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Mimimom

Never Could Have Guessed I'd End Up Here!

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Hello everyone,

I'm new here although I've been a browser for a few months. I just wanted to introduce myself and I'm hoping to get some support with a few issues. As my title states, I never in a million years would have imagined I'd be where I am today with my beliefs, but here I am. 

Like many of you, I was raised in a Christian home..Fundamental Baptist to be exact and indoctrinated from a very early age. I was sent to Christian school and then to Christian college at a very extreme fundamentalist college. Although raised in this environment I was still somewhat normal. My brother, who is now a Baptist preacher was quite thoroughly brainwashed and has always kind of considered me a rebel even though I've lived a very nice Christian life...just for things like listening to "worldly" music, having an occasional drink....that kind of thing. I met my husband there, but he's not the overly religious type and we never really talk about God all that much. I'm now in my early thirties and I never questioned God a day in my life and the possibility that God doesn't exist never entered my mind until about 3 years ago.

 

Over the past 3 years my faith has slowly been disintegrating beginning on the day my son was born. He was born with scoliosis and several other birth defects to include a minor, non life threatening heart defect, transverse liver, intestines on one side of his body, one kidney smaller than the other, and an accessory spleen. None of these defects are life threatening and he's otherwise a perfectly normal, healthy little boy. Looking around the children's hospital when we are there for his spine appointments, I realize how good we have it compared to other families....things can always be much much worse. But it was my son's defects that started my thinking. I got to thinking about the Bible verses that Christians use to emphasize how much God loves us and how he creates each one of us and is intimately involved with each of his creation. You know the ones... "You have knit me together in my mother's womb" I am fearfully and wonderfully made" etc... I thought if these verses are true that would mean that God purposely created my son with these defects. Why would he do that? What am I going to tell my son when he asks me why God made him this way? I began to wonder and research about everything that can go wrong with the reproductive process. Miscarriages, conjoined twins, birth defects, genetic diseases, sexual disorders, the list goes on and on. I finally came to the conclusion that these Bible verses are wrong and God is not involved in the process, its all just biology and nature at work. Nature is indifferent to the mistakes that occur. 

 

From that point on I questioned everything. If the Bible was wrong about this, what else is it wrong about? I also began noticing every case of human suffering that crossed my path. The 1 year old from my hometown dying of cancer despite an entire town and thousands of people praying for him....my neighbor's little boy with downs syndrome, the starving children throughout the world, the people killed in the tornadoes last summer, the child kidnapped, tortured, raped and murdered reported on the evening news. That's when I realized the Bible is also wrong about prayer. I remember seeing a friend's post on Facebook asking for prayer to find her keys and wallet and praising the Lord that he allowed her to find it. That made me angry. Why would anyone think God would intervene in something as trivial as finding a lost wallet when at the very same time a child is being raped and murdered and he does nothing to intervene. With all of these questions on my mind, I began reading anything I could get my hands on. I wanted to be fair and try to get both sides, so I also read sites such as Answers in Genesis  but every "answer" given by apologists such as Ken Ham made no logical sense to me at all. 

 

This has been a process over the past 3 years and I think I'm finally to the point of coming to terms with the fact that I no longer believe God exists at all. For a while I hung on to the idea of the possibility that a God could exist, although not the God of the Bible...and was somewhere between a deist and agnostic, but now the idea of a God that created us and the laws of the universe and just left us to suffer doesn't sit well with me either. When I look at everything in this earth, I see unregulated natural processes that are indifferent to human suffering. If a god that created all this does exist I wouldn't care to worship him. I've done a little reading on evolution and the history of Christianity and the myths of Jesus and the bible, but I plan to do much more. 

 

I went through a very short lived feeling of devastation at one point. The feeling that everything you've been taught your entire life is a lie is not a good feeling. It didn't last long however, because I now have a renewed sense of beauty and purpose in life. In Christianity you are taught that you're a horrible sinner that deserves hell, and your entire purpose is to glorify and worship the god who saved you from this fate and everything you do in this life should be with eternity in mind. I now know that I have one life to live and I want to enjoy every good moment of it. Now I like to look at suffering as the price we must pay to get to live this life...some have it much harder than others and I would like to do my part to alleviate or lesson human suffering in whatever way I am able to in my little corner of the world....even if it's something as simple as bringing a meal to and chatting with a lonely person who's lost a family member or visiting someone who's sick to lift their spirits....not because God wants me to do these things, but as a fellow human being who would want to be treated with the same level of compassion.

 

None of my family knows yet....I plan to let it out to my husband first and gradually....he does know the issues I started having with god after my son's birth...I just haven't gone into great detail yet. I think he'll take it ok. Although he was raised as a Christian as well, he's never been the overly religious type, and we haven't been to church in several years mainly because he works weekends. I don't see him deconverting himself though because he's not really the thinker type and I don't see him questioning things as I've done. I don't have any plans to try to deconvert any of my family, as I believe you have to be a thinker to get out of religion's hold and one has to come to that point on their own...the majority never will. 

I know full well how non believers are viewed by christians, and that upsets me, but I really have no bitterness or hard feelings toward christianity and I believe my parents tried to raise me in what they sincerely believe to be the truth out of love.  I would love nothing more than to let my mother live out her life believing that she did her job well raising her children to love God and that we're both going to heaven. This is not very realistic however, because although we live long distance from my parents, they are very involved as grandparents with my two young children and it will eventually come out that we aren't going to church and that I'm not indoctrinating them.....which brings me to the main issue I could use some advice on....

 

How do those of you that are parents handle the issues with relatives trying to indoctrinate your children? I am open to my children learning both sides and I want to teach them the parts of the Bible that I find good and useful such as the Golden Rule. But I want to raise them to be logical and free thinkers and decide for themselves what they believe when they are old enough. I know its going to become an issue with my parents and my in laws at some point. Any advice is welcome.

 

Well that's about it. Thank you in advance to anyone who takes the time to read and comment. Looking forward to getting to know some of you and learning more!

 

Suz

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Guest MadameX

Suz you have both a good head on your shoulders and a great attitude. I will write more about raising our kids with knowledge about the worlds religions but I will have to do it later when I can get to a proper sized keyboard ????

 

Glad your son is doing ok

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If left on their own children naturally shed the magical thinking of childhood when their brain develops enough for logical thinking.  If you don't indoctrinate them into any religion then chances are they won't be religious.  I doubt your parents could do much if they are not caretakers.  If it worries you then you could always give your kids a home brewed Introduction to World Religions class where you tell them about the crazy beliefs of non-Christian religions.  Rather than indoctrinating as "The Truth" the focus would be "and people of religion X believe that . . . ".  That way when your parents talk about the Christian crazy your kids have something to compare it with. 

 

For my kids my strategy is to teach science and logic at an early age and get them away from Church.  Then when they are older I will teach them that they can be respectful to get along even if they don't believe the crazy religion.

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I got to thinking about the Bible verses that Christians use to emphasize how much God loves us and how he creates each one of us and is intimately involved with each of his creation. You know the ones... "You have knit me together in my mother's womb" I am fearfully and wonderfully made" etc... I thought if these verses are true that would mean that God purposely created my son with these defects. Why would he do that?

 

 

Hi! Welcome to Ex-C!

 

I don't have kids (God didn't give me those) so I can't answer from the parent perspective, but I did want to comment on the "knit me together in my mother's womb" crap. I have a migraine disorder, and functional MRIs (fMRIs) show that migraineur's brains are actually wired differently than non-migraineurs. Therefore, God made me like this. He destined (chose!!!) for me to suffer intensely my whole life and to have my faith hammered from me violently through intractable pain. Seriously, this Bible verse was the end of me. Christianity broke my brain. It makes no sense except to teenagers and people in their early-20s--before life really hits the fan and we see how there is no one in the driver's seat.

 

You are on a good path. Life gets better. I found the questioning period to be the hardest, and now that I accept that God is not real, life makes way more sense and my cognitive dissonance is gone.

 

Find peace, friend!

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Hi Suz, welcome to exC. Nice post.  I enjoyed reading your testimony.

 

One thought I had was you mentioned your husband may not deconvert.  But you said that you and your husband have not gone to church for several years.  To me this would be proof that he is already largely or fully deconverted.

 

In the Christian mindset it is a mortal sin to miss weekly church even once except through ignorance or mistake. How else do they get their hands on your money :) unless you go every week?

 

Welcome again to the forum/ enlightenment. Cheers, Adam

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I'm enjoying reading that 500 questions blog, thanks for sharing! Thanks for sharing your testimony too, I hope it goes well when/if you let your parents know about your loss of faith.

As for your children, if you yourself aren't parroting what your parents may be exposing them to then I think it's unlikely to have a significant effect on what they ultimately choose to believe, they'll be able to weigh up these two ways of thinking and probably see that the non-christian life doesn't involve being dragged to church on Sundays! And maybe some knowledge of how religious faith works would actually be an asset for them later in life.

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Welcome to ex-c Suz. Thank you for sharing some of your life story. I'm so happy for you that your little boy is doing OK.

 

I think most of us landed up here on Ex-c for similar, heart gut wrenching stories like yours. I closed my eyes for many years to human suffering, just waiting for the day my heart would understand why humans have to go through so much suffering in the 'so-called" perfect world he created. I had 2 ectopic pregnancies that I almost died from and 6 miscarriages'. You want to know how 'Gawd' gave me my two children that I received at 8 and 13 years old? My beautiful only sister had to die of a brain aneurism at 40 years old for me to have children. Gawd is so good isn't he? He took their mother away from them and we all had to suffer very much, including a christian husband who up and walked out on me because he couldn't handle it. Through the tremendous pain and suffering I experienced, I still continued to believe that Gawd had perfect plan for my life. What a bunch of bullshit. Crap!

 

If you had of told me 15 years ago that I would be an atheist posting on EX-c, I would have thought you were the devil himself.

 

I hold my new unbelief mostly to myself. I don't find the world accepts me really good as a non-believer. I have lost many friends whom I've told. The ones that know me and love me....we still hang out but there's always a weird feeling because they want to talk about the goodness of the lord and they can't around me so it makes things real weird sometimes.

 

It took me a long time to let go because the process of switching from 100% believer in god to atheist is not easy for some. It wasn't for me.

 

I sincerely hope you find as much comfort as I did hanging out with the gang here at EX-c. It's the only thing that has helped me to get through many, many days in the last 3 years. Welcome darling. I'm glad you're here with us.

 

Huge hug for you today.

 

Sincerely, Margee

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Welcome!

 

Think carefully before you spill the beans to others in your life.  Once you do that, you can't undo it.  Better to just settle down and think about whether you won't or will tell various people for a while.

 

Several people on these forums have thought that they would feel better once they got the issue off their chest and have gone through very hard times as a consequence.

 

I suggest that you discuss it with people where there are real and ongoing things that need to change.  At some stage, you prob. need to share with your husband.  If neither of you have been going to church for several years, you have probably left the worst of it behind.  If your husband had really wanted to go to church, he would have gone to church functions on other days when he was not working - or else changed jobs so that he wasn't working on Sunday.

 

BUT - to hear it definitively from you could still be very jarring.  Will force him to think about it when he has already voted with his feet.

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Welcome!

 

I raised my daughter to be a critical thinker, not just of religion, but of everything. I started with asking her questions when we watched tv... especially the news and commercials, and drama's. I looked up critical thinking for kids on google and applied those techniques. I didn't tell her what to think about anything but encouraged her to look at things herself and trust her own conclusions. I taught her to respect the scientific method. I taught her about evolution and tried to install respect for the natural world and the other creatures we share the world with.

 

I answered questions about religion as honestly as I could, always qualifying it with, "some people believe that..." doing my best to keep my feelings about it neutral. I taught her that her worth was inherent, and that her actions and choices would be the test of her integrity.

 

I also told her early not to engage those whom she felt were wrong in their conclusions because some people could get their feelings hurt on topics like religion and politics. (and that some people could be mean when challenged) She is older now (14) and I have introduced some debating education and techniques and have stopped telling her not to debate. She is old enough now to make that choice for herself.

 

I didn't let her read the Bible (just by ignoring it) until she was 12, she got about 4 chapters into it and was laughing at it's ridiculousness. 

 

I think she is 'vaccinated' against 'faith' (belief without evidence)... she uses her own thinking to judge her world and is not a follower, and for a 14 year old that's pretty significant - though it does cause a little bit of trouble with authority - she just won't accept 'authority' for authorities sake... but demands that people earn respect (including teachers, and even me!  LOL) but I'd rather raise a child who questions authority than one who blindly obeys.

 

I didn't have the challenge of family members who tried to indoctrinate her but I think that some of the things I did would work with any kid... and don't underestimate the influence of a parent over others. Children absorb more than you will ever know from their parents, and example goes a lot farther than any words we say. I have modelled my own thinking processes (in age appropriate ways) for my daughter, allowing her to witness my own questioning of things.

 

The most important thing was letting her know as early as possible that I am not infallible, that I make mistakes too, and, here's a biggie, to apologize when I am wrong and change my behaviour. Parents are a small child's 'gods'... that is what they will internalize as their 'template' for authority.

 

Hope this helps!  smile.png

 

OH!  I didn't indoctrinate her with Santa, or other fables after the age of 6/7. That might have helped also.

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Welcome Suz.  I have found it necessary to strictly forbid my parent's from making any efforts to proselytize my son.  I softened the blow by telling them that the Jews on my wife's side of the family had been given the same directive.  I also agree with mymistake to a certain extent.  In most normal cases, a child will not end up religious if not indoctrinated from an early age.  However, I also know how manipulative my mother is and how adroitly she employs shameless tactics such as guilt, condemnation, and shunning.  For me, this means I will always need to be on guard.  Living in a different state helps, as does the fact that my wife and my mother can't stand each other, so visits on either side aren't really encouraged. 

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Welcome aboard suznhynes, or maybe I should say welcome to reality. I enjoyed reading your post.

 

De-conversion stories tend to have a number of similarities. One day a light bulb goes off in our heads and we acknowledge something that has been buried deep inside us for a long time. We have doubts. And then we admit to ourselves that the bible could not possibly be the inerrant word of god.

 

Once we cross that hurdle we begin to acknowledge that the bible says a lot of stuff that makes no sense and some of the stories could not possibly be true in any literal sense. Then some of us begin to study and research religious history. Eventually we find a number of historians that confirm there is no historical record that a man named Jesus of Nazareth ever existed.

 

We also discover the Jesus story has a number of identifiable similarities with a host of other pagan demigod stories. We eventually realize the Jesus story wasn’t new or unique. It existed for hundreds of years in pagan cultures before it was adopted and modified by a sect of Jews.

 

There may or may not be a “presence, force, or energy” in the universe but if there is it certainly isn’t the god of the bible.

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Welcome!

 

I think that one of the best things about acknowledging evolution and humanity's continuity with the rest of life on Earth is that this means that - far from being brought into this world filled with sin - all of the good that exists in us is there inherently. Humanity, all of us, has an inborn capacity to be good. The thing to remember about the Golden Rule is that it is actually found embedded in belief systems as far-flung as Christianity and Confucianism. Basic ethical behaviour is a fundamental part of who we are. I agree with mymistake that discussing religions - all kinds of religions - in an open-ended "some people believe X and some people believe Y" kind of way is one of the best gifts you can give your children. I was raised without any sort of religion, but also to respect what other people believe, too. Raise your children like that, and they don't have to fear new cultural experiences.

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Loved reading your story!   So clear and personal.   As a person 2 years into my deconverted life I welcome you.

Check out the thethinkingatheist dot com podcast called 

Secular Parenting with Dale McGowan

 

He speaks directly to your question in portions of it.  Dale is also author of a book in that subject.   Very good.

Best wishes.   My father was a conservative Baptist minister.   Fortunately both my parents passed away before I went through this and my kids were full grown too.   But I have had to deal with a VERY believing wife who, like your husband, does not care to open that "sceptic" drawer and find Santa's suit that daddy wears.  If she did open it and see that she would apply apologetics to it.   Daddy put it there so he would get credit from me for presents that Santa really brings.   Or maybe Santa left his spare outfit in the house last Christmas and daddy is keeping it for him to pick up next Christmas.  Anything but the obvious truthful reason.

Best wishes again.   Looking forward to hearing more of your journey.

 

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Welcome aboard! I really enjoyed reading your story. Most of us can identify with parts of your story.

 

I've hardly told anyone. My wife knows, but only halfway believes me. My children are grown and I haven't figured out how to tell them yet. (I'm in the closet and still going to church.) I see no reason to tell my elderly parents (both 85).

 

It sounds to me like you've got it handled pretty well, so far. Just take it a day at a time.

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Thanks so much to all of you for the warm welcome and encouragement! It feels good to finally be able to "talk" to people about this, even if it is strangers on a web forum. I really appreciate all the the input. 

As far as starting to tell others in my life, I plan to take it very slow. I do believe my husband needs to know at some point because it feels a like living a lie when you don't share something like that with your spouse. Also he too will probably start to wonder when I don't start teaching the kids to pray at bedtime and that kind of thing. I plan for this to be a very slow process though and just to continue to gradually let him in on the questions I've been having over the past 3 years. I can definitely understand how shocking it could be for a spouse to learn something like that suddenly. As far as where he stands, yes we haven't been to church in several years, but I think its just that he doesn't really put God at the top of his priority list and is indifferent to having a personal relationship. Presented with the question of whether or not God exists, I believe he would defend God's existence. When I've talked to him about the issues with why God would allow things like the issues with my son, he's pretty indifferent about that too. Like I said, he's just not really the thinking and questioning type. The status with going to church is not likely to change anytime soon, if ever...he's a pilot and is away most weekends. I don't believe if that ever changes he will really initiate going to church again....we've been invited to attend his brother's church at Christmas and Easter the last two years and he had no interest going.

As far as my family, and in laws, I really can't picture myself letting them in on this anytime soon, it will probably wait until they start to wonder about why we aren't taking them to church...right now I've just kind of used the excuse that its really hard to go on my own with two very young children who get cranky and need a nap right around the time the service starts. But my mom commented a couple months ago that at some point I will have to start taking them on my own even though my husband isn't able to go. And she has already talked about wanting to buy them kids for truth materials and take them to the creation museum when they are older. And she's talked about the fact that Awana's starts at age 3 so I could start taking my son to that soon.  So I know the shit will hit the fan at some point! 

 

 

Margee--Your post brought tears to my eyes! I"m so sorry about your sister. I can relate to your feelings on your pregnancies and miscarriages as well.  I had two miscarriages myself, forgot to mention that. Another thing I've always questioned is infertility. My brother and sister in law are unable to have children of their own...they've been praying about it for years. I've always wondered why they continue to say things like God is good all the time...(one of the most annoying statements in my opinion) in reference to their infertility. Thank you so much for your kind words!

 

Ellwood-- Thanks so much for the info on the parenting podcast, I will definitely check it out. 

 

To the rest of you thanks again so much for all the advice and encouragement, looking forward to learning more!

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When we deconverted, it was pretty hard on our kids. After they adjusted to the new world, they have pretty much followed our example. However, they will sometimes go to church with one of their friends. They have had bouts of wanting the be Mormon or Christian or whatever. For them it's more a social issue than anything else.

 

I have consistently told them that if they want to hold to a faith I have no problem, provided that they ask the important questions and never, ever just take someone's word for anything. 

 

I have told them repeatedly that one of their most important jobs in life is to learn how to think clearly, to admit that they don't know everything, and to be willing to change their position if new evidence comes to light. 

 

Essentially, I am trying to teach them to think and be a good questioner. That is the only way that I know of that will keep them from being indoctrinated (whether religious, political or any other kind of indoctrination). 

 

I have asked myself, "Would I treat my kids any differently if they chose to be religious?" The answer is "no." I suspect that you would answer the same way.

 

To my mind, holding to a faith is not the end of the world. It's when you try to browbeat someone else with that faith that there's a problem.

 

The same could be said for our side as well, which is why I like this community. None of us are going onto Christian forums and making waves. Pretty much everyone here is here because we like chilling with one another and find support in one another's company. 

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Think carefully before you spill the beans to others in your life.  Once you do that, you can't undo it.  Better to just settle down and think about whether you won't or will tell various people for a while.

 

Several people on these forums have thought that they would feel better once they got the issue off their chest and have gone through very hard times as a consequence.

 

That's good advice.

 

You also have to be careful with teaching your children. I was fortunate that ours were in their early teens when we deconverted. Some on this site have told stories of their elementary-age children being berated and bullied by religious children when it was learned that the one didn't believe in god. 

 

It's a tough row to hoe. Do you leave the subject alone until the child is older or do you prepare them in advance? I would think that in this case "ignorance is bliss" and perhaps waiting until they are 9 or 10 would be a good move.

 

So much of parenting is hit and miss. We're gonna screw up no matter what we do. But at least you're not screwing up by indoctrinating your son.

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Thanks so much to all of you for the warm welcome and encouragement! It feels good to finally be able to "talk" to people about this, even if it is strangers on a web forum. I really appreciate all the the input. 

As far as starting to tell others in my life, I plan to take it very slow. I do believe my husband needs to know at some point because it feels a like living a lie when you don't share something like that with your spouse. Also he too will probably start to wonder when I don't start teaching the kids to pray at bedtime and that kind of thing. I plan for this to be a very slow process though and just to continue to gradually let him in on the questions I've been having over the past 3 years. I can definitely understand how shocking it could be for a spouse to learn something like that suddenly. As far as where he stands, yes we haven't been to church in several years, but I think its just that he doesn't really put God at the top of his priority list and is indifferent to having a personal relationship. Presented with the question of whether or not God exists, I believe he would defend God's existence. When I've talked to him about the issues with why God would allow things like the issues with my son, he's pretty indifferent about that too. Like I said, he's just not really the thinking and questioning type. The status with going to church is not likely to change anytime soon, if ever...he's a pilot and is away most weekends. I don't believe if that ever changes he will really initiate going to church again....we've been invited to attend his brother's church at Christmas and Easter the last two years and he had no interest going.

As far as my family, and in laws, I really can't picture myself letting them in on this anytime soon, it will probably wait until they start to wonder about why we aren't taking them to church...right now I've just kind of used the excuse that its really hard to go on my own with two very young children who get cranky and need a nap right around the time the service starts. But my mom commented a couple months ago that at some point I will have to start taking them on my own even though my husband isn't able to go. And she has already talked about wanting to buy them kids for truth materials and take them to the creation museum when they are older. And she's talked about the fact that Awana's starts at age 3 so I could start taking my son to that soon.  So I know the shit will hit the fan at some point! 

 

 

Margee--Your post brought tears to my eyes! I"m so sorry about your sister. I can relate to your feelings on your pregnancies and miscarriages as well.  I had two miscarriages myself, forgot to mention that. Another thing I've always questioned is infertility. My brother and sister in law are unable to have children of their own...they've been praying about it for years. I've always wondered why they continue to say things like God is good all the time...(one of the most annoying statements in my opinion) in reference to their infertility. Thank you so much for your kind words!

 

Ellwood-- Thanks so much for the info on the parenting podcast, I will definitely check it out. 

 

To the rest of you thanks again so much for all the advice and encouragement, looking forward to learning more!

Peer pressure is a very powerful factor against deconversion, second only to childhood indoctrination by trusted adults.  You're well on your way to get past the first part (indoctrination).  You'll just need to get through the peer pressure part.  Rational thinking, honest and clear communication and self-confidence are three great tools you can use toaccomplish this part. 

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hi Suz, I discovered this site night before last, read your story last night and registered. I have to ask, how do christians go through something like you have and not feel completely swindled? I must say your attitude causes me to take a look in the mirror. I've not been through anything like that and yet I get fighting mad when I think about all the lies and bullshit I've been full of. Thanks for sharing, good luck, and keep doing your part.

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Hi xliar, welcome. In a way I do feel swindled, yes. But I guess I just look at it as I'm only hurting myself if I allowed myself to get bitter and angry. Life is too short, and anger will only weigh us down and be a drag on our forward motion! Hope you can find some support here as well! Let us know your story when you get a chance. 

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Hi Suz,

 

I don't have any huge revelations to add to what people before me have said, which all sounds like good advice, but welcome!

 

I was raised by agnostic parents who took us to a nice, quiet, stodgy, non-fundy church without crazy beliefs about hell and without being beat over the head that we are nasty sinners deserving death.  We didn't talk about church or god at home, we prayed only before dinner ("Dear lord, we thank you for this food you have provided for us, amen") which was their way of having us wait til everyone got served so we could eat together.  None of my grandparents were religious, so none of that was an issue.

 

However, as I've gotten older, near 50, I'm glad I'm familiar with the church and its rituals.  When I do have to go to a church, I'm comfortable with the service, somewhat familiar with most of the music, I understand the sitting/standing parts.  Growing up I attended enough Catholic masses with friends to feel pretty comfortable going to a mass and not feeling like a total outsider.  As I ended up in a job where I'm a caregiver for very elderly people, I have had to occasionally take one of my clients to church or mass, and I'm comfortable going in with them, sitting with them, and being able to participate in a way that is respectful to them.  I can also comfortably talk to my clients about their religion if they bring up things (my clients are generally extremely elderly and close to death and I sometimes get panicked questions from them about what I think will happen to them after they die, and I've come up with a good-enough and respectful answer that I've used with a Jewish client, an agnostic, and various xians).  I raised my kids in a similar manner.  They have both turned out to be agnostics as far as I know, which is fine, but more importantly they are respectful to people about religion (or lack of it) and if they were to end up in a church with a friend they would feel comfortable with knowing what to do.  

 

My daughter has a friend who was raised strictly atheist and never had attended any church.  When she did eventually end up going to a service with a friend as a teenager, she said she felt completely uncomfortable and had no clue what to do and just felt like she stood out as an outsider.  The standing/sitting/kneeling parts freaked her out and she felt a few steps behind everybody and unsure if she should stand or kneel.  Since these kids are at an age where they're going to be going to friends' weddings soon, I think it's good they should know what to expect in a church service so as not to feel completely alien.  It also doesn't hurt to have attended an Easter/xmas service and know the basic cultural stories, so as to not feel like a total outcast with friends if something like, say, an "empty tomb" gets mentioned.  No use making teenagers feel more outcast than they already feel!

 

I also think (and anybody is free to disagree with me) that it's not a horrible idea to present the concept of prayer, or some type of thanksgiving, to kids as a way of saying thank you and feeling gratitude.  I don't think it hurts any of us who live in first-world countries and live like royalty, as compared to half the world, to slow down a bit every day and be aware that we do have daily access to clean water, food, sufficiently-sized homes, cars, well-fitting clothes and shoes, sanitary medical care, and to NOT TAKE IT FOR GRANTED.  As a kid, I grew up in a typical suburban house with indoor plumbing, a full fridge, you know, the whole bit.  All my friends lived the same.  It wasn't a bad idea for my parents to point out to me that we were extremely lucky, to be aware of all that we did have, and to slow down on a regular basis and feel some gratitude.

 

Your kids will turn out fine!  Don't raise them terrified of hell, and answer their questions as truthfully as you can.  

 

Welcome!

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amateur--

 

Thank you for that perspective, those are some things I hadn't really considered. I definitely want to instill gratitude in them and expose them to people and parts of the world that don't have it as good as we do here. And you're right, I guess I shouldn't fear them being exposed to church and religion...my main thing is I don't want them so indoctrinated that they aren't able to decide for themselves. Thanks for your thoughts!

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I got to thinking about the Bible verses that Christians use to emphasize how much God loves us and how he creates each one of us and is intimately involved with each of his creation. You know the ones... "You have knit me together in my mother's womb" I am fearfully and wonderfully made" etc... I thought if these verses are true that would mean that God purposely created my son with these defects. Why would he do that?

 

 

Hi! Welcome to Ex-C!

 

I don't have kids (God didn't give me those) so I can't answer from the parent perspective, but I did want to comment on the "knit me together in my mother's womb" crap. I have a migraine disorder, and functional MRIs (fMRIs) show that migraineur's brains are actually wired differently than non-migraineurs. Therefore, God made me like this. He destined (chose!!!) for me to suffer intensely my whole life and to have my faith hammered from me violently through intractable pain. Seriously, this Bible verse was the end of me. Christianity broke my brain. It makes no sense except to teenagers and people in their early-20s--before life really hits the fan and we see how there is no one in the driver's seat.

 

You are on a good path. Life gets better. I found the questioning period to be the hardest, and now that I accept that God is not real, life makes way more sense and my cognitive dissonance is gone.

 

Find peace, friend!

 

Positivist,

I'm sorry about your migraines, I've had a migraine once in my life and since then I've felt so bad for people who have to suffer such excruciating pain on a regular basis. Hopefully science and medicine will continue to make advancements in treating them.

 

Just for laughs, I've had these silly thoughts about a conversation between God and Jesus when they were in the process of creating my son in my womb. 

Jesus: Father, we've got some more babies to work on. Here's one that's ready for his spine and organs to be formed. Should we make him normal and healthy? 

God: Nah lets spice things up with this one. Let's give him a couple wedge shaped vertebrae and lets wire his heart a little differently..nothing too serious though for this one. Maybe turn his liver around and give him an extra spleen. Oh and just for kicks let us make one kidney small and put his intestines off to one side. 

Jesus: Are you sure? You know this will make his mother stop believing in us. You don't want to have to send her to hell do you?

God: Eh...she should know it's all part of our perfect plan.

Jesus: Ok...uh...what's that plan again? 

God: Stop asking questions and get to work on that extra spleen! 

 

It's just as laughable to think that a loving father/creator would purposely give his child a brain wired for migraines. As a parent I feel horrible when my kids are sick with something as minor as a cold and sore throat and want to to everything I can to alleviate their pain. I would never purposely inflict pain of any kind on them. I'm just glad we have people who work so hard in science and medicine to treat the endless list of things that go wrong with these bodies of ours. Thanks for your input and encouragement!

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Jesus: Are you sure? You know this will make his mother stop believing in us. You don't want to have to send her to hell do you?

God: Eh...she should know it's all part of our perfect plan.

 

LOL! YES!!! That's exactly it!! God. No wonder Christianity broke my brain!

 

I had a conversation with a fundy cousin. I'm like, "I rescue ants from my dog's pool because I am moved by compassion to do so. Why doesn't God help me, if he is 'better than any earthly parent'?"  [[Crickets]]

 

Yes, thank goodness for science......

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Welcome, Suzn!

 

I suffered three early miscarriages, too. My daughter (now 8) was a perfectly healthy baby, and by some accounts, "the custest baby I've ever seen!" But I was stricken with 18 months of near-debilitating post partum depression. I chalked it all up to god testing me, or some shit like that. No one from our church helped, and we ended up switching churches, where no one there helped much either. The only reason I'm still alive is because my husband is such a good man. No churchies, no god, just a simple loving man and herculean efforts to improve my physical situation from lots of angles.

 

When my daughter was about 5, I thought I should start saying prayers before bed. They were always just prayers of thanks, for our beautiful life, our abundance, our health. About the 7-8th night I did this, my little girl said, "Mommy, please stop talking to Jesus. It's boring." She then stated that it doesn't help anyway, since the people at our church were still being mean to me, and why would Jesus let his own people do that?

 

She now attends a small christian school. (I know, gasp! But they have small class sizes, 12 max, and share an education philosophy that we completely love and support, so we are working around the Jesus parts.) Before class, a student is always asked to start the day in prayer. She is now in third grade, and never in the past three years has she offered to do the prayer. (Her three teachers have all mentioned this, but say that she sits quietly and reverently, so it's ok.) I asked her about this last year (age 7, second grade). She said, "They always pray for us to have a good day, to listen to the teacher, and to respect each other. You don't need god for that. Just be nice and pay attention." Ha! I was so proud -- kids are smarter than you think!

 

Last year (second grade) during the last week of school, her class put on an amazing poetry recital of complex poems they had memorized, and original poems and artwork they had created. It was impressive! One girl stood up to lead in prayer, and I looked at my girl. All the kids were sitting with their hands folded in their laps, heads bowed, eyes closed. My girl had her hands behind her back, swinging her legs in the chair, and looking around the room -- as if to say, let's get this over so we can get to the poetry stuff! I was again proud -- she knows it's silliness.

 

She told me about a month ago that she tried to pray about the people at our old church being mean to me, but nothing has changed yet. She knows I had prayed about that for about 4 years, and nothing changed. She flat out said, "I just don't think any of it is real."

 

My point is that kids figure stuff out. They see how some christians are. Mine knows that we have food on the table because mommy works her butt off some nights in the office well after she goes to bed, and daddy works every day too. No god needed -- just hard work and personal responibility.

 

There is a book you might enjoy: Parenting Beyond Belief. I found it at the library in my small bible-belt town. All the little essays are only a few pages long, and divided into themed chapters, so you can read tiny bits at a time. Easy.

 

As for your kids and Awana's: Consider getting them into dance or gymnastics or swimming instead. Then they are learning teamwork, structure, and getting physical development skills. You'll be "too busy" for church stuff: sitting quietly in boring old sunday school, trying to force kids to sit and listen and not squirm -- contrary to their nature. Know what I mean?

 

I'm glad you have come to this site. I am enjoying reading about your journey, questions, and successes. I hope you are finding some peace and comfort here!

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