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9 Years A Minister, Now An Atheist


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Hello everyone! Nice forum you have here. I hope I am posting in the right spot.

 

I'm Joe Holman, a former Church of Christ Preacher-turned-atheist after 9 years of preaching fundie Christian gospel. You can read my story Here.

 

I now make it my work to "de-convert" the masses I once so proudly preached to. Without going into the particulars that can be read on my site, de-conversion was hard for me, harder than divorce in fact. It takes time and requires a mixture of the right outlook, knowledge, and the right experiences to make it happen. To those of us who actually do make it over the wall to sanity (out of theism, IMHO), the enlightenment and intellectual honesty that follows is truly priceless!

 

(JH)

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Welcome to the site! You'll find many friends here. :) I am impressed and amazed that you had the courage to leave the faith even though you were a minister. I can't imagine how difficult that was. I wish more pastors who felt like that actually left. In your experience, do people who go to seminary often eventually deconvert? I have met quite a few pastors that are agnostic and athiest, but didn't want to admit it because they would lose their jobs (I assume). They were of the more liberal variety, so it may not be the same, but I am interested to hear your experience with this.

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Wow Joe, you were a real asshole :HaHa:

 

It was the mercy of god/eternal torment doctrine that first started to spin the wheels of doubt for me as well. That, and the fact that the writer of Ecclesiastes told everyone to eat, drink and be merry while Paul taught that you should suffer like the worm you are and haul a cross around on your back. I couldn't shore up the obvious contradiction.

 

You will find that some members here take the "live and let live" approach to the anti evangelism issue. I on the other hand am all for deconversion evangelism. My reasoning is that I wish someone had done me the favor so that I could have escaped the meme earlier in life. Christians who take their beliefs seriously do themselves and others harm I think.

 

Welcome to the board. I look forward to watching you debate.

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In your experience, do people who go to seminary often eventually deconvert? I have met quite a few pastors that are agnostic and athiest, but didn't want to admit it because they would lose their jobs (I assume). They were of the more liberal variety, so it may not be the same, but I am interested to hear your experience with this.

 

Thanks for the welcome! I haven't found very many sites like this out there! Lots of clear headed, open-minded people! Wow!

 

In my opinion, yes, of fundy preachers, more are either defecting, seriously doubting, or living "closet atheist" lives, holding onto a job and sparing their families the pains of re-adjusting to a new identity. I graduated seminary with honors and full faith, but as time went on, my mind began to find problems with what I felt I was comfortable with earlier in my life. My doubts grew and eventually terminated in atheism. There was no stopping it! So many others are following in the same path.

 

With fundies, it is different from libs because the change is much more substantial. I get emailed all the time from fundies and libs, and every shade in between of doubting, defecting ministers. It is becoming quite common, incredibly more so that it ever has been. I believe this is because people are thinking and the newer generations are beginning to see the value of reasoning for themselves. Society is making progress, but we're far from out of the woods!

 

This is not to say ministers don't believe what they're teaching. They do, and that's what makes them drones and moves them to lead their congregants like ignorant sheep. But time and experience change people and people expect us to remain the same. Herein lies the problem.

 

I could tell you quite a few stories of defecting ministers and the difficulties they faced "coming out" from their former occupations. I get sworn to secrecy all the time by preachers who need counseling and advice on what to do next to ease the transition back to a secular life. Much baggage must be discarded and inner-battles fought and won before the individual gets the courage and honesty to break loose. Yes, it is difficult, but is becoming a more common thing!

 

(JH)

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Hello again Joe,

 

I've been spending some time looking your site over today and just have to comment. It is really well thought out and put together. You remind me very much of Dan Barker. Again, I do look forward to your participation on this site. Hopefully you will find the time.

 

Best regards

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Wow, Joe, you have been beyond and back! To tell you the truth, if someone would have told me that I would be running into someone like you on the boards here, I would have cynically replied no, not possible. I have been so innundated by politically conservative/Bushy support for fundamentalist clap-trap that I have come to believe that only a rare few people can bear, or even desire the truth. They just want their dreams to become true.

Well, I think that you have made a very unique mental and emotional accomplishment in facing all of the Big Questions as you do, and it is a pleasure to read your posts and visit your site. Good luck, best wishes, and I'll see you around.

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Welcome, Joe!

 

I've just finished reading your telling of your process of de-conversion (at your website), and my mind is whirling -- not only from the specifics of what you went through, but because your story hits home in a very personal way:

 

I was five years old or so when my dad resigned from the (Pentecostal) ministry. He never discussed with me the details of his deconversion, but putting together the few memories I have of that time, and the years subsequent to it, I can see my father in the tale you tell.

 

When I got to your use of the term "intellectual dignity" it was as though I was smacked upside the head with a recognition of what my father's battle for the survival of his rational integrity must have cost him.

 

The year he left the church would have been 1947. He had a wife and four kids and no prospects. His first job after de-conversion was as a night watchman on the docks of San Pedro, where he was especially expected to shoot wharf rats with his .45. My older sisters, in later life, told me that dad considered this job a step up.

 

I knew my dad was an atheist when once, before dawn, he woke up my 11-year-old self to drag me outside to watch the sun rise with him. Of the rising sun, he said to me, "That's enough, isn't it? ...It's enough."

 

My warmest congratulations to you for battling hard to gain your freedom, and my thanks for giving me this special insight into my father.

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Hey Joe, nice to meet you! I'm reading your anti-testimony right now.

 

I'm pretty surprised that you were able to get through Smith and remain unconvinced though. What about Smith did you not find compelling and how did you excuse your belief from his stronger points?

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I had been holding back the progress of mankind by holding onto a book that promised the world, but delivered nothing. It was the very source of some of the problems it claimed to solve.
:banghead:This is so damn true!! :vent:

 

:ugh:

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Welcome, Artur and Joe!

Hope you enjoy our little site!

I'm the original New Zealander here.

:grin:

 

The year he left the church would have been 1947.

Holy Daggity, that's early even for denconverting...

What was the atmosphere was like for your dad, Madame?

 

Sort of like when you get to hear about atheists in the actual Dark Ages or gays pre Stonewall era stories...

 

:shrug:

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The year he left the church would have been 1947.

Holy Daggity, that's early even for denconverting...

What was the atmosphere was like for your dad, Madame?

 

Sort of like when you get to hear about atheists in the actual Dark Ages or gays pre Stonewall era stories...

 

Yeah, S.G., that wasn't a terribly lenient time for back-sliders. Like Joe, Dad had backs turned and doors slammed on him; worst was maybe the treatment from family. But, as I said, I never knew many specific details, just mainly remember feeling responsible because I was such a stubborn and confrontational little kid who, evidently, screamed in church the minute Dad started preaching.

 

Anyway, I don't want to sidetrack this thread. Maybe I'll start one about my dad sometime.

 

Thanks for asking, Kid.

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Welcome to ExC MMJ. I followed your link and read your entire de-conversion story. Thank you for sharing it with us. I thoroughly related to everything you discussed. I especially enjoyed the part where you went to other ministers of the gospel for help and were rebuked and rejected. I am sure that must have been painful and the time, but it clearly shows just how powerless superstition is when confronted with reality. Welcome to reality MMJ; it is not nearly as scary as we thought and offers the reward of sanity.

 

IBF

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Joe:

 

Congratulations on leaving the abyssmal dogmatic bondage of fundamentalist religionism, and thanks for an an enjoyable read at your website.

 

Welcome!

 

Best regards,

 

K

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...

I knew my dad was an atheist when once, before dawn, he woke up my 11-year-old self to drag me outside to watch the sun rise with him. Of the rising sun, he said to me, "That's enough, isn't it? ...It's enough."

...

Wow! Just wow! That's actually very "spiritual" (in the sense of inspiring and sublime). Thanks for sharing that.

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Hello again Joe,

 

I've been spending some time looking your site over today and just have to comment. It is really well thought out and put together. You remind me very much of Dan Barker. Again, I do look forward to your participation on this site. Hopefully you will find the time.

 

Best regards

 

Dan is a good guy. I have a chapter in his coming book on minister de-conversion stories.

 

(JH)

 

I am curious if you were involved with the Church of Christ that has also been called "the Boston Movement"? I was involved briefly with that group.

 

No, mine was the mainline conservative wing of the Cambell movement. However, I knew of several who came from the Boston Movement.

 

(JH)

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MMJ, I liked what you said here:

I do not

encourage them to embrace religion or faith, but it helps them

see that the real motive of "Christian evidences" is undercut by

the Christian's own desire to feel scientifically validated, and to

be accepted by the scientific community. You might say that

Christian evidences shows a Christian's insecurity, and possibly

even doubt in religion and the concept of faith.

It's so very true. And we've seen it on this site how furiosly some fundamentalists that come here want us to understand the "logic" and "proofs" of God, and especially Christianity, and it only proves how fearful they are of being wrong. They need to get us to believe, to ensure and support their own belief. With unbelievers their whole faith system crashes.

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Welcome, Joe!

 

I've just finished reading your telling of your process of de-conversion (at your website), and my mind is whirling -- not only from the specifics of what you went through, but because your story hits home in a very personal way:

 

I was five years old or so when my dad resigned from the (Pentecostal) ministry. He never discussed with me the details of his deconversion, but putting together the few memories I have of that time, and the years subsequent to it, I can see my father in the tale you tell.

 

When I got to your use of the term "intellectual dignity" it was as though I was smacked upside the head with a recognition of what my father's battle for the survival of his rational integrity must have cost him.

 

The year he left the church would have been 1947. He had a wife and four kids and no prospects. His first job after de-conversion was as a night watchman on the docks of San Pedro, where he was especially expected to shoot wharf rats with his .45. My older sisters, in later life, told me that dad considered this job a step up.

 

I knew my dad was an atheist when once, before dawn, he woke up my 11-year-old self to drag me outside to watch the sun rise with him. Of the rising sun, he said to me, "That's enough, isn't it? ...It's enough."

 

My warmest congratulations to you for battling hard to gain your freedom, and my thanks for giving me this special insight into my father.

 

Wow! Very moving story! Your dad sounds like a man after my own heart! Funny thing is, after getting out of the ministry, taking an almost $35,000 per year pay cut, and changing careers several times, I too have settled down as a Level III Commissioned Security Officer! Who would have thought, right?

 

It's a humble, but good career. I love the solitude, the quiet time it provides, and the means to clear my head and work on my research. I decided I'd rather do this than a number of prestigeous fields, like teaching. I am a thinker, and whatever provides me more time to do that, I am a fan of. Even after a nasty divorce, I find that the business was a good move. I doubt I'll leave it any time soon (unless of course I win the big L :lol: )

 

(JH)

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I'm pretty surprised that you were able to get through Smith and remain unconvinced though. What about Smith did you not find compelling and how did you excuse your belief from his stronger points?

 

Well, that's what theism does to a person, makes them not see reason. When Smith would run through, say, a philosophical problem with the existence of God, I would do what many theists do by just retreating into convincing myself that his answers were just presumptuous human wisdom. As a theist, I did not put much stock in philosophical objections. I believed they were useless. As a theist, I was big on arguing the existence of God with the 2nd law of thermodynamics and the entropy principle, which I thought was the surest proof of God. So anytime an atheist brought up a logical problem with my sky spirit, it just rolled off my back because I wasn't ready to allow reasoning to dominate my beliefs.

 

The sad thing is, Christian reasoning is not about thinking outside of the box. Reasoning, to believers, is only valid so long as it supports their beliefs, but basically, it's just window dressing to make belief in said ghost look credible. Believers can only think so far as their doctrinal constraints will let them. Don't expect a Christian to think abstractly. It usually doesn't happen. You can argue with them until you're blue in the face, but unless the critical thinking process in the mind of the believer has begun and the defense mechanisms have been put down, progress will be impossible.

 

(JH)

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