10/31/03                                                                                       View Comments

Fundamentalism Screwed Up My Religion

sent in by Don T. Know

It's sort of funny to have an Agnostic complaining about Fundamentalism screwing up religion. But, upon reading this, I think you'll understand why.

My mother raised us (mostly my sister and I, the two youngest kids) in a Presbyterian Church. In retrospect, it was a "liberal" church – which is to say it wasn't exclusively focused on other-worldly concerns. It also had a this-worldly, humanitarian mission. We learned to try to love all people since God loves everyone. There was no "us" or "them." We were all God's children and we should strive to do our best to get along with others … and to help those in need. Without a creed, it would have represented pure religion as Thomas Paine imagined it: "I believe that religious duties consist in doing justice, loving mercy, and endeavoring to make our fellow-creatures happy."

My mother considered her self a born-again Christian, but she never seemed to have any problem taking us to such a "liberal" church. I would learn later that she really was a pure religionist. After her death, I would read her letters where she was sad that her new Fundamentalist, Baptist church did not engage in people-oriented outreach efforts. She seemed to long for the kind of church where people helped others and lifted each other up – rather than focusing exclusively on an invisible world.

My mother prayed for my father's "salvation," which eventually did come about through a "born-again" experience after he was endlessly "witnessed to" by a man in work. It led to a road-to-Damascus conversion, which is to say it had a definitive point in time. Upon my father "turning his life over to Christ," my mother turned over the spiritual duties to my father, who was instructed to lead a God-fearing, Christian household.

We started attending a Fundamentalist, Baptist church. My other older siblings, especially those who weren't much interested in religion before, got on the bandwagon and "accepted Christ as their personal savior." That kind of bothered me since I wondered what was so magical about my dad's religious experience that made it superior to my mother's. I supposed my mother's religious guidance and example wasn't good enough for them. But, this didn't seem to bother my mother so I didn't let it bother me too much.

As for my sister and myself, it was a bit awkward since we were changing our religious routine – from attending a liberal, humanistic Presbyterian church to a rigid, Fundamentalist church. It was all a bit confusing and I didn't see much point in it. I finally "came around" myself – emulating my father – which is to say I "accepted Christ" and was Baptized. But, it never really meant much other than I felt good because I was doing what my father had done and what my other siblings had done. I belonged.

Early on, signs of bigotry and intolerance began to appear. My father would tear up mailings that the Presbyterian church sent my mother. I saw him destroy a Mormon literature rack erected in a hospital emergency room. He had quickly adopted the Fundamentalist belief that denominations that don't stress "Biblical fundamentals" (as embraced by his church, of course) or don't have "Just as I Am" altar invitations aren't really Christian. At best, they are honestly mistaken. At worse, they have been deceived by Satan and are doing his bidding.

I was the spiritual oddball in the family. At first, I didn't realize it. But, as I began to struggle with my doubts, I quickly became isolated. No one seemed to understand or appreciate why or how I could wonder how saying a prayer of repentance or claiming to believe a certain creed could make a difference in where one would spend eternity. Further, after reading such books as "Eighteen Inches Between Heaven and Hell" (the distance of the heart from the brain), I couldn't imagine how anyone could have any certainty that they were "right with God."

My mother never really had a pivotal turning point to Christianity. So, how could she be so sure she would go to heaven when she died? To quell my doubts, I sought a pivotal moment in my own life – numerous times … during numerous altar calls. But, it never satisfied the doubts. I honestly wondered how it was possible for anyone to know that everything had been properly aligned to get him or her to heaven. And, it wasn't necessarily a distrust of God. It was more of not knowing whether one's own heart/mind was properly "prostrated" to constitute that "saving moment."

Every altar call at church would have my heart pounding and palms sweating. I would struggle over whether to embarrass my family and myself by seeking yet another pivotal moment that might finally erase my doubts. Church became a living hell. By the time services were over, I was mentally and physically exhausted … sometimes ill to the point of vomiting. All the while, my family (mostly my father) was confused and angry. I would learn later that most of his anger was directed at himself as he felt helpless to deal with the situation. He was also angry because he would have been considered a failure by the church, which held him responsibile for leading his household in all righteousness.

The quest for certainty about salvation continued unabated and began to spread into more general ideas – such as the validity of religion and God itself. The quest and struggle continued into my first year of college – at Jerry Falwell's Liberty University (1985), where I would make several more attempts at "pivotal moments." My uncertainty was further compounded by learning that other devout, Bible-believing Christians believed that it was possible for someone to "lose their salvation." Through these kinds of exposures, I concluded that the idea of a "Holy Spirit guiding believers to all understanding" was nonsense since it didn't align with reality. There were too many devout, Fundamentalists running around who disagreed on biblical interpretations. I thought to myself, what is more likely – God actually inspired a book that his Holy Spirit–guided believers don't interpret the same way? Or the book is ambiguous because mortal man wrote it? The answer was obvious.

I could only stand Falwell's indoctrination center for a year. I would return home and go to a local community college, continuing my quest for that ever-elusive certainty about salvation. But, alas, it never came. But, I still put up a charade – still playing the part of a "saved" child – going to church, etc. But, it was eating me up inside. I knew that certainty was not to be had … and I began to despise those around me who had certainty. I began to despise their intellectual weakness and lack of curiosity, knowing that their claim of "knowing for certain I would go to heaven were I to die now" was an impossibility. They were being dishonest. Having hope was one thing. But, claiming to know for certain where they would spend eternity, hardly.

My mother would die in 1987, with everyone saying it was "God's will" and how something good would come of it. Nothing did, in my estimation. After her death, I joined my father in his move to Pennsylvania, taking a break from college to figure out where I was going. My father re-married. It was good timing as I was ready to move on.

I moved out and began to experience life without Fundamentalism. It was absolutely wonderful … not so much because Fundamentalism had been such a horrific experience for me (it had) – but because I was now free to express and live my doubts. I could have experienced all of this earlier but I did not stand up for myself when I should have, playing the part as was expected of me in order to maintain peace and tranquility – even though doing so was tearing me up inside.

Being on my own allowed me to express … or more accurately live … my doubts. I became a practical Atheist – which means, someone who lives as if there is no God, regardless of what one claims to believe about God. For the next ten years, I remained ambivalent about God and religion, "living it up" as one might expect from someone who was in their twenties.

As I began to settle down, I re-visited the whole "God thing," formulating and solidfying my views – and accepting the fact that I was an Agnostic – someone who hadn't seen sufficient evidence from any religion or religionist – that would give me any sense of comfort or certainty about salvation, the afterlife, etc. I thought the only honest position was one of recognizing the seeming impossibility of knowing anything about the "spiritual realm."

Sure, there are a lot of people going around claiming to "know" this or that religious "doctrine" to be true – even being so bold (arrogant?) as to claim they know for certain they have found the right religion – the right God – the right prayer – with the right heart – in the right frame of mind – etc. – to state they are bliss-bound while others are torment-bound. But, I find that position to be dishonest at best. And, I find it repulsive when such certitude leads to bigoted and intolerant remarks.

I think all religionists – but especially the Fundamentalist, intolerant ones – are intellectually and morally dishonest. My conclusion on religion follows along the lines of what Thomas Paine said in his introduction to the Age of Reason:

"I hope for happiness beyond this life. I believe in the equality of man; and I believe that religious duties consist in doing justice, loving mercy, and endeavoring to make our fellow-creatures happy. I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of. Every national church or religion has established itself by pretending some special mission from God, communicated to certain individuals. The Jews have their Moses; the Christians their Jesus Christ, their apostles and saints; and the Turks their Mahomet, as if the way to God was not open to every man alike. Each of those churches show certain books, which they call revelation, or the word of God. The Jews say, that their word of God was given by God to Moses, face to face; the Christians say, that their word of God came by divine inspiration: and the Turks say, that their word of God (the Kor
an) was brought by an angel from Heaven. Each of those churches accuse the other of unbelief; and for my own part, I disbelieve them all."
http://skeptic.freeservers.com/heroes/thomas_paine.html

I must confess, however, that I do miss the sense of community that a church provides. And, in that sense, I'm angry "about Fundamentalism screwing up religion." As far as I'm concerned, I think I would have been happy to continue to attend the Presbyterian church my mother raised my sister and I in – the one our "born-again" father took us from when he "found Jesus." It would have produced a more humble, balanced and humanitarian view of the world – instead of the warped mindset that Fundamentalism creates.

In conclusion, I'd like to quote Thomas Paine regarding Revealed Religion:

"As it is necessary to affix right ideas to words, I will, before I proceed further into the subject, offer some other observations on the word revelation. Revelation, when applied to religion, means something communicated immediately from God to man. No one will deny or dispute the power of the Almighty to make such a communication, if he pleases. But admitting, for the sake of a case, that something has been revealed to a certain person, and not revealed to any other person, it is revelation to that person only. When he tells it to a second person, a second to a third, a third to a fourth, and so on, it ceases to be a revelation to all those persons. It is revelation to the first person only, and hearsay to every other, and consequently they are not obliged to believe it. It is a contradiction in terms and ideas, to call anything a revelation that comes to us at second-hand, either verbally or in writing. Revelation is necessarily limited to the first communication- after t
his, it is only an account of something which that person says was a revelation made to him; and though he may find himself obliged to believe it, it cannot be incumbent on me to believe it in the same manner; for it was not a revelation made to me, and I have only his word for it that it was made to him. When Moses told the children of Israel that he received the two tables of the commandments from the hands of God, they were not obliged to believe him, because they had no other authority for it than his telling them so; and I have no other authority for it than some historian telling me so. The commandments carry no internal evidence of divinity with them; they contain some good moral precepts, such as any man qualified to be a lawgiver, or a legislator, could produce himself, without having recourse to supernatural intervention. When I am told that the Koran was written in Heaven and brought to Mahomet by an angel, the account comes too near the same kind of hearsay evide
nce and second-hand authority as the former. I did not see the angel myself, and, therefore, I have a right not to believe it. When also I am told that a woman called the Virgin Mary, said, or gave out, that she was with child without any cohabitation with a man, and that her betrothed husband, Joseph, said that an angel told him so, I have a right to believe them or not; such a circumstance required a much stronger evidence than their bare word for it; but we have not even this- for neither Joseph nor Mary wrote any such matter themselves; it is only reported by others that they said so- it is hearsay upon hearsay, and I do not choose to rest my belief upon such evidence."



State: Southeast

Country: USA

Became a Christian: 13

Ceased being a Christian: 19

Labels before: Presbyterian, Fundamentalist, Baptist, Born Again, Agnostic

Labels now: Agnostic

Why I left: Agnosticm seemed to be the only honest position to take



10/30/03                                                                                       View Comments

Freed from religion while still young

sent in by Kurt Melin

Greetings to all!

My name is Kurt Melin and i am glad to have found a place in which i can debate and explain myself with other former christians.

My story is not a particularily exciting or dramatic one, but I'm submitting it anyways. I was raised by my parents to be a christian even when I was too young to understand anything in the church or why we went. I went to all of the church functions for most of my childhood, but then I went to confirmation.

I had never really been enthusiastic about religion, and as the teacher spewed out all of the jargon that i was expected to memorize, and because I had no feeling or love for my religion, the church, and the people in it (except for a few friends and my family), I decided to stop believing. It was an easy decision to make, and I'm glad I did it. My parents still made me go to that church for a year or so after I told them about my decision, but they came to realize that I was serious about it and that I could not be changed.

They think no worse of me, and I have now been an atheist for 5 years. So, if anyone does read this, I want you to know that I've never been happier, and if you have children or other loved ones who you don't agree with, respect their decision, and don't force anything on them.



City: Anderson

State: Indiana

Country: U.S.A.

Became a Christian: I was raised to be a Christian.

Ceased being a Christian: I was 12 when i started to think for myself.

Labels before: I was a methodist.

Labels now: I am now an atheist.

Why I joined: I was a christian because my parents always took me to church and i always went to the church activities, so christianity was sort of imprinted onto me.

Why I left: When I was 12 i started going to confirmation, and i realized that a lot of what the teacher was telling me was without any concrete evidence and not unlike a fairy tale. I decided that christianity and all religions were nothing but guidelines for people to follow. I also felt that many of the stories in the bible and many of the actions and thoughts of christians today are completely contradictory to the ideals that they are supposed to represent, so i dropped christianity. It was the best decison of my life.

10/29/03                                                                                       View Comments

What a time to lose faith, in the middle of Bible college!

sent in by Tom

I have always put the issue of eternal damnation on the back burner of my faith. Going more with the feeling that Christianity gave me and not worrying about such as issues as hell or where Cain's wife came from.

But now I have to ask: What purpose would eternal damnation serve? The human mind can't even comprehend the concept of something never ending. Yet we're to believe that anyone who spends there life (even if it was only a few decades) not believing in a God that never proves his own existence will spend an ETERNITY IN HELL! What the f*ck ever! This is such bullshit. Hell is a neanderthal idea thought up by a neanderthal culture that believed in superstition and fairy tales!

If my soul is truly in danger of eternal damnation and I need to be saved...and if God truly loves me as much as the Bible says he does...wouldn't he make himself obvious to me? Wouldn't he show up at my door one day, sit me down and prove himself to me by perfoming some miracles? Warn me himself of the dangers of sin and the absolute need for repentence. (the mormons don't perform miracles for me) Isn't that what a loving, concerned Father who sent his son to die for us would do? But no, were just suppose to have faith and wait till we feel all warm and tingly inside and use that as the basis of our belief.

If God is God, then why would he ever need to come to earth in the form of a man in order to know what it is to be tempted? He's God...wouldn't he know what we go through? Why would God need to send Jesus to break the power of sin over our lives? He's God...can't he do it from where he is? If the power of the holy spirit is at work in the hearts of believers...then why do believers have just as much of a hard time overcoming 'sin' as non-believers and live lives that are just as immoral?

I do believe in God...and I hope Jesus does exist in some form because somebody needs to save this messed up world. But I don't believe for a moment the Bible is the word of God.

I believeChristianity is an experience. I will probably still attend Church (at least in the short term). I don't believe that the Bible is completely without use...there are some good teachings in it and inspirational passages. And believing in some form still provides me with a sense of peace and direction.

I'm in my first semester of my first year of Bible college, I'm glad I'm going through this now and not 3 years into my diploma. I will finish off this semester, but will likely not return for the winter.


City: Calgary

State: Alberta

Country: Canada

10/26/03                                                                                       View Comments

Freedom

Sent in by Rachel

I grew up as a preachers kid. My father was the pastor of our local church and was always taking us to other churches where he was invited to preach. My mother was the perfect Pastor's Wife, and my brother looked like he was going to follow in her footsteps.

My mother tells me that one night when I was four, I approached her and told her I wanted to give my life to Jesus and 'be saved'. I only remember one thing from this encounter: kneeling by her bed and waiting for SOMETHING to happen. My four year old mind fully expected a light show, a feeling... anything would do. Of course nothing happened I was four years old, not many sins to be cleaned right? By six I was drowning in our church's philosophy. I went to bible camp, started kindergarten in a Christian school, I was witnessing by the age of nine and won a soul to Christ by age ten. I look back and cringe at myself now.

I was an annoying little holier than thou brat, and I admit it with a lot of guilt and sorrow for the people who had to put up with me. I had no friends to speak of, I had been put in public school in second grade because we couldn't afford to put me in the private Baptist school, and my little mind could not comprehend people with different beliefs. (not that there were many in my little southern town, but they did exist even if I wasn't aware of them)

Then it happened. My father, the loving Christian patriarch of my family died. I recited the platitudes, God loved my daddy so much that he wanted him to be in heaven with Him. And all that other shit. But something died in me, the brilliant flame of God's love went out.

By high school I was so deep in a depression that I could not explain, that I had begun hurting myself. I punished myself for every bad thought, every wicked deed. If I touched myself at night, I scratched my arms. If I thought lustful things about other girls I pricked myself with pins.

I was certain that God was coming back soon so why care about anything? Why study, why go to college, why get my driver's license? I wouldn't need them in heaven right?

I started cutting myself with razors and knives, punishing myself even for being depressed and angry. I especially punished myself for reading the books I loved, but couldn't stop reading them. Many of the books had a distinctly unchristian spin to them, many of the characters in the fantasy novels I adored worshipped goddesses or other gods. When I finally did go to college I met some people who actually believed that there were other gods. That there were people who believed god was not vengeful, that hell did not exist, that I was not a bad person for being bisexual.

While I still battle with depression and anxiety, I have a much better foundation to fall back on, while I believe in the god of the bible, he is not my god, and his word doesn't concern me or my life. It is amazing how much freedom I have now... Freedom from fear being not the least among them. Fear of god, fear of hell, fear of reproach from Christian family and friends.

City: Hurricane

State: WV

Country: USA

Became a Christian: 4

Ceased being a Christian: 18

Labels before: Southern Baptist, Freewill Baptist

Labels now: Pagan

Why I joined: Grew up in a Christian home

Why I left: had a reality check

10/23/03                                                                                       View Comments

I still believe in God...

sent in by Craig

Neither my mother or my father were what you would call particulars strong Christians but when I joined the boy scouts both myself and my family ended up going to church every Sunday (along with the rest of the scout troop).

There I learnt about god and Jesus and all the other things a Christian should know about and I began to believe.

Now for something surprising, I still believe in God.

This begs the question of why I am writing a testimony on a site called excruciatingly

The answer is simple, I'm not Christian. I do not believe in Christianity, but I still believe in God.

I do not like Christianity as a religion, they assume that they are as infallible as the god they claim to serve and think that their service gives them the right to speak on Gods behalf.

My doubt first started when I heard in the news that it had been discovered that there was a priest who had been sexually abusing young people in his parish. This in itself did not shake my belief in Christianity. You can't judge a religion by the actions of one person or even several people. It was what the church did about the problem that shook my belief to the core. The covered it up, moved the guilty party from parish to parish and pretended that nothing had ever happened. How could anyone in the church say they believed in God and allow the abuse of innocent children just to save the church from embarrassment.

Next came the internet, I could learn about anything I wanted to, whenever I wanted to, in the comfort of my own home.

It may come as a surprise but all that I learned about other religions (including various forms of mysticism) on the internet did not effect my belief in Christianity at all, they were interesting perspectives and entertaining myths but that was all. But then I looked inward...
What about my own religion, did I really know all I could about that? So I looked, I searched for Christian perspectives on the net and what I found I did not like.

The things which people say on the internet may seem a poor source for deciding the validity of a religion but it is not what a person worships that make a religion, it is the people who do the worshiping.

I found that phrases like "Let he who is without sin throw the first stone" and "Judge not lest ye be judged" were completely meaningless to most Christians. They didn't take lessons from the bible, they just used the bible to force their beliefs on to others. Hate seems to come all to easily from these people, not despite the bible but because of it!!! I found that Christians didn't seem to care what they hated as long as they could use the bible to justify it.

If there is one think that truly disturbed me right to the center of my being it was what I found out about the true nature of Christianity (not God, Christianity). Things which I had come to believe in as fundamental aspects of a good life were simply not compatible with modern day Christianity. Tolerance, Acceptance, Curiosity, Personal Morality, Hope, Humor, Knowledge.
Christianity resents the previous concepts because they prevent the church using God for their own purposes.

The latest fiasco in the church concerning homosexuality has really put the last nail in the coffin as far as my being a Christian is concerned. Although I am not homosexual myself(at least I think so, I've never had the opportunity to find out) the fact that so many Christians argue against homosexuality seems like blatant use of the bible to enforce their own opinions.
There is obviously nothing in the bible that states "thou shalt not be homosexual" otherwise the church would just come out and said it years ago. In the end its just another example of Christianity being used to enforce personal beliefs, which have nothing to do with God, over others people.

So here I am, still believing in God as I always have done, nothing I have seen in my life has convinced me that God is any less real than when I first went to church. My faith in the church itself though is non existent. Christianity is obviously no more than a means for people to force their beliefs on others by twisting and corrupting the words of God and giving ignorant people an excuse to hate people who are different.

Thanks for listening.


Country: UK

Became a Christian: Ever since I can remember.

Ceased being a Christian: 19

Labels before: Not sure, what type of Christian I was never seemed important.

Why I joined: To young to notice the negative side of Christianity

Why I left: I started to notice all the negative aspects of Christianity

10/22/03                                                                                       View Comments

I was called a Satanist

sent in by Nick

Let's see. My mother is Catholic, and my father was brought up as an agnostic who believed in God. They married in a Catholic church. My mom is a strong Catholic, attended a Catholic High School, and went to church before marrying my father. When I was born I was baptized, and that was my last experience with church. My mom didn't make us go to church because we were a working middle class family, we really didn't have time, and my mom was nice enough not to force religion on me. Although at school it was a different matter.

I live in an Hispanic and Filipino dominant community, so there are a lot of Catholics out there. One of my friends was one of them, he went to Sunday school, attended services regularly, all of that. When I was a child I wanted to learn about it, I wanted to know what Catholicism was all about, there was a few times I talked to my mom about it as well, I also prayed mostly every night, because I wanted to. As I grew up my views started to change, when I got into High School I moved from being a non-practicing Catholic to a god-questioning agnostic. I refused to believe God created the universe, and was a strong believer in science to explain life. As high school went on I became more and more atheistic, refusing there was a god, and keeping science as my explanation.

In 10th grade I was called a Satanist many times because of my alternative beliefs, I was constantly telling people, "If I don't believe in God, why would I believe in Satan?" They refused to listen. As my beliefs strengthened I started visiting an Atheist chat room, and then a heretics chat room, where I was met with people who I could associate with. I still occasionally called a Satanist, but more and more people just started ignoring me.

That's my story. I have expressed my anti-Christian thoughts more strongly by putting a cross-buster on my backpack and listening to more Bad Religion, an atheist punk band.


URL: http://joerazorsolo.vze.com

City: Vallejo

State: CA

Country: USA

Became a Christian: From birth

Ceased being a Christian: 14

Labels before: None

Labels now: Atheist, Wiccan, Anti-Christian, Anti-Religious

Why I joined: I was born into a Christian family

Why I left: Couldn't believe in God, wanted to think for myself

10/21/03                                                                                       View Comments

An Ex-Mormon's Tale

sent in by Daniel

I was born into a Utah Mormon family, a descendant of pioneers and Saints who had been without exception faithful in their callings. I spent part of my childhood in Central Utah and the remainder in Southern Idaho, always in the loving embrace of the Church. While still an infant I was already being primed with basic Mormon doctrine. I was a shining star in Primary, a golden boy with golden hair shimmering in the light of the gospel and bright blue eyes beaming the joy of being blessed to be born in the heart of the true church. “A Mormon boy, a Mormon boy, I am a Mormon boy - A rough and rugged sort of chap; an honest Mormon boy!” To this day I can still sing my primary songs word for word. Ah, the many times this boy returned home with an adhesive star upon his forehead!

I recall very vividly my first major infraction of Church protocol. I was seven years old and I was being edified with a Primary lesson on Noah’s Ark. The day before, our family had visited the zoo in Salt Lake City, and it seemed unlikely in my tiny mind’s estimation that anyone might build a sea-going vessel large enough to house all of the animals at the zoo let alone all the animals in the world. Also, I had been impressed with the huge amounts of forage that the elephants were consuming at the zoo, and the logistical problem of feeding every kind of animal in the world seemed apparent to me. I don’t recall verbatim the exchange between wise teacher and enquiring student but it went something like this:

“But how did Noah get all of the animals into the ark?”

“God did it, made ‘em come two by two…”

“But how did Noah get animals that lived far away across the ocean, like kangaroos?”

“God did it…commanded all the animals…and they followed God’s commandment.”

(Do you think there might be two flies buzzing around God’s sandwich as a reward for being obedient? Celestial flies enjoying the blessings of the righteous? But I digress!)

“But what did they eat? Where did Noah put all the food for the animals?”

“Noah put food in the ark like God told him to do!”

“But if there were only two of each animal, what did the lions eat?”

(From the mouths of babes, huh?)

Snatch!!! The Sunday school teacher jerked me by the arm off of my little chair with such violence that I actually saw stars! There is a lapse in my memory from that point until I was slammed down on a hard wooden bench in the empty chapel, and a long boney fingered was jammed in front of my nose. I remember my teacher’s face, flushed with anger, as she spat something about me not moving until the Primary president came. And I remember wondering with a surrealistic combination of fear and bewilderment what the hell I had done to merit my present condition.

They taught me at a young age not to ask the wrong questions.

……………………………………………………………………………………

We had ten children in our family. My father’s stated goal was twelve. And this goal was stated frequently, with much pride. He would declare with bubbling exuberance to his fellow priesthood holders. “I’m going to have a dozen!” He reiterated this statement with such frequency that until now the word ‘dozen’ still has a negative connotation in my subconscious mind. His goal was cut short due to my mother’s near death at the birthing of the tenth child, but he seemed to feel secure in his knowledge that he had brought enough spirits into the world to guarantee him no small degree of heavenly blessings.

We, his children, wore secondhand clothes most of the time – smelly, ill-fitting, out-of-style, thrift-store clothing that caused all of us a good measure of emotional distress not to mention scorn and ridicule by classmates. (In our common brand of dark humor my sister and I now refer to our childhood family as “The Dirty Dozen”.)
I was often hungry as a child. This was Utah in the 1960’s. There was plenty of food for everyone – the land of plenty. There was enough for tithing, enough for fast offerings, but not enough to keep my brothers and sisters and I from going to bed hungry too many times. Fast Sunday always posed a puzzle in logic for me. We fasted, went without food, in order to raise money for the poor people who didn’t have anything to eat.

………………………………………………………………………………………

Family Home Evening was a fearful event held each week in our house. I met the dreaded hour each and every time with a trepidation that to this day makes my hands tremble just a bit at the recollection. This was a regular torture/brainwashing session my pitiful brothers and sisters and I had to endure for the entire duration of our childhood. In these mini church sessions we went through the agonizing motions prescribed by wise men in Salt Lake City for the building of an eternal family. We prayed with practiced fervor. We sang with affected joy. And we listened attentively to the shining jewels that the church had prepared in the Family Home Evening manual for our impressionable minds. For in our house, beneath the patriarchal authority of our maniacally fanatic father, the slightest hint of insincerity in a prayer, a dubious tone of voice in parroting the answers to cliché questions, or even the wrong facial expression more often than not brought about a violent reprimand f
rom our patriarch, usually in the form of a vicious whipping with a leather belt. The weekly victim usually had to follow up his or her beating with a heartfelt solo rendition of some upbeat saccharine tune from the “We Sing” piano book, and may God, Jesus, and the Holy Goddamn Ghost help the miserable bastard if he or she sniffled while doing it.

“Families are forever”, we would sing. Oh, the bitter irony!

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Freedom of choice, the Free Agency that I often heard spoken of in church, remained an alien concept to me all the while I was growing up. For me to act in any manner other than that commanded by Church representative’s great or small would bring an immediate negative sanction ranging from a self-righteous scathing by the neighbor lady to a full-scale beating by my impassioned father. One simply did what one was told to do - to do otherwise was to invite a greater misery upon oneself. Being a strong-willed individual by nature, I often found myself on the wrong side of the machine. One so inclined to rebellion as myself, often rebelled. But for the most part, it was just so much easier to conform than kick against the pricks - less fuss, less pain.

So I performed my priesthood duties as expected by the Salt Lake Club with the occasional collision with authority one might expect from a teen-age boy. I went through the motions, mouthed the right words, and snapped to with all of the right answers, but I never believed all of it completely. It was much like a child who suspects duplicity in the true nature of Santa Claus but can’t completely abandon the notion that there just might be something to Ol’Saint Nick and his kingdom in the North Pole.

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My father was a language teacher at the high school. I learned from a young age that substandard academic performance equated to physical pain. He once bloodied my nose and very nearly broke my jaw for receiving a “B” on one of my report cards in middle school. My elder sisters had both been valedictorians of the high school, and by all that was holy I would be too! For him, show was everything. Everything one did in life was for the consideration and approval of one’s social peers - one’s Church peers. He went to great lengths to make sure his family appeared to be the perfect model of Mormon success. This concept more than any other is what sums up the true nature of the Morg; everything is done with smoke and mirrors. Everybody wears the same uniform smile, but despair is usually just beneath the surface.

“Oh, hi, Sister Larsen! Let’s talk about making Jell-O with carrots in it so we don’t have to think about that fact that we are soulless automatons.”

My neighbor once unjustly accused me of vandalizing the Christmas decorations on his lawn. He brought the case to my father’s attention. His evidence was that he thought I had done it. This was sufficient for my father. He directed me to go and apologize for my crime and to pay reparations to this kindly man of God. I knew that it was futile to try and offer a defense – just more pain and condemnation. I acquiesced, bought the man some new Christmas lights, told him I was sorry, and believed the incident was closed.

The stake president called me the same day. He told me I would be giving a talk in stake conference the next week. The subject of my talk would be ‘Vandalism in Our Community’. He followed up his telephoned demand with a personal visit several days later. I was trapped. There was no conceivable way out of this one for me. I bit the bullet, stood up in front of the entire stake, and uttered a most humiliating discourse to the barely-disguised delight of the brethren.

(It should not be presumed that I always took it lying down. I bided my time, waiting nearly six months for my revenge so as to minimize any suspicion that might fall my way. I was a very capable maker of bombs and other incendiary devices. I choose for Stake conference a ten-pound smoke bomb, that when placed in the air duct beneath the chapel and ignited by my very willing Catholic associate managed to clear the Stake center for over two hours while the fire department tried to figure out the source of the billowing yellow sulfurous clouds.)

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Whatever defense mechanisms nature provided me with in the battle for survival of the fittest, the LDS church very adeptly disarmed me of. Hell is truly the absence of reason. My life in the Mormon Church was nothing short of hellish torment. It is impossible for me to equate with mere words the degree of distress I experienced as a teenager. I hated my very existence. At last, I reached a point where I decided to kill myself.

My age was 17, and death actually seemed like a very pleasant direction to take. I didn’t really sit and brood about it for months. I just decided one afternoon that it was time to put an end to the comedy. I was loading my Colt .45 when my baby sister came in my room to ask me something. The guilt of leaving my brothers and sisters with this kind of emotional baggage prevented me from following through. I am certain that if not for the interruption my story would have been just another short parable in Mormon lore of another wayward youth led to his tragic demise by Satan. This was a major turning point in my life.

There is an overwhelming sense of freedom one finds when all will to live has been surrendered completely to the notion of death. With this freedom came an empowerment that I could not have imagined before. I found that when I no longer feared death, I no longer feared anything. My unfaltering patience for Church-sponsored meddling in my happiness had reached an end.

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My father must have also learned a lesson about the same time. His lesson was something like: ‘You can only kick a dog so long before it bites back.’

The forum was Family Home Evening. I felt inclined to break up the weekly monotony with a bit of humor. My answers to the trite questions became increasingly sarcastic and facetious. I ignored my father’s threatening scowl. He directed to me what I am sure he deemed a wise and castigating question.
His Question: “Why do you think the lord has commanded us to have Family Home Evening?”

My Answer: “Refreshments.”

My father came off of the sofa as if he had sat on a porcupine. In his rush to senseless violence, he failed to calculate that years of milking cows and hauling hay had made me a very solid boy. And I would never take another beating by anyone. There in our living room, in the midst of Family Home Evening, I commenced to give him the thrashing of his life. I pounded him relentlessly until my mother found the strength of will to pull him to safety. All the while, my brothers and sisters just sat reverently in their chairs, observing the spectacle.

When my father gathered enough breath, he tried to shout some authoritative denouncement at me. Unfortunately for him he had yet to recover from his bewilderment and outrage. He said something like, “In the name of Jesus Christ…the holy…mmm…priesthood…I…you dirty little bastard!”

That night we didn’t have to sing ‘Families Are Forever’. It worked for me.

My father didn’t speak to me for an entire year. If he had anything to communicate to me, he always did it through a third party, even if I was in the same room. I became a pariah in my house and in my town as well. I grew my hair long. I started smoking pot. And still I went to church, and for the most part continued to do what I was told. The power that early conditioning has on the human mind is amazing.

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Even in the naivety of my youth, a prime source of doubt in the validity of Joe Smith’s scam, before I ever had any solid proof against it, was the way everybody in the church was always bearing their testimonies to each other. Even as a naïve hayseed from Idaho, this behavior seemed suspicious to me. If something is true, what is the point of reiterating what everybody already knows…unless there is doubt? “I know this Church is true. I know that Joe Smith was a profiteer of God. I know that there are leprechauns on the moon.” Though it now seems to me merely pathetic that these poor souls are too blind to see that they perpetuate their own delusions by reinforcing the delusions of others, and vice versa. But when I was caught up in the delusion myself, it was a cause for great consternation. Mortal existence is confusing enough as it is for the average human being; trying to determine what is real and what is illusory. It is nothing short of a nightmare to have everyone arou
nd you convoluting the issue of reality with dogmas and mysticism.

I recall a story related in Sacrament meeting one fine Idaho afternoon by one of the respected members of the priesthood of God. In short, it was about an upstanding Mormon priesthood bearer fighting the evil Communists during the Korean Conflict. He was allegedly shot in the chest by an enemy rifle, but his garments prevented the bullet from penetrating. Wow! Bulletproof underwear! I remember my feeling of incredulity to this day, just as clearly as I remember the looks of utter amazement on the faces of the faithful. I argued with my brother about it for weeks, but to this day I suspect he still believes it is true. This sort of absurdity should have no place in the beliefs of modern day humankind. Yet, there it was! Idiocy blooming brightly in the fertile minds of Zion!

“Go ahead, Bubba, shoot me right here in the chest! Go ahead! That deer rifle ain’t gonna pass through these here garments! Jus’ aim right fer the little mark over my titty.”

The problem with the subjective nature of human perception in regard to existence is that everybody can believe whatever they want to believe, and there is very little anyone can do to bring conformity to a more objective standard.

I never had a genuine testimony of the validity of the Mormon Church. I think because the concept was just a bit beyond my threshold for self-delusion. I just couldn’t make believe to that degree.

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OUT OF THE PAN AND INTO THE FIRE

When I finished high school, I discovered to my dismay that I had reached a dead end. In the Mormon world, the conclusion of high school is the time for only one thing – a mission. To choose any other course is to swim against a very swift and unyielding social current. I wanted so badly to get out of Cache Valley. And there was always the lingering concern in my mind that perhaps I was wrong and they were right. After all, there were so many of them who thought the same way, and only one of me who opposed their views. I gave myself one more chance at redemption. I mustered my Primary courage. “A Mormon boy, a Mormon boy, I am a Mormon boy - A rough and rugged sort of chap; an honest Mormon boy!” I decided to go on a mission.

Suddenly, I was the golden boy again! The brothers and sisters of the Church were delighted to have me in their presence. I had always been their favorite Boy Scout and neighbor. “I always knew you would make the right choice. Everybody has to sow a few wild oats.”

The group demeanor changed so abruptly, I really didn’t know how to respond to my sudden popularity in the community. My notoriety had changed in the course of a few days to energetic pats on the back and zealous handshakes. Only once was there a momentary lapse in my non-pariah status. When they administered the language aptitude test to me, I was accused of somehow cheating. My bishop tried every tool in his inquisition kit to try and make me confess as to how I had cheated on the aptitude test, but couldn’t get me to roll over. I had to test again with the brethren hovering over me to proctor the examination. When the results of my second test exceeded those of the first, the clouds of condemnation cleared instantly and once again I was as godly as Moroni himself blowing his golden horn with all the pomp and circumstance he could muster. “We knew you were a sharp lad, you see, but we had to make sure.”

Meanwhile…somewhere in a secret tower in Salt Lake City, Spencer W. Kimball tossed some chicken bones onto a table, examined a possum’s entrails, looked into his crystal ball and proclaimed with a voice like the thunder of the ocean that I should serve in the Korea, Pusan mission. Nothing could have prevented me from going. I was chomping at the bit, ready to run as fast as I could. I am not sure whether I was more excited to ship off to some exotic land or just get the hell out of Preston, Idaho.

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At least one hundred relatives saw me off to the MTC. There were people there whom I had never seen in my life, basking in the glory, perhaps harboring secret hopes that some of the blessings would rub off on them. I am not a chemist, but I am sure that my father’s head filled with helium or some other lighter than air element that day. He seemed overwhelmed by utter joy in reaping the fruits of his unwavering guidance. His son was going on a mission! Two years of celebrity status in the ward! Blessings bubbling out of his bowels in heaven! Whewhoo!

The Mission Training Center in Provo, Utah is a very efficient operation designed to strip away the last remnants of personal identity in the trainees, indoctrinate the trainees in salesmanship and unquestioning obedience to authority, and teach the maximum degree of a foreign language in the shortest amount of time humanly possible. Even the United States Armed Forces have done careful studies of the MTC to apply some of the structure and technique to their own programs including the Defense Language Institute Language Center at Lackland AFB in Texas.

In the MTC, the leaders speak and the missionaries obey. The fear of being sent home for failure to conform to the autocratic template is one that only those who have experienced it can fully appreciate. I have heard more than one young elder (did you catch the oxymoron there?) state that he would rather die than get sent home. I saw one young man, who when threatened by his branch president with the ultimate punishment of being sent home, turned pale, fainted, and had to be hospitalized for shock.

For my part, I relied on the distraction and challenge of language learning and the camaraderie of my fellow elders to endure the big-brother regulation of everything - including what one could and should think. I think this time was the closest I ever came to really believing in the Church. The purpose seemed so clear, the goals so well defined. There were positive slogans being slung about everywhere. There were youthful ambitious boys all around me nearly bursting at the seams with enthusiasm. We crammed our brains with Korean language, Holy Scriptures, and the rules and regulations of missionary life. Then we were off!


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I must confess the two years I spent in Korea from 1980 to 1982 turned out to be a stimulating adventure. Not withstanding the fact that I was there to sell my quota of dogmas, I still managed to have a pretty fun time. Exotic culture, food, language, martial arts, and Korea’s truly strange ways added up to an overall positive experience. Yet, I can’t help but wonder what those prime years might have been like had I not been shackled with outdated Mormon morality and narrow-mindedness.

>From a purely statistical point of view, I was very successful as a missionary. My disobedient nature and refusal to brown-nose those in positions of authority precluded me from ever ascending to a leadership position, but my combination of charisma and effective sales technique proved more than a match for many a poor soul. I baptized 73 people. (For many years, this has been a source of considerable guilt for me.)

Half-way into his mission, my ex-MTC companion, David Martin from Southern California, a convert to the church, went into the mission president’s office, casually tossed his scriptures into the garbage, and asked for his passport so he could go home.
(If you ever read this, Elder Martin, I worship you as a god for the example you set for me. Please contact me: danielfmitchell@hotmail.com)

Elder Martin’s departure awakened my mind to many questions and doubts repressed therein. Here was a carbon copy of me doing exactly what I wanted to do. The difference was that he could go home to non-mo parents and say, “Oops, I made a mistake.” I was trapped for the full ride, and I knew it. I bit the bullet. I immersed myself in martial arts and the Korean Language, and kept the baptism numbers up to keep the AP dogs off my back. But I was certain it was all a lie. There were numerous times when my investigators presented me with sound arguments against joining Mormonism or any religion, only to have me out-debate them and then charm them into acquiescence with my silver tongue. I sincerely hope I did not cause irreparable damage to any of these misfortunate individuals.

I despised my mission president. He was a petty little dictator who thoroughly enjoyed his power, and utilized it to the fullest. He was a self-indulging, self-righteous ass clown, who rewarded those who flattered him and groveled before his position, and sanctioned without mercy those who had the self-respect to seek dignity. To this day, I despise the megalomaniac, but I am grateful to him for driving the final wedge between me and the Mormon Church.

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Two weeks before I concluded my mission, I met the cutest little Korean girl I had seen in the entire two years I had been in country. We were attracted to each other like…umm…like a boy with raging hormones to a girl with raging hormones. We were totally innocent in our brief interaction. There was no mushy romance, no scandalous improprieties. We just exchanged mailing addresses so that I could send her the papers from the Department of Immigration as soon as I got back to the USA. As soon as I returned to Idaho and got my tickertape parade out of the way, I was filing for her visa.

When word reached my ex-mission president Pak that I was going to marry a newly baptized member of his flock. One might have thought I was intending on starting my own concentration camp and torture chamber for babies and bunny rabbits by the reaction this little Nazi had to my proposed marriage to a Korean national. We were forced to have multiple interviews with the Bishop, Stake President, and we got wind of a valiant but unsuccessful attempt on Pak’s part to have a General Authority intervene to stop this transgression of all that was good in the world.

Not withstanding all my ex-pres’ efforts to ruin my life, I got married in the Logan temple. The night before the big day, the fool called my wife-to-be and made lots of scary threats and basically ordered her by the authority vested in him by the Milky Dick Priesthood and the South City Bowling League not to get married. He predicted that if we went through with it we would end in disaster before a years’ time had passed. (Bite my bum bum, Pak Byung Kyu! We are still married - 21 years now.)

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When my wife first saw Mormon magic underwear, her facial expression literally did not dissipate for several weeks. She was horrified by the absurdity. (She still gets the funniest look of disgust on her face whenever the subject happens to come up.)

One week after we were married, I joined the Air Force and we were soon off to a four year hitch in Germany. At long last I was free from the clutches of Joe’s cult. The first week after my wife arrived in Germany, she declared to me that she wasn’t going to wear that stupid underwear anymore. Not only did I offer no rejections to her great apostasy, without hesitation I stripped my garment top off of myself and threw it into the garbage, smiled and assured her that I wasn’t going to wear it either.

For at least ten more years my parents continued to send us garments as birthday gifts, which I found made very good rags for the garage.

No more orders from anal-retentive old men in Salt Lake City! No more fantasies about gods and devils! I had no more need of mindless fools telling me how to find happiness. I had no need of mythology to make my life and inevitable death more bearable. I was free at last from the dogma bog!

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Though from time to time I have engaged in academic discussion about the fallacies of Mormonism, it really hasn’t been an important topic for consideration in my post-mo life. I already wasted too much of my life with Joe’s scam. I have simply tried to enjoy the freedom I have in my remaining life.
Six of my siblings have also freed themselves from the lie. Three remain controlled; one of whom resides from time to time in an institute for mental health. Two of my sisters have disappeared altogether, choosing total insulation from their former lives.

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I recently returned from a trip through Utah and Idaho. I announced my planned visit in advance so that those of my relatives and past acquaintances who wished to avoid me might have a chance to formulate a good excuse for missing me. In my childhood home I was tolerated, but there was an underlying uneasiness that only lifted when I began loading my suitcase into the car to leave. My mother for the most part avoided the topic of religion with me, knowing from past experience that I had the sharper tongue and the sharper wit. But I could detect her true thoughts just beneath the surface of her extraneous conversation. It seems that she has finally given up trying to convert me.

My father, now a mellow and decrepit old man, was genuinely pleased to see me. He made no attempt to proselytize while I was there. The closest he came to it was when he brought out his Books of Mormon and Bibles in various languages and solicited me to read passages from some of them, under the pretext of testing my lingual abilities. He smiled, delighted to hear me read the Lord’s Prayer in any language. For a moment, he was proud again of his golden boy, but I could see in his sad eyes that his pride was undermined by the aching recognition that he had failed in his calling as my patriarch. Perhaps, somewhere in the recesses of his logical brain, there lingered a doubt that perhaps families are not forever and that his family was not even temporal.

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I want my time back. I want my money back. I want my misspent youth. I want my family. But I will settle for the moderate solace that it brings me in knowing that by making this brief account of my experience with the Mormon Church available to others, I might help some unwitting soul avoid becoming another victim of Joe Smith’s lie.

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Solace thy thirst in wisdom.
Succor thy mind in learning,
For riches of knowledge yearning.
Let truth be thy only kingdom.
- Daniel F Mitchell

City: Los Angeles

State: CA

Country: USA

Became a Christian: Birth

Ceased being a Christian: 22

Labels now: Agnostic

Why I left: Tired of dogmas

10/20/03                                                                                       View Comments

Why I reject Christianity

sent in by Mike Douglass

I think with regards to religion, we are born into our particular faiths/ideologies, really, we have little choice. Upbringing, tradition and ultimately fear seem to keep so many locked into blind and unquestioning subservience. One learns very early on in life, that it is wrong to question, that they should simply “have faith.”

I was born into the Catholic faith, and indoctrinated accordingly, and although my parents thankfully weren’t fanatical about it, my brothers and I were still made to go through the motions of confirmation, receiving communion, and the once a week trip to the “lord’s house” to hear the sermons of God’s mediators. I believe I was 12 years old when I began to feel in my heart that something was not quite right with the whole thing, but unfortunately, I was not encouraged to think freely or question, in fact it was just the opposite. Don’t question God, just accept it, do the little rituals, and be like everybody else. This whole attitude of non-questioning servitude seems to have been effectively controlling billions of human sheep for at least 2,000 years! What a racket!

My parents divorced, but my father remarried a devout Irish/Catholic so the programming continued, although by now, I was around 14 years old and just didn’t get into the whole religious thing, but was still made to go to church and continue to be poisoned by the lies and dogma regurgitated by the guys in long robes and dog collars. I was thrown out at age 15, and went to live with my grandparents who thankfully were not religious.

I began getting into the whole rebellious heavy metal thing by this time and it was fantastic. At age 16, I got involved again with Christianity once more, but for a very valid reason to a 16 year old; I was interested in a young lady. Her family were diehard born again Christians. This girl spoke of Jesus all the time yet was astonishingly hypocritical, as many diehard Christians tend to be. Although I was attending church, and doing the religious thing with this girl’s family, I really felt deep inside that it was sort of not for me, but hey, for the first time in my life, I was getting laid!

After a while, I began to pose questions about this Christian god to this girl and her mother that could not be answered, and pointing out contradictions, and yet again, that same old chestnut “have faith” was presented. When this girl tried to convince me to get rid of my heavy metal records, because they were “the devil’s music,” the line had been crossed. The relationship was over. To this day, I vividly remember one time that I put a Black Sabbath record on the turntable in this girl’s house, and her mother ran into the room, smashed the record, and started praying and speaking some incoherent babble; tongues I think it’s called.

A valuable lesson had been learned, although at the time I didn’t realize it. Later in life I became interested in the beliefs/traditions of the Native Americans. When I became aware of the atrocities committed against the Original inhabitants, in the name of Christ, I was appalled, but at this time, I saw it as church corruption, and didn’t realize that there was still so much more to learn and discover.
In my 29th year, I had read a book by a renowned British author. In this fantastic work, the author suggested that Christ never existed, that he was simply another in a long list of mythological god-men. Although I had long since rejected organized religion, the depth of programming often times for humanity can run very deep. I thought that this was quite significant, and that I needed to know for myself if it were true. I became a researcher, or in other words, I began to do my homework. It started out with conspiracy/ socio-political cover-up research, but I got sidetracked literally for years when I began to study the origins of religions, especially Christianity.

It’s been 4 years now that I’ve been intensely studying the roots of Christianity and I must say, it‘s been a wild ride. After a while, as a researcher, you begin to wonder why the truth of the matter seems to be circulated so little. You begin to realize the depth and power of programming, and to question how so many can so blindly accept illogical, irrational absurdities and call it truth. When you actually take the time to read the Bible for yourself, you begin to see the contradictions, the cruelty, the mythology, and then wonder how so many can give their minds away to it.

What’s more, when you begin to study the mythologies of other, ancient cultures, you begin to find numerous, compelling similarities, and to realize that the more modern faiths are simply retellings of the most ancient myths and legends. In my mind, there is something fundamentally flawed with ALL of the world’s religions.

Christianity would have us believe in an angry, jealous, judgmental, all powerful, loving god that: demands worship, keeps a running tally on everything you do, contradicts itself, and will punish you to the end of time simply for exercising your right to question its nonsense! But although this god-man in the sky will damn you to torment for all of eternity, simply for questioning, or not believing or worshipping a certain way, he loves you! What an asshole this Christian god is eh?

There are so many reasons why I reject the Christian faith, and all religions, but simply, I reject Christianity because it is completely illogical, nonsensical, hypocritical, superstitious myth, and has no place for an enlightened humanity. Merely studying the history of the Christian church, with its grotesque torture, its vast intolerance and hypocrisy, and even today, with the rampant Catholic sexual abuse of young children, It’s amazing to me that so many still blindly accept this crap, and give their lives away to it. Christianity, and religion in general, is a retirement home for the mind. It is a morass of nonsense, promulgated through fear. It is a spiritual prison.

My religious philosophy is simple: live to do the most good, and the least evil. I need no bibles, priests, prophets, saints, cardinals, and especially no non-existent crucified saviors to rescue me by demanding conformity. If humanity is to evolve than it is time to let the source of our greatest fears and superstitions fall into the dust where it belongs…Religion.

I’d like to add also that I normally wouldn’t bother contributing this to a website; however, I found the ex-Christian site to be very informative, thorough, and also quite humorous. It’s a wonderful effort, and I’d be honored to contribute to it even in this small way. I’d also be willing to share my work with folks who would be interested in the mythological aspects of Christianity. An interest is all that is required, and I’ll gladly offer information to help remedy the poison of Christianity…


City: Utica

State: New York

Country: USA

Became a Christian: 9 years old

Ceased being a Christian: 29 years old

Labels before: Catholic/born again

Labels now: Deist, or someone that considers himself spiritual, but rejects all forms of religion

Why I joined: Programmed into the dogma from childhood

Why I left: I woke up and realized the fallacy for what it was

10/19/03                                                                                       View Comments

Can a Girl Be the Anti-Christ?

sent in by Ellen

It's been a month since I registered here -- a month of gaining strength from being among all of you. Thank you. I don't think I could express the following anywhere else.

My heart starts to race whenever I think about submitting my anit-Testimony because I know truth is required here, and I can't tell it. My story is so conflated with gothic overlays and my own reshaping of memories over the years that I'm not sure I know fact from fiction. I hope a sincere attempt will suffice.

My large extended family, its roots in the American South, was a severely under-educated crew, albeit with gleaming intellect. Most of my family members put this gift of mind into the twisted service of various forms of Pentecostal/Evangelical preachment. Some chose to let neither their intelligence nor their piety stand in the way of their incest.

My parents already had three children, ages six through ten, when I was born. Since she'd almost died with her third pregnancy, Mom was scheduled for an abortion of what would turn out to be me. She found she couldn't bring herself to sign the papers, and instead ran, crying, down the hospital corridor. Weeks after this, Dad was rendered sterile from a case of mumps. These two events were seen by my parents as evidence of Divine Intervention to bring about my birth and to give them the last of their children. These same events were seen, I'm sure, by others in the family as signs of Diabolical Manifestation.

Growing up, I often felt less like a person than like a personification of terrain over which forces of good and evil fought. Within my family of six I felt lovingly harbored, but the eyes and words of certain members of my extended family conveyed a palpable mistrust, suspicion and dislike of me. These two factions helped shape my sense of self.

My mother's mother had been a street preacher. I never knew her. Mom, whose various relatives had died from ailments like "The Bloody Fluts" and "Dropsy", told me often and sorrowfully of how she was kept from her dying, babbling mother by the xian women in attendance because, at the moment of death, the demons would fly out of the mother and into the daughter. Cerebral hemorrhage may have been written on the certificate, but the precipitating cause of death was demons.

As a little girl, Mom had been made caretaker of her stillborn brother until word could reach the backwoods as to whether baptism was required before burial. She dressed and undressed him as if he were her doll, carried him with her, slept with him, as they waited.

At my paternal grandmother's funeral, the local police had to be called out to the church to break up the bone-crunching brawl that had erupted between the faction of attendees which insisted that music must be played to "rise up" her soul and the faction equally adamant that music would condemn Grandma's soul to hell.

Well, you get the general tone of stories belonging to my people which saturated my sense of reality.

Dad, ordained at nineteen, was, I gather, a riveting Arkansas preacher, in demand for revivals. His sister once told me he "was the most called in seven Southern states". He, his talent and ten or twenty of the family had all descended on California by the mid-'thirties, where, in addition to his having his own congregation, he became a radio preacher in Los Angeles.

At this late date, I'm sure I shall never know why he steadfastly refused that I be baptized. Maybe it was the first step of a long journey he was yet to take or maybe he just wanted to stick it to a few of the more despicable relatives, but I believe, in retrospect, this choice of his was the source of much of the drama that swirled around me. How else coud one explain my Damian-of-"The Omen"-like shrieks, wails, and tearing at the garments of my mother and myself which Mom said greeted each one of my father's sermons? She eventually gave up and left me at home on Sundays under the watchful, if vengeful, eye of Grandma.

Dad always maintained that he left the ministry (when I was three or four) because he could no longer justify hurling the threats and condemnations that the congregation demanded, when all he really wanted to do was help them learn to live better with one another. For many years I suspected it was my black heart that he had chosen to protect in this way.

He had no other marketable skills. He got a job as a night watchman in San Pedro, with his major assignment being the shooting of wharf rats with his .45. My sisters assure me he considered this job a step up.

Among the six of us, life became jesus-free except for warm moments of my parents' duetting old church hymns for me. "Sometimes when misgivings darken my way..." was, to me, a song about our colored (the p.c. term back then) neighbor, Miz Givens, with whom I had a chummy relationship. (She gave me the only religious experience I remember enjoying -- she lifted my blue-eyed blond self up with her and held me in her arms as everyone in that black church sang, with joy, it seemed to me, aiming their voices at the high stained glass and beyond.)

In general, though, the literal bent of my child-mind made all efforts to bring me to jesus pretty unfruitful. Once, for instance, Grandma referred to god as "The Holy Spirit". The word, "spirit", meant nothing to me, but I wrestled with the word and decided that "spirit" was much like "carrot", so, for a long while I lived content with the notion of this great celestial vegetable schooning lazily through the ether, watching over me.

Some of the relatives (grrr...) interceded at one point when I was about five or six and marched me to a summer bible school session where the children were (what?!) coloring the devil. Little voices piped, "Did I stay in the lines?" "Are his horns red?" I believe this prompted my first hazy comprehension of the concept of obscenity.

Horns, Dad later explained to me, were what he and Mom had been taught Jews had hidden under their hair. (He then explained "Jews".) Also, he added, unlike white folk, colored people had no souls. We waited each other out for the long moment of my incredulity. Then he laughed. "What b.s.!" he said.

By the time I was seven I was painfully aware that Dad had "backslid" and was therefore suffering the condemnation of his family, even though two of Dad's brothers, who had molested my sisters, were forever to be hailed as war heroes.

I wondered why they hated us, and worse, wondered if they were right to do so. I began to devise tests for god's love and omnipotence. One involved my entreating god to rescue the doll I was about to throw down a stairwell onto concrete. Whatever faith I had began to shatter like a doll's head.

On another occasion, with Mom obliviously sweeping the floor nearby, I lay on my stomach staring at a full-color rendering of the crucifixion and I willed myself, for the longest while, to go into jesus and feel his pain and be with him and know him. I let the image wash over me. I held my breath. I stared and stared without blinking. I strained as though constipated. Zilch. Not a twinge of empathic anything stirred in me. This was the defining moment wherein I accepted that I probably was the devil's spawn and I'd just have to make the best of it.

The best of it was a shoplifting spree of a few years' duration (and I am not suggesting that rejecting xian mythology promotes a life of crime) which netted me untold numbers of E.C. Comics, like The Vault of Horror and The Crypt of Terror -- manifestations of art and literature whose unflinching and consistent sense of morality couldn't save them from a Congressional ban, but which began, I believe, my consideration of ethical imperatives. Yes, the little devil-child filched her moral underpinnings.

I've since read more scholarly materials as well, but these haven't tended to persuade me with the same power as that of example. When, for instance, at the age of twelve I stumbled on the writings of the wits of the Algonquin Round Table, it became clear to me that life would be infinitely more enjoyable spent in the company of funny, irreverent, innovative people than with those whose minds had already mummified. I mean, really, if y' gotta choose between hangin' out with a Pat Robertson or a Dorothy Parker...?

But I digress. At ten, I was the only child still at home when Dad decided (to this day I don't know why) to take another crack at the ministry. The idea was for him to team up with an old fellow Pentecostal Pimp-for-the-Lord who had his own congregation and the unlikely name, Cookie. I was dragged repeatedly to Cookie's very own Vault of Horror/Crypt of Terror where I obediently joined in the jerks, shudders, shouts and waves for Teamchrist. Shamefacedly I submitted to compliments from the church women with their wan smiles, treacly voices and heads tilted piously at that xian 30 degree angle. It was only when Cookie started drawing me close to his cooking-smell-infected self, breathing shallowly the words, "We gotta get you baptized, Little Darlin'", that I really started to freak. He might as well have been intimating upcoming child-rape, which, I dunno, maybe he was. I just knew that I had to draw the line at baptism ("Say what, Damiana?").

So, one Saturday night, in a meticulously planned spontaneous outburst, I fell to my knees before my father, my hands extended prayerfully up to him, and I whimpered, "Please, Daddy, In jesus's name I pray, don't make me go to church tomorrow..."

None of us did. Ever again.

The rest of my life, as I've let my heretical beliefs be known, I've been subjected to sneak attacks (like the high school slumber party which turned out to be a ruse to get me converted by the xian parents of my hostess, with the complicity of all the other girls), thinly veiled proselytizing and outright hostility. Though much of this has scared or distressed me, none of it has shaken the essence of my core conviction, which is that existence is enough. An atheist I yam.

Now, at the age of 61, I've come to this website out of grief for my daughter, who has been struck down by the bacterium, Episcopalia Charismaticus. Here I've learned that my father's story was not a fluke -- people do leave the ministry. So here I have hope that my daughter's priest husband might... might... repeat the best of our family history, or that she, herself, might be re-enlightened.

Though my daughter may be added, now, to the list of relatives who believe I'm in league with the devil, I think I'm merely sane. Hurt, still grieving, often angry and bewildered, I continue to revive my sanity here, for which I give gratitude to the WebMaster and all of you.

Please allow me to stay among you even though I was never baptized. Please let, at the very least, "The Dead baby as comfort toy" qualify me as having been screwed up enough to belong here.

10/18/03                                                                                       View Comments

Parking Lot Preaching in the Bible Belt

sent in by Chris "Daye"

I was 15, a Freshman in high school. I left Christianity for Paganism and Wicca. I live in the Southern Baptist capitol of Oklahoma, by the way. The Baptists of the area didn't like my idea much (I actually started thinking for myself! ), so they decided to preach to me. They did so, excessively: at school (both students and teachers. At one point, I was pulled out of my Algebra class by a Bible-thumper teacher so he could preach to me about how worried he is. He even used the words "You think too much when it comes to religion." Fancy that!), at school-sponsored football and basketball games, and even at my house, physically and via telephone, violating my constitutional rights. After about 4 months, I threatene legal action against the school and church, and the harrassment dropped off, for a bit. At one point, however, I was beaten - severely beaten - for being a "satanist".

The near-end of that school year was the most "fun", though. My interest in the military and Communist Russia pissed the Patriot-Christians off yet again. They thought it'd be a good idea to gossip about me, and maybe I'd "see the light", or something. They did such a good job, the police eventually investigated. They searched my locker at school and found "satanic literature" (which, in reality, was a book on the beliefs of Paganism and Wicca. They also searched my house for "guns, bombs, and homemade weapons". They forgot the fact that I live in rural Oklahoma... anybody that doesn't own some gun is a fool. However, I don't keep any guns in my room, which was the one they searched. Both searches were without warrants and, therefore, not legal.

The accusations that prompted this investigation? Owning and maintaining a hit list; planning to assassinate the people in the hit list (duh); planning to bomb and shoot-up the school; planning to steal a plane and do who knows what with it; and performing Satanic rituals (which is not a crime).

This incident has quite literally taken three years of my life from me, based on the immature actions of the members of the Christian faith. For this, I can not and will not forgive these Bible-thumping, intolerant, and disrespectful "sumbitches". Any "anti-Christian" statement I make, I believe I have every right to make. If I piss a Christian off, then you can keep your declaration of offense to yourself. I have been slandered, abused and offended by you people, and, in my opinion, your beliefs should be illegal to preach or act against another upon. Just my opinion.



Sex: Male

City: Wayne

State: Oklahoma

Country: USA

Became a Christian: 15

Ceased being a Christian: 15

Labels before: Atheist, Satanist, Pagan

Labels now: Unitarian Universalist / Pagan / Shintoist / Buddhist / Taoist / Jedi Realist / Vampire / Elf

Why I joined: I was brainwashed into it, of course...

Why I left: I got un-brainwashed...

10/17/03                                                                                       View Comments

The Way of the Intercepting Mind

sent in by Erik

Like most people, I was born into a Christian family. My mother was a baptist, my father a catholic. Luckily, they were both of the "Chicken Soup for the Soul" variety, in that they did not ram church down my throat but just said there was some God up there who loved me and Jesus is his son, and prayer is good...blah blah blah.

Unfortunately for them, I was not in tune with their passive natures. They went to their jobs, took care of their kids, voted in an election now and then. I had more concerns and an eager need to do something about them. My parents would always advise me to just pray to cope with my troubles. That wasn't good enough for me. So I went to church, on my own, to try and "reach" my God. Once again, the sermons I had heard repeated the passivity of my parents: "It's all in God's hands," relax, get through this life and the next will be wonderful. Once again, it was not good enough for me.

If I could digress for a moment, I'd like to mention that I'm an avid martial artist. I've been studying since the age of 14, and it was through martial arts that I received an epiphany. Martial arts styles and schools are like religions, they have a founder, a set of doctrines, and they have traditionally claimed that their style is the best and it does not need to change. I felt that way about my first martial art, Kenpo. Then I read a book called The Tao of Jeet Kune Do.

Bruce Lee wrote that one must liberate oneself from the limits of tradition in order to see the art of combat in its simplicity. In truth, every martial art has limitations, and one must go outside of the "system" in order to transcend that art's limits. His philosophy of fighting, Jeet Kune Do, or the Way of the Intercepting Fist, was the first real attempt to break away from the limits of tradition in the arts. In reality, combat is fluid, constantly changing, and every situation is different.

It's not a big leap to then say that religion is nothing more than a tradition, set forth by a founder, and then accepted as "it" to the point where nothing needs to change or evolve. In truth, life is fluid, constantly changing, and every era and moment is different.

Bruce Lee advocated learning from other arts and incorporating what is useful, rejecting what is useless and adding what is essentially your own. I applied this philosophy to life. I examine how other people, and cultures think, behave, and believe, and make the best parts of them my own.

Going back to my religious experiences, I realized that Christianity's pacifism does not suit me or this age. Now is the time for activism, not a blind acceptance of the status quo. There are things about Christianity I think that are useful once the "divine background" is abandoned, but for the most part, my life choices have been little influenced by Christianity.

I believe that since I have liberated myself from the traditions of Christianity I'm able to see life in its pristine simplicity. And I'm all the better for it, I hope. I have called my approach to life, the way of the intercepting mind. Not very original I know, but a name is just for convenience anyway.

I intercept philosophies and keep them with me when I must, and I intercept biases and eliminate them. If you've made it this far on the page, I thank you for letting me rant. Be gentle when replying.


City: Eugene

State: OR

Country: USA

Became a Christian: Born into it (like most people)

Ceased being a Christian: 19

Labels before: Catholic

Labels now: Agnostic

Why I joined: Raised as one

Why I left: Discovered other options

10/16/03                                                                                       View Comments

Free at last !

sent in by Ian Lowe

I had an unhappy start to my high school years being badly bullied as a youngster: I was intelligent and read a lot in an environment where playing football (soccer) was pretty much the only skill that was recognised.

My mother was suffering her own crisis of faith within the methodist church, and despite my father's protests took my sister and I to the local Baptist Church's sunday school. Within this environment, I suddenly found my intelligence and ability to memorise large sections of the bible being rewarded: I was encouraged and found a little refuge from the beatings in school.

As with most ex christians that I have spoken to, there's a certain disbelief, an almost out of body experience of looking back at my own actions now: I can't see why I was taken in, why I so completely fell for the God-myth. The fact is, fall I did: and hard. I found myself studying the bible to the detriment of my academic studies.

At the age of sixteen I went to University, and simultaneously became much more active in christianity: I could see that many of the baptists in my church were weak, and only attended the church as a social thing. In my bible-fuelled head, if they were not 110% for christ, then they were only playing games.

That's the sort of environment where extremism can breed easily, and I fell under the sway firstly of Calvary Fellowship, a really isolationist group that started the whole "burn your books" "destroy satanic music" thing: I fell for it completely, and in time drifted on from this to the even more hardcore "church of christ".

At the time, the whole thing of the church dictating who you would socialise with, how you would spend your time etc seemed not only normal, but the only way things should be. The thing that tempered this, I think, was the misguided idea that I could minister to my friends in University. I was unwilling to walk away from my studies, because I believed that I was called to help save my fellow students.

After I left university and began work, I found myself with less time to study, and spent a lot of time travelling, and thinking. I started to form around the opinion that the more extreme churches were simply in it for the power trip, and ultimately no more real than the baptist church that I had joined many years before.

As luck would have it, my mother took a further step in her own faith, and joined a charismatic church, "The King's Church". Strangely, my own experience had been one of abstinence, denial and so on... the happy clappy charismatic environment struck me as truly evil, and suddenly seeing my mother take part in "singing in the spirit" had me scouring the scriptures for proof that this was wrong...

What I found was my first contradictions in scripture. I became convinced that Saul of Tarsus was not the father of the gentile church, but rather an evil manipulator of the highest order: I saw everything after the book of Acts as apocryphal, and began to fear that much of my own understanding of the faith was based on twisted lies..

I tried to dispel the doubt, and threw myself into the work of the church, doing street ministry... and then it happened. My grandfather was diagnosed with bowel cancer, and subsequently died after six months of suffering and pain.

Again, I started to doubt, strating to see the christian god as evil. I found myself asking in church how anyone could bow the knee to a God that allowed such terrible things to happen? I found myself with one of the "big questions":

"If you are saved, but your partner is not, how can you be happy in heaven, knowing your partner is being tormented in hell?"

In my mind, the question had only one answer: because god wil do something to your mind to make you blissfull and content, accepting that your loved one somehow deserved their fate. Suddenly, the question took on a twisted second part..

"If you are saved, but your partner is not, how can you be happy in heaven, knowing your partner is being tormented in hell, BY THE SAME GOD YOU ARE WORSHIPPING?"

I still believed utterly in the scripture, in God and Jesus: they were transformed, however, into the enemies of mankind: to some evil power that despite being vastly greater than us failed to even have the same basic morality as us lesser beings.

I left the church after a few months: my agitiation and constantly asking the "wrong" questions was not popular.

Out of the church, I found a brief stopping off point in Wicca, finding a little more heart in nature worship as having fundamentally more truth to it. It was hard for me: I had been immersed into the church for so much of my life, that it was hard to think of any other way to be: I had heard voices in my head for so many years that it was hard to let go.

By this time, I had married my long suffering girlfriend (a former catholic) and settled into life together. We enjoyed intellectually challenging discussions, sitting with a half dozen books open comparing notes and discussing issues:

as we spoke and discussed, read and hammered out what we actually did believe, we realised that both of us were clinging desperately to any remains of faith simply because we were afraid to admit to ourselves, the absolute truth:

There is no god. no supernatural, nothing beyond, above, greater than us. To finally have the understanding that the voice in your head is your own voice echoing back at you, not some divine supernatural being is sobering.

Reading books like Matt Ridley's Genome or Richard Dawkin's blind watchmaker ultimately helped me to place my own mind back on a solid footing, one of evidence, not faith, verifiable scientific evidence, not make believe...

I have been "clean" of christ for ten years now (the same time at which a cancer survivor finally get's the all clear!!), and have started to produce leaflets to distribute to warn young people away from the God cult.

Finding a fellow community of Xtian survivors online is like a second birthday present, and I feel strongly that we (even more so than "regular" atheists) should never forget that we owe people the decency of warning them off: I lost my teenage years on my knees, and I won't ever get that back... but at least I woke up in time to enjoy the rest of my life!!!


URL: www.FreeFromChrist.Org

City: Glasgow

State: North Lanarkshire

Country: Scotland

Became a Christian: 13

Ceased being a Christian: 22

Labels before: Baptist, Calvary Fellowship, Church of Christ

Labels now: Secular Humanist

Why I joined: Fear of Hell mostly, with some desire for acceptance

Why I left: How can any rational intelligent human being believe this nosense? I woke up!








10/15/03                                                                                       View Comments

The Awakening

sent in by Emily

Wow, I have to express my gratitude that this webpage exists. This is a very recent deconversion for me and I am ready to get some things off my chest.

For my entire life, I was raised Southern Baptist. My earliest impressions of religion surmounted to Sunday School cookies and red fruit punch, gold stickers for good behavior, and singing pretty songs. Naturally, the whole atmosphere was pleasing to my childish brain and I loved going to church. My family takes religion very seriously and in this light I would always try and please them. When I was about 9 years old I started reading my Bible. I made it my mission to understand the text completely--front to back, mixing it up for flavor every once in a while, re-reading parts that didn't make sense to me. And I did. I became engulfed in it. I loved this idea of this suffering God--in retrospect, most likely because of some sordid details in my childhood (sexual trauma, etc.) that I will not relate now.

At age 13 I was completely and totally hooked. I remember humiliating and punishing myself for my struggle with masturbation and lust. At age 15 I got baptized and announced my decision to the church and my entire family that I wanted to go into the ministry. I converted two schoolmates (And oh, how I wish I could take things back!) and spend all my time at church. I continued reading the Bible and coming up with more mature understandings of it.

Then something happened at age 16 that broke my spirit. I don't want to go into details, but I was very deeply depressed and had an apathy about life in general. There were entire weeks where I wouldn't get out of bed. I hated everything and everyone. For three weeks, I wouldn't listen to music (which has always played a big part in my life). Christian friends would try to offer their religious sentiments to make me feel better, but so often did they offend or hurt me with them that I began to resent them in general.

At last a non-Christian friend of mine told me to out and buy a TOOL album. Now, I had always listened exclusively to christian music or light pop-punk. TooL, for those of you who don't know, is a metal band whose main themes include personal evolution/discovery and abandoning false beliefs. Something in the album reached me. I still was depressed beyond belief, but if I had to get out of bed, I had my headphones to keep me from killing myself or someone else.

Over time, I took a passionate interest in this new music form opened to me and threw myself into it. I tried flailingly to hold on to my beliefs (they were so precious to me! I remember breaking down in tears one night because I wanted to love God and I didn't anymore.) but to no avail. I began to see inconsistencies in religious teachings. (Why would a perfectly loving God even need a sacrifice? Why couldn't he just say, "Hey, I forgive you"?)

It was like moving from the darkness to the light, and it definitely hurt my eyes. I have experienced an awakening.

I turned 17 this past January and about two months later I was finally able to say, for the first time, "I am not a Christian." It was very difficult. Since then I have been on a very strenuous personal journey, but it has been rewarding. There are problems--my family would disown me if ever they found out, and I love my family so much--that keep me shrouded in secrets and lies, which I highly dislike. But I am regaining my sanity and finally opening my third eye to the truth which should have been obvious years ago.

I have never been allowed to be angry, (my family wouldn't allow it, or they would deny it) and I didn't really know what anger was until I left Christianity. Looking back at the brainwashing, the power struggles, and some of the rather sick beliefs, I am angry. It is healthy. Cathartic. Cleansing.

Thank you for your time.


City: Arlington

State: TX

Country: USA

Became a Christian: I was "born into" Christianity.

Ceased being a Christian: 17

Labels before: Southern Baptist

Labels now: I am an Emilyist.

Why I joined: My family raised me a Southern Baptist and I grew into it in my own right. See my story.

Why I left: See my story.


10/14/03                                                                                       View Comments

Free from christian mind-control

sent in by Michael

This is a history of my journey from religious/christian bondage to mental, emotional, and spiritual freedom. I will try to be descriptive so others may get a sense of my journey.

I was reared in a small town in Mississippi. My parents were not really religious but did send us all to the first baptist church(fbc). I am the oldest of 5 children. I am a studious type and enjoyed learning the bible, about god, jesus , etc. My dad's mom was religious and often took us to church. My parents rarely attended church. We were farmed out to fbc from a very early age so my parents could have some peace and quiet to themselves on sundays. I attended regularly for over 16 years.

I accepted it all and jesus as my savior at age 12 and was baptized. I was and am gay and had lots of trauma over god hating me for that and for all my masturbating. I have a high sex drive and was constantly repenting and rededicating my life to god! I had sexual fun with neighborhood boys my age from age ?10 to age 15. We then moved away to the country and I had no friends or play mates. I was active in the church and really believed it all. I witnessed for the lord and was in bible club at high school. I was a sensitive, shy, peace-loving guy. I was ridiculed by members of the f b c youth choir because, on choir tour: I did not stay up late and drink and smoke in the room, I asked them to chill out so I could sleep, I had taken some cuticle remover w me since I had a long time problem with the cuticles growing over my nails, AND ........ well they found it and they started calling me " Mother".

They did this for years and the minister of music never said a thing or corrected them. I turned the other cheek and hoped to be left alone but was always scorned. God knows what would have happened if I had been actively gay at the time and they knew it. It really AMAZED me that they made NO EFFORT TO LIVE BY the teaching of jesus to be loving and caring for your fellow man. I took it all to heart and felt drawn to more prayer, and study etc etc. Ugh ! I went to church every sunday and called others to get them to come to training union, etc.

After graduating high school I went to Calif. where I was on a work study program with campus crusade for christ. It was fun but very frustrating as there were REALLY handsome and friendly men in the group and I was constantly wanting them. I Never did anything with anyone! I was too quilty and terrified of my own human desires. It was hard being in bible class and work situations with these men, some of whom may also have been repressing their sexual orientation due to religious dogma.

I returned to Miss. at age 19, started seeing a chiropractor for my back, and eventually through much study of the holy shit-sures became converted to the world wide church of god. This caused a lot of stress w my parents. I kept the 7th day sabbath and all the so called required holy days and it was too much for them. My dad fired me from working for him since I would not work on the sabbath. I told my mother that I was not going to have him or anyone telling me what to believe.

Little did I know what a piece of cake I had been sold in buying the whole religion/god/christianity mind set. I had asked mom about "was being queer a sin?". Yes, she said. The next night we continued our conversation and she told me that she had had lesbian experiences in college, and that my dad had gay experiences in the navy. ( I was so young, shy, naive, and afraid that I did not question her further regarding dad's experiences and my parents have both been dead for years so I will never know.) Mama was not overly religious but she did believe in jesus as savior, etc and used to sing hymns in the car on road trips....

I attended ambassador college ( associated with the worldwide church of god- wcg) which was in texas and got a liberal arts degree. I dated women, studied the bible, thought about men all the time, counseled w a minister over my " desires" and continued to do without any man to man sex. I eventually proposed to MW who was my best friend. I told her about my past gay sex, but since we both sincerely believed all the church stuff we thought it would be ok. We graduated in '77 and got married. She was my first ( and only ever) female sexual partner. Sex was good/ok but I often thought of men, and had to pray and repent and ask for help, which of course never came. It was stressful being married to someone you loved but were not in love with ! the bible can't make a dog into a cat! :)

I was deeply "in love" with Carl at the time I married MW. He and I were great friends, but never sexual and I thought of him all the time. He and I had been very affectionate and we wrestled together and the feeling of being close to him was awesome. It was really liberating in a way.. and also the source of a lot of guilt. I never said a thing to him about my feelings but I sometimes wondered what some of his looks at me really meant. We were too repressed by biblical mind-control to have any talks on the subject.

My mother-in-law was also in the wcg. She studied the bible all the time like we did. She was however open to studying and believing in the benefit of astrology even though the church said it was of the devil. I too became interested in astrology and this was the first real inkling that I would NOT accept on faith everything a church taught.


MW and I eventually left wcg and joined the assemblies of yahweh because we convinced ourselves that it is essential to call god "yahweh". This was based on much study of the holy god inspired ( man made) scriptures. My mom in law was way upset w us and once again religion caused a division in my life. There was also a very handsome, manly married man in this new church named David and I really was attracted to and wanted him. I don't think he ever knew. I prayed for help. I struggled more with my religion imposed sense of shame and guilt. jesus never did save me from my longings for love and affection from/with a man.

MW and I got tired of this boring, historically-oriented and not practical church, and quit going. We continued our search for the truth, hoping to find the way to serve god. We attended unity church and later religious science services in Atlanta and we more and more took religion and the bible less and less seriously. AFTER extensive study and much doubt (at first) we both abandoned the idea of sin, guilt, salvation, and serving god. WOW what freedom.

We continued to have sex together as we had during all of our marriage, about once every month or so. It was good, but not satisfying. When you are gay you are gay!

I had my first man to man sexual encounter with Daniel , who was a friend of mine. ( I had denied acting on my true sexual orientation from age 15 to 35 !!! ). The next day I told MW about my experience with Daniel. I also told her that : I was no longer going to deny myself, it is not her fault, there is no discussing my stopping this new freedom, and If you wish to, we can can get a divorce. We remained married for another 5 years. We had less and less sex together until we had no sex together the last 3 years of our marriage.

I and she were both free from guilt over our actions and we only had to deal with our emotional ups and downs of being in this type of relationship. Our daughter was born in 1985. We never had sex again after that. MW dated 2 men and had affairs . I dated numerous men and enjoyed my sexual self.

I began an ongoing in-depth study of: religion, health, sex, relationships, homosexuality, history, etc. I gradually came to know and understand the truth that guilt is a man-made construction created for control. The people who are controlled have no idea that they are controlled and most of the time there is very little that can be done for them. One of my fundy sisters prays for me not to go to hell. Little does she know that hell is a myth and she unfortunately is also living in a type of hell because she is unable to think outside her little box.
She of course has never studied any thing beyond the narrow rigid, unthinking mind-set of christianity.

My daughter has been brought up free from the hellish teachings of religion. She is widely read, intelligent, loving, open and definitely more moral than many children of christian parents. AND she is not afraid of the widely believed fable of going to hell for her sins or lack of belief in a savior. She reads constantly and enjoys learning. She also knows how to use www.google.com to find information! :) You might want to do an advanced search yourself for "why I am not a christian".... that is how I found THIS site.

I was married for 14 years, we have been divorced for 12 years. My brother discovered me having sex with a friend and told all my siblings and aunt and uncle. My parents were already deceased at the time. My aunt and uncle disowned me and also my daughter ( their former "favorite niece").

They are good christians and were doing god's will, can't you see?! :)

Such bullshit...... I am so glad to be free of all that mental bull.

I eventually introduced MW to the man who is now her husband. They are very happy together. We are all good friends. We got a no fault divorce, which we wrote ourselves and was granted by the judge.

My daugher has friends that are: christian, unitarian universalist, hindu, atheists, and also agnostics. Religion is not a very big deal to any except the fundys.


Years after my mother died of alcoholism I was talking to a good friend of hers. She told me that she and my mother had been lovers the last few years of mom's life and they both felt that most people would be more bisexual if it were not for the teaching of churches and christian religion.

As of this date in October 2003 I am single, free, available, and consider myself an educated free thinker..

Michael


I recommend these sites for informational assistance if you want/need it:
  • www.emofree.com - simple techniques to clear emotional stuff

  • www.curezone.com - health and healing and cleansing site

  • www.amazon.com - books to EDUCATE YOURSELF on the fallacy and myth of most religion - see some titles below

  • www.susiebright.com - sexual freedom site by female educator


Some books you might want to read to enhance your freedom:

The Secret Origins of the Bible by Tim Callahan

The Christ Conspiracy:The greatest story ever sold by Acharya S

Losing faith in faith: From preacher to atheist by Dan Barker

2000 Years of Disbelief: Famous People With the Courage to Doubt by James A. Haught

The Book Your Church Doesn't Want You To Read
by Tim C. Leedom

The Jesus Puzzle. Did Christianity Begin with a Mythical Christ? : Challenging the Existence of an Historical Jesus by Earl Doherty

The Dark Side of Christian History by Helen Ellerbe

The Jesus Mysteries: Was the "Original Jesus" a Pagan God? by Timothy Freke

The Born Again Skeptic's Guide To The Bible by Ruth Hurmence Green

You Are Being Lied To Russ Kick, editor

Is It God's Word: An Exposition of the Fables & Mythology of the Bible & the Fallacies of Theology
by Joseph Wheless

Books on physical/sexual freedom and pleasure:

Touching: The Human Significance of the Skin by Ashley Montagu

The Erotic Mind by Jack Morin

Sex for One by Betty Dodson

Anal Pleasure and Health A Guide for Men by Jack Morin

City: Austin

State: TX

Country: USA

Became a Christian: ?12


Ceased being a Christian: 31 to 34


Labels before: Southern baptist worldwide church of god assemblies of yahweh unity


Labels now: educated free thinker gay single father happy to have a free mind