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robbie

'lapsed'

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Reading all the testimonies and threads about people's journies away from Christianity, I'm always struck by the fact that everyone else seems to have gone through a definite process of leaving religion, and seem to have stopped believing before they stopped practising.

 

I was just wondering if anyone else left their religion the way I did...I stopped practising, but still believed in my religion. Then after a while of thinking I would return to Catholicism I got further and further away. At some point I started to realise I didn't really believe it any more, and stopped calling myself 'Catholic'. I hadn't prayed, been to church or tried to follow my religion's teachings in a while anyway, but I had started off as a Catholic 'on sabbatical' if you will and am now an agnostic with little intention of returning to organised religion.

 

I do feel that perhaps my deconversion is somewhat less meaningful because of this, and that I'm open to the criticism that I have been somehow tempted away by 'worldly' things and lost my faith because of this. Now that I look back, there were some serious reasons and dissillusionment behind the start of my journey out, and since then I have found many more reasons to reject religion. Still, I feel I'm on much more shaky ground than the rest of you guys.

 

So, did anyone else follow a similar path?

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I left the church mentally but not physically. I kept my unbelief a secret for a few months then my parents found out and they made me still go to church which they do to this day as well but I didn't follow the church's dogma(Southern Baptist) and I never mentally went back to the church.

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I stopped going to church when I was 6 and then worked in one with my grandmother from 12 to 25. I never really attended as a church member, but I had the religion.

 

So, I had the religion much longer than I had the church. :)

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I do feel that perhaps my deconversion is somewhat less meaningful because of this, and that I'm open to the criticism that I have been somehow tempted away by 'worldly' things and lost my faith because of this. Now that I look back, there were some serious reasons and dissillusionment behind the start of my journey out, and since then I have found many more reasons to reject religion. Still, I feel I'm on much more shaky ground than the rest of you guys.

 

So, did anyone else follow a similar path?

 

While I did not follow a similar path, I do not think you should feel that your deconversion was any less meaningful than anyone else's. Deconversion, and the way a person does it, is highly personal and you probably should not attempt to compare how meaningful one kind is to another. The only person who really knows how meaningful it was, is the person who went through it.

 

I often felt mine was less meaningful because I pretended to believe for so many years after. But I've abandoned such feelings as pointless these days. So I felt less secure for exactly the opposite reason you claim.

 

People will use those reasons to explain your apostasy regardless of how you left. And, like all of us, the start is usually when we feel least protected against attack and conversion logic. You'll find your arsenal of information will grow over time and you'll be able to defend your position as easily as the rest of us.

 

Good luck.

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I don't think that everyone else has stopped believing first and then stopped practising. I started questioning while still practising, then more or less practised less and questioned more, but there were definite phases, since it was a long process.

 

There's also a category of ex-c's that seems to be well represented here who questioned/stopped believing before they were of age to leave home and decided it wasn't prudent to defy their parents with open apostasy.

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I think I stopped believing before I consciously realized I'd stopped believing. And I stopped practicing LONG before I becamse consciously aware that my beliefs did not "follow" any acknowledged religion. Becoming aware that I had lost faith in faith did not panic me...it interested me. I knew I'd been living for quite a while without relying on faith or religion at all....and I hadn't blown up or been consumed by dread or impending doom. I also knew I had certainly not become an amoral, slavering, inconsiderate, consciousless animal as a result of "falling away"....if anything it was the opposite. I and I alone was totally responsible for the type of person I was. And I am the only one I have to answer to. And since I respect myself....that means something. You don't want to disappoint people you respect.

 

So I did what I always do when interested or intrigued. I got on the internet and started looking for books that reflected who I had become. In a roundabout way, I found this forum in the process.

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I stopped believing long before I stopped practicing. And then I lapsed back into the belief and stopped practicing.

And then I just stopped both all together.

 

But just because you think your ex-testimony may be different than others, it doesn't mean that it is less important.

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I don't think practicing necessarily means believing. People will talk to me about having "changed my beliefs," but I think I had no beliefs to change. I practiced religion for nearly fifty years and I still go to church occassionally, but I don't feel like I ever truly believed key xian tenets. I would say the most important Christian tenet of faith is belief in Jesus's death for salvation. That never ever made sense to me, even as a child. I accepted baptism on the promise that I would eventually understand the things I did not understand at the time. I was not emotionally in a place where taking a stand for my beliefs was an option. The consequences of doing so would have been horrendous on the emotional level. I could not have done it. Thus, it was better to take it on faith and trust.

 

But I am finally at a place where I feel the strength to be honest. In fact, it came tumbling out in the most unexpected way and there was no going back. Were it not for the judgment of Christians that I was not a good enough believer, I am not sure where I would stand today. They forced me to make some pretty big decisions. No. Let me correct that. They responded way out of proportion. They asked questions and then they did not like the answers. Then they started treating me in ways that affected me very seriously strongly.

 

In short, I tried for a lifetime to believe and I practiced faithfully for decades, stopped practicing, still believed that god existed, found this site, felt no pressure to make any decisions but found I identify very strongly with statements made by atheists. Got rejected by family. Answered some more questions and got some more flak. Finally caught on what my mistake was but it was too late. Spent several years studying theology. Still no answers from the xians beyond what they have been saying for millennia. Was convinced several years ago that prayer was wrong. Since my people's prayer is all silent no one noticed. I went through the motions when with them but didn't pray. I live alone so people don't know exactly how I live.

 

Haven't gone to church regularly in quite a number of years. Officially deconverted this past September. I started going to church again once in a while for the community. People think I'm back with god. I think that is fine. They don't ask so I don't tell. They are sure to find out sometime and I know I am not the only person who has attended that church for the community. Christians always trust that the seed will be sown and eventually take root. I don't see that happening. I have not told my family. I don't think they deserve to know. They would not understand anyway.

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I left the church years before I stopped believing. Is that what you mean?

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I did lots of study, reading and thinking about what I believe in before I stepped out and told everybody that I am atheist. If I need to reaffirm my atheism, I go to church.

 

It works for me.

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Stopped practicing, evolving to not believing.

I've stopped practicing for a long time now (and never really 'prayed'); tried to attend, but couldn't find a church that will accept me and my particular restrictions, but am slowly on the road of disbelieving. Intellectually, I can go either way-fully believe in the 'Strict' (my term) Reformed theology (which is a mental exercise anyway) and not practice, or intellectually know it's all myths and not believe. I do miss the long days and years I studied the theology and discussed it with other inmates and 'street' contacts, but in my experience, when asked to 'put up or shut up' the churches have, hmm, not been accomodating or welcoming. Not really a valid reason to disbelieve, but adding fuel to the fire. I do know that my interests now are more toward this forum and the forums for my 'gods'-PPC and Dahon bikes.

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I left the church years before I stopped believing. Is that what you mean?

 

Yeah, pretty much. I left church because I was fed up with trying, and failing, to follow the rules. But I still believed in the rules for a year or so.

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I went a similar path. I'm still at my Christian college where I began my deconversion, but I stopped practicing (going to chapel, reading my bible, etc) before I actually stopped believing. It felt like a gradual acceptance of everything being crap instead of a jolt into reality.

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Yeah, I believed I was a hellbound sinner for nearly a year (and stopped doing churchy things throughout the course of that time) before I really stopped believing. It was a gradual process.

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Reading all the testimonies and threads about people's journies away from Christianity, I'm always struck by the fact that everyone else seems to have gone through a definite process of leaving religion, and seem to have stopped believing before they stopped practising.

 

I was just wondering if anyone else left their religion the way I did...I stopped practising, but still believed in my religion. Then after a while of thinking I would return to Catholicism I got further and further away. At some point I started to realise I didn't really believe it any more, and stopped calling myself 'Catholic'. I hadn't prayed, been to church or tried to follow my religion's teachings in a while anyway, but I had started off as a Catholic 'on sabbatical' if you will and am now an agnostic with little intention of returning to organised religion.

 

I do feel that perhaps my deconversion is somewhat less meaningful because of this, and that I'm open to the criticism that I have been somehow tempted away by 'worldly' things and lost my faith because of this. Now that I look back, there were some serious reasons and dissillusionment behind the start of my journey out, and since then I have found many more reasons to reject religion. Still, I feel I'm on much more shaky ground than the rest of you guys.

 

So, did anyone else follow a similar path?

 

You shouldn't feel that way. I'm glad you've found a better way for yourself.

I would have liked to have stopped practicing, but I was a minor when I deconverted, and was forced to hide it because of what I knew would happen if I let on. I was forced into hiding, and had little choice about continuing to practice. I would have loved to have the luxury to distance myself from the church at an earlier point, but didn't have the means.

I've seen Jesus Internment Camps, and I knew that was my fate if I had been found out.

Everyone walks their own path, and yours is no more or less profound than anyone elses.

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I actually went through a relapse before I definitively deconverted over a year ago. To me it was more about familiarity and remaining within my comfort zone as opposed to actually growing in the faith.

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Was a fundy as a kid, a liberal Christian in college, then stopped practicing. Came to a point where I realized it was all a myth, although I had tried going back to church to make my family happy. All that did was make me miserable.

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