Jerry

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Everything posted by Jerry

  1. Being born in the early 70's, I was growing up and being influenced by the world around me during the 1980's. While the era of conservative politics, Just Say No and trickling economics had its heyday, I now realize, that I was being commisioned as they saw fit. It goes far beyond religious brainwashing. In our great fight against Communism, and drugs, what were we taught? I learned that in order to be a "good American" I had to be a good little Christian conservative who refrained from smoking marijuana, loved capitalism and didn't question authority. At least, that's what growing up in the upper Midwest was like. My parents, who are Christians, are definately left leaning in their politics. They seem to have the whole "seperation of church and state" thing grasped. However, looking back, it seems I was heavily influenced towards rightwing politics, cloaked in Christianity, and an irrational fear of socialism and communism. Why is that? The Reagan era was certainly a time of prosperity, for whatever reason, but was it enough to sway an entire area's children towards the Republican party? Soon after the '16 election, I suggested to some friends that this "brainwashing" I received as a child was partly to blame for Trump's surprise victory. Look at the facts, Trump carried the Midwest. The demographic that put him over the top was the one I fall in to, Gen-Xers. And, not just Gen-Xers but, white, working class, suburban Gen-Xers. There certainly seems to be a conservative movement in the Rust Belt, once considered to be the Democrats' territory. I know other issues came into play, like the Democratic Party's total ignorance of the working people's plight, terrible trade agreements and the anger that Trump incited within his base. However, were our school systems, local and national media, clergy and authority figures pushing us in that direction 30-40 years ago? My experience says yes. I voted for conservative politicians, up until my freedom from religion, for years. Why is it that breaking free from Christianity also made me rethink and re-evaluate my politics? I realize that many inside the Republican Party hide behind the veil of religion. After all, Christianity is their tool for pushing their brand. They use to support their sexism, racism, xenophobia, homophobia etc etc. But, is it truly just a Christian party? Certainly, there are some atheist Republicans. Without telling on myself, I will say that I no longer fear socialism. Hell, I was a Bernie supporter in 2016. I now see the hypocrisy with the Republican Party claiming to be the "moral majority". But, was it all a part of being commisioned during my childhood? I don't think of myself as a conspiracy theorist but, this all makes too much sense, at least to me, to ignore.
  2. I too struggled with this. I call it a vicious circle. You're trying to break free from Christianity by turning to your Christian beliefs (brainwashing) for answers. It literally took me years to overcome it. I finally figured out how irrational it is. I couldn't find any rationale, answers or comfort in prayer. You're commisioned to think that you're incapable of overcoming things without god. However, you can do a whole lot more than you could ever imagine. You need to look inside yourself and come to the realization that god has never truly helped you in any way, quite simply because, he isn't there. It's been you the entire time. With that realization you begin to break free of Christianity's brainwashing.
  3. I may have under-emphasized the actual internal struggle that I went through. Years of being commisioned to "look to god" for the answers was extremely difficult for me to overcome. I truly believed that praying was somehow helping me overcome difficulties and obstacles in my life. In hindsight, I was actually talking out my problems, and ultimately finding solutions, all by myself. Or, I guess you could say that I was talking out my problems with my imaginary friend. Regardless, I came to realize that I had the capability to navigate through life all along. I still cannot figure out why religion leads one to believe that they're incapable without a higher power guiding them through troubled times. I really think that is the most costly effect of religion; the fact that it takes your individuality, creativity and self assurance away from you. It taught me that, not only was I incapable without god, but I was less of a person. I needed him, in essence, to perform the most mundane things. The entire time, not realizing how amazing I, and others, were all by ourselves. I was often demoralized by my sins, by what I couldn't do without god, with how worthless I was on my own. I don't know how others reacted to the "you need god" theory but, it made me feel incomplete. However, when I tried to break free from this phenomenon, I kept coming back to it. I was literally caught in a vicious circle of trying to escape religion by turning to religion for the answers. Thousands of unanswered prayers later, I was finally able to free myself. However, it wasn't as easy as I made it sound in my original post. My experiment failed several times, with me praying for signs, help, answers. Forty years of brainwashing had commisioned me well. I was certainly hooked. However, the truth of the world around me was always there nagging at me. I knew religion was fake. I knew it was nothing more than mythology. Still, I couldn't break its chains. I struggled with this for years. Religion is a very powerful form of brainwashing. Even when I could deduce that it had no real meaning, no actual power, and contained very little, or no, truth, I continued to look to it for guidance. If anything, I had become irrational with Christianity. Even when I knew it wasn't real, I, for some reason, defended it to myself. It had me to where I couldn't function without god, even though I had full knowledge that he didn't exist. It's scary to think about religions' power to make someone feel this way. Luckily, common sense eventually won out. But, it was a long battle.
  4. Unfortunately, many of my "friends" are involved in the church. So, needless to say, they no longer want much to do with me. The funny thing is, I'm not even "out" about my new found freedom from religion. My lack of church attendance and involvement has pushed them away. I'm glad to know just how fickle those supposed friends really are. I'm also aware of other relationships in my life that would be destroyed if I came out. Mostly, my marriage. My wife is a true product of Baptist teaching and philosophy. Having gone to a nonsecular, private, Baptist affliated school (K-12), along with a STRONG Christian up bringing at home. She certainly views nonbelievers in a very unflattering light. She disowned her cousin, that she was once very close with, when she announced that she was a lifelong atheist. That was a situation that helped me to realize the costs of coming out as free. The entire family essentially disowned her. It was a heartbreaking moment. This was at a time when I was struggling with my own belief system. So, I learned to just keep my mouth shut. I have managed to escape Sunday services and church activities by citing personal differences with the Pastor, who was a close friend at one point. However, I really don't think professing my atheism is a good idea.
  5. As a child, in the Lutheran church, I didn't know many nonbelievers. However, I was taught, mostly by my parents, that they too deserved love and respect, as all people do. As an adult, in the Baptist church, I was taught that they were basically second class citizens and needed to be converted to the Baptist form of Christianity. If they couldn't be converted, then they were inherently evil and I should stay away from them. Luckily, one of best friends at work has always been an atheist. So, I knew all along that nonbelievers were, in fact, not inherently evil at all. While we did partake in spirited debate about our different belief systems, we always remained curtious and respectful of each others view point. I think, regardless of my Baptist doctrine, that I always remained open minded. However, I am guilty of trying to convert many a nonbeliever while I was involved with the church. I often wonder now how many lives I ruined with my attempts to convert. Hopefully, it always fell upon deaf ears.
  6. I feel the Bible has some historical, but not scientific, value. However, that value is very miniscule. It talks about a few random kings and kingdoms that we know did actually exist. But, for the most part, the Bible just contains stories, following an unaffirmed bloodline, leading to Jesus. I think it's safe to assume that most of the stories contained in the Bible are embellished upon, or straight up fiction. As far as scientific value, the Bible is a terrible source of information. The world depicted in the Bible is a much different place than Earth, that's for sure. The sun rotates the Earth, which is flat and sitting upon four great pillars. The biblical world is merely a scant 6000 years old, or so. Not the BILLIONS of years old that we know is true. If the Bible is true, it certainly isn't describing Earth, its inhabitants, nor its creation. Maybe we need to be looking for another planet.
  7. I was raised in a Christian home, Lutheran Missouri Synod, in the United States' Midwest. I was baptized as an infant, attended Sunday school, did my years of Confirmation on Sundays on Wednesday nights and was Confirmed into the Lutheran Church as a teenaged boy. My family and I went to church every Sunday and read daily devotionals. I went to a public school, where during my elementary years, we said the Pledge of Allegiance daily, reminding me that we were one nation under god. My high school curriculum didn't involve any sort of nonsecular teachings, ie. Creationism, but it didn't include much mention of evolution either. I guess that was my school district's idea of taking the high road on that debate. Most of my friends growing up were Christians as well, either Lutheran or Catholic, as these were the only churches in our community. We came from a long line of Lutherans, on both sides of my family, and it was a huge part of our identity. As I grew up, moved out, started my own family and became involved with my own life, religion continued to play a huge part. In my 20's I moved to the Southeastern US, married a Southern Baptist girl and subsequently started attending her church. While the service, and experience, was very much different than my childhood in the Lutheran Church, I quickly became accustomed to it and became active in the church. In my early 30's I was "born again" and was baptized, again, alongside my children, in our Baptist church. I remained active in church activities up until my late 30's when something miraculous happened. Somehow, a book ended up in my possession, a very remarkable book, that changed my life. It was The Third Chimpanzee by Jared Diamond. It introduced me to the very interesting discovery of evolution. I really have no idea how I came to possess this book. It was just there one day. Regardless, I read it and for the first time, had my eyes opened to a whole new, intriguing world of science, anthropology and human evolution. I was mesmerized. I went on to read several more books about biological evolution, genetics, DNA sequencing, anthropology, archaeology and a variety of other scientific disciplines, and had my world turned upside down. Still holding on to my Christian "teachings" I nonetheless felt very confused. I had almost 40 years of Biblical study and education that told me one set of stories and a newly discovered world around me that told me another. However, the world of science had proof. It contained a fossil record, archaeological evidence and other proof to support its claims. Religion only had faith. Regardless, it was difficult to break away from my religious background. If my adulthood in the Baptist Church had taught me anything, it was that I was worthless without god. I was taught that, everything good that had happened in my life was god's work. It was because of his grace that I had anything, or accomplished anything. And, I owed all thanks, glory and honor to him for blessing me with so many wonderful things, relationships and abilities. On the other hand, anything bad that happened to me was of my own doing. It was brought about by my straying from god and trying to do things my way and not his. As foolish as it sounds, I was afraid to take any steps in my life that may essentially piss off god. I tried hard to remain a faithful follower of Christ. Praying harder than ever before, I asked god for help overcoming my weakness and doubt. Of course, nothing changed. Then, I went to my pastor, who was also a close friend at the time, and asked him for his assistance. This is when I really began to realize the truth. I told him the whole story and he immediately started reciting Bible verses about the dangers of knowledge. He belittled me for falling in to Satan's trap of human, worldly knowledge and basically recommended that I refrain from learning anything that wasn't in his sermons. His exact words were, "you don't need any knowledge to get through this life other than what I preach from that pulpit". As far as he was concerned, that was the end of my dilemma. He thought I was cured by being told to remain stupid and only listen to him. Of course, this wasn't a suitable answer in my opinion. As I continued to struggle with my faith, I looked online for answers. I was overwhelmed with the huge amount of evidence against Christianity. As I learned more about the religion that had stolen its best stories from other mythologies, I found that I was becoming less and less dependant on god. All the while, continuing my church pew appearances. However, I did "retire" as a church Deacon at around this time, citing a busy work and home life as my excuse. Of course, I had to uphold my Christian persona around the house too. As my internal struggle continued, I found more and more information that refuted my religious upbringing. Then, I decided to conduct an experiment. I decide to go one week "without" god. This included no praying, no saying the blessing, no living in fear of his punishment. One week turned in to two, then, a month, a year and so on. My life wasn't spinning out of control without a supreme being, like I was told it would. If anything, I had broken away from Christianities chains. I started to realize my self worth, as well as the worth of others. Finally, one day I came to the conclusion that what I had spent most of my life practicing and believing wasn't even true. Thank you Jared Diamond. LOL. Now, in my late 40's I am basically free from religions stranglehold. While I still have to remain a closet atheist at home, in my own mind I know the truth; and it's amazing. It's like knowing a secret that no one else is privy to. It's refreshing. I'm a better person for breaking loose from Christianity. I know that because I was told that just the other day. I no longer judge people based on their denominational preference, or lack thereof. Nor, do I chastize people for not believing the "good news". I'm free!
  8. Hello, I am wondering what relationships you have forefitted by coming out as an atheist, or nontheist?
  9. Jerry

    Hello

    Thank you all for your support and kind words. I appreciate a community, albeit an online one, where I can share my story, read about others journeys and realizations and not be afraid of its risks. I have seen so many testimonials, that are in many ways very similar to mine, at this site. I never realized what a costly burden religion, especially Christianity, was to a person. I knew Christianity's ability to diminish ones self worth was terrible. However, I kind of thought that only a few select people, including myself, felt that way. After finding this site, I now know different. As far as my marriage is concerned, I've often heard my wife ridicule atheists, and religious people who were connected to them. She has even made the statement that she would NEVER "be with" someone that didn't believe in god. Or rather, her god...the Christian god. Obviously, I love my wife, and our two children, regardless of either of our beliefs. I've kind of drawn the conclusion that, for the time being, I'll just wait it out. Some day, perhaps, the timing will be right to come clean on my freedom from religion. Again, thank you to everyone for your support and kind words. I appreciate it more than I can show you on a screen.
  10. Jerry

    Hello

    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.