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Fear Of Learning About Other Religions


Skeptic
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I was raised as a Christian and, like most people here, I was taught that xianity was the only true religion and all others were basically satan worship. Now, I am an atheist, but I still have this weird fear of even reading about other religions. Earlier, I was reading about Wicca and I noticed I felt kind of freaked out about it. I feel comfortable as an atheist for now; this is mostly for curiosity's sake. I guess this irrational fear is just another part of deconversion, but how can I get past it? Has anyone else experienced this?

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I was raised as a Christian and, like most people here, I was taught that xianity was the only true religion and all others were basically satan worship. Now, I am an atheist, but I still have this weird fear of even reading about other religions. Earlier, I was reading about Wicca and I noticed I felt kind of freaked out about it. I feel comfortable as an atheist for now; this is mostly for curiosity's sake. I guess this irrational fear is just another part of deconversion, but how can I get past it? Has anyone else experienced this?

 

I don't know. But Wicca is a bit strange to me. I think of it as a made up religion, because no one is really a pagan in that sense. I have a whole theory about Wicca that I could get into but I doubt you want to hear that right now.

 

I'd take the time to enjoy being free. Of course there are going to be fears. That's not irrational or bad. You're a stranger in a strange land now. It's only natural that you will suffer a freakout here and there.

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I love reading about other religions and I find myself trying to learn as much as possible about all of them. I would recommend just to keep reading if that's what you really want to do and eventually you'll get past it.

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In the past I would have been too worried about scary demons attaching themselves to me, as I would have "opened a door" to them as the result of such a foolish transgression. So the possibility of them really pulling one over on me, or by extension on my church (which I saw myself as the hidden guardian of), kept me from going there. I could only ever read about other religions on Wikipedia, or in a real encyclopedia or something, either out of cautious curiosity or to gather "intel" on the Enemy's deceptions. To pick up and read through an actual hard copy of a religious text, I thought, would have been substantially more dangerous.

 

Now I'm mostly indifferent. I'll read about mythology from an objective, scholarly standpoint at times. As for old religious texts themselves, unless it's bad-ass Viking stuff with dudes getting beheaded by werewolves and shit, I could care less. Who wants to read all that boring Buddhism/Taoism stuff? Give me blood and gore by the motherfuckin' bucket load. :brutal_01:

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I initially had that reaction, like it was something forbidden that I shouldn't be doing (and what would others think of me if they saw me reading *that*). Doing it over time helped me break that pattern of thought and that feeling. In other words, encounter it in ever increasing chunks until it isn't a problem.

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I agree that it is a conditioned response. These things take time to reprogram, especially if you were a believer for a long time. I am now actually enjoying some of the wicca websites due to the cool and cute graphics they often have. I don't believe in it, but I don't fear it either. And I actually have found quite a few that are kind people that take their beliefs seriously (honor nature, whatever you do to others will return to you 3 times over).

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Funny story about Wicca. When I was a Christian, witchcraft, tarot cards, etc. were extremely tempting "forbidden fruits" for me. During my teenage years, I would sometimes secretly browse wicca sites, only to quickly log off and beg god for forgiveness for my "sin." A few years ago my family spent part of the summer at my Wiccan/Buddhist/Hindu/you-name-it-she's practiced-it aunt's house. I found her spellbooks irrisistable and secretly copied many spells into notebooks. On the way from her house I "repented" and shoved my notebooks deep into the bowels of my dresser. I always thought that if I weren't a Christian, I would certainly be a witch. Well, the unthinkable happened: I lost my faith. And you know what? I don't really care about Wicca anymore. Losing my belief in religion has caused me to give up every kind of superstitious belief! I wouldn't mind dabbling in magic rituals or tarot cards for fun, but I don't entertain any kind of serious belief in anything other than science. Go figure.

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With my heavy fundamentalist background, it was a liberating experience for me to go to the New Age bookstore and have the Tarot cards read. That was totally forbidden and would have been considered witchcraft. Well, nothing happened to me that was bad.

 

Its all a lie that God punishes people who do these activities and I proved it from my own experience. Nothing beats that.

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With my heavy fundamentalist background, it was a liberating experience for me to go to the New Age bookstore and have the Tarot cards read. That was totally forbidden and would have been considered witchcraft. Well, nothing happened to me that was bad.

 

Its all a lie that God punishes people who do these activities and I proved it from my own experience. Nothing beats that.

 

 

As I was deconverting I made a quick homemade tarot deck and did a few personal readings just for fun. I was nervous at first, but lighting didn't crackle, the roof didn't collapse, demons didn't start terrorizing me... It really is wonderful to live without fear of divine retribution for straying outside the Fundie bubble.

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Everything freaks me out. Absolutely everything. I read it all and allow myself to explore, or not explore, at my discression. But it all still freaks me out. Emotionally I'm about ten years old. That's today.

 

Some days nothing freaks me out and I'm mature and on top of my game.

 

But not today.

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During my teenage years, I would sometimes secretly browse wicca sites, only to quickly log off and beg god for forgiveness for my "sin."

 

With my heavy fundamentalist background, it was a liberating experience for me to go to the New Age bookstore and have the Tarot cards read. That was totally forbidden and would have been considered witchcraft. Well, nothing happened to me that was bad.

 

Its all a lie that God punishes people who do these activities and I proved it from my own experience. Nothing beats that.

 

Yep, who need a God to punish when the conscience laden with guilt is so willing to do it for him?

My wife an I are now reading a forum on reincarnation and children's accounts of past lives. Very interesting stuff. We've only told one Christian friend about it, and she basically said "Well I'm glad I'm certain what I believe." We think that our links to the Christian friends we have had may be starting to dissolve. That may be for the best, but I hope to plant seeds of other possibilities before then.

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I think it's wise to come over it. Like Daniel Dennett says, those religions have formed under evolutionary pressure, go and study them! How are you gonna understand them, if you do not take into account how they are formed. About what are attractive religious memes and what not. I would teach religions to my kids, if I ever get kids. Especially the ones involving magic mushrooms. :-)

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  • 2 weeks later...

I still have some fear of other religions, but I'm working on getting over it. Last friday I visited a Wiccan and pagan, bookstore and supply shop. Some of the robes were very cool and they had some awesome looking statues of some of the "pagan" gods. They also sold crystals, incense and other ritual supplies. Bought an ounce of some herb called Gotu Kola which is good for memory, and I'm going to make myself some tea from it to see if it helps. Some of the other stuff they had was Aura photography, and tarot card, and psychic readings.

 

I've thought of getting an aura photograph done just of curiosity, and would probably be open to a tarot card reading as well.

 

On their calendar, they also have workshops on magick, and while I don't know that I believe in it that much, it might be interesting to attend one.

 

Blessed be!

Tab

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k up and read through an actual hard copy of a religious text, I thought, would have been substantially more dangerous.

Now I'm mostly indifferent. I'll read about mythology from an objective, scholarly standpoint at times. As for old religious texts themselves, unless it's bad-ass Viking stuff with dudes getting beheaded by werewolves and shit, I could care less. Who wants to read all that boring Buddhism/Taoism stuff? Give me blood and gore by the motherfuckin' bucket load. :brutal_01:

 

While I share your love for norse legends of head crackin' and jawjackin, you might want to give the Tao Te ching a try

After you get through with it, your head feels a little funny, but in a good way.

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Ok, cautionary note time:

 

While I actively encourage studying and experimenting with many religions and practices, one should definitely do their homework, especially when it comes to more ecstatic practices, and the possible use of substances, in both the mind-altering sense and others (magical brews etc.)

 

I've ran into too many stories of train-wrecks by people that thought all natural == safe and/or good. I'd point out that cyanide, arsenic, digitalis, etc are all natural, and decidedly not good for you.

 

I am not saying that you haven't done your homework/gotten good guidance, but it is a decent PSA nonetheless. Be safe, be sane. This isn't to discourage people from trying things out, just do it in a way that doesn't result in an ER trip.

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