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'generation Ex-christian' Uncovers Why People Leave The Faith


Ravenstar
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This is a review of a book that I found while researching info before I found this site, and it really ticked me off.

 

It flabbergasts me that not once does it state or even imply that people leave christianity because of REASON. In it's opinion every person who leaves the church is portrayed as an idiotic 2-dimensional stereotype. Sure it's focus is young people, that's no excuse to imply they are not capable of rational thought.

 

It's demeaning and trite and the only way prescribed to deal with it is by 'appealing' to that persons 'weakness' to bring them back into the fold. Dishonesty on a grand scale.

 

I honestly didn't know this stuff was out there... I gave christianity more credit than it deserves.

 

"Research and surveys show that many atheists, agnostics, and spiritual-seekers who lack religious affiliation are former Christians. But there was no research-based book that explained in depth why people were leaving, until Generation Ex-Christian.

 

 

 

The recently released book by Drew Dyck, editorial manager of the ministry team at Christianity Today International, breaks down “leavers” into six categories: postmodern leavers, recoilers, modern leavers, neo-pagans, rebels, and drifters.

 

These categories were formed after Dyck interviewed nearly 100 people while researching for the book.

 

“I’m not a sociologist or statistician, but I knew as a journalist I could bring something to this issue by introducing people to some of the faces and the stories behind the statistics,” said Dyck to The Christian Post. “And just providing profiles of these, what I call ‘leavers,’ these 20-somethings and early-30s that have walked away from the faith. And then provide some kind of tips on how to engage them in meaningful conversations about God that will ultimately lead them back.”

 

While much is known about the challenges in reaching a postmodern and modern (think Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens) audience with the gospel, little if anything has been said about the other four categories in Dyck’s book.

 

The recoilers are not easily identifiable as a leaver category because they tend to avoid talking about their painful childhood or teenage experiences with the church that are the primary reasons they left the faith. If pressed to explain why they left the faith, many recoilers will find intellectual reasons to back up their emotional reasons, Dyck writes.

 

Order Online: Generation Ex-Christian: Why Young Adults Are Leaving the Faith... and How to Bring Them Back

 

“For a child who suffers some form of ‘sanctified’ abuse, the resulting spiritual damage can haunt that person for a lifetime,” he explains in the book. “Such is the case for many recoilers – they often have experienced some form of abuse in the name of God.”

 

“They have become disillusioned with faith because the people they sanctified let them down. God is guilty by association.”

 

The author suggests finding out if a leaver is a recoiler by asking questions about their experience with the faith community, but avoiding to put them on the defensive. If someone is a recoiler, then concentrate on listening to the person’s story and empathizing with his/her pain. It is important to establish a friendship and earn trust with recoilers, Dyck writes, and to help them to reconcile with God before His people.

 

For neo-pagan leavers, the author spotlights Wicca, which is the fastest growing religion in the United States. Out of all the categories, Dyck reports that neo-pagan leavers have “the strongest emotional reaction to Christian faith.” Although neo-pagans are not as verbally combative as modernist leavers, if they do open up it is usually “a river of molten rage.”

 

Wiccans have negative feelings toward Christians because they have been repeatedly portrayed by believers as Satan-worshippers and accused of sacrificing animals and rumored to murder babies. Dyck says the first step in having a meaningful relationship with Wiccans is to defuse their negative feelings by showing familiarity with their basic beliefs and asking them what attracted them to Wicca and what problems they have with Christianity.

 

“Reaching neo-pagans begins with showing an appreciation for nature and a desire to protect it, all while directing them to the God of whom nature is a grand reflection,” writes Dyck.

 

Also, neo-pagans are attracted to spirituality so it is helpful for Christians to not be shy about talking about their own spiritual experiences.

 

Drifters, meanwhile, are those Christians whose faith was never that deep to begin with and it is hard to pinpoint when they actually left. These drifters, like their name suggests, just gradually drifted away without notice. They do not argue against Christianity and do not have emotional baggage from the faith. They still identify as Christians, but their life in no way reflects a commitment to Christ.

 

“They’re the kind who blend in, go with the flow. They were likely swept up in the faith in the first place because it was what everyone else around them was doing. Then they left for the same reason. They found themselves in a new context where Christian faith wasn’t the norm,” Dyck writes.

The author suggests challenging drifters with the hard demands of the gospel and to emphasize that church is not a social club but an “all-or-nothing proposition.” Also, it is good for drifters to form intergenerational bonds within the church instead of only being associated with the youth group.

In the interview with The Christian Post, Dyck said that he thinks the hardest leaver to bring back to Jesus Christ is the spiritual rebel. Spiritual rebels are those that have a hard time accepting the divine authority of God. They do not have an intellectual objection but a heart issue, observes Dyck. The only suggestions he has for reaching spiritual rebels is to pray a lot for them and to form relationships with them.

 

The other type of rebel is the one that loves to party. This type of rebel does not have an intellectual or emotional problem with the faith, but they are just unwilling to abide to Christian morality.

“A lot of young people are walking away not only from the church, but from their faith,” says Dyck. “And I don’t think that they will come back automatically. I don’t think we can count on that - some automatic return to the faith.”

 

The author urges older members in the church to build relationships with young people.

“Often what I found is the break from their faith came in the context of relationships, something went wrong with either a youth pastor, a parent, or some other spiritual authority. If they are going to be reconciled, come back to the church, it is going to have to happen in the context of relationships.”

 

Good grief! Do people really buy this bunk?

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I don't find it surprising, it's easier if someone doesn't like your favorite flavor of ice cream to just come up with a bunch of excuses like, "well he's just a douchebag." Actually, addressing the issues of why people leave Christianity would force the author and his audience to have to acknowledge and deal with the real reasons and not made up ones. I've been told numerous times it's just because I'm mad at God, I just want to sin, I wasn't really a Christian to begin with, I was going to the wrong church etc...It's easier to circle the wagons than deal with reality.

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I feel like many other issues in life - it's just a whole 'blame game'. (that's what humans do!ohmy.png )

 

Instead of facing the real fear (and truth) with any issue 'straight on' (including religious beliefs), one 'runs' from it, and makes many excuses to keep their world safe and secure.

 

The author probably doesn't want to even consider asking those who have lost their faith through 'reasoning,' because it would 'up-root' his whole world and his security..

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I can see your point.. wow lot's of irrational fear there.

Isn't that kind of denial and rationalization considered mental illness? That complete blindness to reality? Sorry but I'm trying to wrap my head around it. Because it's not just a few whackos, there's a whole culture out there like this. Scary.

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Christians always seem to completely ignore a basic tenet of their so called faith. Humility. That is why they have no ability to recognise or fix the way they abuse people.

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I can see your point.. wow lot's of irrational fear there.

Isn't that kind of denial and rationalization considered mental illness? That complete blindness to reality? Sorry but I'm trying to wrap my head around it. Because it's not just a few whackos, there's a whole culture out there like this. Scary.

 

I feel as if it's more 'the fight for survival' as apposed to mental illness - It was for me. I wanted a god!!! I'm here all by myself now - there is no god and I find that it can be pretty scary!! I can see why people hold on to the belief!!

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At 40, I'm a bit older than their study group, but here is my experience anyway. All my life, I'd just accepted Christianity's explanations for everything, but at the encouragement of my Sunday school teacher, I read the Bible through in a year. That was the beginning of the end. It took about 3 years. I honestly cannot see how anyone can read the Bible through and not see the problems.

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At 40, I'm a bit older than their study group, but here is my experience anyway. All my life, I'd just accepted Christianity's explanations for everything, but at the encouragement of my Sunday school teacher, I read the Bible through in a year. That was the beginning of the end. It took about 3 years. I honestly cannot see how anyone can read the Bible through and not see the problems.

 

I agree with you Eugene - but I still say they don't want to 'see' the problems. I didn't want anyone to tell me that this whole story from genesis to revelation was a myth! (I already knew there were problems of all sorts, but I avoided them as much as I could because I knew it would kill my faith.

 

I, personally, just couldn't avoid the real problems of the bible any longer and of course, just like I thought - it killed my faith........ .

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From the mouth and pen of Martin Luther:

 

Die verfluchte Huhre, Vernunft. (The damned whore, Reason).

 

Reason is the Devil's greatest whore; by nature and manner of being she is a noxious whore; she is a prostitute, the Devil's appointed whore; whore eaten by scab and leprosy who ought to be trodden under foot and destroyed, she and her wisdom ... Throw dung in her face to make her ugly. She is and she ought to be drowned in baptism... She would deserve, the wretch, to be banished to the filthiest place in the house, to the closets.

Martin Luther, Erlangen Edition v. 16, pp. 142-148

 

Reason is the greatest enemy that faith has; it never comes to the aid of spiritual things, but -- more frequently than not -- struggles against the divine Word, treating with contempt all that emanates from God.

 

Reason must be deluded, blinded, and destroyed. Faith must trample underfoot all reason, sense, and understanding, and whatever it sees must be put out of sight and ... know nothing but the word of God.

 

There is on earth among all dangers no more dangerous thing than a richly endowed and adroit reason... Reason must be deluded, blinded, and destroyed.

Martin Luther, quoted by Walter Kaufmann, The Faith of a Heretic, (Garden City, NY, Doubleday, 1963), p. 75

 

Reason should be destroyed in all Christians.

 

Whoever wants to be a Christian should tear the eyes out of his Reason.

 

To be a Christian, you must "pluck out the eye of reason."

 

People gave ear to an upstart astrologer [Copernicus] who strove to show that the earth revolves, not the heavens or the firmament, the sun and the moon. Whoever wishes to appear clever must devise some new system, which of all systems is of course the very best. This fool wishes to reverse the entire science of astronomy; but sacred scripture tells us [Joshua 10:13] that Joshua commanded the sun to stand still, and not the earth.

Martin Luther, "Works," Volume 22, c. 1543

 

We know, on the authority of Moses, that longer than six thousand years the world did not exist.

Martin Luther, "Lectures on Genesis"

 

 

It flabbergasts me that not once does it state or even imply that people leave christianity because of REASON.
(Ravenstar)

 

Oh God!

Casey

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"a heart issue"

 

ugh I hate Christianese.

 

Also it is typical that Christians, when they wish to know something, usually always go to a Christian source instead of from the horse's mouth.

 

"Why do Muslims not believe in Jesus? I'll ask a Christian."

"Why do people stop going to church? I'll ask my pastor."

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It seems to me then that people's irrational beliefs are akin to a deep survival instinct - which of course is the survival of the ego, or 'self-view'.

 

Does it not follow then that self-esteem, or the lack of it is the primary cause for self-delusion, and self delusion can only be maintained in a closed system (ie: christian sources), as far as I can see. My experience has been that those who lack a solid sense of self worth are the most prone to this, even to the point of all sorts of psychological defense mechanisms such as projection, generalizations, rationalization, etc. Christianity - with it's insistence on the unworthiness of humanity would seem to feed this existential shame and nurture these mechanisms.

 

Don't know if I explained that well

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I remember reading the highlights when this first came out. I too agree that not much is really said about those of us who just simply don't find there to be any truth to the matter, and find any so called "evidence" to be on shaky ground. I don't agree with the author's assertion (funny how Christians like to assert their views on others in more ways than one) that post-moderns think everyone can have their own truth. That sounds more like a Universalist, or even my wife. I think it would be more honest to say that no religion can provide reliable evidence to support their claims, meaning they are all equally bogus.

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The recently released book by Drew Dyck, editorial manager of the ministry team at Christianity Today International, breaks down “leavers” into six categories: postmodern leavers, recoilers, modern leavers, neo-pagans, rebels, and drifters.

 

Wow, even the categories ensure to demonize the so called "leavers". Why not call the "leavers" by what they are... human beings. Is it really that hard to acknowledge that some people leave and choose other paths in life to grow as an individual? Yeah, let's just slap on another label to ensure other's don't try to leave less they want a name tag lapped on their ass as they walk out the door. Evil name stickers! EVIIIIIIIIIIIIL!

 

Looking back to my own church I recall there being people who left. Thing is once they left it was like they never existed, like they faded out of existence like from Back to the Future. This disconnect always bothered me even before I started to ask my own questions.

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Good grief! Do people really buy this bunk?

 

Unfortunately, yes. Most believers only know and believe strawman arguments like those presented in this book. They can't grasp the fact that their religion is actually baloney and there are people who simply see through it.

 

Jesus supposedly said, "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me" (Matt 5:11), but the irony is that Christians are constantly making false accusations against nonbelievers.

 

They simply don't get it. It's not really their fault, though, since the brainwashing runs deep.

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It's demeaning and trite and the only way prescribed to deal with it is by 'appealing' to that persons 'weakness' to bring them back into the fold.

Of course. The church's sales pitch has always been to offer comfort and certainty to the frightened, anxious and insecure. That is why his technique is to look for weakness and exploit it. That is why the primary concern is saving people from a contrived hell.

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The more I look around and actually see what's going on 'out there' the angrier I get. Not at individual christians (muslims, whatever) - it's the whole thing, it's like a disease that makes people stupid. The worst part is it is set up so the people basically become their own jailers...

 

I may be becoming a radical... it just all seems so dangerous, so opposite to growth and progress and... this little review is only the tip of the iceberg and I hold on daily to the trend that people ARE leaving the church. Maybe it's a phase that we go through when we finally see the light (pun intended)?

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The more I look around and actually see what's going on 'out there' the angrier I get. Not at individual christians (muslims, whatever) - it's the whole thing, it's like a disease that makes people stupid. The worst part is it is set up so the people basically become their own jailers...

 

I may be becoming a radical... it just all seems so dangerous, so opposite to growth and progress and... this little review is only the tip of the iceberg and I hold on daily to the trend that people ARE leaving the church. Maybe it's a phase that we go through when we finally see the light (pun intended)?

 

Feels good, doesn't it? Becoming a radical. Free to be pissed.

Maybe you can write a book on the real reason people leave the church?

I'd like to see this forum pop up, when people do a search on, "generation ex-christian".

 

I have found dumping Christianity, to be empowering.

I am more confident in theological debate then I have ever been.

I too, have found that many fundamentalists just do not know how to think.

I guess that is why Drew Dyck's book is so simple and lacking rationality.

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Coercive psychology. (Coercive mind control) Sounds like what is being employed in the book. Check Amazon.com for reviews by readers and get their take on it. You are not alone in your angst over the tone it takes implying ex-Christians are being misled and just need to be guided back into the fold. Because the world is a much safer place if everyone in it thinks like "us".

 

It's like any cult mentality. As long as you go along, you get along. But once outside the circle you're perceived as not worthy, missing the point, afraid of the truth, etc... And as such that is excused as a test, your own sense of unworthiness, etc... It's powerful stuff that, upon reflection, one can see has worked so well the majority of a world population nearing 7 billion individuals believe Christianity is true.

 

The Parable of the Poisoned Well

There was once a wise king who ruled over a vast city. He was feared for his might and loved for his wisdom. Now in the heart of the city, there was a well whose waters were pure and crystalline from which the king and all the inhabitants drank. When all were asleep, an enemy entered the city and poured seven drops of a strange liquid into the well. And he said that henceforth all who drink this water shall become mad.

 

All the people drank of the water, but not the king. And the people began to say, "The king is mad and has lost his reason. Look how strangely he behaves. We cannot be ruled by a madman, so he must be dethroned."

 

The king grew very fearful, for his subjects were preparing to rise against him. So one evening, he ordered a golden goblet to be filled from the well, and he drank deeply. The next day, there was great rejoicing among the people, for their beloved king had finally regained his reason.

 

 

 

--Author Unknown

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Typical Christian baloney. If it associated with Christians or written by Christians, I am always thinking everything about it is twisted or suspect.

 

How do I know that Wicca is the fastest growing religion in the U.S.? This statement is just thrown out there without any basis.

 

This idea that there is never an intellectual problem with Christianity, instead its a "heart problem" is very old. I don't know who first thought this up, but evidently it has persuaded many people who want to believe Christianity has some sort of intellectual basis or integrity. Too bad this idea doesn't hold up to reality.

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This is just an intellectual exercise that crosses my mind - but how do you think these people will react when science actually does create 'life' in the lab, or intelligent extraterrestrials do decide to pop by for a visit? (it's possible, if not probable) or even if they do find traces of life, alive or extinct, on Mars or the moons of Jupiter?

 

They will have to change their tune (Like the Catholic Church did when they stated that extraterrestrial life could be included in the Catholic faith) .. can we extrapolate the kind of defenses they might come up with? I just wonder what extent of mental and emotional sophistry they will go to.

 

Should this be a new thread?

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How do I know that Wicca is the fastest growing religion in the U.S.? This statement is just thrown out there without any basis.

 

Many Wiccans use this statistic themselves. Kind of a feel-good idea, but that is all it is. In truth there is no way to accurately count the number of pagans because many will not self-identify (Part of the persecution complex that is ingrained in some popular pagan literature AND actual discrimination based on religion).

 

Now I am going to respond the "Generation Ex-Christian" book. Please, Christians, pay attention. I did not become pagan because I like nature. I did not become pagan because I wanted to be spiritual, do magick, beleive in different gods, or uphold what I consider to be a high moral standard. I did not switch from Christianity to paganism as one would change clothes. I left Christianity because it just was not right for me. I cannot imagine a more sadistic being than the Christian god, but I wont get into that unless someone actualy wants to debate about it.

 

Most pagans, in the US at least, used to be Christian. There are many different reasons why one would want to leave that religion so do not pigeon hole us into being tree hugging hippies. /rant

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hello fellow pagan!

 

I concur... leaving christianity had little to do with any of the reasons set forth in their rationalization, lol and if I was approached like the book suggests I would be highly insulted, or I would LMAO. Paganism didn't 'lure' me away. I left long before I became pagan.

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This is just an intellectual exercise that crosses my mind - but how do you think these people will react when science actually does create 'life' in the lab, or intelligent extraterrestrials do decide to pop by for a visit? (it's possible, if not probable) or even if they do find traces of life, alive or extinct, on Mars or the moons of Jupiter?

 

They will have to change their tune (Like the Catholic Church did when they stated that extraterrestrial life could be included in the Catholic faith) .. can we extrapolate the kind of defenses they might come up with? I just wonder what extent of mental and emotional sophistry they will go to.

 

I remember back in the 1980's when I was at the height of my own Christian fundamentalism I would talk about such things with my fundy friends. We were trying to anticipate the method by which Satan and the Anti-Christ would fool the world. An evil miracle that fools scientists into thinking that they can create life in the lab was near the top of the list. As for extraterrestrials landing that is the plot for classic V. Of course it was on our minds. So trust me the fundamentalists are already two steps ahead and have a delusion to cover any possible turn of events.

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To sum it up, in the beginning = once upon a time and thus the fairy tale of gawd falls into the fiction section of credulity

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wow

 

delusions based on what 'might' occur... that's pretty twisted and takes it to a whole new level

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