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momof8
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Hi, my name is Tonya and I am a married, 40 year old mother of 8. I have been raised in Fundamental Christianity since I was 12, and had attended a fundamental church even before my parents became "saved" when I was 12. I was quite the rebellious teenager, but at the age of 19 decided to be born again mainly because I didn't want to go to hell. I will say, that it felt like a real experience, my life did seem to have more meaning. Of course, I had a church full of people so happy that I had "finally" gotten saved. Soon after, I met my husband of 21 years. He also had just gotten saved and delivered from a life of drugs and alcohol. We have had our ups and downs, but I can say that we have a very strong marriage 21 years later. We have 8 children ranging in age from 19 to 2 years. I love my family and have a wonderful group of friends who are encouraging and loving. They are all, of course, fundamental Christians, albeit fairly easygoing ones.

 

I have always had questions about my religion. I have read the Bible through and saw lots of things that I had real problems with. The atrocities committed by "godly" men and even God in the Old Testament alarmed me. But when I questioned this, I was just told we can't understand God's ways. He had his reasons for killing innocent people....WTF!!!! I am ashamed that I bought this line of reasoning for 20 years. I have also suffered from pretty severe depression since my teen years. I hate to blame this on religion, because my family does have a tendency toward this, but I can say that religion kept me from getting help for years! I was told that taking antidepressants was wrong and that I just needed to pray harder or deal with the sin in my life.( there were no big sins to speak of, I was a faithful wife who stayed at home and took care of her young children) I finally got help anyway, and have been so much better since being put on Zoloft. Of course, there was a lot of guilt associated with this decision. That has been the hardest thing to deal with, the guilt! And the fear, of going to hell, of one of my children not getting saved and going to hell. And sadly, I go to a fairly loving church, there are many that are much worse out there.

 

My husband and I have been out of church for the past year, mainly because of his huge workload. Sundays are our only day to rest and enjoy being together. Going to church with 8 children is not relaxing. Yes, lots of guilt about this too! We are still active in church activities however because we have been member of this church for over 15 years and pretty much know everyone. So far, no one is really worried about our salvation. It is nice not to go to church and have to feel bad about myself all the time. I guess not having this indoctrination every week has led me to where I am now. It is like I can think so much more clearly. And this thinking and reading is leading me to the fact that I believed a fairy tale. I have no idea what to do with this thinking. No one knows about what I am going through except my very Christian mother. She has been very loving and understanding, but she really thinks I will come out of this doubt a stronger Christian than ever. However, I am pretty sure I am going the opposite way towards complete atheism. I never thought I would write those words! My older children attend a Fundamental Christian School and I home school the younger ones with a Christian curriculum. My children are very devoted Christians. My husband doesn't even know how I am thinking except that I have become somewhat liberal. I no longer think homosexuals are destined for an eternity in hell and I even drink and go dancing with husband on occasion. My husband much prefers the new me (i used to be so scared to do anything that was too much fun out of fear of being punished), so I think he would be very understanding. I am just afraid of saying something and leading them astray, what if I am wrong and because of me they end up in hell?!!! This indoctrination of an afterlife in hell is just so strongly entrenched in my beliefs, I can't make it go away!!

 

I could go on and on, but just wanted to give a brief intro as to where I am and why I am here. I truly feel like I have no one to talk to.

 

tonya

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No one knows about what I am going through except my very Christian mother. She has been very loving and understanding, but she really thinks I will come out of this doubt a stronger Christian than ever. However, I am pretty sure I am going the opposite way towards complete atheism. I never thought I would write those words! My older children attend a Fundamental Christian School and I home school the younger ones with a Christian curriculum. My children are very devoted Christians. My husband doesn't even know how I am thinking except that I have become somewhat liberal. I no longer think homosexuals are destined for an eternity in hell and I even drink and go dancing with husband on occasion. My husband much prefers the new me (i used to be so scared to do anything that was too much fun out of fear of being punished), so I think he would be very understanding. I am just afraid of saying something and leading them astray, what if I am wrong and because of me they end up in hell?!!! This indoctrination of an afterlife in hell is just so strongly entrenched in my beliefs, I can't make it go away!!

 

I could go on and on, but just wanted to give a brief intro as to where I am and why I am here. I truly feel like I have no one to talk to.

 

tonya

 

Wow momof8, welcome to ex-C. You already have my respect. Keep in mind that you don't have to tell anybody what your religious views are or where you are at the moment. If you choose to share it with others let it be well planed out. You can always tell them later but you can never un-tell them. One important thing you can do is be a positive and less religious influence on your family.

 

You mention a lot of guilt. When I was a Christian I was confused. I mistook the shame I was feeling and called it guilt. I don't know if that is rellevant to you but shame is something Christianity puts into people so it might be worth looking into the difference.

 

There are lots of people here who have lived very similar situations as you. Mine is not that different, except with a lot less children. (You must be tough as nails to hold together so many little ones.) I still attend Church every Sunday. (I envy that you guys found a way to stop) I don't tell anybody offline that I am not a Christian. I still go through the motions. I felt similar horror when my beliefs fell apart. Time heals the fear.

 

So welcome and hang out for as long as you like.

 

 

MM

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Welcome, Tonya.

 

I am just afraid of saying something and leading them astray, what if I am wrong and because of me they end up in hell?!!! This indoctrination of an afterlife in hell is just so strongly entrenched in my beliefs, I can't make it go away!!

Do you think you really have the power to send someone to a "Hell" if the god who made that hell doesn't want them to go?

 

It's a silly argument, of course, since there is no Hell or Bible God. But even in the context of Christian belief, I don't see how an individual can influence God's plan for someone else. Just a thought.

 

Anyway, it takes time (and sometimes therapy) to overcome years of brainwashing so be patient. Think, study, and understand that some Christians don't even believe in the doctrine of Hell, and there are many resources detailing why Hell is an empty threat of a controlling religion (or cult, as some prefer). You'll get there!

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Hello momof8 :)

 

Many, many of us here know how you are feeling. We've either gone through it or are going through it. I myself am only a recent member- I joined the site 2 weeks ago, in fact. I was having trouble keeping my secret to myself, it was seriously messing with me, so I finally bit the bullet just before and put a status up on facebook about where I'm at. I also told everyone that I wouldn't be checking in for a couple of days. I don't know why it's so intimidating- possibly because I know what I was like as a christian!!

 

I have found a lot of support on this forum, and I'm sure you will, too. I have found that it has helped with my ability to think for myself- an alien concept for so long.

 

Welcome to the site, it would be lovely to have you stick around :)

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Wow momof8, welcome to ex-C. You already have my respect. Keep in mind that you don't have to tell anybody what your religious views are or where you are at the moment. If you choose to share it with others let it be well planed out. You can always tell them later but you can never un-tell them. One important thing you can do is be a positive and less religious influence on your family.

 

You mention a lot of guilt. When I was a Christian I was confused. I mistook the shame I was feeling and called it guilt. I don't know if that is rellevant to you but shame is something Christianity puts into people so it might be worth looking into the difference.

 

There are lots of people here who have lived very similar situations as you. Mine is not that different, except with a lot less children. (You must be tough as nails to hold together so many little ones.) I still attend Church every Sunday. (I envy that you guys found a way to stop) I don't tell anybody offline that I am not a Christian. I still go through the motions. I felt similar horror when my beliefs fell apart. Time heals the fear.

 

So welcome and hang out for as long as you like.

 

 

MM

 

Thank you for the welcome, MM :) Yes, I am so relieved to have found a way out of church and now I don't even have to feel guilty about it! But I do think I am going to have to be like you and keep this to myself for awhile. It would be too destructive to my family right now, especially children. I have been trying to lead them to a more kind worldview. Of course, when I mentioned to my 14 year old daughter that there was nothing wrong with being gay, she about freaked out and looked at me like I grew another head :( I am afraid my new beliefs are so radically different than my families that they already know something is going on. I am realizing how extreme my beliefs actually were. I hope to give my younger 3 children (8, 5, and 2) a different belief system. My 17 year old son (who has depression and ADD) believes he is called to be a preacher, I am too afraid to cause huge problems in his life that I just can't come out right now.

I am just so thankful to have found this forum

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Hi Tonya,

 

I hope you get a lot out of your visit to ex-C. Many have found it to be a useful resource and source of support during any transition period for deconversion from Christianity. I think the challenge for you will be primarily how to bring your kids up with your new found feelings and thoughts. A tricky one. But kids are very good at seeing through hypocrisy and fibs. The truth will always come out in the end, like trying to get rid of bubbles from newly laid wallpaper, the more you try to press them flat, the more they keep coming back somewhere else.

 

Your other challenge may be to counteract the double whammy of Christian nonsense that is (a) taking responsibility for your actions and not having an unhealthy dependence on the Jesus figure, and (B) taking credit for your own accomplishments. Both of thse things Christianity discourages.

 

In terms of Hell. What evidence really is there that when we die there are two theme parks - one nasty and one nice? From my point of view there is none.

 

And if Hell exists, how do we know that we are believing in the correct Hell that has been created by the correct God? What if one of the following Hells is true instead of the Christian one - the Ancient Roman one, the ancient Greek one, the Zoroastrian one, the Islamic one, the Viking one?

 

We could devote our entire lives to the Christian God and it might turn out that Baal was the correct one!

 

Or more probably none of the above!

 

Reading the Bible properly, at face value, very successfully deconverted me. Mark 16 swung it for me ultimately- Jesus states the signs that shall accompany a true believer are that they shall have the ability to cast out demons, heal sick people just by touching them and being able to drink poison and living to tell the tale. If you have not done these things then I suggest that you, like me, are not a true believer! And that's come direct from the horse's mouth!

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Welcome, Tonya.

 

I am just afraid of saying something and leading them astray, what if I am wrong and because of me they end up in hell?!!! This indoctrination of an afterlife in hell is just so strongly entrenched in my beliefs, I can't make it go away!!

Do you think you really have the power to send someone to a "Hell" if the god who made that hell doesn't want them to go?

 

It's a silly argument, of course, since there is no Hell or Bible God. But even in the context of Christian belief, I don't see how an individual can influence God's plan for someone else. Just a thought.

 

Anyway, it takes time (and sometimes therapy) to overcome years of brainwashing so be patient. Think, study, and understand that some Christians don't even believe in the doctrine of Hell, and there are many resources detailing why Hell is an empty threat of a controlling religion (or cult, as some prefer). You'll get there!

 

 

Oh, I know it is ridiculous. However, the way I was taught, parents are responsible for teaching their children about God. If I tell my kids that God doesn't exist and I am wrong, my kids might possibly believe me and stopped believing in Jesus and end up in hell all because they trusted me. I know this sounds crazy, but this is the belief system I am coming from. This belief in eternal damnation has kept me in line for 20 years :( Of course, it is what got me thinking as well. I just couldn't understand how people who claimed to be Christians but were really horribly cruel people got to go to Heaven, but a good and kind person who just didn't happen to believe in Jesus was sent to hell. Brainwashing is such a good term for what goes on. Fundamental Christianity makes absolutely no logical sense whatsoever....

 

Thank you for your kind welcome :)

tonya

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Hi, Momof8! Reading the Bible through in a year was the beginning of the end for me. Completely agree, there are many things in there that don't make any sense. Your observation of guilt about taking medicine for depression is interesting. I would love for someone to be able to explain why Christianity doesn't have any problems with someone having heart problems, lung problems, you name it, but let the brain start having problems, and there's nothing but God can fix that. You're lucky - an easy out from church? I'm jealous! Anyway, enjoyed reading your story and welcome to Ex-C.

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Hello momof8 smile.png

 

Many, many of us here know how you are feeling. We've either gone through it or are going through it. I myself am only a recent member- I joined the site 2 weeks ago, in fact. I was having trouble keeping my secret to myself, it was seriously messing with me, so I finally bit the bullet just before and put a status up on facebook about where I'm at. I also told everyone that I wouldn't be checking in for a couple of days. I don't know why it's so intimidating- possibly because I know what I was like as a christian!!

 

I have found a lot of support on this forum, and I'm sure you will, too. I have found that it has helped with my ability to think for myself- an alien concept for so long.

 

Welcome to the site, it would be lovely to have you stick around smile.png

 

 

Yes, Christians can be scary people sometimes lol I cringe to think of what I may have inadvertently said to make someone else feel badly about themselves, all in the name of being a good Christian and telling the "truth" :rolleyes:

 

It feels so good to finally be able to think for myself and realize that I am not the crazy one! Of course, I say this while still hiding in the proverbial closet.

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Hi Tonya,

 

I hope you get a lot out of your visit to ex-C. Many have found it to be a useful resource and source of support during any transition period for deconversion from Christianity. I think the challenge for you will be primarily how to bring your kids up with your new found feelings and thoughts. A tricky one. But kids are very good at seeing through hypocrisy and fibs. The truth will always come out in the end, like trying to get rid of bubbles from newly laid wallpaper, the more you try to press them flat, the more they keep coming back somewhere else.

 

Your other challenge may be to counteract the double whammy of Christian nonsense that is (a) taking responsibility for your actions and not having an unhealthy dependence on the Jesus figure, and (cool.png taking credit for your own accomplishments. Both of thse things Christianity discourages.

 

YES! I still automatically pray when something goes wrong. The other day I stopped myself and said "wait, there is no god, who the hell are you talking to?" I just had to laugh at myself. My mother and I got in a small argument about what makes us good the other day. I was saying that I really believe I would be a kind and loving person even if I was never a Christian and she disagreed with me?! WTF!!! Of course, being a bad person is not getting in your hour of prayer and Bible time every day :rolleyes: One thing Christianity loves to teach us is how horrible we are, no better than filthy rags....

 

 

 

And if Hell exists, how do we know that we are believing in the correct Hell that has been created by the correct God? What if one of the following Hells is true instead of the Christian one - the Ancient Roman one, the ancient Greek one, the Zoroastrian one, the Islamic one, the Viking one?

 

We could devote our entire lives to the Christian God and it might turn out that Baal was the correct one!

 

Or more probably none of the above!

 

Reading the Bible properly, at face value, very successfully deconverted me. Mark 16 swung it for me ultimately- Jesus states the signs that shall accompany a true believer are that they shall have the ability to cast out demons, heal sick people just by touching them and being able to drink poison and living to tell the tale. If you have not done these things then I suggest that you, like me, are not a true believer! And that's come direct from the horse's mouth!

 

I have often wondered what would happen if I had the wrong God belief and reading the Bible always caused me to question Christianity. I actually had to stop reading the Bible the last few years to keep believing. It constantly contradicts itself and I had a really hard time with the cruelty in it. I finally got to the point of telling myself, if this is how God is, I don't want anything to do with him. I couldn't understand a God who cared if my lovely spoiled American life was ok, but didn't seem to give a shit about starving children on the other side of the world. Oh and he would probably send said starving children to hell because they didn't believe in him. Sad, isn't it

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Hi, Momof8! Reading the Bible through in a year was the beginning of the end for me. Completely agree, there are many things in there that don't make any sense. Your observation of guilt about taking medicine for depression is interesting. I would love for someone to be able to explain why Christianity doesn't have any problems with someone having heart problems, lung problems, you name it, but let the brain start having problems, and there's nothing but God can fix that. You're lucky - an easy out from church? I'm jealous! Anyway, enjoyed reading your story and welcome to Ex-C.

 

 

Thanks Eugene39! The church I attend has actually gotten better at admitting that mental illness is no different than any other illness, but this is only been the case the last few years. My parents actually belonged to a church that didn't believe in going to the doctor for anything! My parents actually told me I was to refuse medical treatment for them if they were ever in an accident! I told them I would not refuse medical treatment and if they had a problem with that, too bad! They no longer believe this way, but some people do take the Bible completely literally. It is very very scary and dangerous. A lot of churches basically believe that any mental illness is caused by demon oppression or possession or because of severe hidden sin in your life. A lovely way to live, isn't it :(

 

tonya

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Hello Tonya

Congratulations; you are about to be 'unborn again'. :) Your story is quite familiar, and I can totally empathize with what you are going through. Nothing is more difficult and painful than awakening to the reality that what you have been taught and have believed for so long is simply not the truth. I salute you in your willingness to listen to the voice of reason that is inside all of us -- the one that is often drowned out deliberately by organized religion.

 

The first and probably most important thing I can say to you is this: DO NOT BE AFRAID. There is no such place as 'Hell'; the entire concept was invented by religious leaders as a means of control. There are many books on this subject, that directly trace the concept through various mythologies over the centuries -- one of the ways I found my own comfort with the dissolution of my faith was through reading and studying the actual history of religion and the concepts attached to it; I urge you to do some research of your own and I think you will find that knowledge is indeed power.

 

I will say one thing that might be helpful for you; SOME other Atheists might argue with me but here goes: the core message of ALL religions, underneath the dogma, stripped of primitive anachronisms and control mechanisms, is very compatible with Science and Humanism and Modernity and Truth. And that is the message of Love, and Connectedness, and Forgiveness, and Compassion. The great beauty of this is that it is not necessary to believe any of the mythologies to have these things, and it is not necessary to reject the IDEA of what 'God' is supposed to represent (Oneness, Wholeness, Meaning) in order to reject the 'story' one has been taught, or the particular, literal 'God' that one has been told to bow down to. Christianity, to cite but one example, was originally allegorical, NOT literal, and it was compiled from MANY older mythologies in order to teach an illiterate populace about the concepts I mention above. It quickly devolved into a tool (and a very effective one) to control the masses, especially after the Roman Empire saw its potential as such and adopted it -- but take away all the ugliness, and the ambiguity, the ritualistic manipulation tactics and the prescientific misinformation, and you are left with one thing: 'God' is LOVE. And if you simply read THAT as it was most likely intended, it becomes LOVE IS GOD. From a scientific point of view, what humans have called 'God' by many different names, is what holds the Multiverse together and gives us all a mind to conceptualize any of this -- that is, Energy. Everything, including us, is merely patterns of Energy. And the recognition of this -- of the oneness that unites us all with the Cosmos and each other, is what we call LOVE.

 

There is not enough room here to elaborate on everything I have discovered through books and research, but I can tell you that I spent many years educating myself on the many, MANY things Christians in general do NOT know about the origins of their own belief system, and it will truly astound you to see where it all really came from. And, for me at least, learning all this was (pun intended) a REVELATION. What I CAN do is to suggest a few worthy books (really, a very small portion of the hundreds I've read).

 

(These are all Amazon links because it was easy for me to grab them, but you should be able to find these from many sources; I am not in any way affiliated with Amazon):

 

The 'Jesus Mysteries' trilogy by Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy (these three are INDISPENSABLE for the former believer wrestling with fear and confusion):

http://www.amazon.com/Jesus-Mysteries-Was-Original-Pagan/dp/0609807986/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1321218491&sr=1-1

 

http://www.amazon.com/Laughing-Jesus-Religious-Gnostic-Wisdom/dp/140008279X/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1321218491&sr=1-2

 

http://www.amazon.com/Laughing-Jesus-Religious-Gnostic-Wisdom/dp/140008279X/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1321218491&sr=1-2

 

'The Origin of Satan' by Elaine Pagels:

http://www.amazon.com/Origin-Satan-Christians-Demonized-Heretics/dp/0679731180/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1321218594&sr=1-3

 

'The History of Hell' by Alice Turner

http://www.amazon.com/History-Hell-Alice-K-Turner/dp/0156001373/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1321218666&sr=1-1

 

'Who Wrote the Bible' by Richard Friedman

http://www.amazon.com/Wrote-Bible-Richard-Elliott-Friedman/dp/0060630353/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1321218740&sr=1-1

 

'Why I Am Not a Christian' by Bertrand Russell

http://www.amazon.com/Christian-Essays-Religion-Related-Subjects/dp/0671203231/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1321219141&sr=1-1

 

'The Suns of God' and 'The Christ Conspiracy' by Acharya S

http://www.amazon.com/Suns-God-Krishna-Buddha-Unveiled/dp/1931882312/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1321219418&sr=1-5

 

http://www.amazon.com/Christ-Conspiracy-Greatest-Story-Ever/dp/0932813747/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1321219498&sr=1-1

 

'River Out of Eden' by Richard Dawkins

http://www.amazon.com/River-Out-Eden-Darwinian-Science/dp/0465069908/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1321219228&sr=1-1

 

'The Portable Atheist' by Christopher Hitchens

http://www.amazon.com/Portable-Atheist-Essential-Readings-Nonbeliever/dp/0306816083/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1321219292&sr=1-2

 

 

Not about religion but very helpful to understanding the big picture of life and the Universe, at least what we can know of it so far:

 

'A Brief History of Everything' by Ken Wilber

http://www.amazon.com/Brief-History-Everything-Ken-Wilber/dp/1570627401/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1321218812&sr=1-1

 

A few books by the amazing Fritjof Capra:

http://www.amazon.com/Tao-Physics-Exploration-Parallels-Mysticism/dp/1590308352/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1321218916&sr=1-1

 

http://www.amazon.com/Turning-Point-Science-Society-Culture/dp/0553345729/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1321218916&sr=1-4

 

http://www.amazon.com/Web-Life-Scientific-Understanding-Systems/dp/0385476760/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1321218916&sr=1-2

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Hi, momof8. Welcome to ExC.

 

I enjoyed your story.

 

Your fear that telling your family of your newfound freedom from Christianity may lead them to hell if you are wrong, tells me that you are not completely comfortable with leaving Christianity behind. There's nothing wrong with that. It's perfectly normal. My advice is for you first to deal with the remaining issues, hell in particular, before you even think of sharing what you now accept as truth with your husband or children.

 

I remember when I was first deconverting, I stopped and carefully thought about the ramifications if I were wrong. And, of course, the primary ramification was that I would end up in hell if I renounced my belief in Jesus and I were wrong about it. It was that concern that led me to the bible rather than away from it. I studied it very carefully, except when I did it then, I did not study it with blinders of faith. Once I did that, I was completely confident that the religion is all a lie, and that includes the myth of hell.

 

Best to you.

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Hello Tonya

Congratulations; you are about to be 'unborn again'. smile.png Your story is quite familiar, and I can totally empathize with what you are going through. Nothing is more difficult and painful than awakening to the reality that what you have been taught and have believed for so long is simply not the truth. I salute you in your willingness to listen to the voice of reason that is inside all of us -- the one that is often drowned out deliberately by organized religion.

 

The first and probably most important thing I can say to you is this: DO NOT BE AFRAID. There is no such place as 'Hell'; the entire concept was invented by religious leaders as a means of control. There are many books on this subject, that directly trace the concept through various mythologies over the centuries -- one of the ways I found my own comfort with the dissolution of my faith was through reading and studying the actual history of religion and the concepts attached to it; I urge you to do some research of your own and I think you will find that knowledge is indeed power.

 

I will say one thing that might be helpful for you; SOME other Atheists might argue with me but here goes: the core message of ALL religions, underneath the dogma, stripped of primitive anachronisms and control mechanisms, is very compatible with Science and Humanism and Modernity and Truth. And that is the message of Love, and Connectedness, and Forgiveness, and Compassion. The great beauty of this is that it is not necessary to believe any of the mythologies to have these things, and it is not necessary to reject the IDEA of what 'God' is supposed to represent (Oneness, Wholeness, Meaning) in order to reject the 'story' one has been taught, or the particular, literal 'God' that one has been told to bow down to. Christianity, to cite but one example, was originally allegorical, NOT literal, and it was compiled from MANY older mythologies in order to teach an illiterate populace about the concepts I mention above. It quickly devolved into a tool (and a very effective one) to control the masses, especially after the Roman Empire saw its potential as such and adopted it -- but take away all the ugliness, and the ambiguity, the ritualistic manipulation tactics and the prescientific misinformation, and you are left with one thing: 'God' is LOVE. And if you simply read THAT as it was most likely intended, it becomes LOVE IS GOD. From a scientific point of view, what humans have called 'God' by many different names, is what holds the Multiverse together and gives us all a mind to conceptualize any of this -- that is, Energy. Everything, including us, is merely patterns of Energy. And the recognition of this -- of the oneness that unites us all with the Cosmos and each other, is what we call LOVE.

 

There is not enough room here to elaborate on everything I have discovered through books and research, but I can tell you that I spent many years educating myself on the many, MANY things Christians in general do NOT know about the origins of their own belief system, and it will truly astound you to see where it all really came from. And, for me at least, learning all this was (pun intended) a REVELATION. What I CAN do is to suggest a few worthy books (really, a very small portion of the hundreds I've read).

 

 

 

 

Thank you so much for the many book recommendations, I am going to start checking them out. So far, all of my research has been done on the internet, but I love to read and learn. I do like your idea of an energy in the universe. Deep down, I think I want to hold onto my belief in an all loving God, I am just becoming very doubtful that he or it exists. I still hold my moral beliefs, mainly to treat others the way I would like to be treated. I truly believe, if everyone in the world lived by this one statement, it would be a wonderful existence. Actually, I find that Christianity can be very cruel, and does not easily show unconditional love at all. I think it is easier to show unconditional love to people without religion. Religion, in all it's forms, has so many conditions. I hope the "fear" goes away soon. Like you said, knowledge is power, and hopefully the more I learn and know, the less fear there will be.

 

I am amazed at all of the support I have received on this forum already. Thank you all so much :)

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Hi, momof8. Welcome to ExC.

 

I enjoyed your story.

 

Your fear that telling your family of your newfound freedom from Christianity may lead them to hell if you are wrong, tells me that you are not completely comfortable with leaving Christianity behind. There's nothing wrong with that. It's perfectly normal. My advice is for you first to deal with the remaining issues, hell in particular, before you even think of sharing what you now accept as truth with your husband or children.

 

I remember when I was first deconverting, I stopped and carefully thought about the ramifications if I were wrong. And, of course, the primary ramification was that I would end up in hell if I renounced my belief in Jesus and I were wrong about it. It was that concern that led me to the bible rather than away from it. I studied it very carefully, except when I did it then, I did not study it with blinders of faith. Once I did that, I was completely confident that the religion is all a lie, and that includes the myth of hell.

 

Best to you.

 

Overcame Faith, you have hit the nail on the head. I am still struggling a lot with my deconversion. I need to do a lot more study and "soul" searching before I let everyone in on what I am thinking. It will be a huge upset in my life, there is no way around that. Literally everyone I know and love and care about is a Bible believing Christian. I need to be totally confident in what I believe when I do this. Actually, I started this deconversion about a month ago and had to take a break for a few weeks to let everything I learned sink in. It was a lot to process. I am just now researching again. It was a big step to join this forum.

 

I tend to be honest to a fault and feel if I keep information from someone it is lying. I need to protect myself and know that I am not lying to anyone, I havn't even figured out exactly what I know to be true now, so how can I possibly begin to let them know.

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Tonya, I'm happy to be of service. The books I recommended are just a few of the great works out there that will bolster your confidence about what you are discovering through your own intellectual exploration. I know you are in a difficult place, especially with a family that is probably not going to understand where you are coming from, at least not for awhile. I wish you great strength for this journey, and please know that you are far from alone in it -- though it may sometimes feel like you are. But always remember, as they used to tell me in church, the truth WILL set you free. :)

 

One other thing to think about is this: there are a growing number of counselors out there who specialize in helping people who are emerging from the indoctrination of the 'big' religions. There have long been cult reprogramming folks available, but this is a bit different (usually the so-called 'cults' will get ahold of an individual and it is their mainstream family and friends that want to rescue them, but in the case of the major organized religions, the problem is much more complex because, as you well know, one's family and friends are usually all still deeply involved in the belief system and likely to be quite unsupportive at best). Anyway, I don't know what might be available where you live, but it could be really helpful for you to find a good therapist or counselor who understands this process and hopefully has seen others through it. Having someone to talk to who offers non-judgemental support can make a world of difference. All us fellow travelers out here on the web can surely be of help, but sometimes there's no substitute for face-to-face interaction.

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Momof8,

 

I feel for you. I've just begun the process of coming out of my deeply held beliefs, too. What's amazing to me is that this belief system I've had my whole life is crumbling so fast. As soon as I allowed myself to look objectively at what I believed, it started falling apart. I didn't want that to happen. I understand your concern about sharing how you feel with people. We (husband and I) are in the same boat. My advice is that you just take it one day at a time...something that's very hard for me to do, but I'm trying! ;)

 

I agree w/what the others have said, learn all you can - look at all sides. I have found it kind of terrifying, knowing I am making such a huge decision for MYSELF (about what I believe). It almost feels wrong to even contemplate such a decision, since it was pretty much made for me from an early age. But at the same time it is liberating and gives me a sense of value and courage. You have everything you need grow and learn and to make these decisions.

 

2H

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Hello momof8! Welcome to Ex-C. In many ways this place is like a hospital or support group. I have found it so comforting to find that others who believed as I did are having the same journey.

 

I'm glad you are medicating your depression. This takes courage. Many fundies are opposed to medications for depression because supposedly we are supposed to pray it away. Well, that doesn't work in real life. I tell fundies who reject anti-depressants that medications are like eyeglasses or crutches: sometimes you need them.

 

Fear of hell is what kept the last remnants of my tattered faith intact. My faith was 'circling the drain' but I held on for the fear of hell. One thing that always troubled me as a believer is the fact that orthodoxy (right belief) is such an important factor in hell-prevention. What about orthopraxy, doing the right thing? Anyhow, at some point you are going to simply have to make a choice about what you will believe--the evidence will toss you about, but at the end it is a choice based on what you deem to be the best evidence.

 

Speaking of Sundays, I love, love, love my Sundays now, for the first time in my life. As a worship leader I spent hours in Church every Sunday, two or more services...almost my whole life. As an introvert, greeting complete strangers and making endless small talk was painful. Sundays are finally, after 40 years, a day of rest, in all senses of the word.

 

I hope you can find a way to live out your new beliefs without rocking the familial boat too much. It sounds like a tough situation. I hope your husband is somewhat on board with what's going on.

 

Thanks for joining us here. Keep us posted!

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Welcome to Ex-C, Tonya!

 

I'm glad to see you have already gotten support here. This is a very supportive place. All of us know what it is like to have doubts, question our faith, and finally realize that we believed in a fairy tale.

 

It has been seven years since I left Christianity. It had been a long time coming but finally I realized I no longer believed. I hated hypocrisy in others and then realized I was being a hypocrite. I think my ex-testimony is in the archives here. Look for "Honest with myself at last" from November of 2004 or thereabouts.

 

Oh, and the only people I've "come out" to are close friends and my husband. I haven't come out to my family or former high school classmates (I went to a Christian high school) and I probably never will. Fortunately, my siblings are scattered around the globe so I don't have to worry about them spying on me and asking why I don't go to church.

 

Like an ad that I used to see for an alcohol and drug rehab center said, journeying out of Christianity does get better, it keeps getting better. I can tell you that after seven years, it does continue to get better.

 

I long struggled with the fear of hell. That was the main reason I stayed in Christianity for most of my life - because of the fear of hell. Lots of people here have struggled with it. Look around and search in the forums and you should be able to find discussions about it.

 

I wish you luck and encouragement on this process. You are looking at the world in a completely different way and that can be scary and weird at times. Every one of us here have been there at one time or another so keep on coming back and you will find a sympathetic ear.

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Welcome to Ex-c Tonya! Your story is amazing. Thanks for sharing it with us. You don't ever have to feel alone again. We're all in this deconverting together! Keep posting, keep reading - you will probably relate to most of our stories. We are here to support one another. All of your fears and anxiety is completely normal... it sucks.. but it's normal.

 

You're going to be OK. You take good care of those 8 children and we'll try to take good care of you!!

 

So glad to have you with us!! Sincerely, Margee

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Tonya,

 

Many of the above posts have provided good guidance and assistance. You are embarking on a new journey in your life. Your tools in this journey are (in no particular order) rational thinking, logic and empathy.

 

It won't be easy. You have been a long-time member of a particularly dangerous cult, and it will take years to recover from the lies, controls and dysfunctions that cult promoted.

 

Good luck with your journey!

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Just think: there are eight young human beings who might someday be able to say, "I'm so lucky my mom decided that her life and mine were worth living free from fear."

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Just think: there are eight young human beings who might someday be able to say, "I'm so lucky my mom decided that her life and mine were worth living free from fear."

 

Wow Pitchu, that hit really hard! But you are right, I don't want my kids living in fear like I do/did.

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Momof8,

 

I feel for you. I've just begun the process of coming out of my deeply held beliefs, too. What's amazing to me is that this belief system I've had my whole life is crumbling so fast. As soon as I allowed myself to look objectively at what I believed, it started falling apart. I didn't want that to happen. I understand your concern about sharing how you feel with people. We (husband and I) are in the same boat. My advice is that you just take it one day at a time...something that's very hard for me to do, but I'm trying! wink.png

 

 

 

2H

 

Thank you 2Honest. It really was scary how fast everything crumbled when I looked at the whole thing objectively. I really thought I was going to do this and come out with my faith stronger than ever. This seems to be a common theme from what I have read. If I am honest with myself, I have known this whole religion thing was a sham for a long time, but just wasn't ready to deal with it. I feel very blessed to have this site to talk to other people going through the same thing. I never never never thought I would EVER call myself an atheist!

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Fear of hell is what kept the last remnants of my tattered faith intact. My faith was 'circling the drain' but I held on for the fear of hell. One thing that always troubled me as a believer is the fact that orthodoxy (right belief) is such an important factor in hell-prevention. What about orthopraxy, doing the right thing? Anyhow, at some point you are going to simply have to make a choice about what you will believe--the evidence will toss you about, but at the end it is a choice based on what you deem to be the best evidence.

 

Speaking of Sundays, I love, love, love my Sundays now, for the first time in my life. As a worship leader I spent hours in Church every Sunday, two or more services...almost my whole life. As an introvert, greeting complete strangers and making endless small talk was painful. Sundays are finally, after 40 years, a day of rest, in all senses of the word.

 

I hope you can find a way to live out your new beliefs without rocking the familial boat too much. It sounds like a tough situation. I hope your husband is somewhat on board with what's going on.

 

Thanks for joining us here. Keep us posted!

 

Thank you for the welcome, Positivist. I have always been the more spiritual person in my marriage. My husband wasn't raised in this belief system like I was, he was a very apathetic Catholic. I don't think he will be excited to hear about my deconversion, but I think he will listen to my arguments and come around. I am more worried about my children. They are very involved in the Youth Group at our church and their school, ballet company and everything else is centered around our religious beliefs. This will be horrible for them. I still don't know how or when I will tell them anything. I feel so guilty now for having indoctrinated them the way I have. I honestly thought I was doing the right thing :(

 

And yes, now that I am over the guilt of not going to church on Sundays, they are wonderful. You must be in heaven because being a worship leader is such a huge job. One of my best girlfriends is one of the worship leaders at our church and she is completely burnt out.

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