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Brand New Ex-christian


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I've been reading so many of the posts on here and really enjoyed them all and felt so reassured that I'm not the only person that's left behind Christianity. I'm 16 years old, so I'm one of the younger members, I think.

 

I was adopted at birth by two fundamental Christians. My father was a pastor of a Baptist church. Currently he is a traveling speaker on theology and a professor at a Baptist university. My grandparents on both sides are Christians, as is most of my extended family, though they vary in their extremity. My parents, like "good" Christian parents started their brainwashing early. I remember my dad making me memorize verses such as "All liars are thrown in the lake of fire." (I was quite the liar, so..) He had these flash clards with pictures drawn on them to go along with such lovely verses. I went to church every single Sunday and Wednesday evenings. I watched Christian videos, read Christian books (I learned to read at three...first book? the Bible), and in kindergarden, started at a Christian school. My parents told me when I "sinned" and I tried very hard to be "good". I told them I wanted to be saved, becuase I didn't want to go to hell, but I still wanted to do what I liked.

 

After kindergarden, I went to a public school for about a year, and than started homeschooling. I wanted to avoid getting in trouble with my parents, but I still wanted to have fun. (Horrible of me, eh?) I questioned some things about the Bible, but not as openly as some other stories I read. Like most kids, I viewed my parents as knowledgable, educated human beings. If they believed all this, well than, obviously it was true. I always felt guilty, I always believed that if I died I would be going to hell. I got spanked a ton, occasionally to the point of what I would consider abuse, but I loved my parents. They didn't think I was 'saved' and neither did I. I remember being in church a few times and being told that if I died tonight I would be in hell. I'd pray to be saved, but my actions would remain the same, so I guess I wasn't really saved.

 

In fifth grade I went to public school for a year. I wanted friends, I wanted to be accepted, and obviously that didn't go very well with following all my parents rules. So I lied a ton, cursed up a storm, had a "boyfriend", and had a lot of fun, looking back. Things at home- I got grounded and spanked a lot. One time I said "Oh my god" in front of my mom (complete accident) and she cried, told my dad, and could just feel the disappointment coming from them. I hated that.

 

In sixth grade, I guess the guilt finally got to me, and I went back to homeschooling. I read more Christian books, I tried to be a "better" person. Mostly for my parents sake, but also to relieve my own conscience. I went on like this for a while, still doing stuff they wouldn't approve of behind their backs (reading Harry Potter, watching Pg-13 movies, terrible stuff really *HA*) I went to youth group and made friends they approved of.

 

And than, in eigth grade, I got pneumonia one day and woke up in the middle of the night not breathing. Convinced I was going to die, I prayed for God to "save me" so that I wouldn't go to hell. Obviously I survived, and from than on I was really in to all of it. I read my Bible every day, taking notes. I prayed, I sang Christian songs, I read numerous Christian books. My parents were thrilled. As far as appearences go, I was pretty happy outwardly. However, I started cutting myself and was pretty suicidal. (Obviously Christianity makes people happier......) Parents found out, so I stopped with the cutting and became a bit happier. Any doubts I had I pushed far back into my mind.

 

9th grade really showed the evidence of all the brainwashing. (Parents were so proud) I got baptized into my family's church. I wasn't forced, or even told to do it directly. It was something I wanted to do. I fell in love with a very very fundamental guy. I pretty much lived at church. I helped with the kids, sang in the choir, volunteered for every youth event. I was pro-life, Republican, anti-feminist. I wore long skirts and nearly started wearing a headcovering. (Still cared a little about what people thought, I suppose.) My best friend and my boyfriend were both very encouraging in this. I was so involved in all things church related that I had no time to doubt.

 

Than in 10th grade, my grandma died. My family decided they hated my dad for his chauvinist, pushy, abusive, fundy ways and said they never wanted to see him again. I took that pretty personally, though they didn't mean it towards me. I, of course, was too blind to see that they were right. However, I began to get a tad angry towards God. I looked around at the Christian's I knew and wondered what bad things had happened to them. I wondered how they could appear so happy. I tried to find "joy in God" and "joy in suffering" the best I could. But obviously, it wasn't working. I wondered how at the time in my life when I was "best serving God" the worst things were happening to me. I didn't think he was punishing me. I was taught to attribute "trials" to God "testing us to make sure we are loyal to him and can withstand this". So I finally began to at least see some holes in the brainwashing beliefs.

 

In the spring, my best friend's parents were basically kicked out of our church. I didn't blame it on the church, I blamed it on them. They were always nitpicking on different doctrines and ways of doing things. I was frustrated with them; I didn't think the details mattered. My very religous boyfriend and I broke up. I was angry. Than I took a political science class at a community college. I went in a conservative, and came out very liberal. My dad was always telling me to "witness to people" to "find the errors in what they taught and refute" them. (He's still telling me all this crap.) I didn't want to do that. 1. I didn't want people to hate me and 2. I thought they should be able to have their own beliefs. Sure, I worried about some of my friends going to hell, but I wasn't convinced enough to make a fool of myself. I thought of a few of the objections people had and I didn't know how to refute them. But I wasn't far enough along

 

This past fall, I started going to a public school. By this time my Christian beliefs were so weak. I just didn't want to do it anymore. I didn't want to follow rules. I didn't want to read my Bible. There were more important things to me. Of course, I hid all that from my parents as much as possible. I became close friends with one of the smartest guys in my class, who's an Athiest. He asked me one day "how Christian are you?" and I mumbled something about eveyrone being entitled to their own beliefs. He told me I was basically agnostic. I replied "No, NO. I'm NOT agnostic." To my thinking, I would be going to hell if I were an agnostic. Not to mention the complete disappoinment of my parents.

 

The last few months my parents have gotten more and more pushy about "evangelizing" and telling what's "right" and having a "biblical worldview". I felt kind of stuck- I just wanted to do what I wanted without this horrid fear of forever burning in hell for being myself. I lived (live) one way at school and a completely other way at home. I tried to be good enough for my parents. I was basically an agnostic. I figured if they were right I had plenty of time to figure it out. I saw my parents doing more and more things I found absolutly ridiculous and treating me worse.

 

And than this past week, I was on a long car ride with an acquantince and I randomly asked if he was religous (We were running out of things too talk about!). He said he was raised Catholic, but he's now agnostic. And I said I was raised Christian, but now I'm an agnostic/athiest. It was the first time I ever said that outloud and I wasn't really sure if I meant it. So I decided to find out.

 

I started doing some reading on Richard Dawkins. I'd read The God Delusion in Borders back in October and realized he had a ton of good points. But 16 years of brainwashing beat out a book. However, I went online, I went on the forums. I Googled "religion as child abuse" and read a lot more. So many good arguments against the existence of God! I began to realize that if I had been raised in a Muslim, Morman, etc. home, I would believe that way. I realized that the Christian argument is "the Bible says God is true. But He presumably wrote the Bible". And than it just dawned on me: There is no god. There is no hell. Its all imaginary. There is no heaven. (and I didn't even care!) There's absolutly no proof for any of this! And I have never felt so free in my entire life. I don't have to do anything. I can be a good person for the sake of being a good person. (And I can be a good person, as opposed to what I was told my whole life in that you can't be good without god). I went to youth group last night and it was such an odd experience. All I could think all day was "There's not a god!!! And its great!" I've been reading a ton of philosopy (Nietzsche, Marx) and many other atheist books and writings.

 

Of course, for all the greatness of getting rid of my blindness and guilt, its been so shocking. Its so wierd to think of all the intelligent people I know who buy into all this!

 

And, my parents don't know. And I'm pretty sure I shouldn't tell them until I'm safely moved out and supporting myself. Of course, living "in the closet" isn't fun. I listen to them say the most ridiculous things and just bite my lip. I figure that if I tell them they will make my life as close to hell as I will ever be. I don't really want to deal with that. I went looking for some support on how to live like that and ended up here- its great!

 

Anyhow, I've written a ton, and I'm glad to be here now. :D

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Welcome, EmmaRose.

 

That's an interesting story you have. You seem very smart, and also very mature. I hope you can benefit from joining us.

 

I'm sorry, but I laughed out loud at one sentence of your story:

 

One time I said "Oh my god" in front of my mom (complete accident) and she cried,

 

I just got a picture of a scene from some sitcom, or a Saturday Night Live skit.

 

I agree with you that you should lay low as long as you're living in your folks' home. Doesn't sound like they would take too much rocking of the boat.

 

Hang in.

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Congratulations! You figured it out! I'm actually quite impressed with your story, most people don't have the self-esteem that you do to make the jump that quickly.

Isn't it weird how once you are out, you can't fathom those who are in? It will be very hard to deal with your parents. I faked it for many years before I had to come clean when my Dad asked to read scripture at my wedding. I'd be out for years but that 'dissapointed' look was still a punch in the gut.

 

I remember watching the movie The Matrix when it came out, I was in serious doubt at the time, and for me the message was very powerful that since birth I had been seeing the world through a veil imposed on me. It's funny how many religious types tried to argue that the Matrix was arguing for religion, when it helped me lose mine.

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Welcome EmmaRose! I can relate to so much of your story. You've been through alot already in 16 years.

 

As a side note, one of my younger sisters, who just turned 18 (finally, yaaay!), sort of accidentally told our parents about her being agnostic a couple of months ago (she was still underage and living at home at the time), and her life became very difficult as a result. So your plan to keep the change in your beliefs to yourself until you're on your own is probably wise. On the one hand I am ashamed of myself for not having questioned my faith when I was younger (I'm 25), but on the other I'm relieved in a way that I didn't have to go through that while living at home. Just smile and nod for the next couple of years, and then you can be free.

 

Enjoy these forums - hope you find them to be a great support and encouragement.

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Welcome, Emma! I too can sympathize quite a bit with your own story. I wish you all the best on your continued journey and that you continue to grow and learn.

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Congrats on stepping into the light! :) Just be prepared...this is new so your trials probably aren't over. I felt so liberated at first and a couple months down the line I started getting kinda depressed feeling isolated from everyone I'd known my whole life and thinking about how I had to rework a lot of things like my purpose in life...which led to feeling like I wasn't really doing enough with this one life I get. But through those times of struggle, this is a great forum to get morale support. :P

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Welcome to the forums, EmmaRose.

 

Uh-oh. Your brain is fully engaged now. The world is in big trouble. :)

 

I especially liked this line of yours -- a twist on "God is great..."

 

All I could think all day was "There's not a god!!! And its great!"
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I remember watching the movie The Matrix when it came out, I was in serious doubt at the time, and for me the message was very powerful that since birth I had been seeing the world through a veil imposed on me. It's funny how many religious types tried to argue that the Matrix was arguing for religion, when it helped me lose mine.

 

I had gotten a similar impression watching the original "Star Trek" TV series. Gene Roddenberry was an atheist, and certain episodes in the early years reflected that, questioning ancient religions and "group-think" based on dogma. I was 16 or 17 when the program first aired, and it had some highly controversial aspects to it in it's time.

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Congrats on stepping into the light! :) Just be prepared...this is new so your trials probably aren't over. I felt so liberated at first and a couple months down the line I started getting kinda depressed feeling isolated from everyone I'd known my whole life and thinking about how I had to rework a lot of things like my purpose in life...which led to feeling like I wasn't really doing enough with this one life I get. But through those times of struggle, this is a great forum to get morale support. :P

 

 

I'm beginning to see what you mean about feeling isolated. Most of my closest friends are still very devout, and I don't really want to take that away from them, so to speak. I see the horrible things about xtianianity and everything I used to believe; but I know if someone had tried to talk to me about it I would have pushed them away. Its really something you have to come to on your own, I think?

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Its really something you have to come to on your own, I think?

 

Absolutely. By and large, atheists and agnostics don't do missionary work. One must do the homework when they start having the doubts. It's the only way. Message boards like this one are a good resource, and there are many books and other stuff out there to help. But the individual has to come to all that on their own. No one else can do it for you.

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Emma Rose,

You go girl! I'm so impressed at your understanding, courage to think for yourself and absolute thirst for truth. You rock, girl! We're glad you are here! Keep searching, learning, using that brian of yours!

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Emma Rose,

You go girl! I'm so impressed at your understanding, courage to think for yourself and absolute thirst for truth. You rock, girl! We're glad you are here! Keep searching, learning, using that brian of yours!

 

Thanks! Yours was one of the first "testimonies" I read on this site and I found it really interesting/inspiring. :-)

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Of course, for all the greatness of getting rid of my blindness and guilt, its been so shocking. Its so wierd to think of all the intelligent people I know who buy into all this!

 

Our roads to better lives require a large network of paths. They ultimately all lead to the same place, but often require vastly different routes. As you cast aside your "blindness and guilt" remember those in your life who may disagree with your new path have their own issues they're working through and thus it may require a vastly different path than you're traveling.

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