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WWOAC

I'm looking for help and advice

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First, I just want to apologize if this isn't the appropriate place to put my post because I'm not sure where exactly to go. I've been doing a lot of studying and thinking for a long time and I'm certain based on my research that I had or still have a lot of damage from the religion I was brought up in. I just don't know what to do and I feel lost and that's why I came here because this is the only place I have to go that I'm aware of at the moment. I really don't know what to say or even where to begin. I'm more than happy to answer any questions you may have for me and any help is greatly appreciated. 

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Welcome, WWOAC:

You aren't the first one to be in such a position. You could start by giving us a little history; where you were and how you got to where you are now.

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Okay, so I was born and raised in the Bible Belt of the United States. I was brought up in a deeply fundamentalist conservative christian home which was absolutely miserable for me. The church that my family are members of is the Church of Christ. Based on what I've learned so far, I know that at least one of the churches we were members of was without a doubt a cult. If the rest of the churches we attended weren't a cult, I would say that they definitely had many characteristics of a cult. But I've since realized that most denominations, not just the Church of Christ, in my of the country lean more toward a cult because of the culture here. My strict religious upbringing along with things that I was taught in school turned me toward atheism at a very young age and I never told anyone that I was an atheist all these years. But here a few years ago I was starting to question things and I was getting to where I was no longer agreeing with or believing more and more things that both atheists and scientists were saying although I still agree with atheists on some things and I think that atheists do have really good points that need to addressed by the christian world. In my search for answers, I came across a quote from I believe it was Gandhi that said something like it wasn't Christ that he had a problem with, it was his followers. The more I thought about that statement, the more it seemed to make sense and so that's when I started to think that maybe I was wrong about Christianity. I guess it was about 2 years ago that I became a christian. Now, I'm not so sure about that decision. My faith in Christianity has almost completely collapsed although I haven't renounced it just yet. Many things that I was taught by the church were very unhealthy and they ended up doing a lot damage to me. When I reflect on and study this issue, I've come to realize that many of the churches teachings is why I rebelled and did a lot of the bad things that I did. It's also the reason why I had and still have health problems that have resulted from religious trauma syndrome. I'm afraid that at some point It's looking like I may have to get on medication just to be able to cope. I can't really talk to any one around here about this. The more I read about the history of the bible, the church, Christianity, and religion in general I'm just not sure what to believe anymore. I've been reading a lot of deconversion testimonies lately and some of them are nearly word for word my life story. I'm not only psychologically exhausted but I'm physically exhausted from this as well. My whole experience has been based on nothing but fear ever since I was little. Honestly, I want relief and I just don't know where to even begin. I can probably go into greater detail on things but I'm trying not to make a book out of one blog post because I would say that this is just a basic overview of my experience and what I'm going through.        

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It sounds like you have the right idea about your cultlike, phony church.  But you haven’t answered the more basic question:  do you believe in god, or not?  Some people reject the church but still believe in god.  Other people, like me, just can’t see any reason to believe in any sort of god, and lots of reasons not to.  Until you decide, my guess is that you are going to remain conflicted, anxious, and depressed like you are now, and are going to have a hard time with any sort of recovery.

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I agree with TEG

I was a Christian for sixty years including years as a minister both in UK and overseas. Some years before I retired I became seriously disillusioned with the church but stayed in as I believed I might be able to bring about some change. After I retired I started asking questions that I dare not ask before and I became a convinced non-theist after a lot of study and reflection. Much happier now.
A welcome awaits you in the real world WWOAC
 
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9 hours ago, WWOAC said:

In my search for answers, I came across a quote from I believe it was Gandhi that said something like it wasn't Christ that he had a problem with, it was his followers. The more I thought about that statement, the more it seemed to make sense and so that's when I started to think that maybe I was wrong about Christianity. 

Hello WWOAC, welcome. About the above, maybe by now you've noticed that Jesus is depicted as saying and doing some things that just are not good. Consider these:

 

http://www.debunking-christianity.com/2019/11/things-we-wish-jesus-hadnt-said_7.html

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I’m Ex Church of Christ, and a former Elder, so I clearly understand what you’ve experienced. My wife and I were Southern Baptist and become became associated with the c of C through a Bible study. Restoration theology has a certain logic about it that makes sense for those that already believe the Bible is literally true, historically accurate, and therefore Divinely inspired.

 

It took me 27 years, and a lot of study and researching the secular historical origins and evolution of both the Bible and the Christian faith,    to confirm that it’s all man made mythology. My study and research convinced me, beyond a doubt, that both Jesus and Paul were literary characters not real people. 
 

I’d can offer you some book references if you want. I’ve been an admitted atheist since 2012. My wife is still a Christian and a member of the Methodist Church. We’ve been able to work that out. I don’t miss anything about being religious. All religions are manmade nonsense and the fundamentalist versions are indeed “cults”. 
 

Glad you found this site, I’m certain you will find it helpful.

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Thank you everyone for your responses. I don't have a problem with the idea of a creator at all which makes sense to me. I too certainly have a lot of questions for Christianity that I know I can't ask especially around here. Thank you for the link ficino. @ Geezer some book references would be great. I'm trying to learn more about the history of hell although I no longer believe in the traditional view of hell that most people have. How did you get over your fear of hell? What if we're all wrong, what am I supposed to say to God on judgement day? Have any of you had anxiety from your religious experience and if so how did you deal with it because I have times where I can't hardly breath and I started having panic attacks about 2 years ago. 

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Talking it out will certainly help considerably.  I'd suggest not getting too caught up in finding the right answers (there are none); and don't concern yourself over-much about what the end result of your journey should look like, or be.  Just follow the process and learn what you can along the way.  You'll be fine.

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58 minutes ago, WWOAC said:

Thank you everyone for your responses. I don't have a problem with the idea of a creator at all which makes sense to me. I too certainly have a lot of questions for Christianity that I know I can't ask especially around here. Thank you for the link ficino. @ Geezer some book references would be great. I'm trying to learn more about the history of hell although I no longer believe in the traditional view of hell that most people have. How did you get over your fear of hell? What if we're all wrong, what am I supposed to say to God on judgement day? Have any of you had anxiety from your religious experience and if so how did you deal with it because I have times where I can't hardly breath and I started having panic attacks about 2 years ago. 

 

Most of what contemporary Christians believe about Hell is taken from a medieval work of fiction called the Inferno, by Dante. What gets translated as Hell is the Hebrew word Gehenna, which referred to a trash dump, always burning, outside of Jerusalem.

 

Think about it logically for a minute. If you don't have a body after you die, how can you burn? Fire requires combustible material, and the burning stops once everything is burned up--there is no such thing as eternal fire. Hell is a folktale that got out of hand, a threat used to keep people following the rules.

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Fear has been the basis of most religions for a very long time. Fear lets them control you with ooga-boogas, and they point to the book as proof that the fears are real, when the book is nothing short of fairy tales. 

 

Christianity has a few positive things to help sell it - Jesus promoting caring for the poor; being generous; avoiding hypocrisy; calling out leaders for being corrupt. But the rest is based on a god that has a distinct bloodlust, who won't turn the other cheek but demands payment for "forgiveness", who has one overarching punishment of death for disobedience, who blesses the mass rape of thousands of young girls who just saw their families slaughtered by the Israelites, who even blesses the mass rape of Israeli girls because the tribe that did it didn't have enough girls, who blesses the outright slaughter of several people groups, and then has Jesus introduce a new concept not found in Judaism: damnation, eternal torment for not loving him enough. The bible god is evil, horrifically evil, not good, not holy, not love. Happily, he also doesn't exist outside of the imagination of his followers. Billions are spent promoting this faith, and the god is no more real than Spiderman. 

 

Anxiety isn't based on reason. I've been fighting anxiety attacks in the last few months, a genuine fight-or-flight reaction to something nonsensical: an annoying neighbor who was blasting subwoofer music. But once that low-level programming is there in the brain, undoing it takes real work to show that part of the mind that there is no threat. I've even considered hypnosis as a way to get past this reaction. The fear that Christianity puts in people is also at a survival level, since they teach people to fear being burned alive. It's not real, but just like monster movies can give us a scare even when we know that we just paid to sit in a theater and watch a movie, the subconscious doesn't know the difference between imagination and physical reality. Damnation is imaginary. Try avoiding the religious people who want you to feel bad about being normal. They waste decades of their lives trying to please an imaginary narcissist "friend". 

 

You are 95% of the way out of the religion, and that is great! You can still do the good things like being kind and generous without any religion at all. And regarding a creator/god/goddess/something, it is ok to say "I don't know". You can ponder without knowing, you can dabble in this or that, and that is fine. There are gobs of things we don't know, even with all of the learning we have amassed. It's ok to focus on the things that bring you joy, and the simple things in life that are nice (autumn colors, a nice latte, beautiful people and animals, music, dancing, etc). You can see reality a lot better without the filter of religion changing it for you. 

 

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22 hours ago, WWOAC said:

Thank you everyone for your responses. I don't have a problem with the idea of a creator at all which makes sense to me. I too certainly have a lot of questions for Christianity that I know I can't ask especially around here. Thank you for the link ficino. @ Geezer some book references would be great. I'm trying to learn more about the history of hell although I no longer believe in the traditional view of hell that most people have. How did you get over your fear of hell? What if we're all wrong, what am I supposed to say to God on judgement day? Have any of you had anxiety from your religious experience and if so how did you deal with it because I have times where I can't hardly breath and I started having panic attacks about 2 years ago. 


I served as a deacon multiple times in the c of C. I taught Bible classes for 40+ years in both the c of C and the Southern Baptist Church, I preached a little in the c of C, & served as an Elder twice. I was a trained evangelist in the c of C, meaning I held Bible studies studies in the home of non c of C believers with the purpose of ultimately baptizing them into the c of C. 
 

In all the home studies I had I only failed once to baptize the prospect into the c of C, and that was because the prospect didn’t believe the Bible was the inerrant word of God. When he told me that I thanked him for his time and left. 

I’m telling you all of that to confirm my c of C credentials. I was the real deal. 

 

My doubts began in the late 90’s when I could no longer pretend that I didn’t see the  inconsistencies &  contradictions that are replete throughout the Bible. How could a supposedly inerrant book contain such obvious errors? I was able to find ways to manage my cognitive dissonance for a few more years, although that was often a struggle.

 

The dam broke in 2005 at an Elders retreat. During a somewhat heated discussion about the fate of our obviously dying congregation I spontaneously admitted that I no longer believed the Bible was inerrant and that it likely had human origins. That admission resulted in me being removed as an Elder.

 

My wife and I left the c of C and thus began a journey that is still ongoing. In my search for truth I discovered the scholarship dedicated to the Historical Critical study of the Bible and the Christian faith. That scholarship is dedicated to a purely secular historical study and research of the Bible and the Christian faith. That has been an eye opening experience and convinced me, without a single doubt, that the Bible and the Christian faith have absolutely pure human origins. 

Heaven & Hell are mythical places created by humans as part of the rewards & punishments necessary in all religions to control people and force them to be obedient to the doctrines, teachings, and traditions of the faith.


I also discovered there is no historical Jesus or Paul. Those are characters in a story, they were not real people. Paul’s Epistles were likely written by Marcion and Simon Magus in the early part of the 2nd century.

 

I realize all I’ve written will be difficult for you to believe and that is because all religions deeply indoctrinate their member, in the case of fundamentalists versions of Christianity, like the Church of Christ, that indoctrination reaches the level of actual brainwashing. It takes years of study and research for most people to overcome that. Leaving any religion, especially a fundamentalist version, is extremely difficult and usually takes years to be deprogrammed. 
 

Many people have written books about their experience. I would highly recommend anything written by Dr.Bart Ehrman, a recognized bible textual expert, as a beginning point. He points out the Bible has been edited, redacted, changed, & modified more times than there are even words in it. 


Leaving religion requires a re-education process that takes years to fully free a persons mind from the crap they’ve had indoctrinated into it. A word of warning, stop reading anything written by an apologist. They are deeply brainwashed professional liars. 
 

This site contains a list of recommended books. I encourage you to check that section out. PM me if you have questions or just want to vent. Don’t get discouraged. Leaving the faith is probably the most difficult thing you will ever attempt to do.

 

I guarantee you there is no such place as heaven or hell. Death is simply an endless sleep.

 

 

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I'm not real sure that I was ever a Christian to begin with although I felt like I was being sincere when I decided to become one and is something I've been trying to figure out. What are some ways to deal with feelings of anger, bitterness, and resentment? This is one of the problems I've always had with Christianity is that it puts all the burden and responsibility of forgiveness on you which I know from experience does nothing but create more problems. I realize that a lot of my teachers were basically indoctrinated themselves but at the same time it's like they don't think that they can be wrong and many of them can get aggressive if not combative about this issue, what would be a way or some ways that I might can deal with this because at the moment I have to interact with these people. 

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What are some thoughts on biblical prophecies that have supposedly been fulfilled and are supposedly still being fulfilled today?

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7 hours ago, WWOAC said:

I'm not real sure that I was ever a Christian to begin with ....at the moment I have to interact with these people. 

 

A common ploy by Christians to devalue the experiences of 'doubters' - best to ignore it.

Why do you have to interact with them? Can you not walk away? If only with the reason that, as you say, you are feeling physically and psychologically damaged, take some time out?

 

It's not an easy road to leave the fold but it leads to a far better life in my experience.

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@nontheistpilgrimno I'm having to live with some of them at the moment due to my living situation although I'm currently working on trying to get out.

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2 hours ago, WWOAC said:

@nontheistpilgrimno I'm having to live with some of them at the moment due to my living situation although I'm currently working on trying to get out.

I wasn't so much thinking about leaving home as 'going sick' - i.e. tell them that you are not feeling up to worshipping (or whatever) at the moment and need to take some time out, space for yourself.

I realise that's easier said than done, probably, but I don't know your situation.

Perhaps I can guess what they will throw at you - along the lines of 'cast all your care on him' etc etc etc, blah, blah,blah.

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@WWOAC

 

Welcome to Ex-C!

 

Reading, studying the books recommended here will help you decide if your doubts are legitimate. The one book that helped me the most was the bible. After reading the NT from Mathew to Revelations in a few months I was done. Reading large section of the OT was also revealing but I think that most reasonable humans will assume the NT to be man-made stories straight away.

 

As for your question regarding bible prophecies that have come true: could you please elaborate and give us some examples?

thnx,

    - MOHO (Mind Of His Own)

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12 hours ago, WWOAC said:

What are some thoughts on biblical prophecies that have supposedly been fulfilled and are supposedly still being fulfilled today?


Biblical prophecies appear to be accurate but that’s because they were written, or modified,  after the events have already occurred. Remember, historians have validated, peer reviewed, evidence the Bible has been edited, redacted, changed, modified, and rewritten countless thousands of times. 
 

 Apologists are also very good at linking random events and coincidence with some obscure Biblical text and then claim some prophecy has been fulfilled, when in fact the events had nothing to do with each other.  Apologist are experts when it comes to reinterpreting the Bible so that it appears to validate their agenda. 
 

Just as it is a defense lawyers job to reinterpret evidence in favor of their client, it is an apologist job to do the same thing with scripture. Defense lawyers and apologist have a lot in common when it comes to having the ability to manipulate and parse words. 

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I was born into a long line of "CofCers" on both sides of my family, but was fortunate to have a grandfather that didn't buy into all their quirky doctrine, and said that everyone had to work out their own salvation----and I eventually did, but in a way he probably never realized I would go, or as far as I would go.  And the salvation I found was certainly not what he had in mind.  I am thankful for his curious, critical thinking, and encouragement to study things for myself.  

 

The long story of my spiritual journey, "TRUTH: A GRADUAL AWAKENING......." is in the TESTIMONIAL section.  I think you will find it helpful and validates most of what you are going through.  My "journey" took me through two "Christian" colleges, and through 20 years of working for two CofC affiliated Children's and Family service agencies, commonly called Children's Homes.  It took me much longer to find my way out, than it has you.  CONGRATULATIONS! 

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7 hours ago, nontheistpilgrim said:

 

It's not an easy road to leave the fold but it leads to a far better life in my experience.

 

HA!  I will say AMEN! To that.  Once I made the leap, I have never been sorry.

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I can’t help noticing that at least 4 of us on this thread are ex-church of christ.  Are we well-represented here because it is a particularly toxic church?

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3 minutes ago, TEG said:

I can’t help noticing that at least 4 of us on this thread are ex-church of christ.  Are we well-represented here because it is a particularly toxic church?

 

Most of the churches I was associated with were considered mainstream, to liberal, and overall I never saw them as really toxic.  Occasionally we had some toxic preachers, but they usually didn't last very long.  They were often the "anties" whom we considered "uninformed."  The thing I came to see as very toxic was the "age of accountability" (generally 10 to 12 years of age) concept, with the threat of Hell if you didn't get baptised.   There is no way kids that age can sort through the whole convoluted process.  And it is difficult for grownups who have been sheltered from, and threatened with Hell for critical thinking.  So in that way, for some people,  I guess it could be considered toxic. 

 

This is kind of a side issue, but definitely related.  Something I see as extremely dangerous is the downplaying of higher education and critical thinking in the USA, and religions getting their foot in the door of government.  The two go hand in hand.  I recently started supporting separation of church and state movements.

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1 hour ago, Weezer said:

I recently started supporting separation of church and state movements.

 

I am currently reading Andrew Seidel's The Founding Myth.

Now THAT will motivate one to join separation movements. Planning on joining the Freedom from Religion folks when I'm done with the book.

 

https://ffrf.org/

 

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My sister just gave me a book copyrighted in 2006 named, "FIGHTING WORDS:  A tool kit for combating the religious right", by Robin Morgan. I haven't finished it, but had also read Thomas Jefferson's views on Christianity and government, and to me it is so clear that the early father's were very careful to keep church and state separated.  But it was a fight to do so.

 

I was very lucky that my parents and grandparents were for separation.  HA!  Being members of the CofC, and my mother a school teacher, they fought against the Baptist coming in and teaching Bible lessons at the one room school where she taught.  That was a hot issue back in the day.

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