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If You Were Raised As A Bible Believing Christian


mick
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Please let me know. I have young children who have been in Fundy church and private Christian school their whole lives. They will move into teens in a few years. I am curious what may happen. They have no idea that I don’t believe. They probably just think I less legalistic than their mother. I’m curious what started to happen for those of you who were raised in the church that stopped believing. What kinds of questions arose? When did they arise? Was it painful?, etc. –thanks Mick

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Mick,

 

You ask a huge question. I always had doubts in the back burner, but I never listened to them until I went through tough times and "heard" the silence of god. After I finally "woke up," I looked back and discovered many other things, but what stared it all was the hard times.

 

I am sorry your children don't know of your disbelief, because when they start to doubt, having someone they love and respect who has rejected the faith would be of great help to them.

 

Good luck, Mick

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I plan to let them make their own choices. However, i also plan to be a surprise place of solace if they decide to not believe on their own. I can not think of another way to handle it at this point considering the steadfast devotion of their mother. (my wife)

 

Mick,

 

You ask a huge question. I always had doubts in the back burner, but I never listened to them until I went through tough times and "heard" the silence of god. After I finally "woke up," I looked back and discovered many other things, but what stared it all was the hard times.

 

I am sorry your children don't know of your disbelief, because when they start to doubt, having someone they love and respect who has rejected the faith would be of great help to them.

 

Good luck, Mick

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My faith in Christianity really started to die when I actually read the Bible. It's gory, dry, confusing, contradicting, and I realized all of the "wisdom" in there wasn't really rocket science to figure out. I also wasn't "feeling" anything regarding connectedness to God, so I moved on.

 

I studied and converted to several more religions, and then I found God. I found that mystical relationship with the Almighty that fills you with peace and harmony and connection with the life and universe and everything. Well, for brief moments when I had time to relax. This is different however, from having religion. When I outgrew the religions, I moved on to study something else and look at God in new ways. My perspective of the Creator has undergone quiet a few changes over the year.

 

On ExC I've been a pretty staunch theist all this time, but I've noticed my perceptions of what's "out there" are changing again. People make a lot of very good arguments here that have gotten me thinking and reconsidering for a while now, but it took an incident recently to be the serious catalyst for another deconversion. I had a very personal blow when I discovered recently that I was asexual, and this was very much NOT a happy realization. That's when I decided there was far too much stupid in the world for it to have been designed by an intelligent being.

 

So now I'm transitioning again from general theist to pantheist/agnostic/athiest depending on my mood. I would like to keep my connectedness to "god," whatever it is, since it's a very pleasent, and, well, godly feeling. But it's going to take me a while to settle my beliefs again.

 

And honestly, this is a good thing. Your beliefs should be fluid and changing, because it keeps you growing and becoming a better person. As my sig says, it's not about what's right or wrong, it's about what works.

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For the longest time, I viewed the Christian god as a loving father. Stern when he needed to be (opening chasms in the earth to crush people, ordering folks to wipe out entire villages, that sort of thing -- tough love. :P), but ultimately loving. Then a little over two years ago, I realized that my entire life had been a lie, that I had no relationship with God despite earnestly seeking him for most of my life, up until that point. As time went on, I despaired about the situation and starting becoming angry at God, because I was damned and couldn't do anything about it. That's when I could no longer sustain a belief in a loving God; if he was a "father", he was apparantly the kind that leaves town when his girlfriend informs him she's pregnant.

 

Viewing the God-thing as an absent father and disliking him made it much easier to question everything I had been told to believe and to defend to the uttermost. And when I stopped using so much energy to defense the nonsense, I could clearly see it for what it was ; nonsense, utter tripe. Religion is like the sickle-cell trait. It has its advantages (combatting malaria), but ultimately it screws you over.

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It was a death in the family that got me questioning my faith.

 

I converted to Xianity (following the example of my mother) when I was sixteen, and stuck with a rather literalist version of it until my mid-twenties. When I was around 24 or so my father's parents died. My grandmother got lung cancer and died of it; my grandfather followed her to the grave less than a year later, dying of a broken heart.

 

Those two people loved me better than my own parents ever did. I was particularly close to my grandmother; it's been nearly a decade and her death still stings. At the time I can remember having a conversation with my mother and the subject of whether or not my grandmother was in hell came up. My mother gave the usual speculation that while we'll never know what was in my grandmother's heart at the end, if she wasn't a Buybull-believing, born-again Xian, sadly, she was probably in Hell.

 

To say that didn't sit right with me was a tremendous understatement. I knew damn well what was in my grandmother's heart: she was probably the most loving, stable person I'd ever known. She and my grandfather were an island of caring and sanity in the midst of the nightmare life my alcoholic egg donor had created; they always treated me with kindness, compassion, and consideration, where my parents consistently failed to do so.

 

So in addition to the tremendous insult my mother had just heaped upon my deceased grandmother, what I'd been taught about Hell Doctrine collided head-on with what I'd been taught about God being Ultimate Love. It made no sense to me that a deity who supposedly embodied love in all its forms would send the most loving people I ever knew to burn in hell because they didn't say the magic words.

 

So that opened my eyes. I got really angry at God, and that anger gave me permission to ask all kinds of questions. Later on when I wasn't as angry, and I'd seen the shitty things that Xians do to each other and to non-believers, I realized that I wasn't afraid of Hell anymore: after all, if I go to Hell, I'll be suffering with my grandparents. I'd rather be in Hell with them than in Heaven with my mother and her sick, twisted deity any day.

 

I recently described my deconversion process as being like a series of dominoes laid in a row. The death of my grandparents got them falling, and they fell until I reached atheism, where I am now. It might be said that if any single "domino" or event hadn't happened in the chain, I might well still be Xian. But, here I am. God didn't see fit to stop that domino chain. So he lost another fan.

 

Anyway. There it is.

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Mick...

 

It was not my parents who introduced me to fundie christianity, it was my maternal grandmother. (Although as a baptist she was rather liberal). My father was agnostic, my mother a freethinker...still a christian, but nominally, and very open and non-judgemental.

 

I have to thank my parents for keeping me from getting too radical. They stressed being accepting of people, not thinking of them as hopeless, unsaved sinners in need of jesus. My mother especially stressed that god looks at the good in us and accepts our failings, and that a basically good person, which most people are, need not fear god or hell.

 

The result was that I quickly began to question this harsh, intolerant, sin-and-punishment view, and my own viewpoint moved toward more of a deist perspective. (Although at the time I didn't even realize it was deism). Eventually, my own thinking and readings led me to outright atheism.

 

Bottom line...emphasize individual questioning and thinking. My parents didn't condemn my early fundie views, just chipped away at them by nurturing a skeptical attitude. It worked for me, to my folks' credit.

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Piprus, what you describe sounds very much like my friend does with his daughter. He described a conversation in which he asked her questions about the value of animal sacrifice, what good the sacrifice does God. Eventually she realized that it's cruel to the animals and does God no good. This was a pre-teen child. I feel this is a tactful way to teach her to ask questions without outrightly disrespecting her religious mother and her teacher teacher at the private Christian school.

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I'm curious what started to happen for those of you who were raised in the church that stopped believing. What kinds of questions arose? When did they arise? Was it painful?, etc. –thanks Mick

 

Well, the questions for me started the moment I was told Jesus died so we could go to heaven when we died. Unfortunately for me, I was not allowed to ask the question out loud. But I did study the Bible enough to satisfy myself that the answer was not in the Bible. It simply made no sense that an almighty God was unable to forgive without the cruel death of anyone when I, a mere human, was obligated to forgive huge offenses simply to remain sane.

 

That was the fundamental question. Another problem with Christianity was the teaching that obedience to God would bring peace of heart. It didn't work that way.

 

I suspect if I had lived in an environment that supported open-mindedness and questioning, I would never have accepted the Christian faith for the simple reason that it made no sense that Jesus' death opened the way to heaven. That is why, when I finally found myself in a situation where independent thought was possible (without the threat of emotional/social annihilation) I deconverted.

 

As it was, I found myself in a situation where the social pressure to submit to the church was so strong that it was the only viable option for me. I consider it criminal to force a person to lie simply to have family and community.

 

Mick, in my opinion, the best thing you can do for your children is to teach them to think and ask questions, and to provide a safe place in which to do so. I like your idea of being a "surprise place of solace" for them. But I would encourage them to ask question, so they know it's okay to think for themselves. Christianity can dumb people down so they don't dare ask questions. Surprise them and let them know that it's quite okay for them to ask questions regardless of what the church and school say. It may be a secret place of refuge for them that will succor them as they struggle through the schools and churches their mother insists they attend. That's just off the top of my head. I don't know what works in your family. I would like to prevent any other child or young adult from suffering the torture that was my life.

 

You ask was it painful. Being forced to profess to believe stuff that made no sense, being forced to profess this all the while having burning questions in my heart that no one would answer--that was painful in the extreme. Being put on the impression that having questions was sinful, being put on the impression that everybody else had knowledge they kept back from me (what else could be the reason they believed so strongly but refused to answer my questions) THAT was torture.

 

Had I known but one person in the entire universe I could have talked to--that would have offered some solace. But how did the questions start? Because I was born an independent thinker. So deeply was I entombed in conservative religion that only after years of university education did I find out that other forms of Christianity existed. Only after getting on the internet did I learn alternative ideas to religion.

 

Once again, I believe offering a safe place for them to express ideas and ask questions, teaching them how to ask questions and think things through--that would do your kids a huge favour. That way they can decide and make an informed decision. On the other hand, some people don't like to think and only get confused when presented with conflicting ideas. I guess that can also be its own form of torture. I've met people who converted to fundamentalist religion simply because they could not handle the openness and freedom of choice without a guide as to right and wrong. Religion offered them the guidance and direction they so much needed. So yeah, there is no easy answer to your question.

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An understanding family member would be nice. A couple years after I deconverted, I remember my sister asking my father if he believed in God. My family had got progressively more fundie and she was obviously asking to ensure that he was still saved. My parents had gotten divorced and my father and I had gone similar paths at similar times but unknown to each other. My dad just stood there in the doorway of the house, for a moment, before responding, "If there was a cat and it could be inside the house or outside the house, I'd leave the door open." Oddly, such a convoluted response was enough for my sister but at the same time, I felt a little better about my own path. I didn't know until several years later until he was on [what we thought was] his death bed that he meant what I thought he meant with it. But since he was forbidden, by my mother, to talk religion with us that was all I got out of him for years.

 

Anyway, that was just an aside. My deconversion would have been a lot less painful if I'd had someone there who was open about their doubt. I was in deep when I just started to wake up. There wasn't anything tragic or horrible which shook my foundations. I just started finding less and less of it clicked with what I "knew." In some ways it was the most horrible thing I've ever dealt with. Before it was over, I was honestly praying that I would be killed before losing faith. That was one of my last honest prayers that went unanswered. When I first started getting doubts, around 12-13, I started getting into apologetics to find the answers. I knew there had to be answers because surely my questions could not be unique. And I found answers there but none of them seemed to satisfy. And worse, I was exposed to problems I hadn't even considered regarding the faith and saw the answers to those were just as poor as the ones I was originally looking for.

 

I was terribly alone. In my fundie little world, doubt was just about the worst thing you could do. The only friends I was allowed were church friends.

 

But both the girl and boy were glad

cause one kid had it worse that that

 

cause then there was this boy whose

Parents made him come directly home right after school

And when they went to their church

They shook and lurched all over the church floor

He couldn't quite explain

They'd always just gone there

 

Mmm mmm mmm mmm

Mmm mmm mmm mmm

 

That verse is the story of my life during that time period. I wasn't allowed out of the house for anything but church or to go to a friend's house who was just a fundie as my family was. Every book, TV show, movie, etc... were all controlled to keep us free from temptation. I did sneak in books and hide them at home (like many kids hide pornography). When they were found they were burned and I was chastised for it. I had a very few friends at school who were less fundie than others but not too many and I didn't dare hang out with them too much or I risked being exposed as a backslider by my church "peers."

 

So when I lost faith, I lost everything. I was alone in my head and unable to whisper my true self to anyone. I was terrified of people finding out (with good cause it turns out) and hid it well. I played the church game like a pro and never even passed on an opportunity to act faithful for fear of looking like I was turning away. Of course, I didn't have an option most of the time. . . since the only people I could socialize with at all were in the church. I went on missions trips, witnessed in the streets, and eventually rose to several positions of leadership as a non-Christian. All because that was all I could do. And inside my head, I permitted my true self to explore without the ability to share the struggles and epiphanies as they arose. I would lay in bed at night, staring at the ceiling, having monologues in my head that I didn't even dare mouth for fear that my lips might betray my heart.

 

Pain, loneliness, seperation... and that was just from realizing that Jesus wasn't there. Then a tenfold helping of those paid out over years as I was denied the ability to be who I was. It's like an actor got to play out almost a decade of my life.

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Fallen Leaf, I hope you realize how much your post means to me. It means I am not the only one who lived in hell because of social pressure. Thank you for sharing it.

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Fallen Leaf, I hope you realize how much your post means to me. It means I am not the only one who lived in hell because of social pressure. Thank you for sharing it.

 

Thanks. Although my concerns ran deeper than just the social. It may help to know that my church was one step (a small one) away from dancing with vipers and drinking poison. And I could easily see myself getting hurt or killed for deconverting. When I finally did come out, at 21, I ended up in a camp to deprogram me. I didn't really stress those points of the journey because if Mick's situation was at all similar then he would not need to ask the question he did.

 

But aside from all that, yes social aspects did play a role. Assuming I had lived through the public deconversion itself, I would have had no friends at all. As it was, a friend's mother didn't let him talk to me for three months because "God told her I was sinning." That period, oddly enough, was during one of the times when I was trying hardest to find God before I lost him completely. :shrug: So to add on to all my other fears, I wouldn't have had a soul to talk to anyway because I would have been a pariah.

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Fallen Leaf, I hope you realize how much your post means to me. It means I am not the only one who lived in hell because of social pressure. Thank you for sharing it.

 

Thanks. Although my concerns ran deeper than just the social. It may help to know that my church was one step (a small one) away from dancing with vipers and drinking poison. And I could easily see myself getting hurt or killed for deconverting. When I finally did come out, at 21, I ended up in a camp to deprogram me. I didn't really stress those points of the journey because if Mick's situation was at all similar then he would not need to ask the question he did.

 

But aside from all that, yes social aspects did play a role. Assuming I had lived through the public deconversion itself, I would have had no friends at all. As it was, a friend's mother didn't let him talk to me for three months because "God told her I was sinning." That period, oddly enough, was during one of the times when I was trying hardest to find God before I lost him completely. :shrug: So to add on to all my other fears, I wouldn't have had a soul to talk to anyway because I would have been a pariah.

 

I read a study done on a serpent-handling community so I have a very slight understanding the type of community you are talking about. I am glad you got the help you needed to deconvert. It's hard for me to tell which community is the most damaging. I think there are parallels between your experience and mine, if only to show me that there are others out there whose life struggles matched or superceeded my own in severity. I did have people to talk to and did not have to go to a deprograming camp.

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My religious beliefs were long evolving as I evaluated the rules and conventions of Christianity and measured it against practical reality.

 

I even came to wonder about other religions, such as Hinduism, being equivalent to Christianity and just as good for salvation after getting to know more about them.

 

But I had faith where so many I knew had lost theirs, many simply giving up their salvation in their minds rather than actually no longer believing. For them Christianity was ultimately too hard, which I understand more now as I have come to the point of realising just how contrary it is to nature.

 

Little did I know that Christianity and Judaism were made up. I learned that they were by chance, which started by reading an old book I had about the making of the Bible. Then I read one about the truth about Jesus, which I previously decided I had no reason to read as there was nothing to challenge about the myths of the man.

 

That was last December. Because it was a deconversion based on research and logic, it wasn't hard. It was just weird being in a position where I was considering things I had never even accepted as being within the realm of possibility. Realising your whole world view is whacked is a bit of a jolt to the sytem, but because it marries so much better with human nature and the real world and society (at least in my country), your disbelief in religion just gets stronger and stronger.

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Ironically, actually sitting down and reading the bible was the huge catalyst for my deconversion.

The preacher man can spin it anyway he wants to, but if you sit and actually read the text you begin to think differently...

 

Moreover, as a gay individual, myself, you have to think about it as well.

That is why I never get "Gay Christians." That has to be the worst form of self loathing.

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The preacher man can spin it anyway he wants to, but if you sit and actually read the text you begin to think differently...

 

When I compare what the biblical writers meant (given their social, religious, and historical context and political agendas) with what the fundies teach it means, well I see even more why one should not follow their religion. I myself am very fascinated with how fundies twist the bible to mean whatever they want it to mean. Studying theology formally is giving me some tools with which to refute them.

 

Moreover, as a gay individual, myself, you have to think about it as well.

That is why I never get "Gay Christians." That has to be the worst form of self loathing.

 

I posted my response to this here. I meant to tell you right away and forgot. Sorry.

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For me, it was easy, yet in a difficult process. I basically quit going to church, because originally I was discouraged from not seeing fellowship that I needed and the selfishness of Christians threw me off. They didn't know what I was going through and only spoke with their mouths but never cared to see from my view. In reality, this was slowly becoming the best thing for me. The trick is, the more you attend fellowship, the more they brainwash you. By not attending fellowship, I began to regain my sanity slowly. When I re-read the Bible this time around, it was just crazy talk and I couldn't believe that I was buying into this at one point. Christians say that true Christians continue to strive. Well, I say that it's just an addiction, because I was devoted at one point too and I preached the exact crap they did.

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Please let me know. I have young children who have been in Fundy church and private Christian school their whole lives. They will move into teens in a few years. I am curious what may happen. They have no idea that I don’t believe. They probably just think I less legalistic than their mother. I’m curious what started to happen for those of you who were raised in the church that stopped believing. What kinds of questions arose? When did they arise? Was it painful?, etc. –thanks Mick

 

As a child of fundamentalist parents I would say that I think you should make plain your real position on this religion issue. Yes, the process of deconversion was painful for me, but a part of the issue was wanting to please the parents. I think a lot of children probably hang on to at least an appearance of being "believers" for this reason. They don't want to hurt their parents. It would have been easier if I had known that one of them wasn't a beliver anyway.

Pat

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Guest J Thomas

Mick

 

I am in a paralell situation. I was raised a fundy evangelical and lived it for 22 years from age 12. I am still undergoing the process of deconversion.

 

My children were in fundy sunday school and private Christian education (which is rare here in the UK).

 

So far my wife knows, my brother knows, my pastor knows. My parents and other siblings do not. My children do not all though they know its Ok to be more open minded than they have been used to.

 

So far being honest has been successful. The kids have moved to a church of england school, very liberal but with Christian values as well as respect for other faiths and none. A huge weight off my mind from fundy school and the kids have really grown socially and educationally as a result.

 

I have found closet ex-Cs in my network of friends. The wife is very disappointed but at least does not think I am a hypercrite.

 

So far honesty has been for the best, but I am taking it very very slowly - which is good advice I have had from here.

 

All the best with your situation

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I was raised as a Missouri-Synod Lutheran. My church was pretty conservative and Bible-believing. I believed most things in the Bible literally until I was a teenager. When I went to college, I hung onto the Christian label but considered myself a liberal Christian for quite a while after that. I realized that I was only clinging to the label to make other people happy. When you have to live a lie to make other people happy, it's not worth it.

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I was Baptist then Jesus Freak/AOG. My parents were devout but registered only a 6 out of 10 on the fundy-scale. During my christian childhood, the most important things I received from my parents had nothing to do with christianity--unconditional love, encouragement and support of education and open-mindedness. Of course these were the very things that allowed me to consider deconversion later on. Fortunately, both my parents died years before my deconversion so they were spared the pain and worry that would have caused them.

It was questioning and open-mindedness that led to my deconversion. Of course it did take nearly 50 years! The good news is that the teenage years are coming--with all the questions and rebelling against the status quo.

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Please let me know. I have young children who have been in Fundy church and private Christian school their whole lives. They will move into teens in a few years. I am curious what may happen. They have no idea that I don’t believe. They probably just think I less legalistic than their mother. I’m curious what started to happen for those of you who were raised in the church that stopped believing. What kinds of questions arose? When did they arise? Was it painful?, etc. –thanks Mick

 

 

I am in a similar situation. 2 small children in catholc school and I am now labeling myself a born again atheist!

For me, a lifetime of unanswered prayers. The terror of confession, communion, sinning again. Watching "saintly" people I loved become miserably sick and die with no fuckin god to save them. The absolute feeling of nothing but boredom attending countless masses and actually leaving feeling worse about myself.

These were the events that eventually enlightened me to atheism plus all the reading on the internet supporting the notion that god and religion and the babble is bullshit.

The kids can decide for themselves, but I'll never go back. Furthermore, I find my wife has similar views, so don't count on us having the kids kneel in front of statues praying as we were forced to.

Church is still an occasional social necessity!

For peace's sake, I go,fully participate,blaspheme in my heart if you will, and leave church saying fuck it to myself! This so called sacraliege would have put me in the fear/guilt straightjacket in my past life!

I bask in my newfound godless life and yearn to develop my atheism more fully! Best wishes!

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Oh yeah, another reason why I turned away from the faith was due to the so-called "knowledge" that people said they had. It was like they held certain veterans in high regard when it came to sermons and crap like that. First of all, these Christians claim that "God" works in mysterious ways and his ways are not possible to comprehend. However, if they also figure that the Bible is the Word of "God" then what makes them think they can explain a vague passage? What is stated is what is stated. How the hell do they come up with all sorts of lengthy explanations to say that it doesn't mean or does mean one thing or another? Here's where all those extra denominations made things so undeniably invalid. Here's this ancient book, hearsay by the way, and yet Christians are sitting around interpreting things as if they know what it all means by basing it off their own philosophical conclusions. When I was a Christian, I hated Calvinism and Arminianism. It was like a sub-cult within a giant cult. Bunch of idiots want to follow Jesus and then John Calvin or Jacobus Arminius, because these men presented their own interpretations or views of vague Christian subjects. The high and mighty promotion of these labels were so stupid. There was no substantial proof. That was the biggest turn-off. Their arguments about free will and predestination and grace was laughable. It's as if they think they know the answers to all the mysteries of life and even death! Have they experienced death yet? They're so certain about something they haven't even experienced yet. Done ranting.

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