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Guest Yams What I Yams
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Guest Yams What I Yams

Well I finally have proof: There is an online community for everyone. It never even occurred to me that refugees from Christianity like myself might have found each other on the Internet, but here you are. I found this site more or less by accident, but as we all know, there are no accidents in the universe, so I guess I'm here because of providence. :Hmm:

 

I don't have the strength to tell the whole story right now, but I apologize in advance because this is long. It'll be a book some day, so for now I'll just give you the basics.

 

In the Ex-Christian vernacular, which I didn't know existed until I came here, I'm a former "Fundy" and "Penty" - the speaking-in-tongues, twice-on-Sunday, movies-come-from-the-Devil crowd. I never really had a chance. I was born into it and indoctrinated from the moment of conception. One of my earliest memories is of witnessing to a friend of mine on the way home from school, explaining that Gene Simmons was destined for Hell because he hadn't accepted Jesus. I was five years old. FIVE. That by itself is enough to make my blood boil. Honestly, is it healthy for five-year-olds to a) know about the concept of Hell, and B) believe they have to share this information with their friends or God will be disappointed in them? Needless to say, I got pretty good at being self-conscious. I learned from the beginning that everyone was watching everything I did, so my behaviour better reflect God or people who saw me "failing" would lose faith and go to Hell. Peachy childhood.

 

I followed the predictable path through my teen years. Church every time I turned around, going to the altar on Sunday nights because if I didn't my parents would get mad at me, learning to fear God and his judgment more than to love him. I was a church drummer. I was on the youth group executive. I joined the youth outreach group in high school. I did all of that stuff and became very insulated in my belief system, the first rule of which was to never question my belief system. I was pretty happy with myself and pretty smug about my spiritual superiority. For some reason I never noticed that every Sunday morning after church all my family did was come home and complain and gossip about everyone else at church - which person didn't solo very well during the service, who wasn't dressed appropriately, who was a big, fat sinner. Righteous anger is addictive. It became second nature for me to find fault in everyone.

 

The funny thing, in retrospect, is that I never really felt anything at church. I prayed and prayed to be filled with the Holy Spirit but it never happened. I did my best to sway to the music and raise my hands and all the other stuff that real Christians were supposed to do, but never once ever did I sense the presence of God. Of course I believed that this was my own fault. After all, the second rule of my belief system was that anything good that happened was God working through me and anything bad that happened was my fault. I wonder why I never had much faith in myself ....

 

Anyway, I went off to a secular university and did Arts, where I was introduced to a lot of very new ideas about the world. Over time I began to see that non-Christians not only weren't bad people, but seemed to be doing quite well out there. I also started to recognize that I had no idea how to live in a world outside church. None. Then it occurred to me that I'd spent my whole life in a bubble, and that my church (which was supposed to be out there saving souls) was entirely ignorant of life beyond its walls. And then I started seeing things objectively and I realized that Christianity had made me a very unpleasant person. I was arrogant, judgmental, self-righteous, closed-minded, and a jerk. Do you know how many people I’ve condemned to Hell in the name of love? Sad. I went back to my home church with new eyes and the services I was supposed to be fulfilled by seemed suddenly like chaos to me. People shouting, people falling down. People putting on a giant show It seemed to me that the God I believed in would shudder at the sight of people making such spectacles of themselves. Where was the humility? The peace? It actually sickened me. And scared me, because I was having the kind of doubts that make for a crispy future, but the ball was starting to roll. I began to notice the hypocrisy all around me and in my own life and I couldn’t reconcile it.

 

The final straw came when I went to Japan for a year with my wife who was teaching English. One of our friends was a Buddhist monk. At one time in my life I’d have tried to convert him or prayed that he would see the “truth” before he died, but he was one of the most peaceful, gentle, generous men I had ever met. And the other Japanese people – Buddhist, Shinto, you name it – were exactly the same. My religion was arrogant enough to condemn these gentle people to Hell while all of the people who were gossiping about my sister’s divorce and turning their backs on her in my church were going to Heaven. It didn’t add up, and we all know that it's all or nothing, right? I couldn't buy it.

 

Seven years later here I am. I’ve had C.S. Lewis books mailed to me, I’ve been told over the phone that my life will never work out unless I get “right” with God, but I don’t care. The ironic bit is that I’m WAY more Christ-like now than I ever was as a Christian. I’m tolerant, I don’t judge other people, I try to live with humility. I don’t know if God exists or not, but if he does, I have to believe he recognizes that I’m sincere in my desire to know the truth and to be the kind of person we all should be. I'm amazed at how intensely I react to the thought of church or the religion I grew up with. Definitely some resolving yet to do, but I'm getting there.

 

And so I am what I am.

 

Hi everybody.

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Hi,

 

Congratulations on finding the light so many xians fail to see :goodjob:

Be sure to stick around here.

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Witnessing at the age of 5? Wow - it took me till at least 7 or 8 :grin: I enjoyed reading your story. The part about living in a bubble is something I can really identify with - the things I would have done differently had I known... Anyway, I wish you well on your journey.

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I loved the part about the Buddhist Monk, and the jerks in your church gossipping about your siste. WHo gets to go to Hell and who gets to go to Hell are the most F'd up part. I had a talk with a fundy friend of mine today, and his positions are ludicrous. His view of reality are ludicrous.

 

Well I finally have proof: There is an online community for everyone. It never even occurred to me that refugees from Christianity like myself might have found each other on the Internet, but here you are. I found this site more or less by accident, but as we all know, there are no accidents in the universe, so I guess I'm here because of providence. :Hmm:

 

I don't have the strength to tell the whole story right now, but I apologize in advance because this is long. It'll be a book some day, so for now I'll just give you the basics.

 

In the Ex-Christian vernacular, which I didn't know existed until I came here, I'm a former "Fundy" and "Penty" - the speaking-in-tongues, twice-on-Sunday, movies-come-from-the-Devil crowd. I never really had a chance. I was born into it and indoctrinated from the moment of conception. One of my earliest memories is of witnessing to a friend of mine on the way home from school, explaining that Gene Simmons was destined for Hell because he hadn't accepted Jesus. I was five years old. FIVE. That by itself is enough to make my blood boil. Honestly, is it healthy for five-year-olds to a) know about the concept of Hell, and B) believe they have to share this information with their friends or God will be disappointed in them? Needless to say, I got pretty good at being self-conscious. I learned from the beginning that everyone was watching everything I did, so my behaviour better reflect God or people who saw me "failing" would lose faith and go to Hell. Peachy childhood.

 

I followed the predictable path through my teen years. Church every time I turned around, going to the altar on Sunday nights because if I didn't my parents would get mad at me, learning to fear God and his judgment more than to love him. I was a church drummer. I was on the youth group executive. I joined the youth outreach group in high school. I did all of that stuff and became very insulated in my belief system, the first rule of which was to never question my belief system. I was pretty happy with myself and pretty smug about my spiritual superiority. For some reason I never noticed that every Sunday morning after church all my family did was come home and complain and gossip about everyone else at church - which person didn't solo very well during the service, who wasn't dressed appropriately, who was a big, fat sinner. Righteous anger is addictive. It became second nature for me to find fault in everyone.

 

The funny thing, in retrospect, is that I never really felt anything at church. I prayed and prayed to be filled with the Holy Spirit but it never happened. I did my best to sway to the music and raise my hands and all the other stuff that real Christians were supposed to do, but never once ever did I sense the presence of God. Of course I believed that this was my own fault. After all, the second rule of my belief system was that anything good that happened was God working through me and anything bad that happened was my fault. I wonder why I never had much faith in myself ....

 

Anyway, I went off to a secular university and did Arts, where I was introduced to a lot of very new ideas about the world. Over time I began to see that non-Christians not only weren't bad people, but seemed to be doing quite well out there. I also started to recognize that I had no idea how to live in a world outside church. None. Then it occurred to me that I'd spent my whole life in a bubble, and that my church (which was supposed to be out there saving souls) was entirely ignorant of life beyond its walls. And then I started seeing things objectively and I realized that Christianity had made me a very unpleasant person. I was arrogant, judgmental, self-righteous, closed-minded, and a jerk. Do you know how many people I’ve condemned to Hell in the name of love? Sad. I went back to my home church with new eyes and the services I was supposed to be fulfilled by seemed suddenly like chaos to me. People shouting, people falling down. People putting on a giant show It seemed to me that the God I believed in would shudder at the sight of people making such spectacles of themselves. Where was the humility? The peace? It actually sickened me. And scared me, because I was having the kind of doubts that make for a crispy future, but the ball was starting to roll. I began to notice the hypocrisy all around me and in my own life and I couldn’t reconcile it.

 

The final straw came when I went to Japan for a year with my wife who was teaching English. One of our friends was a Buddhist monk. At one time in my life I’d have tried to convert him or prayed that he would see the “truth” before he died, but he was one of the most peaceful, gentle, generous men I had ever met. And the other Japanese people – Buddhist, Shinto, you name it – were exactly the same. My religion was arrogant enough to condemn these gentle people to Hell while all of the people who were gossiping about my sister’s divorce and turning their backs on her in my church were going to Heaven. It didn’t add up, and we all know that it's all or nothing, right? I couldn't buy it.

 

Seven years later here I am. I’ve had C.S. Lewis books mailed to me, I’ve been told over the phone that my life will never work out unless I get “right” with God, but I don’t care. The ironic bit is that I’m WAY more Christ-like now than I ever was as a Christian. I’m tolerant, I don’t judge other people, I try to live with humility. I don’t know if God exists or not, but if he does, I have to believe he recognizes that I’m sincere in my desire to know the truth and to be the kind of person we all should be. I'm amazed at how intensely I react to the thought of church or the religion I grew up with. Definitely some resolving yet to do, but I'm getting there.

 

And so I am what I am.

 

Hi everybody.

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Yo Yams! Welcome.

 

You testimony wasn't THAT long! You should see mine, it requires a friggin highspeed broadband to download. :grin:

 

I can completely understand what/how you felt. Church was my everything too for some time. I worked at a "Christian" company, where all co-workers came from same Church as me. I was also extremely surprised when I met and realized there were non-believers and people of other faiths that were kind, nice, good hearted, altruistic and wanted to HELP ME when I had needs?!?

 

I learned that there are good and bad people of fairly similar amount in either worlds, so there's no miraculous amount of converts that became better people. I saw corrupt people in church (and it was in a fundy/extremist church, we were hated by the rest of Christianity in Sweden, and the state church, media and politicians - all parties, we should have figured out the "true" gospel if any - persecuted and all) Religion doesn't change people, people change people.

 

You came to the right place.

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Welcome to our world, Yams What I Yams.

 

Join me for a beer? :beer:

 

Stick around awhile,I look forward to your contributions to the boards. :goodjob:

 

Dan

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Hi Yams,

 

Wow... I can relate completely. Our stories are SO similar.

 

I made my best friend in Kindergarten say 'the sinner's prayer' with me under the drinking fountain on the playground. I'd been crying at night and feeling sick all the time that my little best friend was unsaved and going to hell. When my family moved away in Second Grade, I told him never to let anyone stamp the number '666' on his hand or forhead, no matter what. I was terrified that when the end times came, he would maybe get hungry and would succumb to accepting the number and be damned, and I wouldn't be there to stop him. I tearfully made him promise over and over.

 

Indoctrinating children with this foul superstition of terror is abuse, pure and simple. I have a lot of anger about how I was raised, because my entire personality was shaped and molded by fear and self degradation. What could I have been and become, had I been free of these ever-present poisons injected into my daily by my well-meaning but completely brainwashed parents?

 

I witnessed to my unsaved aunt in kindergarten and told my uncle it was a sin to drink beer...

A lovely, lovely child was I. And a lovely young adult too...crying to my friends that MTV was evil and that sex before marriage was evil...

 

Excuse me while I go throw up...

 

Like you, I played all the games of being 'spirit filled.' I waved my hands, spoke in tongues, tearfully 'felt convicted in the spirit' and renewed my commitment to Christ every year at church cult... uh, I mean, camp... along with the rest of the kids.

 

But I was always aware that I wasn't actually 'feeling' any sort of independently existing divine presence. I was always aware that my actions were driven by my own thoughts and own will. I used to have to play games with myself to overcome this. For example, when asking for an answer from God about a decision I needed to make or anything like that... I could never distinguish the 'voice of God' from my own thought processes. Whatever decision I was leaning toward; I had to assume that the true 'voice of God' would be the voice that sounded different from what I myself intuitively wanted to do. I would make decisions, then, in the opposite direction of what 'my own thoughts' were telling me.

 

Oh, the sickness.

 

When I was 24, instead of meeting a buddhist, I met a Jehovah's Witness and an atheist, both at work. The Jehovah's Witness befriended me in order to make me her project for awhile. Contrary to her efforts, she made me realize how everyone inside their own religious 'bubble' can get any meaning they want to out of the Bible, and tell a consistent story about it, no matter how crazy it looks from the outside. This snapped me into the mode of looking at my own cherished beliefs from the outside, for the first time...just to see what they looked like. The Jehovah's Witness friend, by the way, first successfully convinced me that hell and the trinity were actually pagan constructs, that Christianity had co-opted. This set me on my way to investigating the origins of Christianity. I couldn't get enough of digging into the history... and reading the bible for myself... and the house of cards came tumbling down.

 

The atheist made me realize how kind and wonderful non-Christians could be - that they didn't have that 'god-shaped hole' emptiness in their lives we'd been spoon fed to believe about others since birth, and she damn well had a fuller, more joyful life than I had, and a way better heart. She was kind, patient, humorous and humane. Someone I wished had been my own mother. I nearly fainted when she told me she was an atheist. (She used the word 'humanist'). I'd been told humanists were vile satan worshippers...no joke. I instantly knew, from knowing this woman, that I'd bought a complete lie. The proverbial 'scales' fell from my eyes.

 

I hung onto God belief for awhile, a God of my own concoction.... the God who is pure love, kindness, goodness, and all that is perfection...

 

Then I realized there is no evidence for such a creature. God is just an idea that represents 'the best of' whatever we want human behavior to be. That's why some people are comfortable worshipping a God who 'hates' people who 'hates' what they hate, while others can only worship a God who is tolerant and all-loving. It took me much longer to realize that Christianity is actually more at odds with what I perceive as 'morality' than a force for achieving them. The doctrine of absolute forgiveness by an invisible friend no matter what you do - what a barrier to true, mature morality THAT little gem is!

 

Whenever I read a testimony like yours, I am so full of hope. If you could snap out of it, if I could snap out of it, anyone can.

 

Thanks for making my day with your post.

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Guest Yams What I Yams

 

The atheist made me realize how kind and wonderful non-Christians could be - that they didn't have that 'god-shaped hole' emptiness in their lives we'd been spoon fed to believe about others since birth, and she damn well had a fuller, more joyful life than I had, and a way better heart. She was kind, patient, humorous and humane. Someone I wished had been my own mother. I nearly fainted when she told me she was an atheist. (She used the word 'humanist'). I'd been told humanists were vile satan worshippers...no joke. I instantly knew, from knowing this woman, that I'd bought a complete lie. The proverbial 'scales' fell from my eyes.

 

 

Thanks for your kind response. I love the irony in the little section above. The Christians I grew up with believed that THEIR actions and behaviours were supposed to wipe scales from eyes, not the other way around. But when I consider how obnoxious I was as a Christian, how I and my friends would jam our theology and our "certainty" down people's throats, it's no wonder people ran from us like we had the plague. Add to that the madness you could find in our church on a Sunday morning and you just shake your head. Amazing that you and I had to look to Buddhists and Atheists to see the tranquility we couldn't see in the Christians around us.

 

I don't want to tar everyone with the same brush, though. There were good people in my church and the others I attended, and I remain friends on a certain level with most of my gospel buddies, but the overwhelming perception of Christians is that they're pushy and arrogant. There's a good reason for that.

 

Another interesting point: I can't believe how many kids I went to Youth Group with aren't going to church anymore. My Youth Group produced a generation of unwed mothers and alcoholics. We were under so much pressure that most of us went nuts by the time we left high school. So sad what happened to many of those kids. Our beliefs made social outcasts of us - no dances, no movies, no secular music, no "normal" activities at all. And on top of that they forced us to witness to everybody we met or risk the fires of Hell. Phew. No wonder we all rebelled. I hear things have lightened up a bit now. Sure hope so for the sake of the kids who are there now.

 

Anyway, thanks to each of you for taking the time to read and respond. I look forward to learning a lot from you about the other side of the Christianity coin.

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Yams,

 

I was going to post my story, but why bother, you already did that for me.

 

It took me 40 f** years to see the light. I think you saw it sooner. You went to university and took Arts. I took Computer Science. No critical thinking required.

 

When I turned 40, I went back to college to take a Writing program. Now critical thinking was required. I was out of xtianity within 4 months.

 

Anyway, thank you so much for posting. I truly appreciate your journey.

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Guest Yams What I Yams

I really enjoyed reading this. You're a great writer. Thank you for posting!

 

 

Thanks!

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I was having the kind of doubts that make for a crispy future

 

:grin: That's us. Just a bunch of future crispy critters.

 

But honestly, what a cryin shame to have a religion that tells you if you dare to think for yourself you risk eternal damnation.

 

No, it's not a cryin shame. It's a goddamn shame.

 

Welcome, Yams. I like you already.

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Guest revpo

Great story, enjoyed it, I would say 97 percent of people fall into the same syndrome of your experience, and are brain washed from an early age and then one day the lite bulb comes on and we see our past experiences and practices are so narrow its pitiful and logic and reason are used to open our eyes, mind, and body to a new beginning.

 

WELCOME

REVPO :grin:

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Long, but it read very well. I quite enjoyed it.

 

Our lives were very similar. I was actually raised in a Southern Baptist home and wasn't actually saved until I was seven, but otherwise our stories are strikingly similar. I had a Mormon neighbor (right after I moved to Missouri FROM Utah... :twitch: ) and one time I told him I couldn't hang out with him anymore because his family was evil and going to Hell. I was also quite involved with my youth group. I led some praise services at work, I sang in the church choir, I was a leader in the youth group, and I led many evangelistic efforts. I was a role model in the youth group and in the church, and I don't know how many times I had parents of other youth tell me they wish what I had would rub off on their kids. I even received the "call" to pastoral ministry while I was in high school, and I was even asked to preach in front of the church several times.

 

I went to a Southern Baptist college just because I wanted to stay in my bubble. The ironic thing is is that the overwhelming Christian atmosphere actually ended up bursting my bubble rather than maintaining it. We had chapel services twice a week, and it was always the same. Some students would be up on stage with bongos and guitars leading worship, and the same people on the front row would always shoot right up as soon as it started with their hands in the air. We also had quite an "amen corner" on the front row whenever we had a speaker at chapel. Probably the most hilarious thing about chapel services was the very end. The speaker or worship leader would say, "Let us pray," and suddenly there would be this loud sound of chairs squeaking all over the auditorium as people bent over into the praying position.

 

Very inspiring story. I have also thought about writing a book about my life experiences, if nothing else than to let other people who have experienced the same thing know that they are not alone. By the way, have you read anything by Dan Barker? He is a former Christian musician/evangelist that left his faith and became an atheist. He has a book called "Losing Faith in Faith" that describes his journey.

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Guest Yams What I Yams

 

Very inspiring story. I have also thought about writing a book about my life experiences, if nothing else than to let other people who have experienced the same thing know that they are not alone. By the way, have you read anything by Dan Barker? He is a former Christian musician/evangelist that left his faith and became an atheist. He has a book called "Losing Faith in Faith" that describes his journey.

 

I haven't read Barker, but I've heard of him. I'm reading Tom Harpur's excellent "The Pagan Christ" right now, which outlines Christianity's pagan origins and explains how Christian mythology borrows from much older Greek, Egyptian, and Asian religions. Very illuminating. I'll put Barker on my list as well.

 

Our stories are definitey similar, right down to the doubts you expressed on your thread. It's amazing how effectively the Church trains people to believe as fact the absurd and contradictory things in the Bible. Also amazing how I spent most of my life in a fundamentalist church and nobody ever mentioned Krishna, Buddha, Osiris, Horus, or any of the divine God-men of ancient religions who were born of virgins and nailed to trees to save the world. If those stories are myths, why in the world should we think the Jesus story is historical? Nobody bothered to open up the debate ....

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Hi, Yams! I enjoyed reading your story. Thanks for writing.

 

If you'd like to know more about Dan Barker, check out the Freedom from Religion Foundation's website at

http://www.ffrf.org

 

I acquired a used copy of his book "Losing Faith in Faith" a few months ago from Amazon.com. It's part biographical, but it also contains a lot of essays providing a historical/literary response to christian mythology. It's pretty enlightening, and I recommend it, especially for recent de-converts.

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Very inspiring story. I have also thought about writing a book about my life experiences, if nothing else than to let other people who have experienced the same thing know that they are not alone. By the way, have you read anything by Dan Barker? He is a former Christian musician/evangelist that left his faith and became an atheist. He has a book called "Losing Faith in Faith" that describes his journey.

 

I haven't read Barker, but I've heard of him. I'm reading Tom Harpur's excellent "The Pagan Christ" right now, which outlines Christianity's pagan origins and explains how Christian mythology borrows from much older Greek, Egyptian, and Asian religions. Very illuminating. I'll put Barker on my list as well.

 

Our stories are definitey similar, right down to the doubts you expressed on your thread. It's amazing how effectively the Church trains people to believe as fact the absurd and contradictory things in the Bible. Also amazing how I spent most of my life in a fundamentalist church and nobody ever mentioned Krishna, Buddha, Osiris, Horus, or any of the divine God-men of ancient religions who were born of virgins and nailed to trees to save the world. If those stories are myths, why in the world should we think the Jesus story is historical? Nobody bothered to open up the debate ....

 

 

I heard about them, but the difference I was always given was that Jesus was the only one of those to rise from the dead. Sure, many god-men may have died to save the world or humanity in some shape or fashion, but Jesus was the only one that came back to life. But what proof do we have that Jesus rose from the dead? The only accounts of it are in the Bible, and since that was written by men, it could very easily just be legend (the Bible uses plenty of figurative language, so how do we know this isn't just more of it?). Besides, if Jesus rose from the dead it doesn't mean he was God. It just means that he was more advanced than we are. For example, what if Jesus was an alien in a human body and just reanimated the body after it died? Or maybe there is some medical explanation that we have yet to discover. There are a million reasons why someone could be perceived to have resurrected when they actually didn't.

 

God is by definition supernatural, which basically means He is powerful beyond our comprehension. Why couldn't "God" just be some form of alien or advanced human? Have you ever watched Stargate SG-1? The aliens take on the forms of our gods just so they can enslave us and make us do what they want us to do.

 

Hi, Yams! I enjoyed reading your story. Thanks for writing.

 

If you'd like to know more about Dan Barker, check out the Freedom from Religion Foundation's website at

http://www.ffrf.org

 

I acquired a used copy of his book "Losing Faith in Faith" a few months ago from Amazon.com. It's part biographical, but it also contains a lot of essays providing a historical/literary response to christian mythology. It's pretty enlightening, and I recommend it, especially for recent de-converts.

 

Someone else who has heard of Barker. I figured I wasn't the only one.

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