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First Post Ever -- Leaving Fundamentalism


turtlelover
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Hi! This is my first post ever. I have finally had it with trying to play the mental gymnastics that I need to continually engage in while attempting to remain a fundamentalist Christian. I'm coming to find that the worldview I've tried to force myself to embrace is very flawed, and this post is my first official declaration that I am officially leaving fundamentalism behind. I can't take it anymore!

 

I was born into a very strict fundamentalist household (daughter of a Baptist pastor!!!), where my parents taught me from a young age that all people are innately evil and deserve to burn eternally in hell. Both of my parents are convinced that the Bible is the inspired, flawless word of God. From a very young age, I was brainwashed tirelessly into their religion. However, I cannot read the Bible without being convinced that a good chunk of the doctrine contained in it portrays God as outright EVIL. I just can't bring myself to worship such a sick, twisted concept of God and have to try to convince myself that this demented turn or burn version of God is "loving" when that is simply not the case. As I see it, the God of the Bible is a genocidal maniac. I just can't force myself to try to worship him anymore. To try to force myself to do so has been a huge source of anxiety and depression in my life. Fear of myself or other people burning in hell forever has literally almost made me have a nervous breakdown at times.

 

I haven't altogether abandoned Christianity in the sense that I believe a lot of the teachings of Jesus are ethically good, but I don't believe that the Bible portrays either God or Jesus accurately, so I don't know where that leaves me in respect to calling myself a "Christian" in the conventional sense of the word. So, I am here, hoping to be able to make sense of the feelings and dilemmas that I am dealing with.

 

At the moment, I am very sad, because ALL of my best friends are VERY entrenched in fundamentalism. I had difficulties feeling connected with my own parents growing up, so these Christian friends of mine are like family. A couple in particular are like surrogate moms to me, and I know they would be heartbroken if they knew I was considering rejecting Christianity altogether. I've told my real parents that my views on religion have changed, though I haven't told them exactly how MUCH they have changed, and today I spent over an hour arguing on the phone with my father, who is convinced that Satan is deceiving me so I won't be able to "serve God" effectively. My husband is fortunately supportive of me regardless of the religious path that I choose, but I'm very scared of losing the sense of community that I have in Christianity if I choose to leave, especially my beloved "surrogate moms."

 

So, do I continue to "go with the flow" and just keep my new ideas/feelings to myself and hang on to the sense of community, which I BADLY need right now, or would that be bad for me in the long term since I wouldn't be true to myself and might feel that I was living a lie? At this point, I do still believe that a God exists, but I don't believe that God is the god as described in the Bible. Would it be horrible to continue to go to church, etc. in spite of this realization? I'm actually a musician in the worship band at church (how ironic is THAT?) and it would be very hard to give that up since my "surrogate mom" is also on the worship team, and this woman is as close to a mother as I have at this point. Losing her would break my heart. Thoughts, anyone? I feel so alone.

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I can relate well to all of that.

 

Welcome to the forum...we understand what you're going through.

 

You do need to do whatever is healthiest for you in regards to staying in or leaving the church. If you can happily "fake it" and it feels right, do it. However, it sounds like that would be more damaging...

 

You CAN find community outside the church. It takes some effort and the journey is often frustrating, but it is so worth it once you find it. :)

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It sounds like you are really thinking for yourself. Feels good, huh?

 

You say that you agree with Jesus' teaching on an ethical basis. Just remember that ethics and morality can exist without religion of any form. These are concepts that pre-date any teachings of any gods/prophets throughout history.

 

Keep searching, keep reading, and keep posting here. This place rocks

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Hello and welcome to rational thinking!

 

In my experience and observation, you can't successfully keep one foot in the church and one foot out. You need new, real friends. The sooner you start living full time in normal society, the sooner you will develop a new network of friends.

 

Good luck!

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Take this as someone who keeps stepping into a different closet: you won't be happy letting them think you're still Christian. Little things will keep coming up, and you'll either feel you're lying by omission, or feel a new distance at not being able to talk about some things.

 

shacklednomore, when I first came here, pointed out that the idea that humans are fundamentally undeserving of love is inherently abusive. I'd like to pass that along in turn.

 

It may be that you're starting to question religion entirely, or you may just be turned off the extreme, harsh branch of Christianity you're in. Only you can figure that one out--if you're still comfortable going to church, may I suggest trying a few different churches in the area to see if any match your more loving beliefs? It might also let you sound the waters when it comes to the people you want to keep relationships with ("I've heard about Y church's message, and I'd like to go listen for myself." Or, if churches are more friendly to each other in your area, "I keep getting the same messages from this church, and I want to challenge myself a little more." Or if you have to, "I don't think it hurts to test other messages against the Word.")

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I just thought of something else. Going to church and playing the role is very hard because I have found that my morality is actually better as a non-xian. I think it is because I used to justify my lies based upon my "superiority" as one of Gawd's own.

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Would it be horrible to continue to go to church, etc. in spite of this realization? I'm actually a musician in the worship band at church (how ironic is THAT?) and it would be very hard to give that up since my "surrogate mom" is also on the worship team, and this woman is as close to a mother as I have at this point.

 

Quit the church. Satan has the best music. :P

 

Ok, now seriously. I've seen many posts like this before. It basically boils down to "should I come out as an atheist (or a questioner, choose whatever description suits you best) or continue to mantain a façade or religiousness?" In most threads like these, the general consensus is to mantain the status quo. I am sorry, but I cannot in good faith agree.

 

Of course, I never had to go through this experience personally, so perhaps those who think differently have a better insight into things. I don't know. But I believe you should be honest to everybody about this issue. Sure, it may loose you some friends, but honestly, if they desert you just because you don't believe in the exact same things they do, what kind of friends were they to begin with? There's a saying that goes "a friend helps you move your furniture, a good friend helps you move a corpse".

 

In the Republic, Plato argued that all Good things come from Truth and that all Bad things come from Lies. If you tried to mantain the Masque of the Good Fundy, you wouldn't be "rocking the boat", so to speak, but you'd be doing harm to yourself, mentally. It's not easy living a lie. If you told the truth, I imagine there'd be allot of conflict, but you would've been honest with them and the healing process would begin sooner.

 

But then again, that's just me.

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Welcome, turtlelover.

As has been mentioned, this is a frequent topic in these fora. The experiences, opinions and most importantly, results are many and varied. The issues you're dealing with are among the most central to the primary purposes of this site. Unfortunately for the matter of convenience, I can't really just post a few thread links and say, "Read these." There are a great many of these threads and they are all over the place, but I'd highly recommend spending a week or so doing nothing but going back through the Ex-Christian Life forum posts, the Testimonies forum and Rants. I ranked these in order of pertinence to your particular problem.

 

We appreciate the turmoil you're dealing with and the courage it takes to face what you're doing, as well as the drastic effects (bad and good) you'll be living with which result from what ever decisions you make.

 

Obviously, you've realized that you have now crossed a threshold. No matter which side of this you decide to come down on, one thing is certain, and that is that you can never go back again. It will never again be what it was and there's nothing you can do about that.

 

As you do this work, I'd highly recommend giving yourself permanent permission to take "union breaks." When the tears feel like they're coming, the screams of frustration are clawing their way up your throat, the outrage has you ready to drag the damned clergy into an alley and beat them like a red-headed step child, reduce the windows on your computer, put down the book, make your-self a cup of tea and go outside to spend a few minutes listening to the birds. It'll help.

 

Loren

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from 'turtlelover' :

 

 

Both of my parents are convinced that the Bible is the inspired, flawless word of God. From a very young age, I was brainwashed tirelessly into their religion. However, I cannot read the Bible without being convinced that a good chunk of the doctrine contained in it portrays God as outright EVIL. I just can't bring myself to worship such a sick, twisted concept of God and have to try to convince myself that this demented turn or burn version of God is "loving" when that is simply not the case. As I see it, the God of the Bible is a genocidal maniac. I

 

It's amazing how many people had never read the entire bible, even after half a lifetime of calling themselves Christians of any kind. When I finally did so, I was already an atheist. What an eye opener that was.

 

 

I haven't altogether abandoned Christianity in the sense that I believe a lot of the teachings of Jesus are ethically good,

 

There are those humanistic things in Christianity that are worth keeping, like being kind to the poor, loving your neighbors, not stealing the property of others and so on. But then those things aren't exclusive to Christianity either. They have existed in every known recorded society, many long before Christianity even existed.

 

 

So, do I continue to "go with the flow" and just keep my new ideas/feelings to myself and hang on to the sense of community, which I BADLY need right now, or would that be bad for me in the long term since I wouldn't be true to myself and might feel that I was living a lie? At this point, I do still believe that a God exists, but I don't believe that God is the god as described in the Bible. Would it be horrible to continue to go to church, etc. in spite of this realization?

 

My vote is don't do it. You will be living a lie in order to mollify the feelings of others. In that respect you would be subjugating your own sense of identity to theirs. One thing is certain--------whenever you do finally come out of the closet, even as a deist or pantheist, you will shortly find out just who your real friends are, and how many of them were only "conditional" friends----those who say they like you and care about you only so long as you "go with the flow". How long do you think you can keep up knowingly living in a fairy tale? Knowing every day that you don't believe a word of it anymore? It would be like walking on eggshells all the time, trying to keep from saying anything to anyone that might give you away. The internal tensions you will build up doing that are going to mess you up seriously. Judging from your post it appears to me that it has already started to do just that.

 

I couldn't do it for any length of time. For years I dealt with it by simply ignoring it, and as long as no one gave me any shit over it, it stayed on the back burner. But your situation is different than mine was. I didn't have people constantly ragging on me about religion after I became an adult. you do, and the whole church and Christian scene is playing a much larger role in your life than it did in mine once I was out on my own. So you have a very different reality to deal with than I did.

 

Suggestion-------if you have a Unitarian Universalist congregation near you, go check them out. That is if you still want the social and community aspects of belonging to a church. I can tell you first hand they are a wonderful lot of people. No dogma, no doctrines------just really nice fellowship and a whole range of beliefs ranging from Christians to Jews to Muslims and atheists, deists, pantheists, the occasional Wiccan---------you name it. And they all get along just fine with each other. Maybe going there would help you sort out just what it is you really do believe. No one there will chastise you for believing in God or not.

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Suggestion-------if you have a Unitarian Universalist congregation near you, go check them out. That is if you still want the social and community aspects of belonging to a church. I can tell you first hand they are a wonderful lot of people. No dogma, no doctrines------just really nice fellowship and a whole range of beliefs ranging from Christians to Jews to Muslims and atheists, deists, pantheists, the occasional Wiccan---------you name it. And they all get along just fine with each other. Maybe going there would help you sort out just what it is you really do believe. No one there will chastise you for believing in God or not.

I haven't tried anywhere like that myself (I've had enough of church-like places), but that's a thought. Another possibility is volunteer work. The discussion brought to mind my volunteer work at my nearest zoo. I spend practically the whole weekend there (or literally if I'm working an overnight program). Saturdays more to do the work -- because I do enjoy it, I've always gotten along very well with animals, and if I can get even one person to understand something important about the world it's worth all the hot, humid, icky, smelly, bitey and hard labor parts -- and Sundays are more to goof off with like-minded friends (though we still get a lot of work done in the process :P). Not saying a zoo would be the best place for -you- necessarily, but you might consider volunteer work in general. Whatever you're interested in and good at (or want to be good at :P) you can probably find somewhere to do it. You join a group of people who really are pulling for the same cause, and you can see your work and that of others giving some real benefit to other people, animals, the environment, etc. I'm lucky with the zoo because zoo people in general are very easygoing and accepting. I will note a difference between you and me that will have some bearing for you where it didn't for me: you have people you truly consider friends from church settings and I never did. I had a pretty easy time transitioning out of church as far as that goes (though I had to find excuses to suit my parents given my dad's a S. Baptist pastor and I attended that church), but it will likely be harder for you. I truly hope you don't lose your good friends though, whatever route you choose. . . it fucking sucks [though if they abandon you, they weren't really good friends to begin with. . . that doesn't make it suck any less, unfortunately].

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I will note a difference between you and me that will have some bearing for you where it didn't for me: you have people you truly consider friends from church settings and I never did. I had a pretty easy time transitioning out of church as far as that goes (though I had to find excuses to suit my parents given my dad's a S. Baptist pastor and I attended that church), but it will likely be harder for you. I truly hope you don't lose your good friends though, whatever route you choose. . . it fucking sucks [though if they abandon you, they weren't really good friends to begin with. . . that doesn't make it suck any less, unfortunately].

 

I had no difficulty. I simply stopped going because they were asking me to participate more and more in committees and stuff like that. I was already doing a good deal for them. I haven't lost any friends from there. I just don't have any contact with most of them anymore. They really are a decent bunch and I would have no qualms about going back if I once more felt the need for that kind of environment. I had no bad experiences out of it, and I certainly would not feel uncomfortable if I did. I mean it---Unitarian Universalists are way different than any Christian denomination you may be familiar with. They tend to be very humanistic in their outlook, regardless of whatever religious background they may have come from.

 

Just saying--------

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