4/29/04                                                                                       View Comments

it took 7 years to find my way

sent in by beanheel

when i was about 12, my family started to move around quite a bit. before then we had always gone to church on sundays, but it wasn't a central theme for us, and i really didn't consider religion a central part of my life. then we moved five hundred miles away, leaving my friends and what i considered my life behind.

we moved in the middle of summer, so i didn't have an opportunity to try to make new friends right away. my mom, trying to help matters, found a church for us to attend, thinking rightly that there would be kids my age there. i became close friends with many of those kids, and since none of them went to my school, i only saw them at church. because of this i started going not only on sunday, but on wednesday, and i joined the bible bowl team (a fierce monthly competition based on exact memorization of a given text, for those who are unfamiliar). i was good at it. church became the only place i felt a sense of comradeship and accomplishment.

when we moved again, it was me, not mom, who sought out a church (of the same denomination, of course) to attend. there again i plugged myself into the youth group scene. i think it was about this time, at the age of 15, that i began to make the shift from seeing church as a social arena to delving into actual discipleship. i read my bible daily, received insults at school because of it. i prayed often and really tried to 'feel' the presence of god. i convinced myself that i had somehow. i became the jewel of my congregation, someone they wanted their children to emulate.

after high school, i immediately matriculated to a very strict bible college in tennessee to train for youth ministry and preaching. even there i was a star. president of my class, near straight-A student. i worked at a church not far away as their youth minister.

during my sophomore year, though, things started to change for me. having to learn greek and read the new testament in older, more reliable forms, had a profound effect on me. i could not believe the unwarranted liberties taken with the texts in translation, most of which were employed to foster certain theological dogmas. also, the text itself (ot as well as nt) began to trouble me philosophically. it started with the story of adam and eve. i couldn't put it right. adam and eve are without the knowledge of good and evil until AFTER they eat the fruit. they could not have understood their action as evil until they had already performed it. they were held accountable, according to the text, for something they could not understand. this implies a god that is either not omnipotent or not good. no one i talked to could give me an answer. all i got when i asked the question was, "we are human and we can't understand the mind of god." but that was my whole point! we can't understand the mind of god, but we're going to be held accountable for adhering to it?

in light of my new skepticism, i finally admitted to myself what i had so long avoided. there was no presence of god that i had ever felt. the idea of god answering prayer according to his will voided the efficacy of prayer in the first place.

i left the bible college and for a while was a little depressed and jaded. finally, i found some of joseph campbell's books on comparative religion and the value of metaphor in myth. things started to make a little more sense.

the most common criticism i get from christians when they learn i've become an apostate is that i must have done so because of something some christians did--that i have to understand that christians aren't perfect and when they do wrong they aren't representing christ. only, i didn't leave because of anything anyone did--except myself. in fact, i still keep in contact with several of the christians i knew from the bible college. they, like most of the christians i've encountered, are kind, sincere people--people i care about and think are wrong. they think i'm wrong. we deal with it civilly.

this turned out way longer than i expected, and there is more that i could say, but i'll leave it at this.

thanks, webmaster, for the forum.


Sex: male
City: knoxville
State: TN
Country: usa
Became a Christian: 13
Ceased being a Christian: 20
Labels before: conservative christian
Labels now: secular humanist
Why I joined: i adopted it as an answer to uncertainty
Why I left: i had a philosophical crisis

4/27/04                                                                                       View Comments

When Reason knocks

sent in by Vic

This testimony was taken from my Website "The Pyrrhonist"

My fascination with things "divine" started at a very early age. As a young lad, brought up in a Roman Catholic country (Mozambique, under the Portuguese) and attending junior school at the Convent in the city of Beira, the idea of becoming a priest was, perhaps, my first conscious thought on religion in general.

What brought that idea about has been lost in the recesses of my mind, but I suspect that the pomp and ceremony of the liturgy, and the influence of the nuns who taught me in those formative and impressionable years, played a major role in my first career decision.

As I grew older that infatuation with the divine grew colder and was eventually lost by the time I attended high school and it was not rekindled until many, many years later when I was married, and the proud father of a lovely baby girl.
This does not mean that religious thoughts were totally obscured during those intermediate years. I continued to read the Bible, and other books on the Bible, chiefly to be able to discuss, or rather argue, with people who considered themselves Christians and who believed they were privileged to enter Paradise while we rebels would go straight to Hell, if you were of the Protestant persuasion, or linger for a time in Purgatory if you were lucky enough to be a Roman Catholic (they believe that you have to be a real monster to go straight to Hell).

My first contact with really zealous Christians was when I was at school in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and who, to my amazement did not considered themselves Christians per se, but went by the name, or title, of Jehovah Witnesses.
It was all rather confusing and strange to me for I believed that if one followed the teaching of the Bible, and accepted that both the Old and New Testaments were written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, one could call oneself a "Christian". The only difference there was, as far as I was concerned, was that there were Protestants and Catholic Christians and that this division had come about due to the Protestants’ refusal to accept the Pope as vicar of Christ and that he had the gift of infallibility when ruling on matters spiritual, and for which they were castigated, and labeled as heretics, in Catholic circles. I had no idea that the Protestants were further divided into Anglicans, Baptists, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Pentecostals – which were further subdivided into Full Gospel, Assemblies of God, Apostolic, etc., etc.

And now these Witnesses too, who seemed to have an answer for everything, no matter how illogical it sounded, like when one of them suggested that Adam and Eve were "coloured" to my query on how the various races of man had come to be. It was from these people that I got my first Protestant Bible and realized that this Bible had indeed less books than the Catholic one, which was exactly what my Catholic teachers had been maintaining all along and which, according to them, was ample proof of the error of their ways.

During discussions with these Witnesses the question of the validity of the claim that their Bible was the Word of God was one of the main topics. They claimed that every word in Scripture was inspired and that the true author of the Book was God Himself who had used a number of people (very much like one uses a number of pens) to write the manuscript, the completion of which took millennia. These manuscripts were then bound together by other individuals (who were also under the influence of the Spirit) into book form, and that’s how the present Bible came to be. And woe to anyone who didn’t accept this as true, for they would be annihilated. Christianity teaches that fire and brimstone, and a thousand devils would torment his/her soul for all eternity.

When questioned why they believed the Bible to be the true Word of God I would get "My Bible tells me so" answer, and I just could not get across to them that one can not prove a book to be true by referring to passages in that same book, and it made me wonder if logic had completely vanished from their minds.

The idea, too, that the Bible had been written, and was essential, for the instruction of Man in the ways of the LORD (and man’s salvation) also did not make much sense to me. As I saw it, if the total dictation was not completed until around about 100 AD, the folk that were born and lived before that date were at a disadvantage, not having the whole text available to them, and could well be labelled highly "underprivileged".

I dismissed the whole story as hocus-pocus and actually felt sorry for these folks, whose life revolved around the old pages of a not so ancient manuscript, which had been tampered with by countless scribes, editors and con artists.
I was to eat my words, so to speak.

In the early 1970s I would become a Christian in the full sense of the word.
To be more precise, I became a Christian of the sub-group "Protestant", genus "Apostolic", species "Pentecostal", also known as "the happy clappers", "sky pilots", "Jesus people" and other appellatives of this kind.

Total dissatisfaction with the way the World was being manipulated by a selected few, my own way of life, and the responsibilities which came from being a parent, led me to cry out for something more stable, more lasting, and, one night, I was ‘born again’.

The experience was rich and fulfilling and I found myself a completely different human being. It could be considered a true miracle and from thereon I believed in miracles, in the power of the God of the Bible, and His loving concern for each and every one of His creatures, and I looked at my new self as a channel to convey that love and His Word to bring others into the light that would guide them to the heavenly ‘mansions’ which awaited all those who truly believed and remained faithful to the cause.

It lasted four years.

During this period of ignorant bliss, where the heart ruled the mind, and as I read the Book through the tinted glasses of faith, that first yearning of becoming a priest returned, only that in our circle such person was called a "Pastor". They were happy days, where death was looked upon as a door to a better world and funerals were to be considered joyous occasions.

My church group, however, was treated as pariahs and considered "beyond the pale" by other Pentecostal groups simply because we did not believe in the Trinity and preached that God was one and not three. That we baptized "in Jesus name" and not "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost" further alienated us from the other churches and we were looked upon with suspicion, perhaps even as instruments of the "Evil one" sent to the world to try and ‘deceive the very elect’. Discussions between members of other denominations and ourselves became at times heated, as we tried our best to show them that we were right and they were wrong. It gave us double joy that we were not only saving souls from the ‘fiery furnace’ but were also showing our fellow Christians ‘a more perfect way’. It did wonders for moral and made us fell unique.

So, what made me return to the path of unbelief?

A couple of factors contributed to my "back sliding". The first was moving away from the group influence of the church due to me being transferred to another city and, secondly, my continuous search for more knowledge of the divine to satisfy myself that my belief was based on fact and not just on emotion; that what I held as Truth was indeed genuine, and not only a desperate attempt at clutching at straws because of some deep-seated anxiety.

I came to the realization that this ‘born again’ phenomenon, which had transformed my life and given me so much comfort and happiness, had nothing to do with the Bible being the Word of God or, for that matter, with the God of the Bible. It had to do with my psycho, with my sub conscious mind and did not require the help of JEHOVAH.

I realized too that all religions teach the basic concept of ‘Good and Evil’ and that divine revelation and ‘born again’ experiences were not the sole property of the Christian faith. I further realized that all religions, to some extent or another, have had a negative influence on the advancement of knowledge.

Christianity, in particular, has been guilty of teaching its followers to regard life on this planet as a transitional event to be endured by keeping one’s mind focused on the spooky world beyond the grave. It is thanks to Christianity that the Western civilization was plunged into the Dark Ages for it extinguished the torch of knowledge and reason, which had been passed down through history by previous civilizations, a torch that only very recently has been rekindled.

It is thanks to its doctrines, which have its roots in the teachings of Saul of Tarsus, that so much damage has been done to the spirit of man and contributed in no small manner to the historical and present slavish attitude of the masses who are incapable of rising against the crushing yoke that has been placed around their necks by the oh so very human ‘principalities and powers’ that make their lives a living hell on Earth. And all religions seem to look after their shepherds far better than their flock.

And so I came around full circle, and this work* reflects my present belief – that the Bible is nothing more than a collection of stories, some with a historical background (in some cases distorted), others borrowed from much older sources and presented as pertaining to Hebrew history, and others still, which are wholly fictitious.

*'work' reffers to my Version of the Scriptures that can be read at http://www.geocities.com/avflf/BibleIndex_1.htm


URL: Homepage
How old were you when you became a christian? Baptized R.C.
What churches or organizations or labels have applied to you? Roman Catholic from birth. Pentescostal for 4 years.
What labels, if any would you apply to yourself now? Agnostic
Why did you become a christian? Read the story
Why did you deconvert? Logic vs. faith
mwfenton at iafrica.com

4/26/04                                                                                       View Comments

PseudoGod

sent in by John

I was born into Christianity, and I was brought up to "know" god existed. And I was taught that Christianity was the only way to god. My parents were very devout and active Christians -- my father even considered going into the evangelical ministry at one point. So, there's no sugar coating it, we were fundies. I tried to take my religious beliefs seriously, although as a young teen I could tell I had a problem relating with other Christian kids my age. Looking back, even at that age I had a strong aptitude for human reasoning, and so I tended to be skeptical about what I was told if I couldn’t somehow verify it empirically. To the contrary, most Christian kids just seemed to accept what they were told without question, and that made it hard for me to have anything other than superficial conversations with them, which I found rather pointless.

As I continued to learn more about god and Christianity, I started to sense that certain things about Christianity and the Bible seemed illogical and contradictory, although at 13 I wasn’t really sure how to articulate it…..I just knew things were “not right”. So I started asking questions, like why does a god described as "loving" send people to a place as horrific as hell. They were usually met with typical “I don’t know but please go away” answers like "we can't fully comprehend god", "pray for understanding", or "read the bible for your answer", etc. These answers made even less sense to me than the perceived contradictions, but since I really wanted to believe I tried to push all my doubts back into my subconscious in the hopes they would go away if I ignored them. Ignorance is bliss.

Once I got into high school, we start going to a pentecostal church and I think that was when Christianity just started seeming strange to me. At this point I was introduced to salvation and "gods free gift of eternal life through jesus". And all I had to do was let Jesus into my heart to receive it. I have to admit, I did have a problem trying to fully grasp this conceptually. The whole idea of having to be "saved" and to let some invisible person I couldn't see "into my heart" just seemed, well…….weird. But I did what they told me, because my understanding was that I would fry in hell if I didn't. So I said a few words and asked Jesus to come into my heart and repented of my sins, which was very sincere. I guess I felt better that I was officially saved and wasn’t going to be tossed into hell to burn, but otherwise nothing happened. I didn’t feel “reborn”, I didn’t feel like a “new person” and I didn’t feel filled with any holy spirit. I really felt no different inside than I did 5 minutes before. Aside from being saved, there was other stuff.......people speaking in tongues, crying, wailing, shaking, etc. As a rational person, this environment was rather problematic for me….. it scared me. It was like being the only sane person in the middle of a mental hospital during group therapy. And no matter how hard I prayed, I couldn’t experience what everyone else did. I can think of many times sitting in church while everyone around me was overcome by the holy spirit speaking in tongues, and I actually faked it because I didn’t want anyone to notice that I couldn’t do it. However, all this did was fill me with doubt about my own salvation, as I was led to believe that if you couldn’t speak in tongues you didn’t have the holy spirit in you, and if you didn’t have the holy spirit you were not a True Christian and were not saved. However, I still believed Christianity was the truth, and was determined not to give up that easily. In hindsight, I now realize that I was so scared of going to hell that I had deluded myself into believing Christianity was the truth….”just in case”.


But things got worse. By the time I got to be about 15, I realized (to my ultimate horror) that I was sexually attracted to other guys. To me this was basically the worst possible thing that could happen, because I was taught that homosexuals were vile, evil abominations of God. The problem I had with all this is that my attraction to other guys was NOT something I chose, as many Christians claim. And while I believed that attraction was wrong, it was “there”, and yet I was not the one who put it there. I then became very angry with God, because I felt he created me only to damn me. And from that point forward, my personality forever changed.

Although nobody knew my secret, I felt very alienated from god and other Christians, due to the amount of time they spent preaching the evils of homosexuality, more so than all other sins combined. And all the while never forgetting to insert the word “abomination” as many times as possible to emphasize the unparalleled disgust and revulsion god felt towards homosexuals. Christians like the word “abomination” when referring to homosexuals. That word has sort of a special ring to it, especially when you say it with authority, it comes out sounding very intimidating and ominous. So even if you don’t know what the word means, you know it isn’t anything good. Anyway, it soon became very clear to me that homosexuality was far worse than murder, since even serial ax murderers were not explicitly referred to as “abominations” in the Bible. Yet I was one and there was nothing I could do about it. The worse part of it all was no matter how much I prayed, god never took away that sexual attraction. It looked like I was always going to be an abomination.

As a kid I was generally happy and outgoing, but that kid was now gone. What I became was a depressed, nihilistic teenager with a very dim outlook on life. I no longer cared about school or my family, and I pretty much hated everybody with the exception of my closest friends (who coincidentally were all straight). Eventually I started partying, drinking, listening to “evil” music like Metallica and Nine Inch Nails, and doing drugs, just because I figured I was going to hell anyway so it didn’t matter what I did. I eventually dropped out of high school, moved away from my family, and decided I was just going to party and drift my life away. I also wanted to meet some gay people so I could experience that life. However I was soon to discover that the “gay lifestyle” was not at all what I expected. Lets just say I found it to be almost a “religion” of its own (and equally as dogmatic as one). I found that if I didn’t act, talk, walk, dress or think a certain way, like certain music or tv shows, laugh at certain jokes, admire certain people, take a certain political stance, or otherwise live a certain way that I was “not being true to myself” (or so I was told many times). Just as some Christians think there are “True Christians” and “fake” Christians some gay people apparently think there are “True Gays” and “fake” gays, as absurd as that sounds. Anyway, after several years of trying to “fit in”, I found I was always at odds with who I was and who I “should” be. To me, this was no different than the alienation I felt with Christianity. I finally decided I couldn’t take it anymore, and wanted nothing more to do with that lifestyle. Good riddance.

At this point in my life I felt very alone and depressed, and I didn’t feel I was a part of anything greater than myself. I had no aim or goals, and I went on like that until about my mid 20’s when my anger eventually went away a little. I finally realized that even though I was “cursed” with being gay, I was “blessed” with a very high IQ and a lot of discipline, and I decided that I was going to use that to my advantage and turn my life around. I was determined to be successful in life even though god had doomed me from any other kind of happiness. I assumed he wanted me to live a pathetic defeatist life like some gay people who purposely try and get aids or finally kill themselves over the conflict of being born with a sexual attraction god deemed as an “abomination”. But I was determined not to, if for no other reason just to spite him. And I ended up doing just that. Today I am the complete opposite of what I was before. I don’t do drugs, I am in perfect health, I am financially well off, own an expensive home, have a good career, and I have a lot of friends, the majority of whom are straight and atheist/agnostic. Interestingly, through the hard times in my life the people who seemed to always stand by me and support me were usually straight and non-religious. Funny that Christians and gays (the two groups that I thought would support me the most), ended up being the ones that completely let me down, over and over again. What I realize now is that I am a “free thinker” in every sense of the word. To me, free thinking is not just about questioning religion, it is about having the courage and conviction to question any form of dogmatic groupthink, whether it be religious, political, and even societal, and taking a stand, even if it means being shunned by the relative majority. In a sense, it is almost the antithesis of herd mentality. And so I tend to seek out those types of people above all others.

I should add that even through all of this, I never completely rejected God or Jesus as being the “truth” nor did I ever decide I wanted nothing to do with God. I was definitely mad at God, but I still held on to my beliefs thinking that if (and that is a big “if”) God really loved me, (as Christians say over and over) maybe in time he would somehow make me as “normal” as he needed me to be so he wouldn’t throw me in hell. Talk about illogical. But in the end I finally gave up Christianity, not because I was gay and wanted to devote myself to a gay life that I am really not even all that interested in, but because of a dream.

One night I had a dream that I died. In that dream I didn’t go to heaven and I didn’t go to hell, I just ceased to exist. And the reason that happened was because there was no god. I woke up in a panic from this dream, because this was the first time in my life I had ever considered the possibility that there was no god. At first the idea seemed ludicrous, because there was so much that could not be explained, such as existence, consciousness, etc. But the more I thought about it, the more distressed I became. I realized that I never had any direct evidence that god existed, I just accepted it as fact because that is what I was taught since birth. So the next day, and for several months after, I went on a quest for truth. I wanted to know what the evidence was for god, and I wanted to know why atheists did not believe there was a god as well as why Christians believed there was a god. I wanted to hear strong arguments from both sides, because I wanted to know the truth. Or at least look at all evidence to make some kind of intelligent decision based on what seemed more likely to be true. I also wanted to know as much as I could about the history of the Bible, the men who wrote it, and what proof anyone had that it was inspired by god, or how anyone could even conclude it proved the existence of a god.

Needless to say after 12 months of searching I never found god. And I do finally have the truth. The truth is, I don’t know if there is a god or not. But I find it highly unlikely that humans know anything about that god, should it even exist. I think all religions (including Christianity) are false and I believe “religion” as a whole was just a way in the past for each culture to give some kind of a personality to a creator they knew nothing about. Once they thought up some basic ideas about a god that fit into their culture, those cultures worshipped that god as a representation of the creator of all. And as time passed they slowly added their own myths, legends, cultural philosophies and even delusions to those basic ideas about their god, interwoven with actual real life facts and events, which evolved into religious holy books such as the Bible, Koran, etc. The real historical events and facts mixed in with anecdotes and stories is the glue that keeps religion and the belief system tied together. One could suppose that if some if it is true, the entire thing must be true. But that could be said about any religion, not just Christianity. And, I believe this cultural need to place a face with “god” is why there have been so many gods and prophets throughout human history from Zeus to Apollo, to Brahma to Jesus, to Mohammad to Mithra to Jehova to Vishnu, etc, etc, etc. If a god existed, and if it did reveal itself, I don’t think there would be any reason for so many gods and prophets with such conflicting ideas about god. Even different denominations of the same religion can’t agree on their ideas of god!


State: AZ
Country: USA
Became a Christian: Birth
Ceased being a Christian: 34
Labels before: Pentecostal, evangelical, fundy
Labels now: agnostic
Why I joined: Born into it
Why I left: weak/lacking evidence
Email Address: reddogg7788 at yahoo.com

4/24/04                                                                                       View Comments

ex JW

jolly jo jo jihad

Hi everyone,

I was born into the Jehovah’s Witness’s organization and had mind control techniques used on me from a very young age. I was taught that jojo (Jehovah) knew what I was thinking and If I thought any bad thoughts, I basically wasn’t worthy of surviving Armageddon and living forever in a paradise. That’s a big load of guilt for a young child to bear. I used to test god and think "bad" thoughts and swear in my head waiting to get some reaction but I never did.

I used to sleepwalk and talk every night and sometimes as a 5 or 6 year old I would be swearing blue murder in my sleep which my mother didn’t like .However I was continuously dragged to 5 meetings a week for more conditioning. As I got older every attempt at being an individual was thwarted and I soon succumbed and got that glazed dopey look that all jolly jojo's have.

Around my teenage years the pressure from friends and peers to conform is huge, the pressure to sell W&T publications is huge knowing all the time that if I ever lose faith I will be destroyed forever with all the sinners and evil people. It took me 28 years before I finally came to my senses and realize the huge amount of mind control techniques which are being inflicted upon the younger generations of the jolly jojo's. The older ones I couldn’t give a fuck about. All religions preach love but practice just about the opposite. In the bible god kills in total 371,186 directly and orders another 1,862,265 people to be murdered, this is the god of love and this is how god expresses his love.

Our leaders believe in this tripe and pretend that it's true and they probably even imagine that they are holy and doing gods will. I'm now 40 and feel fantastic having that mental prison removed. When my brain finally turned on I was having about 10 insights or realizations a day which was a little daunting at first but came to enjoy it and it was almost magical how thoughts of great depth or natural truths opposite to religious teachings appeared out of nowhere.

If people put their god hang-up away and embrace reasoning, knowledge and love they will notice change in their lives. This is a great site for helping people reeducate themselves after traumatic life experiences like religion.

Thanks heaps!!



Sex: male
City: sydney
State: nsw
Country: australia
Became a Christian: born into it
Ceased being a Christian: 28
Labels before: jehovahs witnesses
Labels now: athiest
Why I joined: born into it?
Why I left: disillusioned

4/23/04                                                                                       View Comments

invention

Edward Lecore aka A Uiet Bhor

[Note] this was put in internet infidels but got no response

I noticed several contributors here using names from water ship down and this interested me as this book, and the film had a part in my becoming an atheist. At school we were made to pray everyday, my earliest memories were of everyone around me kneeling with their hand together and me with my hands in a paw like configuration praying instead to Frith, the sun deity worshiped by all rabbits that was invented by Richard Adams. I did this because in the film a brilliantly animated creation myth is portrayed in aboriginal art style, and to my very young mind was more powerful and moving, and seeming made more sense than the one in the bible. I understood this was fiction, but I looked at the people who believed the Christian teachings and felt that if they could have their god why couldn’t I?

This my seem odd but I didn't feel right praying to a god I didn't like or understand, it took me years to realize what was going on, I was rejecting the dogma as instinctively wrong somehow, and it wasn’t till I began studying Christianity that I started to realize that I had good reason to. But the highly developed doubt that is the cornerstone of my life was not what made me regard the bible as a work of fiction. I felt the need perhaps to worship but felt there were better alternatives. Maybe because I was exposed to many other faiths in my pluralist town, I also liked some of the colorful Hindu gods, but always saw them as inventions.

I would not have prayed had not the teachers insisted, at first it was obedient mimicry but I soon rebelled in any subtle and un-noticeable way I could, and I think this goes against the idea that we are naturally religious. Has anyone else had any similar experiences of inventing their own religions or re-directing their compulsory religious duties into something else they could more easily relate to, or was my childhood unique?

The point is that to me the story and the emotion was what made me for a brief period semi-religious, I think that the morals that adult theists use to justify their faith is just rationalization, those who were brought up in the bible did not first come across it as a series of enlightened rules, but as nice little stories about Noah and Jacob, that is how the young are introduced to faith, the commandments are drilled into them later so the pulpit posers can claim they are better than everybody else. But holy law has proven inapplicable, contradictory, and in some cased immoral, does then faith have any moral right at all, it not religion in fact against the best interests of mankind?



City: Grimsby
State: Lincolnshire
Country: England
Became a Christian: 8ish
Ceased being a Christian: 14ish
Labels before: Church of England
Labels now: Epicurean, skeptic, stoic, atheist, noncognitivist, freethinker
Why I joined: peer pressure
Why I left: still working that out

4/15/04                                                                                       View Comments

23 years of brain-washing!

sent in by Brian Hill

23 years of going to Church up to 3 times on a Sunday in the early years. I can't believe how I fell for it (nor does my wife who did that as well). Both our parents are fairly strict Chrsitians although they have loosened up somewhat over the last few years. Princess Diana's death was the turning point as all our Christian freinds and family said she would be going to hell, no matter how good a person she was. That gradually ate away at me until the last few weeks when I've eventually come to the conclusion that the Bible is no more reliable than Lord of the Rings trilogy. The comments by others on this webring have helped tremendously, so we'll see how we go. I'll expand on this at a later date when I have more time, but Christianity is history, and was a complete waste of time for both of us. going forwards, we will think freely!!!!!!




City: Chippenham
State: Wiltshire
Country: UK
Became a Christian: 12
Ceased being a Christian: 35
Labels before: Plymouth Brethren Gospel Halls
Labels now: Freethinker
Why I joined: Thought it was the right thing to do
Why I left: None of it made sense
Email Address: brhill_uk at lycos.co.uk

4/14/04                                                                                       View Comments

yet another testimony

sent in by jennifer

I'm not going to bore anyone with the story of how i became a xian. I was a little kid and that was that. there were several things that pushed me (and I really mean pushed, because i was not eager to go) into unbelief.

1) knowing people in other religions whose faith systems gave them what they needed & wanted. I had several mormon friends before i moved and they were great women. i admired them because of their values, their lifestyles and their wisdom. it always amazed me that they could be silly enough to believe in the book of mormon, etc., but they depended on those books to give them guidance and counsel and those books did. they turned to the teachings of their church in times of trouble and when tragedy struck and it helped them through. yet regular xianity says they are going to hell for being heretics. and, of course, mormons do not believe that non-mormons enjoy the highest level of heaven...

2) my intrerest in history. practically every book i have is on roman or european history. the more i studied the history of xianity the more i began to see how the church that exists today is not even closely related to the church of the past. the development of different dogmas that we take for granted today were fought over with words and swords in the past, and each side could prove their case from the bible.

3) knowing xians. i have never met a xian and thought to myself that i want what that person has. their marriages and families are not better than mine in a long shot. their children are not smarter or more moral. their spouses are not more loving or caring. i have a fantastic husband and two boys that have faults but are decent, straight-arrow kids. most of the xian families i know are completely fckd up. a recent newsmagazine (i think it was us news and world, but i could be wrong) talked about the high rate of "porn addiction" that pastors have. porn addiction. what a crock. they like to look at naked women as often as possible and get a woodie and they call it an addiction. my ass. if they have the holy spirit living in them and all things are possible through christ, etc., why the porn problem?

4) jewish history. with european history it is impossible to overlook the horrendous treatment of the jews by the church since the earliest days. the pagans in europe let the jews live like everyone else while the xians burned them, overtaxed them, conscripted their children, etc. the nazis could never have done what they did in poland if there had not been 2000 yrs of jew hatred thanks to the church.

5) philosophy. again with rome, i have read the works of seneca, epictetus, cicero and m. aurelius and found that you can live a good life without the help of the holy spirit. i am not an atheist, or even an agnostic. i believe that there is a god and that this god is benign but pretty hands off. i believe that the way my life goes depends on my attitudes and actions alone. the older I get the more i see that 99% of our problems depend on how we think about things.

That said, i am not anti-xian or anti-any religion. i would never try to deconvert a xian. i would try to deconvert a muslim, however, but that is a different story. life is hard. children die, husbands stray, hearts stop beating, stock markets crash, corporations outsource... the list of pain is endless. so there is a need, in my opinion, for faith in someone greater. someone who cares and listens and can help. i just don't believe in the someone the bible talks about.


City: san diego
State: ca
Country: usa
Became a Christian: little kid
Ceased being a Christian: early 20's
Labels before: evangelical
Labels now: flotsam and jetsam
Why I joined: emotion
Why I left: lots of reasons

4/13/04                                                                                       View Comments

That damned human mind

sent in by Grant

I was raised in a christian family and went to church every Sunday. My family is more devout than most i would say. I went throught all the motions and said all the right things but i was always very skeptical. Science was always of much greater intersest to me even as a young child. I never really pondered my mortality until around 13 or 14 and started to openly denounce god around people who werent family and didnt know them. I was so passionate about science and i thought it had all the answers. At 17 while going to prep school(i lived in a dorm) to aid me in becoming a scientist i had my fill of classes and decided to go back home to a normal school. 4 things i believe made me search for god.

1. Fear of death -I relied on the idea of cryrogenics (freezing peoples brains) to keep my fear of death down but when i came back home i grew up and realized there are many problems to it. I let the fear get to me again.My first real funeral experiences were about this time.

2. Explanation for the unknown - Science cannot answer many things such as why i had a premonition or abogenesis ( atoms turning into living organisms)

3. Need for Morals - I was very selfish and would do stuff like steal from church funds to buy computer games.It also was a time in my life to decide between sex/parties/drugs or studies/responsibility/work

4. Social Pressure- I was constantly at odds with my family and in my social networks i was looked down on for being atheist 99% of the time.

I think this change of mindset came gradually but one night i cried myself to sleep and asked jesus into my life. I got that warm fuzzy feeling and decided it was the holy spirit. Jesus solved all my problems quickly! 1 and 2 were instantly solved. 4 was solved after i told my friends and family my conversion. 5 came after studying Chrisitan literature and after actually paying attention in church. This was all the work of god in my life! I rationalized my way through genesis, and read christian books as feverishly as i previously read science books. I was real close to god and prayed alot for about a year and then my devoutness began to slowly wear off over the next year and a half probably due to my friendships with many non believers. Eventhough i lost my motivation and interest i still held out for god to change and rule my life.

I think as many people suggest on this site that the human mind is very powerful and its best interest is optimum survivial of the organism. This is true no matter what delliusions are accepted to seek this out. I think I subconsciously doubted all this garbage the whole time but i needed god as a crutch to stabalize my life. Now I have grown up and realized that my ultimate motivation should not be science or god but to cherish my precious time on this earth that i will remain conciouss. I could have added tons and tons to this testimony but ill keep it short. Thanks for reading it.


Sex: M
City: Memphis
State: TN
Country: USA
Became a Christian: 17
Ceased being a Christian: 20
Labels before: United Methodist
Labels now: atheist
Why I joined: i was vulnerable
Why I left: I can think logically
Email Address: ghendrix0833 at yahoo.com

4/11/04                                                                                       View Comments

Glassy Eyed Zombies

sent in by finallyhappy

From birth on I was taken to church. I had no idea there was a different way of living. Forced to be separate from non-believers, I was unaware of other beliefs and life styles. I had been blindfolded for 48 years.

I remember being in the church I'd been attending all my life, guitars were playing, singers were singing their hearts out, and a faint incling of weak handclapping to the beat was coming from the back pew. I looked around at the faces. Trance like, glassy eyed zombies, staring at their shoes. Who were these people? They all looked alike with their same vague expressions. I had the feeling that if one of them stood up and left the service, all the rest would follow blindly behind with no thought as to what they were doing.

I guess it was then I decided I wanted to live; to breath on my own and experience anything I could possibly experience just to be able to FEEL something. I wanted to explore my own body and brain - to find out who I was.

Some people love being zombies. It doesn't take any thinking and you can always blame your inperfections on someone else. You don't even have to be responsible for anything that happens.

Not me anymore. I can laugh now - I mean really laugh. I find myself singing all the time. Life is beautiful. Happiness is not supplied by some external source, it truly comes from inside and envelopes everything from there. I love to just live.


Sex: F
City: Milwaukee
State: WI
Country: USA
Became a Christian: From Birth
Ceased being a Christian: 48
Labels before: Fundamentalist Baptist
Labels now: Cobweb Free
Why I joined: No choice in the matter - was there any other way to live?
Why I left: Woke Up

4/8/04                                                                                       View Comments

Just could not get into the so called holy spirit

sent in by Andre Harris

My name is Andre, and I am a recovering christian.

My last fix was in 1994. I was 18 years old. Y'know what? I'll come back to that, Let's start from the beginning. It was 1992. I was 16 years old. And just like any other 16 year old, I was into to girls, big time. So since I had practically grown up in the church I knew that this where the girls were. But after about a month or so, I actually started to enjoy going there. It wasnt about the girls, it wasn't about the free meal and the annual Labor Day picnics after church (although that was a plus, and the picnics were the bomb!!! LOL), it wasn't even about the holy ghost. What I enjoyed was the fellowship. See, Revival Tabernacle is a church where the congregation was made up of people of all walks of life. Doctors, Lawyers, Rich People, Poor people, Black, or White. There has even been instances where police officers and the very criminals that they arrested stood hand in hand as brothers or sisters. I found this to be fascinating. Little did I know that it was all a big act.

My horror story begins in the summer of 1993. Revival Tabernacle had this program where teens would come from all over the country, just to witness to the locals of Highland Park, Michigan (smack dab in the middle of Detroit). I guess you can call it a missions trip. This particular year there was a team from Bismarck North Dakota, and since I lived in the area and knew it very well. And besides I guess it also helped that I was 6'0 and 220, and I guess they thought the "big black guy" would make a good bodyguard. Now my little sister and I quickly made friends with the group from Bismarck. But according to the "Branch DiLenas"...er I mean Revival Tab., there was a unspoken rule, interaction of any kind that did not involve witnessing, praying (up to but not limited to praise and worship), speaking in tongues or anything that didnt include god or jesus was frowned upon. In so many words, they didnt want the ghetto black folks corrupting our kids and didn't want them to talke that 'gangsta' mentality back to the heartland. But oh well, you live and you learn. And wouldn't you know it, after that incident, I remained faithful, although to this day, I still don't know why.

The day I deconverted was ironically three days after I got baptized in water. See after my water baptism, I was supposed to be filled with the holy ghost. I don't see how, but in theory one is supposed to start speaking in toungues by repeating "hallay-looya" or "thank you jesus" ad-nauseum. I asked one of the deacons this and he promptly rebuked me, calling me a heathen and told me, and I quote: "You don't ever EVER as long as you live question god" Which my response was oh well I don't think that this something I want to be a part of. And I have not stepped foot in a church since 1994, and don't plan on ever going ever again.



City: Highland Park
Country: USA
How old were you when you became a christian? 16
How old were you when you ceased being a christian? 18
What labels, if any would you apply to yourself now?
Why did you become a christian? Was talked into it.
Why did you deconvert? I asked too many questions
Email Address: angry_black_guy at sprynet.com

4/7/04                                                                                       View Comments

What the hell happened back there??!?!

sent in by Warren

Wow! Where do I even start? I want to try to make this as short as possible if I can.

Ok, I was born on St. Thomas United States Virgin Islands and raised 150 miles southeast on an island known as St. Kitts (Christopher). From the time I knew myself, I was going to church because I went to St. Kitts when I was 6 months old.

My grandmother raised me Catholic and you guys have got to realize that 30 year ago, the Caribbean was a bastion of Christianity of all types of faith. Slavery's legacy of learning the religion of the slavemaster for 400 years was deeply entrenched. I don't even remember Muslims, Buddhists, Jews, Taoists, Wiccans or Hindus in the community much less the island. You were either Catholic, Methodist, Lutheran, Moravian, Baptist or Pentecostal. In fact, considering this was back in the mid to late 60s, we had no television at the time and all my grandmother did was have her radio locked on a Christian station 24/7/365. The radio was NEVER off so I was deeply indoctrinated with Christianity. I knew every Gospel program theme song from the Haven of Rest to R. W Schubach and the likes. I did not even know what a secular song was. I knew Bible stories like I now know sports teams.

Because I was a wild and hyper kid, my grandmother was so sure I was possessed so on Sundays after coming home from mass, She had the Baptist neighbors take me to church at 11 a.m then at nights, she sent me to church with some other neighbors who attended a Pentecostal church. Liek I said, I was innundated with Christianity, but I knew I was going to be trouble when I asked my grandmother why we went to mass to bow down before images when one of the Commandments stated we should not. I don't recall an answer. I knew I was going to be a curious kid.

Jumping about 10 years ahead after a 4 year stay in New York City with my dad who also made sure I went to church, I moved back to St.Thomas to live with my mom. One night as I was taking out the garbage, one Christian friend of mine invited me to church. For years I had a problem telling people NO and I caved in and went. It was some kind of evangelistic week and the guest preacher yelled and carried on which had no effect on me. I have no idea what the hell he was even babbling about, but at service end when everyone was in "silent prayer" while the altar call was given to the scumbag sinners, I was sitting there looking around at all these kneeling people. It was a classic case of all the soldiers taking a step back to make it appear you stepped forward to volunteer. So I'm one of the few people sitting down looking around like an idiot clearly making me a "sinner." Next thing I know my friend was in my ear "witnessing" to me. Again, having no spine to say NO, I caved in to his sales pitch because he asked me what if I did not make it home and died, would I go to heaven. Hey, who did not want to go to heaven? That night I "gave my life to the Lord."

The church I was attending was big on witnessing and they had a subtle way of suggesting that if you did not "lead someone to the Lord," your salvation was questioned so the first people I decided to beat over the head with a Bible were the growing group of Rastafarians that were emerging. Many of them were about my age and of course, they were heathens that needed a good piece of saving. They and I went back and fort in debates with me basically telling them they're going to hell for not accepting Jesus.

The next thing I had to do was become "baptized in the holy spirit." If you were not a fundamentalist, don't even ask me to explain. Anyway, under pressure to prove I was graduating upwards in the faith, I went home one night and in prayer I babbled off a few unrecognizable words and came to church on Sunday and declared I was now baptized in the holy spirit. My "baptism in the spirit" was not accompanied by any cartwheels, however. This would have only been necessary if it had happened in church where you would need some external evidence to convince the crow you really got him (the holy spirit). This now meant I could now preach, teach and sing "anointed specials" on Sunday morning.

After berrating the pagans (the Rastafarians and Catholics whom I now, through Protestant indoctrination, saw as the Great Beast of Revelation and red Harlot), like the state sponsored church of the 4th century under Imperial guidance, I turned my attention to the heretics...you know, those Baptists who believed you could NOT lose your salvation and those "liberal churches" where women wore jewelry and makeup. I had to teach them they were wrong and did not have the right brand of salvation. I had all kinds of deabtes with them bascially telling them that with their kind of teaching and looseness in dressing, they were not going to heaven. That's right! I had a hell to take 'em out of and a heaven to put 'em into.

I then moved back to New York at age 17 upon graduation and found a branch of my church from back in St.Thomas. They were just as stiff. They had what I called a group of "sin sniffers" in the church. These folks made sure they were all up in your business making sure you were following every rule in the Bible and the church. For weddings, they sat at the edge of the aisle to make sure the females and the bride were not wearing ANY makeup whatsover. If they were, this made fodder for the Sunday morning service. Like my church back home, they loved a good message about rebuking women foe wearing makeup and falunting themselves to make men "fall." They loved a good old fashioned telling off from the pastor which would be greeted with tons of "amens."

One of the big things was that they placed a lot of pressure of 19, 20, 23 year olds to get married because there was no way you as a young couple could be dating for 1 year or more, in their estimation, and not getting "some" on the down low. In other words - FORNICATING! To ease the suspicions, young kids would dive right into marriage barely knowing one thing about the world. worse if you were like say, 25 and you had a younger sibling getting married. You would eventually be asked, "so when are you getting married?" Needless to say, many of those coupes are trapped in living hells, but the church also frowns on divorce and does not allow it using the Bible as their basis. This also led to many secret affairs many of which I knew about.

During this time, I bought just about every book there was on Christian apologetics from authors like Josh McDowell, John Ankerberg and Henry Morris. I learned about all the critic's arguments and objections and how to counter them. I had a massive library of Christian material. I then studied about all the cults and what they taught and how to counter them. I then turned my attention to studying world religions and this is about where the wheels began to fall off in addition to something from a Christian author, Phillip Yancey.

The same guy who "led me to Christ" lost his mother. I was living in Florida at this time and I decided to go to the Christian bookstore to find some book to read to come up with some comforting words. I stumbled into Phllip Yancey's book titled, "Disappointment with God." The book was very pro-god despite the title, however, Phillip used a real person in his book, whose story he sprinkled in between his arguments for God. In short this person lost faith in God after first writing a great thesis on the book of Job elevating God and promting his faithfulness only to come around later and find out that the story made no sense and if it did, God was actually the villan in it all. All I can remember reverberating in my head was him saying, "GOD MADE A BET WITH THE DEVIL!" It stuck with me and I could not deny the validity to that statement. I did not want to admit it, but that is exactly what happened.

That seed of doubt grew and I began to look at the Bible more critically and began to realize some off the wall things. I used to have problems with certain passages, but figured the probelm was me just not understanding the mysteries of God. Now I stopped thinking like that and went full speed ahead in critically analyzing the Bible. The story of Job was a great example of how brainwashed I was. Here I read in black and white that God obliged his own sworn enemy (allegedly) by ALLOWING him to torture his servant just to prove a point. For what reason? To get an orgasm over it? In addition, the story made no sense. Satan hanging out in god's court. Wasn't he supposed to be God's great enemy? What was doing in god's presence? Wasn't this the same god who could not tolerate evil in his sight? This coupled with a few other things dealing with the Bible such as now realizing the Bible was not as unique as I thought and what I read in it was an evolving theolgy where on era contradicited another, I just decided to give it all up as a pile of crock! The one thing I am left determining is whether or not god actually ordered and did those gruesome things mentioned in the Old Testament or was it just simply the author's who placed words in his mouth and actions in his hands to explain and/or justify certain things. Like, did he really tell the Israelites to wipe out the Canaanites or was it just a case of a bunch of land hungry nomads who envied the Canaanites, wanted the land (the motive), scandalized the people as wicked idol worshipping pagans (the propaganda) then saw the need to make sure they tossed in God (as per their holy writ) in the mix to justify their barbaric means by which they would acquire this land (the act).

I left out a whole deal that would made this story all the more amazing. I did not even mention "Prophet Brown" who scammed whole congregations or the pastor who slept with a church member's mother only to have that member tell him off during a big broad sunday morning service. I did not tell how when the church members found me asking too many questions how they try to subtly RE-convert me and how they used to follow me around to see what other churches I was visiting, like the Brooklyn Tabernacle Church on Flatbush Ave in Brooklyn. Now today I visit three sites and post reasons why I can't believe the Bible is the word of God, doubt Jesus ever existed or if he did did the things claimed of him or that the way to God is even through him. I'm not an atheist nor did I go to those sites as an atheist. They know how to deal with them. I'm an apostate (as I've been labeled), one from the inside who knows every thought, every move, every response and objection they will bring. I'm a traitor and they don't know how to deal with me. I've been called "Satan's Spawn" by some wide-eyed new 23 year old Christian and some other Christian lady in convinced there is NO way I gave up on the faith unless I did something bad, could not deal with the tough road the Christian must travel or I wanted to simply give it up so I can party, have wild sex and just live carefree. Oh, and I've also been told I'm being led by the devil. Regardles of what they want to say, all I know now is that I am free. I feel so good and so free and so at peace when they think I am so trapped, lost and deceived. LOL!!! is all I can say. I now finally have seen the light! Now to deal with mom!





City: Ft Lauderdale
State: Florida
Country: U.S
Became a Christian: 14
Ceased being a Christian: 35 or so
Labels before: Pentecostal Holiness, Trinitarian, Apostolic Faith
Labels now: Thinking human
Why I joined: Talked into it with the veild threat of hell and promise of heaven
Why I left: Funny, but it was through reading a book by popular Christian author, Phillip Yancey
Email Address: Thomian_Guy at yahoo.com

4/6/04                                                                                       View Comments

Study the Bible to prove it FALSE!

sent in by Wolfgang Faust

I have read several of the testimonies on this site and I see so much of my our conversion in them. I will try to explain what took place in my life. I was born into a very religious family and decided to become a Xian when I was 8 years old. I went to Sunday School and the like and heard all the great Bible stories. I bought it all of course hook line and sinker. And why wouldn't I, my parents wouldn't deceive me. As I grew older I began to take my beliefs very seriously. I studied the Bible very intently. I lived the life of a Xian (no drugs, no sex, no liquor, no swearing). When I graduated High School I joined the USAF. Suddenly I found myself in a whole different world. I was a thousand miles away from my home, my family and my friends. So I went to the only place where I knew I would be comfortable, the church. I joined the biggest Baptist church in town. The people in the church were impressed with both my knowledge of the bible and my ability to teach and preach. I began to teach the college age sunday school class. This is where I met the woman who would be my wife. While we were dating I was licensed as a minister by that church. I got married and took a job as a youth minister.

This is when I first started to see some of the problems with Xianity. I presented a challenge to the kids in my high school youth group; "Find a biblical basis for babies going to heaven." This was a question of God's justice. Xians believe that the only way to be "saved" is to profess your faith in Jesus. A baby has no ability to do this. And since Xians also believe that life begins at conception, any aborted baby would also be condemned. Many of them came back with age of accountability arguements. I asked them to show it to me in the Bible. Of course they coudn't because it isn't there. The fact is that there are no exemptions in the bible.You have to believe in your heart and confess with you rmouth that Jesus christ is lord. This arguement also goes for anyone who has never heard of Jesus. I believe that this question was the reason that I was asked to resign from my position as the youth minister.

It was then that I decided to take a hard look at Xianity. I removed myself from the Xian atmosphere and began to look more closely at some of the things I had stuggled with as a Xian. My brother had a bit to do with this as well. He had recently left the church as well. He came up to my place and asked me some very difficult questions. If God is purely good where did evil come from. His arguement was that a purely good God could not even conceive of evil or the propensity for evil. He also had some questions about free will. "Could Adam have not sinned?" he asked. Because the Bible says that the plan for Jesus to come and pay the price for sin before the creation of the world. Another question was, "could Jesus have sinned?" For if it was impossible for him to sin he really wouldn't have been 100% man and therefore not a perfect sacrifice. If he isn't a perfect sacrifice he is nothing.

I guess this was the point that I actually renounced the church. I began to study comparative religions. What I found was that they aren't all that different. They all have one or more supernatural beings, some form of prayer,whether it be Xian prayer or Wiccan and Pagan magicor the Satanic Churches force of the will. They all teach that we should live as good a life as we can. And they all have their myths to explain those things we don't understand. So I have simply decided that there is no need for me to feel the pressure and fear of eternal torment to live a good life. I am accountable only to myself.

To wrap this up, I am much happier now living my life according to my own rules and not those written by religious fanatics thousands of years ago. The only struggle that I have now is the fact that my wife refuses to give up her religious views. I also have two children and it have become a real issue as to how we will raise them i.e. Xian or atheist. I have a post up about this in the relationship forum. Any in put would be great.



Sex: Male
URL: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Fantasy_Art_Lovers1/
City: Colorado Springs
State: CO
Country: USA
Became a Christian: 8 years old
Ceased being a Christian: 24 years old
Labels before: Licensed minister Southern Baptist Church / Youth minister
Labels now: Atheist
Why I joined: I was 8 and thought it was the right thing to do
Why I left: I studied my way out of the church
Email Address: wolfgang_faust at yahoo.com

4/5/04                                                                                       View Comments

Recovering religious addict

sent in by Toni

I first became interested in religion when I was 15 because my parents felt the need for something more to their lives, so they dragged me along. When I finally felt the need to "accept Jesus into my life", it was the most amazingly liberating feeling I ever experienced in my life. I loved the sense of structure, warmth and family unity that I felt within the church. That, I felt, I had been missing my entire life. So, instead of dealing with life in my real home, God became my father and the church my extended family.

Of course, when it came time in my spiritual life to leave my "old ways" behind and start becoming a more dedicated follower of Christ, that gave me even more of a reason to abandon my family and even my old friends emotionally. Eventually, I found myself abandoning everything I ever loved about my own life and identity in the past for this "new life" in Christ. This did not go over well with my parents, as they had abandoned their faith not long after having converted. Pretty soon I felt that I had it so good with my new life that it became my duty to convert everybody. I had this idea that if I had enough faith, everything in my life would change...my family would grow closer together, we would all be whole emotionally and spiritually, and basically my ideal of the "perfect" life would be realized in time. Much to my surprise, no matter how hard I tried to get this to happen, I always went home to fighting, verbal abuse, etc. and I would just cry because I thought it was somehow my lack of faith that didn't change things. When it became too difficult to blame myself, my family then became the enemy.

Then, much to my relief, I eventually escaped my hellish family life and went to college. There with the conflict between rationality and faith, things began to become more complicated, yet very intriguing. I immediately plugged myself into one of the campus christian fellowships and became quite active. It was there I really developed a sense that "God" had called me to "change the world". I was always busy in prayer, tracting, bible studies, you name it. As a result, my academics suffered greatly. Then, the more I felt that I was progressing spiritually, the more I demanded of myself and others. I experimented with different groups and stuck with the ones I felt had more of a focus on "holiness" (mind you, not pure love and charity, but "holiness". In other words, those who could preach the loudest and recite the most Bible verses because that's what growing as a disciple was supposed to mean.) Well, I want to make a long story short, so let's just say this... I got tired of all the hypocrisy of these groups, but I didn't want to lose my firm faith in God, so I found myself in an alternative christian religion- Mormonism. It wasn't their indoctrination that impressed me, but their "family centeredness"-(yes, they are very pro-families as long as they are all Mormon families), and their belief that everything in life has a purpose. I won't get much into the subject of this church other than to say that through the church I finally realized that I had used religion as the ultimate form of escapism at the expense of those who deep down really love me and whom I love. It also cost me my ability to be my own person and to love myself as I am.

I consider myself a recovering religious addict because its effect on me has been very similar to what happens to those who are physically addicted to any substance. It has torn apart my life in the same way. Now I find myself not knowing exactly what I believe, but at least I know now that it was by myself that I got out of religion and it will be within myself that I will find the strength to find life hereafter. At least I know I can trust myself to rescue me when all else fails. I know that one day I will truly be free and able to be the person I want to be and yet still human. For those of you who are reading this, you too can have this same hope. Don't give up on yourself. You are an important and unique part of the universe. Don't let anyone define who you are or why you are here. You alone have the right to decide that for yourself. May you find joy in that journey.


Sex: Female
State: MI
Country: USA
Became a Christian: I was 15 at the time of my conversion
Ceased being a Christian: Became deconverted at age 26
Labels before: Fundamentalist, Pentecostal, Mormon
Labels now: Freethinker, Spiritual, Agnostic
Why I joined: I needed peace and hope in spite of my turbulent life
Why I left: The need to be set free from mind control and "spiritual" abuse

4/4/04                                                                                       View Comments

Exit - Stage Left

sent in by Formerfundie

I guess now is as good a time as any to submit this. It takes a certain amount of courage and I hope there are individuals here that can relate, and that there are ones that might read this that will be helped and encouraged.

I was a Christian all my life, since I can remember. I grew up Catholic. There was never any reason for me to think there was not God, that’s all I ever knew. Even when I got older and had an episode where I was involved in Scientology, I still thought there was God, I had no reason not to, and even though I was in that cult, they encouraged anyone who was still going to church to keep going, regardless of what it was, so that never had any effect on me changing my mind. It actually had more of a reinforcing effect because while I was involved in the Church of Scientology I had what I thought at the time was an “out of body” experience. It terrified me, although I did get a lot of attention from the other “church” members at the time. They encouraged delusions of all kinds and considered the “experience” beneficial as it was supposed to somehow be indicative of getting closer to a “clear mind.” This experience happened due to stress and duress and I now know that it was a psychological reaction to blatant mental abuse I was going through at the time. It is where a victim can’t handle what’s happening at the moment so the person shuts his or her mind down and escapes to “another place” in the mind. This is a dark place, much like when an alcoholic has a blackout. I suppose because I was inclined towards and constantly exposed to spirituality I allowed myself to be open to mystical types of occurrences, and I had them. I had them in Scientology. I had them while participating in New Age types of things, and I of course, had them in Christianity. I was what most would call a “seeker”, and my lifelong pursuit seems to always have been a search for truth. As I got older I went from sect to sect of Christianity looking for where I fit. I went from Catholic to Assembly of God, to Methodist, to Lutheran, and when I met my soon to be ex-husband – he was involved in what would be referred to now as “New Age” – he also believed in ET’s and well, what can I say, I was a sucker for such things. What is it I’ve read here about, “If you’ll believe the bible, then you’ll believe anything.” It goes something like that anyway. Well, point made.

He went into the military, we married, had children and life went on. We ended up in California, where he got “born again” for the first time and I guess I got “re-committed” at a nice Assembly of God church. It was while we were being raised up for leadership in that church I discovered my husband had been molesting my daughter since she was four years old, she was nine at the time. When this was brought to the attention of the ministers, he and I went separately for counseling. He went to the Pastor and I went to the Pastor’s wife. I never did find out what he was told. I was informed they thought that it was better not to report it as they thought he’d discontinued the abuse, and they strongly encouraged the continuance of the marriage. I had no reason to not believe him, or them, at the time. While not really meaning to, the Pastor’s wife and one of the other leaders during some different counseling sessions indicated that I was partly the cause of what had happened. After this I got very depressed, and suicidal. These same women told me that I needed to stop being depressed because it was not conducive to my marital relationship. They said that when my husband came home the house and kids (we had three) should be neat and tidy and I should greet him with a smile on my face and a happy hello. I tried, I really tried, but it was useless. We women at the church were always told we should be ready, willing, and able to offer ourselves to our men sexually, too. The first time I “gave” myself to my husband after finding out what had happened, I shuddered inside, but I knew I needed to do this and I did it out of a profound fear and in the thought that if I didn’t he would go after my daughter again, it was also supposed to be a demonstration of forgiving him on my part – after all, this is what Christianity teaches people to do, there wasn’t anyone around telling me anything different. I felt dirty. He didn’t understand why I was crying. We were military and away from both families, and even had the families been closer, I likely would not have revealed it to them. It is not something most people want made known. I was told/taught to forgive and “forget” and go forward. I battled constantly with depression, along with other issues. Due to the doctrinal teachings at the time I thought much of it was demonic and didn’t understand why I could never seemingly overcome the dark creatures. I thought it was all my fault, that I couldn’t get over it because I had too much sin in my life and therefore didn’t have or couldn’t exercise power and authority over these demonics to make them go away, and I had been told/taught that this is what I needed to do. I never had any reason to not believe what I was being told and taught, I was never exposed to or around any type of alternative thinking. I knew nothing else. I grew up surrounded by and “nurtured” in a cocoon of “faith” in God and the supernatural. Needless to say, I felt like a total failure, and like I was never going to be able to live up to their and God’s expectations. I really had to question His creation of me to begin with because I thought it would have been easier for everyone concerned if I’d never shown up on this planet of ours. Now that I think of it, this was probably the beginning of God not making sense to me. My husband was never able to please me sexually, and I continued for the duration of at our relationship to think something was wrong with me(there was but I was never able to find out what that was until years later) so I was always trying to improve myself and be better – for God, and for my husband – and ended up constantly being frustrated and feeling guilty. I felt like I was a horrible wife and a terrible mother, and Christianity just reinforced that, constantly.

He got orders and we moved from California to smack dab in the middle of the Bible Belt. My oldest daughter was now 13, my only son 10, and my youngest daughter 3. We started attending what people now refer to as a “Word of Faith” church, that at the time was supposedly non-denominational. I continued being the “Stepford” wife and actually thought that our marital relationship was improving. Unfortunately, my 13 year old daughter went into a very depressive and suicidal state. She stopped wanting to and then eventually stopped going to church. She started looking into witchcraft – whoops – a big no-no for Christian parents ‘cause you’re taught to keep all that stuff out of your house, along with secular music, etc. The Pastors of the church said it was rebellion and that we should force her to go, in spite of the fact that members of the youth group were always making fun of her and rejected her all the time .(They weren’t willing to recognize that or do anything about it either.) After a particular run in she had one day with the Pastor’s wife and how it was responded to, I decided to leave her alone when it came to forcing her to go to church with us anymore. I tried to get her professional help, but she refused. She locked herself in her room, which she kept dark. I was really scared during this time. I tried to find out what was wrong, but she’d shut me out. Looking back on it now, who could blame the child, were one to attempt to put oneself in her shoes? One day when she was about 15 or 16 she was having a rather heated argument with her dad – they fought constantly and he was always putting her down and belittling any accomplishments she made, she let it be known in no uncertain terms that he had done more than molest her. I am not proud of what I’m about to say, but I really didn’t believe her, and thought she’d just made an accusation because she was mad. In my estimation at the time, things had been improving, and because he was going to church and worshipping God and seemed to be going forward from his past history and we were getting along quite nicely, I had no reason to think otherwise. I really believed he’d been “saved, healed and delivered.” What my daughter had revealed was the truth. I found out later that he’d molested my other daughter too. He’s in jail now (it got reported, he got convicted) and I’m in the process of getting the divorce finalized, although it’s been a very long time in coming and there’s much more to the story. Delusion begets delusion, and for many years, I can honestly say, I was delusional.

The circumstances of our separation prepared the way and opened a desire and a door to a further education – so, I started taking college classes. In George Smith’s book Atheism: A Case Against God, he states that, “When used to eradicate superstition and its detrimental effects, atheism is a benevolent, constructive approach. It clears the air, as it were, leaving the door open for positive principles and philosophies based, not on the supernatural, but on man’s ability to think and comprehend.”

In spite of all the difficulties I had I stayed in the church I was in for years, probably simply out of habit than anything else, and once more to be a conduit of forgiveness, but eventually started questioning much of what was being taught. Then, one day in one of my classes, the teacher, who is an atheist, challenged me to read the contradictions in the bible, and ya know, I didn't have the slightest idea of what he was talking about or why – but, since he was a teacher with a PhD, I figured he was smarter than me - duh, so maybe it’d be a good idea to listen to what he was talking about. I took him up on his "challenge" and started reading and investigating and doing some research. (I must not have been a true christian because how many true christians are willing to do this?) This wonderful, kind, gentle, honest and very moral and ethical individual(okay, you gotta understand here that in christianity, followers are taught - well, maybe not all of them but a vast majority - that atheists are the bad guys - they're horrible dirty rotten sinners who are all going to hell because they have no morals and stuff - pure mythology! so, of course, the contradiction of how he was as opposed to how I’d been taught people like him were supposed to be, was an absolute SHOCK to my mental system) pointed out the mythos and legend involved in the bible and encouraged reading and researching other points of view which led to many other discoveries. I found out I’d been being lied to, for years! It's amazing how you're really blinded to all the stuff that's in the bible when you're immersed in that mindset, huh? It’s like you skim over things without giving them a second thought; you just simply shut your mind off or down. Some people never question it, (you really are taught and told not to think about it). I think the one thing I really had to question the most, was, here was this wonderful teacher, who’s opinion was basically that there are better ways to help and save people than telling them they are going to burn in hell – he was quite vocal about that – and who made so much sense to me, I just couldn’t reconcile that God was so cruel as to have 1) originated hell in the first place and 2) that an all-knowing God, who knew people like this man were going to have such a conflict with the concepts, was going to condemn people like him to eternal torture. I remember I’d also had trouble with the story about God telling Moses and the priests to go kill everybody who was worshipping a golden calf, and I knew if he ever had to tell me to do something like that, I never would be able to do it. It was things like this that made me mad and didn’t make sense to me.

The vice grip finally came off the mind while I was sitting in English class one day (anyone who has been inundated and indoctrinated like myself with the fundie mindset for years on end would understand about the mental hold) after reading an essay from Henry David Thoreau on Civil Disobedience. It's weird but it was THAT essay that ultimately was the final determiner in my leaving Christianity. I no longer wanted to be a part of its “meanness” as HDT so aptly put it. I left the church I’d been going to for ten years, and with that, left the doctrine and dogma of Christianity behind.

I decided that if there was a God, it was not the one most churches were teaching people about, and if God was like how the bible indicated he was – after pondering certain stories about him with a liberated mind, I didn’t want to serve or worship him anymore, anyway. The more I read and studied on the matter, the more and more I thought it unlikely a God/god/goddess existed.

I don't think I ever had my own opinion for years... formulating one's own opinion was whoops - a big no no, ya know – but eventually I finally realized that I hadn’t agreed with standard Christian doctrine or thinking for years, and that I’d been sitting in the church actually lying to myself and to them, by just being there, even though I did not believe what they were preaching and teaching anymore, so I just decided to start being honest about what was going on inside of me and held true to how I really thought about things. That’s why I left. I didn’t think it was wrong or that you’d go to hell for having an occasional drink, I was pro-choice even while I was sitting in the pew listening to the standard spew against abortion because it was considered murder, I was all for the separation of church and state, I was against censorship in most cases, haha and I was for gay marriage, and libertarianism seemed to me like the way to go and I really liked John Stuart Mill’s “No harm” principle. Most of these things go against the standard christian agenda.

I really wish sometimes that I was as smart as many of the people who have shared how Christianity didn’t make any sense to them and they were able to figure things out all by themselves, or they had these kinds of cognitions all on their own, but sometimes it takes confrontation and challenge to get a person to think. Fortunately, I ran into an individual who saw that I had the potential to actually USE MY MIND AND THINK, and he used what he knew as a teacher to get me to go there. So, with much thanks to KMK, here I am. Like it or not, that’s the truth - as I perceive it.

FF


Sex: Female
State: Kentucky
Country: USA
Became a Christian: Ever since I can remember
Ceased being a Christian: 45
Labels before: Christian
Labels now: Agnostic
Why I joined: Born into it
Why I left: Discovery of the lies and deception being propagated as TRUTH
Email Address: Pagimaginator at aol.com

4/3/04                                                                                       View Comments

A Journey - Ongoing

sent in by Kamilah

I am African-American. These words alone bring many things to mind. The first is usually skin color. The second is a combination of characteristics, location, and class that date back centuries whether true or not. The last is the most obvious if observed and that is that 99.5% are religious. Well, with that said, guess which one is where my past began? Christianity. And of course, it all starts with grandmothers or prior in ancestry. I was born into the game of religion. In christianity, no matter what denomination you were in, children are considered the “future of the interest group.” Each Sunday felt like Monday through Friday except for the business/semiformal attire. Like every other African-American child, I was torn out of bed each Sunday, dressed, and went by force to a place with my parents that I was never given an explanation about, understood, nor exactly wanted be at unless something fun was going to happen.

This place was called a “church” and what happened there week in, week out was all I knew for the first 20 years of my life. Beliefs were forced on me that I did not understand. Attitudes were forced on me that I did not understand. Texts were forced on me that I did not understand. Figures of imagination were forced on me that I did not understand. I was peer pressured into everything from going through the membership intake process of the religion and denomination to participating in the groupings (“ministries”) and committees within. I was forced to learn the lingo and be something and someone that I was not.

Everything was glamorous about being christian when you are a child and teenager from the gospel music that dawned the robes (no matter how mediocre or glitzy they looked), high school or broadway style “toe tappin’, knee slappin’, body jerkin’” concerts and conferences to the apparel and professional compact discs, themed bible book study courses, field trips, and nap time when preachers spoke. Not to mention the “everybody knows everybody and their mommas” atmosphere and camaraderie that comes with the collective. Also, the networks that could get you a job, money, free food, babysitting, etc. Church was and is still becoming more of a “one stop cultic shop.” Well, it was while I was the age of 20 two years ago that I realized christianity was nothing but mirages, smoke and mirrors. When it came to values and morals, it was meant for me to begin learning about the plagiarisms, the contradictions, the setups, the mentalities, the manipulations and mythologies that were and still are involved in this. All of these things are justified in some shape, form and fashion.

The “Black Church” let along the rest of Christianity does not believe in getting to know oneself for who and what they are. They want you blind, subliminal, and incomplete. They want you drugged up on ancient texts such as the bible book and dopped out on cultic activities such as “church services, classes, concerts, compact discs, apparel, etc.” They want you limber enough to go out and assimilate the world one “empty soul” at a time by ANY means necessary. It starts with language. If your language becomes more of the lingo, they feel that assimilation is not far off. The development of christian cultic language starts with letters (hence the acronyms like “b-i-b-l-e”), then with words (like “god, eloheim, amen, hallelujah, jesus, satan, devil, demons, adam, eve, etc.”), then sentences (like “thou shall not steal” – kids receive ‘memory verses’ which are sentences of the ancient texts), etc. It goes on and on. Welcome to manipulation 101.
As a child, this was going on and I had no clue. I heard the stories and depending on the viewpoint, the morals of the stories. And that was that. I was told not to question them because of a story of a guy who questioned and had his life snatched from him by the deity as far as everything he worked for and earned as well as what was close to his heart like his family. The black church saying goes, “as long as I got king jesus, I don’t need nobody or nothing else.” Thus, acting like I knew it all was what I was told to live, eat, drink, sleep, and breathe by. So I did whether I wanted to or not.

It took me 20 years to know what people in general meant when they said, “figure it out.” I was never told to figure things out. Heck, I was never told to think for myself in any other context but christianity. I was told to also never think outside of the box. If it was not christian, it was not moral. If it was not christian, it was not right. If you were not a christian, then you were not a good person and don’t deserve goodness to happen to you. The list goes on.

Until. I woke up one day and said – NO MORE.

The lies. The myths. The figures of imagination. The morals that they took and are continuously still taking credit for but morality and encouragement did not start with nor was invented or “perfected” by christianity. They do not believe in human rights. They believe in christian only rights. The same goes for liberty, freedom, pursuit of truth and happiness. Abuse science, medicine, reason to make it look like anything good that come out of them are credited to christianity and whatever bad, blame atheism. Etc. Etc. 45 billion + members and counting. It’s no laughing matter. It’s a game.

I am a proud atheist-humanist. I would be happy to one day look back on my life and say that this phase of existence is where I proved this world wrong about what Freethought truly stands for and is about. I hope that this description of my life’s experience so far has made you think and know that you are not alone. Thanks for reading this.


Sex: F
City: LA
State: CA
Country: USA
Became a Christian: I was born into the game
Ceased being a Christian: I would have to say - 20
Labels before: Southern, Missionary Baptist
Labels now: Atheist-Humanist
Why I joined: I was born into it and I was forced and peer pressured to.
Why I left: Truth shall set you free
Email Address: kamilah1 at aol.com

4/1/04                                                                                       View Comments

My Path to Reason

sent in by Rob Ryan (a.k.a. Ro-bear)

It is time I told my story, as I have roamed this site for months and have posted for several weeks. Some of the testimonies I have read have been quite moving. My heart goes out to those who have lost friends and family or otherwise suffered for abandoning Christianity and embracing reason. My own deconversion was relatively painless, probably owing to the weakness of my indoctrination. My parents were and are rather lukewarm Christians; I suppose their own indoctrination was less than severe. I know my maternal grandfather became quite devout upon quitting alcohol, but that was after my mother moved out and married. God and religion were not staples of conversation in my chidhood home, but we all dressed up nicely and went to church on Sundays.I think my parents felt obligated to impart to their children a moral system, if nothing else. In that respect, they succeeded.

Church bored me. The preacher droned monotonously about God's forgiveness and man's unworthiness. I did not feel unworthy; I thought I was a good little boy. Everyone told me so. I did not see how I was to blame for Adam's and Eve's disobedience. I figured that would come to me as I grew up, but it never did. While the pastor spoke, I took offering envelopes and drew alligators on them. Sometimes I looked at the translucent red ears and wrinkled necks and stiff white collars of the men in the pews before me. Sometimes I looked at the coiffed heads and pillbox hats and lily-white necks of the old ladies. I became very good at drawing alligators. My parents didn't mind, because it kept me from squirming and asking nettlesome questions. I didn't like the music, either, except for the one that went "As it was in the beginning / it now and ever shall be / World without end. Amen. Amen." That one was quite catchy.

I sort of liked Jesus. He had such a kind face in that portrait, you know, the backlit one in which he looks so well-groomed. Still, it seemed odd that my parents would approve of him. He had a beard, and his hair was much longer than the Beatles', and my dad thought they were fairies. I found some of the pictures in Sunday school troubling, though, especally the ones depicting Jesus on the cross or sprawled dead across Mary's lap. How did that little piece of cloth stay on there, anyway? Did people see Jesus's penis? Was it a sin to think about Jesus's penis? It made me uneasy. My parents told me that God could see us always and knew our thoughts. I did not like that idea very much. I don't think I totally believed it. I trusted my parents, but I didn't see how they could know this. Plus, I couldn't see how one could see everyone at once, through walls, without eyes, no less. I guess I lacked imagination!
Besides, I had just learned the truth about Santa Claus, and I was beginning to doubt other things as well, despite only being six-or-so years old.

Our pastor had no doubts at all; he seemed quite sure. By the time I was nine or ten, I reasoned that ignorance must be behind my lack of proper belief and piety, so I began to read the bible quite often. I ran into a lot of trouble there, too. I found all sorts of things in there that I had a problem understanding. How could something be wrong when people did it but all right for God? Wasn't wrong wrong always? Hell was especially problematic; it didn't seem loving or forgiving at all. It even seemed cruel and vindictive. How could God do that to anyone? I mean, shit! Burn them a while then see if they have figured it out. This was my first lesson in subjective morality.Then I began to wonder where evil came from. I was told that God had given man free will and that man had chosen evil. How could man choose what did not exist, and why would he do so if God was so great? Man would have to be flawed to make such a silly choice. Did God screw up when he made man? My parents and Sunday school teachers grew very tired of my questions. My alligators grew more and more realistic.

By the time I was twelve or thirteen, I began to think I was an atheist, because I didn't believe in the god of the bible, and I didn't know of any others except the Greek and Roman ones which everyone knew were bogus. I told a couple of my school chums, and they were horrified. I quit telling people. I also quit saying "under God" when reciting the Pledge, and I began to omit "reverent" from the Boy Scout oath. One day at the supper table, when I was about sixteen or so, the subject of religion came up. Quite a rare occasion. My unabashedly honest-on-my-behalf sister suddenly blurted "Rob's an atheist!" to which my mother snapped in reply, "No, he's not!" She just wanted to spare me the wrath of my father (who had little tolerance for nonconformity), so I said nothing and someone wisely changed the subject. That was some thirty years ago, and I still haven't really "come out" to my parents. They know, though.

My students know, too. I teach high school in a very conservative East Tennessee community. Everyone, it seems, is a Baptist, students and teachers alike. Occasionally, religion comes up in our discussions of the literature we read. I am careful to be very neutral with regard to religion, which makes them curious as to my belief system. They know damn well that few Baptists are neutral about religion. They ask, "Mr. Ryan, what religion are you?" I respond that I have no belief in the supernatural, or that I am a rationalist, or I smile and answer "None of the above". Then they ask, "Does that mean you're an atheist?" I say yes and tell them my religious beliefs are irrelevant to my role as a teacher and the work we are doing. They sometimes seem a bit shocked, but they don't act any differently toward me. By then they know me and think I'm a good teacher and like me. A few innocently try to "save" me, the little darlings. I smile outside, but inside I weep for them and the generation they will indoctrinate in time. I have not heard from any irate parents; I suppose they and their children don't talk about my beliefs. The parents who have heard of me have only positive reports. I'm sure most of them think I'm a Christian.

My wife of twelve years doesn't claim a label for herself. I think she's a deist. My two daughters, ages six and eight, are brilliant little humanists, as far as I can tell. Their alligators need much work, however. I am very proud of my family and myself. That is my story. It lacks great drama, but that's the way I like it.

P.S. I hope I haven't bored you; I'm just trying to be a good citizen of the site. I feel I should register and contribute as well. I wish I knew more about some of those I see regularly on the posts, like tomkins and dharmadarwin and nemesis(cg) among others. I do feel I know you in a way. jevers reminds me of one of my friends when he gets pissed off.


City: Powell
State: TN
Country: U.S.A.
Became a Christian: Brought to church as a baby who, I'm told, burped loudly.
Ceased being a Christian: 12 or 13, a little gray for a while
Labels before: United Methodist
Labels now: Atheist, freethinker, rationalist, humanist, whatever. I am that I am
Why I joined: Just lucky, I suppose.
Why I left: More skeptical and inquisitive than gullible and smug