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Bleh


Apostate Nate
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It's been a couple of months since I last went to a church service. I've been a non-believer for a couple of years now, but I still attend on occasion just to keep the illusion of my "personal relationship with Jesus" alive for my family. However, my parents were in town visiting me this morning, so I decided to go to church (they had already left town by the time I went, but I needed the practice of attending anyway). So when I got to the church, I was greeted by this image:

 

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I literally became sick to my stomach as soon as I saw it. I've been holding in a good deal of anger against xtianity lately, so I think it was the result of a trigger reaction. I felt better the longer I stayed, but I couldn't wait to get away from that image. It was on the church bulletin. It was on the walls. It was in the song slides. I could hardly wait to get outta there. And the thing about is that it's not the gore in the image that did it to me. It was the fact that it was a symbol used to invoke emotion among the congregation. This is an abridged version of what I interpreted from the message delivered by the cult-leading tool preacher:

 

You are a terrible person, innately evil and capable of doing no good on your own. Your thoughtcrimes against against God and against Christianity are a disgrace. You hate Jesus and kittens. And speaking of Jesus, just look at him. *Points to picture posted above* Look what he did for you. All he ever did was love you. But because you [insert your favorite sin here], you killed Jesus. You drove that nail into his wrist. You're the reason he got his ass kicked and left for dead. It's all your fault. So the least you can do to make it up to Jesus is join our church and give us your money. Glory!

<soapbox>Granted, what was actually said was filled with fluff, but that was basically the message. And people actually bought it. People came down to the front to pray and plead for their "poor, lost souls". The church got exactly what it wanted, and almost everyone left with a feeling of guilt (that is, until they remembered that they were going to Applebee's to eat lunch). No shit, of course you'd feel guilty if you were burdened with the conscience of knowing you're to blame for another person's punishment like that. And to those people, Jesus is as real as anyone else they'd ever meet. Every time, they get tricked into giving their money to an organization playing of a simulated sense of guilt, and they don't even realize it.

 

And that's not all. There were children of all ages at this service. I was sitting right behind a boy that couldn't have been more than five years old. How could that message have been appropriate for that child? He's not even old enough to distinguish a truth from a lie, and yet he's being brought up in an environment that will teach him to abandon reason in favor of blindly following his leader. And furthermore, how is a message of such detailed gore and mutilation appropriate for these children? They're being told that the image of a broken man hanging on a wooden cross is the ultimate symbol of their faith. They've been so overexposed to the story of the crucifixion that they're no longer repulsed by what takes place in that story. And why is it acceptable to tell the young teenagers that their thoughts are not only wrong but evil and punishable by damnation? Hell, they're in the stage of puberty, so their thoughts are being shaped by hormones that they barely even understand. Of course they're going to think about sex, so of course they're going to feel dirty when they're told that even thinking about sex is wrong.</soapbox>

 

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Uggh. It's been a few hours since I typed this post, and I feel better now. I've realized that I've becoming more and more bitterly angry toward xtianity the more I am reminded of it. There are some days where I can hardly think about anything else because I'm so blinded by my emotions. I'm starting to feel like I might snap any day now. And the thing that sucks the most about it is that I don't have anyone to physically talk to about it, which has got to be an unhealthy emotional state. All my family are embedded in xtianity, and almost all my friends are as well. And being a college student, I can't afford to pay for a psychologist to help, either. I could try to get free service from the university, but I'm sure that almost anyone they would have to offer would be xtian, too. Any thoughts?

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Your observations are spot-on. When one is as sane as you are, Nate, it's hard to imagine how a psychologist can help, unless s/he gives you the names and phone numbers of those on campus who are also sane.

 

I think you have to check out various groups whose members are likely to be grounded in reality and find friends among them.

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I'm only a few months out myself. I started doing the "these people are crazy!" rants for a while until I remembered: that was me. Its not that I respect it. Its not that I think its rational. But I do understand it. Thats the gift that we as ExChristians can really give to the Christian: Understanding. We can see them in the midst of their delusion and say: "I know where you are coming from. I was there once. Have you ever thought about it this way ... ?" I mean, our soapboxes look the same to them as theirs do to us. The only way progress will come is if we start with understanding and then just begin to ask questions. However, in my short experience, 9/10 that doesn't do any good either.

 

On another note, I completely understand why you were repulsed by that image. I wonder how Christians pulled their heart strings back in the middle ages? Paintings? Primitive crucifixion flannel-graphs? Eh?

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@pitchu: The reason I mentioned a psychologist is because I'm having a hard time figuring out what to do once I get angry. Once I start dwelling on how bitter I am it doesn't stop until I fall asleep that night, which makes it extremely difficult to focus on anything else. I'm not sure how I can train myself to stop. And we have an AAFSA group on my campus, so I could start meeting with them. That is, if I can find them- it's more of an underground organization since they don't advertise all that much.

 

@CJ: If I could push myself to research xtianity more thoroughly, I actually wouldn't mind speaking out to ask questions and raise awareness. The only problem is that I would find myself alienated from almost everyone I know since they're on the other side of the argument.

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On another note, I completely understand why you were repulsed by that image. I wonder how Christians pulled their heart strings back in the middle ages? Paintings? Primitive crucifixion flannel-graphs? Eh?

 

They relied heavily on imagery for teachings because people couldn't read.

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And that's not all. There were children of all ages at this service. I was sitting right behind a boy that couldn't have been more than five years old. How could that message have been appropriate for that child? He's not even old enough to distinguish a truth from a lie, and yet he's being brought up in an environment that will teach him to abandon reason in favor of blindly following his leader. And furthermore, how is a message of such detailed gore and mutilation appropriate for these children?

 

I know exactly what you mean about this. I was one of those kids who was indoctrinated into the religion, and for a long time, seeing little kids talk about god and just parroting what's drilled into their heads all the time really pissed me off. It still does. I'm not sure what to do about it other than make sure I don't do the same thing to my son. It disgusts me when I think of my childhood and how I was dragged to church every Sunday from the time I was two (I might've even been there from the time I was an infant but I don't remember that, obviously), how my parents told me all of these things that are total lies and I bought into a lot of them, and how I totally tuned out during science class when we'd learn about evolution because I believed the people who told me that it was false. I hope you take comfort in the fact that some kids do pull free of that crap. I was one of them, and there are quite a few on this site.

 

They're being told that the image of a broken man hanging on a wooden cross is the ultimate symbol of their faith. They've been so overexposed to the story of the crucifixion that they're no longer repulsed by what takes place in that story.

 

I had this same problem that you describe. I heard the bible stories so many times that I was desensitized by how horrible and evil they were. When I was little, they were read to me in those watered-down picture bibles and they were told in such a way that it didn't seem immoral at all. Take my favorite example, the story of god killing all of the first-born children and animals in Exodus: I was never told that god hardened the pharaoh's heart. The way it was spun to me made it seem like the pharaoh was being an asshole so god punished them. I did question, at one point, why the children had to be killed instead of the pharaoh being punished because he was the one who made the mistake, but after being told the story so many times at my young age, I just accepted it. Right before I deconverted, I re-read that story and it made me sick. I couldn't believe I had been so desensitized to the horrors in the bible.

 

And why is it acceptable to tell the young teenagers that their thoughts are not only wrong but evil and punishable by damnation? Hell, they're in the stage of puberty, so their thoughts are being shaped by hormones that they barely even understand. Of course they're going to think about sex, so of course they're going to feel dirty when they're told that even thinking about sex is wrong.

 

I was also stuck in this, too, as a teenager. I was told by my church and my parents that premarital sex is wrong, that masturbation is wrong, lust is wrong, all of that. I got abstinence-only sex ed in high school (I went to a public school, too, not a xian one) where they pretty much try to brainwash you into not having sex and don't really provide any facts at all. I was barely told anything about contraception, and what I was told was that it didn't work. So the choices were that you could either have sex, which would probably result in getting pregnant, could possibly result in an STD, and would screw up your relationship with that person forever; or you could wait until marriage and avoid all of these things. That's how it was sold to me. It took a long time and a lot of convincing to free myself from the programming that I had received about sex.

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I'm seeing a therapist at my university. When I went in to make the appointment, I told the secretary that I would feel much more comfortable with a nonreligious person and she scheduled an appointment with a really great therapist (who is, unfortunately, finishing her degree this semester).

 

I can't believe I used to actually believe all this crap. No wonder I'm messed up.

 

On a lighter note, when your stomach hurts, cats make great hot water bottles!

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