, though he spoke right to the very core of my deepest longing. The thought then was that this was a test. God was testing me to see if I would trust him or give in to the sinful ways of the world. And this thought infuriated me. Why this? Why THIS? A point of greatest weakness. But then, would that not be the best angle for Satan to get at me? Would that not be the truest test of my devotion to God? Yet so long denied companionship, so long denied sex, I couldn’t shake the feeling that this test was utterly cruel. Like starving a friend nearly to death then calling the cops on him if/when he steals food from you. What kind of monster are you to do this to him in the first place? But the Bible is not short on these types of tests. Job being the number 1 example. As time went on, I grew bitter and I decided that I was going to experience sex. Marriage be damned, I resolved in my heart that this was a thing that was going to happen. And it was already sin, so being that it was with another male didn’t really make a difference. I did not lose my faith, I just decided that I’d accept the consequences of my rebellion, whatever they may be. And so I did. And nothing happened. I mean, sex happened, but there were no consequences. Nothing changed. And I remember the very first thought I had after being with another male. It was, “Huh… So that was it?” Like, don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it, in spite of it being awkward and uncomfortable (first-time after all) but nothing in the world changed. Except perhaps me. You see, I for the first time experience a level of intimate connection that I have NEVER experienced in my life. And I wanted more. And so I continued to pursue that intimacy where-ever I could. Around this time, I met who is now one of my dearest friends, Chris, a gay man, a then employee of mine and blindingly intelligent (though no small amount of flaky). But most relevant to me was that he is an ex-Christian. And I do not mean he fell away as a kid. Rather, he converted in his adulthood, took his faith as seriously as I took mine, and fell away. He and I had many many discussions. He was once a young-Earth Creationist, as I was. He was once a Biblical literalist as I was. But what he had that I did not was time. When he started his adult Christian journey, he was homeless at the time living in a warehouse whose owner knew he was there but allowed it and didn’t call the cops on him. Chris at that time read the Bible. Prayed constantly. Went to churches all over. Asking preachers questions, trying to understand himself and understand God. He wanted to KNOW God. But he is gay in attraction and desire. Whereas I can leave it if I so chose, he could not. And he prayed fervently for God to take this away from him. He resolved that he’d have to be celibate for the rest of his life. And after a few months of celibacy, he had dreams of other men. And Chris was confused why God was not helping him. And once he told me in a drunken moment of honesty that he nearly committed suicide because he could not bear the shame and pressure of it. To me, this is the instance where God should have reached into Chris’s life. This is like, all of the conditions for God to rescue someone. He was homeless and broke. He was hungry and cold (winter in Wisconsin). He read scripture and prayed. And nothing. Even to this day he still asks Christian apologists for answer to his questions just to make sure he didn’t miss something but when he tells them the story of his adult Christian journey, the usual response is, “You just weren’t sincere enough.” Which he takes great offense to. When I started to debate with him, I knew instantly I was outclassed. He took his blinding intellect and pointed it at deconstructing his faith far more than I ever had. My intellect was just pointed at how to patch the holes. And he pointed out a few times with frustration that my faith seemed to be very flexible. Like, too flexible. Like I was making shit up as I went along. And I could see what he was saying. It did seem that way and it ran completely opposite of what I actually believed about my faith. But by this time, my questions and frustrations had done nothing but grown. I tried to resolve again and again how I found myself in a gay relationship with this young man from Kentucky. I concluded that I must have failed the test. But then, my life seemed no less blessed than before. Should God’s blessings in my life have gone away? Then I wondered if maybe this relationship was what God actually DID have in mind for me and that thought scared me the most because if that was true, then everything was broken. I am ignorant in all ways and everything I once understood is now broken. Or could it be that God is… inactive? Chris was the best person I have ever talked to because he never found talk of God to be ridiculous. He took it seriously and he took my faith serious and even tried to help me resolve my own misunderstands at times. He actually corrected my theological misunderstandings when I was making them. And he had no agenda to de-convert me. If my conclusion was “God” he was not threatened by that in the least, but he did have some questions for me if that was my conclusion. But by this time, the idea that I was being tested was started to turn my hurt and confusion into anger. Like a person who is being abused when they suddenly realize that the relationship isn’t getting any better. Here’s the analogy I can give for how “God’s test” felt to me: A husband and wife are at a party. The wife is in a room alone and her husband has gone to look for her. As the husband is about to round a corner he hears voices in the next room and so stops to listen. A third man enters the room with the wife and he asks her to leave with him so that he can show her a good time. The husband hears this but waits to see how his wife replies. She tells this stranger that she is married and not interested. The man then grabs her wrist and tugs a little trying to goad her on, telling her not to worry, it’ll be fine. The husband waits. She pulls her arm back saying that she doesn’t want that and to leave her alone. The man then tightens his grip, starting to hurt her, telling her she is coming. She gasps out in pain and starts to call out for her husband. The husband waits. Finally, the man is twisting her arm so hard that she collapses to the floor gasping and sobbing and at last says, “Yes, I’ll go with you, just please stop hurting me.” And the husband thinks, “I see, she never truly loved me.” That is what it felt like to me. I spent many hours sobbing and in prayer. No one came to save me. But this was not the end of my faith. I was still confused as hell. I listened to Christian Apologists. I studied scripture again and again. I started studying and talking about my faith more than I ever had before. I needed answers. The one thing that I held to was at the very center of it all, I knew God’s nature. God’s nature was of mercy, peace and love. That was God’s nature. I didn’t understand why I wasn’t observing that. The world I knew to be true was not lining up with the world I observed. Then, not long ago, I was discussing with Chris about our thoughts on God and the various models for him that we understood and in a rare moment of emotion, Chris said, “If my God actually does exist, I have nothing more to say to him that I have not already said. I am resigned to the fact that he will torture me for all eternity. But at the very least, I will not do it to myself.” And I replied that “If my God does not show mercy and compassion to those whom I have come to love, then I harbor nothing but hatred from Him. Because…” And then I saw it. I saw it plain as day. And I cried for a solid hour before I could even finish that sentence. “…because those are my values.” What I saw in that moment is hard to describe except in metaphor because I have no words to describe it. I held true to my faith because I knew I was created in the image of God. That my goodness was a reflection of His goodness. And in those words I spoke, it was like I turned to look upon the face of God and… it was my face. God, at least as I understood him, as I worshiped him, as I was confident in his nature of goodness… was me. I had taken my values and personified them into god. And while a Christian would argue that this should have been the time for me to let go of my false idol and turn to the Bible (Chris actually had a great C.S. Lewis quote I wish I could remember about our mental idols) I had been training my skepticism since I was a kid. It was the tool I used to field strip other religions and denominations and see their flaws like a Marine could field strip a rifle. And Chris had helped train my skepticism even further by pointing me to the “Less Wrong” community. But I learned that day that skepticism is like a wild animal, looking to tear apart anything that shows weakness. And I showed weakness. And I could not stop my brain from deconstructing every facet of Christianity piece by piece. It was, not a pleasant experience. But at the end of the day, the lynch pin of my faith was predicated on knowing God’s nature. And when I realized I did not know God’s nature, I lost everything. Since then has been a hard road. But perhaps my first moment of shame came when my roommate asked me a question. He knows I am very Biblically literate and sometimes asks me what things are really in there. So one day he was watching a YouTube video where someone made a glib comment about God killing you because you jerked off onto the floor. My roommate asked me if that was in the Bible and I nodded. He paused the video and asked me to explain. This may seem off topic but follow me for a moment. Once when I was a kid, I played Final Fantasy 10 and loved the story. Soon after, I was explaining the story to my mother and it sounded like utter madness. Within the game, the story made sense because you had time to accept its rules. To explain the story to someone else who had not played the game was just complete nonsense. And so I just said casually that it wasn’t the whole “seed on the ground thing” that upset god but that the man, Onan, did it so that he wouldn’t get his brother’s wife pregnant. Which caused my roommate to give me an even more ‘WTF’ kind of look. So I started at the beginning with Judah’s three sons, Er, Onan and Shela and God killing the first two and Judah not allowing the third to impregnate his brothers widow so she dressed like a prostitute and tricked her father-in-law to impregnate her and he got upset and wanted to kill her because he thought she was being a prostitute… the illegal kind… but called it off when he found out the baby was his and called her more righteous than him because he did wrong by withholding his son and she did right by, well, getting pregnant because that was the highest honor for a woman. My roommates jaw was hanging and he just said, “THAT is some f***ed up shit!” And I actually let the raw madness of the story sink in for the first time as I actually felt it and felt crazy even recounting it. And all I could say was, “Yeah, it really is.” My family does not know. I cannot yet bring myself to tell them. About my love life, or my deconversion. I do not know which would hit them hardest. And part of me just wants the lie to continue. I don’t know what to do. But I do not think I am ready for action yet. If you made it this far, thanks. I really wrote it more for me than anyone else. I kinda needed to, to get this all off my chest. But thanks for listening. It means a lot.
  12. 11 points
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 10 points
    I'm finally ready to post this... Where to begin? I grew up in a very dysfunctional home with alcoholic and addicted parents who, despite all that, did their best to love me. As an adult I see my parents for what they really are: Humans who make mistakes. They never physically or verbally abused me, but there was a LOT of neglect and a lot of loneliness. My grandparents swooped in to save the day on many occasions and, as a result, I was very close to them. I spent at least some part of every day at their house and if they knew my parents were in a bad place, they would just keep me with them until something else was sorted out. They were kind, loving people who I looked up to with starry eyes and always looked forward to seeing. My Granny dedicated her entire life to religion, a fact I am now a bit depressed thinking about at times. She had a very tragic and gripping tale about how she lost a daughter in a car-wreck and became angry with God for many years. She said she one day found healing and rekindled her relationship with Jesus, remaining faithful until the end. When she passed away she was 93 years old. This story of hers, along with many others, always led me to believe she was an incredibly strong human being to have survived some of the things she did. From picking cotton in the southern heat as a child, to escaping a horribly abusive marriage, to somehow surviving the unthinkable and continuing to live after the loss of a child... Through all of this, she kept her faith. I wanted to be just like her. Oh, how I prayed for such strength and unwavering faith... The trouble was, I just couldn't be that faithful. I didn't have whatever it was that my Granny had that allowed her to remain a believer until death. When I was 17 I thought I was saved and born again, but I was never certain like my Granny. I believed very much in God and Jesus, but I didn't think I could ever reach the top of this faith mountain I had built in my head. I didn't think I would ever be good enough for God and that led me to some very destructive thinking that I will likely suffer with forever. I was incredibly depressed and anxious the entire time I was Christian, terrified that I had purchased a one way ticket to hell somehow and was well on my way, along with everyone else I loved. If only I could be stronger like Granny... When she passed away in August of 2018, I felt the weight of grief for the first time in my life. I tried to turn to God, but my deconversion had already begun. In the last few years of her life, my Granny suffered with dementia. This was something I knew she prayed to avoid for many years prior to getting it. She became angry and scared and was barely recognizable at times. I watched the light fade from her eyes and questioned how a God she had served so diligently for almost an entire century let her slip away with the one disease she begged to never face. At this point in time, I was already living with my Atheist partner who was there for me through every bit of the ride. He watched me cry countless nights and, of course, could not answer my questions about why this was happening. Why had God turned his back on my Granny, our family, on me? Somehow, through all of the pain, I had to start finding answers. The answers I found were not in God's favor, but they absolutely set me free. I sometimes feel I attended my Granny's funeral as a Christian and left as an Atheist. As if enough damage hadn't already been done, the Pastor who had supposedly known and loved her for decades said the names of her children wrong, gave a really BIZARRE speech about the rapture that took up far too much time, and generally dishonored her in every way possible. I was sad and offended by everything that took place, but I also wasn't surprised at this point. This was because I had already been asking questions, praying, and reading for years in an attempt to get my answers from God. Shocker, he didn't answer. So.. I then had this task to figure out how the hell I was supposed to move on. How would I live on this planet without my Granny and accept what had happened to her? How would I live with her passing now that I no longer believed in Heaven? I could no longer take comfort in knowing that she served God her whole life and was now enjoying paradise. I spent my whole life believing that the only way I could ever cope with anyone's death was by being certain they made it to heaven. Then one day I had a groundbreaking thought: My Granny's faith didn't matter in the way I originally thought it did. When I removed faith in God from the equation I realized she was still a strong, loving, patient woman who adored her family and did what she believed was best in her time on Earth. She laughed hard, helped anyone she could, and loved me more than words can describe. She cooked amazing fried chicken, could grow anything in her garden, and had an excellent sense of humor. She was still my Granny and I will always remember her fondly and strive to be even a tenth of the woman she was. I realized that all I want out of life is freedom, truth, and love. When I spend time with my loved ones, especially that pesky Atheist partner, I simply don't need God to be happy anymore. In letting go of God, I have gained so much more than I ever could have imagined. I get to share my life with people who love me for who I am and vice versa. I can look forward to constantly learning new information, growing, and changing my mind. I can help others solely because I feel it is the right thing to do. The anxiety and depression caused largely by indoctrination will continue to plague me, but I'm determined to carry on anyway. Seeing as I now believe I only get one shot at life, I want to make the most of it while I'm here. Goodbye means something different and more permanent to me now, but life just seems that much more precious as a result. I will never have that faith that my Granny had in God, but I believe in love, kindness, and hard work. For the first time in my life, I also believe in myself.
  16. 10 points
    My parents flew in before Christmas and stayed for a week. Within 10 min of walking in,my father asked my oldest child if he could lay hands on her and pray her fever would be gone. She said no,thank goodness. The visit was tense,all parties were careful to avoid religion and politics,except my dad asking my children to pray for him and their siblings. I let my parents pay for nothing. They tried to buy my husband and I for years and that’s over. They looked at houses two hours from me while they were here. I felt sick about it but said nothing. Finally, They flew back home and I sent them a text that they might want to choose another place to live because two get togethers a year is the absolute limit for my emotional and mental health (yup,I said it just like that.) I know my parents choose their god and their fundie Pentecostal religion over me. I accept that and I will do all I can to protect my kids and my family. I even made out my will to ensure my kids will never fall into their hands. I hate fucking religion.
  17. 10 points
    Been there, done that. I no longer play chess with pigeons. Arguing can be fun and even informative for lurkers, but serious debate with someone who already has all the answers from on high, one who plays by rules that don't include logic, has proven to be a waste of time for me. I know how useless any cogent, informed arguments are against a Christian apologist because I used to be one. Nobody other than myself could dent my armor.
  18. 10 points
    I was able to have a nice conversation with my grandma today about how I felt growing up as a closeted gay man amongst religious Christians. There has been this massive fire here in Southern California. I could see that flames all the way from the coast, one of the first things that came to mind was how a lot of Christians would appropriate this natural disasters to blame one of the groups they disagree with, particularly gays. Maybe not all Christians, but on some level they’re thinking it. They’re thinking sodom and gomorah. It just makes me realize that no matter what happens if I get hurt someday or something bad happens to me, there’s going to be someone in my family or former community whose going to think, that happened to him because he was gay, and then to think it is justified and that they’re the ones who are on god’s side. It’s covert narcissism, because first of all it’s ignorant, and then it comes in the guise of being righteous. And no where in there does Christianity allow for the person to think that there is just something in their own mind and life and experience that they have to re-examine to put themselves on equal footing with a person of a different sexuality. As as I left my grandma’s house today she said make sure to remember to pray for so and so (though I’ve told her before I’m an atheist, she didn’t seem to believe) but I’ve felt a little less detached from community being part of this group this last week, and I just told her flat out, “I don’t pray grandma” and I meant it, and I felt it stuck a little more. I’m still emotionally coming around to appreciating how to interact and adjust to social norms as an atheist. It’s also my world view as well, not believing that magic help is coming, but learning and discovering how you can and cannot rely on other people and yourself. So many people have prayed for me at times when that was so far from what I needed. These people patted themselves on the back for essentially not being there for me. But also really helping people can be hard or complicated and is worth respecting. The hollowness of prayer is something that I am happy to be someone who can say no thanks to. It’s also sort of an invitation, like, participate in the real world and keep you imagined powers to yourself. Not having this social nicety to hide behind makes you a better person, gets you off your butt, helps you know what you can and cannot do, what you are and are not willing to do, gives you real world experience, and can led you to accept things as they are, not happily sit at home condemning some people to hell without ever meeting them. I suppose looking and experiencing the world as it is, is probably one of the fastest ways to lose your religion. Although for me going deeper into religion was my way out oddly enough. Prayer is one of those things that stops people from facing reality, the reality of other’s suffering and one’s own limitations(both things which lead a person to treat others with dignity).
  19. 10 points
    FYI I fancy myself a (very amateur) novelist, so I am honestly incapable of brevity… really sorry about the length of this Soooo, I wasn't raised in a super religious family, more a middle-of-the-line Catholic tradition. Christmas, Easter, weddings and funerals, that's about it. Which is weird, actually, because my father is an ex-priest! He maintains to this day that the only reason he left was that he fell in love with my mom (that's another story I should tell someday, it's adorable) and never understood why priests had to take a vow of chastity, but considering his lackadaisical take on faith, I think there's more to it. Not that I'll ever ask. Anyway, I'm the last of six kids, and all six of us were baptized, confirmed, and sent to all-boys or all-girls Catholic high schools. Not for the religious aspect - I can't even remember my parents ever talking to us about God and Jesus. I had a big children's Bible that I read a lot on my own, but that was about it. Religion just wasn't a big part of my parents' lives; instead they preached to us about science, critical thinking, and following your conscience. They taught that everyone, by virtue of being human, has a conscience, and that is the basis for all morality. So they sent us to Catholic school just for the academics, which, I will definitely admit, were amazing. I loved high school, despite being boy-deprived, and got the best education in the city for it. Not to mention, I finally learned the truth about Catholicism... See, in junior high I started playing the viola pretty seriously, so I joined my church's music group just to get more practice. Over the next five years I wound up going to church almost every week, and I became fairly religious, albeit only in a personal way; I didn’t subscribe to everything the priests said, and I never cared to “spread the word” (although I felt guilty about that sometimes). I never once believed in hell because, well, if hell existed, then my dad was definitely going there for breaking his priestly vows. Yet my dad was and is the most wonderful, gentle, selfless, kind person I've ever met, and if there's anyone who doesn't deserve an eternity of torture it's him. I decided long ago that any God who sent any person to hell - even Hitler - was a tyrant, and I was willing to go to hell myself just to stand up against him. So instead, I started to get really good at manipulating the religious teachings around me – those of every religion, Islam and Shintoism alike – to fit this quiet, personal, ecumenical faith of mine. Then I took a class called Theology of the Body. No joke. Basically, we went through the Catholic catechism and debated all the most controversial topics - particularly those surrounding the female body. (What a weird dichotomy, this attempt to mesh biblical misogyny with an all-girls college-prep curriculum. We literally went from this class, where we learned that contraception in any form is inherently evil, to Environmental Science across the hall, where we learned that contraception is the only way to prevent overpopulation and save the planet...) The one that got me the most was gay marriage because, as it happens, my older sister - the only "hero" I've ever had - came out to my family as gay that same month. But whatever, even then I could handle the dissonance, telling myself that people were just misusing the Bible and interpreting it differently, and all that really mattered was that you follow your God-given conscience. I still considered myself a strong Catholic, right up until our teacher - a woman who had "successfully" used Natural Family Planning and ended up with nine children, btw - lectured about how immoral it is to be an "a la carte" Catholic, a fake Catholic who picks the teachings they like and discards the rest: essentially, exactly what I was. Apparently, you must trust completely in the magisterium and the catechism, no matter how starkly your conscience disagrees. She went so far as to illustrate this point with her own struggle to understand the Church's teachings on embryos. (I never wasted my time to look this up, but according to her, the Church says that any frozen in-vitro embryo should be left to die naturally rather than be "unnaturally" implanted into a woman's body. That, despite all the Church's insistence that an embryo is alive, apparently if it is created "unnaturally" in the first place, it would be another sin to unnaturally help them live than to just let them die.) She could not fathom how that teaching was moral, but she expounded how virtuous she was for accepting it as truth anyway. I could not. This was the beginning of the end for me. Theology of the Body taught me, for the first time, what Catholicism – or any religion, though I wouldn’t admit that for a long time – really means… control of the body. Especially women’s bodies. Catholicism isn’t just faith in the Trinity, inspiration from the lives of Mary and the saints, and wise words from scholars of the Bible. It’s a fucking game based on a strict rulebook written by old, western men who have never even had the influence of women or people of another culture to wisen them. Well, I wasn't going to let someone call me fake for following my conscience, so I just said fuck it, I guess I'm not Catholic. At the same time, my family went through some shit, and I ended up with severe depression that has followed me ever since. In my depressed, youthful impulsivity, I graduated high school and decided to move 2000 miles across the country to Portland, OR for college, where I thought I would find a liberal non-denominational Christian community I could really feel I belonged in. God was I wrong. Somehow I wound up in this little pocket of conservatism that I didn't even know existed on the west coast, and fell into a group of cultish Evangelicals. Their campus club was called, with no iota of sarcasm, "Campus Crusade for Christ." I once mentioned that maybe an effort to convert modern youths would do well not to evoke war, medieval ignorance, and the slaying of infidels, but they just laughed that off. I mean, these people thought that the Bible was literal (before this I didn’t even know Biblical inerrancy was a thing), that drinking was a sin, that science was a sham, and that distance from Jesus was what caused mental health issues. Of course, I didn’t know all this at first. They were just a bunch of fun, silly kids like me – they did watch modern TV, after all, and make jokes and even cuss sometimes. And besides, I was lonely and seeking adventure, and these were the kids who were going spelunking and hiking every weekend. Slowly, over time, little things popped up. One: My first ever boyfriend broke up with me because I got drunk on New Year's Eve (he also wrote a silly blog post about not letting your girlfriend use you as a "ladder to Christ" when she's less pious than you, which hurt me a lot at the time). Afterward, when a friend invited me over for what I thought was a shit-on-boys, tub-of-ice-cream, 13-Going-On-30 type of night, she ended up missionizing me. (Which makes sense since she had actually spent eight or so years in Indonesia because her parents were missionaries... So she also had lots of backwards arguments and circular thinking that I just could not penetrate or even recognize at the time.) She told me that he was right to break up with me, that I should never have drunk because it's a sin, and that everything I believed about God was "illogical." That the only morality that exists in the world comes directly from the Bible, so if we didn't have the Bible, everyone would be raping and murdering nonstop. She told me, unblinkingly, that my beloved uncle, who gave me shelter and food for three years rent-free, was going to hell just because he was Muslim. The next day she took me to church, and as I stood for the Eucharist (or whatever those heathens called it), she stopped me and told me I couldn't take it because I wasn't a real Christian. Two: A bit later, I opened up to all of these friends in a Bible study night and told my religious "testimony." At the time, much of it surrounded my struggles with depression and finding a church community where I felt I fit in. A few days after that, a different friend invited me to Panera for what I thought was a white-girls-giggling-over-Pumpkin-Spice type of lunch. Instead, without wasting a goddamn minute, she asked what I believed about God and regurgitated everything the missionary girl had said. But here's the kicker: this one told me that the reason I have depression is because I don't have a good relationship with Jesus. Not only am I seeking help the wrong way by getting therapy and medicine, but I need help in the first place because I'm not a good enough Christian. Three: Another girl in our group came out as bisexual, and she had just met the woman of her dreams. One night she opened up to us all about how heartbroken she felt, how lonely and alienated, how unfair it seemed that God would give her true love and not allow her to have it. She wanted to be with this woman so badly, but didn't know what was right or wrong anymore. Well take a guess what everyone else said... "Obviously your feelings are wrong, you know you can't, God will provide, don't stray from the Word, it's a test, that woman was sent by Satan, blah fucking blah." I later took this girl aside and told her to ignore everyone else, because if God is love and what you feel for this woman is love, then it can't possibly be wrong. I don't think she heard me that night, but I certainly heard everyone else. Soon thereafter we had a camping trip, and everyone went around gushing about how welcome they always feel and how they're so lucky to have found this group where they truly belong. That's when it hit me like a fucking rock, after four whole wasted years: I wasn't one of them. I had never felt welcome because I had never belonged. I was just lonely and desperate and they were just waiting to win my soul. I went home after the camping trip and deleted every one of those fuckers off of Facebook and my phone contacts, and I haven't talked to them since. For a little while I tried to continue to be spiritual. But it gradually waned. I got a major in psychology and a minor in anthropology, where I learned about the neurological effects/causes of prayer and religious experience in the brain. Also that the neurons in our brains literally build highways, connections directly from one neuron to the next, such that a particular stimulus physically leads to a particular response - unless, over a time of being unused, that highway atrophies. And I think that's how thinking about God and religion works, why you're encouraged to pray every night and why traditions are so effective. It all seemed so mechanical now, so evolved, nothing mystical about it. My "Jesus highway" atrophied when I stopped hanging out with people who constantly talk about Jesus, and soon I stopped getting the same emotional response to prayer or mass or Biblical verses. Then I learned about a cave in France with a pseudo-religious burial of Neanderthals. A fucking family of Neanderthals was buried all facing one direction, all in the same position, with flowers and herbs by their side, suggesting their own belief in an afterlife. Not to mention the (roughly) 44,000 years of prehistoric human culture, and the Neanderthal and Denisovan DNA present in most modern humans. I mean, if all these "prehumans" were human enough to conceive of an afterlife and, in fact, are our greatx1500 grandparents, then at what point did God give us souls? Why us and not them? What makes Homo sapiens more special than Homo neanderthalis? My manipulations weren't working anymore. Finally I was able to look at the Bible as a piece of archaeological literature, at the cultures of the people of the time and the people prior, and understand how it all came together. Eventually I just said fuck it, I guess I'm not religious. I was comfortable for a long time with religions existing, as long as they didn't bother me personally. I figured if they help some people, good for them. Then I started dating my current boyfriend, a man who never stops analyzing and never accepts a fact at face value. His favorite music group is Bad Religion haha, and he's the first person I've ever talked to who openly admits that religion is a net negative influence on humanity. He slowly chipped at my indifference, encouraged me to question every belief and thought I have, and taught me to pay attention to the emotions that cloud my logic. What a man About a month ago he and I watched Religulous, with Bill Maher. I had another sudden realization: religions, by nature, are wrong. The very basis of faith is "believing without seeing," which is the opposite of science, the opposite of anything we know to actually be helpful in this life. Religions at their core urge people to forgo critical analysis, to forgo their own conscience, in favor of what someone says. That's the most absurd and tyrannical thing I've ever heard, masquerading successfully as the only morality in the world!! What the fuck?? I felt so stupid, so duped. I started looking up anti-religious arguments for the first time, to hone my thoughts and relieve a little bit of the anger, and voila. Here I am! I feel eased, mostly. I don't struggle with cognitive dissonance anymore, I don't worry about fitting my beliefs into the teachings of Christianity. I feel free to criticize, and everything makes sense now. I don't feel as lost as many of you, since my worldview hasn't actually changed too much. It's not like I ever thought Genesis was literal, or morality only came from the Bible. I never even believed in hell, just heaven - and that's the only thing that bothers me today. I spent 22 years believing I will get to meet my saintly grandma, being comforted with the idea that I won't really be saying goodbye when my parents inevitably pass (I was a very late "oops" baby, so their impending death has always been on my mind). My own death doesn't scare me in the least; I won't be aware of it. I just hate saying goodbye to others. But I'm coming to terms with death by thinking of life, every individual life, as a beautiful, complete story, one that would only be diminished by a sequel. That helps. Thanks for reading (if you got this far), and for being such a welcoming community. It's nice to actually belong I'm looking forward to some awesome conversations! [Side note, if you're interested: I recently did some Facebook stalking and, get this, the dude who broke up with me for drinking... he's now a bartender. The missionary chick is now a neuroscientist. The Panera girl got married and her pastor father gave a sermon at his own daughter's wedding about men being the head of the house and women being obedient to their husbands. And the girl who struggled with loving another woman? She has now been happily married to that woman for two years, and they have two kids. I couldn't make this shit up.]
  20. 10 points
    Wow, that was a rather lengthy way to say, "You were never a real Christian anyway." Thanks, because we never heard that one before. Thanks for playing!
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. 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!”
  24. 9 points
    Hey everyone, Since the last time I shared my back story in detail was probably years ago, I suppose a little summary is in order before I share what went on today. I'm in my mid-forties, adopted, raised in a fundamentalist Christian household. I got in a lot of trouble as a kid, did very poorly in school, and was never very good at typical good Christian Behavior. As a young adult, I moved out of my parents home and began to pursue a career as a songwriter and professional musician. I spent a couple of years actually paying the rent and feeding myself playing music and not having any other job. It was of course, not glamorous, but it was exactly what I wanted to do with my life, even after I had heard all the speeches about how unlikely it was that I would succeed at such a choice. I had a few opportunities to take giant steps forward in my music career, but for reasons that I am only just now beginning to understand, I undermined and sabotaged my work by not following through. Fast forward to my mid-twenties. I got married to a woman that I had known since I was a child, and had dated for almost seven years previous to our marriage. I decided, in a misguided attempt to conform my life to what I imagined my parents wanted from me, to quit playing music and settle down, or so I thought. I moved to the southeastern United States and went to Bible College, with an eye toward a degree and a position as a preacher or evangelist in a church somewhere. I involve myself in contemporary Christian music, on the local church level and also in an experiment to see whether my chops and experience would translate to the kind of thing that the Christian music industry recognizes as Talent. Lots of ups and downs, a few Church changes and more than a few struggles and arguments. What I did not realize, at least not to any real extent, was that I had attempted to conform myself to the imaginary standards of a god, and to the pressures and expectations of religious community, all for the sake of building some false sense of security oh, so that I would not have to fear testing my potential at the things I was really good at. I came to realize recently, after two bouts with severe, crippling depression, that I could no longer pretend that I believed or even tolerated the nonsense that had come to Define my wife's daily activities and inner life. Anyway, fast forward again, this time to this morning. Over the last couple of weeks, I had a sudden Resurgence of creativity after years of writer's block and near-total disinterest in my musical creative processes. I knew that I had to pursue this flow of creativity, and I had to be free of the self-doubt and fundamental self mistrust that typifies Christian religion. I told my wife this morning things that we had already discussed, things like the idea that we love one another, but are no longer in love, because we both silently understand that our lives are inevitably going in, and are meant to go in, two very different directions. I explained to her that it did not matter whether she was willing to continue to imagine that we still had a married relationship. Ultimately, I knew that her adherence to the Bible as the word of a god mint that regardless of how she tried to ignore it, her religion dictated that I am an outsider, failed, sinful, and Bound for hell, because I do not believe there is a God, let alone the Christian one. I told her that we needed to accept that, practically speaking, we were always going to have this huge difference between us, and that clinging to these beliefs is what has been helping her, while letting go of these beliefs is what has helped me. In short, we have reached the place where we both understand that if I continued to pretend that I can tolerate insinuating myself into her Social Circles, exclusively Christian people, which are the only friendships that she has, there would sooner than later, time when my attitude and our relationship would implode. I recognized, and told her as much, that I now understand my propensity for Bridge burning, and I wanted this to be an understanding, not a destruction. I want to be able to move forward in positive ways, and I want her to value the community and friendships that she has, that she will continue to have even if I am out of the picture. For all of their sincerity and conviction, none of the people that we are surrounded by have been inspired by their spirit to ever contact me, asked me to spend time together, pray for me, or in any other since be anything but friendly and smiley on Sundays. In other words, there's no reason for me to expect that this community of Christians is good for me, but that does not at all mean that I want to disabuse my wife of her beliefs, in so far as her involvement in the Christian world seems to be a source of comfort, safety, and worldview that she can be comfortable with. I am finally free, in the most honest sense, from any obligation to pretend that those beliefs and that environment needed to be meaningful to me at all. I have had the first important conversation about it with her. The next conversation will have to be with her and my children together. Then, there will be the conversation with the pastor of our local church, who admittedly has been compassionate and a good listener, even welcoming questioning, doubting, critical topics of conversation concerning the Christian religion and Church in general. I know this has been a long post. I wrote it to encourage anyone in a similar situation to embrace honesty about what they believe, or don't believe, rather than trying to handle the weight of how it is going to affect others. If, in fact, you really do not believe these things, you can be completely honest about it without having to scream, without having to blame, and without any expectation that the other people in your life are going to follow you down that path of thought. It's not necessary for anyone else to be convinced of your rightness... It is only necessary that you are honest with yourself and everyone around you, so that the cognitive dissonance and pressure of forced conformity do not bring about ugly, destructive, and scarring consequences. Thank you all for reading. Please feel free to comment or ask questions as you see fit. I'm sure I may have left out a detail or two in trying to explain this journey, and I'm more than glad to talk about it.
  25. 9 points
    Overcoming Religious Indoctrination: 6 Steps Towards Sanity David Nicholls Religious indoctrination is real. It is a traditionally-based process of all cultures. Its power is such that peoples so affected have a ‘belief’ they have chosen their particular ‘faith’ above the many on offer throughout the planet. All religions work on the principle of exposing each new generation to a single worldview, to the exclusion of all others, in a repetitious and authorative manner. Doubts, as to the veracity of such ‘teachings’, are not encouraged, indeed, are not tolerated. Once learned, the information so gained is retained for life, allowing it to take on an instinctive mantle in later years. As with all acquired knowledge, such as learning to ride a bicycle or rote remembrance of mathematical time’s tables, once taught, unlearning is not an easy option. This is not to say that the results of such methodology are not practically overcome-able. Youthful brains soak up information with little effort, establishing permanent neuronic pathways. Older brains require considerably more effort to alter this situation. There are many Atheists to attest to this. In fact, it is the rule rather than the rarity that most Atheists were raised from infancy under some religious regime or other. Even the most intense religious indoctrination can be overcome. Here is how it is achieved: First, one must become acquainted with and become used to the correct terminology pertaining to religious indoctrination. Even though the religious are quick to point out that others have been brainwashed (such as communists, other religious adherents and even Atheists), it is they who have succumbed to this process. Brainwashing/inculcation/indoctrination is one in the same word in meaning. These words are used in reference to promoting a one-sided opinion as being truthful, without allowing access to other ideas and with no reservation in calling it unjustifiably, the ‘truth’. Considering the adverse ramifications of such methods and results of brainwashing, this is nothing less than mental child abuse of the worst kind and one day it will be viewed that way. Just seriously think about this for a moment. If you are religious or harbour religious thoughts, it is more than most likely the result of being abused and mentally used as a child. There is no escaping this fact. That the abused can then go on to abuse others in a likewise fashion is near enough to proof positive of the reality of the situation. Under the guise of a good for humanity, the fear of death and/or eternal damnation is instilled into the pliable and susceptible minds of children and continues into adulthood. Sprinkled with tales of eternal life, temporal wishes supernaturally achievable, the unworthiness of humans and the existence of a ‘good’ and an ‘evil’, sets the mental scene for subservient confusion. Second, after recognising one has been abused and brainwashed against their will and without their knowledge, if escape is required, then effort to combat this negative outlook must be more intense and prolonged than the unwanted religious input. A good start is to fully appreciate that all religious people of the thousands of religions that have and do exist, have been similarly abused, with them considering that they have the correct religion and all others are wrong. Even religions under the same name can state unequivocally that their counterparts have it incorrect. As an example, fundamentalist Christianity classes the Pope as the Anti-Christ and Catholicism a heresy. Third, take a proper look at Earth. 50,000 Iranians have been recently killed by earthquake, 3,000 many-denominational people died in the Twin Towers, 6 million Jewish people died in the Holocaust etc etc. Where were their respective gods? They were remarkably silent as they have been throughout history in humanity’s darkest hours. Look at the system that sustains life on our planet: Every life form preys on another life form to exist. Some of this in such brutal and horrible fashion as to totally exclude the idea of a ‘loving’ god as the creator. Look how the dice of life favours some and is more than wretched to others. Look how natural disasters and pathogens kill and maim indiscriminately. Fourth, it must be consciously recognised that books and ideas of old came from ignorant times, and were written and passed on by ignorant men living by the malleable rules of all-encompassing superstition. Fifth, and most importantly, it must be remembered that religions have held sway since consciousness arrived many tens of thousands of years ago. It is only in the last few hundred years that science has leapt onto the scene, and in doing so, has began to devour the very pillars holding superstition aloft. Although it is not fully accepted yet, the one part of science that will eventually be seen as the most profound is the principle of evolution. Not only has science found no evidence for a supernatural realm, it has shown that evolution requires no such thing to sustain it. Sixth and lastly, it therefore has to be asked as to why a super-being or thing would initiate a universe with us as only an infinitesimal dot within it. The Universe works on definite laws in a rational manner. Even if quantum structure appears not to be so! Such a rational creative force would hardly expect us to accept the irrationality that is religion especially as it is introduced in the heinous form of child abuse. An all-loving god with control over every particle in existence, that chooses to allow immense suffering, cannot exist. An all-powerful god incapable of creating perfect happiness for its creation is an oxy-moronic concept. An all-knowing god that cannot see the inherent goodness of humanity and does not nurture and aid its creation in a fair and equitable manner is a god of immeasurably immoral proportion. These thoughts and similar must be the constant companion of the adult psyche wishing to escape the foolishness of religious mind control. Victims of child abuse can overcome the strong hold it has on them and in doing so can benefit greatly from the conflict. The brainwashing will always remain but in its subjugation it will eventually be replaced with feelings of pride of accomplishment.
  26. 9 points
    Well, where to begin? I'll start with I grew up in church. Went to a Baptist Church most of my life. With stints in assembly of God etc when we moved. However I eventually found my way back to the baptist Church of my childhood. The one my grandmother always went to. I attended a Christian private school from 5th grade until my freshman year of high school. I knew that school was expensive and I knew my family barely made it happen; plus I wanted to be in a school with more than a couple hundred kids ranging from kindergarten to 12th grade. I also simply didn't fit in there too well. I was a metal head and while I listened to many Christian metal bands, I was repeatedly told that Christian rock was an oxymoron, a contradiction I should pray about because I was being decieved by Satan with such "music." Well, I got out of the school but stayed in chruch. Then I joined the military and left my hometown for good. And in doing so, left my church. I never really went back but I always believed. Fast forward to a couple months ago... I just started listening to podcasts a lot and one of my absolute favorites is the Joe Rogan Experience. He hosted Megan Phelps Roper, the grand daughter of Fred Phelps...founder of the westboro baptist Church. Now, we all know how disgusting they were and are but one thing that can be said about then is they taught the Bible. Literally. She was the beginning of the end for me. She's out of the church now and is very open about her reasons for leaving and abandoning her faith. She quoted Romans 9:22. Now, I've read the Bible a few times. Probably in whole at least once but always in pieces... This section here, this section there. Always handpicked to help prop up the lesson my Bible teachers in school were teaching or the pastor was preaching. Some of what she said flew in the face of everything I had ever been taught to believe and it came straight from the Bible. So deeply contradictory to so many other verses and lessons. I started really reading but it didn't take long for me to find out just how bad it was. Thanks to the internet I quickly found all I needed to know to decide I had been living a life believing so many false things. How could this book be God's ordained words when it literally disproves itself time and again? And if it isn't God's word then that makes it a lie. And if it is that then that makes god, well, not real. I've been devouring information since. And stumbled upon this website. Glad I did and glad to see I'm not the only one who's experienced this. Thanks for having me. Looking forward to using this site and learning what I can. Aaron
  27. 9 points
    "7Then I cried out unto my Mod, and saith, 'Oh merciful Mod, how long shalt thou suffer this false prophet in thy midst? 8For he hath surely come that he might deceive the people and lead them astray from thee. 9Cast him down into The Lion's Den that he may be torn limb from limb by thy faithful servants, 10even unto the depths of Sheol, that thy name be glorified.'" The Book of Second Redneckians chapter 6
  28. 9 points
    It’s Spring of 2004. I thought I was finally in the place I was supposed to be in; God’s perfect will for my life. I was being paid $300 a week to play piano and lead worship at Living Water Church in Fort Worth, Texas with my husband, Bob, who was also part of the worship team. I had been redeemed from the guilt and shame of past divorce and choices that took me out of God’s will. Every Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night, I went early to church to prepare my song list with the band and vocalists for the upcoming church service. I lead the church people through the worship portion of the church service, then played piano and sang during the altar call part of the service, after the pastor’s sermon. The only glitch in “God’s perfect will” was that my unhealthy marriage and home life were taking a toll on me. Since my marriage to Bob in January of 1999, his untreated and uncontrolled mental illness had put me in a state of depression and hopelessness. I came to a point where I felt I could no longer continue in my present home situation, so I went to my pastor for help. He was aware of Bob’s mental condition and encouraged me to seek help from a professional counselor. He gave me the number for a Christian counseling referral service. I made an appointment for Bob and I, but never expected Bob to go with me. Sure enough, he didn’t. My new counselor was very understanding of me, but said she wasn’t able to counsel Bob and me as a couple. From what I described of Bob, she told me she didn’t feel he would be able to participate in a relationship until he received therapy on his own and took control of his mental illness. She saw how I was hurting and told me I needed to focus on taking care of myself and not expect anything from Bob without years of therapy. I felt I had to separate from Bob and get healthy myself. Although I wasn’t happy about another divorce, I felt it was necessary for my mental and emotional health. I was concerned about the security of my church position as worship leader while going through divorce and my counselor advised me to ask my pastor and his wife for support before continuing as worship leader. After I got home, I thought about who I could talk to for support. I had been in Living Water Church for a few years and thought of the church people as my extended family. I called a lady who was the leader of the church’s version of AA, a twelve-step Christian-based program for people with addictions. I knew this woman was doing community service for a drunk driving conviction and had been divorced a few times herself. I felt since she wasn’t the stereotypical church person, she would be the one I could confide in. Moments after I hung up the phone from talking to her, she called the pastor and told him everything I had said. When I told Pastor Wade of my counselor’s advice to divorce Bob, he was not happy. He said she wasn’t a Christian counselor and thought I should find a different one. That wasn’t an option for me. I felt freedom and hope just at the thought of getting out of the marriage and there was no going back. Dr. Kathy Foster had not only understood me, but affirmed me and gave me hope. I asked the pastor whether or not he would be able to support me through the divorce. He was very vague in his answer, but he wanted me to continue as worship leader. In the next couple of weeks, I began the process of separating from Bob. I couldn’t afford to keep the apartment we were in, so I began packing up to move all Kory's and my things into a storage building. I planned to stay with friends until I could get on my feet and get us a place of our own. This was a very stressful time for me and I felt very alone. I was not only going through a third divorce, but also financial uncertainty. On Wednesday night at church, Pastor Wade told me the church board wanted to meet with me the following Friday morning. They wanted to discuss my reasons for getting divorced and determine if they would allow me to continue my position as the church worship leader. I was planning to move out of my apartment the next day, Saturday, at which time my son and I would basically be homeless. It wasn’t a great time for such a meeting, but I wanted to continue my job as worship leader if at all possibly, so I agreed. I felt uneasy about the church board meeting and I had typed up a letter summarizing my years with Bob and why I felt I could no longer stay in the marriage. I also mailed a copy of the letter to my parents because I couldn’t bear the shame of telling them in person that I was getting divorced again. The church board consisted of four men. I asked another woman, Debbie Oliver, who sang with me on the worship team to attend the meeting just so I wouldn’t be the only female in the room. Friday morning, I walked into the pastor’s office with my letter in my hand. The six men, wearing suits and ties, were all sitting in a half circle with fake Christian smiles on their faces. They greeted me and offered me a donut and a cup of coffee, to which I declined. I was in the process of packing up to move, so I arrived with no makeup on and dressed for a day of working at home. My friend and supposed support person, Debbie, had not yet arrived. My pastor began the meeting by asking me to chronicle my personal life with Bob and give my reasons for wanting out of the marriage. I sobbed as I told my story and answered his questions. As I cried and sat in that chair being judged by those six men, I felt emotionally naked and vulnerable. Just when I thought it was over, an African man named Brainwave stood up and began pointing his finger at me. His voice was loud and accusatory. He began asking me more questions while throwing in his personal opinions of people who are divorced, specifically women who divorce their husbands. He kept yelling “can you submit?” This continued on for a few minutes, then I was allowed to leave. My insides were completely torn up. After the meeting, one of the men came up to me and told me to please let him or his wife, Phyllis, know if they could help me in any way. I thanked him. I didn’t understand why he or anyone else in the room did nothing to help or support me. Debbie showed up late, but never said a word. Brainwave is from a totally different culture than American. As far as I know, women are abused in his culture. Why was he given so much power in that room? The next morning the pastor brought a group of teenage boys from the church to help us move. My son, Joel, drove up from Tyler, Texas to help as well. We moved all our belongings into the storage building, then came back to spend the night in a virtually empty apartment. I woke up in the early morning hours just physically and emotionally spent. Even though I had passed the test with the church board, I just had nothing left to give. I woke my preacher dad in the middle of the night to tell him about what was going on and to ask his advice. He said he felt the pastor was out of line with his interrogation meeting and it would be okay for me to take some time off from my church ministry to get through this difficult time. I immediately went to my computer and typed up a letter of resignation. I got to church Sunday morning and waited until Pastor Wade had left his office to slip my letter on his desk. I led the worship service as usual, only I cried through the whole thing. I’m sure the church people just thought I was deeply moved by the Holy Spirit. As soon as I finished my duties at the piano, I went to the car to wait for Kory and Joel, hoping the pastor would read my letter after I had gone. No such luck. As I sat waiting in my car, the pastor came up to my window and questioned me about my resignation. He asked me why I hadn’t resigned before he had helped me move. I told him I was hurt by Brainwave at the church board meeting. He said, “Why? He had every right to ask what he asked and you answered appropriately.” I asked him, “when will it be your turn to answer questions about your personal life?” He said, “that’s part of being a church leader.” I told him, “then I’m done with being a church leader.” The next day, I called my sister to come and help me load up my piano with her truck and take it to the storage building I had rented. Kory continued going to the church youth group for a while so I had to go back to the church to drop him off and pick him up. Also, the couple Kory and I moved in with continued going to Living Water Church. They told me the church never acknowledged that I had left or said anything about me. They just had someone else take my place. As I vomited up that old memory of abuse by church leaders, it brought up feelings of hurt and rage. It seems like a huge hurdle to think about forgiving those ignorant people so I can heal and move on from it. I'm hoping after I completely deal with the injustice of the whole thing, I will be able to thank them all. This is the event that finally broke the camels back. The hurt of staying was worse than the uncertainty of leaving. Even though I had no job and no home, the pain of staying was worse. The woman I am today, post-church, would never allow herself to be mistreated like the church woman I used to be. This woman is not vulnerable and refuses to be a part of any group or system that treats people like they are "less than" for any reason. I love the new freedom and life I have found since this horrendous event.
  29. 9 points
    I am so happy lately to be learning. I am 39 and finally learning about evolution. I am learning about things outside of the Bible. The Bible is not and should never be used as instruction for history or science or well anything. The day my children are forced to learn anything from the Bible in their public schools will be the day I come unhinged and out of the closet as an atheist. I will come out loud, proud, angry, and shouting. I just recently told my oldest children that if this ever happens to let me know. I told them that if they feel their teachers aren’t fully teaching them about things like evolution to let me know. We live in the Bible Belt so I’m pretty certain only the basics may be taught. I am going to take it upon myself to make certain my children learn the truth. Soon I am taking my girls to the Natural History Museum which is about 2 hours from our house. I am 39 and I have never seen dinosaur fossils except in videos. I saw a replica at the O’Hare airport but never the real thing. The replica literally brought me to tears. I can’t explain to everyone how much happier I am to have finally fully escaped the religious delusion I was living under. Sometimes I am angry and sad about the whole ordeal and you may sense that in my posts from time to time. I am not simply blaming my parents for this. The indoctrination was wrong yes, their continued pushing beliefs on me and my children is wrong. I however take responsibility for not pulling away from all of this sooner. I take responsibility for ignoring truths which were directly in my face and I also take responsibility for my own ignorance regarding scientific truths. I want to learn and know. I have been watchcing a lot of AronRa’s videos lately and I’m loving it! If anyone can point me to more learning resources I would appreciate it.
  30. 9 points
    Seriously, it takes a lot of courage to face the unknown in a very real way, and to stick to what you know and feel is right despite a tidal wave of social conditioning. Browsing here the past year has been an experience of relief of knowing that I am not alone, and also an experience of awe of people standing up for themselves under extremely difficult circumstances that dwarf mine (not that it's a competition). Give yourself a break. Pat yourself on the back. Take a deep breath and 'remember who you are' a la Lion-King style. This has been: A Random Shoutout. -DT
  31. 9 points
    I see a lot of unusual aliases in use here but even the more mundane often have a story as to how they came about. So how did you decide to use yours? My nickname Wertbag is from when I first learnt touch typing ~30 years ago (manual typewriter back then, but one skill that carried through to modern tech). The exercise asked for top row with the left hand then bottom with right. I slipped up and typed Wertba, but my brain read it complete. It amused me, was unique and i needed something for the bbs sites (like websites prior to the Internet) and have used it ever since.
  32. 9 points
    @Axelle That’s awesome. Very happy for you. “What do I do?” If you choose to tell your parents about your situation then do so without apology or self guilt. You’ve got nothing to apologize or feel guilty about. You’re a grown ass woman with the world at her fingertips. You can’t control their reaction. Maybe they do flip their shit on you. Guess what? They will get over it. And if they don’t, that’s not your problem. Christianity teaches people to feel bad about who they really are. It teaches you to go around and apologize for literally just being yourself. Do you and fuck what anyone thinks about it. Period. To reiterate; be yourself and offer no apology for it. Sever the cords of self guilt that Christianity planted inside you. Cut ties with that mentality and accept every single aspect of yourself as best you can. You need not explain your actions or living situation to anyone, including your parents. Form and shape your own destiny based on what works for you. People have a hard enough time living their own life let alone trying to live yours for you. Do what thou wilt.
  33. 9 points
    You can take the woman out of religious patriarchy, but you can't take the patriarchy out the woman, at least not very easily. That's what I've learned in the last two years. I want to speak about this topic, because I've considered myself a liberated woman (even before I left religion, as ironic as that is). But sometimes, you don't see the ropes, until there's another mind shift, and only then do you see the ropes that were tying you down. I want to speak in particular to any women out there, particularly those of the ex fundamentalist variety. Maybe they might benefit in some small measure by this insight. The patriarchy is so invisible sometimes, that even we women don't recognize it, or how it works. In particular, it's difficult to see if it has been upheld in some ways by the women around you, who have played a large role in your life. I have a relatively forward thinking mom. She always impressed upon me that it was OK to desire the best of both worlds, a career, a husband, and a family. However, even if it wasn't said, it was taken for granted that every woman in the church wanted a husband and family. You were abnormal somehow if you expressed another wish. I was one of the ones that actually wanted a husband and family, so I never struggled with that issue. I always struggled more with what I wanted in building a career. But I excelled in education and I loved learning and would have continued down the academic path as a career, if things hadn't become so challenging on some levels. Anyway, fast forward to my mid 30s, and deconversion, at which time I started to pick apart the patriarchy on a whole other level, and recognize how religion had influenced and ordered my life. One of the first things I did relatively soon after escaping the church was join the dating world. That can be summed up in one word: disillusionment. A few people close to me questioned this. Didn't I want to find out who I was without religion first? Why didn't I take some time? I myself figured I was doing it because, well, I could (dating outside of the church was outlawed and I had no interest within the church). Well, fast forward one year later, and another mind shift, and I can tell you guys, I'm unsure how many fetters of the religious patriarchy are left to tie me down, but some clearly were. It's so difficult to recognize how deeply we have internalized all the messages in religion, culture, the surrounding world around us. I somehow thought I was immune to all the messaging in the church that a woman is less/diminished without a man in her life, but no, I had internalized that on a deep level, and the first thing I wanted to do after getting the hell out of the church was find myself someone, and prove that I was an equal to all those women (and the system as a whole) that had made me feel less than. In hindsight, it's so easy to recognize this motivation. But, I've only been able to recognize it now that I've made a more conscious decision, because I really want to, to exit the dating scene and focus on my own life and finding my own happiness. It really doesn't matter how much of a liberated woman you tell yourself you are. You're only liberated when you begin to truly believe that your value isn't tied to any other person, or relationship. And the patriarchy, particularly the religious variety, will have you think otherwise.
  34. 9 points
    TABA, Here's what works for me and many, many other women that I talk to. When she is overwhelmed, hurt and upset, ask her this one question: ''What do you need from me right now and is there anything that I can do for you to help you feel better''. Most of the time we will tell you. Do not try to fix the situation because we already know basically what we are going to do. We just need to vent and want you to listen. Give it a try and see what happens. Best to you hon. Big ((hug))
  35. 9 points
    Maybe if you just give her support without criticism then she wont feel like she has to be in defense mode around you. Which hopefully will allow her to relax, be more objective and discover for herself that she has been adding to the problem. My wife has my back even when I do or say something kind of stupid. LoL. I think that's what she does for me: allows me to figure it out on my own. Put a positive supportive spin on what she does. It seems better than being angry/hurt all the time. We all need someone in our corner , even when we're being an idiot.
  36. 9 points
    Me: “Have a nice day” Them: “I prefer have a BLESSED day” Me: “I hope you get a paper-cut”
  37. 9 points
    Having lived in the state for the past 33 years it is clear to me that the correct spelling truly is FLORDUH, emphasis on the DUH.
  38. 9 points
    Hello I'm 36, preacher's/missionary's kid, former southern Baptist. Almost 2 years ago I began to accept the scientific evidence that the universe is old, rather than 6-10k years old. Because my faith had been built around the necessity that the bible must be interpreted literally, and considered inerrant, my faith began to fall like a chain of dominoes. First was accepting evolution, then rejecting the idea of original sin, then rejecting the concept of hell, then believing possible universalism, then deism...which is where I am now. Its been a difficult two years, but I think when I come out the other side of all this it will be rewarding. My husband is still a believer, but is extremely understanding of my situation. I've explained to him that through all this I have realized that nobody on this earth has any more control over what they believe than they do which country they're born in. We have 4 young children and I'm concerned that they will be confused about receiving different answers to questions as they grow, but hopefully we will figure it out together. We haven't been to church in 2 years, so at least that's not an issue. Anyway, thanks for reading, I'm glad I found this forum.
  39. 9 points
    This is actually a valid argument. There is absolutely no reason that we should expect to be able to understand God, His mind, His will, His plan, or anything else about Him. But it works both ways. Christianity is specifically a claim to know the will of God. Hence, on this line of reasoning, there can never be any reason to think that it is correct. So much, then, for Christianity.
  40. 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.
  41. 8 points
    I'm here sweetie but I can't stay right now because I have a very important appointment to go to. I will be back later. I have a few things to add to what everyone else is saying. I am so sorry for what you have to go through with the in-laws right now. So for now, let's all have a group hug and I'll get back to you later. My heart just breaks for what some of us have to go through when we lose our faith in the christian god. You're going to make it through this honey. I'll be back. florduh always said this to me after I wrote an upsetting post, ''Now, go do something fun for yourself today.'' And I did. So go now and do something that makes you happy. We got your back hon. Thank you all for the compliments about the 'hugs' but I tell you the truth...I could not have made it through this horrible bullshit of losing my faith if it had not been the love I received from all of you at Ex-c. Love to all of you today. ((hughughughughughughughughughug))
  42. 8 points
    I started studying the cults back as a believer in the 80s to try and learn the differences between Christianity and "them". When I described how they often get converts through love-bombing, a friend asked me how that was different from what we were doing. That made me pause. But mostly I just assumed that we had it right and the big difference was what we believed, not the entire mindset of making belief critical instead of demonstrable facts. Whenever I spoke with JWs or Mormons at the door, it was always about doctrines or exposing the corruption of their leadership rather than going after faith in myths being critical to a god's judgment of my life. I was a strong believer for 30 years, the last 9 of which were spent promoting a particular preacher from the south who claims thousands of outstanding miracles, the most notable being several people raised from the dead. While I promoted him and defended him online against critics, I brought up comparisons to the faith we put in the Bible where we didn't see those miracles either but have no doubt they happened. I pointed out that everything he preached was biblical, that he was going to "the least of these", and showed a life of utter commitment to Jesus. Then one day I caught him making up a long involved tale about a witch coven challenging the power of god at one of his services in Germany. I had just watched those services on video, and no such thing happened. His translator had trouble understanding his southern accent, that was all. But he turned it into a huge tale about witches falling under the power of god and all getting born-again. That was the slap in the face I needed. It began a year of questioning why he would need to make up anything. Keep in mind, I had felt power in his services, the body shaking and trembling like electricity was coursing through my body. That was unique from all the other church involvement I'd had. But this fact staring me in the face couldn't be denied. During this year of questioning why, the evening news was reporting about the Oklahoma polygamous cult and I wondered out loud "Why would anybody believe such crazy stuff?" Then I realized with chagrin that I had believed some outstandingly stupid things. Then I asked the most important question, "I wonder what else I've believed that is a lie?" I had a visceral reaction to that question, actually squirming, because I knew it struck at the root of my own faith. But I persisted in the question, and lots of other buried questions began resurfacing. Why is the god of the bible such an arrogant asshole? Why are all the obvious myths of the bible "true"? Why is the church divided instead of filled with almighty power and doing miracles? Why are most prayers for healing completely ignored? Why is hell not mentioned in the old testament? On and one the questions came. I revisited why I had first believed. It was out of a childish fear of monsters. When I'd see a monster movie (not the campy Godzilla ones) that monster was real and waiting for me in the dark hallway. When I saw an advert for The Exorcist, I felt a cold fear to the core of my being and read the Bible looking for protection. That was it. A stupid childish fear led to 30 years of committed belief, thousands of hours or praying to no one, tens of thousand of dollars given away to promote the cult, my own sexual life messed up with rules and fears of demons and judgments. I went searching online for "ex-christian" and found this site. I realized in short order that these folks had the same kinds of experiences, and I then posted my own realization that I was no longer a Christian. I was part of a cult called Christianity, and the last decade was part of a more classic cult with a charismatic leader that couldn't be questioned by his closest "fellow missionaries". It took an emotional shock to get me to even start questioning the faith. I also realized that reality hadn't changed at all by my deconversion, but that I had taken off a blindfold or filter through which I had interpreted reality. The same question "I wonder what else I've believed that is a lie?" still applies daily because I spent so long assuming I had things right. It applies to culture, politics, and science because where people are involved, there can be falsification of evidence, people seeing personal wealth at my expense, and so on.
  43. 8 points
    It made me believe that by myself I was immoral. It made me believe that no one could be good to me. It made believe that I couldn't do anything without a supreme being. It made me believe that I couldn't help myself. It made me believe that little children were going to go to hell. It made me believe that all human effort was useless. It made me believe that I all I needed to do was rely on the promises and blessings of God. It made me believe that all my actions were only rags of dirt. It made me believe that I knew something I could never prove.
  44. 8 points
    I now swear releasing anger and feel I can now enjoy myself. I watched a cartoon with magic and feel I no longer have guilt and pain inside me anymore. I feel I don’t have to live a certain way or please God. I have stopped crying and screaming at God for answers. I have stopped praying and feel so liberated!
  45. 8 points
    What amazes me is that they never take it to the next logical step. If god wants this so bad, why does he leave it to fallible humans to make it happen? Why doesn’t He do it himself? He’s all powerful, right? Where is his “hand” in all this?
  46. 8 points
    Hi Aaron and welcome to our community! Your feeling of amazement at your deconversion is familiar to many of us here. So many of us could not imagine ever leaving Christianity either, but for whatever reason we are the ones who could not ignore the questions - and here we are! Your feeling of relief at no longer having to hold the belief system together is very familiar to me too. Now you can explore any idea without worrying whether it fits with Christianity. You can make up your own mind about moral issues. Some people find this unsettling and that’s understandable, but in time it becomes liberating and exciting. You’re seeing this already, aren’t you? You may have read that deconversion is a process, rather than a single event, and it can take years for the Christian mindset to fade away. But declaring yourself as an ex-Christian - even if only to an online community like this - is a big milestone, so congratulations to you! I hope you don’t mind this first Welcome being from an Army guy! I was Army National Guard Aviation for 9 years but unlike you I had no combat deployments, only Bosnia. So Bravo Zulu to you for your service, brother! I hope you’ll stay around to read and share more of your deconversion with us. There’s a lot of experience and wisdom in this community. But for now, just Welcome. We’re glad you’re here.
  47. 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.
  48. 8 points
    Well then you've missed that. Because many people have declared all or some of the above. We're made up of many different denominations of ex christians. It's not impossible, though. Many here were once more pious than yourself, among clergy, studying to be clergy, etc. Zealous evangelizing, faith healing, speaking in tongues, etc., etc. There's nothing new under the sun for this community. And yet, upon waking up and realizing inside that the fairy tale is not literally true, the whole game was over just like that. The problem here is that you're clearly engaged in a form of self delusion. It's difficult for you to see it because you're right in the middle of it and are not looking in from an objective outside perspective. But it's very obvious for those who were once in your shoes and have since opened up and moved forward. For instance, many of us have experienced the world through eyes very similar to your own. But you have not experienced the world through the eyes we see through now. So that puts you at a disadvantage among an audience like this, where we know you but you do not know us, at least not yet. We'll see how history unfolds.....
  49. 8 points
    I deconverted because Satan promised me great wealth and power... lying bastard!
  50. 8 points
    Richard Carrier has commented on the finally published "first century" fragment of the Gospel of Mark found in Egypt that "Christian historians" theologians and apologists have been hyping for at least six years. Guess what? It dates from the third century. Just another lie pushed by Jesus, Inc. Carrier: It’s officially the mythical mummy Gospel. The “first century” manuscript of Mark Christian apologists have been gloating about and beating everyone over the head with for years…is not a first century manuscript of Mark. It also didn’t come from a mummy. It came from, apparently, garbage. And on top of all that…there is a weird unsolved question about it still looming. Here’s the latest. Backstory & Update I’ve written on this legendary Mummy Gospel several times already (see The Mummy Gospel Isn’t Even a Mummy Gospel!? and From Lead Codices to Mummy Gospels). Publicly, this all began in 2012 when Dan Wallace, a credentialed but oft gullible Christian apologist, tried to “gotcha” Bart Ehrman in a debate claiming we’d found a first century copy of the Gospel of Mark. Legend grew. It supposedly came from mummy masks. And this supposedly had something to do with how we know its date. All of that was bullshit. But we already knew that (see the first link above). Now the manuscript in question has finally been published under peer review. Hallelujah! Only…oh no. It says it dates to the late second, early third century. And the dating is based on what it usually is: paleography (handwriting style). Also…it’s being published in the Oxyrhynchus papyrus collection. And has always been there (that collection was famously excavated in and around 1903, but as it recovered half a million papyri, the collection is still being translated and published to this day; it is nowhere near done). Which is news to us, contradicting some previous (and even some still current) insistence it was in someone’s private collection and on the market (more on that in a minute). But no. It is now confirmed to have been recovered in the original dig and never left the collection (figuratively speaking). That means it comes from the Oxyrhynchus excavation—famously an ancient garbage heap in the Egyptian desert. This manuscript is also just another tiny, torn fragment, containing only a few verses from Mark 1—which we knew; but now we know it only contains mere bits of Mk. 1:7-9 and 1:16-18. The official publication is in the 83rd volume of the The Oxyrhynchus Papyri (officially dated 2017; delayed printing is common for academic journals). It was translated and edited by Daniela Colomo and Dirk Obbink. The entry: [Oxyrhunchus papyrus] ‘5345. Mark I 7-9, 16-18’. They conclude it dates by paleography to the late 2nd early 3rd century. Just as we predicted would happen. Wallace has now apologized. Christians? You need to learn a lesson here. The Loch Ness monster doesn’t exist. That exciting new publication coming “any year now” that proves all your wildest dreams, is probably going to be bullshit. And when you start to realize that’s pretty much always the case, you’ll start to understand better why we’re not Christians. More Details You can see images and a brief on this new published papyrus, and how we know it’s really the mythical “mummy” Gospel, at the blog of Brice Jones (Ph.D., Early Christianity). Elijah Hixson (I assume the same who is a Ph.D. candidate in New Testament & Christian Origins at the University of Edinburgh) is keeping tabs on this new development with updates appended to his own latest article on it. So much uproar has gone up already, that the owners of the fragment (the Egypt Exploration Society or EES) have posted an official press release to dispel various rumors about it. And when that wasn’t enough, within hours they just went ahead and put the whole article online. It’s now designated P137 in Lists of NT Papyri. The EES press release makes a special point of noting, “No other unpublished fragments of New Testament texts in the EES collection have been identified as earlier than the third century AD.” That’s a hint. They mean: the date range including late second century might be wishful thinking. It’s probably a third century papyrus. If all NT texts found there date 3rd century or later, arguably a literate Christian presence in Oxyrhunchus itself only began in the 3rd century (and hence no Gospel could have been tossed into the garbage there in the 2nd century). (snip) And notice how many letters are uncertain (marked with dots beneath). They weren’t kidding when they said they had so little to go on in dating the hand! This also means the editors are relying a lot on other manuscripts of Mark even to reconstruct what is written on this one. Granted, there are limits on what letters can be there. But this just illustrates how tiny and trivial and vexed it all is. The harrumph was all about this. A few barely legible scribbles on a piece of trash. Copied well over a hundred years after the book was even authored. Wah, wah.



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