3/31/05                                                                                       View Comments

Discovering what a terrible piece litterature the Bible is...

sent in by Hutch

I've been visiting this website since September of 2004 and have been enjoying it ever since. It was in that September that I decided to read the KJV Bible all the way through, front to back, every word. Not long after I started reading the Bible I discovered this website. I was already not a xtian when I started reading the Bible. A lot of my friends were asking me why I visited this website since they thought I was never a xtian. They didn't know me when I lived in California. I'm now 42 and have lived in Seattle for 10 years. I was born to a "non-practicing" Catholic family. I attended church ocasionally for about 16 years.

Some of my extended family members attended church regularly. My grandmother is still a devout Catholic and my mother went back to the faith when I dropped xtianity all together at 17. When I was about 8 or 9 some cousins and friends started going to a Baptist Sunday school and I went along. The first counple were really fun. We played games and socialized and just plain had fun. Then on third Sunday the coolest, hippest pastor who was always such a nice guy started taking kids into a room to talk with them one on one. When my turn came he had this little plastic Jesus (an idol) and told me that I was a sinner and that I was doomed to Hell for all eternity. He scared the hell out me, made me cry and feel really bad. Holding up the idol of Jesus he told me that I would be forgivin of my sinful ways if I just asked Jesus into my heart. So I did and he stopped making me cry. That was the last time I attended a Baptist Sunday School. So I considered myself still a xtian Catholic but rarley attended curch.

When I was 17 there was kind of a "born again xtian" movement at my highschool. Me and my friends kinda' made fun of them. Then one day I actually sat down and had a talk with a girl who was "born again". She told me about Revelations and accepting Jesus into my heart. What she was telling me just didn't make much sense and I couldn't get a good answer from her on any of my questions. The main question was about all the other religions all over the world. It made no sense to me that "God" would punnish anyone for all eternity just for being born in a non-xtian country. Her goail was to "save" me. Instead she opened my eyes to the fact that xtianity could not pollibly be true. The story was just to "out of whack" with what humanity was all about. There was just no love in the concept of Hell. I remained a spiritual person and denounced all religions. I mean how could anyone put "God" in a "box". I would say I believed in "God" but not as an egotistical, vengful, jelous being. To me "God" was unknown. For years my friends and me would talk about philosophy, the Univrese and all that is in it. We would also bash xtianity.

I also used to love to debate xtians. They would always end up getting frustrated because there was nothing they could say to me that would get me to believe. A couple of my xtian friends even questioned their own faith after conversing with me. But I never read the Bible.

Then last August I realized that I really had no right to critisize xtianity if I've never even read the Bible. I also realized that most xtians never even read the whole Bible. I found that rather odd. I mean, if your going to dedicate your life to a faith, should't you actually read the book that this faith is based upon. So, on September 1st 2004 I took it upon myself to read the "New Open KJV Bible". A couple of xtian aquaintances told me that that was the best bible I could read. I finished reading it Feburary 28th. Every word. Old and New Testiment. I am having a very dificult time with the fact the so many people actually believe in it. Even the xtians who have read the whole thing. I had no idea the so many xtians pick and choose what they want and through away what they don't like and ignore the atrocities caused by "biblegod". You only need to read the Book of Genisis to realize what a crock the Bible is. I also found the story of Abraham appalling. God asks Abraham to kill his son Isac just to show his love. This is something God should know without tormenting Abraham. Asking a loving parent and subject to kill one of their childeren is awful anyway you look at it.

Then there's the story of Job. Just to appease Satan God makes his most loyal and loving subject suffer for years. Why didn't God just tell Satan to go take a hike. I mean, this is God almighty know everything all the time. God knew that Job loved him.
Why did God send the Jews to Egypt in the first plac? He knew they would eventualy become enslaved. Then he calls on Moses to free the Jews from slavery and lead them to the promised land. Only he didn't mention that someone already lived there. Of all the unpopulated land in world back then he has to lead them to an occupied country. Then he orders the Jews to kill every man, woman and child in the cities thay are invading and when the Jews don't kill all the women and childeren God punninshes them. That is just sick. No loving being would do that.

I can't even believe how a woman could be a xtian with the way women are treated in Bible. And whats with women pastors this day and age. It says in the Bible that women are not even aloud to talk in church. I could go on and on about the sexism.
Then theres this Jesus guy who upholds the law of Moses.

Jesus never denuonces slavery. Slavery is and always has been one of the most evil institutions of humanity and God and Jesus support it. Jesus Supports sexism. Tells people to hate their families. Tells people they will suffer for eternity if they do not believe in him. I fail to find the love there. The whole Jesus concept is totally silly. Xtians tell me "God killed his only son for you". Come on, people die everyday. God is God. He can have as many sons or daughters as he wants.

I also have a problem with faith. Moses new he was a Jew and after he was exiled he herded sheep and had a family and seemed to be doing pretty well. Then God spoke to him from a burning bush. Since God actually spoke to Moses then it is no longer faith. Would Moses have led the Jews out of Egypt if God never showed himself to him? God actually talked to the profits so they had no use for faith. Paul was persecuting xtians and only stopped whe Jesus spoke to him. Once again Paul did not have faith. It seems we're all just supposed to have faith with no proof. Once there is proof one no longer needs faith. If God decided to show himself/herself/itsef to me I would surely believe and would not be by faith but by proof and I would know the existance of God to be true.

I also have a problem with something Jesus says: "It is easier for a camel to walk thruough the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. Wealthy xtians seem to igore this phrase. Since I've been alive a camel has never walked through the eye of a needle. Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Ray Buchanan, Rev. Schuller, The entire Bush family are filthy rich. They are all hard core right wing xtians. Why does the bible offer so many riches in heaven? Why doesn't it just offer peace, love and happiness? Thats all I want. I have no desire to live in city with walls of jewles and streets of gold. That would be a kind of hell.

Anyway I guess I could go on and on with my bible rant but I think most of you know and understand where I'm coming from. For all of you who were raised xtian fundamentalists or who actually gave their heart and soul to xtianity only to eventually be disapointed, my love goes out to you. I know it took a lot courage to realize the truth and reject xtianity. You are all true heros. I hope one day all religions will cease to exist in humanity and the world will truly be blessed with love, peace, and happiness.

Hutch


Sex: male
City: Seattle
State: WA
Country: U.S.A.
Became a Christian: Birth
Ceased being a Christian: 17
Labels before: Catholic & Baptist
Labels now: Agnostic/Atheist
Why I joined: Born into it
Why I left: It just didn't make sense

From agnostic Hindu to fundy christian to hardcore atheist

sent in by Hades

Greetings all,

I don't know if I posted my "testimony" here but here goes.

I was born agnostic Hindu in Bombay and we migrated to Singapore in 1995. Here in 2001 I joined the Hope of God church as a charismatic christian. However very quickly points of friction arose. Being a science student and having always been brought up under the impression that all religions are equal, I found it very hard to digest the "I am right and you are wrong!" attitude the church had.

I also was an evolutionary biology student in the university and that again created a lot of friction. Added to the fact that I didn't like "christian" (read: Fundy) music and was always willing to question inconsistencies in the bible, I decided that this was not the place for me.

Leaving was hard because these people were very nice to me. The churchmembers were a friendly bunch and I didn't like to tell them that I had decided that they are full of shit as far as beliefs are concerned. So I fabricated this elaborate lie about another fledgling church starting in the neighbourhood and me being in the right place to help them grow (god's calling and all that guff).

I left the church with some misgiving and started reading a lot before reverting to a default "no gods till you prove them to me" stance. I also have been pretty active on the internet maintaining three atheist websites, the current one being www.evilatheist.com

That's all for now.

Hades

Sex: Male
URL: http://www.evilatheist.com
City: Singapore
State: Singapore
Country: Singapore
Became a Christian: 21
Ceased being a Christian: 22
Labels before: Fundamentalist, Charismatic christian
Labels now: Atheist
Why I joined: Sense of belonging and unity amongst the christians of my ex-church
Why I left: Too rigid, bigoted, and backward. they tend to behave like sheep
Email Address: admin at evilatheist dot com

3/29/05                                                                                       View Comments

"...sittin' on the dock of the bay..."

sent in by CurtDude

[This was posted on the old forum as a response to someone else's post. I thought it was time to add my two cents to this forum, so here it is slightly expanded.]

It was May 1984, and the Sunday morning service was just about ready to begin at the Baptist church in the Pacific NW where I had attended all of my life. I had been a John Denver-clone 70s Jesus Freak...I believed in the Gentle Shepherd and loving the world. Totally involved in being fired up for God. As the 80s and The Reagan Years rolled on, I was finding myself more at odds with my youthful idealism.

I was also a young homosexual man who was realizing that there was only one choice for me as a follower of Jesus: a lifetime of celibacy while all of my friends got married. At the same time, my studies at university were giving me exposure to other people, other beliefs: I had begun to exercise my mind, my rational capacity. "Geez, there were other religions out there, along with non-religious people, who were just as convinced as I was in their beliefs." (Duh, maybe there's a next logical step.) I had also participated in a mission trip to India (a construction project - I was always uncomfortable with direct evangelism), where the Hindus seemed perfectly content to remain Hindu. The thought of all those wonderful people who I had met burning in hell forever really brought home what I had rather glossed over for years as “well, the Lord knows best and I really don’t know uh it’s like up to God duh I guess uh blahblahblah”.

In my teens I had put my trust in the changing power of the Holy Spirit. I mentored other students in my church and evangelical high school, truly believing not just in the redemptive power of Christ, but the transformative power of God. I turned to Jesus to fulfill me, thinking that he would be enough. I was a true believer. Anyone who knew me during that period would never accuse me otherwise.

Just writing these sentences bring back all of the old clich├ęs…the old lingo.

The good guy friends who I was close to one by one married. I was, and still am, happy for their happiness. But I realized that this happiness was not for me (meaning their heterosexual God-ordained conjugal bliss). Their experience would not be mine. The promised change of heart (me becoming straight) that I believed that the Bible promised just never came true: why command me to be perfect and not give me the tools to be so? My nature was totally rejected as abnormal and sick; I wanted to change, but it never happened. I had become resigned...and very sad.

So I finally looked around the congregation that spring morning in 1984, got up and left. I went back to church the next week full of contrition (knee-jerk guilt reaction), and even publicly (in front of the congregation) made an apology of falling away from the faith. It had subsequently come out that I was gay, and even though there was no overt hostility (and for those who had known me any length of time, no shocking news), there certainly was a sea-change of attitude. All of these folks seemed fine as long as I stayed on the straight and narrow and was celibate.

But later that night, talking with old friends in the church, I thought to myself, "No. It's over. I don't believe this at all." I remember saying this to a very good friend. I think it was the last time that we spoke at any length.

The hardest part was that most of my relationships with church people pretty much ended. It was pretty mutual: I was an apostate and our friendships really centered on maintaining the faith. We were (and are) still cordial upon seeing each other, but I know they just wanted me to admit that “I’m back in fellowship with the Lord and have forsaken Godlessness.” In my heart I forgave the good hearted but misguided folks (including my family) who steered me the wrong way for so long. And then I moved on with my life, making sure that I never knowingly asked others to make decisions for me, hoping that by some miracle all of my problems would go away. Taking responsibility for my actions and not whining that “the devil was too strong” or “it must be God’s will.” It’s such a relief to be free from all of that BS.

The only creation story to mediate on now is the creation of my own existence.

My life has been good ever since. Not a cake walk mind you, but more fun and exciting than I had been brought up to expect. I look at that Christian period of my life as "hard lessons never to forget." I got on with my life and am currently very happy with a great partner, great job, and even good relations with my God-fearin' family. That old need to "get everything right with the Lord" really took it out of me emotionally. It's so good to just let all of that go, and move on. Life is too good to waste on all that stuff.

Curtdude

City: San Francisco
State: California
Country: USA
Became a Christian: 11, at summer camp
Ceased being a Christian: 21
Labels before: Conservative Baptist
Labels now: agnostic
Why I joined: youthful idealism
Why I left: no reason to keep on believing

3/26/05                                                                                       View Comments

fear

sent in by Dave

My problem is that my entire family and my wife's family are steeped in christianity and my wife is becoming more and more immersed every day. She and my three children are really involved with the church which is very active. I've been going to church fairly frequently to appease her, but I resent it more each time.

We're in the middle of the bible belt and it would devastate my wife to tell her my beliefs or lack of them because she's sure that all that stuff is true, and I could sure use some advice on how to handle this situation. I'm sure someone out there has experienced this situation and maybe could help.

I sure hope so. It's driving me crazy.

State: NC
Country: USA
Became a Christian: 12
Ceased being a Christian: 40's
Why I joined: fear
Why I left: I started looking outside the box

True Inner peace=no more Christianity

sent in by Sarah

I have been on a journey leaving Christianity for the last two years. It started when we joined a controlling charasmatic church four years ago. Before that we attended a Lutheran church that was pretty normal for the most part. I think if I would have stayed in the Lutheran church, I would still be a Christian today because for the most part Lutherans are pretty liberal and laid-back.

But despite being in the Lutheran Church, things were not normal and peaceful in our lives:(my husband and I) we alway felt like we had to do MORE, get closer to God MORE, pray MORE, read our bibles MORE and then maybe then we would attain some character transformation or inner peace, but the real result, more guilt and more anxiety and fear..(And the whole guilt-ridden Christian culture that promotes waiting till marriage to have sex!!! I could go on for an hour about how damaging that is, but I won't. Most of you know already and the topic is rather strange to talk about on a public forum.)

So, after we left the Lutheran Church due to the fact that our favorite Pastor left, we started attended a Charasmatic Christian Church.

The new church we joined compounded and accerlerated our problems: This church claimed to have annointed pastors and healing and all the miracles and works. The people were so dedicated to the bible and church they would stay at church worshipping for hours and pray hours and hours. Most women took the bible so literally, they lived oppressed lives, homeschooling all their kids, not using birth control, and submiting to their dominating husbands.

My husband and I got swept away with all the powerful worship and music, which was really no different than drugs or any other addiction. So we went to church to get high on Jesus and adopting the crazy absurd lifestyle without much question. (I mean we had these great spiritual experiences, so it HAD to be real, right??)

But the reality was we fell farther and farther away from reality, our friends and family watched us almost disappear into this Christian charasmatic cult. There were many last straws. One was, the leaders expected us to submit to them and let them give us Godly advice to follow. Next, we were told by the church leaders we could not fellowship with ex-members who left the church for various reasons.
And then on top of that was the elitism. The church members thought they were going to a high place in heaven and above other believers because they were the lost army of God (or some strange crap I can't believe we sat and listened to)

So one night, I read a book about prophesy given to me as a Christmas present from the pastor. The prophet talked about witnessing a healing at a conference center he was at for a Christian conference. He described a women getting some type of healing from a healing facilitator. At first, he said, he thought it was a REAL healing from God, but then he saw a sign next to the healer that stated something about a New Ager Conference. So the prophet immediately dismissed the healing as satanic. (Because only healings that occur in the Christian religion are from the Christian God.) I remember reading that and thinking,"how absurd!" How could the prophet dismiss a healing just because it wasn't done by a Christian? If there is a higher power, it only heals Christians? How do we explain healings from other religions, the devil??

That is when I started to believe that hell and the devil didn't exist....

So shortly after that, I prayed a long sincere prayer, that God would strip me of any conditioning, or brainwashing, or anything biased I learned about him/her from church and other people. I prayed that God would reveal who he/she really was, instead of who the church claimed he was.

Shortly after the prayer, during the weeks following, I seemed to find resources and books where ever I went about unconventional thought and universalist thinking. I found a healing facilitator on-line who left Christianity as well and offered a lot of resources about New Thought and Eastern Thought. During this time, I also read an interesting book on universalism, "If Grace is really true, then God will save everyone." I can not remember the authors' names of that book, but I highly recommend it to any Christian in transition out of Christianity because it was written by universalist Christians.

Suddenly, the whole Jesus died for my sins, didn't make sense. Why would God have to kill himself for me?? Sin is an illusion in my mind created for social control.

And the believe it or burn theology just didn't work for me either anymore. I found some healing and some truth from agnostic, new age, buddhist, and universalists/unitarian thought. My life has never been the same. I leave in peace, guilt-free! I no longer have to DO MORE, or PRAY MORE, or convert people who didn't think like me. And the issues I used to pine over and wrestle with character wise, don't seem to cause much struggle anymore.

Everything seems to make sense in life. I still don't know exactly what I believe and can not label myself --that is too restrictive and confining.

I do know and believe in a higher power, a source, but one that doesn't confine itself to the bible. One that loves and lives in everyone and everything regardless or religion, sexual orientation, and belief or unbelief. But the amazing thing about that higher power is that I believe it is a part of all of us and all of us are bits and pieces of God/Source/Goddess.

But the greatest part of what I now believe is that I don't have to try to force others to think that way. I have friends in every religion possible and as well agnositc friends and athiest friends. And I don't think I am absolutely right any more!!

Finally, I think I have achieved inner peace... I no longer worry about what God thinks or says, because that God I once believed in doesn't exist in my mind. He was just created by the early church for the purpose of social control.

And the higher power/God/Source that I believe in lives in everyone ! The best part: we get to decide our life path. (not some separate eternally damning being up in heaven)


Became a Christian: 8
Ceased being a Christian: 26
Labels before: Charasmatic Christian, fundamentalist Christian
Labels now: Universalist/Buddhist/New Age/Eccletic
Why I joined: Fear of going to hell, relationship with Jesus
Why I left: Asked God to reveal to me the truth about who he/she is and he/she did: Christianity is a guilt-ridden cult that controls people. The real God lives within everyone (in my opinion)

my current frustration

sent in by Todd

I have been in church most of my life. Been a believer most my life. I was baptist early on, then changed to Presbyterian in the last 11 years. I have never been comfortable in church. I am still involved, mostly because of my wife and family who are in church. They do not know I am a doubter.

I first starting doubting things the more I learned about science and biology. I take Discover magazine. Its a good science one. It has had me doing some serious thinking. Then I read an article in newsweek magine on the birth of christ. After, I bought a book I am reading now, "Born Divine" by Robert Miller. He poses some serious questions like why is it that the virgin birth is only mentioned in Matthew and Luke. Its found no where else in the new testiment. If its such a miracle as the church has it to be, I think Paul must have wanted everyone to know about it, I think it would have been in Mark and John. Buts its not there.

I am perplexed now. These things are confirming my doubts I already had. Now, what to do. Do I dare mention these things to my bible believing wife? What about the kids?

I know am approaching easter with little anticipation.

What other books would be good to read?

Thanks for your help!!!


Country: USA
Became a Christian: 13
Ceased being a Christian: N/a
Labels before: Southern Baptist, Presbyterian
Labels now: doubting
Why I joined: I did not want to go to Hell
Why I left: going through it now
Email Address: caspershadow73 at yahoo dot com

3/25/05                                                                                       View Comments

Only One Truth

sent in by Wade

My parents took me to church from a very young age. Too young for me to even remember when it started. My earliest memories include going to church, a southern Baptist church. Every adult in my life was telling me this was THE truth. I never even considered the fact it might not be…until over 30 years later.

The concept of hell was introduced from the very beginning. When I was 4 or 5 they took all the boys in a small room and told us about the hellfire, pain and torment. They told us we had to say a prayer to accept Jesus or it would happen to us. They instructed us all to pray right then and there. After we were done they asked us one by one if we had said the prayer. One boy said he hadn’t. They took him in another room to talk “one on one” with him. That was the beginning of my fear based brainwashing that lasted my entire life.

I was never the type to want to “fit in”. I was a xtian because it was the “right” thing to do. I spent my childhood praying, confessing, witnessing and being terrified of god’s wrath. Doing all the things I needed to be saved. I can honestly say I never saw a miracle and never felt anything other than an emotional or coerced response.

When I hit puberty things went really bad. I had so much negativity and condemnation in my mind when it came to anything sexual. So I would do masturbate…feel extreme guilt… confess… pray…do good for a while…then start all over again…a horrible cycle.

In my mind I knew that there could only be one truth. I wanted so bad to do the right thing and not go to hell. So in my teenage years I decided to check out other xtian churches(I live in the bible belt it wasn't too hard to do). I went to dozens of other churches over a 5 year period(all xtian). I even went to charismatic one’s and watched people speaking in tongues, falling down etc. It was this experience that made me stop going to church. But I still “believed”.

I spent my adult years “living in sin” and feeling guilty the entire time. I never stopped praying or seeking out god. I had problems with depression and which was in large part to the amount of guilt I was feeling for not doing the right thing. I had sleep problems and thought at times because of my bisexual tendencies I might actually be possessed by a demon.

After years of dealing with depression I started to work my way out of it. As I started to study psychology, I understood how much my depression had to do with guilt and fear. I started to research where that fear came from. As I was reading an article on brainwashing techniques it all “clicked”. And my entire reality came crashing down. I recognized those techniques!! I saw them in all of the churches I attended.

I started doing research on the net. That’s how I found this place. For the first time in my entire life I actually considered the fact that God might not be real. The more research I did, to more I found out, the more I couldn’t deny the facts. I broke down and cried. Not because I had lost my faith. I cried because I felt like I had been robbed of a lot of happiness in my life due to xtianity.

What was done to me in church by xtians was nothing short of mental abuse.

When I got done crying, I felt a feeling like I had never felt before in my life. I felt free. I truly felt like I was unplugged from the matrix. This life is far more beautiful and far more fulfilling the one I left behind. I have always tried to live life to it’s fullest, which seemed opposite to the living a life of servitude required by xtianity. Now I can live that life without the fear and without the guilt.

I still have a lot of deprogramming to do. After 30 years it’s going to take awhile. But I feel happier and more appreciative of things then I ever have my entire life.

As far as xtianity goes, I can never go back. I have seen too much. I know too much. My reality will never be the same nor would I want it to be.


State: OK
Country: U.S.
Became a Christian: born into it
Ceased being a Christian: 35
Labels before: Xtian
Labels now: not at this time
Why I joined: no choice
Why I left: no choice
Email Address: tulsawade at sbcglobal dot net

3/20/05                                                                                       View Comments

Hey, How Ya Doin'?

sent in by Titus

My father is a Methodist preacher (55 years old), and, as objectively as possible, I think I'd have to say that he's one of the most forward-thinking preachers I know as he enjoys History and Psychology. In other words, as preachers and Christians in general go, he's very much in the minority. He's a chaplain at a state mental hospital and additionally he's done work at the local VA hospital, so he does a lot of work with people who are addicted to alcohol and drugs. He also passed the state exam in 1989 for a funeral director's license, so he does bereavement counseling and also makes a few bucks on the side transporting bodies from hospitals to the funeral home. All in all, I think he's a good man, but more on that in a bit.

I turned 31 in December 2004, and I cannot recall a time when I did not go to church--or at least I always faced the prospect of going to church. As a child, I just took it in stride. Going to church was just something you did on Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night. I loved it because I got to meet up with a bunch of good kids who were my own age.

I do recall that about the age of 6 or 7--about the time that kids really settle into the routine of going to school five days a week--the tone in Sunday School started to shift just a bit from being told "Bible Stories" to being exposed to slightly more complex ideas of Christianity. The girls my age, of course, gave "the right answer" more than the boys did ("God lives in heaven," "Jesus lives in heaven and in our hearts," etc.). Even at that age, it sounded to me just a little bit that the girls were being "coached" or "rehearsed" behind closed doors.

Every June, my Methodist denomination would have its annual week-long "Campmeeting" (they still do, as a matter of fact), and at the end of each 7:00 o'clock worship service, the old-timers would crowd around the altar and scream and shout and cry for twenty minutes. As I got older, I naturally thought that a relationship with God automatically induced an all-encompassing, cataclysmic emotional experience such as this. Try as I might, I never felt it. More importantly, I always felt in the back of my mind that I needed to be honest about not having this "crisis conversion" experience.

One day during the Campmeeting I attended when I was eight-going-on-nine (June 1982), the kids in my age group sat through one preacher's storytelling session (the usual "Jesus died for your sins," etc.). At the end of the thirty minutes, the preacher asked, "How many of you have accepted Jesus as your savior?" There were about 25 of us kids there, and of course everybody shot their hand into the air--except me. My aunt (now a retired second grade teacher as well as a Sunday School teacher and songleader) was in charge of the gorup, and I remember she looked at me cockeyed--as if to say, "Oh come on. Don't rock the boat. Don't stick out like a sore thumb." But I knew that I had not had a "crisis conversion" experience (meaning that I did not have "the warm fuzzies" on the inside 24/7), and I knew that if I said so, I'd be lying.

I could never quite comprehend the idea that I had to go to an altar in order to have a relationship with God. If God is everywhere all the time, I reasoned, why do *I* have to march 50 feet forward to an altar and have what appears to be a complete nervous breakdown in front of a crowd of people? Why can't God and I do business where I am? Why does establishing a relationship with God *have* to be so theatrical?

That said, I did have a conversion experience in 1988 at the age of 14. It didn't happen at an altar, but it did happen at the annual June Campmeeting. The preacher that year had preached a sermon on Hell using the story of the rich man and Lazarus as his text. Looking back on it, that was probably the first time I gave serious thought to my own mortality. That was the easy part.

The hard part--and one of the key characteristics that makes me bristle against Christianity--is that I felt the pressure to attain this vague, ill-defined ghost of an idea called "More." Christians put themselves under unrealistic, unattainable pressure to do more than they're already doing. The rallying cry, in my experience at least, is usally, "We need to read our Bible *more.* We need to go to church *more.* We need to pray *more.*" Whatever it is that Christians are doing, they feel the need to do it more.

And I tried to do "more" when I was a teenager. Guess what happened. Nothing. I felt in some ways that I was part of the "in" crowd, but I untimately never felt like I was (or was becoming) a morally and ethically better person. Again, my point of reference was that all-consuming emotional feeling associated with a "crisis conversion." But despite my efforts to do "more," not only did nothing happen with me, but nothing changed with the authority figures in church. The mantra never changed. "More" was always the slogan, even in face of the fact that I *was* trying to do more.

I need to backtrack at this point and mention another element of Christianity that has always rubbed me the wrong way: witnessing. When I was a kid, we'd have Christian Youth Conference (CYC for short) on Wednesday nights during the school year. It was sort of a mix of church and the Boy Scouts. I distinctly remember one night how the teacher asked me if I knew any kids at school that weren't attending church anywhere. I knew two brothers who rode the bus with me, one boy a year older than me and the younger brother being my age, so I mentioned them. The teacher told me that I needed (*needed,* mind you) to invite them to church. If I recall correctly, I think I tried to bring up the fact that the Bible is a bestseller and that there are only a few hundred preachers on television, so I really couldn't understand the teacher's working assumption that it was possible for people in our community to know absolutely *nothing* about God. I don't think I succeeded. Trying to convert other people has always struck me as being wrong. I always felt as if I was short-circuiting the other person's intelligence and free will. (True, Christianity is the topic of this site, but I think this line of thought could be applied to anything.)

In other words, it's always struck me that Christians are "needy" when it comes to people. Christians seem to think that being in the middle of a crowd of people lends legitimacy to Christian beliefs. To rephrase it yet again, not only do Christians not take "no" for an answer, but they don't even give "no" as an option. If a person doesn't have the option of saying "no," are they truly free?

I noticed that I was starting to change after I began college in 1992. It took me a little longer than usual to graduate, but I earned two degrees--one in History and one in English. I began to notice in '92 that people (Christian and otherwise) always asked me, "WHAT are you?" rather than "WHO are you?" Beginning with college, I have come to the conclusion (which, along with everything else, is subject to revision) that the function of conversion is to render the other person--the one *being* converted--as understandable and a non-threat. If I can get you to subscribe heart and soul to "Agenda X," then I no longer have the need to know you as a unique individual. If you and I both subscribe to "Agenda X," then all I really need to know the agenda--not you.

I used to be in charge of an ancient Indian mound museum. One day some Mormon missionaries new to the community came by to introduce themselves. Rather than making some pleasant small talk (thereby treating me as a college-educated human being), they immediately launched into their speil about Joseph Smith and Jesus appearing to the North Amerian Indians. They could have said anything in the world. They could have said, "Hmmm . . . interesting-looking place you've got here. What kind of museum is this, and can you give us a tour?" But no. They *had* to try to convert me to Mormonism. I just listened and nodded because I wanted to try to be more polite and professional to them than they were being to me, but (as always) such signals were misinterpreted.

That's basically where I am now on the whole with Christianity. I don't think most Christians in my father's church are as well-read as I am and probably don't want to be. I say this because on those occasions I do attend church, the only thing anybody says me to me anymore is "Hey, how ya doin'?" Then, regardless of my answer, they say, "Well that's great!" That's it. I have two B.A. degrees, working on a Master's in Library Science, I have 3 years working as a state employee, and this is the beginning, the middle, and the end of what anybody can think of to say to me. Then they turn around, walk off, and I know in my gut they say to themselves, "Hmmm . . . he acts like he's upset. He acts like he doesn't like people. I wonder why." In college, I tried to really engage people in church and get them to *think.* Evidently my efforts went over like a lead balloon.

As I say though, my dad is a bit of an exception to this rule. I bought "The Power of Myth with Joseph Campbell" on DVD for him this past Christmas, and he loves it. Any preacher who likes Joseph Campbell can't be all bad. However, it does discourage me that he is continually flipping the TV to Trinity Broadcasting Network hoping against hope that the programming on there will improve, which of course *ain't* gunna happen.

Do I believe in God? Yes. Do I believe in Jesus? Yes. Do I believe that belief in God and Jesus necessitates that I be a complete idiot? No. Wonder if I'll go to heaven when I die.

State: LA
Country: USA
Became a Christian: 14
Ceased being a Christian: Somewhere around 28-30
Labels before: Evangelical, Methodist, Born-Again
Labels now: I don't like labels--I see labels as being part of the problem.
Why I joined: My father is a preacher, so I was born into it.
Why I left: Read the narrative.

I miss Jesus

sent in by Nick

I was baptised a catholic, I had no problem with that at the time, and don't really have one now. I was born the seventh of thirteen children, so I was a typical catholic.

I went to a catholic school, went to church every Sunday, sat in the front row with all my siblings and eventually became an altar boy, a musician and very involved in extra curricular activities.

School was o.k. During religion we learnt the usual things such as the story of creation, original sin and so forth. I was pretty pissed off about Adam eating that fruit and turning us all into sinners. In high school of course that changed, as catholic schools, where I live anyway, teach that the first 11 chapters of Genesis are not literal and the theory of evolution was accepted as to how we got to where we are now. We also learnt about other religions, as the vatican II documents state that there is good that we can take from every religion, something which the vatican I followers weren't happy with, and something many religions don't realise about catholic doctrine. These documents were a big step forward as catholics no longer thought that they were the only ones going to heaven, we were all bretheren in christ.

Anyhow, I was one of the holier boys at school and there was only one friend of mine that didn't believe in God. Considering his family was broken it was no wonder he rejected a God could exist. As my family was so holy I used to think to myself, just wait until my friend dies and realises that he should have believed in God, I knew that when he was in heaven I'd be able to go up to him and say "I told you so". Catholics were taught that only people who don't confess a mortal sin before they die will go to hell, so I wasn't in dire need to make him believe.

This all sounds pretty normal, however, the guilt that ruled my life and arguments and problems my siblings had with my father when they didn't go to church, was quite disturbing at times. I remember one day I was starving and I bought a mini pizza, just before I sunk my teeth in I remebered that it was Friday and I wasn't allowed to eat meat, so I reluctantly did the right thing and picked that scrumptious juicy meat off and threw it away leaving me with a pathetic cheese pizza. If I did eat meat on a Friday and dad found out I'd be riddled with guilt when he'd jump from behind and say "Are you going to say the rosary tonight are you?" As if that would make up for the sin.

I still felt slight guilt when I ate meat on friday even though the vatican stopped this rule, apart from easter time.

It was not only the guilt of that, but when I was young I was taken advantage of by an older male, I thought that I was going to hell because I had sexual contact with another male, which was worse than sex before marriage, and because I was so young I didn't want to tell anyone what had happened to me, even though I was just a victim. As I got older and discovered my own body(without mentioning details and exciting whoever reads this), I felt guilty day in and day out, like such a sinner. And who wants to confess to a priest that you have been playing with yourself. This was making my ticket to heaven a difficult challenge.

The older I got though, the more Jesus became a part of my life, he was so comforting and loving, he was my best friend, and he was so forgiving.
When I turned 18 I started gambling. This pretty much destroyed my life. For years week in and week out I would rely on the comfort that Jesus was with me, yet he never seemed to help me. I always justified it with, He wants me to beat this demon on my own. However this wasn't happening. It came to a point that I knew in order to beat my addiction that I had to hand my life over to Jesus, and he was with me holding my hand every step of the way.

The only two things I thought about in life were gambling and Jesus, he died for me because he loved me so much that I deserved a chance from all the sins that I hadn't confessed to. I didn't understand how anyone could not believe in Jesus. I continued in strengthening my relationship with him by going to holy spirit seminars, prayer groups and reading stories about Jesus touching peoples lives. But i couldn't stop the gambling and everything that went with it, lies, stealing, being unreliable, getting angry at the people around me.

One day I decided to read the bible, as catholics don't tend to do this much out of sunday's eucharist celebration.

Just the first four gospels. This became quite an eye opener, as alot of what I had learnt in church had nothing do with the Jesus in the bible. All these stations of the cross and that horrifyng ordeal on the road to golgotha was nowhere to be seen. In the first three gospels Jesus didn't even carry his cross and in John there was only one short sentence dedicated to it. My whole perspective of Jesus changed and he became to me even a more accepting and loving person, the problem was that all the problems he had weren't with the sinners but the religious people, and I started to wonder. If Jesus was here today, would he have a problem with all the religious? And the answer was a resounding yes.

The church was my escape, my comfort and the place where I hung out with my friend and helper (who never seemed to help much). Yet i suddenlly started feeling like I was wasting my time. I started checking out different churches, such as Adventists, Jehovah's witnesses and Pentecostals, although whenever someone preached there seemed to be a dig about the Catholic church. Even though I was questioning my own faith I thought it disgusting how pastors can continually trash a religion, especially when they made things up like catholics are taught to pray to Mary and to statues which is a sin. They obviously had never entered my church because we were never taught such things, we were taught to pray to Jesus who was God, and it was only the stupid old ladies and men who had a fascintaion with visions of Mary and the saints did these things. I must admit, that at times I desperately asked for a vision of Mary. Then they also trashed the Pope who was supposedley an infallible person, which is another ridiculous idea drummed up from the misunderstanding of the infallibility doctrine. So I just decided to stick with where I was, yet my faith in life was beginning to fail me and once again I was given something to feel guilty over, so what was to blame? You guessed it, Satan. Satan was the deceiver, the one who made me do bad things and the one who was making me lose faith. I was struggling with the idea that Jesus was God, and I thought that Satan was delighting in this. I started going through a spiritual battle.

Suddenly an opportunity came up for me to go to a bible study, something catholics are definately unrenowned for, so I took this oppotunity.

Wow, the things I heard absolutely gobsmacked me, this priest was explaining to us Luke's gospel, and everytime we read a new passage he would explain how it probably never happened and gave logical reasons for it. Walk to emmaus-didn't happen, Jesus ascending upwards to heaven-didn't happen, Jesus being prophesised about-didn't happen. I couldn't believe what I was hearing, but it was all making sense. As I continued with these studies I found out that this priest was often complained about and had letters sent to the cardinal each week about the things that he was talking about. When explaining to us the narrow gate, he didn't give the usual, only some of us go to heaven and the rest of us go to hell, he explained how to get through a narrow gate, we must separate from the mob and enter on our own, in other words, we are going to get nowhere if we just follow the crowd and believe everything that religions tell us. The thing that struck me most was when he said that nowhere in the bible does it say that Jesus is God. What about John 1:1? If Jesus is one with God, he said then we are God too as later in the gospel Jesus says "May they too be one, as you and I are one" The bible started making much more sense, because it was no longer a history book.

Through this I came to the most enlightening time of my life, I had no more feelings of guilt, I had no more fear of hell, which I learned was originally just a place called gehenna, and I no longer felt that silly privelage of belonging to the one true God. I no longer cared if there was a shortage of priests, and I was no longer drawn to searching other religions when I started questioning my own beliefs.
This feeling was so much better than the guilt that I had felt over the years.

After a few months, though I started feeling down, that I had lost a friend. One who gave everything up for me. I miss him so much, he was always there for me, but now I know thats not the case and at times I get down about it. I nearly cried the other day, but thats how powerful the teachings about Jesus were, when you finally realise the logical side of it all, you tend to grieve, because you feel you've been cheated.

I feel I have been brief but if I say it all I will go on forever, I just wanted to let others know that people can come to their senses even through the very institution that has held their conscience captive. If I'd just stopped going to church I would have known no better. As for the priest, he had been one for so long before making his own discoveries that he feels he just can't leave and let other people feel captive and guilty by the very institution he's involved in, so until he gets kicked out he will continue with his work.

As far as my unbelieving school friend goes, he recently invited me to his baptism into the pentecostal church, after which I invited him to a bible study which he came to, I haven't heard from him since, and I'm sure he's wasting his time praying for me.


Sex: m
City: sydney
State: nsw
Country: australia
Became a Christian: birth
Ceased being a Christian: late 20's
Labels before: good catholic boy
Labels now: not so good catholic boy
Why I joined: Parents
Why I left: grew up

3/16/05                                                                                       View Comments

The truth will set you free............

sent in by Barry

Hi ~ I did the christian religious thing on and off for about 4 decades of my life in my search for the truth of reality. I went through all of the usual christian symptomotology....guilt, fear, worry, anxiety, all of which was directly attributable to christian indoctrination. But I "believed" in Jesus all along, even if the teachings of church, ministers, pastors et al were bereft of any apparent understanding of Love or the true meanings of His words. So I stuck with it as best I could, but the best I could was never good enough, which circled right back to guilt, fear, worry, anxiety which are self-perpetuating indoctinal aspects of christianity.

For me, the words echoing around the church from the pulpit never seemed to be filled with any loving understanding of christ or the christ message. The words were hollow. Empty of any knowledge, feeling, or understanding. I drifted off, but held my convictions about jesus, while turning my back on church. That my uncle became a minister of the Church of England but before doing so signed all of his considerable wealth over to his parents before he was ordained so that the church couldn't claim his worldly possessions may have signalled to me that something was amiss thereabouts.

Time went by, and I went to India 5 times to an ashram where a guru lived. He was as much a fake as my uncle and other church ministers, so I sought to find the truth on my own, given that no one else was capable, or even knew what the truth really was.
So I studied. On my own I searched to understand the bible without the indoctrinal clap-trap. And in reading the New Testament, the "red letter' words stood alone, whereas the rest of the words lacked any real cohesion with the red letter words. One day the words "know the truth, and the truth will set you free" literally (almost!) jumped out of the page at me. It made sense that if these red letter words were true, then they could be put to the test. So I began seeking the truth under the auspices of "ask and it shall be given, seek and ye shall find, knock and it will be opned unto you..." If the words were truth, then I would find that which I was seeking ~ truth.

This led me to enquire as to who wrote the New Testament, as I'd already read the Book of Thomas, books on the Dead Sea Scrolls and Nag Hammadhi Library deciphers etc etc, all of which were not included in the bible, and I wanted to know why. That the Catholic Church withheld these from the public for over 50 years seemed suspicious to me. And it was. Turns out the Church has been withholding the truth for quite some time now!

What I then found was that the entire christian religion & 75% of the New Testament is based upon the works of Paul (St Paul ~ Saul) who was a Roman spy who led persecutions of the contemporary jesus christians. This same Saul claimed to have had vision of christ 5 years post crucifixion in the absence of any witness. Yet every miracle of Jesus was witnessed, if not by multitudes then by at least a dozen at any given occasion. And this Roman spy Saul tells the contemporary apostles what he says he saw and what he says jesus said to him, but what he tells them contradicts what jesus had told them while he was still alive. There is tense disagreement.

Saul is then escorted to Rome under the protection of 200 Roman soldiers where the Roman church begins as a result. Saul writes letters to his connections in the Mid_East, and strangely enough each of the apostles begin to disappear into oblivion, as do all of their teachings. Except ---- Saul and his letters.
Well that struck me as odd. Very odd indeed. That contrary to the appointments made by the living Jesus, Saul appoints himself. And from this a church appears that was never intended to be.

So I looked at the bible with a view of checking authority and authenticity, and basically the books of the bible were assembled by the Roman Emperor Constantine at Nicea in 325AD, after which he had destroyed all people or texts that were contrary to his opinion - the purging of heresy/heretics. So who was Constantine? Well Constantine was a Pagan who professed christianity and made it the Roman State Religion (wherefrom comes the Roman Catholic Church). But Constantine remained Pagan until his death-bed so that he didn't sin as a christian, and then on his death-bed took baptism. An each-way bet you might say, suggesting he had little faith in his chosen religion/god.

It is estimated that the Dead Sea Scrolls and Nag Hammadhi Library were secreted away around the same time that Constantince was purging heresy (ie anything he chose not to like). And that struck me as significant.
So basically I have come to believe that the christian chuch is based upon lies, murder, and deceipt. It really hasn't changed much at all over the past 1700 years or so.

I am still researching and studying. Why, I don't know. But there is a wealth of information available now in such books as

The Bible Fraud ~ http://www.joshuabooks.com/bushby/biblefraud/internalgif/fraud.htm

The Jesus Mysteries ~ http://www.jesusmysteries.demon.co.uk/

I now doubt that jesus was real at all, and that if there is a "satan", then it is epitomized by the christian church in all of it's guises. But that is great, because knowing the truth has set me free. No more lies deceiving me.
Life is now a beautiful continuum, and for me, God is the living principle that permeates throughout all of creation and reality, absorbing our each sensual interaction through the Love that God really is.

Know the truth, and the truth will set you free!..........


URL: www.cdsubliminal.com.au
City: Sydney
State: NSW
Country: Australia
Became a Christian: youg school age
Ceased being a Christian: 49-ish
Labels before: searched fro truth in christianity, bible, religion
Labels now: God is love
Why I joined: cultural mindset ~ paradigm
Why I left: truth is not to be found in christianity
Email Address: mindworks4u at hotmail dot com

3/13/05                                                                                       View Comments

Fundy-maniac to Sane Human

sent in by CJ-R

I never thought I'd be writing my story of how I became an Ex-Christian (protestant), but here I am.

As far back as I can remember, my Mom attended the Baptist church (don't remember if it was a First or Southern Baptist) in the small Kansas town where we lived. I really didn't enjoy Vacation Bible School, I would have rather been home sleeping or watching TV. When I was 9 my Dad died suddenly. I was a Daddy's girl so I was crushed. I was very angry with God (think Bible-God) for at least 2 years. In that time my Mom started attending a small Non-Denominational Church in town, which was more like a social gathering than Church, but I enjoyed it. I don't remember learning anything about the Bible or God, but I had lots of fun. Then one day when I was about 13, an Assembly of God preacher, from another small town nearby, came to our door while Mom was gone & left some information about his church.

Unfortunately, my Mom decided to check it out & ended up becoming a member of that church. I hated going to that church! Being female, I didn't fit in with the dress code. I HAD to wear dresses, which I hated. I also thought many of the people, even though nice, were strange.

My Mom worked with a lady who lived in another small town nearby & she attended a Non-Denominational church in her town. They had a youth group, in which her daughter was involved. I think my Mom was concerned about me NOT wanting to go to her church or any church for that matter, so it was OK with her for me to go to church with this lady & her daughter to see if I liked it. I liked it enough that I attended that church the rest of my high school years & most of my college years. After graduating from college, against my Mother's wishes, I moved to the small town where I attended the Non-Denom church.

Even though my Mom still attended the AofG church, she started causing me trouble about going to that "cult". She called it a cult because of problems in the church, as if that hadn't happened back in the "good ole" Baptist church she had attended, & it wouldn't be allowed to happen in the AofG church she attended since the preacher "ruled with an iron fist". So, I was suddenly in a cult & she wasn't. We had such a falling out about it that she even tried to have me de-programmed with the help of some of my friends from high school. She also bothered me at work & talked about it with my older sister & brother & anyone else she could get to listen.

Her church & pastor didn't help matters either, along with ex-members of my church & they helped her to be afraid for me (she was very fearful anyway) & obsessed with the situation. I felt I couldn't trust anyone. I wondered if I was going to have a nervous breakdown like my mom had when I was two. My world was falling apart. I hated my job, didn't like my family very well, felt stressed at church & was physically ill from the mental & emotional stress of it all.

Finally a close friend & I left the church together. That friend is still my friend to this day & had been kind enough to introduce me into her extended family. I'm friends with a few of her relatives. Even after she married & had a family of her own, we attended a few Non-denominal churches together, but belief wise I have changed. She is now in a ministry with her husband & I am now an Ex-christian. Her family doesn't know this yet & not all of MY family knows this yet. Through those years of attending church with my friend, I read the King James Version of the Bible straight through from front to back several times. The more I read it the more I noticed & the more disturbing it became.

I started questioning many things & started my own search for answers. I remember praying, "I want the TRUTH even if I don't like it". The truth I found has been more inwardly freeing than Christianity ever was. Living in the Bible Belt, I don't feel free to express my new found freedom outwardly because I don't want the Christians type of "love" through threats of hell & death threats. I know how they think, I was one of them. If you're a Christian & you sing that song about "this is not my home, I'm only passng through" then why can't you shut up & pass through quietly because this IS other people's home. Also, I don't have to wait to go to a hell, Christians make life hell for anyone who doesn't agree with them & they try to enforce it through threats & politics. Pass through quietly Christians!

If you Christians are afraid for children here on Earth, then don't HAVE children of your own to worried about. When they grow up they're going to make up their own mind anyway, whether you like it or not & you may not even know about their spiritual decision because they won't want to tell you & receive your loving Christian wrath! Pass through quietly Christians, like the Bible tells you to.

Several years back, my mom had a stroke & she finally ended up in a care home. She no longer troubles me about anything & may not even know me when I go visit her. My Fundamentalist Charismaniac older sister passed away last summer believing, to her grave, for her miracle healing. She was in a wheelchair & living in a care home after having had a stroke 3 to 4 years before. She fervently believed she would be healed here on Earth & that her miracle healing would not be DEATH! She ended up buried in the ground like anyone else whether Christian, Atheist, Deist or something else. Her imaginary Christo-mythological Jesus didn't come save her from her plight & her "best daddy in the universe" Daddy-God didn't do anything. He couldn't even (through Jesus name) keep her from having a stroke 3 to 4 years earlier. Christians would say, "Oh well, she's in a better place." ???! Christians come up with such nonsensical garbage & unfortunately I use to be one of them. How stupid!

At first Christianity "feels" so freeing, but deeper into it, it doesn't "feel" good at all! It's the perfect psychological trap! It works on your emotions even though you're not suppose to go by "feelings", but you still feel. You can ignore your feelings, but they WON'T go away! You take the bait & then get trapped & then you have to use reason to work your way out of the psychological trap. Christianity doesn't have ALL the answers. Since there may be some Christians who read this, I say, read your Bible Christians, ALL of it!

If you're a Christian & you haven't read God's entire life manual, then don't tell me you're a Christian because I'll tell you you're a fraud. If you don't read your Bible then you don't know how you're suppose to live to even BE a Christian. I read the entire Bible several times through, so I'm more of a Christian than you, yet reading the Bible caused me to be an Ex-Christian. And if you say there's no such thing as an Ex-Christian then there's know such thing as a Christian to begin with because you really CAN'T ask someone into your HEART!!! It's all in your mind & your mind is what's trapped.

Start reading, start questioning & step outside your overly protected Christian cocoon & start searching for answers. Someday you may find the true freedom you've been looking for. I did! AND it ISN'T Jesus!



Sex: F
State: Kansas
Country: USA
Became a Christian: 17
Ceased being a Christian: 40
Labels before: Baptist, Non-denom, Fundamentalist Charismatic (or Charismaniac) Christian
Labels now: If I need a title, it'd probably be Deist
Why I joined: Cornered & preached at by sister, believed it was what I needed to do.
Why I left: Read the Bible (mostly KJV) ALL the way through several times & questioned what I read & what I was suppose to believe. Internet helped me with info.

3/9/05                                                                                       View Comments

Southern Baptist to Jewish Atheist

sent in by Travis

I was born into a upper middle class, white, southern baptist family. I was required to attend church since birth, raised by very conservative parents, and went to a christian school. Life was going fairly well for me, I had my first real girlfriend who was the text book definition of a christian fundementalist, all of my friends were just as religious as her, I at the time was perhapse even a big more religious then them. My life revolved around the church and my religion, when I was 7 I tried very hard to read through the bible, and even though I could hardly understand any of what it was actually saying or knew what any of it meant I actually made through it front to back in about a month or so. The use of what seemed to me to be mystical words, not to mention that all my life I had heard how divine it was, it impressed me so incredibly much. From about 7 on I was determined to be a preacher, a missionary, to use what I thought was the ultimate weapon against evil... the bible. I would use the bible as my sword and fight away satan like a mighty warrior, using the word to crusade for christ. I would practice what my church called cold witnessing, it basically meant going up to random people and preaching the gospel to them. my young, boyish innocence, my naive, cute smile, and dare I say... my charm... won over many converts, my parents would invite associates over who were not religious and before they came they would have me witness to them, sometimes it was adults and other times it was entire familys, I lived to do this.


By the age of 12 I was one of the leading members of my churches youth group, I was hitting puberty and as funny as this may sound to all of you... I was determined to never masturbait nor have any sexual relations(not even making out) with a woman untill I was married. I actually was very successful at this, however I was not limited to this. I would not listen to anything besides christian music, whether it be gospel or contemperary(relient K, P.O.D., Norma Jean,) if I found a friend who had anything other then christian music I would try my damndest and usually was successful in convincing them to come over my house and bust them up and have my father dispose of it. My father would then usually take us to a store and buy tons of christian music for me and whatever friend(s) were there. I also was heavily active in the pro-life movement, I wore pro-life tshirts, carried around pro-life propoganda pamphlets, buttons, stickers on my books, ect. when I was 14 I also focused my attention on being anti-evolution, my church gave me plenty of fuel to feed me and I would spend hours and hours on the internet posting religious spam on the internet and evolution sites. I honestly and truly thought I was doing the lords work. I think I was as devout as a person could be, I remember spending hours alone, in my room in the dark. I'd close my eyes and basically meditate in prayer, this would last for hours, sometimes more then 3 or 4 at a time.


So what changed, you may ask? One day I answered the phone and it shockingly was my estranged grandmother, whom my parents had told me was dead along with my grandfather. Somehow she looked us up on an internet search and wow... at first I was scared as hell. However my grandmother had a 3 hour conversation that night, and let me say... my entire world was whirling a million times a second. I found out my grandmother was... JEWISH. Wow! wow! wow! let me tell you... I almost fainted. All my life I was taught that the jews crucified MY messiah, that the jews were so ignorant to call him a demon, that to this day they shame god by rejecting his gift of eternal life. Don't get me wrong I and my family were nice to jews, we invited them over, however the sole purpouse was to try and convert them. In privacy I heard nothing but bad things about jewish people, how they were controlling the world market, how secular jews were the ones who created hollywood, and how the anti-christ would be a jew. So when I found out my grandparents whom were very alive and well, my mother, and more importantly... ME were jewish... I went into a total state of depression. I would not talk to anyone, I said nothing of my parents... I was too shocked and hurt. I kept to myself using the excuse that I was praying, I kept myself away from my friends and girlfriend, finally after a few weeks of this I started reading the bible, hoping to find an answer in it, I'd open the bible to a random page and start reading. I'd try to warp whatever I could to make me feel better, I eventually started reading the entire bible, I read through it 3 times, and it did not help my faith whatsoever, in fact it blew me away. I could not believe what I was reading, massacres, contradictions, absurdities, none of it made sense! I was so angry I finally vent my rage and confronted my parents. They called my preacher over ASAP. We all talked and talked and they gave me their reasons for doing what they did and how they had good reasons, how my grandparents would not accept jesus and they did not want them to bring me to hell and that as long as I accepted christ his blood washed away any chance I had of going to hell. I realized that I had no choice but to fake a smile and play their game. I started reading christian apologetics online http://answersingenesis and tektoniks.org. I then decided to get the opposing view and devoured sites such as Infidels.org and talkorigins.org. I was absolutely shocked again... I soon found out how truly mislead I was. I read the case for christ and case for a creator by lee strobel among, however I then read atheist literature, which tore up the christian literature in both logic and evidence. The work of Dan Brown and Richard Carrier especially sticks out in my mind as being especially powerful to me. I think I came close to reading most the tektonics page however alot of it was because I found J.P. holding to be pretty damn funny, reading tektonics actually made me feel silly for being a christian. I soon became a deist, and then an agnostic, and as I researched more and more, and discovered that it was not weird at all for not believing, as I read the korahn, the hindu vedas, as I studied all kinds of theology that I could get my hands on I realized how truly human it all was. I have fell in love with science and the scientific method, I actually read all sides of issues now and I must admit once you truly start understanding and examining the naturual world... it quickly makes you realize how un-needed the supernaturual is, how beautiful life truly can be.


I now live with my grandparents who are both secular jews and more importantly long time subscribers of Skeptic Magazine! Life is beyond good... for once I finally feel free, un-chained, I see the world as one great big mystery and puzzle waiting to be explored. My grandparents and I have an unbelievable relationship, I am a high school senior now with a 4.0 GPA and am headed towards the U of M where I will major in Political Science. I have had great success at my new high school, and find the environment much more open to all kinds of opinion, in fact I have liberated pretty much over 25 of my friends from dogmatic world beliefs, some are atheists, some agnostic, and actually a few are deist. Every friday a big group of us meet at my schools media center durring lunch where we discuss religion, talk about books we had read the previous week and give new book assignments to eachother. Each month we have a theme, 2 weeks we spend reading for example christian apologetic books and then the next two weeks we read atheistic and skeptical literature and then we debate and discuss it all. Topics range anywhere from Evolution and Creationist to spirtualists and near death experiances, to alien abductions and intelligent life on other planets. The feeling and joy I get from this outdoes any type of witnessing or church activity I ever did. I love my life, for once I actually feel free. I now realize that god is not found in the sky or in ancient texts, it is found in holding a new born, in playing baseball with little kids, and even simple things like reading a good book. Once you discover this though you realize that it is not god at all, it is love, happyness, and freedom. Afterall though... that is what god is claimed to be, is it not? I know the above must sound VERY corny but I do believe it to be true.


My goals for the future is to get involved with charity, politics, and perhapse law. I currently am very active in flint soup kitchens, I'm doing whatever I can to raise money for the tsunami victims, and I live for food drives. I believe that what atheists, humanists, and all other like minded people need to do is show our society through our actions what we are all about, that religion is not what gives somebody morals, that all humans are capable of love and caring. I believe this is the only successful way of changing the negativity projected upon non believers.


Anyways I have ranted for far too long and for this I apologize oh and in case your wondering my parents refuse to have anything to do with me and blame my grandparents for "dirtying my soul". I honestly don't care though... if they ever want to get back in my life I will be there with open arms.

City: Genesee County
State: Michigan
Country: USA
Became a Christian: Christian from birth
Ceased being a Christian: 18
Labels before: Evangelical, Southern Baptist, Born again, Jew by blood
Labels now: Atheist, Skeptic, Secular Humanist, Jew
Why I joined: Born into a christian family
Why I left: I actually read the bible, researched both sides of the issues, and discovered my judaism.
Email Address: rrwf2001 at yahoo dot com

3/5/05                                                                                       View Comments

Disillusionment

sent in by Greg

After more than 15 years struggling to be a fundamentalist Christian, I finally (and with much trepidation) made my break from Christianity about a month ago. After years of being in and out of church and struggling to believe the hopelessly illogical dogma of mainstream fundamentalism, the loss of my faith hit me suddenly, like a bolt out of the blue. I've been reading the response letters from Christians, and it seems they have many misconceptions about us "apostates".

For instance, many of them believe that it was the people that drove us away from the faith, that somehow the church let us down, and we're just leaving out of spite or resentment. For some that may be the case. But for me (and I'd wager most of us), the people were, by and large, very loving and sincere, if a bit closed-minded. For most of us, our faith was far too precious to be abandoned on the basis of politics or disagreements. For most of us, the battle was entirely within ourselves. It was a pitched battle between our faith and our reason, and eventually our reason just refused to be suppressed any longer, no matter what the potential consequences.

Many of them believe that we just flippantly "chose" to walk away from our faith. They don't realize that for so many of us, it was the hardest and most terrifying thing we've ever done. We prayed for guidance. We agonized over it, we tried for years to stifle our intelligence and our reason, told ourselves we were wrong, that the Devil was trying to deceive us, that our thoughts are not God's thoughts nor his ways our ways, tortured ourselves with guilt and fear for even entertaining such ideas as this, quivered in terror that we might be wrong and burn forever in Hell as a result. But in the end, not even threats of eternal torment could force us to love a God as petty, sadistic and tyranical as the one put forth by mainstream Christianity. A God who calls Himself "good", while he orders babies and children murdered, women raped, animals tortured. Who, though knowing all and having all power, sits idly by while humans suffer and die horribly by the millions every day of starvation, disease, war and natural disasters. Who sets forth arbitrary laws and rules and punishes all who disobey (or even fail to believe) by roasting them alive in a slow fire for all eternity, (though it makes him really sad) and justifies all this purely on the basis of his power. How does this make him "good"? What then is his definition of "good"? Does his might alone make him right? How does this make him any different than Hitler or Attilla the Hun? By this definition, the cruelest human tyrant that ever lived was an angel by comparison, even the devil himself is "good".

Many of them believe we weren't "genuine" converts, that our profession of faith was somehow superficial and insincere, that we weren't "really saved" and that's why our faith did not persist. But, if my conversion was insincere, then I can't fathom what sincere conversion is. See if this sounds familiar. I was converted when I came to believe that I was a sinner separated from God, who could not pay the debt of my own sin, and that Christ had come to die in my place on the cross to restore me to God. When the realization of this hit me, it was like I had been hit in the forehead with a bolt of lightning. I believed it and accepted it with all my heart, and I asked Jesus that very moment, with every ounce of sincerity in my body, to come into my heart and save me and cleanse me and purify me and sanctify me and keep me from temptation. At that moment I had the same conversion experience that so many other Christians have had, and that so many cling to so desperately in the final death throes of their faith. It was a genuine transcendant experience. I felt I was in the very loving embrace of God, like a newborn baby in its mothers arms. Completely safe, completely secure, not a doubt, not a worry, not a single fear. I wept at the beauty of it all. How much more sincere can one be? Must one weep tears of blood? And yet now, in the face of the irrationality of this belief system, not even an experience as powerful as this can continue to convince me of its truth. Because you see, it wasn't long before that pure, loving, wonderful experience was trampled upon by the jaugernaut of Christian dogma and guilt. I went from loving God with all my heart, to trembling in fear of him. From security and safety, to constant worry that I might screw up and lose my salvation. From joy and bliss to guilt and self-condemnation. From loving my neighbor to sitting in judgement of him. And in over 15 years of church going and bible reading and pastoral counseling and listening to advice from Christian friends, and fervent, heartfelt prayer, often accompanied with tears, I can tell you that I never had more than 10 minutes of real peace, nor did I become one shred holier or less prone to sin than I was on the day of my conversion. There is not a scripture that hasn't been spouted to me, not an explanation or an apologetic I haven't heard and sincerely listened to at least a hundred times. And yet, in the end there was only one conclusion I could come to without completely assassinating my reason. And I have come to it.

Many of them believe we are out to "convert" them, or take them away from the faith. I personally have no such desire, and I don't think you do either. If a person is truly happy as a Christian, and if it truly fills a void in their psyche, I would never want to jeopardize that for them. Faith is a very precious thing. Lord knows I tried to hang on to my own. But it's so good to know that for those who are in Christianity and who know deep down inside that they just can't believe it anymore, there are others of like mind out there. They don't have to make the journey alone.

-Greg


City: Apalachin
State: NY
Country: USA
Became a Christian: 21
Ceased being a Christian: 38
Labels before: Fundamentalist Christian, Baptist, Assembly of God, Charismatic
Labels now: Agnostic, Humanist, Skeptic, Ex-Christian
Why I joined: Was drawn by the beautiful, loving simplicity of the plan of salvation
Why I left: Could not love a God that claims to love me, claims to be all powerful and claims to want all flesh "saved", but is only able to save a handful, while the rest will be roasted alive for all eternity for the sin of being born as He created them and failing to believe something they can't believe, and for no other pupose than sadistic revenge.

3/3/05                                                                                       View Comments

Charismatic evangelical hands in his cards

sent in by Andy Kimber

Hello folks. My name’s Andy, and I’m from the UK.

My story’s slightly different from most of the ones I’ve read here, where the Christian behaviour was drummed in at an early age. Although I was christened in the Anglican church as an infant, my parents never went to church when I was growing up (except for the Midnight Mass carol service on Christmas Eve, which I thoroughly enjoyed – and I still love Christmas carols :o) ). My mother taught me to “say my prayers” at bedtime but that was it.

My conversion experience came at the age of 15 through an organisation called “Youth for Christ”. A couple of evangelists came to school one lunchtime and played some amusing songs. They gave some interesting facts about the world and the universe and encouraged us to go along to their meeting the next night at a local Baptist church. Well, I wouldn’t normally have gone, but a friend who was in the school Christian Union persuaded me, so off I went. They played some more songs, and then this guy Eric Delve presented the gospel in a fascinating and powerful way. I’d never heard any of it before, the idea that Jesus had suffered and died for ME – it was radical and compelling. As the presentation drew to a close Eric said he was going to be asking those who’d been touched by what he’d said to come forward for prayer at the end. I suddenly felt my heart swelling inside. I knew I was going to respond. I felt that I’d heard Truth for the first time in my life, and it really was like a light going on. I was the second person to get to the front when the altar call came, and I went through the whole ABC conversion (Admit your need, Believe in Jesus, Confess him as Lord). I was a Christian!

The first and most dramatic result of this was that I suddenly acquired a social life. As a shy only child I really didn’t do anything much with others of my age outside of school, but now, my Christian friends brought me to church, and specifically, to the YPF (Young People’s Fellowship), which was basically a Christian youth club based at the local Evangelical Free Church. Interestingly, one tangible result of this was that my grades at school started to dip now that I had something to do other than homework! Anyway, I enjoyed being with a dynamic group of my peers, where I soon became for the first time in my life an important person (especially as I was the first to pass my driving test and so could drive people around). I was learning more about the teachings of Christianity and felt fortunate that I’d hit on the one true path to God and to personal fulfilment. Fantastic!

When I left school with insufficient grades for my preferred university (Cambridge) I cast around for something else to do. I wish now I’d followed my first instinct and tried out for drama school, but as it happened, due to different people suggesting it in an apparently coincidental way, I found myself going off to London Bible College to study Theology. Why? I had no desire to be a pastor or full-time Christian worker. I wanted to be a rock star! Well, whatever my motivation, that is where I went. I suppose that is where the decline began, in a way. The faculty warned us not to neglect our personal “quiet time” with the Bible, as we might be tempted not to bother with it since we were studying the Bible in class all day. Needless to say this prophecy came true! It is interesting to note, however, that unlike many contributors to this site, I studied not only the Bible but the supposed inconsistencies and different factions’ interpretations of it too, and came through it all with my faith intact. I always believed that just because I didn’t always understand the ways of God, it didn’t mean that it couldn’t all make sense on a cosmic level that was beyond my comprehension, just as a child might not be able to conceive of why it doesn’t make sense to eat only chocolate.

After college, I got married, and to cut a very long story short I became the unpaid Assistant Pastor of a small charismatic church by default. I was experiencing speaking in tongues and witnessing the other gifts of the Spirit regularly. We prayed, thanking God for the answers we liked and bemoaning our lack of commitment when we didn’t get what we wanted. We saw some people miraculously healed, and others entering a depressing decline and dying prematurely. We received many prophecies, some self-fulfilling, some “not yet come to fruition”, and some incredible ones spot on. In other words, church happened. And yet, through it all, I felt that “the Church” as a whole was so caught up in its own ways and traditions, be they sober Calvinists or leaping Pentecostals, that the whole kernel of Christianity as exepressed by Jesus himself was forgotten. I refer of course to Jesus saying we should love God with all our hearts and our neighbour as ourselves.

Well, the story rumbles on through a decline in church attendance and a depressing divorce for me, through a conviction that consciousness was merely a function of the brain, therefore everything is meaningless (see Ecclesiastes!), to a point now where I’m not sure if there is a God or greater consciousness at all, which I suppose makes me agnostic. Having said that, I AM sure that if God does exist, he is not correctly revealed in the teachings of the church, or indeed in the modern bible which appears to have been hijacked by a medieval junta of Roman Catholic cardinals for its own ends. At the moment I am interested in the bits they threw out, especially the Gnostic gospels which may give a more immediate and accurate view on what Jesus actually believed and taught.

I would urge all of you not to deny reason, logic and evidence in your quest for truth. If God exists, he is certainly able to cope with new discoveries and revelations even if his people are not. For example, the world isn’t the centre of the universe, it’s billions of years old, man evolved from the apes… all of these and many more were viciously opposed by an insecure and small-minded church which was certainly not ministering the love of God on Earth.

“These three remain; faith, hope and love, and the greatest of these is love.”


URL: http://www.kimberweb.net
City: Ipswich
State: Suffolk
Country: UK
Became a Christian: 15
Ceased being a Christian: About 37
Labels before: Charismatic, evangelical, non-conformist, protestant
Labels now: I seek truth without worrying about meaning.
Why I joined: Powerful evangelist testinony and altar-call
Why I left: Gradual shift. Final push thanks to Douglas Adams.
Email Address: andy at kimberweb dot net