1/31/04                                                                                       View Comments

Revival Minister

sent in by Josh

Hello again. I'm currently stuck at a Christian college at the moment (transferring out at the end of the semester) and we are required to go to revival services this week. The minister has said some interesting things that I thought I would share with you all:

1. Yesterday, he presented the example of a person who lives an upstanding and moral life outside of the framework of Christianity. He said that these people live like this because they have God's laws in their hearts, even though they don't realize it. I disagree. I think that Christianity is not really unique in many of its major teachings. All of the major religions essentially share many teachings, such as not to murder, not to steal, not to lie, etc. I think now that the "creators" of these religions simply used logic and rationality to come up with moral laws that would benefit society and applied these as being divinely given. That's how you get Buddhists and Christians with many of the same teachings. The problem is when these "creators" toss in a bunch of nonsensical rules, like homosexuality being evil or not wearing clothing made of two different kinds of fabrics. These rules are impossible to rationally justify, but since there are so many other good rules, they get brought along and taught as dogma.

2. Today, he related a story about a man in a small Texas town where he used to preach that told him that he was an atheist. The guy told us that the man wasn't "really" an atheist. He was a pipe worker who smoked marijuana at times and was simply using his atheism to cover his sins because his pride didn't let him face God. I don't know what it is about some Christians who deny things they find uncomfortable. Perhaps they deny it because they don't want to face the concept that there is no god? Perhaps they have entertained such notions and want to keep them repressed by not acknowledging other people's rights to these beliefs?

3. Sadly, there was a "happy" ending to this story. The man called him one day because his wife (an upstanding member of the church) had left him and taken their two children. He was devastated and showed up at the church crying to this pastor. The pastor used this moment to "convert" him, claiming it was the will of god. I was appalled. He had clearly used the situation to manipulate this man, capturing him when his mind was at its weakest moment. The wife went through with the divorce even after learning that her husband had converted. She went to a different church. I found it convenient that he glossed over her divorcing him (not exactly "Christian" behavior). Basically, the atheist had been the only moral person in this entire tale!

Though I cannot wait to get to my secular college next year (Michigan State U.), I am somewhat glad that I went to a Christian college for two years. For one, I probably would not have given up on the religion had I not seen this level of hypocrisy. Secondly, I can take the messages of revival preachers and leave more sure of my anti-religious convictions!

Haha. Thanks for reading this, even if it was a bit plodding at times.




City: Coldwater
State: MI
Country: USA
Became a Christian: 4
Ceased being a Christian: 20
Labels before: Church of the Nazarene, fundamentalist
Labels now: Agnostic
Why I joined: I was young and it seemed the correct thing to do
Why I left: Couldn't believe anymore

1/30/04                                                                                       View Comments

Forced into Line

sent in by Neil Sweeney

I was brought up in a predominately Roman Catholic upper middle class family, we where all Irish (me, my brother and my sister where the only ones born and raised in England). My mum and my mum's mum where the only authoritarian people in my family that weren’t Catholics, mainly because my Nan’s first husband died and she started losing her faith and she divorced again and the church wouldn’t let her back in (not all forgiveness now is it?). My mum followed my Nan and together they became spiritualist - kind of like Catholics but very reformed and more open to ideas and other religions.

I went to a Roman Catholic Primary school; still to this day do not understand, as it was one of the worst primary schools in the area. There I started to question it all when these teachers there never gave me any real support in any thing. See I had meningitis when I was about 10 months old; the doctors though I would die, I came out with no obvious problems; turned out though I had a few speaking problems and could not grasp my English very well, so my spelling and writing speed was very bad. So I went too primary school were the teachers had knowledge I would have educational problems, but did not seem to care. I was put in classes where the teachers would let the other kids call me “slow coach” or make fun the fact that I could not spell, they even agreed with them at times. Catholics and Christians teach to help those in need, no matter whom they may be - “The Good Samaritan”. I did not have a problem like I just been kicked the hell out of me or was poor, just needed help with my English, yet I never got that help. Though I was very young, I came to the conclusion that a lot of the believe revolves around showing off in a physical aspect rather than any sort of metal aspect; my idea at the time being “they don’t get a award, why would they do it?”

I was still religious at the time, and I was soon to receive my first Holy Communion. I was a year late doing it as of I was not sure that I wanted to spend my time learning about the bible because I did start to build some doubt about it all, but I kept on saying I was to please my family. During the whole “training” to revive it for the first time - bit of crap really, I eat this “bread” at home, we call it “rice paper” – I questioned the idea of God building the world in 7 days. I believe in the Big Bang theory; I was told I was wrong in thinking this idea and that God did build the world in 7 days (even though it wasn’t to be said it was “7, 24 hour, days” but they seemed to think it was). Then I said about “why do I have to be Catholic? Can’t I be something else like a Spiritualist because I wasn’t sure I believe in it all or anything at all?”

The priest called my mum in and mentioned what I said. He said something that I may not be ready for it (even though I was a year late), but as of my family wanted me to go through, I was forced to. By this point, I wanted to leave it. I was getting pulled into a system where it keeps people at a status quo of the perfect human; all thinking the same and becoming a drone where my thoughts where the thoughts of a billion others around the world (in a child’s perspective on it all of course).
I then took my communion; I couldn’t understand why it was such an important day. I just ate a piece of rice paper for the first time in church drank some mouldy fig wine and got a free bag of almonds - which I did enjoy to tell the truth, never had sweet almonds before.

The final straw came about a year after my communion. I was in class listen to some Jesus story, all sort of fascinated that I did not need to do any work I sat and listened. When the story was over, I said, “At least there is no devil”. This caused a bit of an up roar first up by somebody thinking I said, “Jesus never existed”. So the teacher pulled me out and made me stand up in front of the class telling me off for being blasphemous, I said I never said that at all, but the whole class was convinced I did. All good little Catholics, they all heard me shout anti Jesus slander, when in fact I sigh out my belief that I do not believe there is such thing as the devil. I stood up and said, “you are all lying” and mentioned what I really said. Now talk about holding a gun to your head, the teacher gave me hell about what I really said and I gave hell back. I got picked up for lunch and went home and I said to my mum in the car “I don’t want to believe in any of it any more”, then I was free. I decided to be that annoyance in the school, that little kid who you cannot program and also went against what they said, even if I did not really believe what I was saying, as long as they said, I would contradict.

My first real clam to fame for being anti-Catholic (even though I was not anti, I just did not believe in it) was bringing in a music tape in to school; The Offspring’s ‘Smash’ album. I played the song ‘Bad Habit’ which had the line “Stupid dumb shit goddamn mother fucker” which I was called up on and told that I should not be listening to such bad music that is offensive. Put on a freedom rant and I was allowed to go, just that I should not be bringing music into school.

But I think has a way of getting to people in the end. A few years ago, I heard about the priest, that gave me my first communion, left the religion and is now an ex-Christian but also a married man. I like to think that it was my influence, but also he saw that the real world is better to live for than something is that force belief (strange he should pick running off with a woman for this (joke)).

I am happier leaving than I was following, being told what to think. Not that I have anything against people with religious beliefs, I have often wondered being a Buddhist (not a religion but a belief). But I come back wanting to follow life as I see it, as I am given. If I see something, I want to see it as I make it to be and not as some dead guy thousands of years ago did. The bible today is taken the wrong way and people ruin it.

“It’s better to have a idea, than a belief” quote Kevin Smith’s ‘Dogma’


URL: http://www.wolfweb.co.uk/
Country: UK
Became a Christian: 4
Ceased being a Christian: 6-8
Labels before: Roman Catholic
Labels now: Free thinker
Why I joined: Make my family happy
Why I left: Make my self happy
Email Address: neil at wolfweb.co.uk

1/29/04                                                                                       View Comments

From there to here

sent in by Paul Johnson

From the beginning...

First off, My name is changed here, due to the fact that my mother searches my name on the internet regularly to find out information about me.

With this being said...

I am a 22 Year old man who grew up in southern Indiana. Religion (Christianity) is not just a Sunday-Wednesday night thing in my home town, It is a way of life. There is no less than 20 various Christian churches in my hometown of 20,000 people. Therefore, hardly a soul you can approach that doesn't belong to a Baptist, catholic, church of god, etc.

I grew up in a Nazarene church. For those that do not know, they are fairly strict and Hell is a huge topic for Sunday sermons. As well, nazarenes believe that you can only go to heaven if you have been saved from your sins.. And if you sin again, you have to get saved again... As a child (age 8 forward) I would pray constantly for fear of going to hell if I screwed up during the course of the day and died. I remember walking around my school as a 1st grader, carrying the bible and reading revelation. Mind you, during the course of all this I was singled out by pretty much everyone... What kid is going to hang out with the weird guy who talks about hell, right? My mother explained to me various things, such as He-man toys were made by Satan worshippers... let me tell you that got looks from my baby-sitter when I would decline playing with them, again for fear of going to hell.

Psychologically, this was brutal. Having no friends, I spent every hour not at school in front of my television playing Nintendo, even telling people that it was my best friend. Of course, I also had my bible and my mother to tell me that all the people who I wanted to be my friend would go to hell, and it was best to stay away from them. They're just jealous, is all I was told.. right. That's why the beat me up, spit on me, and make fun of me every day at school. GREAT answer mom.


Slowly, I started changing, though. I would ask questions in youth group, such as "why would god send millions of people who grow up believing something like Islam to hell, when they've never got a chance to believe something else?" and more importantly to me, the thought that other Christians who didn't believe like myself would go to hell.. even when I was knee deep in theology I couldn't believe something that nonsensical. But believe it I must, as I was told, or else I too would burn for eternity...

But by the time I was 15, It was the beginning of the end. Inside it tore me up..but I couldn't help it. I started cussing... started listening to punk rock, instead of gospel gangstas...but only at school. At home and at church, it was tucked in shirts and prayer. but at school! I was accepted finally. Hanging out with people, playing football with friends, laughing and joking around, looking at girls. what a young person is SUPPOSED to do. I continued going to church, though, due to the psychotic nature of both my mother and the Nazarene church. However, others in the teen group could see I was slipping... hearing me say FUCK in the hallway at school, smoking in the school parking lot.. basically living 2 lives. But I was much, much happier being MYSELF, which was who I was at school, than the person I was at church.

my deconversion came to a head on a church camp-out. My cousin, who was 2 years older than me and in the same boat as I was, And I had walked away from the campsite to be away from them people and to talk...that and smoke cigarettes. Discussing things, we both were positive that we wasted our youth living in the glass box that was Christ. We were so scared to death of hell that we missed out on half of the things that being a kid is all about. And we both swore that we would never be that way again, or impose that on our kids when the time comes.

As I look back at those times in my life, I cant help but think how different it could have been if I was not involved in that sort of thing. To tell the truth, I still catch myself wondering if I'm the one whose wrong from time to time, and its been a long time since I went to church or cared...there's no point in re-iterating the awesome points that are made in the testimony reports on this website, only to say that I feel like I belong on this website with those who share my past. Now, at 22, I'm a very well adjusted, compassionate person to others. Unlike Christians, I do not hate that which I don't understand. While I still have to deal with the demons of Christ from time to time, mainly when I go home and get preached to, I look forward to a long good life..and a peaceful death.





City: Indianapolis
State: Indiana
Country: United States
Became a Christian: Birth
Ceased being a Christian: 16
Labels before: Nazarene
Labels now: none
Why I joined: Born into the fold
Why I left: See Above...

1/28/04                                                                                       View Comments

Trying to move on

sent in by Abby

I was born into a Catholic family. My mom was raised Catholic her entire life, but my dad became Catholic once they were married.

I went to a Catholic Elementary school for 9 years. 9 years! However, despite being raised in such a way, I wasn't brainwashed. As soon as I heard of Evolution, I accepted it as fact. It made so much sense to me. I don't think I ever thought all of the stories in the bible were real. I never thought people who practiced different religions went to hell either, although I was shocked to learn that there were other forms of Christianity other than Catholicism(and even I wonder at this. I'm the the bible belt for goodness sake!)

Anyway, every so often, I would get slightly more entusiastic about religion, only to have it lapse back into the regular lakc of interest that encircled it. I hated going to church. It was (is) boring, long, and pointless.

About 4 years ago, I started to take a closer look at what I was being told. I couldn't puzzle together all of the stories. They seemed confused and muddled, and this isn't even considering the entire bloody old testament.

At that point I had a few gay friends, and I was furious that most christians thought they were evil.

Then I started looking into other religions, my favorite of which was Paganism. Now m parents were very concerned.

I started skipping out of church when I could, and this worked for a few months, then my parents found out.

I have since decided that christianity is not me. I recently went through the bible and marked every passage I didn't agree with, and they were quite numerous.
I still have to go through the confirmation process according to my parents, but since it involves writing a letter to the priest explaining why I want to be confirmed, there's a good chance that I won't have to go through with it.

I'm glad there are sites like this one where people can come and be detox-ed, or at least become more informed. I just needed to share this, so thanks for the oportunity.


State: Tennessee
Country: US
Became a Christian: 1, I guess
Ceased being a Christian: 15-17
Labels before: Catholic
Labels now: odd mix of atheist pagan and a pinch of buddhist
Why I joined: was born into it, dunked and greased me before I had teeth.
Why I left: It stopped making sense long ago
Email Address: abbyspear at hotmail.com

1/23/04                                                                                       View Comments

I no longer need to live a lie

sent in by James

I too, am a non-believer. I have lived in the south all my life but was not raised in a religious environment. My ethnicity is half-Japanese, half-Caucasian. I do not look Asian, so all my life I have lived as a white man. My beloved mother was the Japanese military wife of my father who is a southern Alabama native. Although my father was raised in the Bible belt, there was not practiced religion in our home. My mother never forced me to learn any of her beliefs, but told me of her experiences in Japan. Buddhism and Shintoism were the prevailing beliefs that she had been introduced to. She had a hard life as a child in post-WW2 Japan, but she taught me that love for family and one another is paramount. My brother was born when I was ten with Down’s syndrome. My father took several tours of duty overseas, but we stayed stateside. The burden on my mother was tortuous. Nevertheless, she managed to learn the American language, culture, how to drive, and even got her GED and pursued secondary education. I won’t even mention the challenges she had being an Asian in southern Alabama. She was taken from me after her second bout with cancer in 2001. Throughout my childhood my father always made sure we were cared for financially and otherwise, but could not verbally express his love.

I am married and have two children with a wonderful woman who is a Southern Baptist and regular church-goer along with our two children. I do not attend church, but I believe our children benefit from the environment of church (if in no other way than socially). My father remarried less than one year after my mother’s passing. His wife, a woman who has redecorated our family home with cheesy velvet Jesus paintings and dime-store figurines of frogs, is a devout father-flocker (my term for Christian). She has my dad and brother attending church regularly. He and I have not spoken much lately, but I do recall a recent conversation when he asked me if I was still attending church. I said no. Not much else was discussed. This past Christmas he gives me a Bible as a gift.

I have always dealt with much frustration when it came to describing what or who I was. I am a non-believer. Why should I be a Christian? Why would I take the route to heaven if that meant never to see my mother again? Although she was introduced to Christianity (who can escape it in the south?) she never affirmed that she accepted Christ into her life. If I were to accept Christ, it would mean that I understand that mother was sent to eternal damnation upon her death. I do not believe that. I have never believed that. I don’t believe that every time I hear thunder, that it is Thor’s hammer banging against the clouds. I do believe that I am a compassionate person with more tolerance and brotherly love for my fellow man than most of the bible-bangers out there. I am socially an outcast. But writing this, and affirming who I am, makes me feel better.

Peace,
James L.


Became a Christian: Introduced to Christianity by a childhood friend at 9
Ceased being a Christian: 35 after the passing of my mother
Labels before: Southern Baptist, Assembly of God
Labels now: Non-believer
Why I joined: Initially to make friends, but later I felt compelled by my environment
Why I left: I no longer need to live a lie

1/22/04                                                                                       View Comments

Why I am no longer a christian

sent in by Steve

Where to start-I was "converted" to christianity at the young age of 13, when kids who became teenagers should be out enjoying life. I got all crazy for christ and all, then that started 6 or 7 years of my life being assimilated in the "christian borg".

Later on in my my life as a "babe in christ", my dad started telling me that i should start tithing. Being a blind christian, i did so.

In the summer of my transition of my 8th-9th grade year (keep in mind I went to public schools) I went to this "youth conference" not far from me. Nothing more than a bunch of fascist old men who never had a life preaching to teenagers about how bad they are and if they dont stop with their ways, god will punish them.

The first sermon of the second day of the conference, was loriented around teen relationships. SImply put, they said that teens shoulnt date until they're 25 years of age, and the COMMANDED that anyone there that was in a relationship to cease all contact with their partners. Like the brainwashed, mindless sheep that they are, they did so.

More of the anti-dating propaganda awaited me upon my return from my father. At the church I attended once, I talked to a moderately attractive girl around my age. Someone evidently ratted me out to my father for doing something as innocent as talking to a member of the opposite sex. He pulled me aside and chided me about talking to girls. He got real upset when he found out I asked her for her phone number! He then told me that I do not need a girlfriend, and in an essence, that I don't need female companionship.

As far as my friends are concerned, I never brought thm over to my house, because he would try and brainwash them with his "jesus" psychobabble. My friends would get upset around me when they were approcached by my father about the "lord". He would say that my best friends were not my true friends at all (even though me and some of my friends have been friends since childhood). He called one of them "a tool of Satan because he had a goatee, sideburns, and earrings. (Wow, can you feel the christian love?)

Now that I am a 21 year old man, I think for myself. I like to party. I like to think. I like to drink!! I don't need daddy or his Fundie henchmen telling me how to live, dress, or whom to associate with. I can think for myself now. The way i see it, there is no heaven or hell. He tries to tell me that everyone at his church misses me and all, bit I really don't care about them any longer.


State: Michigan
Country: USA
Became a Christian: 13
Ceased being a Christian: Drifted away from it, totally disassociated with ALL religion now
Labels before: Southern Baptist
Labels now: Freethinker, believer of Logic, Agnostic
Why I joined: Forced
Why I left: I discovered how to think for myself

1/21/04                                                                                       View Comments

Confessions of a former Calvinist fundy

sent in by "Now a Freethinker"

Ah, where to begin. Prior to my momentous conversion to the faith, I was just your average high-school grad about to enter university. I supposed I would have classed myself as "Christian" at the time, although I didn't read the bible, go to church or anything. I imagine many people classify themselves in a similar manner.

Then, I went to university. I don't know the cause, exactly. Maybe it was
fear, and loneliness at being away from home? Initially I was drawn to
Roman Catholicism simply because of the pomp and ritual. It gave me a sense
of comfort and belonging.

One night I watching TV...some "Jesus" show was on, and that's all it took.
I "converted" that night, and launched myself into a flurry of study.
I ended up at a Baptist church that had just gotten a new preacher...and
he was a staunch 5-point Calvinist. I got one heck of an education from him.
I was made aware of the whole Arminian vs. Calvinist theology debate, the
traps of Scofieldism, the horrors of the Catholic church.

What was the end result of this deluge of theological effluvium? I became
a rabid fundamentalist of a sort that isn't seen much today...a Calvinistic
fundamentalist. Like you I poured over Spurgeon, Calvin, Luther, Knox...
I spurned "modern Arminian xtianity" with a passion. I became RABIDLY
anti-Catholic (I devoured Hislop's "The Two Babylons" to whet my appetite for
anti-Catholic rhetoric). I hid Calvinistic tracts in the university library,
if you can believe that! I even had tapes of the hatemonger "reverend"
Ian Paisley of Ireland.

One of the darkest, saddest things I did at this time was to severely
browbeat an old friend who was converting to Catholicism (she was planning
on marrying a Catholic at the time). I treated her like SHIT in the name
of my "religion". I lost this friend (and I will forever ache because
of it).

Long story short: I became a neurotic fundamentalist asshole. My family
was terrified of what I had become. And I was prepared to walk away from
even them in the name of this "religion."

I didn't find comfort in the "brotherhood" of fellow Christians, either. Most
held me at arm's length...even those that weren't aware of my Calvinistic
beliefs. The ones that were aware of my Calvinistic ways were horrified,
as you can expect.

Still, even in all this there was a method to the madness. Even buried in
Hislop's hate-filled anti-Catholic creeds, there WAS a small grain of truth.
Through that I discovered that Christianity was NOT all that it seemed!
No indeed. I learned about the church's habit of borgifying contemporary
religions...from Mithra to the Saturnalia. I saw the worn coat of
Christian paint covering the old Pagan holidays. I began to learn.

At the time I had signed up for "religion & culture" classes at the
university. Fortunately for me, these classes were NOT dogmatic brain-washing
sessions. See, these classes showed me the literary deconstruction of the
books of the bible. I learned about the "Q" document that the synoptics
were based on. I began to see the 4th gospel as the dogmatic little tract
it is. My "faith" was challenged by hard scientific fact.

The one thing that bothered me most was Paul. I had founded my beliefs on
Paul's teachings, but I couldn't make his doctrines mesh with what the 3
synoptics taught. It bothered me that Paul basically told female believers
to "sit down and shut up", especially since Jesus had been so GOOD to women.
It bothered me that James' sole epistle directly contradicted everything
Paul was preaching (even Luther himself was bothered by this). And it
began to become plain to me that even the original apostles did not like
or trust this Saul of Tarsus. The perceived uniformity of bible
scripture began to unravel before my eyes.

I studied, learned. I realized that if Jesus really existed, he was
a rabbi. And thus, if he was a rabbi, he HAD to be married. I realized that
millennia of censorship and misogyny had excised the rabbi's wife from the
tale, turning her into a whore! I began to see the Mithratic influences
in Saul of Tarsus and his preaching. I began to really "see" for the
first time that whatever Christianity was when it was founded, it had been
co-opted and hijacked so many times it was VERY far from what it was
originally. Right from the get-go, the whole thing was counterfeit.

All in all, as the myth of Christianity was deconstructed one page at a time,
my own inner struggle was getting darker. I was alone, and didn't have much
luck meeting new friends. It began to bother me that I had alienated so
many of my former friends with my rabid fundamentalism. I began the long
process of re-evaluating myself and what I believe.

Another big thing was the whole "prophecy" angle. I began to view prophecy
with extreme suspicion. It bothered me the way the followers of Scofield
borrowed scriptures ad-hoc from all over the bible, especially from the
old testament prophets, simply to support their dogma. The book of
Revelations really got under my skin the most however. I wondered at the
"authority" of the book...who is this "John" guy anyway? Why should we
believe that these incredibly violent pages were written by an apostle?
Anyone could have penned it. And look at the result--so many wars, so
much strife and division, so much bloodshed--all because of this ONE
book. How much better would Christianity be if this book had been left
out of the official canon! I mean look at the lunacy today...I'm revolted
by these "dispensationalist" so-called "Christians" who are slavering and
drooling for the end of the world to come. So much so that they are
looking forward to a bloody war in Israel so they can see that damn
temple "reconstructed" (as Scofield has promised them "must" happen).
It disgusts me that people with such bloodlust in their hearts still
consider themselves to be emissaries of the "prince of peace."

This was the final hurdle: by rejecting prophecy, I rejected the
predestined mindset of Calvinistic thinking. It was over.

Today I consider myself to be happily non-religious. The siren call of
religion--any kind, mind you--does not hold my ear anymore. Perhaps I'm
agnostic, who knows. The one thing I realized is that the world is far
too full of shades of gray for anyone to cling to absolutes and not be
miserable.

Heck, I wouldn't have even considered sharing this were it not for your
admissions to being a Calvinist at one point...I didn't know any existed outside
my little group so long ago. And perhaps by being a Calvinist, I sowed the
seeds of my own "destruction" (religion-wise). Once you start learning,
you start to see the cracks. If you are honest with yourself, you won't
pretend that those cracks don't exist.


It took me years to admit I had fallen away from the faith. I had learned
too much--the myth had been exposed to me. Perhaps this is why so many
religious folks hate learning--they want to remain comfortable in the
little reality their religion constructs for them.

No I don't have the answers to "life, the universe, and everything." Neither
does Christianity. Once you start asking questions and seeking the answers,
anyone can come to realize that. I'm comfortable with the shades of gray,
for now. But I never stop learning.


Sex: M
Became a Christian: 21, if you can believe it.
Ceased being a Christian: Hard to answer. Drifted away slowly. Finally admitted it about 6 or 7 years ago.
Labels before: Fundamentalist, Calvinist, Baptist
Labels now: Happily NON-religious.
Why I joined: Unknown. Just "happened" watching some Jesus show on TV one night.
Why I left: Like you, I learned too much for my own good. :)

1/19/04                                                                                       View Comments

God has Retired and Lives in Florida

sent in by Steve

I have spent much of the past year reevaluating my lifelong encumbrance with Christianity. Here and now I relinquish all claims to its glorious promises. I have come to understand the concept of God in a new light. Perhaps man was not created in God’s image as we’ve been taught. On the contrary, perhaps God was created in ours. We’ve taken our limited understanding of the ultimate absolute and applied to God our temporal characteristics. In doing so we have limited the unfathomable, unknowable expression of oneness to a caricature of ourselves. This would explain the obvious evolution of God from the earliest writing of the Hebrew scriptures to the writings associated with the new covenant. God shouts from the mountains in the beginning in peals of thunder, tempests and fire. Then God steps behind the scenes speaking only through the prophets and at their bidding. In the new covenant, God is banished to the realm of spirit and mystery. Finally, God cannot be heard except through a “still small voice” in the ear of only an ardent believer. Perhaps as we’ve evolved in our understanding of the mechanisms of life our need for God has diminished. We’ve replaced God (gods) with our understanding. One by one, discovery by discovery, we’ve retired God from our daily experience.

Most of my life I’ve been a fundamental, born again Christian. I’ve bought into the doctrines of fundamental Christianity and ultimately found that it is clearly not the fact based biography of a God incarnate carpenter who wandered around Palestine preaching to the masses. Rather, it resembles more a collaboration of numerous mythical religions assembled generations later by authors unknown. Despite the abundance of historical records which exist from that time period (Rome was a very advanced civilization and Jerusalem a focal point of Roman rule) there exist perhaps two paragraphs gleaned from several sources that even imply that a Jesus (and there were many Jesus teachers/leaders at the time) described in the Biblical account ever existed at all. Neither of these sources are a contemporary account of the events alleged. In fact there exists no record, not even in the biblical accounts, from a source contemporary to Jesus. No first person narrative stating “Jesus and I went to the market to buy fish today”, or “Jesus informed me that he is God today”. Even the Gospel accounts are not first person . One is led to believe that each was penned by its stated author. Nowhere in the text of the gospels can this correlation be gleaned. The earliest of them (Mark) was penned around 150 C.E. Don’t you think that out of the multitudes who were supposedly following Jesus in this highly metropolitan area someone might have written “Holy cow, you’ll never guess what I saw today!” Nothing! Antiquity remains silent. The arrangement of the New Testament books implies a chronology that is inconsistent with fact. The accepted dates of each “book” roughly starts with Revelation and ends with Matthew. The Pauline letters preceded the Gospels. Hence, no mention in Paul’s letters about any of the quite amazing claims which grew larger with each telling. In fact Paul never indicates that he has any knowledge of a real Jesus. At least in the old testament God spoke “face to face”. Here we have to believe Paul’s vision bore God’s imprint and was not the result of a bad antipasto. Take any miracle which occurs in more than one account and watch the progression from simple statement to embellished doctrine.

Faith, being either the absence of reason or a launching point from it, absolves the faithful from any fidelity or responsibility to the empirical truth. Divine “truth” has historically been merely a commodity to be bought and sold. Malleable in nature, used by the church and its sententious, charismatic leaders to achieve the only thing it ever desired with its myopic aphorisms; money and power. Evidentiary, objective, reasonably documented truth is not to be found anywhere in the bible or in the early history of the church. The bible, being unencumbered by the need for historical accuracy, is free to create fictitious characters to suit its purposes. It is actually easier to worship the idea of Christ and conform to the cycle of religious piety, than to adhere to his teachings. The abstemious Christ, the reluctant messiah of the Gospel accounts, would scarcely be recognized if he appeared in a Cathedral today.

The pages of the old testament are filled with the promises of God to His chosen race. Almost none of them were ever kept. The Assyrians, Medes, Persians, Babylonian captivity, Antiochus Epiphanes, the Romans, the destruction of the temple, the razing of Jerusalem and the diaspora each diluted those sacrosanct promises. “But if only the Jews had accepted the mission of Jesus this could have been averted and paradise regained.” We could reenter that innocent state of the original sinning pair replete with their amentia and their childlike understanding. Philosophy tells us that what separates us from the animals is our ability to question our existence. Perhaps Adam and Eve’s only flaw was their propensity to discover and know. I would never quench the fire of inquisitiveness in my two children and prefer their blind obedience to my word. I’d rather they searched for meaning, expanded their realm of knowledge, broadened their intellect and having steeped in wisdom returned to me to one day to proclaim “I have learned much from you Dad, your were right”. What earthly parent would open the cookie jar, place it in the middle of the room, say “don’t touch” and then consign his beloved progeny to the care of an evil baby sitter knowing they had neither the knowledge of what constituted good or evil or the mental capacity to evaluate the consequences? This is exactly the story line in the book of Genesis. What kind of sin is the desire to know good and evil anyway? What is wrong with wanting to be like your parent? Isn’t the knowledge of good and evil part of the process of becoming fully human? Perhaps some people desire the blissful ignorance of the garden. I would prefer the opportunity to make mistakes and to grow. If God truly had created us in His image then perhaps this is an inherited flaw.

The challenge of growing up is learning which stories are useful reality constructs and which are poetic metaphors. How can you accept the story of the garden as anything but an allegory of creation? Amazingly, upwards of half the population believe this was a literal occurrence. Given the conflict between the scientific and religious explanations of life most prefer the latter as it conforms to a deep seated need to believe that we are the center of all that exists and that an unseen hand will assure our eternal protection. (It was only 10 years ago that the Catholic church framed a formal apology to Galileo for his heliocentric statements) Religion allows us to look out at the vastness of the cosmos and not be intimidated by our apparent insignificance but take comfort in the belief that it was all created for our benefit. We have the answer to the three questions Gaugin posed in his painting; “From where did we come”, “What are we here for”, “Where are we going”. We summarily reject science and its “sterile” explanations because of the way it makes us feel ignorant and impotent almost on a daily basis. How many people can explain how a microwave oven functions, much less how a telescope launched into space can capture vivid pictures of countless galaxies out there in the blackness, each with trillions of stars, and potentially, planets much like our own. We run to the bosom of science for its medicine and its technology, but flee its explanations for the working of our universe and our infinitely small place in it. Wherever it is possible to find out the explanation of something we should not have recourse to faith . However, we prefer to hold fast to the nativity scenes, miracles, angels, prophecies and revelations which are more the fodder of supermarket tabloids and children’s fables than useful information. The dubious miracles of the scriptures are a tenuous foundation upon which to build a faith. Parlor tricks and sleight of hand may have impressed the multitudes, but no one is founding a religion on David Copperfield or Seigfreid and Roy. Greater miracles are with us each moment of the day in the replication of DNA and the discovery of new galaxies. Perhaps a belief in miracles is the last bastion of the faithful, however ephemeral, that science reluctantly takes away.

For the first time in my life I feel free to appreciate my humanity and all its uncertainty, joy, sorrow and questions without awaiting some divine retribution for being me. Like Shakespeare said “There is nothing good or bad but thinking makes it so”. I love life and the joy of living each day. No promise of a heavenly home with streets of gold is necessary to enjoy my simple life in my little world. I only hope to make my life a meaningful one and touch those around me with kindness and comfort as we each try to work out our own salvation.

Peace out…


City: Norwich
State: CT
Country: USA
Became a Christian: Infant
Ceased being a Christian: 45
Labels before: Catholic, Baptist, Assembly of God, Pentecostal
Labels now: Pagan
Why I joined: I Needed Answers
Why I left: The Answers Didn't Add Up
Email Address: ssmigs at sbcglobal.net

1/17/04                                                                                       View Comments

Pay no attention to the men behind the curtain....

sent in by Fox Mackenzie

I never really concerned myself overmuch with the details of the faith I belonged to, I just knew CCD school (still don't know what those initials stand for) was nothing but glorified brainwashing, and I was sick and tired of watching grainy filmstrips about the life of saints. I made my first communion, and all I remember about it was a little song-and-dance routine they made us do, and frolicking through a field of dandelions with my friend Erin, dressed in white and wearing my mother's wedding veil and a circlet of satin rosebuds around a statue of Mary, which in retrospect seems like a pretty pagan thing to do, ironically.

Aside from the decidedly cardboard-like taste of communion wafers, I didn't take anything upon leaving the faith that I hadn't brought with me, through common sense, into it.

So why'd I leave? Simple. I made a deal with god, he reneged, so I up and left. Over the years, when asked that question countless times I've tried to make the answer more sophisticated, but after reading many anti-testimonials, I've come to the conclusion that I'm not ashamed or frightened of why I left, so why bother appeasing others that are going to be judgemental anyway?

My father was a military man, stationed in Alaska while my communion was due to happen in New Jersey. I sat by the statue of Mary in front of the church, looked up, and told god that if he was up there, and really loved me and forgave me and all that good stuff, then he would understand how much I loved my father and wanted him to be there to see the little song-and-dance routine I had practiced so diligently. My father was a perfectly healthy, living person, airplanes existed, there was a few weeks before communion, my parents knew my wishes...so, of course, being all-powerful, he could manage to help out. After all, I was *doing* the whole ceremony for god in the first place...I just wanted my dad to be there.

Of course, nothing happened, as is the majority of the cases with praying. "Mysterious ways" indeed. I told god that if my dad didn't show up, I was leaving. I took a lot for granted and suspended disbelief for my entire CCD reprogramming, and I thought it was high time he put a little effort into showing up once in awhile. When he didn't, I left.

If a parent doesn't take care of a child, ignores them, and lets their cries go unanswered, our society removes that child from that parent. By leaving, I was only doing what our society would do on my behalf if the situation were here on earth and god was flesh.

I looked into many other systems of belief, including eastern beliefs, athiesm, Jehovas Witness(ing), and Judaism, among others. Early on, I tenatively set my allegiances with the Pagan faith, finding them least judgemental and most honest about god being less than perfect. As time went on and I matured, my bonds to the faith strengthened. It was a very hard path to take, not inside, but on the outside. People not only opposed my choice, but violently so. Sure, I was a little more out about it then I needed to be in my brash early teen years, but, as everyone, I was searching for my identity. However, this did not warrant the vandalism of my personal effects, art projects, gym clothing, locker, and myself. I suffered wounds, both real and emotional, simply because I followed a different set of beliefs than most - but what hurt the most was the school system's blind eye to obvious religious discrimination. If what had occurred with me occured against a jewish or islamic person, the board would be in an uproar over hate crime education.

Years have passed since then, and I'm a member of exchristian.net simply because I do not believe the church should be able to freely continue its history of brainwashing and "righteous" hate crimes. I've seen too many good people spoiled by the 'fire of god', and I just hope my own message lends strength to those who need it when they finally leave.

~Fox



URL: http://www.homestead.com/foxfyresden
City: Middletown
State: NJ
Country: USA
Became a Christian: Got dunked before I started teething!

Ceased being a Christian: Around 9.

Labels before: I put all of it behind me, but Roman Catholic.

Labels now: Pagan, and damn happy about it, too.

Why I joined: Didn't have much of a choice, was too young to talk!
Why I left: Finally realized what the hell was going on.
Email Address: FoxMackenzie at aol.com





1/8/04                                                                                       View Comments

At first I was mad...

sent in by Kevin Haas

At first I was mad, I've been lied to my whole life about this god/supreme being. Told I had to follow this one account of someone else's life. Argh!

I am here to tell you that I no longer accept it, I am no longer mad, but rather now I feel sorry for those still stuck. It is a little like escaping from the “matrix.” I want to free other minds, but most are not ready to be freed. They are too dependent. I have often thought this maybe that is one of the hidden messages behind the Matrix movie.

I was raised Catholic. I was even an alter boy; not abused by a priests (as far as I can remember.) I never once attended mass on my own after my parents stopped forcing me because I did not live under their roof. That was not the point where I “lost the faith”, but it certainly seemed like going to church on Sunday was a waste of time. I don't blame my parents they were just passing what had been done to them.

I live in the Bible Belt. I was not born here, but moved to it before I renounced the teachings of that foul book called the bible. It is a bit uncomfortable being a non-Christian in an area where religion is so important. I feel like I have to keep my feelings on the universe to myself for fear of persecution. While I do not think I would be openly discriminated against in the work-place I am not comfortable sharing my thoughts even if I were asked. Theists are so sensitive about anyone disagreeing with their point of view. It is better not to answer than to contradict local mores.

Since high school, for the last 12 years, I would have to classify myself as non-religious. Everyone just assumes I am a Christian because I am a Caucasian. What started me down the road to atheism/deism was the birth of my son. I decided it was time to either embrace the bible and start going to church or renounce Christianity—no more sitting on the fence. I've always been a skeptical person, but I had no idea what an eye opening experience this would be.

My father-in-law (a devout Christian) knew that I was on the fence about Christianity so he gave me a book, A Skeptic's Search for God by Ralph O. Muncaster. The result: rather than convince me of validity of Christianity, Mr. Muncaster made me want to run the other way. If my father-in-law only knew that he pushed me in the other direction he would be very disappointed. I think on some level he knows, because we do not discuss religion anymore.

I would not call myself an absolute atheist, but in the spectrum I am pretty close. I think technically I would be considered an agnostic, because if solid scientifically verifiable evidence for a supreme beings existence (not a two thousand year old book) was ever produced I would at least reconsider my position. This does not mean I believe it will happen in my lifetime if ever, I just can not slam the door so completely on the concept of god the way most atheists do. That's their choice.

If you are stuck on the fence as I was or you are questioning your faith I highly recommend these books. They helped me land the right place and got me to find this website.

--Atheism, The Case Against God by George H. Smith (the most profound book I have ever read. I'm sure there are other great ones out there.)
--Why, Atheism by George H. Smith (follow up to the first book)
--Demon-Haunted World by Carl Sagan (not so religion focused by why science is good)
--Case for Christ by Lee Strobel (This is an extremely popular book in Chrisitian apologetics, but it was not convincing.)
--Challenging the Verdict by Earl Doherty (a rebuttal to Challenging the Verdict)

PS. If you are a Christian, do not bother emailing me to tell me I am lost or that I was never really a Christian. It's not going to change my mind.

City: Charlotte
State: NC
Country: USA
Became a Christian: birth
Ceased being a Christian: 30
Labels before: Catholic
Labels now: Atheist/Agnostic
Why I joined: I was born into it.
Why I left: Could not accept Christianity. Too many wacky concepts.
Email Address: agentorange at carolina.rr.com

1/3/04                                                                                       View Comments

An ex pentacostal

sent in by Andy

I'm glad I've found this site because I was raised a christian and I've goten really annoyed because of christianity. Here in the UK a lot of people do beleive in god but they don't read the bible or go to church so they don't really understand why I get so annoyed because of it. My dad has been a pentacostal preacher since before I was born and I was always told to go to church and sunday school (where my dad taught) since I was very young.

Most of the people I knew at church were very nice and they tried their best to teach us the morals in the bible (as well as trying to edit out the rape and intolerance). I started to wonder if the bible is completely true. I kept hearing about dinosaurs living millions of years before humans, the ice age and cave men. They didn't seem to be shown in the bible and I also started to wonder how every race could of originated from adam and eve. I didn't think about it too much but eventually I realised that either the bible was wrong or everything I saw on TV about history was a lie.

I realised I was gay when I was about 11 or 12. At the time all I knew about homophobia was that all of the children at school liked to call people gay as an insult and I know now that it was happening because I went a church of england school which taught that christianity is important so they let it happen and they didn't care. Even before I realised I was gay I didn't think there was anything wrong with it despite what all my friends thought. I just assumed that it was one of those things that children just don't understand but adults would be fine with, like other races because are usually mroe ignorant of other races then adults. Since then I've realised how wrong I was. I didn't care too much about it until someone at my church decided to tell us that gods a homophobe, gays can't be christians and I'm going to burn in hell for something thats beyond my control.

Thankfully I had already lost faith by then but I wondered if god really did hate me. After that happened I only went to church because my parents forced me and eventually they said I didn't have to go anymore. I still beleived in god because I was raised to beleive and I just thought I should rebel and I lived my life thinking that I was angering god and I was happy because I felt resentful because of what I had been told.

I heard about christians arguing about wether or not gays should be accepted in the church and reparative therapy so I wondered if I could ever change. I was told that I was gay because of parental mistakes so I beleived them because I was never really like most boys and I was told that if my parents made me more normal I wouldn't be gay. One day my dad was watching a christian program and a preacher was saying that 2 men can't have a child and call themselves a family because its disgusting and unatural. At that moment I realised that they were all insane and if their is a hell they deserve to go there more then anyone else.

I realised that I only beleived because its what I was always told and christianity was the only religion that was commonly practiced here. After finding out about the similarities between christianity and other religions I no longer beleive in it. I don't agree with christianity because I think people use it to justify their hatred and want to scare everyone into beleving in hell.

City: Nottingham
Country: UK
Became a Christian: 5
Ceased being a Christian: 13
Labels before: Pentacostal
Labels now: Philosophical Taoist, Agnostic
Why I joined: I have a very religious dad
Why I left: I was told that gays can't be christians
Email Address: shinji_kun_nge@yahoo.co.uk