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I would like to thank you for the opportunity to type my story here.  I appreciate good conversation and generally don't mind a disagreement, but it is really nice to find a peaceful place to be able to share my thoughts on how I have come to the place where I no longer believe in Christianity.

 

I am in my late forties and have not believed for a few years now.  But, I spent so many years in Christianity that when I found this site recently, it was extremely upsetting to me.  To read such similar stories to mine was both confirming and yet I found myself getting angered over what I have lost and suffered for years: self inflicted suffering over guilt; fear; feeling left out; missed oportunities; regrets.  I had to go away for a couple of days to deal with it in private without causing damage to my loved one.

 

My grandfather was a pastor.  My other grandfather was a minister.  My father started out to be a preacher, but panicked and left me to go live his life.  My mom married another man who wanted to be a preacher.  I grew up in Southern Baptist churches, moving into Pentecostal and eventually non-affiliated non-denominational churches doing crazy shit.  I was a youth pastor for a while.  I have been so deeply involved my whole life, that when I started thinking about my story and began Google-ing some of the old names from my past, that I was shocked at all that I've experienced over the years.  The events that I witnessed and was a part of... I jokingly told my woman that I feel like the Forest Gump of Christianity... never really the important person in the event, but yet standing there on the sidelines being involved and seeing what was going on.

 

From the age of 3 - 14 I was completely saturated with bible school, youth groups, christian music.  I studied the bible and memorized whole chapters and some smaller books of the bible.  I went to Christian school.  I attended a horror called Tri City Christian school as a small boy.  I went to Sat night meetings at Youth For Christ and bible camps that they ran.  I joined the young preacher's club.  I witnessed to people, I went to New Year's church meetings, I went to every thing they could invent to talk about god.  I wanted so bad to make God happy and be good.

 

I gotta stop now.  I'll write some more later if I feel like typing to myself some more.

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Welcome to the forums.  I look forward to reading more of your story.  Yes, there are a lot of similarities with mine.

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The teenage years really hurt when I look back because it just sucks trying to be a Christian Rocker.  So many hot girls and so much guilt if you do anything about it.  I actually broke down after being with a girl once over guilt.  I started telling her how sorry I was and that now I could never witness to her cause I was just as bad as Jim Baker... hahahahahaha omg that hurts to tell anyone.  That girl could not have cared less and probably still cringes if she even remembers such a lack-luster event as the one she experienced.

 

OK, I'm getting the hang of this now.  So eventually I got married 5 minutes after high school (so I could have sex) to a nice girl who wanted to love God so much too, and we made each other miserable for years with our disfunction.  Our kids suffered so much from watching us go from yelling at each other to telling them how awesome god was and how we wanted to serve him full-time.  My eyes roll just typing that.

We sat through some really incredible events with the church we were a part of.  They're extremely well known around the world due to the 24 hour worship thing they started years ago.  I actually played on the team that kicked off the 24 hour schedule.  I got involved with another church that did conferences all the time and got to see the infamous guy who dumped his wife for the hottie... Bentley up close as I was always on the worship team for that stuff.  People flying in from everywhere... standing on chairs... Bob Jones, Paul Cain, 20 or 30 others just like them... some of them good guys, some of them total BS.  I remember when that laughing movement started, the crying stuff, the running through "fire tunnels" and crazy shit like that.  Fortunately my kids just didn't get hooked too hard by the whole thing.  One of them got hurt real bad though because of a documentary about kids praying and training for ministry.  She was in it and people still recognize her now that she's in college.  I can't believe that I let my kid down like that.  We didn't know it was going to be so big.  The film makers made it out like it was some little thing: bitches!  I fucking held your purses in my office so you could film all these poor little kids praying!  There were kids there who's parents have no idea that they were getting filmed cause they got bussed in from some bible school that got invited.  I think the church folks signed the legal waivers, cause the parents sure weren't there. But I was and I'm at fault for it for my daughter.  I know a number of those kids, and I've heard from several of the main ones that they didn't really believe, they just liked the attention.  So, all you people afraid of all these radical praying little kids, you can just calm down because they were just being kids, following the leaders, and aren't going to do anything damaging except maybe to themselves as they are all now semi-adults and probably drink to forget the embarassment.

 

I started having a lot of doubts about Christianity during this time cause all of the crazy stuff this place did just felt like nothing to me.  And, there was nothing at the more traditional churches to go back to except boredom (and the occasional scandal that everyone would have to ignore as the exception instead of the rule that it really is).

I'm not a big person on feeling the spirit or anything like others were, so I always felt like maybe god didn't like me as much or maybe I didn't have the "annointing".  I went to the pastor for help and he just sat there staring at me like an idiot... and then just starts telling me how we need to get the youth  group all fired up.  He totally just ignored my statements that I was struggling with my faith.  I wish I had made the 40k part time that his wife was making.  I think I got $300 a month to run the youth group.  that's why you gotta have the annointing... no annointing... no $40k like the wife gets to run the young kids ministry.

 

I don't know why I'm writing this stuff.  I guess it hurts to look back on things that meant so much to me at the time... and it's all silly and stupid, and the few friends I have from back then are going to drop me when they find out that I don't believe.  I've had people shake their head and tell me how sad it is that we don't attend church anymore... pompous jerks.

 

What Christianity stole from me was that I built my life completely on nothing.  I could have done so many things with my life if I hadn't always been worrying about what god wanted me to do.

Such a waste of years.

 

gotta break for a while

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Welcome to the forums.  I look forward to reading more of your story.  Yes, there are a lot of similarities with mine.

thanks Prof.  I'll look your story up when I'm not talking incessantly about myself like I am right now ;)

seriously, thanks.

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Don't worry about talking about yourself.  You say you don't know why you are writing this.  I get the impression that you are doing it because you feel the need to clear it out of your system.  If I am correct, that is a perfectly good reason.  If not, there are plenty of other good reasons

 

And welcome, by the way.

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Welcome to the forums!  Thanks for your story, and I look forward to hearing more.

 

Your story reminds me of the book I recently listened to on Audible:  Hope after Faith: An Ex-Pastor's Journey from Belief to Atheism by Jerry DeWitt.  He was a Louisiana Pentecostal Preacher who spoke in tongues.  He was interviewed by NPR:

 

http://www.npr.org/2013/07/05/199057096/from-deep-in-the-bible-belt-pastor-looks-for-hope-after-faith

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Thanks for sharing your story, Jeff.  I was immersed in a lot of crazy stuff too, but in my case, I chose to get into it myself as a young adult, and I only stayed in it for only ten years...and only really fervently for about six years.  In your case, I can imagine that the transition to a secular life is going to be more difficult.  But I have hope that you will find your way.  I hope you can allow yourself to be in charge, and let yourself do what you really feel is best.  Trust your instincts, and yes, your feelings.  That's not a bad word anymore.  Well, that's enough of my blabber.  Welcome, and I look forward to reading more or your writing.

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Welcome, Jeff!  I spent many years deep in the fundamentalist Christian woo woo as well before a mid-life deconversion, and I also have many regrets.  At least we are now free to follow our hearts.  I wish you well on your new journey!

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I wanted to write something meaningful here and I think that what I wrote yesterday is just me vomitting up experiences that upset or hurt me.  But, those things have nothing to do with why I don't believe anymore.

 

It's really, really hard to lose your faith, because you're left with this big hole to fill.  I want to say something here that may help another person who's struggling through the process, or like me has finally let go and now is dealing with their new life. 

 

Since I was struggling with my faith, I decided that I should really dig in and learn what was real and what was just trappings that various churches were adding on.  I started listening to scholarly books about Christianity from both viewpoints.  I read the book by the Christian man who headed the human genome project, who belives in evolution.  A book about the historical David, Dead Sea scrolls by the man who worked with them when they were found.  Archaeology and how so little of Solomon is actually found... if any.  (I'm going from memory that is a few years old now, so I may be mis-stating these books slightly).  I really wanted to test my faith with the truth and let both sides just throw everything they had at me from philosophy to accuracy of the bible, to physics.  I was truly suprised at just how weak my Christian side presented it's information and arguments.  I know that this is a never ending debate that people will have, so I just eventually sat down and had to honestly decide which side seemed to be right. 

I always pictured the anti-Christian professors etc to be these angry, tear everything good down, kind of people who hated god and just looked for any way to disprove him.  I was really shocked at how evenly the various subjects were addressed.  Some of them really seemed to want to free me from my ignorance instead of bash my god.   I started reading about other religions to see if they were wildly wrong and this could push me back to god, but I found that they basically all had similar weak points.

I found that I identified strongly with the philosophy of Buddism prior to the deification of Budda (sp?).  And eventually just gave up and had to admit that I just don't believe in any god at all.  I was really frightened at first and thought that this was god warning me back, but then I realized that I was brainwashed.  For 40+ years of my life, my loving and good family had brainwashed me with their honestly held beliefs and I was terrified by a great big children's bedtime story.  When people are poor and working the land hard every day, they need a "heaven" to look forward to.  They need a scary god to keep folks in line to survive and grow the population.  But, I had spent my whole life looking forward to heaven and totally missing what was going on right here under my feet.

 

The good news for me is that I actually feel free for the first time in my life.  I enjoy every day and I feel like celebrating when I've worked hard at my job and succeeded by climbing past a weaker performer to attain reward and position.  I don't have to feel love for every single person on the planet!  I don't have to carry the burden of every brainless person who refuses to take care of themself.  I still am tender hearted toward helplessness, but I can't abide cluelessness that insists that I pick up the tab.

 

I am free to be real with my woman and thankfully we survived intact through so many aweful years to enjoy this time together while we still have some youth to enjoy.  And oh are we enjoying it!

 

I am happier than I have ever been in my life and I enjoy life with no guilt or shame. 

 

This site really upset my peace temporarily because I allowed myself to dig through some of the past for the first time in a while, but if you are struggling with doubts or with the void left behind by losing your faith, be strong.  You can get past these things and pick up your life and make something wonderful of it.  I don't actually think that my past is a complete waste.  I enjoyed great comraderie with people who truly enriched my enjoyment of life.  They would not like me anymore because they are afraid of my beliefs now, but they were good for the moment and I can enjoy those memories.

 

I am not trying to talk you out of your faith, but if you are struggling, I hope that this helps in some small way.

 

And again, thank you for this forum to be able to talk this out. 

 

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I thank each of you for your kind responses.  I would like to think that I will become more involved here and get to know each of you a little better.

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The good news for me is that I actually feel free for the first time in my life.  I enjoy every day and I feel like celebrating when I've worked hard at my job and succeeded by climbing past a weaker performer to attain reward and position.  I don't have to feel love for every single person on the planet!  I don't have to carry the burden of every brainless person who refuses to take care of themself.  I still am tender hearted toward helplessness, but I can't abide cluelessness that insists that I pick up the tab.

 

Jeff, it's good to meet you.  I'm glad that you've found us.  Please keep sharing your story.  You are doing more 'good' than you probably realize.  I really liked what you had to say about coming to the realization that you don't have to "feel love for every single person on the planet."  That has been a big realization that I've come to myself here recently.  It's truly liberating when you realize that it is okay to look out for yourself once in awhile. smile.png

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Thanks Cpt. Nice to meet you too.

 

I'm glad you are experiencing that for yourself.  Oh, don't get me started... ha

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Jeff I really liked reading your posts.  I remember experiencing all the emotional manipulation of Christian kids camps and youth groups.  What I didn't realize back then, but realize now, is that it's a manipulated faux environment.  Church too.  They can play your emotions like a harp.  I know now even when I watch youtube videos, if there's background music playing I start to feel the emotions of the song in connection to the visual content.  If I mute the sound, my emotions towards what I am seeing on the video typically become more real (what I mean by that, more true to what I really feel in my heart when watching the video).  So I find out that church and Jesus were puppeting me around all along like their own little marionette.  Add a little piano music to that dramatic scripture reading, have a guy on stage that looks like "Jesus" in a white robe, and the emotions are taken for a ride to wherever they want to take you. 

 

I wish you could talk to my a-mum.  She is hopelessly lost in the Christian bubble and has been frantically involved in all things church since before I was adopted.  I have no hope of her ever coming out of her euphoric Christian bubble.  She loves to sing "I once was lost but now am found was blind but now I see".  But she doesn't see.  That's the problem.  She sees only what the church tells her to see.  She 'sees' god's calling on her life this way and that.  She 'sees' this ministry over here and that ministry over there and a thousand others like it, all of which she must delve into.  What she has never seen is her adopted daughter, suffering under too much weight of Christianity until the spirit is broken.  What she has never seen is the beautiful, proud culture and spirited independence of her Native child: all she sees within is Satans' stronghold over the "lost" Natives, and their "desperate need" of Jesus.  Having a-mum for a mum, is like having a robot mum, and I have had to manage on my own mostly.  She cannot provide anything emotionally for me because her emotions are given to the church.  The saddest thing of all is she cannot accept me.  She can accept everything and everyone else as part of god's mission.  But I will not allow myself to be used as her missionary project.  And so, I am cast aside, too dangerous to be dealt with, for my blood is full of a history she cannot acknowledge. 

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I thank each of you for your kind responses.  I would like to think that I will become more involved here and get to know each of you a little better.

 

I read a couple of your posts in other threads before I saw this one, and I'm impressed that you seem to be a thinking (and thoughtful!) person that will fit in very well here.

 

3.gif   WELCOME!

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I thank each of you for your kind responses.  I would like to think that I will become more involved here and get to know each of you a little better.

 

I read a couple of your posts in other threads before I saw this one, and I'm impressed that you seem to be a thinking (and thoughtful!) person that will fit in very well here.

 

3.gif   WELCOME!

 

 

What she said. 

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Thackerie and Vigile.  thank you.  Been looking for a place to fit in honestly...  Hope you're right!

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Jeff I really liked reading your posts.  I remember experiencing all the emotional manipulation of Christian kids camps and youth groups.  What I didn't realize back then, but realize now, is that it's a manipulated faux environment.  Church too.  They can play your emotions like a harp.  I know now even when I watch youtube videos, if there's background music playing I start to feel the emotions of the song in connection to the visual content.  If I mute the sound, my emotions towards what I am seeing on the video typically become more real (what I mean by that, more true to what I really feel in my heart when watching the video).  So I find out that church and Jesus were puppeting me around all along like their own little marionette.  Add a little piano music to that dramatic scripture reading, have a guy on stage that looks like "Jesus" in a white robe, and the emotions are taken for a ride to wherever they want to take you. 

 

I wish you could talk to my a-mum.  She is hopelessly lost in the Christian bubble and has been frantically involved in all things church since before I was adopted.  I have no hope of her ever coming out of her euphoric Christian bubble.  She loves to sing "I once was lost but now am found was blind but now I see".  But she doesn't see.  That's the problem.  She sees only what the church tells her to see.  She 'sees' god's calling on her life this way and that.  She 'sees' this ministry over here and that ministry over there and a thousand others like it, all of which she must delve into.  What she has never seen is her adopted daughter, suffering under too much weight of Christianity until the spirit is broken.  What she has never seen is the beautiful, proud culture and spirited independence of her Native child: all she sees within is Satans' stronghold over the "lost" Natives, and their "desperate need" of Jesus.  Having a-mum for a mum, is like having a robot mum, and I have had to manage on my own mostly.  She cannot provide anything emotionally for me because her emotions are given to the church.  The saddest thing of all is she cannot accept me.  She can accept everything and everyone else as part of god's mission.  But I will not allow myself to be used as her missionary project.  And so, I am cast aside, too dangerous to be dealt with, for my blood is full of a history she cannot acknowledge. 

 

Rach, I've read this post a couple of times now... I don't even know how to respond.  It's so sad to hear you say that you think your mom gets missionary kicks out of "fixing" you.  I'm not trying to be mean to your mom, but I doubt anything I would say would help her.  I have to assume that she thinks she's doing right, but that doesn't help you does it? 

 

So I guess that you're native american based on what you're saying here or maybe some other group that had a definit culture that xtianity must change to "save" you.

I hope that she would apologize to you if she really could see what she's doing to you.  I'm sorry that you don't get the emotional support from her that you need.  And, I'm sorry that she makes you feel like you're not good enough just the way you are you know?  Not like her or worse, just for not believing like her...It's just not right.

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oh, and your comment about music manipulating???  omg  just watch the last 5 minutes of any Grey's Anatomy... sheesh.

 

churches WISH they could work you around like that show can with it's sappy music and goo goo eyes everyone's making...

My wife watches it... not me you know ;)

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Hey Orbit. Thx for the chat btw

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I could have done so many things with my life if I hadn't always been worrying about what god wanted me to do.

Such a waste of years.

 

 

I am happier than I have ever been in my life and I enjoy life with no guilt or shame. 

 

Hi Jeff!

Wow, I can't believe you're a Jesus Camp dad! I am RELIEVED to hear there wasn't as much Koolaid drinking going on as made out in the documentary. Thank you for that inside scoop!

 

I too am a mid-life infidel. I threw a lot into the fires of god and I regret it all. I am learning how to be a normal person, in my fourth decade. Thank goodness I got an education (albeit the one that jesus wanted, not the one that would have suited me better...)--I almost sacrificed that for god too  until a pastor assured me I should do it. I am also a former musician from several worship teams, recorded too! Gah! Yes, I can make "god" show up by how I play my guitar and sing. jesus.gif

 

I'm glad you're out. Life is full, beautiful and rich. I look forward to hearing more of your story. I'm glad you're hear at Ex-C! smile.png

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Yeah, I've been in the chat room talking a bit about it mainly cause I could never bring myself to watch it, and I had no idea how huge it was.

The camp part I can't comment on (except that my daughter could have drown cause she got stuck out in a little boat in the lake with another kid), but the church was NOT some Westboro or whatever.  Just folks looking to make a big name by starting the next really big ministry or whatever.  Kids will def show off and especially if there's a camera.  That's the best way to explain it I think.  sometimes I think they just wanted to tap into kids energy cause adults are just too lazy or busy to pray enough to force god to do something.

 

oh my poor daughter... She's good though now.  Still embarrassed by the act she put on to get attention, but she's good.

 

Nice to meet you btw.  Look forward to getting to know you around here.

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I've figured out that if something is truly compelling, it will be compelling without any dramatic music or speech.  One of the big problems with churches and camps is they won't let you escape from the emotional minefield.  There is always music and dramatic speaking and acting going on. 

About the camera stuff.  When I was eight years old I was at church with my mum after-hours who was working on some things.  A few other church kids were around and we started to play.  In came a man with a camera.  "Everybody get down on your knees and fold your hands in prayer".  Huh????  I was so confused.  I kept asking the man "why?" since we weren't really praying to god.  He said just do it, it's for a video.  So we obey the command from the man, and a group of us children sit in a circle with folded hands and eyes looking up to heaven.  Next Sunday.  There's that image flashed up on the screen in front of the church.  "Children in prayer for their missionaries" is how it is labelled.  There also is music playing in the background about god sending missionaries.  I am embarrassed. And, I am ashamed of the fakeness of it all.  I don't know the god I am supposedly praying to.  The church crowd ooohs and awws at the power of God who has led the children to gather in prayer.  A-mum is beaming with pride.  Years later, when I start to read and watch film, missionary becomes a 4 letter word to me. 

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