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(Written in the third person to encompass our relationship equally)

 

We were the perfect christian couple.

 

Cowabungajones was the golden child of his small Midwestern town. He participated in and led multiple missions trips, volunteered with his church youth group after graduating from high school, and even played the role of interim youth pastor for another local church. All of this was before he transferred to a bible college when he was 20. During the two years at this college, he was active in campus leadership, as he was the Vice President of the student body organization. Bible college was a wonderful time for him, filled with friends, respect, and purpose. Within weeks of graduating with a double major in bible and christian education, he began a full-time position in the youth ministry at one of the largest churches in the metro area. During his three and a half years there, he led the 100-student ministry on national and international trips, retreats, conventions, and service projects. He proposed to and married his wife during this time. Life was everything he had hoped for.

 

Prysm had a similar background. She was active in her youth group and participated in nearly every activity available. At 16, she left the youth group and joined adult studies in pursuit of deeper thought. Many adults in the church had high hopes for her future. These expectations were no secret, and she went to bible college with plans to eventually enter the mission field to work as a support counselor for missionaries and their families. She attended college on a full-ride scholarship, worth approximately $50,000. This scholarship came with many strings attached, and she played recruiter, disciplinarian for other students, campus leader, and dorm hall mentor. This was all required to maintain financial aid. She graduated at 21 with a double major in bible and psychology, and transitioned into a marriage and career in an adolescent drug rehab. She became intellectually bored at this job and returned to graduate school for an MA in English. After being accepted as a GTA, she fell in love with the university.

 

Seven months ago, Prysm and Cowabunga were sitting in a coffeeshop as they often do. She was preparing her syllabus for the upcoming semester and her new role as a university instructor. While she was passionate about the direction of her life, he had been developing a volatile mixture of boredom and discontent with his. For such a high and worthy calling, it felt so empty. His prayers for passion were yet unanswered. All he can remember of that moment now was a sense of boredom. He determined that if spiritual and emotional advancement was impossible, he would dedicate himself to intellectual study to reinforce his faith. He wanted some of the excitement that Prysm had in her academic pursuits. With only an hour till close and half a cup of coffee remaining, Cowabunga revisited a nagging old question he had ignored since his undergraduate years: What’s the deal with women in the bible?

 

..........

 

Six months later, after recognizing the blatant sexism of the god of the bible, the staggering injustice and cruelty of the “good news,” and the obvious contradictions and ridiculous attempts to create fulfilled prophecies out of regurgitated scraps of the old testament, it all came crashing down. Four years to the day after Prysm and Cowabunga began dating at bible college, they admitted to themselves that their belief system had been shattered. The irony of this conclusion is that these two never intended to lose faith. With absolute confidence that the answer to their questions was in the next book or article, they dug deeper and deeper into the dark recesses of the religion. Such issues are like quicksand. The greater one’s struggle for truth, the less one is free to retreat. The only way back is through the greatest breach of intellectual integrity. One must either ignore the issues raised, continue the struggle indefinitely until rigorously truthful answers are obtained, or accept the realistic conclusion: Christianity is a farce.

 

In seeking to save the integrity of their minds, they lost their souls.

 

What to do, when one is a pastor who doesn’t believe in god? Until this breaking point, Cowabunga had been leading a double life of personal hypocrisy and cognitive dissonance. He and Prysm scheduled a meeting with Cowabunga’s direct supervisor and set to work informing their friends and family of their apostasy before these loved ones heard the news from a more unsavory source. Some of these conversations were more difficult than others. Cowabunga’s family is still firmly convinced that he and his [Eve-ill] wife are being deceived by satan in their unbounded arrogance. Needless to say, this has placed an incredible strain on their social support network, which consists/consisted of seminary students, children of bible college professors, ministry staff and volunteers, and other solid believers. For two who had enjoyed the epitome of respect and love in christian social circles, the fall from grace has been a vulnerable and lonely path.

 

After about six meetings with pastors and elders as well as an onslaught of emails, the church asked for Cowabunga’s resignation. While in every meeting these faithful leaders claim absolute certainty of their religion, none have presented a legitimate answer to even one of the pertinent questions. They are quick to accuse the apostates of everything, save entertaining the notion that their own beliefs may be ill-founded. One can’t be bullied or guilted into believing the sky is pink when it clearly is not, and these tactics are utterly ineffective. Cowabunga and Prysm have been the recipients of anger, frustration, pity, and prayers, but never answers.

 

The most difficult aspect of this ordeal has nothing to do with the loss of a social network or financial security. Such things come and go. The destruction of a worldview, however, is an enduring scar. Prysm and Cowabunga are reconstructing their thoughts every day. They now know what it truly means to suffer for their beliefs. Yet, truth is a greater reward than any fictitious security blanket.

 

...........

 

Tomorrow we will attend our first atheist event at a local pub. It’s been a long, confusing journey to this point. We have sacrificed everything. However, we have found some unexpected joys. Our marriage is even more amazing than it usually is, as our love has been proven during this trial by fire. The stress has only drawn us closer. We are anticipating a move away from this tainted place to a new city, hopefully not in the Midwest. We only have one life each, and we fully intend to make the most of each precious second we have on this earth together. Religion has no claim on us any longer and we refuse to sacrifice our time to a mythology. We are no longer evil, hellbound, sinful failures. Our lives are truly our own, which is the most terrifying and exhilarating adventure we could imagine.

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Rejection from believers for becoming an apostate is a sad but common thing. But it seems you got off well in that you deconverted together. One of the biggest points of conflict I see in these Ex-testimonies comes when one spouse does all the investigation while the other just goes about their unquestioning life. The end result of this is a newly deconverted atheist married to a still firmly believing Xian...and it rarely ends well.

 

I think your both in the right mind to move away and start a new life. The sad fact is once you have turned away from the flock in the minds of those still in it you are now EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEVIIIILLLLL and the only thing that can change their minds is for you to either convert back or deconvert them...and the chances of either happening are slim. You are both educated. You could make it in the secular west of California/Oregon/Washington if you tried. I hope the best for the both of you and that you will be pleasantly surprised to find out how easy it is to get on with your life and forget all about the fundyland once you have moved to a more secular society.

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Guest QuidEstCaritas?

I lost everything.

 

Welcome, and know you are not alone in your trials.

 

The bible says something about leaving everything behind in order to follow Jesus, who we all used to believe was the Truth... The irony is sad indeed at times. Especially because being intellectually honest can be so utterly divisive when there is no tolerance from other people for your newfound understanding. It is precisely because X-tianity is so black and white that you and your husband not believing is considered an imminent threat to everyone else. If it wasn't so black and white, then why would they feel so threatened? And liberalism doesn't help that much either because the liberals view the nonspiritual as "merely" another dogmatic threat too. There's just so much "us" vs. "them" inherent in religious ways of thinking. The great thing about facing reality as a freethinker is that we can all be fairly certain we will all meet the same fate, and that it will not be more or less merciful or more or less just for any one of us. It will be the same across the board.

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Welcome to the both of you! I thoroughly enjoyed reading your story! I think we can all relate to many points you've raised. And I may be a bit biased here...but I think u should move to Spokane :)

 

Deb

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I am amazed and so glad that you both went through your deconversion together. That is truly astounding. Would it be so wrong to say that you have both been "blessed" with each other? :P (by what or who I have no clue...)

 

Congratulations and be very thankful that you have each other in this difficult time. I hope you can continue to grow and explore together.

 

That atheist meeting at the pub should be interesting. Let me know if you really find it all that different from church. I found the social environment quite similar during my first bar experience.

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Guest QuidEstCaritas?
Deb and Jedah are right! The West Coast is the place to be!!! Leave behind the smell of cow shit and head toward the sound of pounding surf!!!!

 

 

Ok. I lol'ed.

 

Anyway welcome Prysm.

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Deb and Jedah are right! The West Coast is the place to be!!! Leave behind the smell of cow shit and head toward the sound of pounding surf!!!!

 

Ha!! U do realize V.C. that I am from the cow shit capital of the world, right?? When you drive into Tillamook and smell it, they used to say "Smells like money!" Notsomuch anymore though, as I think farming profits are in the shitter now :)

 

Deb

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I wanted to say that I am glad that the both of you were able to go through the deconversion process together.

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Welcome to freedom -- Welcome, both of you!

 

I believe yours is the first double-dose deconversion story we've had on this board, and it is a bright, hopeful, movingly written, deeply rewarding thing to read.

 

I would give anything to be able to send it to my daughter and her husband, but they are still, unfortunately, too bound by the bonds you two have finally broken.

 

Congratualtions!

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Prysm, I am so happy for the two of you! Your story is simply amazing and as I told you before, I think you are both incredibly brave. You had some huge hurdles to overcome and it sounds as if you did so with strength and integrity.

 

I read your post this morning and thought about it a couple of times today. I find myself smiling thinking about how awesome it must be to start over in a new place, with a new outlook on life, and your best friend by your side. I wish for much happiness for both of you and I hope you will hang around and keep us all updated as you go through your transition. Congratulations!

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....After about six meetings with pastors and elders as well as an onslaught of emails, the church asked for Cowabunga’s resignation. While in every meeting these faithful leaders claim absolute certainty of their religion, none have presented a legitimate answer to even one of the pertinent questions. They are quick to accuse the apostates of everything, save entertaining the notion that their own beliefs may be ill-founded. One can’t be bullied or guilted into believing the sky is pink when it clearly is not, and these tactics are utterly ineffective. Cowabunga and Prysm have been the recipients of anger, frustration, pity, and prayers, but never answers.

 

The most difficult aspect of this ordeal has nothing to do with the loss of a social network or financial security. Such things come and go. The destruction of a worldview, however, is an enduring scar. Prysm and Cowabunga are reconstructing their thoughts every day. They now know what it truly means to suffer for their beliefs. Yet, truth is a greater reward than any fictitious security blanket. ....

 

Welcome to both of you - really enjoyed your post and your words quoted above speak volumes concerning the deconversion process.

 

And wow, evolving together is such a gift! Hope to hear more from y'all. :thanks:

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Wow. What a great story. I am having issues with my wife right now concerning my unbelief. She is not a churchgoing christian, but she still can't understand my viewpoint. I try not to force my thoughts on her (like the xians), but it is still frustrating to hear her say things like, "I believe in God...just because there has to be something else out there when we die" But she won't take the time to read and search for alternate explanations. "Just because" drives me nuts

 

Welcome Prysm. Thanks for sharing

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Thanks for the support, all! Our atheist meetup group last night was good. It wasn't amazing, but it definitely was a tiny flickering light at the end of an agonizingly long tunnel. Since we've been so shunned and hear only silence from those who previously "loved" us so much, we've missed most of the aggravating stuff. Tonight, though, we met with a friend who informed us of all the anger from those we left behind. I just don't get that, you know? Why anger? If I thought someone was confused and going to hell for it, I would be sad! Angry? What's wrong with their mental processes? It just goes to show how incredibly selfish the faith is. They love you as long as you benefit them in some way. They just keep repeating "they have a 'heart condition'" and "they're angry and immoral now" without even wondering what our questions are or talking to us in person. It's just so frustrating. And my own mother is texting and calling our friends to encourage them to "stay strong" in the faith in spite of us, when she seemed fine when she talked to me. I guess she wants to drive off the few people who still care about us for their own good. Ugh. I just want to beat my head against a wall. Whatever. Thanks, exchristian folks, for being so caring and willing to listen to the same old stories over and over again.

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As for the anger, a lot of us have a suspicion that it may be a defensive mechanism. I think a lot of Christians are aware of the fact somewhere in the swirling whirlpool of their mind filled with cognitive dissonance that their beliefs are not as watertight as they profess them to be. Most Christians are not idiots. I am sure you have already noticed this, but oftentimes the same christians making up those horrendously invalid arguments in defense of christianity are also completely capable of normal reasoning outside of the subject of religion. The hatred and fear that xians push onto apostates may actually be a form of psychological projection due to their own internal struggle with the faith.

 

Of course, as much as I like to say that this is how it is I tend to keep away from it. The thing is, I hate it when christians try to read into the minds of nonbelievers with trash like "You don't believe in my 2000 year old book because you want to be evil and have no justification taken towards you" and because of this, even if my suspicions are likely to be correct, I don't want to be no better then them.

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Well I feel its time I chimed in on this post. Prysm told our story very accurately. It has now been 3 weeks since I worked in a church as a full time youth pastor. During this time it seems as though every other day a new Christian wants to join the apologetic "debate" while another leaves mumbling something about "having faith" or my "heart condition" on the way out the door of rational thought. I have been verbally assaulted by angry parents who once entrusted me to mentor their child. I have lost my job and thus our financial security. I have lost respect amongst what used to be a large and thriving social network of Christians. I am now distrusted and seemingly untouchable. /sigh Its been a rough ride.

 

I say all of the above because of this: I am not sorry for any of it. I would not change a damn thing.

 

My thanks to all of you for the support you have voiced on this thread. As a former pastor and student of the bible, I hope to offer some of my thoughts to these forums after things calm down a bit for me. Until then, may the joy and fear that reality produces drive you to new heights in this life.

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Wow, Cowabunga & Prysm - fabulous story, and very close to home, since it resembles my husband's & mine so closely (even down the angry accusations of, "arrogance" from family members). We, too, hope to start attending the local atheist meetups soon, but trying to find a location appropriate for bringing along our 4 little ones (5 & under) makes it difficult. :) You guys hang in there; as I keep telling myself, this is the hard part, then it gets better. I'm still struggling to get through each day as I imagine over and over my Dad crying, as I'm told he did, when he read our letter explaining why we left faith behind. The feeling of helplessness threatens to take me over sometimes . . . I never wanted to cause him to hurt, but I didn't know any way around it.

 

Shit, I'd better quit before I start crying. Thanks so much for sharing your story. It's great to know of another couple who made this journey together.

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Welcome, Cowabunga!

Until then, may the joy and fear that reality produces drive you to new heights in this life.

 

I love this sentence! This is exactly what I feel like I am trying to do. I have enjoyed Prysm's posts and look forward to hearing more from you in the future. I find your story extremely inspiring. I know you have had some difficult times since your "coming out" meant the loss of your job. And, I'm sure there are still some challenges ahead, but the thrill of building a new life together, free of delusion, must be incredibly exciting. I can't wait to hear more about the transition.

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Beautiful story you two! :woohoo: Welcome to your bright new dawn, complete with truth and minus superstitious hoop-la.

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Thanks for the support, all! Our atheist meetup group last night was good. It wasn't amazing, but it definitely was a tiny flickering light at the end of an agonizingly long tunnel. Since we've been so shunned and hear only silence from those who previously "loved" us so much, we've missed most of the aggravating stuff. Tonight, though, we met with a friend who informed us of all the anger from those we left behind. I just don't get that, you know? Why anger? If I thought someone was confused and going to hell for it, I would be sad! Angry? What's wrong with their mental processes? It just goes to show how incredibly selfish the faith is. They love you as long as you benefit them in some way. They just keep repeating "they have a 'heart condition'" and "they're angry and immoral now" without even wondering what our questions are or talking to us in person. It's just so frustrating. And my own mother is texting and calling our friends to encourage them to "stay strong" in the faith in spite of us, when she seemed fine when she talked to me. I guess she wants to drive off the few people who still care about us for their own good. Ugh. I just want to beat my head against a wall. Whatever. Thanks, exchristian folks, for being so caring and willing to listen to the same old stories over and over again.

 

What a fabulous and well written story. Thank you. What a hideously difficult process this must be for you. Your comment about Christianity being a selfish faith got my attention. You are right - it is indeed a very selfish religion by its very nature. I wonder how many people would still follow it if there was no promise of personal eternal reward in the afterlife?

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Thanks for the support, all! Our atheist meetup group last night was good. It wasn't amazing, but it definitely was a tiny flickering light at the end of an agonizingly long tunnel. Since we've been so shunned and hear only silence from those who previously "loved" us so much, we've missed most of the aggravating stuff. Tonight, though, we met with a friend who informed us of all the anger from those we left behind. I just don't get that, you know? Why anger? If I thought someone was confused and going to hell for it, I would be sad! Angry? What's wrong with their mental processes? It just goes to show how incredibly selfish the faith is. They love you as long as you benefit them in some way. They just keep repeating "they have a 'heart condition'" and "they're angry and immoral now" without even wondering what our questions are or talking to us in person. It's just so frustrating. And my own mother is texting and calling our friends to encourage them to "stay strong" in the faith in spite of us, when she seemed fine when she talked to me. I guess she wants to drive off the few people who still care about us for their own good. Ugh. I just want to beat my head against a wall. Whatever. Thanks, exchristian folks, for being so caring and willing to listen to the same old stories over and over again.

 

What a fabulous and well written story. Thank you. What a hideously difficult process this must be for you. Your comment about Christianity being a selfish faith got my attention. You are right - it is indeed a very selfish religion by its very nature. I wonder how many people would still follow it if there was no promise of personal eternal reward in the afterlife?

 

I was just thinking about this yesterday . . . I actually think that selfishness has little to do with the visceral reaction that Christians often have in response to a loved one's deconversion. I think their anger has more to do with fear. If someone so committed to the faith could leave it behind, then it raises many doubts (whether they consciously acknowledge them or not) as to the authenticity of their own, "salvation." My own mother's angry reaction included several references to the idea that we'd, "never really known him [God]" if we could so, "easily" turn our backs on him. I believe that's wishful thinking on her part. She'd rather believe that our faith was just a sham, than to have to examine the possibility that we had valid reasons for abandoning it.

 

Also, the anger may stem from a sense of frustration and helplessness, because they know there's nothing they can do to bring you back. If you were just, "backslidden," doing bad stuff but still possessing some fear of God, they could potentially talk you back into the fold. But since you've conveyed to them that you rationally weighed the evidence and left Christianity fully cognizant of your decision, they have nothing to throw at you. No guilt or fearmongering will work, so they resort to anger. In our experience, not one single Christian friend or relative has tried to give us evidence to contradict our decision. Some have responded in anger, some have been completely silent on the issue, and one sweet friend was at least partially understanding, but told us that she, "didn't worry about contradictions in the Bible" because she had experienced God personally, and that was enough for her. What I find amusing are the ones who've told us they still want to be friends, but offer a preemptive warning that they, "won't debate" with us. Wimps. :)

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I completely agree that the anger stems from fear. Unfortunately, it still comes out the same way at us. I think there's something terrifying about the idea that someone who knows far more about your faith than you do has determined that it isn't sound. I recently had a facebook discussion with a couple who are very well educated... but not in theology. When I mentioned the theology of soteriology I really hit a nerve, and their calm discussion got ruffled. I wasn't trying to be a smartass or anything, but they were talking to me like I just didn't understand the finer points of salvation, when they were the ones with a rudimentary knowledge.

 

Both sets of our parents have a very childish (not childlike, and not a compliment) concept of theology. They just haven't ever really studied it. It's hard when you have to point out A) where their ideas are actually very deviant from accepted [Protestant] theology and B ) why even the acceptable theology doesn't work. It's hard to be doubly wrong, especially because it highlights just how unconcerned they really are with the faith they are so angry that we left. If you care about something, you learn about it. We just cared and learned enough to watch it disintegrate under scrutiny. They haven't even begun to care enough to search for truth. Embarrassment/Shame -> Fear -> Anger.

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I completely agree that the anger stems from fear. Unfortunately, it still comes out the same way at us.

Yes, and there's no excuse for that reaction, even if it is understandable. I certainly don't excuse the behavior of Christians who react to deconverts in anger, but I do try my best to empathize with their feelings.

 

Both sets of our parents have a very childish (not childlike, and not a compliment) concept of theology. They just haven't ever really studied it. It's hard when you have to point out A) where their ideas are actually very deviant from accepted [Protestant] theology and B ) why even the acceptable theology doesn't work. It's hard to be doubly wrong, especially because it highlights just how unconcerned they really are with the faith they are so angry that we left. If you care about something, you learn about it. We just cared and learned enough to watch it disintegrate under scrutiny. They haven't even begun to care enough to search for truth. Embarrassment/Shame -> Fear -> Anger.

That's a great point. My mom's concept of theology isn't very thorough (hence her angry reaction), but my father's is. Perhaps that's why his reaction hasn't seemed to be anger, just intense sadness. I experience waves of depression every few days when I allow myself to think about his devastation concerning our deconversion. He's such a devout, humble man, and I know he is begging god to save our souls every time he thinks of it. I only wish I had someone to beg to show him the truth.

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