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Laurengirl
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I wanted to share some of the factors that have led me to my decision to walk away from Christianity entirely... as much for my own benefit as (hopefully) someone else's. I've never been able to share how angry or bitter I was, or where the anger or bitterness stemmed from, and am so glad I found this forum. It's been encouraging to read some of the "antitestimonials" here and see how people have been able to move beyond Christianity to more balanced, fulfilling lives.

 

My mother's side of the family was that certain brand of charismatic fundy extremism that you can only find in America. When I was little, maybe five or six, we lived quite close to my maternal grandparents and had to spend a lot of time at their house. I always slept in bed with my grandmother, and she would spend the time before I fell asleep divulging her many "gifts of the Spirit": she saw angels, had visions, received oil on her hands, and of course, spoke in tongues (perfect Hebrew!). Apparently, my aunt and mother both had similar gifts, the latter of whom had received her special blessings at "my age". And, being a typical five-or-six-year-old, I immediately decided I wanted my own prayer language. My grandmother in her infinite wisdom was only too happy to oblige. First, she explained, I would have to ask Jesus into my heart. If I did that right, the Holy Spirit would come live inside of me and give me a prayer language. I asked what would happen if the Holy Spirit didn't come and live inside of me. She responded with confidence that I would go to hell. I asked her what hell was like. She proceeded to describe scenes she'd read about in Dante's Inferno.

 

As were so many Christians in the 90s, my grandmother was also obsessed with the idea of the Apocalypse, something that really scared the shit out of me at the time. But she wasn't content to simply wait around for it to happen; she needed to advance it, mostly through really annoying Zionist political activism. She used to sit me down and have me watch this video called "A Thief in the Night", about a teenager who wakes up one morning to find that the "real" Christians have all disappeared and she must spend the movie evading a United Nations-esque police force that's trying to mark her as Satan's own with a computer code. By that time, I had asked Jesus into my heart on several occasions without getting my prayer language, so the prospect of waking up to the world depicted in that movie terrified me. When the Left Behind series was published, of course she bought me every book in the kids' series, plus the movies when they came out. "The end of the world" was something that hung over my head for most of my childhood and adolescence. When I grew older and less compliant, I finally challenged her unconditional acceptance of dispensationalism a la Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins; along with her characterizations of Islam and Catholicism alike as "demonic", her various assertions that one could not be Christian and vote for a Democrat, and her general judgementalism and intolerance. Her response was to tell my mother the I was screwed up because my devout Episcopalian father wasn't really a Christian, and these were the consequences of her being "unequally yoked".

 

When I was into middle school, my parents decided I needed to join a youth group. We were a military family, so for most of my life I was the new kid, and well... kids are mean, even in churches. That wouldn't have been so bad, except for some reason the youth group leaders invariably felt God calling them to point out own my social awkwardness to me, telling me I needed to make more friends, be more outgoing, etc. When I was a freshman in high school, we moved to an Army Post in Alaska and, in fairness, the youth group I attended there was pretty nice. But after a year the youth pastor moved away and we combined with a group on the Air Force Base. On our first retreat with them, some of the kids from the base told the youth leader I was having sex with my boyfriend in his cabin (we were both virgins). This guy waited until after we all got home to call the post chaplain, who called my parents and his parents into his office where he unceremoniously broke the news. No one had bothered to ask us whether the rumor was true.

 

After that, I stopped going to youth groups and eventually church. Although I didn't believe I had a relationship with God, I figured I could still pursue one outside the establishment of organized religion. Then, when I was a senior, my fiancee who I'd been with for three years dumped me for another girl he met in college... A "good Christian girl" that slept with him knowing he was engaged to me. Although my (ex-)fiancee had been nominally Christian while we were together, his new girlfriend inspired a kind of zeal in him. Four months after he broke it off with me, they were planning a beautiful church wedding, thanking God that they'd found each other. That was the last straw.

 

It's never been that I didn't want to believe in God. I have always, always, always given him the benefit of the doubt, and maybe I'm being melodramatic, but I feel that given my personal experience and the shaky idea of Christianity in general, consciously choosing for all those years not to walk away from God was a lot. I have never felt his presence in my life, and I have never felt that he was on my side or even liked me very much. And honestly, I don't think if I ever had a chance to get to know him ("know" in the evangelical sense) that I would like him either. I've come to feel that trying to convince myself wasting so much time and energy telling myself that God is real and God is good is a toxic endeavor, and I'm tired of putting myself through the mental acrobatics. Ultimately, I'm not leaving Christianity because of some insurmountable intellectual hurdle, although I know there are plenty, but rather I'm just tired of fooling myself.

 

Hopefully this has all been passably coherent. ^_^ Thank you for letting me vent, I feel much better having expressed all of this in an environment where I know my frustrations are understood.

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"I'm just tired of fooling myself."

 

This was exactly the realization that I woke up to. Glad you found your way here - welcome!

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My deconversion happened similarly. I didn't need all the evidence or science or contradictions to just stop worshiping someone I didn't like and associating myself with hypocritical assholes. Of course the evidence and such is extremely fascinating and helpful so I think its great to learn about and I can really enjoy doing so now. I think what really did it for me is that I was always trying to feel the love of god and build a relationship with Jesus but never honestly felt anything. Then in highschool I made real, amazing friends and fell in love and basically realized that we find that love and companionship in other human beings, not in an invisible silent god. Learning about other religions just proved that if anything Christianity wasn't the only way and certainly wasn't the best way.

 

Sorry to hear about your ex though. What a dick. Really not surprising to hear unfortunately. I am sure you are far better off with out him. <3

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On our first retreat with them, some of the kids from the base told the youth leader I was having sex with my boyfriend in his cabin (we were both virgins). This guy waited until after we all got home to call the post chaplain, who called my parents and his parents into his office where he unceremoniously broke the news. No one had bothered to ask us whether the rumor was true.

 

Wow, this is quite low. Maybe they really believed the accusation, but damn, whatever happened to having a trial before a sentencing?

 

This reminds me of something that happened to me. When I was a child, one time when we were having a fellowship meal in the fellowship hall next to the church, I had gone over to the church to use the bathroom. When I came out, there were a few other kids in the church, and we walked out together. Pretty harmless, right?

 

Well, later on when my family got in the car to leave, my dad told me I was getting a "whippin" when I got home. When I asked what for, he said it was because I had partaken in getting into some stuff in a Sunday school room and made a mess. I had no idea what he was talking about and told him I didn't do any such thing, but it didn't matter what I said, his mind was made up. My pleading was called "sassing," and I got the belt.

 

All I can figure is that some of the other kids in the church may have made a mess, and since I was seen coming out of the church with them, someone just ASSUMED that I had been in on making the mess and told my dad about it. My dad was too stubborn to listen to a child's reasoning. So, I got red stripes on my ass for NOTHING. Man, does THAT ever piss a kid off!

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This, exactly, is how I felt (and still feel).

 

I have never felt his presence in my life, and I have never felt that he was on my side or even liked me very much. [...] I've come to feel that trying to convince myself wasting so much time and energy telling myself that God is real and God is good is a toxic endeavor, and I'm tired of putting myself through the mental acrobatics.

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I just wanted to thank everyone for the responses. It really is good to know other people have gone through the same thing! I'll be visiting this site often. ^_^

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Thanks for sharing. May your future be much better than your past.

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I left Christianity and Pentecostalism at the same time, so I understand the mindset. I left because I couldn't sustain the "religious doublethink" necessary to rationalize a never ending parade of contradictions in the scriptures, and hypocritical actions on the parts of the so-called "spirit-filled" people around me. I saw no difference in the behavior of the self-professed spirit-filled believers and that of the unbelievers, except the spirit-filled people had their public sides squeaky clean, while the unbelievers didn't bother.

 

Every time some so-called "warrior for the Lord" got busted in some seedy motel room, the leaders rolled out the usual lame excuses, and moved on. If there was a prophecy that didn't come to pass, no one challenged it (except me). If the church was split apart because half of the congregation believed the Holy Spirit was saying, "do this," while the other half believed the opposite, and somebody (like me) spoke up about it, the pastor would say, "Let's pray for Rob."

 

I was trained as a drug and alcohol/family counselor in the Army, and spent two years working in a halfway house and doing drug and alcohol education. Have any of you ever tried to counsel a drug or alcohol addict? Pentecostals, Charismatics and Fundamentalists (of any religion) exhibit exactly the same symptoms. But it's worse, because society does not say, "Oh, isn't it a shame? Billy has become a devout _____." Instead, society tends to honor - or at least tolerate - religious addicts, even though religious addiction is just as harmful to the addicted individuals and their families as drug or alcohol abuse.

 

Welcome, Laurengirl! We may not have all of the answers, but we at least know what the real questions are.

 

 

Rob

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For the sake of seeing what you really left, you might want to try arguing with creationists on the net a bit. You won't convince anyone, of course, but I think you will find it quite enlightening to see just how delusional they really are. Will give you a nice perspective on just how good your decision to leave the xian borg was.

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All I can figure is that some of the other kids in the church may have made a mess, and since I was seen coming out of the church with them, someone just ASSUMED that I had been in on making the mess and told my dad about it. My dad was too stubborn to listen to a child's reasoning. So, I got red stripes on my ass for NOTHING. Man, does THAT ever piss a kid off!

 

 

This was common in my house growing up. Of course my dad would beat me with his belt just because he had a bad day at work. I still never learned to not plea my case even though it would make everything so much worst. So much injustice.

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