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Religious Fundamentalism Nearly Destroyed Me


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Imperialblue: Thank you for that testimony and welcome to ex-c! As you know, people who are not raised in fundamentalist Christianity cannot ever truly appreciate the damage it does to one's life and the extent the person has to go to repair their views of life to become anything close to normal. Many of us here (including myself) have only one or two friends, if that, and are completely alienated from having any kind of relationship with their families. You are not alone.

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Welcome to ex-c, Imperialblue!

 

My heart goes out to you for all you've experienced because of your fundamentalist upbringing.  Being shunned by your family and church is a very painful consequence of being honest about expressing your doubts and disbelief.  You deserve to live your life without this unnecessary baggage.  

 

I can personally relate to everything you wrote above, with the exception of being pushed to become a preacher.  That was so unfair to you, and only shows how egotistical those people truly were.  I totally agree that religious fundamentalism causes psychological problems.  Having experienced it myself, and having seen the effects it causes in others, I believe it will only be a matter of time before the specific symptom cluster receives a diagnostic label.  

 

The good news is that you are now free from fundamentalism... atleast for now.  If you are still seeking answers, I would caution you not to get too involved in any new age type teachings right now.  Some members might not agree with me there, but I feel the need to warn you because of what happened to me and others after deconverting at a young age.  

 

My experience being raised fundamentalist left me with a lingering feeling that there must be some reason for everything that happens; and it left me vulnerable to falling for anyone claiming to have the secret knowledge of 'why'.  Sadly, I found myself reconverting at a certain point out of an overwhelming fear that the bible might all be true which seemed to be triggered by 9-11 and fears of the end of the world.  If you consider the analogy of fundamentalism being like an illness, then it is like an illness that you always carry that can resurface later in life when you are down, tired and at the end of your rope.  I would encourage you to continue to focus on being true to yourself and developing your potential.  It is such a good thing to have a friend who understands, and it sounds like your girlfriend does.  Best of luck to both of you!

 

   

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The problems you listed out brought back so many memories/emotions from by boyhood days.  Thank you for sharing and I look forward to hearing more from you.

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Welcome.

 

This process must be extremely challenging for someone whose life has been defined by such beliefs and whose family and contacts are so implacably entrenched in them.  I can partly relate, but I won't do you the dishonour of pretending to have been in the same boat.  I am willing to thank whatever deities, spirits, flesh-and-blood people, philosophical ideas, concepts of the universe and memories of personal experiences that anyone may consider remotely relevant to the issue that, although I wasted far too many years in fundamentalism, at least I was not born and brought up in it.

 

So, what can I say?

 

Primarily, have the courage to be yourself.  That you have such courage is already amply demonstrated, but this is a continuous process that may take you who knows where; you will need to be prepared to face the practical issues of life without your previous support network, and possibly personal doubts as you come into contact with new ideas that are diametrically opposed to your old life.  You must not let either the ghosts of the past or the uncertainties of the future hold you back.  Sounds like you've started well, so I suspect you'll be fine.

 

And secondly, don't be afraid to shout out round here if you need any help or advice - there's an awful lot of experience to draw upon in the membership of this site.

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Welcome Imperialblue.  You exhibit clear, rational and sensible thinking well grounded in reality.  You'll be fine.

 

​It is sad that your peers (family, church members) are behaving as they are.  But that is not surprising, given they are addicted to the five items you listed in your post, among other things associated with that particular religion.  Their xenophobia, shallowness and hubris are their dysfunctions, not yours.

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Imperialblue, thanks for sharing your story. I empathize with your feelings of wanting back the lost years. I was 51 yrs old when I finally walked away from xianity. I am not out to everyone, only to the people who matter most. My parents are in their 70s and it is hard for them to understand. But they accept me. My sister's household are fine with it. My sister knows religion is crazy. I'm sorry you are suffering rejection by your family. That must be terrible grief for you. I am glad your girlfriend is with you, that the two of you have a similar view and that you support each other.

Thanks for taking the time to read my story Human. :-)  I consider myself to be extremely fortunate to have a girlfriend who is as understanding and supportive as she is.  I honestly don't know how I would be handling the life I'm living now if I had to do it all alone.  I guess that is why I think this forum is so important.  I know that there are a lot of people in the world who are going through situations that are just like mine or even worse.  Many of those people may only be able to find support by coming to a place like this.  I just hope that my story can help other people who are dealing with similar experiences to see the real light, find some comfort, and finally find their way home (metaphorically speaking). 

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Welcome to ex-c, Imperialblue!

 

My heart goes out to you for all you've experienced because of your fundamentalist upbringing.  Being shunned by your family and church is a very painful consequence of being honest about expressing your doubts and disbelief.  You deserve to live your life without this unnecessary baggage.  

 

I can personally relate to everything you wrote above, with the exception of being pushed to become a preacher.  That was so unfair to you, and only shows how egotistical those people truly were.  I totally agree that religious fundamentalism causes psychological problems.  Having experienced it myself, and having seen the effects it causes in others, I believe it will only be a matter of time before the specific symptom cluster receives a diagnostic label.  

 

The good news is that you are now free from fundamentalism... atleast for now.  If you are still seeking answers, I would caution you not to get too involved in any new age type teachings right now.  Some members might not agree with me there, but I feel the need to warn you because of what happened to me and others after deconverting at a young age.  

 

My experience being raised fundamentalist left me with a lingering feeling that there must be some reason for everything that happens; and it left me vulnerable to falling for anyone claiming to have the secret knowledge of 'why'.  Sadly, I found myself reconverting at a certain point out of an overwhelming fear that the bible might all be true which seemed to be triggered by 9-11 and fears of the end of the world.  If you consider the analogy of fundamentalism being like an illness, then it is like an illness that you always carry that can resurface later in life when you are down, tired and at the end of your rope.  I would encourage you to continue to focus on being true to yourself and developing your potential.  It is such a good thing to have a friend who understands, and it sounds like your girlfriend does.  Best of luck to both of you!

 

   

Thanks for the encouraging words xtify. You sound like you truly understand where I am coming from.  You also seem to understand how hard it can be for a person to walk away from something that has been a part of his or her life for so long - even if that something has become toxic and poisonous.  I have to agree with you about the symptom cluster (depression, confusion, anxiety, ocd, etc.) that comes along with a life ruled by fundamentalism.  I too think that religious fanaticism will eventually be treated as a type of mental disorder, and I hope that society at large will eventually begin to see the problems associated with religious fundamentalism for what they are.

 

I really appreciate the advice you gave me concerning re-conversion.  I know that I still have a long way to go.  Even now, I still find myself habitually whispering quiet prayers when I feel desperate, confused, and worn out...  I'm not sure how unhealthy that behavior is, but I do know that I need to continue to work towards gaining confidence in my own mental capacities without being so quick to crumble under the pressures of fear and uncertainty.  It's funny how fear is one of the main driving forces behind religious fundamentalism, yet the Bible says in one place that God is not a spirit of fear... 

 

On a more positive note, I am glad that it hasn't taken my entire life to see through the smoke and mirrors of religion.  I will continue to work towards independence from its unhealthy subconcious grip on my life, and I know that eventually I will be free.  Its good to know that there are people like yourself who are selfless enough to take the time to send an encouraging word to a complete stranger.  People like yourself are more appreciated than you probably realize.  Thank you.

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"For a moment, try to imagine lying awake at night pondering how you are going to convince your best friend that he or she needs to get saved or else he or she is going to spend an eternity in the torturous flames of Hell while simultaneously being beaten to a pulp by endless hordes of cruel demons.  Add to that, the passing thought that maybe you weren't really saved either.  Maybe you were going to burn for an eternity!"

 

Oh, I know all too well.

 

I think the cruelest thing that a parent can do is disown his or her own child, as well as try to coerce him/her into doing something he/she doesn't want to do.  Yet, it seems that he suffers from a great ignorance...as I did at one time.  Ironically, as an openly gay man, I know how it is to have feelings of homophobia.  Growing up in a small town, my knowledge of gays was not extensive until I got older and did research on my own.

 

I think you made a good choice, choosing to follow your own path...and congrats to you for making it your own, and not allowing other people to coerce you.  In some ways, reading stories on here mirror reading stories of people who have come out as LGBT.  The same level of fear, intimidation, etc.

 

Continue to find your own niche.  You're doing an awesome thing. :)

 

Andrew

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Imperialblue,

 

Thanks for sharing your story with the forum. I didn't grow up with much religion, formally, so I have been fortunate to not have to experience family members shunning me in that same way. I am sorry you have to go through that. It seems so senseless and has to be very difficult :/

 

Looking forward to seeing you in the chatroom again.

Take care,

Co

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My little niece and nephew are being pushed into that very life right now. I'm hoping to be an influence on them, but I don't see them very often. I de-converted about 6.5 years ago, and not everyone in the family knows about it.

 

I had 30+ years of ardent faith, ate up all the young Earth stuff produced by the Creation Research Institute, studied doctrine and apologetics, and especially loved talking to "cult" members (only later did I realize I was one). I had a ton of questions over the years, but like many believers I put them on a mental shelf so my relationship with Jesus could continue until I could better understand. Of course, I found out later that I understood things just fine at the time and my questions were legitimate, and that no one really has a relationship with Jesus. He amounts to an imaginary friend, a sort of "emperor's new clothes" where everyone lavishes praise on this beautiful being who is in full control of everything, but who consistently fails to uphold his promises (due to a terrible lack of existence).

 

There are lots of others like you who have found their way out, and been cut off from blood relatives. However, with time you can find others who will fill that gap better than people who only want to judge you for being different. I read a statement today that I agree with "Someone who is worthy of your love will never put you in a situation where you feel you must sacrifice your dignity, your integrity, or your self-worth to be with them." My own family rarely speaks to me, but I've found some truly precious friends who share a similar world-view. Life is good, and I hope you enjoy exploring the rest of yours.

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That must be very, very challenging to witness that situation.

 

I mean, on the one hand parents feel like they have "the right" to "raise our kids the way we see fit", which in most cases is true.

 

But, then you've got this other angle, as someone with intense experience and history with that way of thinking, and a lot of frustration that you feel you can prevent someone else from going through. Or, at minimum, let them know that they are not alone if they choose not to believe all that stuff.

 

I suppose that sites such as this and countless other resources serve the function I'm about to propose, but I'm wondering out loud here:

 

Is there a way for people like us to be maybe more visible in the media in a way that is not explicitly aimed at "converting others", but in more of a "telling our stories" kind of way? Maybe a "Leaving faith behind" round-table or panel discussion for former faith members who can discuss their background and then how they changed. I mean, certainly people who listened and thought we are wrong are free to disagree, but having the information out there.

 

I'm sure such videos or audio recordings already exist, and I'm just not aware of them.

 

My little niece and nephew are being pushed into that very life right now. I'm hoping to be an influence on them, but I don't see them very often. I de-converted about 6.5 years ago, and not everyone in the family knows about it.

 

I had 30+ years of ardent faith, ate up all the young Earth stuff produced by the Creation Research Institute, studied doctrine and apologetics, and especially loved talking to "cult" members (only later did I realize I was one). I had a ton of questions over the years, but like many believers I put them on a mental shelf so my relationship with Jesus could continue until I could better understand. Of course, I found out later that I understood things just fine at the time and my questions were legitimate, and that no one really has a relationship with Jesus. He amounts to an imaginary friend, a sort of "emperor's new clothes" where everyone lavishes praise on this beautiful being who is in full control of everything, but who consistently fails to uphold his promises (due to a terrible lack of existence).

 

There are lots of others like you who have found their way out, and been cut off from blood relatives. However, with time you can find others who will fill that gap better than people who only want to judge you for being different. I read a statement today that I agree with "Someone who is worthy of your love will never put you in a situation where you feel you must sacrifice your dignity, your integrity, or your self-worth to be with them." My own family rarely speaks to me, but I've found some truly precious friends who share a similar world-view. Life is good, and I hope you enjoy exploring the rest of yours.

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I had 30+ years of ardent faith, ate up all the young Earth stuff produced by the Creation Research Institute, studied doctrine and apologetics, and especially loved talking to "cult" members (only later did I realize I was one). I had a ton of questions over the years, but like many believers I put them on a mental shelf so my relationship with Jesus could continue until I could better understand. Of course, I found out later that I understood things just fine at the time and my questions were legitimate, and that no one really has a relationship with Jesus. He amounts to an imaginary friend, a sort of "emperor's new clothes" where everyone lavishes praise on this beautiful being who is in full control of everything, but who consistently fails to uphold his promises (due to a terrible lack of existence).

 

Hi Fuego.  I understand exactly where you are coming from on this point.  Anytime I ever had a legitimate question about the authenticity of scripture, my father would throw a book at me.  As a result of this, I read many of the greats cover to cover multiple times including 'Mere Christianity', 'Evidence that Demands a Verdict', and 'The Case for Christ'.  The apologetic approach helped to keep me in the faith much longer than I ever should have stayed there.  Some of the apologetic arguments found in the books that I read were actually pretty compelling when they were viewed without any kind of cross-examination.  They would keep me hanging on just a little bit longer.  That is exactly where the problem lies.  I was never told by anyone in the faith to try to see things from a secularist point of view.  When I finally got the courage to take it upon myself to view the Bible from a non-biased perspective (at the risk of incurring the wrath of God), I began to see just how ridiculous some of the arguments for the authenticity, historicity, and truth of the scriptures were.  I soon found that in order for me to truly believe that the Bible was one hundred percent true, I would be forced to do logical gymnastics that no sane person would attempt if he or she were doing anything short of finding a cure all for both cancer and aids while simultaneously attempting to compute the last digit of 'pi' with only a pencil and paper.  I guess a moment of clarity overtook me, and I started to see things clearly in a way that was much like an out of focus camera coming into full focus.  A sinking feeling hung heavy in my stomach when I finally came to the full realization that I had been completely duped and taken advantage of.  So many years of my life felt like they had been mercilessly stolen from me.  Now, there are times when I find myself getting angry at anything and everything labeled 'Christian', and sometimes it is a struggle to keep myself from being overcome with hatred when I see 'good Christian soldiers' out in the public sector pushing their beliefs on the young and the innocent.

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Thanks for sharing! I grew up much the same as you (minus the preacher father), and it's extremely frustrating to realize how much time/emotion/etc has been wasted on utter nonsense. I'm sorry your family is not accepting you right now, but I'm glad you have your girlfriend to support you. Hope you stick around and contribute!

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