1/30/05                                                                                       View Comments

Jesus Person No More

sent in by anonymous

In 1971 I got "saved and became one of early "Jesus People" who attended Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa in Santa Ana, California. First it was in the big circus tent, and then in the new sanctuary. I was baptized in 1971 at Pirate's Cove at Corona Del Mar, and I married Calvary's live-in janitor in 1973, for ten years.

I also attended a small charismatic church called Shekinah who had this flamboyant "healer" preacher named Brant Baker, but he ended up dying of AIDS.

There was a lot of conforming for a female in the church to do. I was to "submit" to my husband, "obey" him and in other words, dote on him and be his yielding slave. It didn't bother me at the time, not until after I matured.

Even worse, was the rampant anti-intellectualism. We were not encouraged to go to college because it was "secular" and "of the flesh," and yet at the same time it was demanded of the men to be a good provider and have a stable job. I guess the church didn't ever want us to think too much or to question anything or to use our brains at all.

My husband was very good friends with Greg Laurie, pastor of Calvary Chapel of Riverside, and in 1974 we basically picked up and moved to Riverside, following Greg after his wedding to Cathe. In fact, we all four lived in the same big house, a house that Calvary Chapel of Riverside owned (we cut it in half to make it a duplex). My husband was vying for the position of Assistant Pastor and he wanted it very badly but ultimately it was awarded to someone else and this broke his heart. Greg Laurie went on to form the mega-church, Harvest ministries, and he is supposed to be Billy Graham's replacement.

Ultiimately we moved away, divorced in 1983, I remarried and had a daughter and went to college - something I never felt encouraged to do by the church back then. I fell in love with Psychology and Carl Jung and found Christianity too literal and anti-intellectual. I have not been back to church, since.

It wasn't a sudden de-conversion, it was gradual. And I paid for it psychologically. In fact, I ended up needing to talk about it in therapy a whole bunch. I had a lot of cognitive dissonance over it, alot of thinking I was going to go to hell. Mostly what bothered me was a certain sermon by Pastor Chuck Smith, Sr. about the Sin Against the Holy Spirit. He had taught us that if we "backslid enough, we would not know exactly the moment when we would lose our salvation. I was haunted by this sermon for many years until I was able to resolve my fears in therapy.

Leaving Christianity freed me up for so many things, intellectually. I was free to explore philosophy, other points of view, even other religions. I found I enjoy the wisdom of many Eastern Religions, especially the Dali Lama and Tibetan Buddhism, but I do not have to get involved in the rituals or heavy belief systems if I don't want to. I prefer to think of myself as an Agnostic - I don't know if there is a God and I'm sure no one else knows for sure.

There's a new found sense of inner volition and responsibility that you gain when you let go of blaming everything that happens on either "God's will" or "Satan's attacks."

From JW to agnostic free-thinking gay

sent in by Jess

I left the Jehovah´s Witnesses at the age of 25 (It´s 2005 now so it´s approximately a year ago). For a long time I´d felt miserable attending the activities (meetings, fields service, public talks) of that religion. I´d lost my faith completely...I´d done some independent research (a very forbidden act among the JWs and other totalitarian religions!) in the fields of general science, evolutionary biology, origin of man, origin of diseases, so-called "full-filled" prophecies in the Bible etc...

My findings were very contradictionary to what I´d been taught from a fundamentalistic interpretation of the Bible and I couldn´t manage this Orwellian double-thinking anymore ´just´to keep my social network...Furthermore, I was very interested in the surrounding society and not just the world view presented in my religion...

As a 25-year old gay virgin who´d been battling with my sexuality and masturbation since the age of 13 (anti-wanking-log, daily Bible reading, SHORT visits to the bath room...do anyone of you recognise something LOL?) I also decided that I had to break out of the Christian belief set to do some experiments with my love life...I didn´t find it attractive to die as a Christian virgin martyr...I knew I probably was not able to live a perfectly happy heterosexual Christian family life...it would be unfair (very euphemistic!) to a woman just to marry her if I wasn´t able to love her in a sexual way, too.

So I just quit it all and turned off my phone the next 3-4 months to avoid the calls of ´caring´elders (A stupid way to react but I didn´t know what to do at all)...Lost a lot of real good friends (which has hurt a F*****G lot ;-((...and I have a very "stressed" relationship to my family who´s still active in the JWs...but luckily I´ve got some new "wordly" friends (I hate that word so much now)...and I am sure everything will work out fine when time passes by...

I still have bad times but I feel I am able to embrace life as it is...with all its goods/bads, its confusing complexities...
I take life as it comes and I am slowly accepting that I will not be able to find the "absolute truth" about life....I find it very joyful to soak up every information I can find in such diverse fields as science, politics, history, religious history etc.
Most of all I am glad that I am able to form my own beliefs and to form a social network that is independent of how well I believe in certain religious dogma and how well I follow a set of strict rules...but just to know that my friends love me because I am......me ;-)

Sex: Male
City: Cph
Country: Denmark
Became a Christian: Christian from childhood
Ceased being a Christian: 25
Labels before: Jehovah´s Witnesses
Labels now: agnostic free-thinking open-minded ex-JW gay
Why I joined: I was raised as a JW
Why I left: I deconverted because of my sexuality, the contradiction between modern science and the Bible, the errancies in the bible

1/29/05                                                                                       View Comments

Doubting more and more...

sent in by Chad

I became a Christian when I was 17 years old. My cousin invited me to a revival at a local church that I attended on and off while growing up. I wanted to run from it all at first, but I was drawn by the youth group there that seemed to love me and care about me. They were very nice to me and that was such a radical change from the "friends" I had at the time. Overnight I went from being cynical and condemning of the Christian religion to fully embracing it. I remember attending youth rallies, retreats, Wednesday night services and other events where I was always on the front row. I was so very zealous. My stepdad was agnostic then (still is) and I remember praying for him and requesting prayer for him. This was my senior year in high school. My new friends and life made me happy then. Life was tense at home with my stepdad which I realize was mostly my fault in my attempts to convince him of the new truth I had found. My mom followed right behind me in becoming a Christian. Wow, how clearly I see things now. He must have felt like we were so against him. We had joined a big church in our area with 2000 in the attendance on Sunday mornings. He thought we had joined some kind of cult and had been brainwashed. I don't think this was the intention of these people. I don't think brainwashing and making people feel guilty are done on purpose...at least in my experience at this church it doesn't appear that way. I know I wasn't trying to brainwash anyone in my years of going door to door with the church or talking with newcomers to the church.

Anyway, I went to college and struggled a lot. This is the first time in my life when being a Christian was hard. Not because of the partying because I ended up at a Christian school where not a lot of partying took place. Rather, my first year was so easy being around all my new friends and having such a strong support system in place. It was fun during that first year, but in college it became hard. Eventhough I was at a Christian school, I was outside of my support system and in the real world in a sense. I had roommates that were not Christians and my faith was challenged. Plus deep down inside I wanted to go drink with them and at times I gave in and went. I always came running back to the church because of the extreme guilt I felt. I was also very scared. I was so convinced in my mind that what I had found in Christianity was the truth that it scared the hell out of me to think that I was on unfavorable terms with God.

I found another group in college in my junior year and I felt safe and happy again. I was having fun with my new friends from a singles group at a church I had joined. And these were very cool friends. We had a great time together and they were a little more liberal in their thinking about things as I've always been. We drank sometimes, but not too much...never to get drunk. We enjoyed going to secular concerts at local clubs. We had a great time and I wanted that time to go on forever. I still miss it. It made me feel like I was ok and safe from hell and "right with God" yet not some weird fanatical ultra conservative Christian. I had been starting to the feel like that and that caused war to take place inside my mind. I now felt at peace because I could be a true Christian and safe from hell and even more than that, safe from God's discipline. But I didn't feel so weird. I was an enlightened Christian.

In my senior year I started dating a girl and after a couple of months she got pregnant. We got married and started our life together. She grew up very differently than I did. Her parents actually stayed married, a new idea for me, and her dad was a Southern Baptist minister and former missionary in Venezuela. I really looked up to them a lot (and still do as they seem to be the most genuine people...never in it for money, always practicing what they preached). I've always been an approval seeker. I wanted their approval too. We were heavily involved in church, going out witnessing, singing in choir, teaching Sunday school and then eventually became missionaries. This is where my struggles began....

In 2001, we went to seminary to prepare to be missionaries. It was there that my doubts came to surface. I was in a very conservative seminary,but in a very liberal anti-Christian town. I remember feeling that I had to witness to everyone I encountered or I wasn't a committed follower worthy of becoming a missionary. I am not a pushy person and have generally been a "live and let live" type person. Now I was in a town that was very anti-Christian and I felt I had to witness to people. I longed to have stories of witnessing to people to share in my evangelism class and gaining the approval of everyone. I longed to tell my father-in-law and brother-in-law (both ministers) of how I was sharing Christ like a true missionary. I was scared to death though and I got the point of being very depressed and even dreaded going on a normal evening out with my family to a local restaurant because that would mean I'd have to strike up a conversation with a stranger while waiting in line hoping to turn things in a spiritual direction or leave a tract with the waitress and tell her God loves her. It made me sick to my stomach. I managed to make it through and actually had some very interersting conversations with people that talked openly with me about Christ. Some of these people were going through some difficult times and it felt good to listen to them and pray with them. I thought I was the hands and mouth of Jesus in this world reaching out to the lost and hurting doing his work.

Anyway, we left the states to be missionaries in Spain in 2002. I really enjoyed our year in Spain. It was brought to an end after a year because my daughter was having a very very hard time adapting which caused a lot of unhappiness for my wife and I decided at that point that I didn't care anymore if God was happy with me or not... nor did I care if my church back home which had been so proud of me were disappointed in me.... I just wanted my family to be ok again. I was the only one who enjoyed our time in Spain. I guess while I was at language school (my wife already knew Spanish having grown up in Venezuela) everyday and out meeting Spaniards, my wife was back home dealing with the trauma and stress this new life brought. I'm glad I finally realized there unhappiness!! During this year in Spain I continued to think about my seminary experiences... the pressure to be a good witness which I hated (except for the few times when it seemed to help people struggling), and my seminary classes which brought serious serious doubts about the Bible and everything I had believed for years. I was starting to become honest with myself about my doubts and questions. I was also now on the inside of the souther baptist organization. I saw much that I didn't like. Don't get me wrong, there are some very sincere people with good intentions, but there is a lot that finally made me tell our team leader on the field "I don't think I can be a Baptist anymore". It was just too legalistic and rule based for me and I just saw so many people for the first time that were fake and in the whole thing for the money, the fame, and the position. I was quickly on my path of leaving the Christian faith...which I am now near the end.

We returned from Spain. I began to question things more than ever. Why did my daugther struggle so much if we were doing God's work? Why did 9/11 happen? Why would God allow so many people to die that way. I had lived in Spain a year. They were a "christian" nation but they were very different than us. I saw a different belief system and it made me question my own. How could I tell them what I believed was right and what they believed was wrong? How can anyone know for sure? I had a lot of friends who were missionaries in other countries that were Muslim, etc. Some countries had people that had never heard of Jesus. How could these people go to hell for not believing in something that didn't even know about? There is no true without a doubt support for an age of accountability in the Bible, so what happens to aborted babies? What happens to kids who die before they even learn how to talk much less say a prayer asking Jesus to come into their heart and be their personal lord and savior. There were tons of issues with the Bible too. What about the geneaology (sp??) of Jesus? It was foretold that he would descend from David. His geneaology was traced through Joseph back to David, but if Mary was a virgin, Jesus had nothing to do with Joseph in that sense. Maybe Joseph and Mary were cousins and thus Jesus did come from David, but why would God leave something this huge and important out only to leave us in a state of doubt? I have read and heard many answers to these questions, but none that satisfy me. And its not because I don't want to be satisfied. I have hated going through such doubt over the past couple of years. I've begged God to show himself to me and put an end to my inner torture. So far it hasn't happened and the only thing I know for sure is that I have unanswered questions. Why would God create the human race knowing we'd sin against him and many would thus spend eternity burning and suffering. None of it sits well with me and nobody has been able to give me any answers to these questions.

My wife is a believer, but she knows of my struggles. She just thinks I'm going through a hard time and that I'll return to being a committed Christian soon. At least she's letting me work it out for myself and not pushing me. My mother has me on every prayer list that exists at the church. I'm sure my in-laws would be very very concerned if they knew all of this. I'm lonely now as all my friends that I've had (for the most part) are Christians. We're not involved in church like we once were, so we don't hang out with them much. I have a good friend who was a big part of me becoming a Christian that I hang out with a lot. He is actually struggling like I am, but he works so many hours that I rarely see him. It's tempting to go back to church and go through the motions just so I have friends again. Plus, I have to admit that I am very scared of being wrong and burning in hell. I'm scared God want bless my life. I still believe in God. I have had a very open mind about God/creationism vs evolution. I lean towards a creator although where he came from has me baffled, but so does believing that once there was nothing, but then given billions of years, something came out of nothing. I just don't know what to believe. I feel like I'm in hell right now. I'm glad I found this site. I know I've written a book here, but I feel better actually expressing what's been bottled up inside me for a long time. I hope to come to peace with all this soon!!!

Chad

City: Spartanburg
State: SC
Country: USA
Became a Christian: 17
Ceased being a Christian: 31 now, not quite left yet, but close!
Labels before: Baptist, Missionary
Labels now: Almost Agnostic
Why I joined: the love and acceptance I felt
Why I left: I think a lot and finally decided to face honestly the doubts and questions I have
Email Address: chadbryant5 at charter dot net

1/28/05                                                                                       View Comments

New Atheist family advice

sent in by Jeff

I just converted fully to Atheist this week. I grew up and still live in Missouri. I was pretty much your average Midwest kid born to two amazingly supportive and loving parents. Both Mom and Dad were Christian, and from about the ages of 6 to 12 we went to church most Sundays. The thought of God made sense to me as a kid (especially with all the encouragement of belief that a well meaning Christian family brings).

As a young boy, I remember my Mom having a religious experience one day in which the Holy Spirit truly entered her and she ended up speaking in tongues. This happened at home. As a teenager I went to church on special events only (Christmas, Easter, funerals, etc.). I didn’t give it much thought, but I figured Jesus was real and I hoped I would get close to him later in life (I was playing the odds that I’d die later in life). As a teenager I always had the “but why would God let a good Japanese person (who statistically will probably not be Christian) go to hell?” I always rationalized it to myself (obviously to believe Christianity you have to make lot’s of exceptions).

I pretty much lived as a “weak” or non-practicing Christian until I was 32 years old. That year I started going to church with a friend. There were things I liked about it. Lot’s of enthusiastic happy people. The message was always fairly positive. People would sing the church songs of praise. I prayed to God to hear me, and know my goodness, and to understand my utmost appreciation of life and of my life. After a couple months of trying to be close, I kinda went back into drift mode. My Christian friend told me that God had been getting closer to me, but that Satan realized that and had stepped in to put doubts in my head.

Within the last year I had about 10 logical arguments in my head that made me start to realize something didn’t make sense. The turning argument for me was actually a story that is in children’s Sunday school books – Noah’s Ark. I started to really think about the fact that God pretty much killed the ENTIRE planet. And not just a quick death in the night. Can you imagine the horror these people felt after a couple days when it just kept raining? Pretty soon the people were trying to get to higher ground. But the water levels just kept rising. Soon, the stronger people probably had to push the weaker people off of the land and into the water. Finally, the water kept rising and there was no more solid ground to stand on. People are trying to float at this point to stay alive. Obviously they have to be weak from not eating for days.

Eventually I guess the final human lost the strength to tread water and died from drowning. Except for the “just and righteous” Noah, who would get drunk when this whole tragedy was finally over. Satan had to be sitting down there thinking “this is just too easy….God is doing my work for me!”
With all the amazing information available to research over the internet, my 10 arguments that didn’t add up quickly became hundreds!! (Thank you for this site!). It just all finally made sense to me.

It is scary to lose the fantasy of God always looking out for you, and meeting up with my family in heaven for never ending bliss. But for me, it makes the years from now (33) til my death much more cherished and lived. Two quotes I remember from reading letters on this site are “I’m not scared of death, it’s just the process of dying that might be uncomfortable”, and “I now realize I am my own body”. I totally agree with this! I was born in 1971. I know that the year 1968 happened and lot’s of things happened that year! Where was I??? I was “dead”. It wasn’t that bad (hell I’d been dead for millions of years). When my spec of time is over here, I’ll never know it. It’s scary, but also not scary.

Now for my problem!!! I would appreciate any thoughts or opinions! Both of my parents are in their early 60’s. They are divorced, but each parent is still very involved in my life. In a way, I want everyone to know the truth (now that I figured it out). But, religion is THE most important thing in my mom’s life. It gives her “purpose”. The placebo effect of Jesus makes her believe everything will be ok. Church gives her a positive social outlet. When the day comes that she passes away, religion will give her strength since she will totally believe the best is just getting ready to start. My dad is also very religious, but not quite as much. But both parents want me to “get saved”. They don’t overly push it, but make little comments.

I understand they love me very much and want me in heaven with them. I can’t tell them what I have figured out. First, they would be in total denial for quite some time anyway, and IF they did see thru the fog of “belief”, I feel it would ruin their lives. I’m definitely going to “coast” on this for a while. Let them think I’m kinda “finding my way”.

My mom loves for me to go to church with her, and I can still do that on occasion as a gift to her. I can say “hello” to everyone and sing along and be grateful to spend time with my mom. When someone brings up god I can just say “well he is a great God” and that usually appeases them. Ultimately this is a decision I will make, and right now I’m leaning towards just “letting it go”. I mean if religion makes my parents life’s better, and doesn’t totally take over their lives, then good for them. Any comments or opinions on this are much appreciated though!

Peace and happiness!

Sex: Male
State: MO
Became a Christian: 6
Ceased being a Christian: 33
Labels before: Methodist, Baptist
Labels now: Atheist
Why I joined: Mom and Dad were
Why I left: Logically analyzed the religion

Scare Tactics

sent in by anonymous female

First, my spiritual history (condensed):

I've got to skip over a lot, but this story would be a book if I told it all. This is the way my spirituality evolved(in a nutshell).

I was born into family that had been Seventh-day Adventist since the sect originated in the 1800's. I can remember going through my grandmother's bookcase and finding a journal that belonged to an ancestor in which he had recorded in longhand his witnessing of the trance-state of Ellen White, that sect's prophetess and founder. Growing up, I sincerely believed that the only acceptable belief system was conservative christianity.

Any other beliefs were literally "of the devil". I believed what my authority figures told me. I was not allowed to go to public school until the seventh grade, and could nor consort with non-Adventist kids. I was allowed to play softball in a public league at age 10, but missed the majority of games because I couldn't work, buy, sell, compete, etc.., from friday sundown til saturday sundown.

Secretly I felt like the weird kid in my neighborhood, and the kids on my street thought so publicly. At home, one of my parents used meth and punished me corporally to the extreme while at the same time acting as an extracuricular youth leader. My parents divorced when I was 13, and my mother switched to evangelical-type churches. I was a troubled and confused kid who acted out, having a history of being taken advantage of sexually by adults and other reasons, of course. My mom took me to be anointed with oil and such, and I wanted to believe so badly, yet couldn't and was afraid to verbalize it. I thought I was worthy of hell. I was in and out of foster homes and was experimenting with drugs.

I always thought that if I could just BELIEVE, I would be an acceptable person. I would go through periods of religious fanatacism, hoping I would truly "get" god if I forced it to happen. It didn't work. My mother told me I was oppressed by demons. She had a pastor bless my living areas and "cast the demons out" of my bedroom. She was convinced that there were demons in our house making noise and scaring her, and that I had invited them into the house. That is a horrible burden to put on a 17 yr old.

Now I realize that she has scared herself into believing, and she was unconsciously teaching me the same. All the talk of spiritual warfare scared the crap out of me, I honestly was afraid of the dark for years from reading books about how to spot satanism and cast out demons(lol). As an adult, more periods of debauchery spotted with more desperate fanaticism. I thought of suicide very often. I can remember, after leaving my first husband, laying on my bed and screaming at god, daring him to kill me.

I was told many times that "all things not of god are of the devil". I was getting older and meeting people who were Bhuddist, Pagan, Wiccan, even Atheist; and, dammit, they weren't evil people! At age 30 or 31 I started allowing myself to "not HAVE to" believe in jesus and the whole dogma. I did a tremendous amount of reading and research and studied anthropology for a while in college. Now, at 34, I don't label myself at all spiritually, although I am definitely NOT A CHRISTIAN. It has been a long process of deprogramming myself. My relatives are a little fearful of me and my "evilness", and I have little contact with the Adventist side of the family.

I recognize now that meek, sheeplike demeanor accompanied by the blank smile and try not get angry when they use the same canned phrases to try to save my soul, which is apparently damned now. For the first time in my life, I am content, and my anxiety is almost nonexistant. Wouldn't you know it, I CAN think for myself, I CAN have my very own moral code that is seperate from a religion, and I AM NOT GOING TO HELL!!!!!

ps.....I don't even believe in hell.


State: oregon
Country: USA
Became a Christian: birth
Ceased being a Christian: early 30's
Labels before: Seventh-day Adventist; Evangelical
Labels now: no labels
email: partysnap69 at yahoo dot com

1/23/05                                                                                       View Comments

From Evangelist to Atheist

sent in by Jamie McDonald

I became a Christian at the age of 17. At the time I was living in a University College - anyone who knows those sort of places know its like living in a goldfish bowl, everyone knows everything that you're doing all the time. Anyway my conversion was nothing short of spectacular, in the space of about two weeks I went from boozy party animal to hyper spiritual mr. Born Again. People were fascinated by my conversion, and in the following weeks I was able to lead several to Christ. I became something of a talking point amongst my fellow students.

From there things only became more intense. Over the following years I led still more people to Christianity. Upon graduation from Uni I felt a 'call' to ministry, and several years later ended up on the full time staff of my church. My role was as an evangelist amongst university students, as well as leading our churches youth group of about 100 young adults. These were certainly spectacular times, and I lost count of the number of people I prayed the 'sinners prayer' with. I was very much involved with what we called 'cold turkey' evangelism, which meant going up to people cold and asking if I could talk to them about Jesus. I can remember on one occasion leading a young Singaporian man to Christ with tears in his eyes. Heady stuff, I was convinced that God was working through me in a powerful way.

I worked for the church for seven years, but at the end of that time decided full time Christian Ministry was not for me. To be honest, I felt totally burned out by the church. I had gone through some really rough times with my wife's health during that time, and had received little support from my fellow pastors. I decided to pursue a secular career instead, with the intention of rubbing shoulders with 'unsaved' people. I really thought that I would have more success leading people to salvation this way, than by being employed by a church.

My faith crisis began in early 2004. It was strange how it happened, because it came absolutely out of the blue. I had been reading the gospel of Matthew at the start of the year, hoping to work through the entire Bible by Christmas. One of the things that I was working out as I read was the whole concept of hell. To be perfectly honest, hell has been an idea that I have struggled with ever since I became a Christian. Mostly I would rationalise it (like most evangelicals do) by saying it wasn't so much a place of eternal torture, as a kind of nothingness. That seemed to make it acceptable to me. However as I was reading Matthew, I was trying to come to terms with Jesus talking about a place of 'weeping and gnashing of teeth' and a 'fiery furnace'. Those passages always bothered me, and I couldn't really rationalise them. Anyway for some reason one day I was thinking about the whole subject, and decided to do some research on the internet.

I found an article concering John Stott's view of hell. For those of you who don't know, John Stott is one of the absolute darlings of mainstream evangelicalism. He caused quite a storm some years ago when he declared that he didn't believe in a literal hell. He said that belief in a literal fiery hell must either cause people to completely de-sensitise themselves to reality or drive them insane. As an alternative he put forward the idea that the unsaved cease to exist after death.

I was ecstatic to read that. Here was a Christian I respected saying that it was OK to struggle with the idea of hell, and who gave a much more human alternative.

I continued to research the internet, and was shocked by what I found. Article after article by mainstream evangelical churches slammed John Stott as a heretic for what he had said. I can remember as clear as day reading one particular article by some Baptist church in the US. They said that they believe hell is nothing less than 'eternal conscious torment'. Those words leaped out and completely seared my soul. I felt sick to the stomach, could hardly talk, and could hardly even walk, such was their effect on me. How could people even sleep at night with the belief that even one person is suffering eternal conscious torment, let alone billions of people?

The following days were very hard for me. I felt certian that I would have a breakdown, I honestly couldn't see any way out of the terrible state I found myself in. Thankfully I continued my internet research. It was then that I stumbled across an online article that changed my life. It was called 'beyond born again' - by Robert Price. This might sound strange, but in all the years I was a Christian I held the notion that no real Born Again Christian could ever fall away! All the people I had known who had ceased to be Christian I just assumed were never really Christian to begin with. But Robert Price was someone who had been heavily involved in Christian Apologetics, just like I had - and who had obviously been a genuine born again. I could hardly believe what I was reading.

Brain washing is a true evil, but it is not always detectable. For me, I had been brainwashed for years into thinking that the arguments for the Christian faith were watertight. I honestly used to find it difficult that anyone could not believe, given the 'weight' of 'solid evidence' put forward by the likes of Josh McDowell and Paul Little. Robert Price cut through their arguments like a hot knife through butter, and he also exposed the whole Christian mindset.

It was like having a stitch picked on a tightly sewn garment. Once that little stitch is gone, its only a matter of time before the whole thing falls apart. After Robert Price I discovered Ed Babinski and Dan Barker, and then exchristians.org, then Internet Infidels. Whoah! I had always been led to believe that the atheist viewpoint was weak and easily dispensed with. Instead what I found was intelligent, sensitive and well researched articles that completely turned what I had believed on its head. Just one of the arguments raised was enough to make me doubt what I had believed, but I found many. Then I read Wells 'The Jesus Myth', and Burton Mack's 'Who Wrote the New testament', 'It Aint Necessary So" by Matthew Sturgis, and 'Leaving the Fold" by Ed Babinski. It got to the point where it was information overload, and I just had to sit back and try to soak it all in.

In an effort to get the other viewpoint on what I was reading, I turned to the Tektonics website, which I had heard was very good. I felt completely sick when I started reading that guys articles. I had expected to find an intelligent counter-argument to the many excellent articles I had encountered. Instead I found nothing by bitter sarcasm combined with personal attacks on the authors of the articles. In my searching of that web page I found nothing at all that even remotely addressed the relevent issues. Instead it reinforced my growing impression that many Christians are bitter, twisted and arrogant, and would do well to actually get out into the real world for once.

So where does that leave me now? Well, I can honestly say I have enjoyed life in the last few months more than I have in a long time. And its not that my morals have changed, in fact if anything I'm more moral. Its so much easier to be a good human being because you want to be, not because you're scared of being roasted for all eternity. But for once I have been able to live my life without a constant sense of guilt and inadequacy, and its been wonderful.

I can't say that all my problems are over, however. My wife is a Christian, and just about all my friends are too. At the moment none of them know about my newfound atheism. I am sure my wife will understand, but my friends I'm not so sure about. I can foresee an endless series of concerned looks and offers to pray for me, as I end up on everyone's project list of lost souls to try and restore. Its not going to be fun. But I'm sure I'll get through it, and just maybe I'll be able to lead some of my friends to know the freedom I have found as well.

Anyway, thats my story as it is to this moment. To close, let me use a biblical quote that has taken on a new meaning for me. John 8:32 - "and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free".

Sex: male
City: Canberra
State: ACT
Country: Australia
Labels before: Evangelical Anglican, Assemblies of God
Labels now: Atheist
Why I joined: I needed to find meaning in life
Why I left: I realised it was a load of crap
Email Address: McDonald_912 at hotmail dot com

1/19/05                                                                                       View Comments

My Experience With Religion

sent in by Scott Stahlecker

From as far back as I can remember (at age eight, lighting the candles on the alter of a Lutheran church), I have been fascinated by religion and all of its mystical qualities. I recall as well catching a city bus to a friend’s house at about the age of nine from my home in Pearl City, Hawaii, to a nearby suburb called Pacific Palisades. On the bus route was a church that I always made a point to look at as I made my journey. In a rather naive way, I would tell myself that one day that church would play a significant role in my life. What I was really telling myself was that I was intrigued by spirituality and I thought that organized religion was the means by which I would pursue my spiritual quest. Boys will be boys, though, and at that early age I certainly wasn’t fanatical about spirituality or religion.

In the summer before my eighth-grade year, I moved from Hawaii with my mother to Tucson, Arizona. I was not active in a church throughout my high school years, but that situation would change dramatically after I finished school. Shortly after turning eighteen, I caught a Greyhound bus to California and was for the first time out on my own. For a couple of years prior to my move I had been actively skating as a hobby, the kind of skating that is performed on vertical terrain, in empty swimming pools, and on wooden ramps. Skateboarding at that time was just beginning to take off, but as an offshoot of that sport some skaters were using specially adapted roller-skates to skate on the same kind of terrain. I was one of the forerunners of this sport and happened to place third in my first major contest. As a result of this contest, and with the help of a friend, I managed to get a job in Del Mar, California. For the first three months I slept under a picnic table near my friend’s trailer, but when he suddenly died of a heart attack while jogging in the desert nearby, I had to find different accommodations. The manager of the place where I worked knew of my situation and hired me as the night watchman. This amounted to getting paid ten dollars a night to sleep on a pool table in the arcade room. Other than the noise of the pinball machines and a burglar I had to scare off one evening, the accommodations were great. A few months later I bought a dinky trailer from a Filipino immigrant and parked it in the trailer park, which was also owned by the company for whom I worked. Several months passed and I invited two of my close friends who were living in Tucson, Arizona, at the time to come live with me. They both got a temporary job working at a nearby carwash. At the carwash was a man who shinned the shoes of the customers waiting for their cars to get cleaned. This man introduced my friends to religion, who in turn introduced religion to me.

I remember sitting with my friends into the late hours of the night studying Revelation in the Bible, without having a clue as to what any of it meant. Like in a science-fiction movie, the imagery and symbolism were fascinating and frightening. Although we did not yet know how a Christian should act, we began simplifying our lives and cutting out worldly activities. My skating career was beginning to take off. I had secured two major sponsors that provided me with my equipment plus a few perks. I had many opportunities to skate for skating magazines and newspapers, as well as television. But I was growing weary of the lifestyle and the frantic pace of California. What was really beginning to occur was that religion was beginning to consume me, affecting the way I perceived the world and my purpose in life. Through study of the Bible, and in particular the life of Jesus, I recognized that many aspects of my life contradicted the life of a good Christian. Within a year of moving to California, I abruptly ended my skating career and moved back to Tucson. My friends who had joined me in California also moved with me, because we were all interested in learning more about religion, specifically, the religion offered by the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

I started learning more about Adventism through Bible studies conducted by an elder in the church. My friends, along with several other individuals, studied with me. We needed to learn the key points of the faith in order to be baptized. The weekly studies were not enough for me, however, and I would often spend hours each day studying the Bible, making connections between different texts on important doctrines and learning everything I could about my church. Within the church I began meeting fascinating and devoted people whose friendships I still hold dear to this day. It seemed as if every day was spent studying or discussing God and His purpose for my life. I was enjoying every minute of the education, getting close to God and worshiping with my new Christian family. I worked hard at doing everything the church expected of me. The church had its own traditions and rituals that I learned and practiced, and I was becoming accustomed to the way in which the church orchestrated its worship services. In socializing with other church members, I learned how to conduct myself by adhering to their values and customs. In time, I became an old Adventist, although I was new to the faith, because I learned to act much like the old-timers did. The time of my baptism came, and I distinctly remember standing in the parking lot after changing into dry clothes, my hair still wet from the submersion, and feeling absolutely nothing other than the impression that I had done what I was supposed to do.

As I think back on this time, I remember that my goal was to change as quickly as possible into the person that the church expected me to become. I was only nineteen, and I put up no resistance to the information I was being provided and the expectations being placed on me. The most important thing I learned at this time was how to use my faith to work through any lingering questions that I had about my beliefs or my relationship to the church. For me, this translated into total compliance with the teachings of the elders and the long-held traditions of the church. No arguments or evidences were offered to counter what I was being taught, and indeed I was not even aware that what I was being taught might have been wrong. I simply trusted that the information the elders provided was the truth, although I did not quite understand everything, and exercised the greatest of faith in trusting that some questions could not be answered or might never be answered. And through this blind allegiance I completely altered the course of my life.

I voluntarily gave up many habits and personal interests at this time, for I was led to believe that my personal interests were “of this world” and, as such, were either evil or stood in the way of being “in the likeness of Christ.” I’d already given up my skating career, which would have led into other profitable ventures. I was also interested in photography, but as there would be no use for photography in heaven, this interest became a waste of time. I also changed my diet, becoming a vegetarian. I cut my hair and began dressing more appropriately. My attitudes towards entertainment changed, and I got rid of the so-called evil music in my album collection. I stopped going to see movies. For a period of about seven years, I even refrained from watching television. But these were only a few of the things that come quickly to mind that I abstained from on my way to becoming a good Christian. These things are minor when compared to the overall attitude I had at the time: that I should completely disengage myself from the ways of other people in world. I was told that the world was an evil place that in a short period of time would be consumed by the wrath and fire of God. From this world I had to escape, and there was only one exception to my involvement with this wicked planet: I was required to save whomever I could, for this was my new duty and purpose in life.

Within a year after being baptized I was off to college in Keene, Texas, and studying for the ministry. My character is such that if I decide to do something I shoot for the largest goal to achieve. If I was going to be a disciple of Christ then my intention was to go all the way. After all, a person who considers himself to be a minister of God sets himself up to be God’s spokesperson. This is the highest possible position to strive for in any religion and carries with it the most respect from other believers. More importantly, if one can believe the biblical promises, the minister is also the most qualified to receive the awesome powers of God.

I did everything I was supposed to do and I did it all with humility and genuine Christian determination. I studied hard, learning virtually every nuance and argument of Christianity so that I could overwhelm my skeptical opponents with logical, persuasive arguments. I donated time and energy towards compassionate causes, helping as many people as I could to make their lives better. I prayed hard and I believed hard, asking God for the power to do His work and asking Him to work through me. Through it all I knew that my faith was the most important factor in my life, especially when I felt that God had let me down by not answering my prayers and not giving me the assistance that I was looking for to help Him preach His gospel. I did not feel at any time that God was obliged to pay me back for my efforts. My sincerity was genuine and I was willing to go through any experience and suffer any trial that God might want me to go through. However, I do remember being rather confused and disheartened during this period, because the powers that the Bible promised me as one of God’s servants never manifested themselves.

I often wonder what possesses a person to strive for such lofty goals. Is it the hope that they can actually become so close to God that God will use them for His cause? This would seem to be a noble desire to pursue. Was I motivated by selfish reasons, such as my desire that God would grant me with the special powers I had been promised in the Bible? Was I somehow born special, with the ability to perceive the supernatural aspects of life? Was I more compassionate towards the human predicament, and had I found in religion a way to exercise my compassion? Or was I quite the opposite, a pessimist, and believed there was no hope for humanity? For my religion claimed that mankind consisted mostly of misguided people doomed to destruction for being inherently evil, and that only by adhering to religion could I hope to escape the evils of the world and the wrath of God. Could it be that I was actually motivated by greed, wanting to obtain the riches of heaven, or simply motivated by fear, desiring to escape the wrath of God? These are all serious questions, and I relate them to you so that you will understand that my striving to be a minister was grounded in an honest attempt to do what I thought I should do.

Having said this, I do distinctly remember being arrogant concerning my religious ideologies, at least through the first few years of college. I use the word “arrogant” now, but at the time I would have considered my demeanor “dedicated.” There is no doubt, however, that a few of my professors and classmates might have considered my attitude fanatical. Why the distinction in terms? The differences arise between what I was taught my religion represented and the actual effect of my religion in the real world.

I believed then, and still believe to this day, that if a person is going to be a Christian, he or she must put forth an unqualified commitment. The Bible should be the Christian’s guidebook in all matters that pertain to life. If there are stipulations and requirements presented by the Bible for the believer, these requirements must be followed. If there are promises that the Bible has made to believers, then these promises should be claimed. If one is going to call himself or herself a Christian, then they must be willing to walk the kind of life that Jesus and his disciples walked.

As a dedicated believer of the word of God, I fully expected the other members of my church to be as dedicated as I was, but I quickly learned that few individuals were. This realization had a devastating effect on my faith. Not only were most of my fellow believers not following the Bible as I understood it should be followed, but they also appeared to me as lethargic and noncommittal. Within time I would understand why this situation was prevalent in my church and other churches. The realization was a painful one: I came to understand that the Bible had little power to change the inner nature of man, and none of its promises were coming to any kind of fruition. Hence, I was learning that however dedicated a newborn Christian is, that Christian cannot remain this way for too long when the biblical promises are not forthcoming and there is neither real change in one’s life nor evidence that a supernatural power is operating in this world.

My attitude would gratefully change by the time I’d graduated, and I can describe this change in just a few short words. When I came to college I thought I knew everything, but by the time I left college I realized that I knew very little. My theological studies had introduced me to the areas of biblical criticism. In modern-day lingo biblical criticism might as well stand for “the study of Bible errors that renders all religious beliefs suspect.” Learning that the Bible was full of profound errors, and that some hard-to-believe stories could be easily dismissed as metaphors or allegories, would eventually erode my unchecked belief that this book had been inspired by God. To find errors in just one of its pages was unsettling, but after four years of biblical studies I discovered that there was little reason to trust any of its contents. This realization humbled me, and I knew that I could no longer be arrogant in promoting my beliefs to others as accurate when I no longer believed the Bible to be accurate.

Nevertheless, still willing to give my education and religion an honest shot, I graduated in December of 1985 and was one of the few ministerial graduates to get a position. The position I took was that of associate pastor in a church in Des Moines, Iowa. I lasted three months, due to my growing skepticism in the Bible and the authoritative role of the Christian church to indoctrinate the world with teachings that cannot be substantiated. I also felt that since I could not rightfully demand that others follow the Bible, I certainly could not justify getting financial compensation for preaching and teaching its contents.

For the next eight years or so I was still active in the church as a teacher and elder and often preached in local churches. Naturally, I was still trying to validate my beliefs through study and friendships, but my skepticism was becoming more profound. On a Saturday in 1992 while in church, I was counseled by other elders over a slight disagreement I had with them. My wife and I were planning to take some of the young people in the church for a ski trip, and the elders were giving me advice on how to “watch over” the youths, so that they did not ski on the Sabbath. The elders claimed it was my responsibility to ensure that the youths did not break the Sabbath. I was not willing to act as a religious patrol officer. For some reason, that small event triggered my desire to leave the church—although I had over the years already discovered enough inconsistencies within church doctrine to have left at an earlier time. I resigned my position the next week and have been to an Adventist church only a handful of times since then.

Anger and disillusionment quickly set in. I’d devoted over a third of my life to the church, and in my opinion it had failed me. Since I felt this was God’s church, I felt God had failed me as well. But to say that I was angry would not fully convey the emotions I was feeling. I was also feeling a tremendous amount of guilt. There must have been something that I had done wrong for God to leave me so abruptly. There was something I did not comprehend that was preventing me from being the good Christian that I had been taught to be. According to Christian thinking, I was “lost.” I had become an unbeliever and a sinner who just wanted to do his own thing. My religion had done a fantastic job of making me feel that I did not have the right to entertain my doubt and use my intelligence to find the truth. Religion made me feel that my inability to accept its teachings on blind faith were the cause of my mental anguish. This was an erroneous twist of logic that the church presented me with—for what I wanted to know was the truth!

Yet, the greatest injustice that religion inflicted on me was to make me angry with God. Was it not God who had led me to the church? Was it not God who was, at that moment, tormenting me because of my doubt and disbelief? Had I not been told that God would lead me through such troubled times and make me stronger and more faithful in the end? Was it not God who told me that I should never doubt and always have faith that what I was being taught originated from Him? No. These thoughts were not from God. These ideas were nothing but false concepts about God that my false religion had taught me. What I learned was that, from an historical standpoint, mankind has allowed religions to operate with too much authority in matters that pertain to God. And because we have given religions this authority, individuals are hard pressed to find the courage and the mental fortitude to realize that they have a responsibility to discover God on their own terms.

In time, the anger within me began to dissipate. Ever so slowly I began entertaining other ideas about the creation of the universe and interesting concepts about the nature of God offered by non-religious sources. I matured as well, learning more about the ups and downs of life, about different cultures, ideologies, and political institutions, about evolution, about the benefits and faults of science, about ancient history—about everything I could get my hands on that interested me. I also became a participant in life. I began viewing other individuals as equal to myself and no longer considered them evil simply because they believed differently than I did. I traveled and began to re-experience the world as a place of wonder, much like I had before my conversion. As my knowledge increased my anger towards God subsided, and I discovered that I could no longer imagine God to be the way religion described Him.

It’s wonderful now to be asked questions about my beliefs and to be able to answer people with a well-rounded perspective, or to admit that there are questions that I have yet to answer. It’s refreshing not to carry around an air of arrogance and intolerance towards individuals whose beliefs differ from my own. It’s great to be able to be a participant within humanity and not to have to consider other people as enemies of God and inherently evil. And it is the essence of true freedom to know that the responsibility to search for God begins and ends with me; and whether my journey is long or short, I will not shirk from this responsibility by letting others tell me what I should do and how I should think.

My hats off to XChristian.net for their efforts in helping individuals escape religion. Scott Stahlecker at www.escapereligion.com

Email Address: info at escapereligion dot com

1/15/05                                                                                       View Comments

Another de-conversion story

sent in by Reverend Jeremiah

The longer I have been an Atheist, the longer I realize that I was never much religious before my conversion. I can remember my earliest Sunday school experiences rather well actually, my mother practically had to drag me into the church on Sundays! While I was in the classrooms, I would drift uncaringly into the land of unrestrained imagination, resulting in poor "grades" on my religious assignments. This of course, even at the tender age of seven, did not worry me one bit. Sometimes, now that I'm mentioning it, I would straight out skip Sunday school, making sure that my mother would see me enter the classroom hallway, smile and wave at her, look around to make sure the aggravating teacher didn't see me, and dip out with my friends. I found that walking around my neighborhood with my friends was more interesting than coloring pictures of a dead man on a stick. I had to be on my toes though, and make sure to return on time for church service (or "nap time", as I thought it should be called). Don't get me wrong, our pastor Rev. Napier was a good person in my mind, for not only did he marry my parents for free, he also gave them pots and pans for a wedding present when their parents were against them getting married to begin with. He wasn't your typical "fire and brimstone" southern Baptist preacher either, in fact he was VERY mellow during his services, and it wasn't uncommon to hear a congregant wake himself up with his own snoring...lol. My mother would sit on the bottom row with her friends, and I would get up in the balcony and play under the pews or sleep.

During summer break, my mother would enroll me into summer bible camp against my wishes, and send me off for many hours during the day. Now I realize that she did it more for her own peace of mind than for my indoctrination because my mother hasn't been to church in a long, LONG time. I cared about art and technology more than church in my early teen years, it was around that time that the internet was starting, and anyone with a phone line and a TRS 80 color computer could share games with other people, a 13 year old boys dream come true!

It wasn't until my junior high school years when I discovered Dungeons and Dragons, this game completely opened my mind and encouraged me to learn as much as I could about many things in our past history. Ancient weapons and armor, ancient traditions and superstitions, and of course, other religions. In fact there was one D&D book (Deities and Demigods) that was instrumental to my conversion from Liberal Christianity to what I now call Pantheistic Paganism. The only thing better than paganism to me at the time was the pagan women. Pagan women taught me things that Christian women would never dream of. Actually, as of this date, the majority of my life was spent in the mentality of paganism more than anything else. Many of my pagan friends joined a local bible study class (I was chasing after 3 women who were part of it) to better educate our selves to Christianity. It was in that class that I had my first lesson in freethinking, though that was not what the teacher originally intended. One night, in class, the teacher opened up the bible and spoke the verse "Thou shalt not steal", he looked up at us and said "I don't like this verse!" and proceeded, to the absolute shock of the Christians, to rip that page out of the bible. I could do nothing but grin! He then found another page "For God so loved the earth..I don't like this either!" and ripped that page out as well! This went on and on until he asked what our opinion was about the lesson. All of the Christians said the same thing, "Your going to go to hell for that", but my pagan friends and I answered with what he wanted to here "If you don't follow every word of this book, you might as well be tearing out what you don't want, because then it is no different from any other book" The funny thing is, what he originally intended to be a plea for literal fundamentalism backfired into the greatest example of freethought that his students probably have ever seen in their lives! And in a church, by a church leader no less! Oh sweet, sweet irony.

This experience was not the final straw that brought me to conversion, no sir. Because, at the prime male age of 21, a friend of mine shot himself in the face with a 12 gauge shot gun, MY shot gun. He was terribly depressed, and I was devastated! He was my greatest friend at the time, and also my room mate, which also added considerable financial strain as well. I was forced to move back in with my parents. I suffered from severe depression for many months afterwards, making it near impossible for me to keep a job. It was then, at my most weakest of mental states, that the predator known as born-again-fundamentalism found me through two distant relatives. They said that angels were singing and the devil was stomping his feet when I accepted Jesus into my life, and I felt all goose-pimply and stuff. Now that I have a skeptical mindset, I see it more as a time where I needed to be accepted by my peers, and to be loved and excited, as opposed to living in fear and depression. I had already read the bible once so far, in bible study class, but this time I was reading it from a Christians perspective, instead of a pagans perspective. That didn't last long, I read EVERY word, from cover to cover, and was left feeling completely confused. When I asked for help, I was given the blame, instead of the bible, that I was sinning somehow, and it wasn't being translated by god because of this. Or that I needed to pray for every verse or some other strange excuse. I even went so far as to fast and abstain from sex and read it, NOPE, still no good. Hindsight being 20/20 now tells me that the seeds of freethought were already sown, and without the constant supervision of charismatics to hinder my doubt, I slipped into a deep agnosticism.

I was now ripe for atheism, yet I didn't even know it. I read much philosophy, especially Epicurus' argument from evil and the other Atomists (Democritus is my favorite). It was then that it happened, the day that everyone will remember, 9-11! I was out traveling for another job at the time it happened, but the economy dropped and there were no more jobs after that day. I had a brand new baby boy to take care of, and no job for either me or my wife. Reality hit hard that month, I came home, sat down cradling my infant son watching the news repeat the horror again and again with no sign of financial relief for my family in sight. It was at that moment that I looked in my sons eyes and said "There is no god". And even though some would think that I should have been even more depressed, I actually felt better! In fact, it felt as though a million tons of bricks were lifted from my chest, every thing seemed brighter, clearer, and suddenly I realized that this must be the enlightenment that so many philosophers have spoken of. I felt as though the sun was only a few inches from the back of my head, and that the fear of death and all of those mental demons we all have created sense birth through our fears completely melted away! Yes, 9-11 was a wake up call, a call for us to wake up to the fact that this is the only life that we have, and what we make of it, be it good or bad, is our decision that has consequences upon everybody. And as for me and my house...we will follow the Enlightenment.

Now I have a wonderful parody site, with original flash animations. go check it out at www.reverendjeremiah.com

P.S.: I must also give my thanks to Skeptics Annotated Bible.com, my great friend Atheistar, and American Atheists for making me a stronger Atheist...Kudos!

Sex: Male
URL: www.reverendjeremiah.com
State: NC
Country: United States
Became a Christian: 21
Ceased being a Christian: 24
Labels before: Sothern Baptist, Born-again
Labels now: Strong Atheist
Why I joined: depression
Why I left: I read the entire bible
Email Address: jeremiah at reverendjeremiah dot com

1/9/05                                                                                       View Comments

My Walk-Away Experience

sent in by Ex-COG

I've been reading this website for quite some time now, and think it's great! Along with other ex-christian and ex-fundamentalist sites, the deconversion stories here show how there are people turning from christianity, despite the evangelists assertions that they are winning the world for Christ! This will be the third site that I add my story to, so it's possible that some of you have read it before.

I grew up in a fundamentalist group called the Church of God. Both of my parents had grown up in it, although my Dad did not attend anymore when I was a child. We only went off and on, mainly because my Mother didn't always drive. (Driving was one of many things she was "nervous" about. She had an abusive childhood, which may have set her up for fundy religion). This group was very strict; women couldn't wear pants, men couldn't have long hair, no one could wear jewelery, rock 'n' roll was sinful, yadda yadda yadda. The congregation was small, only about 50-70 each Sunday, and I was related to at least a third of them. Sermons were at least an hour in length; anything less was a "sermonette" proper for other "false" churches but not us. They seemed to attack other Christian groups more than non-christians as they thought they had the "truth".

I was interested in things about God, but many of their teachings were so poisonous. For example, they believed that it was possible to lose your salvation, and of course, any sin separated you from God. Because of this, I remember thinking that I had to pray for forgiveness every night before bed or I would go to hell if I died in the night. They also were big on the end times, and were often talking about the end of the world, the Whore of Babylon (Roman Catholicism) the False Prophets (Protestantism) and of course Jesus coming again and sinners being thrown into the lake of fire. My mother would say "This world isn't going to make it to 1980". Well, I figured out that I would be 18 that year, and I would pray that if it was true, that God would let me die before then so that I would not be stung by the scorpions that Revalations said would appear. I could go on and on, but...I'll write my book later.

We stopped going to that church when I was a young teen because my Mother let her driver's license lapse. I was a voracious reader, and read everything from psychology to history to horror fiction. I think that reading was my saving grace, as it broadened my mind and revealed other viewpoints other than the fundy view.

After high school, I entered a local college so I could save money by living at home. I didn't finish college, because I had no set goals for what I was aiming for. I did not know I needed plans, it always seemed that things worked out for me. I guess I let other people make decisions for me even if I didn't like the choices presented. We were not raised to be independent, however asking for help was frowned upon. You were just supposed to go out there and "do it", I guess. I often felt as if I had to learn everything by osmosis. This was different from other fundamentalist families who tried to control every little thing. I suppose my parents had felt that taking us to church was enough. Plus, we were (obviously) very disfunctional and I lacked life skills for making it on my own.

When I dropped out of school, I ended up just living at home and not knowing what to do. Even though I had made good grades in high school, I didn't know anything about finding a job or dealing with people or stress. I slumped into depression. Yet all through this I always had the thought that there was something more. This is what brought me out of the dumps, and into religion as an adult.

I continued my heavy reading schedule, which included reading topics of religion. I explored everything, but maybe because of my fundy beginnings, I was unable to connect with other religions or liberal Christianity. I read many Christian books, and finally gave in and asked "Jesus into my heart". I was just tired of thinking, and wanted to stop searching for answers.

So at the age of 25, I began attending church again. It was also a Church of God, but not as fundy as the one of my childhood and without the superstrict rules. (They had common roots, but my original church thoght the others were "backsliders"). You would call them conservative and evangelical in the holiness tradition. Again there were relatives who were members. I realize now that I did the same thing that some women do when they get the courage to leave an alcoholic or abusive husband; they unknowingly find another guy who turns out to be the same way. I went to every service and bible study, all special meetings and events, and eventually taught Sunday School for years. Becoming a Christian did give me confidence enough that I could finally go out and get a full time job. Of course I could do "all things through Him who strengthens me". Maybe it was really an inner strength I always had but never knew how to tap into.

During this time, I considered myself evangelical, although not as pushy about it as others. I think all my reading helped in this respect. I would share my faith, but only if others showed interest in it first. I was actually embarassed by some of the things christians would say and do. This, and the increasingly more conservative way that my church was leaning lead me to begin quietly questioning. This was in the late 90's, but I wasn't ready to leave Christianity yet. It was more like I was hoping to find the "real" Christianity. I was always more of an internal person than an extrovert, so teachings on the interior life fit me better than the outward image control that so much of the church seems to favor.

Finally, I made plans to slowly disengage. Early in 2001, I quit teaching Sunday school and helping out with the Youth group. Then my mother became critically ill and passed away. There were some things that my pastor and fundy family members did that really turned me off during this period ( including finding out that my fundy sister (from my original church) had asked my mother on her death bed if there was anything she needed to confess to get right with God--can you imagine someone under the influence of pain killers and facing death being hit with that? Of course in my sister's eyes, my mom was a "backslider" because mom had gone to church with me). I started skipping some Sundays to visit other churches. No one suspected anything; they thought I was working overtime. I was afraid to say anything yet in case they tried to talk me out of it.

Finally, at the end of the year I made an appointment with the pastor and his wife (who had been a good friend of mine) and told them I was leaving. I said I wanted a more modern church. His reply? "Don't go to the Unitarian church". I haven't looked back since.

I visited different churches over the following year. I found a few that I would have liked if I had left a few years earlier, but I was really becoming uncomfortable with the whole christian world. I tried a New Thought church because I had read some books with their teachings and liked some of their ideas. I do think that they are a healthier belief system that what I had before, but there were things I learned about this particular congregation that I decided I didn't want to get involved with (such as certain families running everything--this was also a problem at my previous church).

I have finally ended up at the Unitarian Church (thanks, former pastor, for the idea). I need the organization of a group for socialization (I'm not a self starter), plus this seems like a safe place to explore my beliefs, which at the moment I would describe as "eclectic spirituality with a taoist flavor". My family still does not know I'm with the Unitarians, I tell them I'm still visiting churches. But I know I soon will have to let it be known that I, too, am a backslider--and I don't really care!

Sex: Female
State: IN
Country: USA
Became a Christian: 25
Ceased being a Christian: 39
Labels before: Church of God, Church of God (Anderson, IN)
Labels now: Unitarian, eclectic spirituality with a taoist flavor
Why I joined: Desperate, no direction in life, looking for someone to guide me
Why I left: Failure of Church and christians to adjust to today's world, no evidence that christians live any better than others, disgust at rise of religious right, growing confidence in myself to make decisions
Email Address: shadowself711 at yahoo dot com

1/8/05                                                                                       View Comments

Open mind

sent in by Aaron

I wanted to share my experience. Not so much to convince anybody one way or the other, but to mostly to vent.

My father (married 6x) and his wife are extremely devout born again christians. As part of their faith, they are to evangelize to all the unbelievers they know, which unfortunately for them includes their son, me. I have had an ongoing email debate with my step-mother. I have pasted a portion of it here. You'll see that you are unable to argue/debate with them because they are unable to step outside the box they have chosen. Kim is my fiance. Shirley is my step-mom. Tucker is my 1/2 nephew who has Poland's syndrome (a flipper like left hand). I am a firefighter by profession.

Stepmom - I was thinking about what you said about our not being able to say that what we believe is right...that we cannot prove that what we believe is right. It seems to me that this is kind of like me telling you that what you believe about Kim isn't right. You've seen her, you've heard her voice telling you she loves you, you've experienced the thrill of holding her in your arms.

Me - Well, itÕs a nice thought that YOU feel that relationship with God. The comparison stops there though. I can produce Kim in the flesh, YOU can hear her talk, YOU can hug her. I can tell you what she thinks about something, then you can ask her yourself. While you may have an emotional, even visceral response in regards to your feelings about your belief in God, itÕs not a physical reality. LetÕs be clear, I have no problem with you believing what you believe, but I do have an issue with you telling me that I am missing the ÒtruthÓ. No matter how strong your belief, it is just that, YOUR belief, yes there are many who believe the same as you, but that is not a criteria for something to be ÒtrueÓ.

Stepmom - Experiencing the life of God is no different. In fact, it is even more powerful and impacting. That's why the Apostles never looked back. That's why thousands of committed Christians through the centuries have willingly laid down their lives to preach and defend the gospel of Jesus Christ. That's why great musicians and composers like Handel, have written the most glorious and profound sounds that lift up the deity of Jesus Christ. Have you ever heard music like this written about any of the other religious leader? I haven't.

Me - Your comments seem to follow in the tradition of all Christian Apologists. Explaining something that is supposed to be omnipotent. It shouldnÕt need an explanation. The fact that explanation is provided lends credence to the idea that it is created in the mind of man. Thousands of Muslims have died in the name of Allah, does that mean that their God is the one true god? For every brilliant musician, writer, inventor you can name that believes in God, I can name one who does not.

Following the Òintelligent designÓ school of thought, because our world is so complex, so specialized, it had to be created by some super intelligent, all powerful being. Well carry it out.. who created God? Oh, he just is? Sort of like the non-religious explanation for the creation of the universe. Or if the creator is so powerful and intelligent, why did he create diseases that kill his brilliant designs? This goes back to my ÒFree willÓ issue, there is nothing free about being wiped out by a tsunami or being born with a birth defect. Yes, we are free to choose how we deal with that situation if we survive it (whatever situation you want to talk about), but that is the only choice, nobody would choose to loose their family to a drunk driver or hit a child that darted out into the street to get a loose ball.

Stepmom - God visited our world and made relationship with Him possible...not only possible but imperative....for the very reasons He has been impugned....to save us from the devastation of the sin and death that consumes our world. If it weren't so sad, it would be laughable that puny, selfish, and finite human beings would have the audacity to sit in judgment on the Almighty, Eternal God, when He is the only one who can rescue us from the mess we have made of our lives and of this world.

Me - So let me follow this argument, the God that created us in his image, and he is perfect, has to save us from ourselves? Forgive me, that makes no sense to me. What is the point? Why is it necessary for us to suffer? So we can have free will? So letÕs say I ÒFreelyÓ choose to believe in God, then my dad gets murdered or Kim gets raped or you get run over by a car. How could I possibly believe that God loves me if these things happened to those I love? Why would he let that happen? How could I be better off with my family members hurt or killed? How would that make me a better person? How would it make the world better? How is that an expression of his love for me? And bible says that God loves us. Following that logic, the child abuser has the perfect alibi, he loves the child he is abusing. (not calling God to a child abuser, just making a point.)

So the next argument, well ÒthatÕs because they are going to be with God in heaven, where everything is good, and there is no death or sickness or anything bad.Ó Well, why not take me along? I need to suffer a little longer so IÕll appreciate heaven more? I am not being facetious. This is what I think about God and the bible; it seems like an unbelievable story. It doesnÕt have a lot of basic logic to it. It completely disregards the fact that 2/3 of the earthÕs population has different ideas about their existence. (who by the way have been around as long or longer than the bible. There are verses in the bible that Christians will tell you are meant literally, and verses that are meant to be interpreted or used as a metaphor. Who decides these things? I believe that you would tell me that the part of the bible about the crucifixion and resurrection were real events, that had I been around at the time I would have been able to see it happen, touch the cross etc. So that means a literal translation. But the part about his return to earth (Matthew 16:24) is not to be taken literally, since itÕs been 2004 years and he hasnÕt returned yet and the verse says Òson of man will return...Ó before some of the disciples die. Or the fossil record is explained by saying that a day in ÒGod timeÓ might be millions of years, how could we humans question the difference between what is the ÒInspired word of GodÓ and our actual experience that 7 days is a very short time.

Stepmom - Aaron, I have, perhaps unwisely, shared with you about actually hearing the voice of God speak to me, seeing Him heal, miraculously, and other very personal things that have happened since I received Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord. I know Him just as surely as you know Kim...personally and intimately. Knowing what I know....not only from history, scripture and the testimony of countless others who have given their lives to Jesus Christ, but from his own involvement in my life....I would be a fool to deny him or do anything less than follow him with all my heart and everything that is in me. And...it's true that I see you as someone that I love dearly, who is missing out on what life is all about....someone who is lost in the morass of a culture and belief system that is robbing you, and lying to you about your responsibility to God. But I have confidence that you will one day find out that the fragile things of life, such as love, marriage, job security, etc. is not what gives peace of heart and security. It can all be taken away in a moment of time. I have confidence that you will one day bow your heart to the God that gave you life and surrender yourself to His love. That is the only thing that can never be taken away from you.

Me - I have no wish to insult or disrespect you or your beliefs and I hope that my responses have done not that. Dad sends me letters telling me the Ògreat newsÓ about Rosemary and Chuck E. and Grandma JeanÕs conversions. I barely know how to respond. I donÕt wish to cause bad feelings with you or him. But, my honest personal gut reaction is Òso whatÓ. George W. Bush waves the Christian flag at every opportunity, and even leaving out the invasion of Iraq (which is debatable at best, in regards as to whether he should have lead us there) he put people to death as the governor of Texas, yet the bible commands us to not kill and to love thy enemy, love them with lethal injections? You know the What Would Jesus Do? bumper stickers you see? Try this one, Who Would Jesus Bomb? This week 80,000-100,000 of mostly Hindus, Muslims perished in a devastating tsunami. Where was God for them? If I literally believe the bible, they are in hell right now because they didnÕt believe in Jesus. Not exactly the actions of a loving god.

You know, Jesus performed miracles all the time to convince the disciples of his power. How about a miracle for the doubting Aaron? The bible says that if you have true faith, God will answer your prayers. I donÕt have faith, so perhaps that is why the times I have prayed nothing happened. I believe you have faith, you have proclaimed it to me. You claim to have heard his voice and seen miraculously healings. While I doubt the existence of God, I have no doubt of your faith or belief in God. Pray for TuckerÕs hand to be normal. Pray for him to have 4 normal fingers and a thumb instead of the deformed, surgically scarred flipper he has. The bible verse about getting prayers answered doesnÕt say Òask and ye shall receive, except if I donÕt think you really need itÓ it doesnÕt say Òsometimes youÕll receive and sometimes not.Ó It says if you have true faith and pray, your prayers will be answered. If TuckerÕs hand suddenly becomes normal, you have my word, I will become a believer. I can guess your response. God has his plan, it is not for us humans to know, God gives us what we really need, not what WE think we need etc. Well, since he knows all, he knows what I need experience to believe that he exists. Perhaps since he knows all, he knows that I am not destined for the kingdom of heaven and this is all part of the plan. I donÕt know.

There is more, but I have edited for clarity and privacy.

Here is her reply to the above exchange.

Dear Aaron,

Thank you for taking the time to answer my email in such detail and thoughtfulness. I appreciate the fact that you don't just skim over the things I say and write me off without an answer. I appreciate that a lot.

If I thought it would make a difference I would answer your objections. I've gone through the exact same patterns of thoughts about God that you have described and I think I understand how you feel. I haven't always had faith in God. I've been where you are. I've felt the intense emotions of anger against God (if there is one)because of the evil in the world.

I doubt that you would believe even if Tucker's hand grew out into a normal hand. I've watched people who have seen miracles happen and they manage to find a way of explaining them away. If miracles could persuade people, Jesus would not have been crucified. According to the account of scripture, many people who watched the raising of Lazarus from the dead (he had been dead and buried for four days) scoffed and rejected Christ. Only some believed.

I love you and will continue to pray daily for you and Kim. Perhaps....if God is really out there....you will find Him. If He is not...then we will come to the end of our lives with the horror of nothingless left. No hope, no love, no future, no rights made wrong, no justice meted out, no meaning for our existence.....all of it a tragic joke.

If you are interested in hearing the answer to the objections you brought up...let met know.

Shirley


I think I have convinced her that she can't convince me! For now.

Anyway, thanks for your time. Great website.


City: San Diego
State: CA
Country: USA
Became a Christian: 16 or so
Ceased being a Christian: 20
Labels before: non denominational born-again
Labels now: Skeptic, agnostic
Why I joined: my father became "Born again" and I wanted to fit in, he pushed me to attend church.
Why I left: witness to many tragedies to believe that if there is a God, he/shes is not what is descibed in the bible.
Email Address: sdfirefighters at hotmail dot com

Unquestioning Christian to Semi-Agnostic

sent in by CJ

My first experiances of religion came from my childhood going to Church. When I was young, going to Church was something you just did, I used to think probably it was just a place to go on Sundays and listen to stories and sing songs; A place where you dressed up and went, I didn't understand about God, Jesus or Christianity until I was older.

I went to Sunday school and read the Presbyterian Chetichism and the King James Bible, I done all the colouring in stuff, bible stories and picture books, I enjoyed it as a kid and thought little of it.

When I was 7 or 8 I was diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy, which is a muscle wasting desease that causes disability, I remember the day I had to go and get the test done, because of the pain, they had to remove muscle tissue which wasn't pleasant. I don't remember a great deal of the affects of MD in the early days, but gradually I needed the use of a Wheelchair, which I am now totally dependant on.

Being disabled wasn't something that I thought much of when I was around 10 or 12, it was just a fact of my life. I still went to church and I joined a boys group in my Church, which I enjoyed, it was a uniformed Presbyterian version of Sunday School and the Scouts.

The people in my Church where kind and good people, they did do the old "Does he take sugar" thing, they sort of baby-talked me in a way, not that they meant it or thought of doing it to embarrase me. I had doubts about God when I was around 15 or 16, the usual "If God's good why am I disabled etc.etc", but I had the idea that the good people I knew who where Christians obviously must be good because of God, and everything happens for a reason, right?

As I began to question God and his purpose for me, I began to look more at why if God is kind, why then would he allow disability, disease and conflict. I read the bible, and searched for certain things to help me believe. I felt bad for questioning God, as I felt he was testing me, and I had failed. For the first time in my life I heard about revelations and the end of the world, and fear of Hell kept me from turning my back on God I began to pray for enlightenment, I asked God to show me a personal sign of his existance just so I could have proof beyond doubt.

All the people at Church, including my minister, I thought had unshakable faith; they just knew and never questioned that made me feel weak and unworthy. I was worried about my soul and sinful behaviour, I found it difficult to think straight and for me it was easier to stop going to church, mostly because of my feelings of frustration towards God. I had arguments with my parents at first, but they accepted it, it was partly because they where what in Northern Ireland are called "Cultural Protestants", that they allowed me the choice ie they weren't fundamentalists.

After praying alot, I found no answers to questions, I couldn't ask anyone else my doubts especially my minister or other people at my church, who seemed to have no trouble believing, they accepted my not going to church as they thought it was for reasons of my disabillity.

I am now 20 and haven't been to Church since I was 14/15, I respect people who have faith, although I don't like fundamentalists or evangelism. I am unsure of Gods existance and am still open to his presence, although I don't hold out on that. I have little understanding of theology or science, but I understand basic evolution, and this has given me more to ponder as to gods existance. I have given some thought to the idea of the universe as my God, and nature as the wonder of creation, not that I believe some man with a white beard created it, but that the universe and nature created itself.

I still have trouble with belief and whether or not God exists, I worry about my decision not to follow God, just in case I am wrong. I still have not lost my religion, but am still struggling with the ideas of theology and the whole hell and end-of-the-world concept, which bothers me. If anyone has any info which could help me understand more about exercising myself from these ghosts, i'd appreciate it, someone with more education could perhaps help me break with the back-of-the-book christian baggage of fear and damnation.

Country: Northern Ireland
Became a Christian: From Childhood
Ceased being a Christian: Around 15
Labels before: Presbyterian, Ulster-Protestant, Unionist
Labels now: Semi-Agnostic
Why I joined: Always went to church, tradition/culture, society
Why I left: Began questioning Gods existance
Email Address: cjp2004 at hotmail dot com

trying to get to the end of going back and forth

sent in by Daniel Neubacher

First of all, I'm not the typical exchristian, since I was never a complete member of this religion. Actually, before I entered those times in which I started to feel so drawn to seeking God I had already been quite a convinced atheist. What I find so hard to understand about myself is why I, then, felt so drawn to God, felt so thoroughly that God has to exist. I had no traumas to overcome, and no deep fears to calm with the God thought. I was ... bored with life, and I felt that God would be some kind of vehicle for me, something by whose help I could somehow enter life again and get to enjoy happiness. I had no fundamentalistic notions of belief, I pursued a God of magical realism, someone who would show me the way into bliss, it was monotheism and pantheism, all in one.

Some months ago I asked my friend what I talked about in those time, since I have already forgotten much. He told me I would have gotten lost in math, and that I would have talked of a convincing proof I would have found in numbers that God would be a part of the universe. Perhaps I thought of a spirit that roams this world, a spirit thinking of itself as being God. Perhaps it was another outflow of a confused pantheism.

A very confused time followed, a time where I lost much of my personality. Eventually, after a suicide attempt by which I imagined I would get to heaven, I was diagnosed with schizophrenia. I got prescribed very ineffective meds, and over the years that followed my doctors only changed the dosage of that med, but never the medicine itself. I'm still not completely sure, but perhaps it was this med which then caused me a time of great suffering. The schizophrenia had harmed my initial manic joy about having found God, and as I tried to cure this I started reading the bible. Which turned out to be a very frightening experience. I found that I could not really get this book to prove to me that my happy pantheistic lover God really existed ... in truth, the perspectives for me and even the whole majority of humanity became to look very bleak. I began to discuss this online at a few bible forums, and when I talked about how I dreaded the end of the world and the high probability of all my family and friends ending up in hell, I was simply told this would be the way of things. Amongst others this way the prime reason for me never being able to reconcile myself to this God. However, I believed in this God, believed that he existed.

After a while though my schizophrenia got worse and worse, probably because I didn't allow myself to believe in common sense hopes like that anything will usually turn out well if I work on it. Meanwhile, my christian "friends" at those forums told me that my schizophrenia was in truth demonic possession, another thing to add to the list of what I feared and dreaded but could not escape. I went to a local pastor to talk with him about that, and he prayed with me and blessed me ... but it didn't work. I still have great respect for this pastor though, he told me with great conviction that christianity did many mistakes in its history, and that especially fundamentalism should always be taken with many grains of salt. Not so much because of the fundamentalism itself, not because of its teachings and doctrines themselves, but rather it were its adherents which that pastor was suspicious of not having pure intentions. After all, what must a man be like who in one moment preaches from fire and brimstone for the majority of humanity and in the next minute talks of how much praise this God deserves who has saved him?

Anyway, my schizophrenic suffering got still worse and worse. I heard voices, had hallucinations, suffered from frequent nightmares and bouts of anxiety. I felt like I was no more myself but only a bag full of pain. I tried to counter this what I then believed to be the effect of christian beliefs by simply embracing atheism again. But for that, it was too late. I *could* not learn to disbelieve in the existence of this dark and evil God, I could not unlearn to always look for interpretations of happenings so that this evil God would be excused.

Then, after a period where things got slightly better due to a wonderful holiday I had with my parents at a beautifully peaceful landscape in Germany, I talked with my doctor again, and she said she would have decided that I should go to the hospital again to get tested for another med. I was very happy, and as it turned out it was the best thing I could hope for. The doctor at the hospital prescribed me with a new med, and in the course of 10 days, believe it or not, almost all of my schizophrenic symptoms vanished. The voices disappeared, the nightmares, the hallucinations ... anything. I began to feel like myself again, which was the greatest gift I ever had been given.

This was in autumn 2003. With the exception of a few days things have steadily improved. I'll be having a job again soon. Girls look very interesting again.

And religion stopped playing a big role. I found again how in my country religion is a private matter ... and no grounds to wage social wars over. I found how many people live their lives without religion, and live well. I also found other people with different religions, and how they, also, live their lives well. Another thing I rediscovered was that the christian concept of sin is not at all so depressing: it simply describes sins against God. At preventing sin against a human, against groups of humans or against the whole of humanity christianity is not a bit better than any other religion or worldview. In fact, it seems to me that many atheists or agnostics have a better grip on morality than many christians have. It even seems to me that many christians wouldn't have a morality if they didn't have their God with all his weird rules.

I told some of my new thoughts to the christians I had met online ... and discovered the true nature of some of them. They told me how I had never been a real christian, that I would have never gotten "reborn", that my evil spirits had overcome me etc. They even began to kinda threaten me by telling me that I could get side effects from my meds and that my meds wouldn't keep me healthy forever. Totally in disrespect of what medical science has to say, of which I have started to stay informed about.

As far as my current worldview goes that's where I still have some difficulties. I'm no real atheist or agnostic, the label I feel closest to is humanism. I'm trying to unlearn idealism for realism.

Ok, that should be all. Thanks for this site here to be there.

Have a nice day!

URL: http://www.geocities.com/questionmark_2
City: Dresden
State: Saxony
Country: Germany
Became a Christian: I never completely enlisted in a church but was seriously religious for 3 years
Ceased being a Christian: I started becoming less and less religious again since I got 25
Labels before: freeform christian
Labels now: adventurer, pursuer of simplistic sagedom
Why I joined: strange impressions, without any real evidence I somehow "awoke knowing that there is a God", and that I would have to do a work for him
Why I left: stress, fear, uncertainity, doubts
Email Address: DNeubacher@gmx.net

1/6/05                                                                                       View Comments

How I Became AtheistMommy

sent in by AtheistMommy

I was born into a christian family. At about 12 I protested to going to church. See before that age I didn't know I had a choice. I was sent to private catholic school during the weekends.

I never made my communion. In fact I refused to do that too. My very religious grandmother informed me that I was going to go to hell like my mother who was trying out different sects. Did you know that was a sin?

My father converted to Baptist to marry in a Baptist church because his new wife was a Baptist. Of course that wasn't a sin according to my grandmother.

Skepticism seem to come naturally to me. I doubted many things that they told me. Like for one, my father did his best to instill fear in me by telling me if I went outside at night the boogie man was going to get me and kill me. Of course the fear of the unknown got me but I got older and wanted to know more about this "boogie man." The next time he said that I opened the door walked up the drive way and said, "come get me boogie man" and started laughing at my father. He never said it again.

I asked questions about god and the religion to all members of my family because I wanted to know what they would say. And I came out with different answers from all of them. It taught me that pretty much everyone sees things differently when it comes to religion. I was about the only person in my family interested in science and nature.

According to my grandfather, god is bowling to make thunder. According to my grandmother, god is crying because of all the sin in the world to create rain. The rain is washing us of our sins. Also, we christians don't believe in ghosts, LOL. Lets just over look the so called "holy ghost."

Rosaries are not only held for the dead. They are held for sicknesses, bad marriages, just for fun and so on. Priests are not allowed to drink, LOL.

I was often called "smartass" for my answers to many of these outrageous beliefs/superstitions. But I never knew anything about Atheism because it never came up. There were no TV ads, no mention in the local news, no popular music bands, no billboards, no stickers, T-shirts. Nothing I came in contact with ever said "Atheist."

In fact it wasn't until I got a computer and met my husband in my twenties that I found out what the word "Atheist" meant. So pretty much the day I refused to go to church was my venture into Atheism. The older I got the more I saw religion for what it was and god for what it was.

Religion has no place in my life. God isn't real and neither is any other god or goddess. And as soon as I admitted to myself what I really believed I felt as if a ton of bricks came off my back. I saw so much clearer and I was so much happier.

You see religion has always been a family thing for me. And to go against it would mean I had to risk losing those I loved. I've lost one family member because I admitted my Atheism so far. I have many who question it. And why? Mostly because this fairy tale we call Christianity is a wonderful brain washing tool. Because some people refuse to think of life without their precious god.

Family is the most precious thing in my life. It always has been and always will be. And this is how I became known as AtheistMommy.

URL: http://www.cafepress.com/ftlshop
City: Virginia Beach
State: VA
Became a Christian: 2 weeks old
Ceased being a Christian: 13
Labels before: Holy Family Roman Catholic Chruch
Labels now: Atheist
Why I joined: No choice, forced into it by family
Why I left: Because I asked too many questions and no one had answers with proof