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My Testimony


Oddity
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If it wasn't for the internet, I'd probably still be faking religion.

 

I was born to a pastor, and brought up in a Christian home. I've always had a pretty good life - I was never yelled at unless I did something really bad (which didn't happen often, and if I was gonna do something bad, I made sure it was worth it), or smacked around, or anything like that. We did go through some financial trouble after my parents left the Salvation Army - my parents still occasionally have to borrow a few bucks from my sister or me. They left because they were going to move us across the country, even though my dad had cancer and was too sick for that, which was the first thing that ever made me doubt God. I took to surfing the web - just Neopets at first, but I started Googling random things. Nothing too intellectual at that point (I was eleven). I did get into the occasional flame war over religion, in which I made a complete ass of myself, but after getting banned from a couple chatrooms for the closed-mindedness I'd been taught, I just left the topic alone.

 

My faith slowly dwindled as I went though junior high and high school. I kept Googling, my searches going from things like "free online games" and "glittery petpage graphics" to things like "meaning of life", "Christianity", "Paganism" (I didn't participate in the flame wars this time - I stuck to lurking). I briefly considered Neo-Paganism, but couldn't accept the belief of any god but the Judeo-Christian one. Around that point, I started asking myself, "If I don't believe in these other gods, why do I believe in Yaweh?" and other such big, important questions.

 

All of this went on inside my head and on Google (and I made sure to delete my browser history every time), with nobody to help me, nobody to share my thoughts with and ask questions of. However, it became obvious to my parents. My attendance of church became sporadic, the attention and tithe both decreasing with each service I did attend, until eventually, after my dad yelled at me through my door to get ready for church, I opened it and told him I'd been faking it.

 

He said he knew my heart hadn't been in it for a while, and it was what's inside that counts. After that, he was mostly silent, though Mom still occasionally asked me if I wanted to come to church. Dad made a joke about my deconversion once, but I think my face belied the guilt I still felt, and he never made a comment on it again. Mom asked me in that infurating worried-Mom-tone once what, precisely, I do believe now. I mumbled some bull about agnosticism.

 

I was never bothered much by the judgement and ridicule I faced as a Christian, but perhaps that was because that wasn't really who I am. I once had a prophet at some conference thingie tell me I'd feel better if I "show my true colours to the world" (I wouldn't say it was a prophecy so much as an observation, even if this 'prophet' truly believed the thought that occurred to him came from God. I had my sketchbook on hand to fight the boredom of yet another sermon, hence the colour thing, and my shyness and depression both tend to show if I let my guard down). He was probably right. I should show my true colours and admit that I'm an atheist. But, it's terrifying, so I remain in the closet for now.

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Welcome, Oddity. Pastor's kid here as well so I can relate...although you have definitely taken the better path than I did. It took me many years to get where you are and I've missed a lot of years because of that.

 

I must say that your parents are seeming to be very soft-hearted about your situation; your father especially. You know, it wouldn't surprise me if he has his own doubts that he's been hanging on to for so many years.

 

Anyway, this is a very safe place for you to let out your feelings and possibly begin to find yourself. Best wishes as you journey. :)

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If it wasn't for the internet, I'd probably still be faking religion.

 

I was never bothered much by the judgement and ridicule I faced as a Christian, but perhaps that was because that wasn't really who I am. I once had a prophet at some conference thingie tell me I'd feel better if I "show my true colours to the world" (I wouldn't say it was a prophecy so much as an observation, even if this 'prophet' truly believed the thought that occurred to him came from God. I had my sketchbook on hand to fight the boredom of yet another sermon, hence the colour thing, and my shyness and depression both tend to show if I let my guard down). He was probably right. I should show my true colours and admit that I'm an atheist. But, it's terrifying, so I remain in the closet for now.

Nice story. I like the true colors aspect, because that fits most of us.

 

It sounds like you're mostly out of the closet really, although I understand your reluctance to make a big deal of it.

 

As for being terrified, is it because of the implications of atheism? I mean, no afterlife, no supernatural help, etc.? Or is it more, "I could be wrong, and go to hell, etc."?

 

Once you have really done the work, rationally looked at the facts and probabilities, the fear disappears. You're not afraid of the boogie man, and that nasty tooth fairy, so there is no other supernatural beast to be afraid of.

 

At least, that's my experience.

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I must say that your parents are seeming to be very soft-hearted about your situation; your father especially. You know, it wouldn't surprise me if he has his own doubts that he's been hanging on to for so many years.

 

Yeah, they're both fairly soft-hearted, and Dad is fairly wise, if a bit of a smart aleck at times. I don't think he doubts often, but he's definitely way more laid-back than most pastors you'd meet.

 

 

It sounds like you're mostly out of the closet really, although I understand your reluctance to make a big deal of it.

 

As for being terrified, is it because of the implications of atheism? I mean, no afterlife, no supernatural help, etc.? Or is it more, "I could be wrong, and go to hell, etc."?

 

Once you have really done the work, rationally looked at the facts and probabilities, the fear disappears. You're not afraid of the boogie man, and that nasty tooth fairy, so there is no other supernatural beast to be afraid of.

 

It isn't the implications I'm scared of; it's being judged and lectured at by my friends from church and extended family members. Of course, I could just tell them to screw off if they get too condescending on me, but I still like them, and have gone through the experience of finding out who my real friends are after shit hits the fan a few times - it doesn't get any easier after the first time it happens.

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It isn't the implications I'm scared of; it's being judged and lectured at by my friends from church and extended family members. Of course, I could just tell them to screw off if they get too condescending on me, but I still like them, and have gone through the experience of finding out who my real friends are after shit hits the fan a few times - it doesn't get any easier after the first time it happens.

Now I understand. And I sympathize. The best I can say is that being open with them will let you know who really is your friend and who isn't, even if their friendship leads them to just try and understand (with the goal of coaxing you back). If people can turn and insult you, they aren't your friends.

 

And you might be surprised. Some may be closet atheists themselves - but don't hold your breath.

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Welcome to ex-c. You'll find a variety of people here who can relate to how you feel/what you're going through, or at the very least we can empathize!

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Welcome to freedom oddity. What set me on the road to deconversion was the hell doctrine and how cruel Yahweh was in the Old Testament. I'm claiming deism at the moment. Maybe there's something up there. If there is, I doubt it really cares if I believe in it or not so no worries.

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