Hi, all. This is my first time posting my very own topic, and I apologize if this sort of story is old hat. Thanks for reading my cathartic word jumble!
I grew up in a very conservative Baptist church in the south. Went to youth group and all the Christian summer camps, memorized all the verses and did all the mission trips. Won lots of youth group awards. I mean, I was an obsessive student at school, why wouldn't I be one at church too? I did my devotionals almost every day, prayed, and even tried to model my high school dating relationships on "Biblical principles."
I went away to a Christian-based college at 18 where everyone had to take Old and New Testament survey classes. This is where everything started to fall apart. My professors, though Christians, had studied Greek and Hebrew and textual criticism and wanted us to look at the Bible academically. I was so blown away by the two creation stories, the contradictory histories in Joshua and Judges and between the Gospels, and all the other problematic aspects of the Bible that I decided to become a Religion major just so I could better understand them. I mellowed out in my theology, started reading the Bible as a source of social justice and felt I was "called" to get people to stop being such fundamentalist jerks. I learned Hebrew and Greek, and took theology and philosophy classes. I worked as a youth leader for 2 summers at a Baptist church (despite my female-ness and nose ring!) and tried to teach the kids to think critically about the text and to just be really good to people. During all this time my church attendance was pretty sporadic. I didn't really feel the need for any church fellowship when I was taking so many religion classes with awesome people.
After college I got into the graduate religion department at a prestigious American university to study the Hebrew bible. The divinity school there was multi-religion and extremely ecumenical. I met and became friends with Jews, Humanists, Muslims, and a myriad of adherents to various Christian denominations. I decided to become Episcopalian because they seemed the most social justice oriented and allowed gay people and women to be priests. I thought this was my happy medium. But as I delved deeper into the textual study of the Hebrew Bible, I realized that the text was more than just a little problematic. I mean, there are MULTIPLE Hebrew words whose meanings we can only guess at! I took a class studying and translating the Dead Sea Scrolls and realized, "Damn, we really don't know what a lot of this actually says." I took classes doing feminist and womanist and LGBT and Liberation interpretations of the text, but still the Bible taunted me with its dickishness. It often took so much work to make the Bible not say terrible things. But I couldn't stand the thought of it saying terrible things!
Over time, I found myself both more and more troubled by the concept of God and at the same time just not caring any more. It was truly exhausting to try to stick up for God/Jesus when the things they did seemed pretty indefensible. Eventually I stopped going to church at all and told myself that I just was taking a break, and that I would consider myself "not religious" for a bit. Then two thoughts came to my mind. 1) How can I believe in a God who is less kind and just than humans are? and 2) If I'm having to work this hard to defend the concept of God and Christianity and to suspend this belief in my mind, maybe this belief isn't worth having. Despite thinking these things I still did not consider myself an atheist or an agnostic, just really not religious.
A few weeks ago I visited my parents in the south. I went with them to church and it was one of the most depressing things I experienced in a long time. All these truly kind people believing truly stupid and cruel things. When I got back from the trip I realized that I was more than "not religious," I was an agnostic/atheist (still researching to find where I actually fit). And now I am more pissed than ever. HOW ON EARTH can these "pastors" and "priests" who actually studied the text stand there and lie to their congregations every week? I give the congregations more of a pass, but if you have studied the actual language of the Bible and still believe it to be infallible, you are an idiot and a liar. I can't deal with it. And now I sit and simmer as my Facebook is constantly populated with idiotic Christian sayings and verses and ideals.
I am so angry. But I don't want to be. So here I am to blow off steam and read other Ex-Christians' experiences and to rebuild my philosophy for living.
If you've made it to the end, you are a trooper. So thanks.