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How Long Did It Take You To De-Convert? *poll Added*



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As the religious right rose up in political power and began their relentless encroachment on secular life and law, I became anti-theist and now take any opportunity to promote separation of the religious and secular and I am eager to help others find their way out of the cult and magical thinking. The church could have just stayed out of politics and the secular social scene and I would have continued to never give them a thought, but they've made me their enemy.

 

I love this explanation. People always wonder why atheists are so "angry." If they only knew.

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I would say that everything I learned and experienced during my time as a Christian was in a way a necessary component of my deconversion.  There was though, as specific period of about 3-4 months from August 2012 - November 2012 when the process really happened.  By the end of that year I was no longer a believer.

 

However, dealing with the fallout of that deconversion took much longer.  In fact, I am probably still dealing with it in ways that I am not concious of.  But, I feel much better these days than I have for a long time.

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Mythra: Isn't it strange how the right-wingers who hate high taxes encourage you to give all you can to the church and guilt you for "robbing" god? What did god do that he has a right to your hard-earned money? Screw up the whole human race and then come up with an idiotic plan to fix the problem that he caused? Maybe they just want you to keep your tax money so you can give it away to Pastor god.

 

 

You know, I hadn't really thought about that. Tea baggers:  Lower taxes, lower taxes!  We're paying too much already!  But the same people give away beaucoup bucks to their religion du-jour to build bigger and more lavish homes to house their deity in.   

Every church I was ever in (in 20 years of being a christian) was always in the middle of some critical project that required an "extra offering" followed by an "extra offering" the next week.  On top of the tithe everyone was already paying.  Salvation is a free gift from God?  Not so much.

 

 

In defense of the lower taxes people (being self-employed and doggedly pro self-sufficiency, I am one of them)... Not giving to the church will not land you in jail with all of your property seized by the government. That's the difference.

 

If people have less taxes taken from them by force of law, they can then choose to give more to charities or causes of their choosing, or not give at all. I could use some new equipment and software for my business, for example, but my state taxes doubled last year, and business investment is not an option this year. There are plenty of local charities I would like to support, but we're at out limits caring for our own lives and goals. Selfish? Maybe so. But that's where I am.

 

People would rather give to a local soup kitchen, for example, where they can see their money in action, rather than sending it off to some government agency who may or may not be making sure the money is not being wasted or abused. And if it is being wasted, it's not like you can do anything about it, really, and it's not like you can just refuse to give next year. It's a bit of an illusion, of course, because local people can abuse the private systems too. But at least the person giving the money has the option to research and choose.

 

We could all argue, however, that just because a church does not have the force of government behind them to force us to give / tithe / give 'til it hurts, doesn't mean they don't still wield incredible power over their parishioners to coerce them to do so. That pressure (including the fear of hell) can be pretty intense. My church spends the entire month of November harping on giving, so much so that various members don't attend services for those four weeks because they hate it so much! The guilt and pressure is intense, but plenty of us didn't end up giving any more than we already had been, and no one came to our houses to pull out our financials or anything. We still had to make the choice, as long as we could live with the guilt and fear of displeasing the big bad sky god. Yeah, that's a mind fuck, for sure. But we still got to choose.

 

But in the end, no matter how much pressure a church exerts, a person who wakes up can then make the choice to stop giving to them. If a person notices abuses in government spending, too bad, they can't stop giving. Well, they can for a bit, before fines, liens, property confiscation, and jail catch up.

 

I hate to see people giving 'til it hurts so the pastor can have a new car and the church can expand their already-amazing buildings. But it's their choice. What can ya do.

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You know, I live in a state where there's no state income tax.  So it's a little easier, although I still pay a lot, between property taxes, gas tax, sales tax, and fed income tax.

And I know that quite a bit of it goes to waste.  Which I hate just like everyone else.

 

I didn't really resent giving to the church at the time.  I just resented the squeeze job.  Especially when I knew there were members of the church that couldn't pay their rent, and they still were subject to the holy shake-down.  

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I said, "I don't actually know." There were so many layers to it. I think the hard-core deconversion stage took from about September to January (2013-2014). That was when the process really, REALLY sped up. But there are other points in time that I could point out as also being times when the doubts kicked in way harder. I kind of think of the image of going down stairs on the side of a swimming pool. There were several points where I went down yet another stair; but then I stayed at that stair for awhile, until the time came when I went down another stair. 

 

Also, like I said above, there were so many layers. The layer of fully conscious deconversion was different than the layer where I was still able to squash the intellectual doubts down. All in all, it was a complicated ass process that I could probably meditate on and write about for hours and hours.

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It's kind of hard to say how long it took me to deconvert. I believed in God as a child but was not religious about it. In 2008, the summer after I graduated middle school, was when I first officially became a Christian. From 2008 - 2015 I went from being a Christian to being agnostic to being Christian again to being Wiccan/Pagan to being Buddhist, etc. I dabbled in many different ideologies because for the whole 7 years I struggled with certain aspects of Christianity. I never agreed with much of what Christianity teaches. When I was in my phases of being a Christian, I tried to force myself to believe and agree with it because I was taught it was the truth, and people in my family believe it, and I didn't want to go to hell. I also had my own spiritual experiences in Christianity that convinced me that the Bible God was the one true god. It was a 7 year struggle of uncertainty.

 

The last time I was a Christian was in March. This time around, I was positive that the Christian God was the one true God.....however I ended up leaving the church and the faith in August. From there was when I realized that I did not believe in or agree with Christianity. I went through a phase of depression and shock and sorrow, because I had previously planned to follow Jesus for the rest of my life. I didn't expect to all of a sudden lose faith, even though it was slipping from my fingers for 7 years. I thought for sure I was gonna stay. I even wrote a song about Jesus and the lyrics said I will stay, Jesus I will stay. 

 

I cried everyday about it for like a couple of weeks. And then I got an account on this site and posted my testimony and started learning more about Christianity than I ever knew as a believer. And it seriously helped me (and still does help me) be ok with my deconversion, and to embrace my own path of spirituality that doesn't really have a label. I'd prefer to have my own spiritual beliefs/practices than trying to match mine up to a religion. People are meant to embrace their own thoughts, ideas, beliefs, and opinions. We shouldn't be trying to fit into a mold that fits us best.

 

So I guess you could say it took me 7 years and a few months to fully deconvert from christianity, because the whole time I was doubting and going back and forth with my faith.

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I grew up a non-believer. Then, we moved to the South (southern US) and I started encountering a great deal of pressure and proselytizing. I rejected all efforts until my mom started attending the Episcopal Church when I was a senior in high school. I loved the Episcopal Church. I would never have become a Christian otherwise. It took them about a decade, but eventually I was baptized and confirmed in the church. So from about my late 20s to my early 40s, I was a reluctant believer. I had certain supernatural things I believed and wanted to believe, such as life after death, and god, but I was always skeptical of the resurrection and things like that.

 

After I married and started taking my children to church, I never felt like I fit in. I was constantly guilty about not giving enough of my money and time, so I tried to be more involved. That resulted in a run-in with an older lady at the church. Turns out she disliked me for whatever reason, which hurt my feelings. I didn't let that stop me from going, and I attended for another year or so after our incident. Some other things happened, and I decided to "do church online." I read progressive Christian blogs, and I explored other spiritual paths. I thought I was trying to find the right fit for me.

 

One day, while reading a blog, I started reading the comments. One of the commenters was an atheist. Whatever he said resonanted with me (I can't remember exactly what he said now), and I thought, "Oh! That's me! I'm an atheist." And that was it. I was done with Christianity.

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My deconversion started with the dramatic events that had me deciding, "this Jesus I wanted to give myself to is not on my side, he just wants control and warriors".

That was in Jan 2014. I dedicated time to telling Jesus I didn't want him to contact me again, but I fully believed in him.

Then in August or so I allowed myself to question things freely, and my religion fell apart. I understood that none of my personal experiences were evidence of a god.

In Jan 2015 I wound up here because I knew I was agnostic. I was still a huge mess though and really needed the support.

Now I rather call myself atheist than agnostic. I'm not saying there absolutely can't be anything out there, but I very highly doubt that there will be scientific evidence of it. I don't think about life after death anymore, I believe in life before death. :)

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Interesting to see that a couple of people have put less than a month and a few under 6 months.

 

As I said before it took me around 3 years, but my husband went from full believer to definite atheist within two months, maybe even a month. I couldn't believe it at the time. But he always was very much an all or nothing person, no faffing around over thinking, analysing and second guessing himself.

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Even as a child and believer, even when my parents religion was pretty much my whole reality, it never ever once sat well with me. I think I may be something weird and obsessive or idk if this is normal, but I have never been able to just accept something at face value. like, ever. I remember staying awake in bed at night for hours almost every night thinking and thinking and thinking all the thoughts and questions I couldn't ask anyone about during the day, trying to reason the things I had been told in a way that made sense, over and over, trying to build it all into a sound structure that wouldn't collapse if I poked at it. I never managed to do it, so I was never satisfied. So I guess the de-conversion process started when I was very young. I self identified as an atheist vocally, to my friends, at 13-14, but at that point it was really about rebellion than anything else. I didn't believe, but I did at the same time. The fear was still very much there. As a young adult I dropped out of school, partied, fucked, and became a proficient shoplifter. I would swing between feelings of elated freedom, and crushing doom despair, and dirtiness. 2012 was really a pivotal year for me. I was terrified of the end of the world, I had many awful dreams concerning it, I prayed in secret, I put all of the things I had stolen into a bag and resolved to make it right, which I then never really followed up on, resolved to become pure and celibate, which I also, never followed up on. I became pregnant while in a relationship with an abusive individual, had an abortion, felt an immense amount of relief/ guilt over that situation, sure I was going to hell, or would be "left behind", tried to grapple with all that, It went on for a while, the panic attacks, some related to my fears and some totally random, constant racing thoughts, drinking to drown them out, this went on until I met my current fiancee and got pregnant again, I had to slow down and think for the first time. I had nothing to do but occupy my time with learning as much as I could about everything to distract myself. The cycle of fear kind of got broken by the sudden shift in lifestyle and eventually I was able to look at my life and beliefs from a more logical angle. Stopped worrying, started waking up every day without feeling like horrible consequences were looming overhead, started really enjoying my life. Went back and started asking wtf actually happened to me? That's kind of what lead me here.

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Interesting to see that a couple of people have put less than a month and a few under 6 months.

 

As I said before it took me around 3 years, but my husband went from full believer to definite atheist within two months, maybe even a month. I couldn't believe it at the time. But he always was very much an all or nothing person, no faffing around over thinking, analysing and second guessing himself.

I'm one of the less than a month people. In my case, it's not about all or nothing thinking. I was a non-believer, then a reluctant believer, so the journey back to non-believer felt right. It's even more right this time because I believe I'm right this time. Before, I had doubts. Now, I have none. Does that make sense?

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A few years ago I read, "The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind" by Julian Jaynes, and that finally answered my questions. I had always believed what my dad had said about religion being made by man to answer the big questions of life, but how did people all over the world come up with the idea of a "god" or "gods"?  That book finally answered to my satisfaction, and I was completely atheist at that point, no more lingering agnosticism.

 

 

Hi amateur.  If you enjoyed Jaynes, you might like this book as well.  It's called "The Minds of the Bible: Speculations on the Cultural Evolution of Human Consciousness" by Rabbi James Cohn.  It follows along the same bicameral mind premise.

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A few years ago I read, "The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind" by Julian Jaynes, and that finally answered my questions. I had always believed what my dad had said about religion being made by man to answer the big questions of life, but how did people all over the world come up with the idea of a "god" or "gods"?  That book finally answered to my satisfaction, and I was completely atheist at that point, no more lingering agnosticism.

 

 

Hi amateur.  If you enjoyed Jaynes, you might like this book as well.  It's called "The Minds of the Bible: Speculations on the Cultural Evolution of Human Consciousness" by Rabbi James Cohn.  It follows along the same bicameral mind premise.

 

Thank you!  I will look that up!

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 I remember when I was 20 asking the pastor, ''who wrote that book'' because if it was just Adam and Eve and the talking serpent in the garden...then who stood outside the garden walls and wrote the whole account down??

 

I am almost embarrased to admit to this, but I never gave this a second thought. Thanks, Margee.

 

In hindsight, I'd say my deconversion ironically started at the very time my faith was strongest, i. e. when I attended a one year bible school. That was over a decade ago, and I feel like I am still deconverting today. I guess it's only in the past few years that I have started to realize the long term effects Xianity has had on me, and that I begin to feel free. It is a strange, difficult, awkward, and interesting experience. At times, it feels good, at times it doesn't. What a big mindfuck.

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My deconversion started with the dramatic events that had me deciding, "this Jesus I wanted to give myself to is not on my side, he just wants control and warriors".

That was in Jan 2014. I dedicated time to telling Jesus I didn't want him to contact me again, but I fully believed in him.

Then in August or so I allowed myself to question things freely, and my religion fell apart. I understood that none of my personal experiences were evidence of a god.

In Jan 2015 I wound up here because I knew I was agnostic. I was still a huge mess though and really needed the support.

Now I rather call myself atheist than agnostic. I'm not saying there absolutely can't be anything out there, but I very highly doubt that there will be scientific evidence of it. I don't think about life after death anymore, I believe in life before death. smile.png

i'm interested to hear more about your "personal experiences" and how you came to the conclusion that none of them were evidence of a god. 

 

i came to that conclusion too, after i left the faith for the final time. I thought about all of the "experiences" i had with Jesus/god, and they were basically all open for interpretation. For example, just because a homeless man told me "Trust in Jesus" a day after I prayed to God to reveal himself to me, does not mean it was a message from god. That homeless man meant well, but in all reality he probably says that to a lot of people he comes across. This happened when I was working as a cashier in a retail store. The man could have said the same thing to another cashier if he would have went through a different line. 

 

Despite the experience seeming like it was "God's answer", it could have been anything. It wasn't actual evidence of god. It was something that happens normally. I mean, I hear about a lot of people running across homeless men telling them to have faith. It's not an uncommon occurrence. 

 

Christians always stress how "faith in what you can't see" is the most important. But if God wants us all to believe in him, wouldn't he do something a little more evidential(i dont know if that's a word) than having a homeless man tell me to trust in him? I have prayed for my vocal problems, I faithfully asked Jesus to heal me from them, and it never happened. My voice has gotten better over time because I have quit smoking cigarettes, but I never experienced a miraculous healing of my vocal chords from God. If god is supposed to be all powerful and all knowing, then how come he doesn't reveal himself to people in a way that would convince them to not lose faith? 

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 I remember when I was 20 asking the pastor, ''who wrote that book'' because if it was just Adam and Eve and the talking serpent in the garden...then who stood outside the garden walls and wrote the whole account down??

 

I am almost embarrased to admit to this, but I never gave this a second thought. Thanks, Margee.

 

In hindsight, I'd say my deconversion ironically started at the very time my faith was strongest, i. e. when I attended a one year bible school. That was over a decade ago, and I feel like I am still deconverting today. I guess it's only in the past few years that I have started to realize the long term effects Xianity has had on me, and that I begin to feel free. It is a strange, difficult, awkward, and interesting experience. At times, it feels good, at times it doesn't. What a big mindfuck.

 

i never gave it a second thought either...i literally never thought about that as a Christian. my ability to logically reason was being diminished and i didn't even realize it, because the happy rainbow feeling of a god who had a plan for me masked over it. and when i actually tried to logically reason, it shook the foundation of my faith, and i was scared that if i kept going deeper into my questions, then i would lose faith. finally, i had to fulfill my desire to logically reason and to think for myself about how i personally feel about the bible. from there i found out that christianity is not even close to what i believe.

 

And yes it sure is a big mindfuck. Even though I can say with confidence that I am done deconverting, the whole mindfuck of Christianity had its effect on me for quite some time, and sometimes it still does. i meditate on a daily basis, and there are times when my mind will almost pray to Jesus, because I was so used to doing that for so long. It's like, I don't believe in the Christian God anymore, but the weekly church brainwashing i subjected myself to hasn't 100% worn off.

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 I remember when I was 20 asking the pastor, ''who wrote that book'' because if it was just Adam and Eve and the talking serpent in the garden...then who stood outside the garden walls and wrote the whole account down??

 

 

 

 

DUH!  An angel wrote it down.  In reformed Egyptian hieroglyphics. 

 

Oh, wait - sorry, sometimes I get my religious fantasies mixed up. 

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Then in August or so I allowed myself to question things freely, and my religion fell apart. I understood that none of my personal experiences were evidence of a god.

 

i'm interested to hear more about your "personal experiences" and how you came to the conclusion that none of them were evidence of a god. 

 

Well... Okay, here's some.

 

When I was Pente, I spoke in tongues, was slain in the spirit many times, experienced "healing" (which in fact was suggestion-based pain removal that lasted 7 years, which made things worse in the long run because I hadn't felt the pain that'd have warned me I wasn't okay). I got countless personal prophecies, I guess I was a bit of an attention magnet. Also I thought I had some instances where an angel had helped me, and I often felt a certain warmth during services, interpreting it as God's love. 

 

Later on when I was a New Agey Jesus follower and considered all kinds of "supernatural" things possible, the list came to be much longer. 

Loving & healing energy (Reiki type except entirely self-learned, without the expensive courses), I both sent it and received it, experiencing strong emotions when I did. Other participants also reporting pain removal, warmth etc. It worked both over a distance and in the same room.

 

Oracle cards, I'd do readings of them for people. They'd tell me it was as though I really did see the situation, if I'd found that the cards I was to lift were hot to touch. Some pretty strange coincidences - I'd actually do simple little rituals to attract items into my life, and then I'd find exactly them at the nearest Baptist second-hand store for a couple Euros, or a friend would come up and say, "hey, do you know anyone who'd need this, as it's taking up room in my house?". 

 

I sometimes felt an invisible entity hugging me. (I never once saw or heard things that others didn't, but I sometimes thought that I was given things to think about, or mental images.)

When my brother died, some coincidences happened that seemed exactly like his kind of jokes and little gifts, some of which I'll remember for the rest of my life. I also had some extremely vivid dreams in which I went from screaming in terror when he appeared to slowly making peace with him, and some in which I went to the "other side" to see how it's like, and I've heard of people describing a strangely similar dream. 

 

All of this I lived through praying constantly to Jesus, for his will to happen, for him to stop me right there if I was doing ANYthing that wasn't his will, and to protect me from any evil spirits because I trusted he could.

 

How I came to the conclusion that this isn't evidence of God? Well, along the way I first of all learned I'm great at self-hypnosis, probably have been since I was a kid. I can work up my own emotions without noticing I'm doing it, and end up unable to snap out of them so I might mistakenly feel someone else is in control. There's a lot of confirmation bias, too, from really really wanting to see things a certain way. For example, I missed my brother, so everything reminded me of him, and my dreams about reconciling with him probably were my brain working on and letting go of my guilty feelings.

 

Tactile hallucinations are not uncommon in people under huge stress and in risk of psychosis. I'd just had a burn-out, break-up and my brother die within a very short time span (all during one spring) so my brain hallucinated a hug to make me feel a little less alone; I also have family history of psychosis. I don't know what the deal was with the hot oracle cards or Reiki type energy, but I don't really want to do either anymore because I don't want to play with mental illness. 

 

There were some very serious things that happened due to me believing I was in the strong guidance of Jesus. So first I was like "Jesus loves only himself", prayed for him to leave me alone, etc. Realising months later that I had only thought there was guidance, not KNOWN so, lead to realising I had no way of knowing anything ever had been guidance - and if I had no proof of actual interaction, I also could not know if the guide even existed in the first place (and someone saying so was not enough anymore, nor was me having a funny feeling), which lead to agnosticism.  

 

Picturing the items and goals I really want, to as much detail as humanly possible, is still very helpful though. Things seem to turn out much more satisfyingly when you have done that. I don't do any rituals anymore, I just concentrate on knowing what I want and believing I can have it if I work enough or otherwisely take the needed steps. Sometimes I'm surprised by the results, as in, things seem to turn out much better than they should have, but I think a lot of it is deciding to focus on what's going right, instead of what's not.

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I think I've been slowly deconverting since I was about 25 or 26.. so the better part of a quarter of a century, but my path was quite convoluted - going through several incarnations of varieties of christianity and then other forms of spirituality. However when I really look back I've had doubts since the beginning—I just didn't recognize them. This probably fueled my interest in history, comparative religion and the exploration of various spiritual paths and supernatural investigation.

 

It wasn't until maybe 5 years ago that I finally starting considering that it was ALL bunk, and not until 2 years ago that I began identifying as a non-believer.

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However when I really look back I've had doubts since the beginning—I just didn't recognize them.

This is me as well, and in hindsight it's easy to see how much was changing without my being aware of it. My conscious mind was in robotic prayer mode but there was a hurricane in my subconscious. All it took was acknowledging it one day without backpedaling. That's why I was able to deconvert within a few months.

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I think the bulk happened over 12-14 months. I started having serious doubts and questions autumn of 2012, and I started identifying to myself as a non-christian by easter of 2013. But the past couple years I've still been dealing with it. Its been a huge process which has turned my world upside down. Over the past 12 months, the experiences have been more positive than negative though. When the de conversion first started, it was horrible, but I couldn't deny my doubts anymore. But for most of 2015, things have started to turn around in terms of self acceptance and romantic relationships. 

I had so many trust issues in the initial loss-of-faith stage. But I'm open to trusting people again, most positively, I'm open to trusting men and letting them into my heart again. (I think the hyper-patriarchal nature of evangelical christianity skewed my trust of men a bit, but I digress)

I'm not completely out- some of my christian friends from my University town don't know. But they haven't really shown interest in my life for the past 6-8 months.

The few people that matter, who happen to mostly be non-religious or liberal I am more open with. 

 

So I guess, "I don't know". Its a process and a journey. But at least I have the rest of my life back rather than "sacrificed to God".

 

ETA- I still have dark days with it all. Most days I feel free, and calm. But just sometimes, most likely at night, I go over it all at night, and cry worrying I'm going to hell because I can't bring myself to put my unquestioning belief in Jesus again. Some of the messages about my value and identity as a woman and all the shit the church gives you about that still effects me and my s*xual expression. Thankfully only very occasionally, but that shit does fuck with your mind a bit, no matter far you've come and how positive you are most of the time.

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