3/31/04                                                                                       View Comments

A Life-long Christian who never imagined I'd be writing here....

sent in by BornAgainCelt

I'm hoping to get some feedback here, as I really don't know where else to go with my questions. No one knows my thoughts right now & if they did, they'd REALLY be stunned. I've been a high profile in my church for over 30 years - Bible study teacher, church musician, even missionary. But I've had questions well up in me for many years that I've ignored until now.

I'm a musician & while doing graduate work, I fell in love with the music of the Middle Ages, which began a 30 year fascination for anything Medieval, particularly church history. Ohhhh, boy. What I've read, I've just kept to myself. Don't want to rock the boat. Especially when being a church music director has put food on the table for the family. I'd see pettiness and judgement in Xtians, but turned the other way. I've finally realized that I've turned the other cheek so many times that I've been going in circles. But my story begins much earlier....

When I was 9, my grandfather began molesting me. He called me Jezebel and threatened me hell if I ever told anyone. "The dogs ate Jezebel & they'll eat you too", he'd tell me. I couldn't understand why my parents didn't know, but I was too terrified to tell, afraid of going to hell. It was a very sick 3 years of abuse. Finally, the abuse stopped when he died; and I learned at the funeral that the family knew all along. I became angry. The family hid the truth by painting me as "crazy", yet refusing to allow me to go into therapy for fear I'd tell. All the while, I was told I must never tell, forgive, and forget. "The only people you can ever trust is FAMILY" & "the worst thing you can do is talk about what goes on in the family with outsiders", were two mantras repeated to me daily. Meanwhile, I became the "target child", scapegoated for everything that went wrong. When my music began getting recognized, the family exclaimed "they don't know how EVIL you really are; WE know the truth". I had horrible self esteem. Had it not been for my college professors, I'm sure I would have eventually died in a suicide attempt (I tried 5 times). I finally broke free of family in my 30's. The Church wasn't so easy.

Last year, I became seriously ill & was bedridden for 2 months. Now ONE person from my church even called to talk to me. I called the office, requesting my name be put on the prayer list; it wasn't. I had been active in the choir, Sunday school, but nothing. The people who came to my aid were my agnostic, atheist, and Wiccan friends. My Wiccan just came by & sat by my bed every day in silence, in case I needed her. I never even heard from my pastor. A few months earlier, my husband & I had trained for foster parenting. So when I finally got well enough to get out of bed, I immediately called & talked to my pastor about what happened while I was ill. "Oh, well, you know, people are just sooooo busy," he chirped. I told him that I had serious questions about a church I'd attended for 30 years being too busy to help someone seriously ill. I further explained that my husband and I were about to adopt a sibling group of mixed race children & needed to know that the church would be there for us & these kids. We couldn't afford to have a church treat our kids the way they did me, I said. Many of these kids have lots of baggage & we'd need the church's support. Well, he hemmed & hawed, saying he had to "pray about it before saying further". So, howdy-do, three days later, I get this letter in the mail from him saying "I THINK IT'S BEST THAT YOU ATTEND ANOTHER CHURCH!" So much for "all one in Christ Jesus". I was stunned. But the shock set my brain to thinking: If a preacher can so easily shirk off the very philosophy he's supposed to be preaching (i.e. "love one another"), then the preacher must KNOW it's all a LIE. Otherwise, for fear of eternal hell, he would have wanted to take our children into the fold.

I've seen this sort of thing go on for years in churches & I just cannot believe the doctrine anymore. I don't know what to call myself now. I believe in the IDEAS Jesus taught - love, forgiveness, mercy. But the attack gays really disturbs me. If we're ALL sinners, who cares HOW we sin? I cannot believe my straight friends are going to heaven because they're straight anymore than I can believe my gay friends are going to hell because they're gay. And I'd put my Wiccan friend up to any Christian any day; she is the most "Christ-like" person I've ever known - free of judgement, generous in love and patience, always respectful of others' beliefs. If God really DOES exist, He'd surely zap these mean, horrible hate-mongers in the world into chargrilled fries, but so far He hasn't. So, why hasn't He? Churches have become another form of "country club" with membership dues and rules dictating how one should think & behave & you're doomed to hell if you don't believe it. "Winning souls" and "membership" is all about making money. And don't EVEN get me started on evangelists!

Are there any here that are non-Xtians, yet believe in a higher power? I've had some experiences that prevent me from disbelieving in God, but I sure don't believe the way I did. The Bible has so many flaws & contradictions & the writers even more so!

I've enjoyed reading the posts here. So much of what I've been mulling over is written here. I'd like to hear what you all have to say.

BornAgainCelt





City: Kennesaw
State: GA
Country: USA
Became a Christian: 9 years old
Ceased being a Christian: Not sure
Labels before: Methodist
Labels now: Heretic
Why I joined: It was expected of me; mom said it was time I got baptised
Why I left: Too many questions about too many contradictions

3/30/04                                                                                       View Comments

An easy transition

sent in by David

I have been posting in the forum under davety227 for about a month and now feel comfortable to post my testimony.

I was baptised as an infant into the Roman Catholic church at the request of my parents. My parents are not overly religious or fanatical in any way, I believe they did it out of tradition more than anything. I then attended a catholic elementary from age six until age fourteen. Although the priests and nuns who taught at this school were very nice, I never really bought into the bible and the concept of Jesus as my savior. I did want to believe, so I tried not to entertain the thought for very long. It wasn't the Christian faith that left a lasting impression on me, it was their views on homosexuals.

You see, I am gay. I grew up believing it is wrong to be gay, a belief I struggled with all through my teenage years. Like the title says, a smooth transition, but that was only for leaving the faith. I was never a religious person, and neither is my family. I always wanted to believe, but when I really reflected on it, I knew I didn't. I always heard the priests talk about allowing Jesus in your heart so I decided to try it. I prayed to God to make me heterosexual. Nothing happened. That was the moment I lost all faith in God.

All the horrible words I had heard spoken about homosexuals stayed with me. I knew I was gay but didn't want to believe it. So a state of denial constantly plagued my mind. This denial forced me into alienation. To make up for this I started using drugs. I discovered the rave scene and finally felt like I belonged. I started using just about every substance available, but my real problem was with cocaine and oxycontin. I soon realized this feeling of comradery came from my substance abuse. Luckily I was able to see the harm that was being done and I stopped using these problem drugs. I also started becoming much more comfortable with who I was.

After the use of chemicals as an escape had ended I was able to look at my life and realize the worth of who I am. I started attending college which brings me to where I am at now. I can now say I am free from religion, free from unhealthy attitudes toward myself, and for once I can say I am happy, and mean it.



City: Glassboro
State: NJ
Country: USA
Became a Christian: I was baptised as an infant
Labels before: Catholic
Labels now: Atheist

3/29/04                                                                                       View Comments

It's been the end of the world for two thousand years!

sent in by Jason

"In order to be sure that you are a good person, so that you don't go to hell when you die, you have to pray to Jesus and ask him to live in your heart, okay son?"

"Okay, Mommy. Dear Jesus...."

That was the moment when my little mind began to develop its worldview around the tension wrought pillars of supernatural dualism. For the next 25 years I would be caught in an escalating mental war with myself. Every event and circumstance would ultimately be subconsciously filed under either "Because of God", or, "Because of Satan". I learned to be suspicious of every little thing that entered my thoughts. My DEPENDANCE on God for taking care of me, guiding me in decisions, and protecting me from evil grew, while my FEAR of "Satan", evil, being misled by evil forces, and hell, also grew.

A couple years later, my aunt and uncle, being concerned for my lack of indoctrination under my liberally thinking mother, convinced her to let them send me to Christian summer camp. All I have to say here is that these terrible places should be renamed Psychological manipulation and brainwashing concentration camps. Yeah, but who would send their kids there? Awe, come on, what could be so harmful about going on hikes, swimming, and having the fear of eternal damnation shoved down your child's throat, as DEEPLY as possible?

Because of my curious and observant nature, I was plagued with the countless questions that naturally present themselves to the honest, thinking Christian. You have all dealt with these, I'm sure. Also burdened (sarcastic tone) with a sincere and loving heart, I always wanted to make my parents and God happy. The questions I had got stuffed away in the "Have faith, trust God" file. It wasn't untill I was about 10 years old that I actually questioned wether what I had been taught was exactly true.

That was the same time my father, who had left my mother a few months before my first prayer, came back into my life, having recently "Rededicated himself to the lord". He suddenly wanted to put more effort into his relationship with me, and I was just absolutely thrilled to have my dad back in my life. Unfortunately, his re-dedication was done through a church (I don't know the name of) that was very apocalyptic in its view. As a newly concerned father and Christian, he felt the need to share his beliefs with me. The mental and emotional vacuum that was created when he left just sucked it all into my psyche where it would take up a commanding residence in my thinking. The things he told me would effect me as much as, if not more than, any of the stories I had been told before.

The book of Revelation. Has any single book in the Bible done more damage to the mind of believers and society? Perhaps, but not to me. Through my adolescence and early adulthood, everything in my life was ultimately geared toward getting ready for Jesus to come back. I constantly wondered what it was going to be like. The images in the book of Revelation are terrifying.

I took my dad's word on wether there would be a rapture or not. Thank God I wouldn't have to be around for all those terrible things that were going to happen to.........wait a second.....most of my non-Christian friends, and my step-Dad!!! But wait- they were good people...God was going to let them all suffer, and then send them to hell to suffer even more for eternity? RRRRRRRRRT!!! File that under "Trust God, have faith".

After high school, things eventually got to the point where I simply could not just believe any more, and I began my quest for truth. The more I learned, the harder it was to believe. The less I believed, the more peace I felt in my life.

The Y2K bug hysteria got ahold of my dad and his apocalypticism became inflamed again. Somehow, it all got under my skin again too and I returned to the fearful mentality I had known so intamately before. I thought about going to church again and convinced my wife that we should at least stock up on canned food and water.

Drumroll, please............................. sound of cricketts.

Wow, that makes me think of how the Christian mind must have felt for the last two thousand years!

The whole story could only be accurate if you were to weave a nice web of fear, concern, belief, fear, disbelief, hope, fear, doubt, and more fear over the past 25 years. I've been studying the world's religions, psychology, and biblical criticism. I feel like I've gotten past the possibility of ever being Christian again, but I still have deeply embedded fear that won't allow me to completely unshackle myself from those chains. I have days of relief and days of anxiety. I'm anticipating another several years before I don't have panic attacks anymore.

Some people are effected more than others by this religion of guilt and fear. I'm definately one of those who has really been damaged.







City: Fort Collins
State: co
Country: usa
Became a Christian: 5
Ceased being a Christian: Caught in vicious cycle of leaving and returning for the last 25 years.
Labels before: Non denominational Christian, Agnostic, Bahai, Bhuddist, Neo Pagan
Labels now: Agnostic
Why I joined: The efficient manipulation done by Christian summer camp people.
Why I left: Could not stop thinking for the life of me.
Email Address: spacinquart at hotmail.com

3/28/04                                                                                       View Comments

Cruel Religion

sent in by Evers

It makes me sick that I did not find out the truth earlier in my life. Religion is truely a self made prison used to control the masses with fear and greed.

I credit the Bush President 43, and Jerry Foulwell with helping me see reality. To the most powerful office in hostory sucking up to a divine power for control of the earth seemed like Hitler to me. I read The "Age Of Reasoning" by Thomas Paine. It was written in the 17 hundreds and the lights came on. There may be a divine power but not the demonic being of revenge who's Bible hates gays, but is OK with owning slaves; children can be stoned for being disrespectful and women have no power at all.

I love people now because I care not out of fear of eternal damnation. God, if he exists could not have less love for those who read this than me, but I love you because you are a fellow human being and I don't need to know you or have you kiss up to me to be accepted. Religion will be the destrustion of the human race. Blame whom you want but most war were of a religous power struggle.

Christians who read this will first condemn because what else can they say? They will say you are going to HELL but they want to say go to HELL. The problem for me is religion is Hell.



Name: Evers
City: Lexington
State: NC
Country: us
Became a Christian: 16
Ceased being a Christian: 51
Labels before: Baptist
Labels now: Deist
Why I joined: Fear of Death, guilt
Why I left: I grew up at 51

3/27/04                                                                                       View Comments

Backwoods 3:16

sent in by Sean

i was born into a "christian" family. every sunday we would go to church and my father would be the pillar of society. then when we got home he would be the violent bully i know and love. i loved going to church as a child. the pastor i had was a wonderfull loving man. and i enjoyed hearing about this loving god who loved me and wanted to be with me.
i suppose i wanted god because my father was so far from the father image i would hear others talk about. he was gone most of my childhood drivin truck (it was sad for me but i also understood he had to put money on the table.)... and when he was home he put me through hell.
and speaking of hell... one of his favoret sayings was "oh piss on it, we're all going to hell anyway".
it was probably my father's constant putdowns and violence towards me that later on in years i would identify more with the "devil" when i read the bible.
my mother would send me to vacation bible schools every sumer and also stupid little bible clubs. one of my fondest memories is being outside of a church as a child and one of the other children threatening me after snack time... and being the type of person i am i responded, "you look really tough with those cookie crumbs around your mouth" to wich he replied by knocking me to the ground....
in my teen years i "left god" and went on to full time rebelion. and as i grew into being a man i married. after years of living away from home i began to think about the faith and how i would like to be an xtian and how it would please my parents... but i could never do it for them because if it was real i couldn't insult "god" in that way. i would have to understand it and come to "him" myself.
while visiting my parents and sitting in a church with them, i felt what i thought was "the holy spirit" come over me. (most likely run away emotions) and i "gave my life" to "god".
i began to dive into the bible. i wanted to do exactly what was asked of me. my wife and i gave away almost all we owned... (we both "accepted christ") .
and it was shortly after that we got kicked out of our first church. (in total we were asked to leave 3 all together. simply by trying to "follow god's word".) it seems churches are more interested in a better sound system than feeding the hungry and clothing the naked...
i would think of the molestations i recived as a child and thought how it could be used to help other victems find healing in "god" or the verbal abuse i recived could be used by "god" as well.... (not if god truly cared about my well being he could have just stepped in and stopped it... *sings* "our god is an awsome god....") one day as i was reading my bible i came across some verses that greatly troubled me. i spoke to my paster and some fellow "brothers" and no answer was satisfying.
they either didn't know or spoke to me like a pollitition.
and after seening that i began to see what was going on around me. that the church was a closed minded, self centerd social club. and the bible is a book of hate with just a sprinkling of love.

i have seen the "true nature of the beast" so to speak.



Sex: Male
URL: http://www.geocities.com/beelzepogo/
City: Kitchener
State: Ontario
Country: Canada
Became a Christian: raised in the faith from birth
Ceased being a Christian: 30
Email Address: thebackwoodscreep@yahoo.com
"A Trip Down Bad Spelling Lane and Poor Writting Skills With The Backwoods Creep"

3/20/04                                                                                       View Comments

Resistance is no longer futile

sent in by Rachelle

I don't know how many Star Trek fans are out there, but I have always enjoyed the analogy of Christianity to the Borg. They are an alien race in the series that seeks out lifeforms in order to incorporate them into thier group, in an attempt to void the universe of individuality. They encounter a new civilization, capture them and "assimilate them into thier collective". Nothing in my mind could describe chrisitans better, as they too seek to rid the world of personal freedoms. It seems strange to me that the supposed creator of my mind would try so hard to keep me from using it.

My personal testimony is as simple as one a christian might give you. Once i was lost, and now i am found, was blind, but now see the light. In fact, I may not be much different than the eight year old girl who accepted christ as my personal savior all those years ago. Except i actually feel like i had something to do with it this time. As an adult I was not led into some room in a chuch fellowship hall, where guilt was applied to me quite effectively, as was that young girl. Words have not been placed in my mouth like some catholic taking the cracker that represents christ's body, which is a pretty good example of being spoon fed something. No, this time was not at all like the event that began my christianity years.

It was a slower transition this time, a lot of research and acceptance of facts was involved. As well as letting go of ideas that had been plugged into me since I can remember. And I might not even be able to explain it very well, except to say i feel a hundered times more free than I ever did under the cloak of God.

This is definately not because of the reasons christians give you. They say it's because now we don't have to follow morals or have values any longer. In reality, I have the same values I had before. The only difference, is that now I am a good person because I choose to be, and know that it is the right thing to do. Unlike christians, who are good because they are afraid of going to hell. I ask you: Which one of us is really the better person?

I like to think I am, because I am capable of all the things they are, just without the crutch. They may think I am lost, and I might even look that way, but I assure you, I have never felt more found in my life.

So they may feel sorry for me, and look at me and say: "I hope God has mercy on your soul.". And I can only look back and reply: "I hope you wake up one day, have an original thought, and fall in love with it." That is what I say, and then I ask them to remember the fact that the Borg were blown up and destroyed in one of the Star Trek movies.



Became a Christian: 8
Ceased being a Christian: 22
Labels before: Southern Baptist, Pentecostal
Labels now: Free to think for myself
Why I joined: Family pressure
Why I left: Discovery of myself, and contradictions in the Bible

3/19/04                                                                                       View Comments

My Torment...

sent in by Chris

There I was, toting my bible around, believing with all my heart it was true. How could it not be true? The whole universe had to have a plan; I had to have a plan. Someone loved all of us enough to create this all for us. This someone was God. The one who loved us so much to send his only son to die for our sins so that we may someday join him in heaven. I was ready to preach about his love, maybe even someday pursue a career in His field.

PRAISE JESUS!

Then it happened.

I felt evil; I could never be good enough for God. Masturbation weighed on my life, indebting me in sin forever, corrupting my very soul. My body changed as did my way of thinking. I wanted to have fun, to join in normal teenager things. I enjoyed the "devil's music" and began to like "worldly" things. The church looked down on my actions, looked down at me for listening to non-gospel music and for loving the color black. I felt guilty, that no matter what I did would never be good enough. So I just stopped. I ignored God, in hopes that I could feel better about it all. This continued for a couple of years, I just pretended he wasn't there, watching me. However, I could never shake the fear of the end. The rapture. When all infidels would be punished. I was terrified that I would go to hell, so I tried to get back into it. I started paying attention again in church, I started reading the bible again, but the book just became more and more confusing. I dismissed these questions, believing that God would reveal it all to me in time.

There was a boy named Charlie who lived beside my Dad's church. I was never friends with Charlie; actually I never even really liked him much. We, the church, were constantly trying to bring Charlie from his pained life and convert him to Christianity. Sometimes it would seem we had him, sometimes it seemed we were losing him. A few years ago, Charlie was diagnosed with cancer. It was all ok though, it was god’s will. We all prayed for Charlie, there were nights when the entire church would be at the front, the older people openly weeping for this young man. Charlie kept getting worse, no matter how much we prayed. Finally, Charlie died.

The church accepted it quite well. No more crying, no more praying, it was all forgotten. God had taken Charlie from all of his pain. All of the church rejoiced, except for me. Why did God do this? Why would God put a child through all of this pain? Most importantly, what good does prayer do?

If God has an unalterable plan, then praying is worthless. You will either go with his original plan or against it. In both cases, God will do what he intended to do in the first place. If there is that chance that you will convince God to change his mind, then he couldn’t possibly be perfect. He couldn’t possibly be omniscient, if he was, then he would know he was going to change his mind later and would have made it his original decision.

This thought tormented me. I lost all faith I had. I finally decided that even if there was a God, that I was a much better person than she/he was. I stopped being afraid of God. When I had let my faith go, (what little I had) Christianity and religion as a whole began to unravel right before my eyes. That moment was both frightening and exhilarating, the first time I walked outside and looked at nature as nature and not as being a gift, I felt so...alive.

I am alive, and that is all I need.

City: Bridgeport
State: Wv
Country: USA
Became a Christian: around 10 or 11
Ceased being a Christian: 15
Labels before: church of god, church of christ, a real christian
Labels now: Militant atheist
Why I joined: raised in church, didn't want to burn forever
Why I left: Many reasons, pull one card out and the hole house will crumble
Email Address: whoreinchurch at yahoo.com

3/18/04                                                                                       View Comments

Am I being discriminated against?

sent in by John E. Denison

When I was hired at my current job I didn't know it but I was moving towards leaving Christianity.

I met my employer at a Christian 12 step meeting where I was the featured speaker. He liked what I had to say so he hired me because he wanted to hire ex-offenders but he wanted someone that could help him with this endeavor.

Three years ago I was diagnosed with a rare blood malignancy, the medication made me sick but I could still work. I talked to him and he said as long as I could come in he would find something for me to do. Several times I approached him about my job performance and he said as long as I can break even (I sell and service fire extinguishers) he was ok with it. He said at another time he didn't expect me to keep up with other people he expected me to give him 100% of what I could.

I quit going to church 3 and a half years ago it has been a thorn in his side but you can't fire a guy for not going to church.

Yesterday he told me that he hired me to "minister to ex offenders" he said I can't do that because I don't go to church and am not growing spiritually. He said while he feels for me in my situation God has told nim clearly what he is to do and if I can't be part of that mission then it is not his reponsibility to worry about me, God will take care of me and my family.

I have broke even and usually made a profit since he and I discussed the situation. But he told me my families not going to church has really been perplexing him and he has concluded that if I can't do what he hired me to do I would be better off at another job.

He wants me to quit so that I don't get unemployment, he is doing this by requiring me to do things that I have difficulty doing with my health the way it is.
I am capable of peer counseling ex-offenders I graduated with a certificate for substance abuse counseling and have 20 years of sobriety, as well as 10 or more years of experience as a volunteer counselor in church rehab centers. I am married have 7 children live a law abiding life. A good example to an ex offender. I just can't get into going to church nor relying too heavy on the bible to counsel people.

I am 55 years old not in the best of health but able to work and willing to do things on the weekend if I can't get them done during the week.

Any suggestions? Ideas for employment? ???

URL: www.focusonyourlife.net
City: Dallas
State: Texas
Country: USA
Became a Christian: 36
Ceased being a Christian: 50 something
Labels before: Assembly of God, Vineyard, Victory Outreach of Texas
Labels now: freethinker
Why I joined: profound experience
Why I left: to many contradictions
Email Address: webmaster at focusonyourlife.net

3/17/04                                                                                       View Comments

ex-Reconstructionist

sent in by Apollo

I was “saved” in October of 1981, shortly after the birth of our first child. Stuck with it for almost 23 years as a “Reformed”-Calvinist-postmillennianl “Christian Reconstructionist,” and renounced Christianity in February of 2004.

Noticed references to Gary North and RJ Rushdoony (“Today’s Christians”), the “patron saints” of Reconstructionism. Are you aware that Gary North is RJ’s son-in-law, and that a bitter falling-out remained unreconciled at the time of RJ’s death? Reconstructionism is possibly the most dangerous form of “practical Christianity” on the planet. Recons believe that Christ will not return until Christians have taken dominion of the world and Christ’s “enemies” have been destroyed, enemies being all non-Christians. At the local branch of this cult I attended, the kingdom was being built one acre at a time, with “dominion” defined as the acquisition of wealth and property.

“Dangerous books” saved me from Christianity and the cult of Reconstructionism. All religion is an attempt to cheat death by ritualizing the cycles of the natural world, in particular, celestial events: Sunrise, birth. Sunset, death. Sunrise, rebirth. Sound familiar?

After 23 years, boy, do I feel stupid.

Born again – again,

“Apollo”

3/16/04                                                                                       View Comments

I had no choice but to leave

sent in by Rustifer

I'll never forget that night at a Southern Baptist Revival. The preacher, a travelling evangeslist said "Do you want to see your daddy again after you die? Come on down the aisle, find Jesus, and enjoy eternal life away from hell, where there is wheeping, sorrow, and fire." I was 12, just a kid, and from that point on, I was scared of death and the God who created it.

I didn't go down the aisle that night. I was crying too hard. And the next 3 years was spent trying to get up the nerve to walk down the aisle at a revival to get saved from hell. The revivals only came around twice a year so if I missed one or chickened out, I lived in fear of life and death until the next revival. Finally, I went down the aisle and was crying too hard to say any prayer "confessing Jesus as Savior".

Eventually, a preacher helped me settle the question with a prayer. However, what if I lost this salvation? After all, I had better be damn sure I"m not going to hell. Who wants to spend eternity listening to wheeping and gnashing of teeth?

The next few years was spent carrying around a Bible at high school, going to Church, and wondering if I am really saved. Many nights I did go down the aisle to get "re-saved" or to "gain assurance" but those moments were short lived and draining. I did have a very big experience one night and the "love of Christ and my fellow man" enveloped me but it was short lived. I just couldn't shake the fear of hell no matter what I did and I could never measure up to the perfect life I was supposed to live.

Finally, at age 20, right after I lost my virginity, I turned to booze in a big way to keep myself from thinking about hell so much. I thought that by running from the Baptist church, I was running from God. I spent the next 10 years drinking away thoughts of God and hell. I would try to revisit the Baptist church from time to time but the fear of hell and of God and of not being perfect tormented me. I had to stay away and the drinking increased.

It took 2 visits to rehabs, losing 50 pounds from a nasty coke habit, and a ton of 12 step meetings for me to realize the following: If I ever wanted to live a life free and clear of booze and drugs, I would have to find a new view of God because the one I was raised with was not going to work.

I had a friend at the time who made me write down "I am not a Southern Baptist" since deep down, I am unable to believe in a God that sends people to hell. Nor do I believe the Bible is His Word. Nor can I put my faith that the writers of bible 2,000 years ago got everything just letter perfect and told the entire story. And Christ? Well, who's to say *for sure* but I don't think he came to save me from the wrath of a Big Bad Bully known as God.

So, I found a God that I could believe in, a very simple conception that I deep down in myself after much searching. And this God works for me. As long as I keep reminding myself that there is a God and I am not it, life has taken on a whole new meaning.

I mourned my lost childhood a few months ago and now, at age 31, 18 months free and clean, I now am beginning to live for the very first time in my life. And it all started with getting away from those fundamentalist Christian teachings I was exposed to at age 12.

RC


City: Atlanta
State: Georgia
Country: United States
Became a Christian: 12
Ceased being a Christian: 30
Labels before: Southern Baptist
Labels now: Free as a bird.
Why I joined: Fear of hell
Why I left: Alcoholism/drug addiction

3/15/04                                                                                       View Comments

MY MIDDLE WAY

sent in by Melissa

There is a reason why the 3 biggest institutions in the world are, and have always been, the Government, the Churches and the Banks, it is simple: For power and control over the people. Initmidation and fear support their power and control. This is done, by keeping people divided up, rich from poor, sinner from saint.

I survived the insanity of Christianity. After 12 years of having a haunted mind and chasing this perfect picture of some dream concocted up by some insane wanna-be ruler some 2,500 or so years ago..., then I woke up.

So many years spent being jugded, measuring up, fitting in, feeling fake, and pretending to believe, we're years just spent, not lived. I realized then that the "ME" on the inside, did not match the outside person I portrayed. The lover of science and nature, peace and happiness, and brotherhood of man.

I do accept all humans regardless of their gender, race, color, sexuality, as far as the creed, let's just say I am tolerably accepting and kind in my intentions to help them find the truth.

Upon dating a black guy at 18, OH MY GOODNESS!, the whole world as I knew it, fell out. Family and friends, disowned me, my fellow churchgoers, avoided me.
It started to click then, but for 8 more years I observed the dogma, and hateful nuances in Christians.

They also preach one thing and do another. The Catholics drink, smoke, raise money for their schools with gambling, yet they are all okay as long as they hit the confessional. Judge not, but that is all they do. They have the right religion, and everyone else is wrong. Jesus saves! I say save yourself.

Most people spend more time keeping up than they do maintaining. I choose Motherhood over a career. We choose meals at home and time with one another, not waiting in line at McDonald's. We recycle faithfully, we alot times wear 2nd hand clothes. We are rich in moments, but not in money.

We are Zenists. We choose the middle way. That is the peaceful way between 2 extremes: neither excessive pleasure, nor excessive pain. I know that right mind, right speech, and right action are what make a good life. What if we could all just IMAGINE...John Lennon was a profit, so was Jerry Garcia, and yes, Buddha.

The big fat happy guy says to sit still and stop thinking so much, and you will be enlightened. My children our living proof that MY hard work, MY compassion, and MY nurturing are what have made them the exceptional little beings they are. We are trully happy and free.

We do not believe in a "BIG GIANT" dude out in space floating around on a planet? He has to be infanitely huge to make the unending universe and then hold it all. His arms have to be tired. If this Dude is up there, then he shows no love, no mercy, no kindness, and he refuses to fix what is broken.

If he created us, then why do we not get to see him? My mom made me, and I see her everyday. If he exists, give us proof? The Egyptians showed proof of their existance, why would those early jesuits not save the very cross their messiah died upon. That would be historically important, but, instead, they just came up with far fetched stories, to confuse us further. ALL MY PRAYERS FELL UPON DEAF EARS. Thankfully, I found my way out of the cylce of suffering placed upon women, and all us sinners, by just not buying into it anymore.

I watch 3/4 of the world's population being controlled by the government, churches, and banks. They keep them dependant upon pharmaceuticals, while shoving them in retail lines to spend money they don't have.

The churches won't admit that science has pretty much disproved the theory of creation, so they just keep building on the lies, and brainwashing their followers for fear of bankruptcy. Which in turn, would be the downfall of heirarchy, and so the domino affect then happens. All the while entertainment industry, keeps us busy with rhetoric, making us self-centered, and encourages the obsessive compulsive behaviors that keep us from focusing on the task at hand.

Let's change our world! We have to stick together, and make new priorities. We have to break down the barrier of our minds and lives, and start claiming ourselves for the way of truth, freedom, and liberty. Let's take back what was not theirs, to begin with...

OUR MINDS

City: CINCINNATI
State: OHIO
Country: USA
Became a Christian: 14
Ceased being a Christian: 26
Labels before: CHRISTIAN, CATHOLIC
Labels now: ATHEIST,DARWINIAN, ZEN/W.BUDDHISM
Why I joined: MY GRANDPARENTS
Why I left: CONSTANT JUDGMENT AND UNBELIEVABLE DOCTRINES
Email Address: dharmadarwin at yahoo.com

3/14/04                                                                                       View Comments

FreeThinking Texan

sent in by Chris

My journey to Humanist started when I was about 17.At the time I was a member of the local Christian Youth group.heck I was what you would call saved!!!! Then one day I started reading some of Richard Dawkins work and I went to my Pastor and asked him a few questions about what I had read.

Well my Pastor automaticaly told me it was lies and only God knows the truth. I was like huh!!!!!

I asked the Pastor about certain verses in the bible like the one in Leviticus where it says not to eat shellfish, or where it says to stone a family member that gets a divorce. I just started Asking alot of questions and really reading the bible until my Pastor told me I could not go to Youth group anymore, which kind of sucked these were my christian friends but as soon as I started asking tough questions they kicked me out.

You know Christians do not read thier own Holy book. Honestly They bitch about Homosexuals and they disobey Gods laws about eating shell fish. One more question God.......

Why dont you destroy Red Lobster?

Anyway thanks for listening to my rambling..lol its nice to know a website like this exists.......


City: Houston
State: Tx
Country: US
Became a Christian: Born Atheist, learned Christianity at age 12
Ceased being a Christian: 19
Labels now: Humanist
Why I joined: Brainwashed
Why I left: started questioning and reading other text
Email Address: clancyfamily at sbcglobal.net

3/13/04                                                                                       View Comments

I Had to Die to Find Out The Truth

sent in by Matt Scheeren

For as long as I can remember, I was a Christian. Born and raised as the perfect little kid who never did anything wrong. In truth, I was like that due to the fear of the so-called Christian "hell", that we talked about every single day in Sunday School. The mantra "Fear is the best control" really rings a bell with my situation, because as I grew older I started questioning different things that I was being taught. It started out with the "Eternal Sin", which I was absolutely convinced that I had committed somehow, and worrying day and night about not being able to spend eternity with the Christian "God".

Then came the other questions like

1) Why can't I question any of this publically without being labeled blasphemous ?

2) If God loves us all like they say he does, than why do some people go to hell ?

3) There's about 7 billion people in the world, about 1 billion Christian, am I supposed to believe that God is going to damn the other 6 billion people to hell just because they didn't believe in an old book and a guy with a good message (Jesus) ?

4) If God loves me so much, than why am I told to fear him ?

The questions continued for a long time, and as you can imagine, they only grew stronger. But questioning what "God" says, Ie. The Bible, would have people in the church(s) I attended calling my questions blasphemous, and that if I continued to question what they were teaching, that I would be destined for hell. Gee, sounds like a cult to me. When I would approach my family about the mere possibility of other "religions" being remotely true, they would totally freak out and I'd get a lecture on why the Christians were right, and the only way to get to "Heaven" was with their Jesus.

So I continued on my road to re-discovery, because the Christian road has too many holes in it. Contradictions that you could line a library with, but with Christians who deny that they even exist. I was doing some alternative psychotherapy with some really great people that my family had set me up with. Learning a lot, and getting helped out with some issues that needed resolved. Stuff you've probably never heard of like EMDR and Radix, but to tell you the truth, it worked.

Although I found something that my family didn't expect. I was finding the road to freedom. And not their so-called freedom through "Jesus". I was finding my freedom through Love. It was really an amazing feeling to actually stop thinking about what "God" or "Jesus" would think about what I was doing.

With Love, I felt an interconnectedness between me and everyone. I no longer discriminated against those people who believed differently than I did. I didn't hate gays anymore (which is something that my church taught). I started opening up, and being myself, instead of the good little brainwashed boy that I had grown up to be. I started to "rebel" and speak my mind. And in doing so, opened the road to freedom even farther.

It was in 2001 during the afternoon while driving home from a meeting with my psychotherapist buddy. I was on a backroad, speeding with the music cranked. About 5 miles out from home, I decided to pass someone in front of me, while going 90 mph. Unfortunatley I didn't know that it had just rained there, and when I came back into my lane, my car fishtailed and I went over a 20 foot dropoff, flipping my car end-over-end.

It was in that car wreck that I got my first taste of death. But it was also in that wreck that I got my first taste of life. Just as my car started to go over the 20 foot embankment, I looked over to see a tree smash through the passengers windshield side. The next thing that happened was great. I was out of my body, and totally surrounded by Whiteness. Not a white light, no tunnel, just white.

And there was something else.

There was Love.

I guess you could call where I was an Infinite Room, because I couldn't see the end, and I couldn't see the beginning. Not only that, but I was one with the Love "there". It was totally amazing. Like nothing that the Christian religion or any other for that matter have ever decribed to me. There were no "Golden Streets". There were no "Tree's of Life". It was just me, the whiteness, and this Infinite Love.

I don't know how long this lasted, because when I came back, I was hanging upside down by my seatbelt, and surrounded by white smoke. But something had changed. The Infinite Love that I had experienced in the place that I had just been was still with me. I comforted the people who had stopped to help me, but they were freaking out. I joked with the doctors in the emergency room. And I told my family about what had happened.

Their reaction wasn't exactly what I expected. It was more like an "oh, that's interesting" type of thing. Yes they were happy that I survived, and with hardly any injuries, but I was hoping that they would be as thrilled about my Out of Body experience as I was.

Over the years I've relayed the story to them when they want to remember what happened to me on that day, but I always get the same reaction when I mention my Out of Body jump start into Love. I guess I had already been on the road to freedom, but I needed to die to find out the truth.

Now, 2004, I no longer fear death. Actually, ever since my car wreck, I've lost just about every fear that I had. Death, spiders, you name it, the fear is gone. The experience I had changed my life forever, and only for the good. Because now I'm helping a lot of other people with their oppressive beliefs. The beliefs that aren't instilled in us from birth, but rather indoctrinated to us as truth.

City: Pittsburgh
State: Pa
Country: USA
Became a Christian: 6
Ceased being a Christian: 21
Labels before: Anything and everything with the word Christian on it
Labels now: Free
Why I joined: I was unfortunatley born into it
Why I left: I had an Out of Body experience in a car wreck that really opened my eyes and my mind
Email Address: mattisdx at hotmail.com

3/12/04                                                                                       View Comments

Survive

sent in by Crystal

I wander about in the world I'm a stranger to, a world I know nothing about.
I question everything from the beginning to the end, I have no idea what came before me or what will come after me.

I have garbled memories in the far distances of my mind, of things I should believe,
I just don't remember what they are anymore, I can't decipher them. Did I know at one time what path I should take? Was there a place and a time in my life when things made sense, when I knew who I was?

You sit and you judge me, slandering my choices, perhaps my beliefs, not knowing what makes one choose the path they take or the decisions they make.

The one thing I know is that your condemnation can only be traced back to yourselves. You gave me no foundation to live by other than an unrealistic fantasy that borders on perfection, which is impossible to achieve. You sheltered me from reality and then thrust me into it, expecting me to survive. How can I survive in a world I know so little about. You did this, and then you wonder in your own minds, as you critisize, judge and shake your heads in disapproving shame, why it turned out this way, why I turned out this way.

You hid every truth from me except the ones you wanted me to believe. You hid from me that life is hard, that love is harder. You didn't tell me how hard parenting is, how ruthless and cold hard times are. You didn't tell me that not every love is the right love and that not every touch is a good touch.

You left out the best parts and the worst parts of life and I had to figure them out on my own. And you question why sometimes I don't do things the best or most conventional way. Why do I have to learn every lesson the hard way. I feel like every step I take is the first one because I've had to take them on my own, with no
teaching or foreshadowing of things to come, just a blind person stepping into the middle of a crowded street, and you have the audacity to stay in your perfect bubble and turn your reproach on me because I fall down when I get ran over.

Don't you dare judge me. Don't you dare look down on me. I've done the best I can with the guidance I had.

I choose not to live like you. I choose not to raise my children the way you did. I chose to walk a different path that you, not the wrong path, just a different one. I've stumbled around, falling down and getting up again and again for ten years, and I'll continue to get up, because you're not really down until you stop getting up.

And I'll always think of the things I can do different that you so my children will not stumble around and fall like I have, they will not face the pain of outlandish expectations. I will not throw them into an environment they are strangers to and expect them to survive.

There are so many days I pray just to make it through it, not to prosper, just to be able to exhale at the end of it. And Inhale again the next morning and start again,
muddling through it and thankful for the chance to try.

City: Clarksville
State: Tennessee
Country: USA
Became a Christian: Birth
Ceased being a Christian: 18
Labels before: Pentecostal
Labels now: Agnostic
Why I joined: Family
Why I left: Life

3/11/04                                                                                       View Comments

Waving, not drowning

sent in by J. Grant

I was brought into a Christian denomination because my family was poor. We were 4 kids, divorced mother, living on welfare, and lemme tell ya - that scenario is no treat, no matter what a lot of people think. We often didn't have food, and we lived at a level of poverty most people wouldn't believe still exists in America.

I was a believer. The church offered us food and clothing, got us into a better house, and baptised us. I was raised thinking Jesus and God and the Holy Ghost were all as real as the chair I'm sitting on now. I lived righteously, never smoked, never listened to "evil music", and a slipped word of profanity sent me running for a prayer. I wanted to live right, and go to heaven.

Looking back, it's hard to believe I was ever that kid.

When I was 15, I had my first real girlfriend. We'd been dating for 8 months when she was raped out in the woods. We'd never had sex. She lived with only minor injuries physically, but the psychological scarring hurt her. A lot.

I prayed night and day on this. One night, walking alone with a very atheist friend, I confided in him what was going on. I felt like God had let me down. I'd lived as perfectly as I could for 8 years, and although I'd believed everything was part of God's plan, I couldn't figure where God's Plan required my girlfriend to live through somehting like that.

My bro turned to me, lighting a cigarette, and with a wry smirk muttered "You sure hinge a lot on God's plan. If there's no God at all, you're going to be one sad m*therf*cker when you die."

Those words stuck with me all night. I knelt to pray before bed, and where I usually felt a connection, I felt nothing at all.

The next morning I tried again, but for the first time in eight years, I felt ridiculous even attempting to pray. It was the last time I tried in my life, at least to God and Jesus.

The sudden realization that you've spent years of your life imagining daily communication with a higher being is a hard one. But I accept my truths as they come, no matter how uncomfortable. I've never looked back, so to speak.

My realization DID drive me to make a lifelong hobby of studying religions from around the world, not as a believeer, but historically. It has taught me a great deal about humans and our need to invent gods. I've also stumbled across a few things that I believe may actually exist, but I don't worship or pray or follow anything. I call myself agnostic, because i maintain that there MAY be higher beings at work - I've just never found solid evidence of them, and they don't seem to much care what goes on here on earth. By the same token, I maintain that the atheists may be right as well. Either way, I won't know until it's too damned late to do anything about it.

I do know one thing - I have never found ANYTHING in all my studies that has led me to believe that Christianity is anything more than a very contrived, false religion. I'm not saying that all Christians are evil - many modern Christian organizations do good work with people. I've met many people I would call excellent Christians - I just keep in mind that they have a personal delusion that does not drive them to commit evil acts to others. There are also people who adhere to the Bible as a tome of Strict Rules, and these folks are damned silly at best, lethally dangerous at worst.

I merely refuse to live under that particular delusion.

Sex: Male
URL: http://jameslgrant.com
City: Dallas
State: TX
Country: USA
Became a Christian: 7
Ceased being a Christian: 15
Labels before: Baptised, Christian
Labels now: Agnostic, Hedonist
Why I joined: Family
Why I left: Loss of faith

3/10/04                                                                                       View Comments

Destructive Christian Cults

sent in by Danny Haszard

I'm Danny Haszard from Bangor Maine usa. Former member of the Jehovah's witnesses.Exited out 1-5-92 was in for 33 years. I was 3rd generation, so they still are holding most of my family hostage. The Watchtower swindled most of my family assets, left me desitute at first but i have recovered much.

The worst thing that high demand destructive Bible based cults do to their victims is they 'soul rape' you so you become angry at God.

It's been called."surrogate displacement" rage. You become 'mad at the world' and it takes a long time to recover,

God is good and gracious and i am stronger for it. I have a counter-cult home page please visit and browse.I am determined to provide education and support to warn others of these,'wolves in sheep's clothing'.

peace, http://www.DannyHaszard.com


URL: http://www.DannyHaszard.com
City: Bangor
State: Maine
Country: USA
Became a Christian: Born a vic 1957
Ceased being a Christian: Age 33
Labels before: Watchtower / Jehovah's Witness
Labels now: Ethical Humanitarian(nice guy)
Why I joined: Had it Beaten into me
Why I left: JW's are malicious willful wanton Bastards
Email Address: Rollingthunderboywonder at yahoo.com

3/8/04                                                                                       View Comments

My Journey of Self-discovery

sent in by Allison Korte

In brief, I was born into a Catholic family. I was baptized before I knew how to talk, let alone decide my faith. When I was three, my parents divorced and I was landed with my mother, who was a devout but non-practicing Catholic. What I mean by that is, she never attended church and knew anything about Christianity, but her faith was never questioned when it came to Jesus.

When I turned 8 or 9, I decided I wanted to live with my father. A few years later, my father and I moved to San Antonio, Texas to live with my grandparents. Now my grandparents were even more Catholic than my mom. They went to church EVERY MORNING and they made me go on Sundays. At first, I had a problem with the waking up early part, but then I sort of started liking the mass.

But one part I never really did understand was why my father never went to church with us. He got to stay home on Sundays and watch football. A few road trips to California later, I started asking him what the reason was for his absence from church. He then began to tell me that he didn’t believe what the church professed and he thought the church was corrupt and immoral. At first I didn’t agree with him, but listening more in-depth to his opinions, I had a feeling this man knew what he was talking about. I began to research the Christian faith in books, magazines, and online. I also read the Bible, which is not a very typical thing to do as a Catholic kid. What I read was astonishing: I didn’t understand how such a merciful and loving god could be so vengeful and unforgiving. I also didn’t comprehend the concept of Hell, which was, in fact, never mentioned in the Bible.

As a result of my findings, I became more assertive and my opinions developed into philosophies. My dad and I often talked about the church and its history as a power-loving and hateful institution (which it still is). I also loved to raise a debate with my grandparents, who would tell me they pitied my soul for I was damned to Hell. It was all pretty funny to me that I knew more about their religion than they did.

I am now 15 going on 16, and I believe in a beautiful, merciful Creator who designed the human race to be free. She gave us the ability to create. Life is a glorious thing and it cannot be ruled by anyone: God, government, and especially the Church. Our destiny is our own and not predetermined for us, for it is what we make of it ourselves. I believe that science rules over faith and we should all go about thinking with reason and with light. I despise (and pity) the people who believe that they should fear the creator and live in constant dread that if they do not live outstanding lives, they will be damned to Hell.

I hallow the people who think outside of the box (just like our Creator meant for us to do) and question authority, for there is no ultimate authority. I worship the Earth and the Universe and Humankind and all of our Creator’s inventions, as well as our own. Most of the times I am labeled as a trouble-maker, but just as Ayn Rand said, “Men have been taught that it is a virtue to agree with others. But the creator is the man who disagrees.”


City: San Antonio
State: Texas
Country: USA
Became a Christian: Since I got born, but I started believing in the fourth grade
Ceased being a Christian: 13 years old
Labels before: Catholic
Labels now: Deist, if anything. I don't like to label myself
Why I joined: Christianity was the first religion I was exposed to and I didn't know any better, I suppose
Why I left: Partly because of my dad talking some sense into me and also because i began to read essays written by Paine, Jefferson, Washington, etc.
Email Address: hunny_bunny2006 at yahoo.com


3/7/04                                                                                       View Comments

How it is Now?

sent in by Joel Atkinson

To sum it up...I got saved in a small country Pentecostal church when I was 14. Before long it was my entire life, leading me into ministry in the form of preaching, teaching, evangelism, counseling, general church work, visiting people, you name it. i first began to preach when i was about 17. I read the bible almost exclusively, only adding to it Christian inspirational books, articles, sermons, whatever.

I loved and listened exclusively to Christian music. I prayed daily and often for hours at a time in my room. loved to worship the lord in singing and physical acts of worship (bowing, dancing, raising hands). I was awarded and praised everywhere among fellow Christians for my faith, even receiving denomination awards such as Mr. Texas for the Church of God one year, super camper awards and so on. I wanted to win the world and I fervently wept for the sinners of the world on many occasions.

So what happened?

I was never saved, some would say, and I would totally agree. I never was saved and neither are they. I loved and worshipped the unknown creator/source/whatever of this universe and I still do. I’m not an atheist, although I certainly understand their reasoning.

I see god in lots of things, maybe even everything, but I will no longer claim exclusive rights to that god over the many beautiful peoples and cultures of this universe that happen to see things differently. Nor will I say I serve a god of infinite love and spew forth from the same orifice the belief in a sadist's wet dream called hell, reserved for all those other peoples of the world, that being the Native Americans, Hindus, Muslims, Taoists, Buddhists, atheists, agnostics, and the child-like artists who look to a god who is easy to find.

One who looks back at us in the mirror through that "window to our souls". One who sings with the wind and shimmers in the sunlight on the trees. This is my personal philosophy, which is probably not anything new. In fact, I know it's not. God is the ultimate artist, living and dying within the very creation she brought forth. She’s not gonna’ show up and clean this beautiful mess up for us. Her spirit, her want and need is within us all and the job is ours. i despise the modern evangelical faith in one fashion above all others. It abandons the earth and universe we have in favor of an easy out. It’s sad that those who claim to be lovers of god would not give a rip about her creation. that the lovers of god, as they call themselves, would want to welcome the rule of Christ with his iron rod, forcing the entire world into submissive rule under his "kingdom of love".

That the lovers of god would torment themselves so fervently over the natural urges of their own especially created and designed temples (aka, their bodies). It’s sad that the lovers’ of god ultimate answer to the conflicts of life is ultimate apocalypse and the return of the vengeful god of the Old Testament, who is to re-replace the way things are done?!? I mean, first there was law and then Christ brought grace but then it's ultimately back to law again, right? Anyway, I’m rambling. I just have a lot to say - more later.



City: Austin
State: Texas
Country: United States of America
Became a Christian: 14
Ceased being a Christian: 22
Labels before: Baptist, Church of God, Assembly of God
Labels now: wide open
Why I joined: felt emotionally drawn to god
Why I left: unable to reconcile loving god with sadistic hell
Email Address: jwillgator21 at yahoo.com

3/6/04                                                                                       View Comments

Saved By ... My Daughter

sent in by Dena - aka, Heathenmom

Hi. I've been posting here for a couple of months now and thought I should add my story.

I went to church weekly while growing up. My mother was not especially religious, but would send my brother and I to Sunday School every week. My father was an abusive, alcoholic who only became religious when he'd preach at us while sloppy drunk. I tell you all of this, so that you know why I ended up falling so hard for all of the things I heard at church -- I desperately needed something and I found it in the Baptist Church.

One summer, after going to church for a few years, I went with our youth group to camp where I was 'born again' and was baptized into the church the following week. I felt amazing. I began reading my Bible day and night and learning all that I could. Sure, there were parts of the Bible that didn't make sense to me, but I figured God would clarify these things for me in his own time. I started going to church any time the doors were open. I went on missions trips, and even left tracts everywhere. I was on fire for Jesus!

Things were wonderful for a while, but the more I read the Bible, the less I understood it. My preacher would talk about God's love, but what I was reading didn't sound very loving to me. I imagine most people would have questioned what they were reading, but I questioned myself instead. I started to question whether I was ever *really* saved, and thus started my unending cycle of guilt. There is a Chris Rice song called "Clumsy" that summed up my Christian years, especially the line that says, "I prayed that prayer a thousand times." I probably did pray the sinners prayer thousands of times and never felt worthy.

Fast forward a few years. I got married when I was 20 and my husband and I went to church off and on. When we had our first child, we realized that we needed to work on our relationship with God, in order to be a good example for our son. So, we started back to church on a regular basis. I went full force into the submissive wife role (as best I could) and tried to teach my son how to be a good Christian.

When I was pregnant with my second child, my father and his new family moved to a town nearby. After years of only having to talk to him on the phone, I wasn't ready for him to be a regular part of my life again. The memories of all of the physical and sexual abuse overwhelmed me and of course, I felt guilty because of it. Guilty because the Bible said that if I couldn't forgive others, God wouldn't forgive me, and I knew I had not forgiven my father. Over the next few months, I became so depressed that I was suicidal and this went on for almost 2 years. I tried to 'get right with God' and begged him nightly to help me, but nothing eased my pain.

Thankfully, something happened at church that was the catalyst for my leaving altogether. My 2 year old daughter was a little spitfire and didn't like going to church. One Sunday, she escaped from the nursery and went wandering around the church looking for me (it's a HUGE church). She walked past hundreds of adults who apparently didn't see a problem with a 2 year old walking around by herself. When she finally found me, I was horrified. I went back to the nursery to let them know that I found her and that I'd keep her with me. Well, not only did they not even realize that she was gone, but they actually accused me of lying about leaving her there in the first place (even though she was signed in and had that stupid little beeper number attached to her clothes). In the following weeks, people from the church contacted me to try to talk me into bringing my daughter back to the nursery and were sure to let me know that I was being sinful for 'skipping church.' In my already depressed state of mind, I ended up deciding that my daughter wasn't safe there and that I couldn't go back to church for a while.

I was so angry at those people at church that something started happening. I started allowing myself to openly question all of the doubts I'd had over the years. I read the Bible again with an open mind and was sickened by what I read there. I realized that my beliefs were based on a book of lies and contradictions. And my belief in God, was also based on that book. Within days, my whole Christian life started to unravel uncontrollably.

On one hand, I was devastated, but on the other, I felt empowered. Over the next few months, I told my husband (who is still a Christian) and my mother that I'm no longer a Christian. Then I confronted my father for the sexual abuse -- this was the first time I'd ever spoken of it. It was so freeing to release all of the guilt I'd carried around for so long.

This transition has been difficult at times, but I'm so happy to be finally figuring out who I really am. I've changed so much that it's made my marriage difficult, but I'm not about to suppress myself ever again. As for my children, I have a lot to undo with my son, and my daughter never wanted any part of it anyway (she saved me!). Many of my family and friends still do not know that I am now an Atheist, but I see no need to hurt anyone unnecessarily. I'm content to get support here at Ex-christian.net for now. And although I have a long way to go from here, I know that I'm finally on the right track.



City: Tampa
State: Florida
Country: U.S.A.
Became a Christian: 11
Ceased being a Christian: 29-30
Labels before: Baptist, Southern Baptist
Labels now: Atheist, Freethinker, Humanist
Why I joined: I felt like I needed something and the church filled that void for a while.
Why I left: Common sense prevailed
Email Address: Freespirited0ne at aol.com

3/2/04                                                                                       View Comments

Emotions, Intellect, Passion: my trying times

sent in by Ellie Nonner

I was 16 years old when one of my best friends confronted me about finding something that would change my life. She knew that I battled with depression ever since I was a young child. She professed a religion, a commitment, a relationship that would change my life for the better. She believed that her god would provide a complete healing, that I would finally know the peace I so desperately longed for. In the middle of the courtyard at my high school, a scared 16 year old girl broke down and tears and believed that she had finally found an answer to her problems.

Belonging to a church gave me instant friends. I was the teenage girl that had done everything most of the others hadn't...I had overcome a drug problem, I loved to party, I could even give sex advice to the other girls that were too scared to ask their parents and had no other friends that new anything about the subject. I was looked up to because I had made the decision for myself instead of being brought up in the church like everyone else. I loved music and started a praise band. I got other people motivated to "spread the good news" in a way so that people like me would stay and listen.

I continued being a passionate Christian for 6 more years. I led worship in large churches. I made Christian music cds, one of which was under contract negotiations when I de-converted. I was a spiritual leader among my friends and around my college campus. I led bible studies, witnessed to my "lost" friends, and worked as a missionary for a summer. I poured my life out toward Christianity. I believed it with every part of my being.

Of course, just like every other Christian, I found myself doubting at times. And, just like every other Christian, I recounted the story of Doubting Thomas to myself. I gave myself the same line that every other Christian does..."Some things are just not meant to be understood until we get to heaven." And for a while, this was enough.

When I was 20, my depression hit again. It was a very hard time. For a while, I was being transferred from institution to institution. I could not function on my own. I never got out of bed, never brushed my teeth, never showered, never ate... I could not understand why the god that was promised to me when I was 16 years old decided he wanted to take a shit right on my head. My religion was very important to me. All my friends were Jesus-freaks. I worked out of a ministry on campus. I read my bible, I went to devotions, I WAS A GOOD CHRISTIAN.

When I got sick again, my boss fired me. I believe his exact words were, "We cannot have anyone around here who is doing the things you are doing. We are a Christian organization and you cannot act like you have no hope around here." I was banished from the ministry, and along with the ministry went many of my friends, my work, and my passion.

Ah yes, you may say... She is one of the ones that converted to Christianity on the basis of emotions, just as she de-converted from Christianity.

Not so.

I love to think. And I was not going to give up something that important to me on the basis of emotion or on the actions of someone else. I fought with my doubts for a long time before I even allowed myself to entertain the thoughts.

"Well, if God is all-knowing, why was there even an old testament. Why did God let all of those people die without having a chance if he knew he was going to have to change it in the first place? Why would god make a faulty plan to allow people to get into heaven?"

"I really don't understand how a 'loving' god can murder people in his name for no good reason at all."

"The bible says that everything will work out for the good for those who love the lord, but yesterday I sliced my wrist open and now I'm sitting in restraints. It sure as hell didn't work out for me. I should have died."

I tried to find more and more information about both sides of the argument. I read information for the Christian who is doubting. I read information on proving the existence of Christ. I read up on all the reasons why Christianity is completely ludicrous. At first, I was praying about the way I was thinking. After a while, I decided I was going to make my own decision and no other being (imaginary or real) was going to make this decision for me.

A month after I turned 22, I told my friends (who were all passionate bible-thumpers, I might remind you) that I was an atheist. I told them I was tired of doubting, I was tired of second guessing, I was tired of my emotions being played with, and most of all, I was tired of not being able to use my mind.

Some of the accepted me anyways (although they take every chance they have to try to convince me otherwise). Some of them remain my best friends who know they religion is an off-limits discussion with me. Many of them do not talk to me anymore. It seems that in many of my relationships, the common ground was what was brainwashed into our minds, not a true friendship.

At times, I find myself missing those friends. I admit that sometimes I play praise and worship music on my guitar just because I miss the feeling of being part of something, of being loved, of being important.

I refuse to step inside a church again. I tore the pages out of my bible, one by one, and burnt them. I gave away all my Christian cds. I WILL NOT go see the passion of Christ.

The best part of all is that I'm finally happy. I know that I have a serious disorder and I will not always be happy, but I am very happy with what I believe now. I do not feel "wrong" about things that I used to consider "sins." My time is not caught up in church (I never realized how much of my life was centered around church until I left it). But best of all, I can use my mind. I CAN USE MY MIND!!!!!!


Sex: Femail
City: Monroe
State: La
Country: USA
Became a Christian: 16
Ceased being a Christian: 22
Labels before: Baptist
Labels now: atheist
Why I joined: Emotion
Why I left: Tired of fighting with doubt
Email Address: schmigida at hotmail.com