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IFeelSoMuchPain
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How the hell does one get over leaving Christianity......I cannot seem to shake the fear of hell and god is going to punish me even if I find it all to be ridiculous and illogical and irrational. it's been several years now and I'm getting no where.....I can't stand this BS anymore. I cannot stand the idea I'm the one that looks like a fool here in the USA for not believing in a all-powerful magical sky wizard god.....I can't force myself to believe it anymore, tried that. how do some of you guys do it?

 

This sucks.help.gif help.gif

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You have come to the right place. Yes, sometimes it sucks!

 

You are not the fool, my friend. You have seen the man behind the curtain, and your eyes are open. You are cutting through the brainwashing, which is obviously hard to do.

 

You are certainly not alone. There are groups popping up all over the country with Recovering From Religion, to help people like you and me get over this nonsense. If there weren't so many people in need of this, it would not be growing like it is.

 

There is even a sub-group (The Clergy Project) for pastors and lay ministers who no longer believe, but are stuck because of their careers. What an awful place that must be for them! These people have the education and the financial and social incentives to believe, but they simply cannot. For me, just knowing they are out there is comforting in my own deconversion. You are not alone.

 

There is even a sub-group of psychologists who write about and specialize in recovering from religion. One woman calls it Religious Trauma Syndrome. What you are feeling is very real, and obviously widespread enough that professionals are starting to study it and offer support. You are not alone.

 

The more you read the Bible, and the more you poke around on this site, the more you will realize that Biblegod is mean, bloodthirtsy, manipulative, and absent from real life. Definitely not worthy of our praise, if you ask me. If he were real, I would be likely to be scared to death the more I read, but on the other hand, the more I read the more I realize he is simply not real.

 

As for God damning you for not believing, this is how I think about it to soothe my own worried mind: God (assuming he turns out to be real, which I don't think so, but just for argument's sake) is loving and forgiving, right? God gave us free will and told us to test everything, and seek knowledge. So that is what I am doing. He has placed crazy things in my life to push me away from religion, and has offered me no guidance or comfort to deal with it. I think I had done everything the "good book" prescribes for trying to "get right" and pray and fast and all that stuff -- but he still ignored my prayers. I think God has to take this into consideration when he "judges" me -- He gave me an exceptional and curious mind, threw a bunch of obstacles in my path, then abandoned me. If he loves me and is so forgiving, he damn well better give me the benefit of the doubt. I tried my best, but the brain and emotions he gave me contradicted the other stuff. How is that my fault?

 

But then again, God is jealous and vengeful, so he may just damn me for the sheer joy of it. But God is love. (sarcasm)

 

If you are really concerned about hell, perhaps you should look into other religions and see what their hell is all about. I hear, for example, that the Islamic hell is worse than the Christian hell, so maybe you should bow to that god instead to make sure you don't get sent to that hell. See how silly that sounds? I'm not trying to add to your fear -- I'm just saying, it's all baloney.

 

Then there is "the problem of evil." Volumes have been written about this. If God is all-knowing, why did he create Lucifer, since he knew he would fall? Why create humans, the tree from which they should not eat, and let all that happen? Because he's not omniscient, or he's just a jerk, or he's not real. If God is so powerful, why not just wipe out Satan? Satan is in a battle for your soul, right? But you have probably been "filled with the holy spirit", right? So why is Satan more powerful than the holy spirit? Why can't the holy spirit just tell Satan to leave you alone? I guess either God is not that powerful (omnipotent?), does not care (God is love?), or does not exist.

 

Why create billions of people who don't know "the gospel" and are all therefore doomed to hell? What kind of loving god does that? What kind of loving god allows thousands of children to die everyday from starvation and horrible diseases, but takes time to help me find a good parking spot? See what I mean? It's sick. He's not there. Not real. Not love.

 

Well, I have rambled a bit here. I'm sure others will chime in with better words of wisdom. Just know that what you are feeling is real (physically and psychologically), and God is not real.

 

Keep coming here and asking questions. Look for meetup groups in your area to find support in real life. The more support you have outside of the religious cult, the more strength you will find.

 

You will get there, my friend. You are on a tough journey, but you are on the right road.

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The support and information I have received from this site has been invaluable to me. Stay with us a while and see if it helps. You are not a fool, there really is no evidence for the biblical god; in fact there is plenty of evidence against his existence. My world fell apart when I realised this over a year ago and I am still reeling from the blow. 'Getting over' leaving christianity is different for everyone, and many of us will never be the same, but there is much hope that we can all find calm and contentment on the other side. Christianity caused me much suffering and loss so I am thrilled to be free from its clutches but watching those close to me remain trapped in religion really hurts, as does the isolation and loneliness I feel - and I don't even live in the USA. Connection with like minded people is crucial to recovery, which is why I love exc.net. For me it still comes in waves; I think I am getting better then find myself crashing down again. What you are going though is normal, and there is hope it will improve. Hang in there :)

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A question. how can you fear hell and a god you do not believe it exists....does that mean you still believe? I do not comprehend. I do not get why some have these fears while leaving the faith and others do not...I do not apprehend it. this sucks and I cannot stand it anymore. every-where I go I'm surrounded by god stuff and Christian stuff since I live in the USA, some Christians still think Christianity is being taking out of the country....what a freaking joke.

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Fear is an emotion and is not necessarily based on logic or reason.  You say you are "surrounded by God stuff".  Does that mean family members trying to force it on you or something like that? If you live in the USA, not all areas are the same. Some places are much worse with the God thing. You will not get away from it entirely, but there are places where it is not so much in your face.

 

People have different ways of looking at the world. Our thinking is not the same from one person to another. You are entitled to your own views and beliefs, and you don't have to conform to other people's religion or views.  You are the only one who has to live your life, and so other people are not qualified to tell you what to believe.

 

Isolate yourself as much as you can from the Christian garbage and see if if makes a difference.

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I have PTSD because of this, I never thought I of all people would not believe. I'm more sacred of death then ever before, trust me, I done a lot of researching and learning to the point my brain could possibly implode on itself, LOL, so be reminded of Christianity sets me off at times. many people think atheists are the fools for not believing in god or gods or the bible god. once I start to think about god and how it is describe to me all sorts of red flags go off, but even with that is not enough to get rid of such fears....oh well.....it is what it is.

 

Thanks!

 

PS- I have no fear of any other gods or goddess or hells or underworlds or whatever because I was never indoctrinated into them.

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First thing I would do if I were you... Have you searched for Marlene Winell and Religious Trauma Syndrome? She has several books and articles on it. This could be of use to you.

 

I live in North Carolina, so I am also surrounded by religious stuff. Even in neutral places such as driving, I still see bumper stickers, billboards, those little messages on the church signs. Maybe you could find a sticker to put above your car radio, for example, that you can look at to snap out of it after seeing one of these triggers. It doesn't have to be anti-God, just something that makes you smile. Re-condition your response.

 

I get news from Fox, and occasionally switch to MSNBC. (I can only take the latter in small doses, because their blatant bias really annoys me, but I digress.) Fox has a lot of folks who are concerned about this nation losing its religion. You need a response to re-condition your response for these also. Try something silly like the Harry Potter "Riddikulus!" Say it out loud each time, seriously. Avoid the one-trick-pony altogether (Hannity). I like O'Reilly's libertarian-ish take on many issues, but sometimes he falls into that Christianity crap. I say out loud, "Nice try, Bill!" or "Oh, Bill... not THIS again!" Any time any of the news channels show the opposing (atheist) view, I literally clap or say something out loud like, "yeah, baby!" (Austin Powers style). These tactics all help to reinforce my mind in the opposite direction of my indoctrination.

 

Yes, there are other people here with your same issue. You are not alone, you are not crazy, you are not a fool. You have been conditioned by the masters of conditioning. They've had millenia to perfect this art. Only recently are we seeing it and figuring out how to un-do it.

 

I'm not usually a proponent of mind-altering drugs (since in my opinion the science is still in its infancy and the wrong stuff can mess people up), but I will admit that my very compassionate doctor realized what was going on with me, and prescribed something fairly mild to help "turn off the noise" in my head. I could go round and round in my mind, obsessing over stuff from every angle until I was emotionally exhausted. Every day. Every waking moment. That shit is gone now.

 

Do you have a non-Christian counselor? Look for one. Find someone who gets you. They will know best how to combat your triggers and help you reprogram your mind.

 

And keep coming here. We all "get" you, some more literally than others, but we all get you in some way. And I have found the people here to be compassionate and knowledgeable. We know what it's like, and we care.

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First thing I would do if I were you... Have you searched for Marlene Winell and Religious Trauma Syndrome? She has several books and articles on it. This could be of use to you.

 

I live in North Carolina, so I am also surrounded by religious stuff. Even in neutral places such as driving, I still see bumper stickers, billboards, those little messages on the church signs. Maybe you could find a sticker to put above your car radio, for example, that you can look at to snap out of it after seeing one of these triggers. It doesn't have to be anti-God, just something that makes you smile. Re-condition your response.

 

I get news from Fox, and occasionally switch to MSNBC. (I can only take the latter in small doses, because their blatant bias really annoys me, but I digress.) Fox has a lot of folks who are concerned about this nation losing its religion. You need a response to re-condition your response for these also. Try something silly like the Harry Potter "Riddikulus!" Say it out loud each time, seriously. Avoid the one-trick-pony altogether (Hannity). I like O'Reilly's libertarian-ish take on many issues, but sometimes he falls into that Christianity crap. I say out loud, "Nice try, Bill!" or "Oh, Bill... not THIS again!" Any time any of the news channels show the opposing (atheist) view, I literally clap or say something out loud like, "yeah, baby!" (Austin Powers style). These tactics all help to reinforce my mind in the opposite direction of my indoctrination.

 

Yes, there are other people here with your same issue. You are not alone, you are not crazy, you are not a fool. You have been conditioned by the masters of conditioning. They've had millenia to perfect this art. Only recently are we seeing it and figuring out how to un-do it.

 

I'm not usually a proponent of mind-altering drugs (since in my opinion the science is still in its infancy and the wrong stuff can mess people up), but I will admit that my very compassionate doctor realized what was going on with me, and prescribed something fairly mild to help "turn off the noise" in my head. I could go round and round in my mind, obsessing over stuff from every angle until I was emotionally exhausted. Every day. Every waking moment. That shit is gone now.

 

Do you have a non-Christian counselor? Look for one. Find someone who gets you. They will know best how to combat your triggers and help you reprogram your mind.

 

And keep coming here. We all "get" you, some more literally than others, but we all get you in some way. And I have found the people here to be compassionate and knowledgeable. We know what it's like, and we care.

Good points. what drugs are you on? I have some knowledge on psychiatric drugs. either way, it's hard to break free. some Christians say your angry with god or just want to sin, so on, and every theist I've seen and every theist in existence is a hypocrite since they do not rely on prayer in the true sense...many of them are good people still but they actions tell me other wise.

 

Thanks.

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Sometimes i struggle with this, though most of the time i can put it out of my mind. My general feeling is if there is a god, he should be able to understand where i am coming from. If he can't, i probably dont want to spend eternity with him anyway. Have u sought proffessional help? I did while i was deconverting and it helped some. Like others have said, try and find a support group nearby, and visit us here.

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I would have to say that for me the fear isn't of hell. The fear for me is the unknown. I have only known christianity my whole life. I have difficulty with me not having a purpose. I totally understand why christianity is popular. It gives people something to focus their lives on. It takes the pressure of what to do with your life off of you and onto a higher being. It also gives hope for death and that you can believe that you have value. I am finding that being a non believer is, for lack of a better word, aimless. I have to learn to find a purpose in myself now. I have to learn my own moral compass. I have to genuinely love people because I choose to, not because biblegod wants me to. But, I have found some freedom too. I enjoy not feeling guilty for not following every letter of the biblical standard, I find freedom in not having to sit down every day and go through my day trying to remember if I sinned or not so I can ask for forgiveness. I don't have to try to remember the needs of so many who have asked for prayer. I enjoy that freedom. I have not completed the deconversion process and I am unsure when I will, but I have no fear of hell. The advice and encouragement I have received here is a huge help and I believe that you can get where you need to be for yourself with their help. good luck with your journey.

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Hi, IFSMP, and welcome to ExC.

 

You are not alone in your lingering fear of hell.  There are a number of people on ExC who have experienced it and, for some, are still experiencing what you describe.  I don't know why people handle deconversion so differently, but the fact is that there are some who, once they see the lack of logic in the religion, are able to walk away from it and almost never give it a second thought.  Then there are others who, like you, see the lack of logic but who, nonetheless, struggle to get past it.  And, of course, there is every permutation between the two extremes.  For those who struggle, it is not always the issue of hell that causes them problems but it can be other issues.  Another big one is end-time scenarios.

 

For those who have described going through the kind of struggle you are now going through, sometimes it's just a matter of time to allow their rattled brains to heal from the emotional wounds the religion inflicted upon them.  Some seem to find relief from studying their specific issue (hell in your case) and continue to reinforce the logical and rational approach until that eventually displaces the fear.  Some must go to counseling, but definitely NOT a Christian counselor.

 

For me, the logical/rational approach did the trick.  I studied the Bible in depth until it proved to me that the Christian religion was not true.  Once I came to that conclusion, I was fine and was able to move on.

 

Best to you and I hope your suffering ends soon.

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Stuff they do not teach you in church.

 

Hell is mistranslated from 4 words

Sheol - the grave or realm of the dead

Gehenna - (Jesus' hell) a rubbish dump outside Jerusalem and now a grassy park

Hades - Greek realm of the dead aka the grave

Tartarus - a special place reserved for the debbul and his angels

 

That last one has no effect on you and the lake of fire is in a book that no one understands, probably b/c whoever wrote it was stoned at the time. Hell is anyway cast into the LoF FWIW.

 

Welcome to the world of the enlightened.

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Another question for all who want to answer. do any you still fear this still? if you no longer do, how long did it take to get over it? how did you even do it?

 

 

I would say the fear stage lasted several months for me.  I spent those months here.  Personally what worked for me was comedy.  There are a number of youtube vids that are quite good.  I watched the entire Nonstampcollector series and nearly the entire Darkmatter2525 series.  Christianity uses an emotional grip on people and that emotion has to be undone.  Academics just doesn't cut it sometimes.  I also intentionally stopped praying to God and when the urge was unbearable I would pray to something I knew couldn't answer prayer.  I highly recommend that.  It highlights the placebo nature of prayer.  For example I choose Captain Kirk for my new prayer source.  And the prayer worked just as well as any prayer I made to Jesus.  When I asked for something that was not possible then Captain Kirk said "no" just like Jesus always did.  When I asked Captain Kirk to help me find my car key in the place where I last left them then sure enough the prayer was answered.

 

I really hope things get better for you.  Years is a long time to wait on this.  I was a Christian for over 30 years.  I served as a department head at a fundie non-denominational church.  I use to think Pat Robertson was a wonderful man of God.  I was really out there.

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I agree with MM ^...comedy is a great tool to help deconversion. Along with what has been mentioned I found the 'Mr Deity' satire on You Tube pretty helpful;

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qzf8q9QHfhI

 

Proverbs did git one thing right; laughter is damn good medicine :)

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I have no fear of any other gods or goddess or hells or underworlds or whatever because I was never indoctrinated into them.

 

Welcome, and hey, there's the answer! You fear Hell (Christian type) because of indoctrination, and that kind of cultural conditioning isn't something that just goes away over night, even if you logically know it makes no sense. Something that might help though, is getting more exposure to stuff outside of what you used to believe. It might help dilute the influence of Christian thinking on you, to see just how many people don't think that way. I'd also agree that geography matters. In large cities, there's more diversity because there's enough people that you can find at least some of all types! The internet is like the largest city of all, and, like a big high school, there's a club for everyone (you found this site, right?). While it means you can get trapped by looking only for things you are familiar with, it also means that there's everything else out there, too. I mean, there's a fan site for sea slugs, for goodness sakes. (...And they are kind of cool. Check out the Opisthobranch of the Week pages.) I didn't even know photographing sea slugs was a hobby. So, you want to read a classic Chinese novel? (Scroll down for chapter list and text).

If you can't move to a more free-thinking friendly region or city, the internet is a good place to start, and you already have! Read all kinds of things. There's a world of resources online.

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I struggle with it too at times.  I find reading short things can help.

Diderot's Thoughts on Religion is always good  http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/diderot/1770/religion.htm

 

Here's a couple of my favorites:

XVI The Christian God is a father who makes much of his apples and very little of his children.

XVII Take the fear of hell from a Christian and you take from him his belief.

XL “This God, who makes God die in order to appease God” is an excellent quote from Baron de la Hontan. There is less evidence for and against Christianity in a hundred in-folio volumes than there is of the ridiculous in these two lines.

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How the hell does one get over leaving Christianity......I cannot seem to shake the fear of hell and god is going to punish me even if I find it all to be ridiculous and illogical and irrational. it's been several years now and I'm getting no where.....I can't stand this BS anymore. I cannot stand the idea I'm the one that looks like a fool here in the USA for not believing in a all-powerful magical sky wizard god.....I can't force myself to believe it anymore, tried that. how do some of you guys do it?
 
This sucks.help.gif help.gif

 

 

 

I was a 40+ year Christian. I was a member of an ultra conservative fundamenalist group. I was deeply committed and involved. I taught Bible classes, served as a deacon and an elder. I also preached a little on the side too. I lead a number of people to Christ through organized Bible studies. So, what happened?

 

Serving in leadership and teaching scripture requires study and research. The desire to know everything I could about the Bible, God, and Jesus was my undoing. The more I studied the more evident it became to me that the Bible is replete with contradictions and inconsistencies.  I eventually had to ask myself how a book, supposedly written by God personally, could be so flawed?

 

I have always loved history and I intuitively knew the answers I was seeking would more than likely be found in the annals of religious history. It really didn’t take long for me to realize there wasn’t anything divine about the Bible once my research began. The evidence that it is nothing more than a man made collection of myths, legends, and folklore is overwhelming and conclusive.

 

After much study and research I became convinced that a human being named Jesus of Nazareth never existed in the flesh. I also discovered the “Jesus” story existed in a number of cultures for hundreds of years before the Jewish version appeared. History reveals there was lots of dying rising God-Men in numerous Pagan cultures. And their stories have lots of similarities with the Jesus story.

 

I also learned that the bible contains no, as in none, zero, eyewitness accounts of anything. Nobody knows who wrote the gospels but it certainly wasn’t’ anyone named Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John. Those names were added long after the stories began to circulate. I also found there is no historical record of anyone named Jesus of Nazareth. I was also surprised to find out that a place called Nazareth didn’t even exist at the time Jesus supposedly lived.

 

Why do people believe the Bible and the Jesus story are true; because they have been indoctrinated (brainwashed) into believing it. And every time a believer enters the church the indoctrination is reinforced. Leaving Christianity requires deprogramming, as others have already noted. Christianity, in all of its forms, is a cult and the truth of that charge isn’t even debatable. The only way I know to be deprogrammed is through education. Myth has to be replaced with truth.

 

If you are willing to invest the time to reeducate yourself you will realize God, Jesus, Heaven, and Hell are not real. They are all myths. Leaving Christianity is difficult because you’ve been brainwashed and you will have to be deprogrammed to get that garbage out of your mind or at least be able to put it in perspective.

 

I wish you well and encourage you to pursue this journey. If you do, the day will eventually come when you will be glad that you did. It is the only way you will ever become truly "free".

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Another question for all who want to answer. do any you still fear this still? if you no longer do, how long did it take to get over it? how did you even do it?

 

On the small chance that there is a cruel and vengeful god who wants to send me to Hell for not believing in him, he can kiss my ass. I would rather burn in Hell than serve such a god.

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Brainwashing techniques, especially fear, take a toll on the human mind. It's not your fault you've been damaged, and many need to seek professional help in returning to normal, healthy thoughts. Keep in mind, though, that nothing has really changed; the god you now instinctively fear was never there in the first place. The difference is that intellectually, you know that now. Emotionally, you have been injured.

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Another question for all who want to answer. do any you still fear this still? if you no longer do, how long did it take to get over it? how did you even do it?

 

One thing it seems I've been posting on this site a lot recently answers this. It has to do with where the idea of Hell came from. Have you ever noticed that there's no Hell in the Old Testament? Sometime between Malachi and the 1st century, the Jews picked up the idea of eternal reward and eternal punishment. This happened when they were under Persian rule, and was part of the Zoroastrian religion. By the time the New Testament was written, most Jews believed it. (Note: The New Testament makes it clear that the Sadducees did not believe that people went to Heaven or Hell! It wasn't "scriptural".)

 

Among the Dead Sea Scrolls were copies of the book of Enoch, which the Bible compilers did not believe was inspired, so it isn't in the Bible. This book describes a pit of fire designed for the rogue angel Azazel and his followers. A quote from the book:

 

"Then Michael, Raphael, Gabriel, and Phanuel themselves shall seize them on that great day of judgment and cast them into the furnace (of fire) that is burning that day, so that the Lord of the Spirits may take vengeance on them on account of their oppressive deeds which (they performed) as messengers of Satan, leading astray those who dwell upon the earth.”

 

Doesn't this sound a lot like 2nd Peter?

 

"For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them in chains of darkness to be held for judgment…then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment."

 

So Peter (or whoever wrote 2nd Peter) treats a work of fiction as if the ideas in it are valid.

 

If YAHWEH were real, and if Judaism was really his religion, the Christianity should not have introduced new stuff. Heaven, in the Old Testament, is the dome over the Earth where God sits, and he can see the whole world from there. The Christian idea of Hell is just as fictional as the dome, which, of course, we know doesn't exist.

 

The really tough part for ex-Christians is getting these ideas out of our heads. Our entire lives, prior to waking up and realizing that it is just mythology, had these myths treated as common knowledge, something there was no need to question because it was as well known as the fact that the sky is blue.

 

If your parents ever told you that Santa Claus was real, then at some point you figured out that he isn't. It may have taken you awhile to shake the idea, even though intellectually you knew Santa was fiction, you had believed it for so long that it was hard to accept. You've been told Hell is real for much longer, and told it by people who really believe it, so it makes it much, much tougher to accept the truth, even though you know the truth, that it doesn't actually exist.

 

Hopefully, knowing where the idea came from will help you to let go of it. The best thing for me is to be able to see how all of these ideas developed, because it allowed me to reach the point where Christian mythology is no different than Greek or Roman mythology. The only difference is that people still believe Christian mythology. (Truth is, there are still people who believe in lots of gods, as well.)

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I feel as though I was feared into believing, and as many on this thread have said, fear is a powerful motivator.  When you are scared to death from birth that if you even so much as question the almighty's existence you will be burned and eaten alive for all eternity, well, yeah it's gonna have some residual effect on your mind.  I have been slowly deconverting for years, and I still have a small amount of fear and guilt.  However, when these fears and this guilt arise I have to remind myself why I don't believe, or I get on here and read, or I chat with other non believers.  After just a week here I feel so much better.  Remember, you aren't the fool, they are the fools for turning themselves into air worshipping zombies.

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Taking the "fear" thing another step further, for me it was fear plus the belief that I did not deserve good things. Christianity is not conducive to building healthy self-esteem, and if you already feel like you are an unlovable person, being told over and over that you are nothing but a "poor, miserable sinner" who deserves eternal hell just by existing certainly doesn't help. 

 

But you are not a bad person or fundamentally flawed. You deserve to be whole and healthy. All human beings do. 

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