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Deconversion From Catholicism


ShackledNoMore
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I read recently that among xian denominations, there is a particularly high apostasy rate from Roman Catholicism. It always seemed there was a pretty fair representation of ex-catholics here, and RubySera's poll really seems to bear that out so far.

 

Then there's the conclusion from a lot of folks, that most catholics tend to be pretty mellow. This is also consistent with some rather extensive personal experience: my earlier childhood catholic upbringing was very mellow (until I was yanked to an AOG church). By chance, I even ended up marrying a catholic, who is as mellow as they come, never feels compelled to agree with the Vatican, doesn't go to mass, etc.

 

I hear stories that about really fanatical, off the wall, nut job catholics out there, and believe there are somewhere, but I have never personally met one--the most overzealous catholic I've met was probably equivalent to a "laid back" (relatively speaking--in this case it means still kind of obnoxious) Ass of God follower.

 

Moreover, reading posts from members here, some seem to have come from these horrible, overzealous catholic backgrounds, while others have come from the laid back version.

 

I believe that if I had never been yanked from catholic to Ass of God, that I more would have drifted away, rather than so actively embraced my lack of beliefs, maybe even remaining an STBC (supposed to be catholic) and I probably wouldn't have sought out or found a forum like this.

 

So maybe you ex-catholics and others can help make sense out of this:

 

Why the higher rate of apostasy for catholics compared to other denominations? Why wouldn't the rate be similar to apostasy from say the Methodist church, at least for those catholics that are laid back?

 

Where are the overzealous catholics to be found? How common are they? What's it like being one? Are their pocket communities of zealots, or do they almost always tend to be individual families? This must be one source of that infamous debilitating catholic guilt. Do you think most ex-catholics come from the overzealous ranks or the laid back ranks? For that matter, are there really tongue speaking catholics, or was that just a lie from my AOG church?

 

Do ex-catholics from a less intense background feel as betrayed and angry over the indoctrination you received as those from an overzealous background and hard hitting evangelical protestant religions? Any other thoughts and insights about being an apostate from Catholicism, compared with other denominations? Why are there so many?

 

I'm looking forward to reading your thoughts and insights!

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Those are some great questions. I'll have to think about them before I can respond fully. It seems that there are more former Catholics than ever on this site, so I'm interested to see what other people have to say.

 

I think DarthOkkata gave us a great snapshot of what it's like to be Catholic in his post about confession. Near the end, he said: "Being catholic is basically being trained to be disapointed, you get used to it, and believe harder in a vain attempt to make it better."

 

That is so true, it's truer than true. Catholic Disappointment Training can permeate one's entire life, and I suspect that one can spend an entire lifetime trying to eradicate it from one's lifestyle. There's a lot of fake stuff going on that is hard to believe entirely, even though you try because you were told ever since you could remember that it's true. But most of it is so innocuous that you don't really worry about it too much, at least not to the point that your questioning leads to any kind of catharsis.

 

I fell away, as you suspect you would have, when I turned 18 and found myself traveling in the company of people who didn't go to church. It was pretty easy for me not to go. I didn't think about it too much, I only thought that one day I would feel moved to start praying in earnest and become the kind of "real" religious person my parents were. I would probably still be there if it weren't for a run-in with an AOG-type person who's whacko beliefs made me get serious. I'm sure somebody else could come up with a better explanation for why Protestant denominations are so different. They draw lines between beliefs and tell you that the people on this side of the line are going to heaven and the people on that side are going to hell. If you're a Catholic, you go to heaven because you were baptized as a baby. Then you go to heaven because you went to confession. Then it's because of your first communion, your confirmation, and because you get communion every week. One of my sisters still insists that I'm going to heaven because I made my confirmation in high school. Nobody really gets condemned to hell, unless they are gay or perform abortions in their garage. The pain and suffering is all at the hands of the nuns and your parents. They will beat the hell out of you. After all that, there is no hell to be feared.

 

The zealous Catholics? I think those are our parents, the older ones at least. I think they are nearing extinction. The new Catholics and the new priests tend to preach some kind of universal god who is going to take in the Buddhists and the Muslims as long as they are good people.

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I came from a very relaxed 'Catholic' background...my mum's side of the family are nominally Catholic, but my aunts and uncles aren't actually religious. God is relevant only at baptisms, confirmations, First Holy Communions and funerals. He is relevant at marriages from time to time...but half my family were marrying divorcees or marrying while pregnant so just got married at the Methodist or Anglican church and didn't think anything of it.

 

My nan is a bit more religious, I guess, though she can't get to church anymore. She used to go to Mass every day. I strongly suspect, though, that it's mostly a cultural thing for her too. Bearing in mind that she grew up on a farm in Donegal in the 1930s, she wasn't presented with a huge range of philosophies to choose from. You were Catholic or you were Catholic.

 

My zealousness came from my own mind. I needed to be Catholic to have a sense of identity, and because my dad (raised lax 'Catholic' too) is not religious, and my mum died when I was young, I felt like sort of an outsider in my own community. To compensate for that I became incredibly zealous and, reading up on Catholicism and talking to various die-hard loonies on the Internet, I became very overzealous.

 

It wasn't my family, Catholic friends or even my parish church and priest, all of whom were normal or, as I would have said a few years ago, possible material heretics.

 

I don't feel particularly betrayed or angry...certainly, a lot of people have been through a lot worse than I have. I feel a bit pissed off with myself, for being so uptight for so long, but it's all part of a journey that I can learn from. Plus, it wasn't all bad. Most of what other Catholics (particularly my parish priest) imparted to me was very positive...liberalism, understanding, desire for justice, community values, open-ness, not being judgemental, patience, loving yourself, peacefulness, pride in one's own culture, tradition and heritage...

 

The Vatican, on the other hand, is about as detached from reality and human decency as anyone can be. The very idea that a bunch of elderly celibates talking a dead language can deal with the issues of real human beings is absurd. Fortunately, even if they don't admit it, most priests and bishops have the attitude that the Vatican spews a lot of shit, nobody really listens and they pick up the pieces.

 

I'd say there are so many ex-Catholics mostly because Catholicism includes over half of the world's Christians...so there are roughly as many Catholics as there are Muslims. Also, Catholicism has no much culture (or, rather, many cultures plural) attched to it that most 'Catholics' are really just culturally so.

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I forget the name but for a bit I was talking with a lady who belongs to a really strict sub-church of Catholicism. She had so many problems and insecurities that I wanted to just tell her to drop religion or to go easier on it, but that topic was off-limits for me to comment on. She was married and had two kids.

 

The Old Order Mennonites would say the reason lax Catholics loose their members is that they are so lax and don't really give their people anything that is spiritually nurturing. That is what they say of any easy-going church. Many of the things they say turn out to be so much wishful thinking, or whatever, but not verifiable with reality. More often than not, it is verifiably false when compared against reality.

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I forget the name but for a bit I was talking with a lady who belongs to a really strict sub-church of Catholicism. She had so many problems and insecurities that I wanted to just tell her to drop religion or to go easier on it, but that topic was off-limits for me to comment on. She was married and had two kids.

 

There aren't really any sub-churches as such, but she could possibly be a member of Opus Dei...? Or else maybe she goes to a church run by the Fraternal Society of St. Peter (FSSP) or Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX)...? The latter have actually split from the church and their leaders excommunicated, I think.

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Why the higher rate of apostasy for catholics compared to other denominations? Why wouldn't the rate be similar to apostasy from say the Methodist church, at least for those catholics that are laid back?

 

Perhaps the overall weakness of Big Momma Church is to blame? After all, while the overzealousness of many more fanatical sects can certainly help to drive people out, the Catholic Church™ doesn't have anywhere near the power over the masses it did in times past. Most Catholics are just the cultural variety, not taught to "defend the faith" with insane passion, and as such can be prone to being open minded about other ideas.

 

Where are the overzealous catholics to be found? How common are they? What's it like being one? Are their pocket communities of zealots, or do they almost always tend to be individual families?

 

I'm not sure if they can be pinned down regionally, but where there are Catholics of any kind, you're naturally more likely to find the hardcore nuts. Generally, big cities and those which are found in the North and East of the US, I'd imagine.

 

I don't think they're terribly common. But the lines blur between cultural Catholics who are serious about their skin-deep Catholic identity, and those who are fanatics about the whole damned thing. Yet, as much as the Church would like to see it, zealous Catholicism has been on the way out for many decades, and I don't see that trend reversing anytime soon - ever.

 

This must be one source of that infamous debilitating catholic guilt. Do you think most ex-catholics come from the overzealous ranks or the laid back ranks? For that matter, are there really tongue speaking catholics, or was that just a lie from my AOG church?

 

Catholic guilt certainly comes from the more severe types, just as it does from any Xian sect. Fanaticism about "sin" and human unworthiness breeds that. But I'm not sure whether most ex-Catholics come from the hardcore or mellow ranks. I'd figure it'd be the hardcore ranks, seeing in my own life as how study of Catholic teaching lead me to eventually find many problems and holes in the whole thing, but as I said above, there are plenty of factors in the lives of mellow Catholics which can cause them to leave.

 

Tongue-speaking Catholics? I think I have heard of a few, here and there, during my fervent days, but I never observed any.

 

Do ex-catholics from a less intense background feel as betrayed and angry over the indoctrination you received as those from an overzealous background and hard hitting evangelical protestant religions? Any other thoughts and insights about being an apostate from Catholicism, compared with other denominations? Why are there so many?

 

I don't feel terribly betrayed or angry about my indoctrination, though I certainly do feel as if I were taught lies. I feel more upset at the amount of time my stubborn ass took to wake up and just drop the whole thing.

 

Since I am also an "apostate" from independent evangelicalism, I can say that while even being a fervent Catholic is better than being a fervent fundygelical, I'm just glad to be rid of the whole mess. Believing that humans are inherently prone to evil and worthy of eternal torture right from birth and anytime we fail to please a lazy egomaniac of a god, and trying to encourage others to believe it, is thoroughly disgusting.

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