NowWhat

I never thought I would be here

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(This is longer than I intended. I found it difficult to condense my 36-37 years of brainwashing, and 3-4 years of deprogramming.)

 

I am a 40-yr-old “Christian” homeschooling mother of 5, living out in a very rural area of the Bible belt. I was born into and raised by a long line of Christians on both sides. My daddy is a Southern Baptist preacher. Being the youngest, and learning from my older brother’s & sister’s mistakes, I wasn’t your typical preacher’s kid, though. I was more the typical goody-goody (aka self-righteous) southern girl. I grew up going to church any time the doors were open, was always looking for ways to be involved, even taught children’s classes at church in my teen years. And of course I kept up with my daily Bible study, prayer and devotional time. I was, generally, a good little Christian.

 

At 18, I married my high school sweetheart -- a bit of a half goofball, half bad boy -- much to my parents’ dismay. He was a “Christian” too, and came to church with me.  But, even though his parents had periods of church attendance and service throughout his upbringing, he hadn’t been as completely and consistently immersed in it as I had been. We saw eye to eye on most things, but had to hash out a lot of details about how we would live out our faith after we married. He didn’t love church, tried to pretend he wanted to do devotionals together, and didn’t like praying out loud.  These were all things I felt were vital to a godly marriage. Obviously I was just a better Christian than he was, and would have to really nag the “hell” out of him for the rest of our lives in order to bring him fully to the place I thought he should be. Ugh, poor guy.

 

Eventually, we started having kids, and I convinced him to let me homeschool.  I mean, how else would I be able to successfully brainwash them to be perfect little drones, unless I had access to them 24/7? Or, as I believed all these years, I wanted them to learn at home so that I could teach them the things of the Lord & keep them away from ungodly influences. So we kept having kids, I kept teaching them using Christian curriculum, teaching them Bible verses…all the things I felt would give them the best start in life. I believed it…hard. We have 5 kids now, ages 1 to 15. We still homeschool, and I really do love having them with me.

 

Back pedaling a bit here…  We quit going to church when I was sick as death with my first pregnancy, 16 years ago. My husband had always hated it, and even though I tried convincing him to get us back into church for several years, we just never really got back into it. I eventually recognized what he had always said, about the modern church having gotten away from what real ministry and fellowship should be. We pretty much convinced ourselves that we were just so much wiser and more spiritually-minded than anyone who was still involved in the perverted church system, that we were better off worshipping at home. But that just meant my husband slacked off, and kept whatever spiritual life he had to himself, while I worked tirelessly to raise our children as good little soldiers for the Lord. (I have to give my husband credit for pulling us away from church. I don’t think there is any way I would have ever deprogrammed, had I stayed involved in church.)

 

Years went by, and I realized I had gotten lax with my Bible reading and prayer life. I felt far from the Lord, and wanted to really dig deep and draw closer to him. I began reading the Bible from cover to cover; something I had never done. This was about 4 years ago. Wow! I had no idea how much I really missed while being spoon fed by preachers, teachers and authors my whole life. Who was this old testament god I was reading about? How had I ignored the vast discrepancies between the old & new testaments? This was starting to look like a book written by a bunch of old Jewish narcissists who were looking to control everyone around them, who wanted an excuse to do the horrible things they needed to for the power and control they desired. “Whoa there, woman! Put those sacrilegious thoughts out of your mind. This is the Word of GOD!!!” I struggled through at least half of the old testament before I just couldn’t read anymore. So I went to the new, and only read through a few of the gospels before giving that up. My faith was completely shaken. I found myself grasping at straws, trying to hold onto something. Over the course of a year, however, I was down to nothing but a “certainty” there was a god, but with no justification in the validity of the Christian bible. I was going to have to start from scratch, feeling sure I would come back to a similar place of belief as I had before. I mean, how could the Bible be wrong when so many people believe in it (Of course I now realize the same can be said about many other religions & atheists, as well). I claimed it was god doing a work in me. He was cleansing me of all the bad teaching and false ideas I’d had all my life, in order to instill his real truth in me. I was sure I would come out the other side of this a stronger Christian than before. And, at one point, I thought I had…

 

I eventually found a group online, teaching a somewhat radical idea of Christianity. I dove right in, and it worked for a while. I thought I was on my way back! But I could never wrap my mind around the idea of Jesus again (even though this online group was head over heels for him). He just seemed like some hippy that came along and said, “Man, this old testament stuff is heavy. Make love, not war. Peace, brothers. Let’s make up some new junk!!!” So what, now?!?! Was there a Jesus? Am I Jewish now? That’s when I started thinking, “If I can’t believe the new testament, how can I believe the old?” Not to mention, I had always believed in an all-powerful, all-LOVING god, but that is not what I found in the old testament. Oh my gosh…the Bible is crap?!?! I was scratching and clawing at religion, trying so hard to hold on. The truth was screaming in my face, but I couldn’t accept that everything I’d built my whole life on was a lie.

 

I wrestled with all this for another year or so, studying, praying, researching, BEGGING god for answers. Until finally, earlier this year, it all came to a head. I started thinking about how the whole idea of god, his plan, his people, his stories, his son…it was RIDICULOUS!!! I suddenly saw it all for what it is, and was shocked. How did I believe this for so many years? How do SO MANY PEOPLE still believe this? I finally went to my husband, wonder what in the world he would think of me, just to find he had been feeling similar things for years.  He, however, wasn’t convinced it was all garbage yet. He was sure there must be a god out there somewhere. So he dove in to find the answers for us. It didn’t take him long at all, though, to come to the place I am in. He thinks of himself as agnostic now, but I quickly found myself leaning more toward atheism. Either way, we both agree the Bible is junk, and there’s not a religion out there based on an ounce of truth. We’re on our own in this world.

 

I consider myself one of the lucky ones, since I have a husband to confide in about it all. Because, even with him, I feel so alone in this. I do not personally know another person that doesn’t claim to be a Christian. I have raised my kids to believe it is the most important thing on earth, and drilled that into them daily. If our parents and families knew all of this, they would spend the rest of their days worrying over the “fact” that their children would be destined for hell. I don’t want them to feel that way. I never really want them to know at all, because it will just make them sad and worried. My husband and I are very close to our kids, talking to them about everything and spending all of our time with them. But for the past several months, we’ve sort of withdrawn a bit. I will elaborate more on this in a separate post, because this is my greatest concern in all of this…What in the WORLD do I tell my children? We are really struggling with how to move forward. I am glad to find some sense of community in this forum. I knew we certainly couldn’t be the only ones to have gone through something like this. Thank you for letting me get this off my chest.

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Welcome. I couldnt read all of this at work just now, but I will later. 

Im glad youre here.  Welcome

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Welcome! I too thought I would never find myself in this place, but life is a strange yet wonderful thing. I think those of us who have had our eyes opened are the lucky ones, even though dealing with religious family members is far from easy. There are plenty of other parents here on this forum that I'm sure can help you out with some of the concerns you have, so ask away. Good to have you with us!

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Eventually it became impossible for me to continue believing the nonsense Christianity was peddling. I was a Christian for 47 years before I was able to overcome my fear of hell and admit to myself that the Bible is clearly made up of myths, legends, and folklore that is being touted as historical fact. That is when I became aware of the historical critical approach to both the Bible and Christianity. 

 

When the origins and evolution of the Bible and Christianity are studied and researched from the historical critical perspective it falls apart like a house of cards. None of it is true and it is highly likely that Jesus and Paul were literary characters in a fictional story. Bart Ehrman is a really good historical author to read to discover the truth about the Bible. His book are on Amazon and come in kindle version and he also has a number of videos on YouTube. 

 

The journey out of religion is usual difficult and time consuming. The deeper the indoctrination the more difficult it is to reject it and start thinking logically and rationally again,....or maybe for the first time. 

 

Welcome, I'm glad you found this site. It should be very helpful in your search for truth. Most of us have been where you are now so we know what you're experiencing. 

 

 

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Welcome to the forum, @NowWhat.

 

Many here have had the experience of going and coming - to and from xianity that is.

Many of us, also, have left the fold largely after reading he bable. I mean, REALLY reading it, just as you did.

 

7 hours ago, NowWhat said:

I finally went to my husband, wonder what in the world he would think of me, just to find he had been feeling similar things for years.

I fantasize about this!

What I wouldn't give for Mrs. MOHO to have an epiphany and yank her pretty little head from the bowels of religion - organized or otherwise!

 

Funny what you said about feeling above the church and that your level of spirituality and attachment to jebus was so much more in-depth than the other church members (or words to that effect). My step-son (adult, not living with us) is just like that. Will not goto church but reads his little book and gallivants the countryside telling all how they need to live their lives.

 

Having no chill'ns of my own I cannot relate to how you feel about indoctrinating your's but I do have 3 lovely grand-daughters and, tonight, I will be guarding the front porch as they pass out byte size candy-bars and stuffing tracts into trick-or-treat bags while Mrs. MOHO gushes, squeezes my hand and says "See, don't' you just want to give your life back to the lard?!"

 

"NO! But I will have some more of your awesome pumpkin chicken soup...and maybe a shot of bourbon!"

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2 minutes ago, MOHO said:

I fantasize about this!

What I wouldn't give for Mrs. MOHO to have an epiphany and yank her pretty little head from the bowels of religion - organized or otherwise!

Reading some of your posts is what made me realize how "blayessed” I am to have a partner in crime with this whole thing. I feel for ya, man. That would be really rough!

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Welcome Nowwhat.

 

I'm glad your husband feels similar to you - that is one huge plus as others here who are not so fortunate will assure you. (MOHO above springs to mind)

 

I'm glad that you, like us, have managed to find your way out of religion. Now the time for healing can begin.

 

 

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Hi NowWhat!

 

I was glued to every word of your post.  I completely relate to reading the Bible with eyes OPEN and being shocked by the moral atrocities... I remember one night (as I was starting to see the Bible in a new light), coming across Num 31 about the soldiers being instructed to keep the young girls for themselves.  I just sat there, stunned.  My jaw hanging open, my heart pounding.  Like I'd just found out my father was molesting children for decades - or something equally awful...

 

Anyway, I wanted to respond to your sentence about what to tell children...  This is a tough one.  In your case, you're lucky to have a similarly-minded husband.  I've got a believing wife...  I work REALLY hard at teaching my 2 daughters CRITICAL THINKING SKILLS.  I reflect back a lot of their questions and ask them what they think... I also teach them how to debunk other false claims so they, one day, can apply their thinking skills to their faith.  I encourage them not to form strong opinions yet (they are 9 and 11) because they are young and have not experienced enough of life to be sure about too many things...  I also point out kindness and goodness in others, specifically NON-CHRISTIANS.  I want them to grow up believing that we all have within us the potential for great goodness and great evil - and that has nothing to do with what we believe.  I try to instill in them the idea that we ALL have intrinsic goodness.  

 

One way I see it working:  a couple of months ago, my then-10 year old sat with us in big people church (which I regretted afterward...).  The pastor was teaching on the exclusivity of salvation - only those having faith in Christ.  He started by asking rhetorical questions that he meant to expose as false in his mind.  For one of them, he asked, "Do all people ultimately end up in heaven??" [expecting the congregation to see that as the obvious heresy of universalism].  My daughter, bless her little heart, blurted out emphatically, "YES!".   It was a big church and I don't think the pastor heard... by my wife did (!)

 

Good luck with the kiddos.  I would't suggest rocking their world too suddenly.  But subtly introducing the value and worth of EVERYONE, pointing out goodness EVERYWHERE IT IS, and teaching those critical thinking skills might be all you need to do. 

 

One last thought: help them move away from black and white thinking.  Let them see the gray - like with abortion or other issues that are gray.  Religious fundamentalism thrives where thinking is black and white.  

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Welcome!! I've gotta say that even though we had pretty different lives I did relate to a lot of your experience. When we stopped doing our house group because of a scandal that involved my family it was increasingly hard for me to keep up any pretense of religion. I think that is a pretty common theme.

 

With regards to your kids, I know it must seem like a really tall order for right now. I'm not married, and I don't have kids, BUT I think I might be able to help still. Something that really helped me in my deconversion was my dad treating me as spiritually mature enough to read books and essays on faith, and to read them critically. He didn't mean for me to deconvert, but he did give me the chance to make my faith my own. That's what I think you can start doing slowly with your older kids, just gradually introduce them to things where they can start thinking on their own and more critically about things. Emphasizing to your kids that their faith is their own and they need to have a firm foundation is going to open up avenues for them to question and explore on their own. What I think is important at this stage though is not to force anything. You can state your views but open it up as a conversation. My dad and I never see eye to eye on religious issues and never have, but the times where I actually listened to him were when it was a dialogue. Whenever he stated something as a fact or something that needed to be absolutely respected even against my will is when I shied away. Bring up topics that aided your own deconversion and talk about them with your older kids. But ultimately, don't push your beliefs on them again. It's just a different side of the same coin.

With your younger kids I think it'll be a little easier to just shift your teachings little by little. The youngest won't remember any of it, and the older ones most likely won't keep their indoctrination very long.

 

Good luck, and keep us posted! I'm glad you're here and I look forward to hearing more about you and your family!!

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Insightful and knightcore, awesome advice. I have been feeling like I don't want to just reprogram my kids to believe what I do again. I need to find ways for them to search for their own answers, and keep up their critical thinking. They ask great questions. They are already critical thinkers. And as we stop training them to ignore critical thought in exchange for faith-based nonsense, I think they will naturally begin to deprogram. My husband feels strongly that we need to tell them what WE now believe. But I'm not so sure we need to do that in so many words. I do feel like we need to have some kind of talk with them, though. I'm working through my thoughts in a Word document, and will still likely come on this forum with a separate post directed at this particular topic. But you guys have already given me some great insight. Thank you!

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Hello @NowWhat,

I sympathize with your situation,  I too am constantly worrying about screwing up my kids.

Would you say you INDOCTRINATED your kids or did you simply EDUCATE them about Christianity? Did you instill into them the fear of god/hell so they would grow up too scared to question their faith?

I came to the realisation that my husband and I were raised very differently. I was educated about christianity and he was indoctrinated. He is still a fundamentalist and believes it is virtuous to be satisfied with not understanding.

SO. Lately I have been telling my kids that blind faith is wrong. QUESTION EVERYTHING. It's ok for them to form their own opinions.

Well done Mom, you're doing a great job!

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On 2017-11-01 at 1:27 PM, Insightful said:

I would't suggest rocking their world too suddenly.  

 

One last thought: help them move away from black and white thinking.  Let them see the gray - like with abortion or other issues that are gray. 

Word.

 

Black and white thinking still cripples my mind. Every day it's a struggle to not think that way!

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I LOVE your story!!!! (Here's mine: http://new.exchristian.net/2011/09/how-living-in-bible-belt-destroyed-my.html)

I love your zeal and honesty, and the love you have for your family!! I'm so glad you and the Mr. are also thinking similarly--a HUGE benefit.

 

A couple good peeps in TX are 2Honest and jblueep. They haven't been on ex-C for a while now, as they are more face to face people. If you're on Facebook (message me) and I can connect you guys.

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Welcome to the club! I was raised in a Southern Baptist home and attended a fundamentalist evangelical Christian school, so indoctrination 6 days a week from 5th-12th grades. My family were active in the church, and it was drilled into us that acceptance of Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior was the ONLY way to avoid spending eternity in hell after death. I was scared to death of hell, but even as a teen I was uncomfortable with fundamentalist evangelical religion. I thought it was just because there was sin in me, that I was rebellious. But in (secular) college I had an epiphany when I took a History of Christian Thought course and found out that what the Protestants threw out of the Bible was actually canonized scripture. I felt lied to because preachers or teachers told us that canonized scriptures were the true scriptures - but they didn't consider the Apocrypha to be actual scripture. So they were trying to have it one way. I moved over to progressive Christianity which worked for many years until I took a trip to Chichen Itza ruins in Mexico. While on the tour, it suddenly struck me that the supposedly false pagan Mayan religion in which people were sacrificed to appease their gods was the EXACT SAME THING as the sacrifice of Jesus to God. At that moment I literally realized that there was NO DIFFERENCE among any of these blood-lust religions. My husband was an agnostic who didn't want to say he was an atheist at the time, and he went to church with the kids and me because he liked the people, but he didn't care about the religion aspect (but since our church focused on doing good things for people he was OK going there). But after my Chichen Itza revelation, I couldn't even go to church anymore, so we stopped going. My kids were 5 and 7 years old, and for years, I was tortured over whether I was sentencing them to an eternity in hell. I basically stopped thinking about religion in order not to face my fear about sending them to hell. But finally, when talking with my teen kids, I realized they were atheists and totally comfortable with that, even though many of their friends practiced other religions (Catholicism, Protestant Christianity, Judaism, Islam,Hinduism, etc.). I asked them if they wanted to explore religions, and they said no, they were good. I let myself open up my mind again to weighing whether deities and heaven and hell were real, and I realized that I no longer believed. That being an agnostic atheist made more sense to me. And I'm fine with it. But I live in a diverse community, not the Bible Belt, and I have not yet "come out" to my Bible Belt dwelling relatives. It may happen at some point - and more likely one of my teenagers will "out" us all.

 

I don't know what to tell you about your kids. After my Chichen Itza moment we just didn't continue in church, and our kids didn't even question it. My son stopped going to church at 5 years old, so he barely remembers any of the Bible stories. My daughter who was 7 remembers a lot, including the Lord's Prayer, and she is currently taking a World Mythology course in literature at high school which includes all myths including the Bible. She really loves the course, actually, and it's reinforcing for her that religious myths are just that - stories and myths. Maybe you could engage your children in conversation about what they believe and why - especially the older ones who are capable of thinking and reasoning things through. Whether you choose to reveal your agnostic atheism to them of course is your choice, and you will want to weigh the ramifications of doing so. I don't know whether your children will feel betrayed or if they perhaps have been harboring similar thoughts. Maybe encourage them to read books on both sides of the argument and let them come to their own conclusions as they must do anyway at some point. Maybe consider teaching them a course in world mythology. I don't know what is best for you, but these are some ideas. Just be aware that your children may "spill the beans" to their Christian family members. Read the blog "Godless in Dixie" on Patheos.com - he has some great input on being an atheist in the Bible Belt. I can't imagine how difficult it must be - I live in NJ and see my relatives infrequently but still have found myself guarding my tongue when the topic of religion comes up with my devout Christian brother - I do not want to spoil my relationship with him. I am his only close relative. But I feel that the clock is ticking until the inevitable day when it is revealed that I am an atheist.

 

Good luck to you and your husband. I have found that once one's eyes have been opened to the falseness of religions, there is no going back. But it is important what you decide to do with that knowledge. Be strong!

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@ObstacleChick Isn't it amazing the seemingly small and insignificant things that open our eyes. It was the story of Ananias & Sapphira that did it for me. I'd heard that story hundreds of times and even taught it too. Then one day in a Sunday School class this was the lesson. When the teacher got to their execution it suddenly hit me that this story was bullshit. It wasn't true and none of that ever happened. The point of the story was to scare people into being obedient. 

 

Well, if that isn't true, what else in the Bible isn't true. After years of studying the origins and evolution of both the Bible and the Christian faith from a purely historical perspective I can now say with great confidence that none of it is true. The Bible is a collection of myths and Christianity is no different from any other ancient mythical religion. 

 

Oh yeah, glad you found us and welcome aboard. 

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On 12/8/2017 at 11:03 AM, Geezer said:

It was the story of Ananias & Sapphira that did it for me. I'd heard that story hundreds of times and even taught it too. Then one day in a Sunday School class this was the lesson. When the teacher got to their execution it suddenly hit me that this story was bullshit. It wasn't true and none of that ever happened. The point of the story was to scare people into being obedient. 

 

@Geezer Totally.  I think it's especially revealing that they were killed for holding back some money - not giving ALL of it to the church.  What a perfect self-serving boogie-man fear to instill to scare people into giving their hard earned money away to avoid being executed on the spot by God!

 

For me it was that Jude quoted Enoch from way back before the flood and enoch's quote was not written anywhere in the bible besides Jude.  How the heck did Jude know what Enoch said 3000 years prior??  Of course he lifted the quote from I Enoch...  But, yes,the small things... The little crack in the dam.

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31 minutes ago, Insightful said:

 

@Geezer Totally.  I think it's especially revealing that they were killed for holding back some money - not giving ALL of it to the church.  What a perfect self-serving boogie-man fear to instill to scare people into giving their hard earned money away to avoid being executed on the spot by God!

 

For me it was that Jude quoted Enoch from way back before the flood and enoch's quote was not written anywhere in the bible besides Jude.  How the heck did Jude know what Enoch said 3000 years prior??  Of course he lifted the quote from I Enoch...  But, yes,the small things... The little crack in the dam.

 

And of course the Flood Story was taken from the Epic of Gilgamesh & then edited.  

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