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Back To My Roots.


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My story is different from a lot of the others i've read here, and also different from the stories i heard at the local atheists' group gathering i went to last month. Here's why: I wasn't raised religious. So i guess that makes this more of a nontimony than an extimony. Maybe it's both. I dunno. Before i get any further, i won't use anyone's real names.

 

My mom and i had neighbors that were religious when i was real young. I remember seeing them go to church on Sundays when my mom would get home from work. Their kids were about my age, and we played together. Aside from the college kids that came and went, and an older girl that lived up the street from us, we were the only ones who weren't school age in that neighborhood. I was too young to remember much of anything about the neighbor kids' parents, but my mom told me that they were rather weird, to say the least. It wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if they looked down their nose at her for being a single parent, since that's the reaction i saw from people i met at the churches i used to sit in on when we'd run into each other around town.

 

We moved out of that neighborhood when i was 6, not even halfway done with first grade, and i never saw those kids again. In the new neighborhood, there were several other kids about my age, and several of them came from single parent settings. Throughout this time, there were some people in my life who proved themselves beyond untrustworthy. Without going into detail, they knew my mom couldn't be in two places at once, and they took complete advantage of it. For the record, everything that they did to me happened at their house, not mine. They haven't been in my life for well over 10 years, and if anyone's wondering, i told my mom about the worst of it not long after we parted ways with them. I've told her the rest of what went on, though there are still a couple things i haven't told anyone about.

 

It was because of what was going on in my life that i started wondering if church would have helped me. I'd heard church was the place to go if you were feeling bad about yourself. And i was. I was 11 when a group of people on the sidewalk outside my middle school were handing out these little orange buybulls. I was in 6th grade, and waiting for my mom to come pick me up from school. I started flipping through it, hoping to find answers, but all i got was confusion. In addition to the stuff going on with the untrustworthy people, i didn't fit in with my classmates, and a lot of them picked on me. Some of them would befriend me, but it never lasted.

 

That was part of why i was so interested in church. I thought they'd never make fun of me, i thought they'd accept me for me, b/c that's what xtians do, after all. They accept others and respect differences, right? Fast forward to 8th grade, when a girl i'll call Tracy invited me to come to church with her on Sunday. She was in one of my classes, and we kind of befriended each other at lunch. Up until then, i'd only set foot inside a church twice, once for a great uncle's funeral when i was 2, and the other time for the family reunion when i was 10. I was looking forward to it, and the church elder picked me up in their van. I thought i'd be home in an hour and my mom and i could go to breakfast. Nope, i was there all day. It was the same thing the following Sunday, and the elder, whom i'll call Eric, was saying all these nice things to me, he knew how bad things were for me at school, he knew about my home life, and i was sucking it all up like a sponge. No man had ever said nice things to me like that before! It was even later when i got home, and my mom and i agreed that i wouldn't be back for a third. Fine with me, i'd had enough. Tracy was pretty sad that my mom wouldn't let me go back, and we drifted apart.

 

So i went on with my life, and once we got to high school, Tracy wasn't there. She was supposed to go to my high school, but she'd moved. She came over to my house a couple times shortly after the beginning of the school year, and it was like a 180. She was different somehow, but i didn't think to ask. We were 14. I never saw her again after that. After high school, this story comes on the local news about some church leader molesting kids, and it was none other than Eric! Some of the girls he molested shared their stories in the shadows, and naturally his mom blamed them. She was the pastor, and she had to have known. Eric's now a registered sex offender. Dollars to donuts he's still there as "elder" doing the same crap as before.

 

Several years later, i decide to try church again, figuring that this would be somehow different. Eric's creepy church was definitely a non-option. I'd recovered from some health issues, and i wanted to make sense out of what happened to me as a kid, and find some friends. I wanted a place to belong. I was scared about what the future held for me, since i wasn't one of those who had their entire lives planned out since they were kids. So i start church hopping. The one i checked out, i only lasted there a matter of months. I try a different denomination after the last straw at the old one, hoping this would be it. And it seemed like this was it. I'd gone there for a couple years, briefly attending another church of the same denomination, but stuck around for a few months. I was there long enough for some people from this new church to befriend me, or so i thought. They all seemed so sure of themselves. They seemed like they had it all. They seemed like wonderful people. And they were giving me the time of day! Gary, and another one there i'll refer to as Julie, seemed like the kind of friends i never had. I was kind of under the radar until a year ago, when more of the people there noticed me. They all knew i was at a crossroads in my life, in this huge rut, and that i was so lonely for my longtime friend, Ivy, and they knew how frustrated i was with the lack of direction after i graduated from college. They all knew this.

 

Then the incident in the church basement happened, which i wrote about here not that long ago. Looking back, i'd say that was the real beginning of the end. Throughout the three years i spent church hopping, i overlooked a hell of a lot more than i should have. I noticed a common theme among them was to pry into others lives, and then act smug and superior towards them if their life wasn't so great. That happened with me. A LOT. Some asked me some truly inappropriate questions, giving the excuse that they've been around people like that before. I overlooked instances of racism about others, hoping it was a lapse in judgement. It wasn't. I had questions about the teachings and the doctrines, which i was told to "pray about" or "give it to god." Really dismissive! A month after Tom's contact with me ended, i got the guts to tell Julie about it, and she seemed so shocked and horrified. Julie was also quite the gossip, so i'm sure she spread it around. That's when i got the guts to talk to someone in the church office, i'll refer to her as Patty. Patty pretends to care, and says the right things, but it was so obvious she thought of me as a lying slut who brought this on herself. The look on her face said it all. From that point on, that's the way Patty treated me.

 

My great uncle died last summer, and that didn't help matters any. Patty gave me the "so what" attitude while saying she was sorry for my loss, blah blah blah, and Gary couldn't be bothered to be there for me. This was after he blamed me for what Tom did to me, of course. He waltzed back into my life when he felt like it, and gave me this halfhearted and empty apology while tearing me down over not doing X, Y and Z, and that when i have kids, everyone will make fun of them because of it, blah blah blah. Ivy was busy with her job, so she was pretty much unavailable. She had enough to worry about without my help, the way i figured it.

 

I was even going to join this church. After Patty's nth degree rudeness toward me for the umpteenth time, and after someone was making fun of his pregnant wife and sharing personal details within earshot of everyone, with Patty egging him on, i realized i needed to be done with them, pronto. I felt sick to my stomach every time i entered that church. It was the straw that broke the camel's back. The questions that others there refused to answer for me were still there, and i was still getting the same dismissive "pray about it" every single time i tried to talk about it with someone. Patty had loaned me a book (which i never read), and i returned it at the beginning of February. That's the loose end i'm referring to in my profile. Patty got pissed when i told her i was already swamped with books to read when she tried to heap more on me, but oh well. I was never formally involved with this church (or any of the others), so i could make a clean break. I dotted the i's, crossed the t's, and i left that bridge to burn.

 

Naturally after i left, Julie calls me a month later, claiming she thought i was "out of town" in an attempt to fish for gossip. I wrote about the phone call from Gary trying to guilt trip me into coming back, and i mentioned the phone call from someone else trying to recruit me for some random church choir i'd never heard of. Funny how not a-one of 'em could be bothered to give a damn about me while i was there and when they had the chance.

 

I realized there was no god well before i left. The questions that went unanswered are moot at this point. I was never gonna find any real friends in an environment like that. If what i endured in my three years in xtianity was any indication, there's no way god exists. Same thing for what i went through as a kid. If the way my mom was treated at the hospital affiliated with them was any indication, then the answer is clear: there is no god. My brother is rotting in a grave because of their actions, and that was in the back of my mind all along. What kind of god who's supposedly "loving" would allow the people who idolize it to abuse others in its name, get away with it, and then claim to be the pinnacle of morality? "Free will" won't cut the mustard. "Whatever-deity's plans" and "free will" are two totally different animals, it's either one or the other. And if they think Zeus, Buddha, Allah and Osiris are bullshit, then what's to stop the ones who believe in those gods from thinking the same thing about theirs? And how can anyone try to rationalize all the crap xtians have pulled over the years? If every single dogma out there claims THEY'RE the right one, then they all look like the boy who cried wolf.

 

I didn't need religion as a kid to give me a sense of right and wrong. I didn't need religion as a kid to tell me to help others in need. I didn't need religion as a kid to tell me to honor the people who matter in my life. I sure as shit don't need it now. I guess part of why i tried to duke it out for as long as i did was because of the "community" and feeling like a part of things. Since Ivy was real busy with work, and i was still in school, the crux of it was that i wanted to be around people who seemed to like me more than i liked myself. In hindsight, the ones who fawned over me at first didn't care about me at all. Out of sight, out of mind. No loss in the scheme of things. Gary and Julie weren't real friends. After Julie bragged about how she went apeshit at some clerk over the way a form was worded about married couples, no way. Patty was never on my radar screen as friend material, only as someone i thought i could trust in spite of her bitterness and propensity to spread her share of gossip. Part of me fears they'll somehow read this and try to suck me back into their lives, but i know they have no way of contacting me again.

 

So i'm now back to my roots. I've closed the book on that chapter of my life. My mom's a believer, but she has no use for churches or organized religion. Ivy dabbles in pagan spirituality periodically, but then again, it never occurred to me to ask about anything beyond that. We've known each other since 6th grade. Ivy and i have since picked up where we left off, and we're closer than ever. I thought i'd lost her, but it turns out life merely took us in different directions for awhile. My true friends and my family supersede antiquated fairy tales and victim blaming ideology by a long shot. Life is too damn short to throw away on some cosmic guessing game. I live my life in the here and now. I choose my friends and my family. I refuse to give up my integrity and intellectual honesty over some dogma. I am accountable to nobody but myself at the end of the day. And that's ok by me.

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 My true friends and my family supersede antiquated fairy tales and victim blaming ideology by a long shot. Life is too damn short to throw away on some cosmic guessing game. I live my life in the here and now. I choose my friends and my family. I refuse to give up my integrity and intellectual honesty over some dogma. I am accountable to nobody but myself at the end of the day. And that's ok by me.

Thank you so much for sharing your story with us!! Welcome milesaway!! You are a very smart person and well on your way to having a good life!! Your last paragraph says it all!!

 

And now, you have a place to come when you have questions or concerns!! I enjoyed your story and could relate in many ways. We once religious people have such a wonderful common bond!! I'm glad your here with us!!

 

Sincerely, Margee

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Hi, milesaway, and welcome to ExC.

 

I enjoyed your testimony.  From what I read and understood, it seems like you were basically curious about church and had a perception of how you thought Christians were supposed to act.  Once you found out that Christianity does not change people from who they really are, you realized that there is nothing to the religion in a true life-changing, spiritual way, despite the various testimonies many Christians will give.  You're right, people in churches gossip, backstab and all the rest.  But I don't think they are like that because they are Christians in the same way I don't believe that "good" people who are Christians are that way because they are Christians.  Rather, we are all the way we are because we are human beings.  Though you had some bad experiences in church (and fortunately escaped being a victim of "Eric"), at least you came to the conclusion that Christianity is not worth your time.

 

Good for you.  You sound happy now and I am glad for you.  I hope you and Ivy continue having a great friendship.

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I'm glad to be here, Margee and Blue elephant. I find this site way more positive, welcoming and real than the xtian forum i used to post at could ever hope to be. You got a point there, Overcame Faith. I was curious about church, and it seemed like that would help with the problems i was dealing with. That's the impression i got as a kid. Church was of no help whatsoever, in fact, it created more problems all around. I get that people will be backstabbing gossip junkies, but a church setting is where you'd least expect that kind of thing, along with mockery, pettiness and sexual assault. We're adults. We're supposed to be above that kind of shit, but not where an ideology that embraces gullibility, superiority, entitlement and ignorance is concerned.

 

No deity got me through those horrible years with the untrustworthy people growing up. No deity got me through what happened late last spring with Tom. No deity got me through those few years my mom and i spent in poverty when we were both out of work. That was my own resilience. I wish i'd kept that in the back of my mind all along. I definitely dodged a bullet with Eric. There were some other girls there who were middle schoolers like Tracy and i were. Her older sister was there as well, who was in high school at the time. There were no other adults but him and his mom. He wasn't counting on my mom being astute enough to say "no more" after that second Sunday there, since he knew she worked a lot.

 

I am happy now. I have my moments, but that will get better with time. Ivy and i are closer than ever now. We spent Friday watching the first season of Once Upon a Time at my house since the weather was so bad.

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Welcome to ex-c and thanks for sharing.

 

Whoever thought that religion changes who people really are, never actually went to church! :|

 

I've discovered that there's good people and bad people. If a good person attends church, they will do good deeds in the name of God. If the good person is an atheist they will do good deeds in the name of humanism. Same with bad people. Everyone justifies their actions somehow.

 

Pretty simple in the end...

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Hi, Burny. Thanks for the welcome. Either they never actually went to church, or they're so far entrenched in their ideology that they think religion will change anyone, no matter how big of a scumbag they are. There are good and bad people, that goes without saying. Experience has taught me that religion affirms and rewards bad people, doing bad things. Accountability seems to be a big word xtians don't understand. If someone does good deeds b/c their religion tells them to, it's a bad reason to do anything, and they're no different from someone who does bad deeds for the hell of it.

 

The ones who abuse and mistreat others in the name of their deity, then justify their actions are the ones who have to live with themselves and the consequences of their choices in the end. It won't be pretty, but karma's a bitch like that.

 

On a somewhat similar note, i saw Patty yesterday as i was biking over to this little shop. She wouldn't even look my direction, even though i know for a fact she saw me. It sent a chill up my spine when i saw her drive on by. With any luck, that will be the last i'll ever see of her again. I was thinking on my bike ride home about how she has these pictures of her kids in her office, and bragged about how she went to this thing with her daughter for her birthday, and yet i never once saw any of them. I sat in on a (cherry picked) buybull study she did, and she said "god knows what's in our hearts, isn't that great?" when i brought up how i feel guilty and awful if i come off as rude or anything like that. I realized then and there, that's how she justifies her nth degree rudeness and entitlement. Seeing her yesterday made me glad i moved on and got the hell away from her (along with the rest of them) and their sick ideology. I couldn't believe i put up with that for as long as i did. Good fucking riddance to bad rubbish.

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Hello milesaway! I am so glad you joined this site. You must be an intelligent person to catch on to the ruse of christianity so quickly. I wasn't raised in it but got lost in christianity for fifteen years from the age of 22. I think it was a drug for me, and I was heavily addicted. Thanks for sharing your story with us. It is great to hear you are now doing well. :)

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Welcome milesaway, and thanks for sharing your story!

 

I remember being part of a singles group at a church I attended about 20 years ago. Gossip was definitely a problem there. Once, one of the guys in the group seemed really upset and was praying very hard (but silently) in the church.  I did not know him very well, so I did not inquire about his issues.  Regardless of that, one of my friends told me that he had heard that the guy had gone to a prostitute and was feeling very guilty about it.  I can only imagine that if that were actually what happened, someone that poor guy had confided him had done him a great disservice by blabbing about his personal business.

 

I actually still have some friends from that group, although my contact with them now is primarily through Facebook.  They don't know I'm an atheist now, but they are actually good people and I think that they would remain my friends even if I shared that information with them.  Not all Christians are assholes. Of course, neither are all non-Christians.  You'll probably find about the same proportion of assholes in each group.

 

Oh, and I'm so glad you escaped from Eric.  *shudder*

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Hello milesaway! I am so glad you joined this site. You must be an intelligent person to catch on to the ruse of christianity so quickly. I wasn't raised in it but got lost in christianity for fifteen years from the age of 22. I think it was a drug for me, and I was heavily addicted. Thanks for sharing your story with us. It is great to hear you are now doing well. smile.png

 

Hey, wanderinstar! I'm glad i joined too. I'm doing well, all things considered. Unfortunately intelligence isn't always a foolproof defense against xtianity, especially with the huge promises it makes. Throw in some degree of vulnerability, and they've got their claws in you. I can't believe i ever subscribed to that brand of bullshit. I feel so duped. I must have been in a even worse place than i thought in order to put up with their vile behavior and their lies for as long as i did. I consider myself lucky i got out before i started any formal involvement with them. I couldn't live with myself if i stayed, especially knowing i would be a party to their cruelty toward others, both currently and in the past. I'm not gonna sell my own family and my friends out for some sick fairy tales. Going to the meetup for my local atheists group last night made me wonder why i bothered with that garbage in the first place.

 

When i have kids, religion will not be a part of their lives. I wasn't raised in xtianity (or any other religion for that matter), and i will afford them the same privilege. They deserve better than ideology that has to rely on dishonesty and manipulation in order to survive. Knowing the people i met during my short time in xtianity will never meet them gives me a huge sense of peace.

 

All that said, i'm glad you got out, and that you're now living your life on your terms. smile.png

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Welcome milesaway, and thanks for sharing your story!

 

I remember being part of a singles group at a church I attended about 20 years ago. Gossip was definitely a problem there. Once, one of the guys in the group seemed really upset and was praying very hard (but silently) in the church. I did not know him very well, so I did not inquire about his issues. Regardless of that, one of my friends told me that he had heard that the guy had gone to a prostitute and was feeling very guilty about it. I can only imagine that if that were actually what happened, someone that poor guy had confided him had done him a great disservice by blabbing about his personal business.

 

I actually still have some friends from that group, although my contact with them now is primarily through Facebook. They don't know I'm an atheist now, but they are actually good people and I think that they would remain my friends even if I shared that information with them. Not all Christians are assholes. Of course, neither are all non-Christians. You'll probably find about the same proportion of assholes in each group.

 

Oh, and I'm so glad you escaped from Eric. *shudder*

 

Hi, new2me. The churches i sat in on had no singles groups, so i can't make any comments on that either way. That said, there was a young adult group at another church, but i only went there twice. Both times left a bad taste in my mouth with their snobby attitudes, and i wasn't impressed at all. They pretty much ignored me for the most part. Too bad i bothered with them in the first place.

 

With friends like that, who needs enemies?! That's not merely a disservice, that's betrayal. I'd wonder if that same "friend" pulled the same shit with you. Wouldn't put it past them for an instant. That's what i was wondering when Gary told me about how Debbie was dealing with an illness, and he told me not to tell her he told me. I won't repeat exactly what it is on the off chance any of them happen upon this site. It isn't likely, but better safe than sorry. Even at that, it isn't my business to tell, and it wasn't Gary's business to tell in the first place. He coerced me into telling him some really personal things about me last summer (unrelated to what Tom did to me, which i've written about here as well), and he wanted all the nasty details. I didn't give into him pressuring me on the details, i stuck to the CliffsNotes version of it. Shortly after that, some people we both know started looking at me differently, so i think it's safe to surmise that he did it to me.

 

Like i mentioned earlier here, the xtian "friends" i had are long gone from my life. I have my old friends, i have my family, and i've got my local atheists group gatherings. I get that not all xtians are assholes. I GET that, as nothing's 100% absolute. Assholes abound in this world, that's a given. However, when the core tenets of xtianity encourage a sense of superiority by telling followers that everything in the universe was made just for its followers and treats the less fortunate and those of different cultures as novelties and as a means to an end, then how can there not be at least a shred of asshole behavior going on? And when xtianity's followers claim they've got the market cornered on morality and kindness, then turn around and only help those they deem worthy of their help while judging others for the choices they make in life, that's where i have a problem. It's been my experience that there's a higher concentration of assholes in a church setting. Four different churches (counting the one Eric ran), three different denominations. Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, and three is a pattern. And there was indeed a pattern at the last three i sat in on. I thought i met some "good people" during my time in xtianity. They only came around when they wanted something, and eventually they ignored me altogether. Those that didn't come around only when they wanted something (and that was one), we drifted apart a long time ago. Probably for the best.

 

Things like this show you who your real friends are. Guess that's why i wasn't torn up over losing what i thought were friendships from xtianity. Maybe you should break the news to those friends on facebook, when you're ready. Be warned, there may be a fallout between you and them, but if there isn't, then you've really lucked out. smile.png

 

I'm glad i got away from Eric too, before he could get his hands on me and make me another victim. Fucking scumbag!

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