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My Late In Life Awakening


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Guest Awakened

I am a 63 year old female who has not gone to church since I was a teen. I was a Protestant and I married a not very religious Catholic 42 years ago. Out of guilt I had my children baptized but we did not attend any church. My husband's family all lived near us and they were all very devout Catholics. His sister and her husband attended church and prayer group every week. They were very close to us. We built houses side by side and had birthday celebrations and holidays together for over 30 years. Then 8 years ago they left the Catholic church and became Born Again Christians. They tried to convert me one evening when their religious leader was at their house and some very mean things were said to me that I still find hard to believe. Bottom line I was told that if I didn't convert my husband and I, our adult children (their nieces they are supposed to love) and grandchildren would all burn in hell for eternity. I tried to reason but you can't argue with people who have their minds made up.

What really hurt was that after so many years as very good friends, suddenly they acted as if I was an evil person. I was and still am hurt by the fact that they no longer think for themselves. Their religious leader had made bad choices in her life and then cleaned up her act. I have lived an extremely straight and narrow life (married my first boyfriend, no addictions, taught school for 30 years) yet they sided with this person and insulted me and my family like that. They felt they had the right to judge me. They were so closed minded and intolerant of all religions that I kept thinking what bad people they are for not "loving one another". I know I am naive, but I used to think religion was basically a guide for people to live a good life. Now I see religion as a curse on this earth. It is the root of hatred and wars. I have been reading and researching a lot and just found your site recently and felt hopeful that perhaps I had found a place where I can go several times a week to feel less alone in my thinking. I feel so annoyed for all of us to be given such a bad rap as bad people because we refuse to believe in unsubstantiated tales. I didn't come to this point because my feelings were hurt, but because of watching the history channel on how the Bible was written and then reading and researching.

By the way, although we speak politely to each other occasionally now, we have not been invited to their house next door for eight years now. They don't even know my new religious POV... they still think we are just non church going Christians and still are not good enough to enter their BA house. I really couldn't be friends with them anyway because I feel we are too far apart in thinking to have the old closeness, plus they never apologized. My husband is not into religion or atheism. He is into sports. He just says to ignore his sister and husband..."They are nuts."

I just ordered five new books last night. I can't seem to get the facts fast enough. Ironically most older people grow closer to God because of fear of death, yet I'm doing the opposite. I always thought of death as a long eternal sleep, could never quite buy the heaven and hell stories. Two of my aunts are Atheists and they are they sweetest, kindest woman I know. They never judge or criticize. Guess you have to have the religious mind to feel superior and judgmental. Ironic, isn't it?

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Welcome Awakened!

I once watched an episode of The Atheist Experience where atheist Matt Dillahunty described religion as a belief system that gives its new-found believers a hammer in order to smash their own moral compass and replace it with "god's will". I suppose this is how close relationships among friends and family are destroyed, children are abused, and terrorists can commit murderous atrocities-all in the name of god. Thanks for sharing your experience! I'm sure you'll find that most people here share views similar to yours, including myself. The great thing about this site is that there is always room for more ex-christians, and people here are always willing to share their experiences and listen to yours.

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Thanks for sharing. Unfortunately your story is all too true. Christianity likes to say they preach love, but the hidden message is actually and it's supported by the bible.

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Hi Awakened,

 

Welcome to the forums! I see that for once I'm not the oldest one on here. I like what someone said above about religion being a hammer to smash one's moral compass. I didn't know any atheists until I joined these forums. Let me correct that. Two of my professors openly professed nonbelief. From them I got answers religion would never admit to.

 

Two major items I learned from these professors were that:

 

  1. Self-sacrifice is not a product of religion as the preachers claimed. My prof practiced it in real life.
  2. All beliefs in supernatural entities have the equivalent of "You just didn't have enough faith/pray hard enough" for when the rules of their belief system failed.

I was in my forties. These answers did not lead directly to deconversion but they helped me sort through some of the truth claims being made by religionists.

 

On these forums I encountered a very gentle person who is no longer here but who professed to be atheist. Interaction with that person, reading posts and pms, assured me that atheism would not make me a pervert and gave me the courage to deconvert. My experience has been that an attitude of superiority is not the exclusive domain of the religious but the religious certainly know how to lord it over everyone else. After all it is what the bible teaches about the fool, etc. And then they blame the atheist for being angry.:ugh:

 

I take comfort from your statement about not wanting association with your in-laws. I, too, have come to the conclusion (again) that my family cannot be part of my life. Thank you so much for sharing your story. Again, welcome to the forums.

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Welcome Awakened! So good to have a new 'older' friend on board!!:grin: But -oh, we are so wise!!LOL

 

I relate totally to your story. There are so many stories and posts for you to read on losing friends. It is so sad. But, I remember all too well, when I got 'saved' at 20, I was advised to hang out with all the 'like minded' christians.

 

I was almost convinced that I had to 'bind the devil' from my own dear, mom's house. That's the influence they can have on you!! Sad but true.

 

I just confessed my non-belief to my dear old friend, who is the wife of my old pastor. We have been friends for many, many years.The post is on here called 'the pastors wife''. I will be so anxious to see if our friendship lasts now.

 

I am so glad you found us. I have been so happy to belong to this support group now for 8 months. I come here everyday (sometimes 3-4 times a day) to check in and get my encouragement. These are all my friends now and I feel as if I really know them.

 

Looking very forward to hearing more from you!! :grin:

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Hi, Awakened, glad you're here.

 

Let's look at the foundation of so-called Christian love. The god of the bible created all things and that must include hell. He set up certain rules for not spending eternity in hell and for spending it in heaven. He loved his human creation so much that he sent his son to be an atoning sacrifice so people, through the son's death, could be forgiven of their sins and enter heaven and avoid hell. But there was a catch. One has to "believe" in the son and, depending on which brand of Christian one speaks to, may also have to perform works, be elected, attend church, never doubt, confess their sins, etc.

 

So this so-called Christian love is of a god who set everything in place for people to go to hell and then set up a maze that the various Christian denominations can't agree on to go through to get out of the eternal damnation that he is responsible for in the first place. And this god does all of this without providing sufficient evidence on which to base one's "belief" and in its place requires faith. Piss poor love if you ask me.

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Guest Awakened

Hello Awakened,

 

Sorry you lost your good friends/in laws that way. Have you ever read Bart Ehrman? He has some excellent books.

 

Nice to have the power back on. My cousin lost his house in NY. Guess my damaged fence isn't so bad.

Thanks for all the welcomes. Bart Ehrman is on my list. Whenever I read of a name I add it to my list and then read the book reviews on Amazon.

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It's really nice to hear from someone starting to think for themselves at your stage in life. You are a bit younger than my mom and I pretty much write off the idea that she will ever escape the clutches that have been on her mind her entire life. I wish that wasn't the case, but most people, as you rightly point out, dig in deeper at this stage of their lives. Consider yourself a fortunate outlier that gets to experience an expanding world view while your peers experience status quo. :D

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Hello Awakened,

 

Sorry you lost your good friends/in laws that way. Have you ever read Bart Ehrman? He has some excellent books.

 

Nice to have the power back on. My cousin lost his house in NY. Guess my damaged fence isn't so bad.

Thanks for all the welcomes. Bart Ehrman is on my list. Whenever I read of a name I add it to my list and then read the book reviews on Amazon.

 

Glad to hear you are okay! My sister is in DC and she said they escaped any damage.

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Guest Awakened

Welcome Awakened!

I once watched an episode of The Atheist Experience where atheist Matt Dillahunty described religion as a belief system that gives its new-found believers a hammer in order to smash their own moral compass and replace it with "god's will". I suppose this is how close relationships among friends and family are destroyed, children are abused, and terrorists can commit murderous atrocities-all in the name of god. Thanks for sharing your experience! I'm sure you'll find that most people here share views similar to yours, including myself. The great thing about this site is that there is always room for more ex-christians, and people here are always willing to share their experiences and listen to yours.

Wow. That's exactly what bothered me. I thought my sister-in-law should have used her own moral compass and looked back on 35 years of friendship to realize I was still the same good person she use to approve of. She however followed her religious leader (god's will) and ended the friendship. I can not say for a fact that she was told to stop hanging with us, but we were dropped socially from her life at the same time she joined her new church. Giving up making your own judgments is a major sacrifice. I love my Hindu son-in-law. He is so intelligent and such a good family man. If a religion told me to dislike him, just think what I'd be missing.

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It's really nice to hear from someone starting to think for themselves at your stage in life. You are a bit younger than my mom and I pretty much write off the idea that she will ever escape the clutches that have been on her mind her entire life. I wish that wasn't the case, but most people, as you rightly point out, dig in deeper at this stage of their lives. Consider yourself a fortunate outlier that gets to experience an expanding world view while your peers experience status quo. :D

 

Maybe your mom was a church goer all her life and that is all she knows. Leaving behind all her "church friends" and peers would call for a lot of courage. Luckily I wasn't forced or even encouraged to go to church by my parents or husband so I didn't have to break that weekly habit. I guess you could say I was Christian for a few years as a child, then for most of my life was Nothing (Christian in name only) and now that I started paying attention to my nagging doubts, have finally laid them to rest.

Some people really do believe but some only go to church because they are afraid to stop. I feel sorrier for the latter group. Life is harder for some people and maybe they need a crutch.

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It's really nice to hear from someone starting to think for themselves at your stage in life. You are a bit younger than my mom and I pretty much write off the idea that she will ever escape the clutches that have been on her mind her entire life. I wish that wasn't the case, but most people, as you rightly point out, dig in deeper at this stage of their lives. Consider yourself a fortunate outlier that gets to experience an expanding world view while your peers experience status quo. :D

 

Maybe your mom was a church goer all her life and that is all she knows. Leaving behind all her "church friends" and peers would call for a lot of courage. Luckily I wasn't forced or even encouraged to go to church by my parents or husband so I didn't have to break that weekly habit. I guess you could say I was Christian for a few years as a child, then for most of my life was Nothing (Christian in name only) and now that I started paying attention to my nagging doubts, have finally laid them to rest.

Some people really do believe but some only go to church because they are afraid to stop. I feel sorrier for the latter group. Life is harder for some people and maybe they need a crutch.

 

Yeah, fortunately for you, you and she have very different experiences. Like me, she was forced to go to church since she was an infant. Unlike me, she never questioned it. At this point, it is what it is. She's not going to change and I'm not going to try and pop her bubble as I don't want to cause her any pain. Cose' e' la vita (so is life).

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Losing friends to Christianity has occurred more than once for me. When I left the church my friends dropped one after the other. I had one particular friend that I knew before I started with the church, we still talked periodically, but our friendship wasn't the same.

 

But Just recently he has backslidden, and now we have been hanging out almost every day. He says he plans to go back to church in the future. The other day me and him had a debate about his religion, I destroyed him of course, but something interesting came up. I told him " If you ever go back to the church you know we will stop talking right?" he looked at me and said " I know."

 

Therefore I have been trying my best to plant some seeds in him, hoping he will leave his religion all together.

He is a 49 year old man that believes his faith and personal experience are enough to justify his belief in this god. He also believes science is completely wrong and shouldn't be trusted. I don't know if he can be saved.

 

I also recently met an old friend from grade school at the college. Every day he would come to my home before class and after.Me and him felt like we knew eachother really well because of our child hood.

 

But one day walking home with him he said " I am going to get baptized this weekend, would you come." I said "I am an Atheist, I really don't have no interest." After that weekend I saw him and he was completely different. He cut his long hair and was completely submissive. After that he refused to come to my home again, I actually haven't seen him since.

 

One of my best friends Eric, I knew him for most of my life. I stopped talking to him years ago because he had a meth addiction. Recently he came back into my life, but he was very religious. We eventually got into a debate about his religion so he stopped coming to my house because of it. He is the one that started the debate.

 

I have lost a lot of good friends because of this religion. And have been called some really messed up things. I have been called Satan, Demon, lost, stupid, rebellious, fool, etc.

 

thank you for your story

 

jesse

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Guest Awakened

I guess everyone on this site shares similar stories about friends or family who stopped being friends with them because of differing beliefs. The following quote is something to think about when searching for new like minded peers.

"The presence of those seeking truth is infinitely to be preferred to the presence of those who think they've found it." -Terry Pratchett Unfortunately religious friends can be easily found at church but there is no place to go to find non believing peers.

Losing friends to Christianity has occurred more than once for me. When I left the church my friends dropped one after the other. I had one particular friend that I knew before I started with the church, we still talked periodically, but our friendship wasn't the same.

 

But Just recently he has backslidden, and now we have been hanging out almost every day. He says he plans to go back to church in the future. The other day me and him had a debate about his religion, I destroyed him of course, but something interesting came up. I told him " If you ever go back to the church you know we will stop talking right?" he looked at me and said " I know."

 

Therefore I have been trying my best to plant some seeds in him, hoping he will leave his religion all together.

He is a 49 year old man that believes his faith and personal experience are enough to justify his belief in this god. He also believes science is completely wrong and shouldn't be trusted. I don't know if he can be saved.

 

I also recently met an old friend from grade school at the college. Every day he would come to my home before class and after.Me and him felt like we knew eachother really well because of our child hood.

 

But one day walking home with him he said " I am going to get baptized this weekend, would you come." I said "I am an Atheist, I really don't have no interest." After that weekend I saw him and he was completely different. He cut his long hair and was completely submissive. After that he refused to come to my home again, I actually haven't seen him since.

 

One of my best friends Eric, I knew him for most of my life. I stopped talking to him years ago because he had a meth addiction. Recently he came back into my life, but he was very religious. We eventually got into a debate about his religion so he stopped coming to my house because of it. He is the one that started the debate.

 

I have lost a lot of good friends because of this religion. And have been called some really messed up things. I have been called Satan, Demon, lost, stupid, rebellious, fool, etc.

 

thank you for your story

 

jesse

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So sorry that this happened. Your husband is right, 'they are nuts.' I long ago learned I cannot control what other people do. You can't either. Mourn the loss of those family members. My family is similar, and it has made me forever gunshy about casting my lot with any relatives - on my mother's side there is a strain of religious abusers and they are horrible.

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