Hi everyone, I wasn't even sure that communities of Ex-Christians even existed, but I found this site and it was just what I was looking for! I have tried to explain my life as an Ex-Christian to both Christian and non-Christian friends, but the magnitude of everything has been hard for people to understand...
I grew up with Christian parents, specifically a blindly zealous mother and a somewhat less-committed father. We were in a tightly-knit Assemblies of God church, and childhood was honestly pretty easy. I had six older siblings who had learned the game of saying the right things while doing whatever they wanted, for the most part, and at church (and the Christian school that accompanied it) I was treated more or less as a "crown prince."
Things began to change around age 11, when my sister, "rebelliously," became an unwed mother while in college. My mother had a moment of panic, and, in an effort to "save" me, started home-schooling me. This lasted two years, until my father's passing, at which time I personally withdrew even further, and during which my mom also pulled me even further away from a normal life. We left our original church, and I was enrolled in a staunchly fundamentalist Christian academy, where my Assemblies of God background alienated me from everyone.
A year later, I transferred to a larger, slightly more progressive Christian school, where I was able to ease some of my loneliness by staying true to my Christian beliefs. I'm not sure whether I was motivated by my need for friends or if I truly had these beliefs in my soul, but a Christian lifestyle was starting to work for me, and by the end of high school I was immensely well-liked among my Christian school peers.
Once high school ended, I did the only logical thing and went off to a Christian college. It was there that I learned to be a secularized Christian, and I learned that Christianity in such a cirle could gain me political as well as social capital. At this point, I could think of no other worldview than a Christian one, but at the same time I was dabbling in "sinful" activities (I guess this would be the point in my testimony where I would have some kind of awakening and re-dedicate my life to Christ). Out of guilt, I even went to do some mission work. As time went on, however, I was beginning to realize that I was ultimately powerless to the control of Christians in my life who would use my guilt and loneliness to have me do the "right" things, i.e., whatever it was that they wanted out of me.
By my final year, I had lost many of my Christian friendships, and I went to Philadelphia to get away from such a staunch Christian atmosphere. Just as I was beginning to discover new things about myself, I entered into a relationship with a Christian girl that was ultimately disastrous. The realization that I was in more of a relationship with God than with her was the final stroke. In my mind I had denounced Christianity, but I had not made it official, and, in fact, couldn't even really put a name to how I was feeling.
I had been living mostly Christ-free for about a year, when I went through a period of great personal difficulty. My mother agreed to help me on condition that I re-start chuch attendance with her, which I did out of gratitude. I had a couple of friends there, anyway, I thought, so it couldn't be so bad. What I discovered, unfortunately, were a group of control freaks, afraid to try anything once or even be exposed to anything remotely challenging. It was at this point that I truly realized how much of a role guilt had played in my life, and I came to officially denounce Christianity. That was in 2004, and I can't really say enough of how much it has helped my mindset.
My denouncing of Christianity didn't really come with a great announcement. I don't volunteer it, but when my Christian friends ask "how I'm doing spiritually," I tell them all about it. Some have left me behind, others have stayed by my side. Maybe I'm just trying to avoid the drama. I haven't told my mother yet, I'm honestly afraid that the news would kill her. In the two years since I made this decision, I have yet to come across anyone else who had done the same, before coming to this site. Learning to let go of the fear and guilt that Christianity ingrains in you has been a struggle, but I think I'm doing pretty well with it. That's it, I guess; I'll fill in the rest of the gaps in some of the discussion topics. Thanks for reading...