7/31/05                                                                                       View Comments

A Lackluster Deconversion

sent in by Jeff

A Lackluster Faith Journey

The story of my conversion to, involvement with, and de-conversion from the
Christian faith is not nearly as dramatic, lengthy, or painful as it has
been for others.

Growing up, I had little exposure to Christianity except for irregular
visits to a Lutheran church for Sunday school and attending Catholic Mass
with my grandparents once in awhile. Neither of my parents was particularly
religious; my dad was and is a confirmed agnostic leaning heavily toward
atheism, though if you asked him today he'd probably identify strongly with
Buddhism. Interestingly enough, at one time my father had been pursuing a
career in Christian ministry. He'd been raised in a strict Lutheran home,
and due to some factors stemming from a dysfunctional family and his own
personal demons (homosexuality), he felt at the time that immersing himself
in faith was the answer. It wasn't. But this really isn't about his faith
journey, so it suffices to say that in terms of the father I know, he is
agnostic.

My mother, I found out much later, has a belief in God but is not religious.
Like many Americans, her faith is cultural and doesn't stem from any
dramatic spiritual epiphanies or adherence to biblical dogma. Out of her
three kids, only my brother and sister were ever confirmed in the Lutheran
church, and that was as much due to their desire to be confirmed as it was
due to my mom encouraging them to explore faith. In fact, I don't remember
even once discussing God with my mom until after I became a Christian.

Mostly, my early experiences in the church, though infrequent, were little
more than exercises in play acting and observation. I was a good boy who
knelt when I was supposed to kneel, prayed when I was supposed to pray, and
sang when I was supposed to sing. Very early I sensed a certain hypocrisy
about worship, even though my vocabulary didn't yet include that word. The
whole exercise was pretentious to me, especially since I knew some of the
people who were neighbors, and didn't at all behave according to the way the
pastor suggested. When I became a Christian, I looked back on those
occasions and rationalized it differently; these people weren't pretending,
they were being cleansed of their weekly misdeeds.

During my teen years, my official church attendance dropped to almost
nothing, though it could easily be argued I was closer to being a Christian
than I ever had been by the time I graduated. I had become something of a
closet Christian, as almost none of my friends were believers (that I knew
of). My teen years were filled with hormonal dramas and social awkwardness
just like many others, but I kind of also became something of a "bad boy,"
in rebellion against my father who expected me to achieve, and my mother &
stepfather who were too drunk to care. I had already built up a fair amount
of baggage from stealing my parents' car, to experimenting with drugs, to
sexual promiscuity, to drunk driving, to...well, you name it I probably did
it. Short of getting caught, that is. I was too much of a coward to really
push the envelope in any way that could be called daring. But I'm getting
off-topic here.

The point is that by the time I was in 11th grade, I had a lot to feel
guilty about. After quitting school in the last trimester of that school
year, I spent a summer re-evaluating where I wanted to be in life. Reality
came crashing in because as a result of quitting school, my dad had kicked
me out and I was forced to live with a friend of mine in an apartment. Of
course, he quickly taught me that there's no free lunch in life and I
learned that for a 17 year old, there aren't many opportunities to build the
kind of life I'd envisioned. Near the end of the summer, I called my mom
begging her to take me in. Over my senior year in H.S., I was able to
redeem myself to some extent and pulled out a decent graduation with honors.
But as I said I'd become something of a closet Christian.

At that time (during my senior year) there was a church nearby that
maintained a chapel that was open to the public 24/7. I had a little pocket
NT, and I'd go to this chapel alone to try and commune with God. Even though
I read the NT again and again, meditated in the chapel, and spent hours
praying trying to contact God, nothing ever happened. I was feeling this
overwhelming guilt for the things I'd done, but nothing would alleviate it.
My counselor had me almost convinced it was due to emotional stress, but
somewhere deep down I felt like I needed a savior. None ever came. It was
a fairly big let-down at the time, but I thought that the message was a good
one and that the problem must lie within me for failing to understand it and
receive the grace that was promised.

Yet I didn't have time to dwell on it too much. I joined the Army, and
about six months after graduation was deeply involved in learning how
spoiled I had been; basic training does that to you. For the next year and
a half, God wasn't something I gave any thought to. I went about the
business of being a soldier, whose off-duty concerns ran more along the
lines of where the next beer was coming from and how I was going to get laid
this weekend without paying for it.

It was when I was stationed in Germany that Christianity entered my life
again in a rather powerful way. Several people I had become close to turned
out to be Christian. A new roommate was a devout Christian, my then
girlfriend (whom I would later marry - and divorce) was a Christian, my
platoon sergeant was Christian, and a couple other people in my platoon
"came out" as Christians. Not that they were hiding it before, but it
became noticeable. Kind of like when you buy a car thinking it isn't that
popular, but then you start seeing them everywhere. But the most
significant influence at that time came in the form of a converted
ex-girlfriend.

While on leave, I ran into an old girlfriend. Our relationship had been
brief but intense, and I romanticized the intensity as something other than
it was. The reality was that the intensity stemmed from sex and drugs
rather than love, but that's not how I remembered it. Anyway, we went out
to dinner. It was during dinner that she told me she was born-again, and
described her life between graduation and her conversion along with how her
life had changed afterward. But her conversion, combined with my lingering
attraction to her, had the result that for the rest of my time on leave and
all the way back to Germany, I read the entire Bible cover to cover. I
wanted to know just what it was that was so special and what I had missed in
the past.

Well, I convinced myself that God was really trying to reach me. With all
the people in my life who it seemed had found the transcendent truth I
convinced myself I had been searching for, I started to believe that God
really did have a plan for me and that he wanted me to accept his grace.
Before leaving Germany, I married a woman whom I thought God wanted me to
marry - and whom I thought would help me not to be lonely the rest of my
life.

Following our successive discharges from the military, my wife and I moved
to Maryland where we became involved in a local Methodist church. During
many of the services, I would get extremely emotional, sometimes even
weeping as the pastor read various verses - especially those dealing with
the Passion Narrative. This further reinforced the conviction that God was
speaking to my heart, and set the stage for the events that followed.

It should also be noted that I had never really dealt with the issues from
my teenage years; the baggage was still there, only hidden. Plus, my wife
and I had some significant problems and had separated a few times. There
was adultery involved (hers, at that point), and serious disagreements over
parenting of not only our newborn child but her two boys from a previous
marriage. With my tendency to blame myself, I let the guilt for this pile
on, adding yet more reinforcement to the notion that I needed a savior.

At some point (exactly when escapes me, but it's not important), our church
hired a new youth pastor. Since he was the same age as my wife and I, we
easily identified with him and we became fast friends. His theology
contrasted that of the senior pastor, in that he was far more conservative
and seemed to be much more committed to the cause of Christ. Well, he found
out that I play guitar, and invited me to take part in a new contemporary
Christian band he wanted to put together, and to help him put together a
contemporary service for the younger members of the congregation. I was
extremely pleased and proud to be asked, and began to feel that God was
calling me to ministry. Music had always played a huge role in my life, and
I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to use it in this way.

The musicians we put together were simply amazing. We played and sang so
well together it was easy to think that God was guiding us. Many people
commented on how "the spirit was really moving" when we played. Indeed, I
often felt so moved by the emotional nature of the music that it welled up
in me and came out in my singing. The lead singer (I sang harmony as well
as played guitar) later told me that when she would falter she'd find
encouragement in my voice. Oddly, my ego wasn't inflated by any of this. I
felt that it wasn't me at all; it was God moving through me.

At the same time, I was becoming more and more conservative. As the youth
pastor and I spent more time together, I began to take on his theology.
Additionally, I jumped into the Bible with both feet, convinced that
everything in it was divine truth meant for all people in all ages. Yet
this was not enough. I purchased books on apologetics, becoming a fan of
such people as J.P. Holding (an Internet apologist), Josh McDowell, Lee
Strobel, and many others. I bought the biggest concordance I could find,
and devoured commentaries, biblical dictionaries - anything that seemed to
confirm the truth of the Bible. Through the Internet, I became a regular
visitor to places like www.carm.org, www.answersingenesis.com, and many
others. Not only that, but I came to the conclusion that every atheist or
non-believer was merely someone whose questions had not been answered, and
sought them out on message boards so that in keeping with 1 Peter 3:15 I
could "give an answer." Though I didn't understand it at the time, all of
those with whom I engaged in debate were far more logical, far more
reasonable, far better informed, and quite easily defeated every single
argument I ever advanced in favor of belief in God. I persisted in my faith,
but this was a tiny seed that would later bear fruit.

There were some darker elements to my faith as well. As the youth pastor,
myself, and a few others became further entrenched in what was becoming a
decidedly fundamentalist theology, we began to take issue with many of the
positions issuing from the pulpit of our church. You see, the senior pastor
had (and probably still has) a more liberal take on the Bible and theology.
This, in our estimation, was antithetical to what God had intended. So, we
set about trying to spread a more conservative doctrine.

Meanwhile, I had become aware of legislation pending in Montgomery County,
MD that would add "sexual orientation" to the Equal Opportunity code. That
is, employers and others would no longer be able to discriminate on that
basis. Well, a local conservative Christian group called Take Back Maryland
was gathering signatures for a petition designed to force a moratorium on
that issue, preventing it from being added. I became affiliated with that
group, and decided that I would take signatures from those in my church.
The youth pastor encouraged me to do this, being the first to add his
signature to the list that I was to gather. Other members of the band added
their signatures and encouragement as well. Though we didn't think of it
this way, we had become fundamentalist bigots, fostering hate for everyone
not like us.

Frankly, I don t know whatever happened with this legislation because I
stopped gathering signatures after a particularly interesting confrontation
with the senior pastor. While gathering signatures, the senior pastor's
wife rebuked me for going around the church gathering signatures without
speaking to the senior pastor first. So, I went to speak to him. We wound
up having a long discussion about whether I had the right to do that, and
about proofs in the Bible regarding homosexuality. This conversation
planted one of the seeds for my de-conversion, though I didn't realize it at
the time.

During the conversation, we of course discussed Romans 1:26-28. This is one
of the NT passages used along with the OT verses in Leviticus to show that
homosexuality is against God's will. The pastor made the comment that Paul
probably didn't know that one day his letters would become scripture. This
is a rather innocuous statement, to be sure, but one that got me thinking
again. Later as I recalled this statement, I started to think, would Paul
have known that his letters would someday be considered scripture? Would
any of the biblical authors have thought that? Even if God was using them
to author the Bible, there is never any mention of God doing dictation.
That being the case, is it possible that Paul - or any other biblical author
- could have been expressing his own prejudices while believing they were in
keeping with God's will? Basically, it re-opened the door in my mind to the
possibility that the Bible was an entirely man-made book; a concept that had
become buried as I had dug deeper into fundamentalism. However, as I
mentioned I didn't yet realize this and left the pastor's office still
convinced of the righteousness of my position, even though I did stop
gathering signatures for the petition at his request.

Shortly after, there was a division in the church caused in part by the
actions of those of us adhering to fundamentalist doctrine. The youth
pastor was fired - though he says he quit - after he scolded the entire
congregation one Sunday from the pulpit. He had told me of his plan, which
was to denounce the senior pastor, his predecessor, and the congregation for
turning to liberalism and forgetting that tolerance does not mean tolerating
those who aren't Christian or those who flout God's laws. Surprisingly (or
perhaps not surprisingly) there were more than a few people who agreed with
him, including me at the time. We left the church.

Later, the youth minister and a group of fellow ordained friends founded a
new, non-denominational church in PA. This church was too far away for us to
attend regularly, although I did make guest appearances with their
contemporary band. He even invited me to join and become one of the
"elders" of his new church, but my wife and I didn't want to move at that
time, so we turned him down. In the meantime I looked for another local
church and was lucky enough to get hired on as a permanent member of the
staff as the Praise Leader for another Methodist church. I was responsible
for leading the contemporary service, which consisted mostly of putting a
band together and selecting music that would match the lesson being taught.
It was during this time that the statement I mentioned above started to bug
me. Also, this church had a female pastor - something I did not agree with
at the time. I thought part of my mission there was to change things.

Long story short, I failed in each and every way at that church, and wound
up being summarily dismissed because of disagreements with the female pastor
and failure to properly grow the contemporary service. There were some
personal factors that contributed, such as my full-time job, persistent
issues at home (including my wife's non-attendance at any of the services,
which hurt me deeply), and simple exhaustion, but mostly it was theology.

About four months after being dismissed, I traveled to Biloxi, MS to be
trained in networking in connection with my new position as a member of the
Air National Guard. While I was there, I began to fall away from the faith.
I decided to test my long-held belief that the Bible, if it is the Word of
God, should stand up to the most rigorous scrutiny. So I began to study.
Really study. When I wasn't working out or in training through the week, I
was into the Bible, my concordance, commentaries, and online, checking
reference after reference, reading scientific journals, comparing
apologetics to scholarship, and began to recognize that my faith was built
on what amounts to a house of cards. I was extremely fair, I think, in that
I looked at both sides of the debate equally. In the end, having a greater
understanding of historical context, ancient literature, logic, evidence,
and other topics I came to the conclusion that very little of the Bible was
actually worth emulating. That being the case, the God of the Bible was
placed into the category of those things worth having doubts about. I came
to think, much as deists do, that if God exists, he must necessarily be
above all the human frailties attributed to His personality in the Bible,
and that He is basically an unknown quantity that has no practical influence
in this world. To my mind, this was a much bigger God than that offered by
Christians.

I stayed roughly agnostic for awhile, but eventually came to the conclusion
that I must be, by definition, an atheist. I do not believe God can be
proven nor disproven, and I believe exercises that attempt to do either make
for interesting but ultimately futile philosophical dialogues. I guess that
makes me technically agnostic, but leaning toward atheism. I do believe
that the Bible is the work of man, and that if God had anything to do with
its inspiration, it would have to be more like the inspiration attributed to
the Muses of ancient Greece rather than divine dictation. I now realize -
as all of us do, really - the inherent superiority of evidence over faith in
terms of describing the universe we live in. I also feel that at this stage
in human history, religion has outlived its usefulness and has become
dangerous. Today, religious extremists (among whom I might have counted
myself, had my life not followed the path it did) seek to impose their
version of God's Truth on us all. From Islamists seeking nothing less than
the overthrow of Judeo-Christian and secular nations around the world, to
politically-motivated Evangelicals halting stem cell research and doing
nothing of substance to halt the spread of AIDS, or trying to shoehorn
creationism into the science classroom, religion as we have known it no
longer contributes to humanity as a whole.

I have no problem with those who find comfort in the idea of heaven, or that
God gives them hope for more in the afterlife, so long as they continue to
interact with the world around them as humane and rational people. I don't
even have a problem with those who choose to go to church for the sense of
community and belonging, so long as they are welcoming to all and not
interested in changing the world according to biblical dogma. That is, as a
practical matter we only have proof of this life. As such we should spend
our time doing our best to add value to not only our own lives but those
around us. By judging those around us by a theological standard put in
place by Bronze Age barbarians - or any form of dogma really, including
atheist dogma (if there is such a thing) - we short-change everyone,
including ourselves.

So I guess the short answer is that I studied, and ultimately rejected,
biblical dogma. But again this doesn't mean I have a problem with God
(since as a practical matter God might as well not exist), or that I have
any desire to destroy faith. Faith and intuition are a worthwhile part of
the human experience, but we have no business at all judging by, or trying
to force others to conform to any form of dogmatic faith. The only standard
that has any practical application is that which increases our ability to
survive and thrive in this world. As far as morality, I think it is best
summed up by Sam Harris:

"The truth is that the only rational basis for morality is a concern for the
happiness and suffering of other conscious beings. This emphasis on the
happiness and suffering of others explains why we don't have moral
obligations toward rocks."

There are loads of other components to this de-conversion, but add up to the
same thing. This gives you the general idea of the process with some
specifics.

In the final analysis, I don't like calling myself an atheist. I am a
secular humanist who wants the best, not just for me, but for everyone.
That may sound a bit cheesy, but that's how I feel, even if I'm not always
good at expressing it. As far as judging others, as humans we can't avoid
doing that because we are constantly reconciling ourselves to our
surroundings. So I try to understand the positions of others, and agree
whenever possible, because I have an equal chance of being wrong. That is,
I try to judge a person by his or her actions, rather than by whatever God
they may want to believe in (or not). For all I know some day I'll be
standing before the Judgment Seat of God saying, "Well, I'll be damned." Of
course, if the Bible really is His word, He'll say, "Why, yes you are!"

In the meantime, I'm just going to continue being human.


Jeff
(aka UberGeek)
State - Maryland
Country - USA
How old were you when you became a Christian? Hard to say
How old were you when you ceased being a Christian? 35
What churches or organizations or labels have applied to you? 3
What labels, if any, would you apply to yourself now? None
Why did you become a Christian? Thought I was touched by God
Why did you de-convert? Many reasons.
email: jeffrey.samuelson at wvmart.ang.af.mil

7/28/05                                                                                       View Comments

Adventuring Infidel

sent in by Cyrano

Hi all, I'm Cyrano and I walked away almost five years ago.

It was actually my best friend's coming out that started me down that road, although I'd been going down it a while.

I was raised a Fundamentalist Baptist and exceeded even my zealous father's dreams in terms of my own "holiness" (read: self-righteous prudery). I was one of those horribly better-than-thou people who had read the Bible backward and forward, knew every apologetics answer to anything an unbeliever could throw at me, and actually wrote my graduating thesis on the value of the KJV over any other version of the Bible. In short, I was an annoying little shit.

And when I got out of my father's house (or the Bible Bubble, as I like to call it), I kind of went crazy. Well, crazy for me. I dated and unbeliever *gasp* and had sex outside of marriage *double gasp*. I ended up pregnant and scared and so I got married. My husband (now ex) was a great guy, understanding of all my existential angst and need to binge and purge (get rid of all the "worldy" objects in the house). I remember times where I must have pushed him to the breaking point. And looking back, a lot of that had to do with my own nebulous grasp on exactly who I was and what I wanted from life.

Then my best friend sent me an email and told me he was gay.

It floored me. I had evangelised this guy. I had converted him. I had defended him when others had accused him of being femme. And I even fancied myself in love with him when we were teenagers.

Now he was telling me that he'd been lying all those years and he couldn't take it any more and had to be honest with who he was. And that honesty touched off something in my own life. I had not been happy in years, maybe not ever. I was increasingly suffocating in a system that I could not breathe in and I was trapped in a marriage that I had taken on because of guilt and convenience.

So-I left. I just got into the car and left. I ran away.
I felt at the time that I was flying apart. I couldn't stop crying. I felt like a coward. I had always thought that I was an honest person, and now it seemed that I had been decieving myself for so long, not allowing myself to see the evidence against my faith and not allowing myself to feel how unhappy I was (or anything that didn't fall into the happy-happy Bible life I was supposed to be leading).
I ran to my friend. And he took me in. With amazing compassion he accepted my need to just be away from myself for a while. He was there for me when I started to ask hard questions about my life, like "Why does God allow pain?" and "How can God let hell exist?" and the most horrible, wonderful question of all, "What if this whole thing is a lie?"

It was SO painful to give up my faith. Words can't describe it. I felt lied to, decieved and betrayed. I was so angry and hurt. I hated anything to do with xianity and god. And I so longed to have that simple faith back.

But another part of me saw how poisonous it was, and how the venom had leeched the life from me until all that was left was the shell of a person, spewing chapter and verse but feeling no true compassion.

It took a long time for the guilt and fear to subside. I remember laying in bed late one night and thinking about hell and suddenly just cracking up at how ludicrous it was...I began to laugh. I ran upstairs to my friend's room and told him and we both stood there going, "I KNOW! How retarded! A god that fries people for eternity!"

Another time I remember having the need to come clean with my Fundy family about my walk away. My step-mom (I call her Flip Top Head because she can never keep her mouth shut) said that I had never really been saved. I remember being SO offended, like my journey was completely nullified and all the fourteen years I had spent as a slave to the system were meaningless. And then I realized, they *were* meaningless. It was stupid and pointless. I wish it had never happened.

But another part of me feels like if I had never had those experiences, I wouldn't be the strong, self-aware person I am now. I mean, if I had never had to really examine myself and my life, would I be even a fraction of the person I am today? Would I have been able to walk away with intergrity?

It's been five years since I ran away from home. It's been only a year since I was able to say, "Yes, I *am* an atheist." And I don't know that I will ever be able to see the people I went to church with, or have a normal realtionship with my family. That used to grieve me a lot. Now I just feel sorry for them. They are as trapped and unhappy as I once was.

And I hope that whatever love and compassion exists in this world will turn itself to them and they can someday be as happy and fulfilled as I am.


~Cyrano



--------------------

~Greater than the death of flesh is the death of hope, the death of dreams. Against this peril we must never surrender.~

Washington
USA
How old were you when you became a christian? seven
How old were you when you ceased being a christian? twenty two
What churches or organizations or labels have applied to you? Independant Fundamentalist Baptist, dabbled in Foursquare, Assemblies of God, and Christian Missionary Alliance
What labels, if any, would you apply to yourself now? Athiest
Why did you become a christian? felt convicted
Why did you de-convert? the concept of eternal damnation didn't gel with a loving God. And my best friend came out, and I couldn't bear to condemn him for who he was.
email: Cyranothe2nd at hotmail dot com

7/27/05                                                                                       View Comments

Christianity Is Silly

sent in by Philip Agora

I became a born-again Christian in a Fundamentalist Church when I was 14-year-old boy, wrestled with various issues from the start, found myself dissenting on numerous matters, social liberalism for one, difficulty with idea of hell for another (an idea dealt with succinctly by Bertrand Russell, one of my good guys even when I was a Christian).

I have been a university gospel team preacher and developed an idea of Christian epistemology based on the experience of the so-called Holy Spirit. I found my Christianity more tolerable as a Quaker worshiping in a silent meeting that included a pagan and a jew in our midst. In a word we were a very accepting group of Friends.

However a few years ago I found myself analyzing Christian doctrine more critically than I had ever before, and particularly the concept of "spiritual." What does one mean when one speaks of "spiritual values"? What are "miracles," a "phenomenon" about which Teillhard had serious difficulty? What are the criteria "God" uses to intervene in this world? Why did Pat Robertson's prayers, and those of all his prayer partners, fail to turn the hurricane away from the land in 2003?

I came to realize that much of these "beliefs" of Christians are silly, nonsensical, absurd.

Many Christians make a big deal of "absolute" values, those that come from God by revelation. Leaving apart for a moment the fallacy of revelation not being a human invention, which of these two values is absolute in the Christian scheme: love or torture? Christians argue for both, "God loves his world" and "God will torture forever people who are not born-again Christians." How more primitively, ignorantly tribal could a religion be?

Consider the nature of the universe. I do not have any particular difficulty in believing that it may have a creator, having no good information or understanding of the matter. However, if there is a creator, this creator has some interesting qualities, likely. It is very powerful, likely very big, not especially needy, perhaps intelligent, not necessarily good engineer or designer regarding some aspects. From the way most Christians characterize "God," "God" is substantially complete, perfect; if so, "God" has no use for Christians to praise or worship it.

Okay, let's say a god created the universe. He or she or it made it very big. But it selected a small piece of earth on which to make a special creation, that of man. Then told this creature it could eat this but not that, and if it ate that, then it would die and worse know about good and evil. God didn't want this creature to know about good and evil because? Then the creature screws up, sins, so god has to design a way to bring the creature back to himself, herself, or itself. Their design is that they will send their son who will die for the world and arise from the dead and ascend into heaven. But not for a couple thousand years.

Look, obviously the story is credible. Millions of people believe it, in it, and about it.

But I have decided that if there is a god, he, she, or it is not small minded, not petty, not vengeful for sure, and is infinitely mysterious, mostly because he, she, or it wills it that way--leaving humans and the rest of nature to develop and evolve and progress or not progress according to whatever principles we have to discover.

Christianity has been a brutal, bestial religion, anti-woman, pro-slavery, anti-scientific, murderous. George W. Bush, currently pre-eminent Christian theologian, advocates torture, imprisonment with denial of access to basic rights, suppression of free speech, and the killing of innocent people in the name of freedom, and he lies about these matters.

He also breaks the Ten Commandments while pretending to advocate them, and he pretends not to interfere with one's rights on a religious basis, yet opposes gay marriage and stem research.

Christianity is silly, but more significant it is a powerfully destructive, hurtful religion.

Rockford
Illinois
U.s.a.
Joined: 14
Left: 62
Was: Baptist, Presbyterian, Quaker, Fundamentalist, Evangelical
Now: existentialist, positivist, humanist, non-theist
Converted because: Psychological manipulation of Christian environment
De-converted because: Multitude of influences through my life, culminated by quantum mechanics and astro-physics
email: philipagora at yahoo dot com

7/25/05                                                                                       View Comments

Why I am Agnostic

sent in by Derek

My decision to become agnostic did not happen overnight. It took several years before I came to realize exactly what I believed. I grew up believing Christianity was fact so it took time for me to kill that virus that had infected my mind. I hate to be harsh for those of you who are Christian reading this. But that is what I believe Christianity is: a virus of the mind. My hope is that you will read this article and hopefully it will allow you to question what you believe. I can't imagine anyone would want to believe in something that is not true. You don't believe the moon is made of cheese? or do you? I challenge you to read this article with an open mind. Explore the questions and really stop and think about them. Why do you believe what you believe? Do you know why? I sincerely only want to be where the truth is. If someone can convince me that Christianity, or any other religion is truth, then I want to be there. But unless I have concrete evidence I can't just go on blind faith.

Let me give you a little bit of background. I grew up in a non-traditional Christian Mennonite family. You would not have known we were Mennonite based on our family lifestyle. We dressed and looked like a typical American family. I went to public school, watched most things on TV, played games, had a very fun childhood. At home we said a quick prayer before meals. In public restaurants we did not pray. I guess my parents were ashamed??? We went to church on Sunday mornings. I attended youth activities which did included bible studies as well as fun activities such as ski trips, water parks, etc. That was pretty much it. I never saw my dad read or carry a bible. My mom was more religious than he was but even she really didn't talk much about it. Religion was pretty much in the background for me growing up. On the surface we appeared to be an average American family.

In my teen years I had always assumed Christianity was truth because that's how my parents raised me. Going to church each Sunday I had assumed the stories I learned were fact. The pastors and leaders of the church presented the material as fact. My parents believed it, so why shouldn't I? I had no reason not to believe it as an early youngster learning many new things. The great thing about church was that I didn't need to pay attention all the time. It was like school that didn't have tests. So I didn't really worry or care to much about it. I enjoyed spending time with other friends at church and that was my focus.

In my early twenties I continued to assume Christianity was truth. And in my mid twenties I started to become more serious about it. I never questioned it for the simple reason that my parents had brought me up to believe it. I thought Jesus was just as historically accurate as George Washington is. I never once questioned its validity. SO I continued to attend church and became very religious during my twenties. During that time I wouldn't have considered myself religious. I was just trying to do the best I could at following what I had believed to be God's truth. I prayed to god, memorized scripture, and I was very active in the church.

I didn't question the historical accuracy of Christianity until my early thirties. One Sunday at church our pastor mentioned the fact that the Bible is not in every country in the world. He stressed that we must work hard to present the bible into every country so all could hear Gods word. Up until that point in my life I had assumed that the bible was in every country of the world. I had assumed that every person on this earth had heard about Jesus and was given the chance to accept him or reject him. If you accept it you go to heaven. If you reject it you go to hell as the bible says. But if not every person on earth is given the chance to believe as my pastor indicated, what kind of system is that? It doesn't sound right to me. Instinctively I believe God is a fair God that loves all his Children. Just as we love our own children that we as parents are responsible for. SO damning someone to hell because of life upbringings beyond their control seems absurd to me. This really influenced me to start researching the religion deeper because I was really starting to question its validity.

This started my years of skepticism (in my early 30s) of the validity of Christianity. I stepped aside and assumed everything I learned about Christianity was wrong. I pretended as though I was an alien from another planet coming to earth for the first time. From this perspective I am presented with thousands of religions. So many that it would be impossible to research all of them. Unless I wanted to devote all of my free time to this type of research. But with life as busy as it is, it would still take a lifetime to do that. I did spend a few years researching and it consumed much of my free time. I started to look into various religions to see what they had to say. Not one convinced me they had the truth. I looked into just about every Christian denomination, as well as Mormonism, Jehovah witnesses, Jain, Muslim, Hinduism, Buddhism, Wicca. I went from church to church Sunday after Sunday and I sat and observed the congregations and listened to the sermons. At the end of the sermons I'd go talk to the pastor and would usually sit down in his office to discuss religious beliefs. I had many questions... Not one Pastor could answer my questions without sounding like allot of fluff. Here are my questions and concerns I presented to pastors as well as people in the congregations:

Basically, these are ten reasons/concepts why I'm an ex-Christian...

1) Why do you believe what you believe? The majority of people will give an answer based on their bible. Or they will say its how they were raised. Why do you believe in the bible? Why do you assume your parents are correct in what they have taught you? You have to get to the root of what you believe. What makes the Bible real to you? Most Christians can't answer this other than it was passed down from generation to generation and is a very old book. So what!! Grimm's fairy tales are old. But I don't believe that to be truth. How do you know its truth? Most will say you must have faith. Or even blind faith. That is not good enough for me. I must have evidence. Especially since we are dealing with the supernatural. I should sense some kind of supernatural experience and that is simply not the case. I think people fool themselves into believing they have such an experience. But it is really only a virus of the mind affecting their thought.

2) IF the Bible has not made it into all the countries of this world, that means people are damned to hell for reasons beyond their control. That thought really troubles my mind. The bible says you must come to Jesus in order to make it into heaven. It seems very illogical that God would send millions of people to hell because they never got a chance to hear his word. How can you believe something as horrible as this? Christianity claims to be a supernatural phenomena. IF this is the case, then I think EVERYONE on this planet should have access to it. God in all his infinite powers should give EVERYONE a chance to hear his word. I shouldn't have to search hard for it. It should be as readily available as the morning sun is on a hot summer day. But that is simply not the case. I can't accept the fact that God would send innocent people like this to hell. When I talk to Christians about this concept they say we can't know what God would do in a situation like this. God may in fact save his children if they are not given the chance. However that is NOT what my bible says. The bible clearly indicates you must come to Jesus in order to be granted access to heaven.

3) We as children often follow what our parents teach us out of instinct. I grew up assuming Christianity was truth because that is how I was raised. My neighbor grew up atheist and assumed that as truth because of how she was raised. Our distant neighbors in other countries grew up believing Muslim, Hindu, etc was truth because of how they were raised. Its often difficult to convert someone to your line of thinking (no matter what it is) because of how they were raised. Do you believe in Christianity because that is how you were raised? Or did you really think about its origins and how it came to be. If Christianity is 100% truth as it claims to be, is it fair to be raised in a family that does not teach it? Which means the chances of a Hindu or Muslim converting to Christianity is slim to none. Is that fair? Not at all!!! And you can't blame the people that were raised outside of Christianity. Yet that is what happens because the bible says these people will burn in hell. It doesn't matter how good you are. If you do not come to Jesus and accept him as your savior, you will burn in hell according to the bible. So according to Christianity, my good friend that believes in the religion called Jain is going to hell. Even though he is a moral individual and believes 100% in his religion because that is what he was raised to believe.

4) Why are there so many Christian denominations? If the bible is perfect as it claims, then we should not have any mis-enterpretations. But as you know, that's why we have different denominations. Because one group interprets various scriptures differently than another. IT seems to me that if we have a perfect book as it claims to be, there should be only ONE denomination called Christianity and that's it. Or God in his magnificent power should set it right and tear down the walls of uncertainty! I can understand the Christian concept that God has given us free will, so we can make our own decisions and lead our own lives in order to accept or reject Christianity. And if this is a true concept, then I would expect the religion itself, and the people that organize and lead it to have unity. Otherwise there is much confusion about which church to attend as a new comer. What is Baptist? What is Mennonite? What is Methodist? Why not just ALL CHRISTIAN!! That would make more sense. But seeing there is so much confusion amongst the believers makes me question the validity of the religion itself. And I've discussed with many non-Christians raised atheist or agnostic and they are so confused looking at all of it they don't even want to think about attending. To them it looks as bad as a satanic church does to a Christian. A Christian wouldn't step foot into a satanic church. Neither does a non-Christian want to step foot into a Christian church. Both are appalling to the individual. Its all a matter of perspective.

5) The bible talks about the Holy Spirit which Christians pray and communicate to. Even during my religious years it always bothered me that prayer always seemed so one sided. I would pray to God, but not hear words back to me like when speaking in a normal conversation to someone. How do you hear God when you pray? Most Christians say you must quiet your mind and listen. Well sure I can do that, and I did. I would claim I heard revelations from God as a Christian. But now I know I was only fooling myself when I did that. Watch the movie "Saved" and you'll see how God can speak to you. Christians will say you can tell what your hearing is from God if it lines up with scripture. This just seems like a bunch of b.s. to me. If I'm really speaking to God in the supernatural, then I think I should see a vision or really hear him with an auditory voice. NOT have to interpret the words that are in my own mind to see if it lines up with the bible or not. Which bible should I pick? The book of Mormon? holy bible? It just doesn't make sense.

6) Along with prayer is the Christian concept of speaking in tongues. Many Christians don't believe in tongues anymore. Yet many do. Its in the bible so why shouldn't it exist if the bible is real? The bible doesn't claim these have ceased to exist. Yet that's what many people will say. If you attend a church that speaks in tongues its very interesting. As a dedicated Christian, I wanted desperately to be able to speak in tongues. I prayed many many times for this to happen to me. But it never did. I talked to many religious people about it and they said it was a gift that God would give you if he thinks you should have it. One religious friend claimed he received the gift from God. He said he just started babbling and that was all it took. So was this man really speaking another language aka tongues? Or was he just babbling nonsense. In the bible, it claims they had interpreters there to help people understand what was said. I don't see this in churches today that speak tongues. Perhaps that is why other churches don't believe in it or practice it. So how can one church believe in it and not another church? Either you're given the gift or your not from my understanding when I read the bible. Or perhaps the reality is that these are just fictional stories in the Bible and it never happened to begin with. That's why churches that don't believe in it don't want to mess with it. Because they know they don't have people with the gift to interpret tongues. Because its all made up and is fictional stories.

7) I had another interesting religious experience that goes along with the concept of speaking in tongues. At one church I visited, the people were walking up to the front of the church and the pastor would touch each person and they would miracucly fall to the floor passing out. They had someone catching the individual so they would not fall on their head. But the pastor claimed it was God touching them and they would then have a supernatural experience from this event occurring. I was a visitor that Sunday but I wanted desperately for that experience to happen to me. So I prayed to god with an open mind and walked up to the front of the church. The pastor touched me but nothing happened. He whispered in my ear for me to just fall back. So I did. But I had expected a supernatural experience to occur and it was nothing more than a load of b.s. This experience didn't cause me to step away from Christianity. But as I look back on the experience I can add it to my list of stuff that just doesn't make sense. Looking back on this event if this was a true supernatural experience I would have expected to have passed out without needing a pastor to whisper the words "just fall back" to me. I saw a similar thing on TV where they had what was called laughter of the holy spirit. The entire church was laughing in hysteria as the pastor touched them. It looked to me like the same kind of b.s.

8) There are MANY contradictions found in the bible. Just go to this site and see as many as you want: http://www.skepticsannotatedbible.com/index.html Do you know how the bible came to be? I didn't just appear out of the sky from God. It is actually 66 books joined into one, written by many authors which claim they were divinely inspired by God. And then, a vote was taken to determine which books would make up the bible. The books that didn't make it are called the apocrypha which the Catholics believe. How do we know the men that wrote this bible were divinely inspired? Could they have been as divinely inspired as I was when I was religious?? They didn't have a bible to line up their thoughts with. So as a result they got direct revelations? It doesn't make sense that they did, and now we don't! It seems to me this could all be made up. The stories of the bible could very easily have been made up and not divinely inspired. Why not? That idea seems to be more of a reality than it being divinely inspired. Otherwise there would not be so many contradictions.

9) As we get towards the end of my list you must be wondering what is my core belief? I would call myself an agnostic. I look around me and I think its highly possible that the world and the universe were created by some higher power. The diversity of life is a big visual that is obvious. All the different animals, vegetations, people etc. I am uncertain if evolution is how we originated from. But I can accept the theory. And its possible God created and used evolution to create our world. The fact is I just don't know. That is why they call it the "theory of creation" and the "theory of evolution". They are NOT fact! But I do believe in God. I don't necessarily believe in the Christian God. But I believe in a higher power. I still pray to God and ask this higher power to reveal himself to me if it should be found in a particular religion. But I have yet to have that answered. I've finally reached the point in my life where I am finally content in what I believe. I still believe in many of the concepts of the bible. Such as thou shall not steal, lie, etc. Other concepts I may not believe in. For instance living with someone before you are married. I believe marriage is a good thing. But I believe I can love my partner in life and not have to be married to her in order to share a building together. If I'm committed in my soul to her, marriage can wait. I bring this up because many Christians think I'm living in sin because of my current roommate. I am not living in sin because I don't believe the bible is truth to begin with. But I believe I love my partner and I respect her and we can share a life together as a married couple or as a non-married couple. Sharing the same building is irrelevant.

10) If the Christian people themselves are supernaturally inspired by God, then why don't they know about my lack of faith until I bring it up. I lived for along time (in the closet) about my agnostics beliefs. Yet no one knew this. Why didn't God tell them? Even as I have now come out of the closet people don't know. The last church I attended was a very large church which I became a member of. The pastor never contacted me after I left. Probably because he has no clue that I left. Other Christian friends contacted me after I left. But the conversations always turned to, "you need to get back into church brother". It always seemed so fake. My real friends are my friends not because I'm a Christian, but because they accept me for who I am. A person shouldn't judge you because of what you believe. This has deeply hurt me. Leaving the church has only left me with memories of what I thought were friends and a good life. But the reality is they didn't care nor do they care after my deconversion. That is a big turn off. If Christianity is real and if God speaks to his children, something supernatural should have occurred and it didn't.

That is basically it! If I am to believe in something that claims to be 100% truth then it better be perfect and make complete sense. God should appear as a vision in the sky for everyone to see. I have prayed countless times for God to appear to me and really speak to me and help me find the truth. But I hear nothing when I do this. This makes me question everything. But I've come to the point in my life where I'm done questioning and trying to figure out what is truth. I believe we don't have the answers and we never will. The only thing we can do is live our lives the best we can. I try to love my neighbors as best as I can and to be there for the ones I love. If God is really found in a particular religion somewhere, I believe he will reveal it to my heart. Because it is my complete desire to be where God is. And from my conclusions, God is not found in religion. I can only hope he hears me when I talk to him in my mind every now and then.

To close, I want to share with you a quote that sums up what I believe.....

Cultivate and trust your own genius. You are
it. Everyone else's genius is just as precious.
Act accordingly. If what you are taught makes
no sense, you are beginning to learn. Be
suspicious of whatever society says you must
do. The social order is necessary, but often
not in your best interests. Follow your nose
wherever it may lead. Use your eyes, ears,
mind and heart well. They are all you have.

--- Philip Mitchel Hatfield.
1939 - 2001


Trenton
OH
USA
Joined: 12
Left: 30
Was: Mennonite, Baptist
Now: Agnostic
Converted because: My parents raised me to believe it
De-converted because: skeptic of roots
email: cincyunixguy at yahoo dot com

7/24/05                                                                                       View Comments

Christianity breeds Confusion.....

sent in by Marie Murdock

Ok where do I begin?

I grew up in an abusive environment, which led to many emotional/mental scars....As a teenager I dabbled in drugs/alcohol/sex...and because of my past, I knew I needed to learn to cope in a healthier manner. I started going to church when I was 15 because my Mom, had gotten "saved", and was told that God was the only thing to save anyone from drugs/alcohol and self destructive behaviours. Of course being so young and wanting to "still serve my flesh", I continued to as most teenagers, and kept in the partying mode. When I met my husband...his Dad, a "christian" started taking us to church and we were told "we had to get married" because we were having sex...so 3 months later (age 19) we were married in a ceremony I had nothing to do with, accept show up~! The church made all the arrangements and I just needed to be there! (WE were "offending" ppl, by our lifestyle of sexual sin, and that is why we had to get married.)

Well needless to say...we made a big mistake...Our marriage lasted 7 years and 3 children.

All thru my adult life, I have tried to stay faithful to a church, which at times has been impossible....Iam either "demon possessed, living in bondage, under generational curses, or not having enough faith!"....UGGHHHHHHHH
When I have questioned certain doctrines or asked "why" regarding scriptures and the contradictions.....NO one can give me a straight answer, or Iam told the "devil" is filling my mind.

So I have had enough of the condemnation, judgement, and criticism from those who continue to strive for some sort of perfection in the eyes of a God, I have never head from.....

I still stuggle with the condemnation and voices of criticism, but today Iam trying very hard to use my own mind and listen to the voice of reason.....mine.......
Tired of churches telling me how to think.....Tired of so called righteous ppl pointing and condemning me, yet countless are stuck in porn, and adultry.

Need to find myself, apart from the doctrines of men/churches.

Winnipeg
Manitoba
Canada
Joined: 18
Left: Now
Was: Catholic/Pentecostal/Non-Denominational
Now: Confused
Converted because: I was told "I was lost" and "needed saving"
De-converted because: Needed answers and peace
email: marie_murdock2000 at yahoo dot com

7/23/05                                                                                       View Comments

This one's rather angsty. :P

sent in by Becca

I grew up in a marginally Catholic family, and became extremely devout at a young age, turning to God and Jesus in an attempt to cope with abuse from my psychotic mother. I'm an intelligent, discerning individual, and so remaining faithful was a tremendous struggle because so much of Christianity just plain does not make sense. But at the time, I saw God as my only hope for any real love and support. Silly me.

You don't want to know how many nights I spent crying into my pillow and begging for help, comfort or at least acknowledgment from God. I finally broke down and told my confessor that I was being abused. But instead of calling CPS or something sane, he just told me to pray harder. You can guess how well that worked.

I decided that maybe Catholicism itself was the problem, and went looking for God in various other denominations. I sat through Lutheran services, talked to some of the Campus Crusade for Christ folks, studied the Bible on my own, and then made a huge mistake--I agreed to study with a Jehovah's Witness friend.

My experience with them was alarming and abusive. They took Christianity's basic problems and amplified them by making their religion into a full-fledged cult. The damage to my self-esteem was very severe, and I found myself stalked for a while when I left.

I tried being independently Christian, but I couldn't get around God's silence, the craziness of his fan club or all the contradictions in Ye Olde Holye Booke. I gave up in college, and started studying Paganism. I've never done anything better for my self-esteem or peace of mind.

SF Bay Area
California
USA
joined: Born into it
left: 23
was: Catholic, Lutheran, former target of the Jehovah's Witnesses
now: Seeker, marginally Pagan, still recovering
converted because: I was baptized Catholic and raised in the faith.
de-converted because: God never answers prayers, the Bible is unintelligible and most Christians practice hatred more than love.
email: writerhelp at yahoo dot com

7/21/05                                                                                       View Comments

No intellectual reasons here

sent in by Sandra G

A friend of mine posted here a while back and suggested that I do the same. From reading a lot of the testimonies it seems that people generally abandoned their beliefs for intellectual reasons. I think most religious people have questions or some doubts about their beliefs but most don't abandon their religions outright. The doubts co-exist with the desire to believe. I think leaving your faith usually takes more than doubts. I think there have to be other factors or events involved.

I'll explain my situation. My mother died when I was 11. People at our church really reached out to us. My father and I always got dinner invitations on Sundays (no close family lived nearby) and church members offered to care for me after school when my Dad was working. However, something just didn't seem right to me.

My best friend at that time was from an athiestic family. Of course, Dad didn't know that. My friend's mother was such a help to me during the difficult teenage years. Although those years are hard for everyone they're a little more difficult for a young woman being raised by a single, somewhat, puritanical father.

Anyway, I said something just did seem right to me when it came to the help offered by church members. They never seemed truly genuine to me and they were just a little too sickly sweet for my liking. I just never felt good when I was around them. I felt like a burden. It took a while for me to realise it but the main reason people were so nice was because they wanted to earn capital in their quest to get to heaven.

My friend's mother helped me not because she was trying to get to heaven, but because she genuinely cared. And I really felt her care and concern, like I was her second daughter. I have been completely turned off religion as a result. Doing good to others to gain heaven/avoid hell is really a form of exploitation. You are simply using others to get something for yourself. When I'm around nonbelievers or nonreligious people at least I can always know they are doing the right things for the right reason, and that I'm not some pawn in a quest to gain eternal life in heaven.

So, my reasons aren't intellectual. They're really based on feelings.

Mission Viejo
CA
USA

7/16/05                                                                                       View Comments

I was so convinced and now life is to be completely overhauled

sent in by sightedone

I posted here a while back but didn’t really tell my story. I feel like the time has come for me to really put my thoughts and experience in writing for my own growth.

I grew up in what seems to me to be a pretty classical evangelical family. I spent the first 20 years of my life in the “Covenant” denomination and then from college on tried several other churches. I went to bible camp every summer for years, was a model youth groupie and went on two different month long mission trips to south America by the time I was a freshman in college. I went to a Christian college where I received a degree in psychology, and got married with one of my professors giving the message at my wedding. Not long after marrying, my wife and I went into the mission field for a half year in a third world country. For the next 10 years I refined my beliefs and got to the point where it was really all making sense to me. However, whenever I was really honest with myself and admitted I had doubts I would hit a wave a depression that sent me reeling deeper into radical obsession and, as I call it, my “Jesus drama.”

My wife and I moved across the country to go to a “Ministry School” that was part of a local church. Even at this point in my journey, I can still look at this church and honestly say that the theology and practices (though still fundamentalist and evangelical) were very different than anything I had ever heard of. The main thrusts of their efforts are on grace and peace and teaching people that God has already provided everything, literally everything, that he has to give and that it is Jesus’ faith that got us what we need, not our faith. So, we don’t get God to do things, we just open up to letting him do things. God wants what we want, he doesn’t force his will on us and he works with our desires to do his will. Its all a lot more complex than that, but what I intend to say is that after all my years of searching scripture, discussing deep theological issues and experiencing a huge variety of Christian environments, this one really worked for me.

But I was still plagued with guilt over my ongoing “sin” of lust (which I poured into pornography). My wife is an absolutely amazing woman, but I was so controlling, self-absorbed and egocentric that I just used her to meet my emotional and “needs” and fit her in my objectified view of women. I was very subtle in my control however. In the midst of it all, I have still always had a very sensitive side, and it was easy to come across to everyone as such a loving, “saved” man.

Well, she had enough. She kicked me out of the house saying that I needed to decide what I wanted (eventually I was very thankful for this move – it taught me a lot and I am even more proud of her). I was of course devastated and confused. On top of it all, I had two beautiful boys whom I missed terribly and felt I had failed them and could never make it up to them.

While I was on my own decided what I wanted first of all was Jesus, and second that I just wanted to “be.” Some of you out there may know what I mean. I wanted to drop all the things I was expecting myself to do, be it to get closer to God, to get my life in order, to make more money, to meditate more, etc. I just wanted to be. I wanted to be me and just live, without all these extra demands. I expressed this sentiment in a men’s group that I had been attending and the leader looked at me blankly for a moment and then said, “You mean you want to labor into rest, right.” I think there was a turning point there. Of course, I just tacitly agreed with him, but inside I was thinking that this really wasn’t what I meant. I began telling myself that all the extra stuff I was doing to get closer to God and to myself was not helping and that I needed to just live and let God affect me.

Well, eventually he did, only when he did, he wasn’t a he, he was a she. I read a book my wife had received called “Dance of the Dissident Daughter.” This book is about the male dominated church and society as well and about one woman’s own personal journey away from Christianity and toward her own spiritual beliefs. I began to notice essentially how arrogant Christianity is in nearly all of its beliefs and practices (no matter how much they vary from one person or church to the next) and I began to open up to ideas outside of my usual proverbial “box.” Primarily at this point my main idea was that, according to the Bible, God created man in God’s image, and made them male and female. So, I didn’t figure there was any harm in calling God she. So, I began to pray to her. I even prayed to mother God when I was praying with my son. He is at such an impressionable age that he didn’t think any thing of it. Just the act of praying to mother, drew my attention to all of the other possibilities if I would allow myself to learn from new sources outside of the Bible and Christians.

So, I began to read and watch many other things(by Echart Tolle, Oriah Mountain Dreamer, Don Miguel Ruiz, Neale Donald Walsh, Amit Goswami, Joseph Campbell, Movie: “What the Bleep Do We Know”), and my wife read most of the same things and came to many of the same conclusions. It has taken probably a year and a half or so for me to fully let go of my attachment to the title “Christian,” and, to let go of the major fears (going to hell, being made an outcast, losing all of my friends, upsetting my family, etc.). I still lean toward some sort of spirituality, but I am not attached to any particular belief system. I am just learning, exploring, and living. I love it. I am so open and receptive to so many things. Life is so big and rich and I am slowly letting go of my restricting, mostly unconscious beliefs about myself, God, life, everything. I would say at this point that my spiritual ideas tend toward what Amit Goswami terms “monistic idealism,” which is that the universe is one consciousness. There is one energy, one existence, etc. Of course, this echoes the underlying principles of many religions and philosophies, but it seems to fit very nicely with the developments of science over this last century as well (namely quantum physics). I also have to say about it that the terms spirituality, God, religion, etc. don’t fit this idea really at all. The whole point is that “spirituality” is really just about living life and living it in a very conscious manner; experiencing it fully and directly (such as is taught by the Zen Buddhists).

My wife and I have slightly different views on all of this. But, in fact we are closer in belief and experience than we ever have been before. We have both participated in some self-awareness programs that have opened our eyes even further to stop judging the world and ourselves and to stop trying to figure it all out. My marriage is absolutely phenomenal now and we are in sync. We flow together in life in ways I never would have dreamed of (largely because of our old rigid beliefs).

Now the big challenge is what to do with my son. All of this certainly doesn’t matter to my youngest, but my seven year old still goes to “children’s church” at the church I mentioned. I am very much not happy about this, but I am in the process of talking to him about how his mom and I don’t agree now with most of what they teach there and that if he wants to keep going I want to talk to him every time about what they learn and how he can use the information but be very discerning about the specifics. I am astonished by my son’s ability to understand some extremely deep concepts, and so I think this is possible and have hope that eventually he won’t want to keep going either. However, if he continues I am beginning to see that I will still be okay and that I don’t have to force my beliefs on him anymore than I wanted my parents to force their beliefs on me. On this whole thing I am very torn, but my wife and I have been talking about it a lot lately and are together on it, so I am fairly confident that we will work it out for him.

There is so much more I would like to say, because life just isn’t that simple. Also, there are many other experiences I have had that others would maybe identify with and learn from, just as I have learned from all of you. But I will be satisfied with this, and hope that I can contribute to someone out there as you all of contributed to me.

male
Joined: 5 or 6
Left: 33
Was: Evangelical, non-denominational
Now: Spiritual and open-minded
Converted: It was the only thing that made sense
De-converted: It didn't make any sense
email: dejteach at juno dot com

Waking Up

sent in by Lord Hades

I wouldn't necessarily call it a crisis of faith, but lately I have found the resolve and courage to confront a very disturbing, yet liberating, issue within myself that I have carefully ignored and avoided over the last few years: namely, that I am not so certain, anymore, if I actually believe God exists, at least not in the ways that I have always been taught that He does.

The older I get, the less I find evidence that God exists in the ways that I have been taught to believe. It's an age-old circular argument that I have refused to answer, truly, because of what that answer would do to my perception of reality: if God exists, and He truly loves each and every one of us without prejudice or judgment, then why does He allow such horrible things to happen in our world? I understand the reality of war: people get killed by other people, even civilians. Even ants have wars. But when I read about the Holocaust, and the systematic rape of thousands of women and girls in the Sudan, and the torture and execution of countless Muslims by Croatian soldiers, it becomes harder and harder to make excuses for a God that is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent.

If I understand correctly, God has power over everything in the entire universe, from the subatomic particles that comprise my body to the path comets travel as they plunge through the cosmos. So we start with an all-powerful being that is, reportedly, perfect and unerring and Good in ways that we could never understand; He is the embodiment of all Light, Love, and Justice in not only our world, but in every other world throughout all of Creation. If that is the truth, then why does He need us to worship Him? Why do we have to have faith for Him to move mountains? Why do we even figure into the equation of power? We often anthropomorphize God and claim that He desires companionship, that He desires our love and respect, and that He is like any other Father and just wants his wayward children to behave. Am I to really believe that a being capable of building an entire universe in a few days actually needs or even wants emotional gratifications that even animals are not bound by? In so many ways, this notion seems absurd. Isn't t it more realistic, when we think of our own evolution and development, that a being with such divine power would be beyond the need for emotional rewards such as love, affection, and obedience? The ancient Greeks and Romans told stories about gods and goddesses who behaved in the same ways: they demanded our respect, compliance, worship, servitude, and even lives. How does God, in the Christian sense of the word, compare to these pagan deities? It becomes more and more difficult for me to believe that such a divine being would really care whether or not I prayed to Him: to my mind, that would be like me expecting a molecule to worship me, and then becoming angry when it didn't t.

So we have a divine being capable of creating a universe for no other reason, truly, than to glorify Himself. Let s start with that. Now let s add human emotions and motivations to this being: according to the Bible and to Christianity, God is jealous (isn't t that also a sin?), vengeful (another sin?), and swift to anger (yet another sin?). He loves us (human emotion?), wants us to worship Him (isn't t this connected to Ego?), and will punish us if we commit sins (although His son already died for all of our sins, meaning that we have limitless credit). So now we have a divine being with total power, human emotions, and an Ego. Finally, let s add the problem: evil.
I have spent hours asking Christians questions that they couldn't t answer and it s been frightening to watch their eyes gloss over and their mouth twitch as they very conveniently explained: We don t have all the answers, but we have faith. You just have to believe! But then I argue: I do believe, and that s the problem! I believe that God is so powerful He could could've stopped that little girl from being raped and molested by her father! I believe that God is so great He could have saved a few million Jews from being systematically butchered! I believe that God is so perfect that He can erase evil from the universe with nothing but a murmur of His divine power, taking it from our flesh and spirit like a passing smoke, and leaving us purified without having to live an entire life of suffering and confusion! Yes, I believe, but where is God in all of this? Of course, when I ask this, Christians simply respond with a glazed look, a few quotes from the Bible, and a condescending shake of the head. Ask God, they say, Read your Bible! they say. I find it amazing that a Republican can answer almost every difficult question posed to him or her about President Bush and his failed War on Terror, and that a gay man can argue, with intelligence and evidence, that his sexual preference is biologically inherited and as natural as heterosexuality, but that I have yet to meet a Christian who can offer any sort of intelligent argument for their faith or their dogma. And, believe me, I don t think that people should be forced to argue over their beliefs or their faith, except when that system of belief is used to judge and segregate the entire world. So a Christian will tell me that I am living in sin because I am having sex with my fiancé before marriage. I ask her, Why? She responds: Because God says it s a sin. It s not taking place within the sacred bounds of marriage. So I say, Does it count that I love her? She says, No! Love isn't t enough! You have to be married! So I go away and get married by a Buddhist monk in Tibet, then come back and say, Okay, now I m married and we are having sex. Is that OK? She says: No! Buddhism is not Christianity! It s a pagan religion and closer to secular humanism and spiritualism than anything else! You are still committing a sin because now you are worshiping false gods! Buddha is not God! So then I say, But am I married? Can we have sex without it being a sin? And so it goes on and on until one of two things happen: either the Christian will glaze over and start quoting scriptures to me without any intelligent discourse on why pre-marital sex is actually sinful, or why Buddha couldn't t validate our marriage (I suppose love is only real if it s ordained by a Christian?).

But, I am getting off track, here. My point is this, and it s really simple: If there is a God that is all powerful and all-knowing, then He either decides to ignore the suffering of innocents or He simply is powerless to affect it. Either way, it means that I need to redefine my relationship to this God and how much of my life I am willing to trust in His hands. If God can t (or worse: won t) stop a little girl from being gang-raped in the Sudan and then bludgeoned to death by soldiers, how in the hell am I supposed to believe that He is going to stop my own son from being hit by a car or mauled by a pit bull or accidentally shot while he walks down the street? This has been the scariest thing for me: admitting that God does not protect us, maybe can t protect us, and that every day, every hour, we keep living is simply because of the choices we make in our lives, informed or uninformed, wise or foolish. I have reached the point where I believe there is too much suffering and evil in the world for me to keep praising a divine being that chooses to do nothing to address these evils. Children are molested, women raped, boys tortured, entire communities burned to the ground, nations gripped by poverty and famine, the poor oppressed, the weak abused and exploited, and all while God stares on: all-knowing, all-seeing, and all-powerful.

In the end what shames me the most is realizing how many people, including myself, have used the mythology of God to validate their inaction and apathy. People hide behind God and blame Him for their own selfishness. I don t see armies of Christians sweeping through the Sudan, bringing relief and justice to the oppressed; I don t see churches donating thousands to alleviate hunger or poverty; I don t see Christians working to bring child molesters and rapists to justice. What I do see is a very convenient excuse for being self-absorbed: after all, if God is going to take care of everything, why worry about your neighbor?

My main issue is that, if there is a God, and He is all powerful, there is no reason, no hidden wisdom, and no mysterious truth behind the simple, brutal fact of human suffering and its seemingly endless cycles. Some of make choices to suffer because we are foolish, or selfish, or ignorant. But children? Do they truly choose to be abducted, raped, molested, tortured, and killed? Can a God that is filled with love, justice, and Light truly turn away from a single, screaming, bleeding child and still be trusted? What if it were my child? What if it were yours?

So, moving forward and facing my fears, my questions, I am redefining the ways in which I believe in God. There IS a Power in the Universe, but I am not so sure that I believe it s the God of Abraham that I was taught about.

Male
Philadelphia
PA
USA
Joined: I was born into it.
Left: I'm not sure that I have actually ceased - but I am wavering.
Was: Christian
Now: Spiritualist, Mystic, Pagan
Converted: Again, I was born into it.
De-converted: We have to act if we want to live in a different world
email: hades3030 at yahoo dot com

That Nagging Feeling

sent in by John Murray

My time in christianity was relatively short and my conversion and deconversion alike were nothing out of the ordinary so I won't bore you with the details.

Although I think that a lot in Christianity sucks big time, I must admit that even after all these years of deconversion I still get that nagging feeling:- what if I find out when I die that I'm wrong? I just haven't been able to make the confident break that many writers on this site have done.

I am often criticised for sitting on the fence, but there again it is easy to go from the extreme of being a closed minded fundamentalist to an equally closed minded non-believer. Both to my mind are equally guilty of having made up their minds and now look for evidence that backs up their beliefs while dismissing any that contradicts it.

Despite having read stuff by once highly dedicated former believers such as Dan Barker, Farrell Till, Charles Templeton etc, there is some of the evidence does seem to be in favour of the Christian arguments. For instance St Paul wrote several of his epistles within 20 years of Christ's supposed resurrection; he even writes of his change from christian persecutor to Christian in one of them.

My Christian friend, Phil, has a story that I find difficult to explain away easily. (For all his faults, Phil is an honest man). When Phil was studying at university he, in common with many students, was short of money. One month Phil was sure that God wanted him to attend a Christian conference (OK so far you're thinking typical fundie delusions). However he didn't have the money. He didn't tell anybody about the situation but prayed about the matter for several weeks and got no answer. Yet Phil was still sure that God wanted him to attend this conference and continued praying. Two days before the deadline for registration, he found an unmarked envelope underneath the door of his room at the university halls of residence with exactly the right amount of cash. He told everybody he knew about the incident (Christian and non-Christian alike) but nobody claimed responsibility for the action. This story seems just too much of a co-incidence to be able to explain away easily. The thought of a sranger putting cash through somebody's door is quite incredible, even more so in a university setting.

This story has been bugging me for some time, but if anybody has a simple explanation, I would be glad to hear it.

I do not want to hear from:-
a) Non-believers who wish to hurl mindless abuse at information that possibly contradicts their beliefs
b) Believers who want to sell Christianity- I've heard all your arguments to death.

I know that this story goes against the grain somewhat on your ex-Christian site, but I'm sure you wish to hear all sides of the story. You never know,you might move a persistent but uncomfortable fence sitter to being a more comfortable unbeliever.

Thanks for a great site.
John A

UK
How old were you when you became a christian? 16
How old were you when you ceased being a christian? 18
What churches or organizations or labels have applied to you? Evangelical / Navigators
What labels, if any, would you apply to yourself now? Uncomfortable yet dogged fence sitter
Why did you become a christian? Fire Insurance Against Hell
Why did you de-convert? Serious doubts about factuality of Christianity

The day I learned reality

sent in by Dennis

I guess you can say I am an ex-Christian. I used to believe all that crapola like jesus loves you and so on. But then one day I discovered all this religious crap is a load of bull. If God/Jesus/Allah/Great Zabbadabba or whatever we're calling him this week really gave a crap about us why is there so much suffering in the world? Don't give me that line of crap about free will and all that. If God gave a rat's ass about people he'd get off his ass and prevent shit like September 11th himself.

What else served to finally wake me up to the bullshit Christianity really is, Is when my mom who was a Christian all her life died of cancer at the age of 52. She was a very good human being and actually cared about her neighbors,family,friends etc. unlike some jackass actor, musician,or athlete who's only concern is what color Beemer to buy this week.

I got really tired of watching football games and listening to some brain dead jock prattle on and on about how God wanted him to win that game and they got a miracle all the while my mother lied sick in her hospital bed. I know perfectly well I'm not the only one in the world that has happened to which is what makes it all the more depressing. If God cared about us and wanted to help us. wouldn't he be more concerned with helping doctors find cures for cancer, AIDS,etc. than helping some imbicile run a ball all the way to the opposite end of a field?

I remember when I was in a youth group for about a week some guy was telling me why God sometimes doesn't answer your prayers is because he doesn't beleive it's what's right for you. What my mom being dead is good for us? Having to pay a buttload of medical bills and hoping her life insurance will pay off is right for us? Being unemployed is good too huh?

It also seems to me there's just too much of a club mentality about religion. Every religion tries to tell you why there way of life is better than the other religion and how you're going to hell if you don't join there church/cult.

All this shit combined finally sank into my head and I finally realized that maybe why God doesn't answer your prayers or help you when you're in trouble is because God doesn't exist.

City: a boring redneck shithole where cows are more common than teeth or brains
State: PA
How old were you when you became a christian? born into it
How old were you when you ceased being a christian? 26
What churches or organizations or labels have applied to you? I never really went to church but we still considered ourselves christian
What labels, if any, would you apply to yourself now? Non-religious
Why did you become a christian? As I said I was born into it
Why did you de-convert? Because one day reality finally sunk into my head.

7/13/05                                                                                       View Comments

My boring catholic story

sent in by Rich

Ok where to start on my incredible boring journey?? Hmm lets see.. Born into a very strict catholic family on Long Island, NY.. Started first grade in 1968. Wow those Nuns with the horrible outfits and the 12 in rulers… Scary! I remember once I was yelled at by Sister Margaret Joseph the principal of my grammar school for running in the hallways.. WTF was that about? I was punished by being made to walk up and down the hallway and up and down the stairs in the school for an hour while others were in class.. I thought that was cool because I’d rather be walking the halls then be in class learnin’ bout jeebus…

Well in fourth grade there was Sister “ Butch dyke” or whatever the hell her name was.. One day we were in English class and my friend Michael was caught whispering in class.. She walked back to his desk, grabbed him by the hair and dragged him up to the front of the classroom and smashed his head against the blackboard! There was blood everywhere. I ran down to Sister Margaret bull dyke’s office and told her what happened. I don’t remember what happened after that but I know that the police showed up with the ambulance. Michael’s parents actually pressed charges against the nun and she actually spent time in jail!! I thought that was awesome!!

It was all-abuzz within the Parish after that and at mass the priests said we should pray for sister butch dyke. I remember saying to my parents “shouldn’t we be “praying for Michael and his family??? I couldn’t believe what these priests were saying!!

Yes my parents actually agree with me but they won’t say anything because they are very involved with their church to this day 30 years later. I was the rebel of the family and I was only 10 years old! (My parents probably knew then that I would be a “problem”)

That was the end for me. Why would god want us to pray for an abuser???

Then came “upper school” 5th grade across the street at the same school. We were taught that we were about to become “young Christian adults” because we were moving into the 5th grade! I really didn’t care at that point and I usually tuned out during religion class at this time. I did excel though in my other classes but was not a stellar “catholic because I questioned the catholic teachings all the time..

Ok now comes the juicy part… “Upper school” had Franciscan brothers teaching… Oh my dog…….. Brother Harold!. He was probably about 35 at the time. He had a big mustache, wore aviator glasses and smoked a cigar!!! I was in heaven… (Pun intended) This man was so freaking hot every time I saw him I’d get a woody… (Oh yeah, by the way if you haven’t figured it out, I’m a big ole hell bound homosexual) I had the biggest crush on this guy.. I would do everything possible to be around him. Ok where the hell am I going with this?? LOL

I continued through high school at another catholic school and then on to college.. Yeah that was Catholic too!! I never bought the whole god- jesus thing but did it to appease my parents.

I didn’t come out of the closet until I was 28 for fear that there would be repercussions.. but incredibly there weren’t! Everyone in my life was supportive of me especially my parents!

So you’re asking yourselves (If you’ve made it this far) what the hell does this have to do with leaving Christianity? Well being gay has made me realize that I am what I am and damn proud of it! I believe that the catholic church is one of the biggest money sucking cults in the world. While I’d like to believe there is some higher power then us; I KNOW it is not the jeebus of the babble…

I have a lot more funny/stories about being raised in the catholic faith and I will share some of them with all my new found friends on this site.

I do have to credit my parents for being the most incredible people in the world. Though they are devout catholic’s they don’t agree with everything the church teaches. I am proof of that..

St Petersburg
Fl
USA
How old were you when you became a christian? born into the catholic cult
How old were you when you ceased being a christian? 17
What churches or organizations or labels have applied to you? Cathy-lic
What labels, if any, would you apply to yourself now? Gay and happy
Why did you become a christian? No choice
Why did you de-convert? Im educated and have a brain!
email: rpstpa at netzero dot com

7/11/05                                                                                       View Comments

My transition from belief to doubt

sent in by UberKuh

My transition from belief to doubt encompasses a long, arduous journey, but I can summarize it as follows. The Bible states in verses like Proverbs 8:17 and Jeremiah 29:13 that God wants us to learn more about Him and that, when we do, He will reveal His presence to us. These verses inspired me. I understood them as statements of a single promise, not a potential. In other words, I understood that I could count on the fact that, every time I looked for God, He would find me.

These verses initially inspired me, but they later confused me. The deeper I searched, the harder it became to believe that the Bible would fulfill its promise. No one seemed to be able to answer most of my questions and, given that I continued to ask questions when others were answered, the net result was that nothing added up. This became unbearable.

I could cite a number of problems that overwhelmed me, but one stands out because of its prevalence in theological debate. This is the problem of evil. I could not account for God's allowance of, or responsibility for, evil and suffering in the world. Consider the recent tsunami that killed over 250,000 people. These people died horribly by drowning and other effects of this disaster. Why would God allow or, worse, cause this? The Bible contains several stories in which God punished one or more people for their sins. The story of Noah's ark is one. The story of Sodom and Gomorrah is another. In the first, God drowned virtually all of His creation because He had grown tired of their continual wickedness. In the second, God explicitly told Moses that he did not care about the innocent, only about the ratio of innocent to guilty, and that he would destroy everyone if Abraham could not prove that a certain number of people were righteous. Abraham failed to do this, so God burned alive the entire populations of two cities. In both stories, God saved one small family, but killed multitudes.

In Romans 3:10-12, it states that no one is righteous before God. Psalms 14:3, Psalms 53:3, and Ecclesiastes 7:20 support this. God gave Moses an impossible test.

Moreover, the Bible states throughout that God is perfectly good. How can this be true if He indiscriminately and brutally takes lives? Why should babies and animals suffer for the sins of rapists and prostitutes? The Bible states that Jesus carried the weight of our sins for us, and that only he could, which means that not only do I not have to be punished for my sins, but that I also certainly do not have to be punished for the sins of other people.

As I mentioned, the problem of evil represents one of a host of questions that plagued me over the course of several years. All of these questions, however different, point to one inescapable conclusion, namely, that God cannot exist. I fought this conclusion repeatedly. I hated that my struggle to know God had led me to His absence. My struggle falls under two categories, the pursuit of truth and the denial of it. Under the first, my relationship to Christianity was supremely satisfying. Under the second, it was torturous. I cannot describe the pleasures and pains I experienced because of this religion.

Religion continues to pervade my thoughts and I continue to study Christianity as well as other religions. I study religion religiously, you might say, although, I am relieved to finally admit that I am no longer religious. I am free from internal religious constraints.


San Francisco
CA
USA
How old were you when you became a christian? unsure; as young as I can recall
How old were you when you ceased being a christian? difficult to answer, but roughly 18 or 19
What churches or organizations or labels have applied to you? Baptist, United Methodist, fundamentalist
What labels, if any, would you apply to yourself now? strong atheist, humanist, transhumanist, freethinker, semi-Objectivist
Why did you become a christian? family, tradition, indoctrination, social status/acceptance
Why did you de-convert? logic, empathy, integrity
email: manatees at gmail dot com

7/10/05                                                                                       View Comments

Sorry That This Is So Dull

sent in by Jeff

I'm almost embarrassed at how dull this will be, but here goes:

I was baptized into a Lutheran family. I don't remember much about the first couple of churches, but my father liked the pastors at a Missouri Synod franchise in Ames, Iowa. Since this church was on a university campus, it was more liberal than most LCMS churches. It was mind-numbingly dull. All of it. Vacation Bible School (I don't know why they call it that, it's no vacation), Sunday school, all churchly activities.

My parents encouraged to me question and think for myself. My father is a scientist, who understands that evolution is a fact. I found out that the pastors and other members did not accept something so obvious. If my dad knows this is true, what the hell is wrong with these people?

I learned that there were other religions, and read about them. They really didn't seem so bad, and could not understand how God could send people to hell simply because they believed what they were taught to believe.

So I went on searching, becoming enamored with the occult and mysticism. That was clearly a fraud, but I did study religion and philosophy still seeking the truth. My dad forced me to go to church, until I took Lutheran Theology. After that, he did not force me to go. During this time, and after I got my B.A. in religion & philosophy, I was in a deep depression. It lasted for years.

I had let go of Christianity completely, but still hung on to a vague theism. Things just got worse in my personal life.

I was washing dishes by hand one night (the dishwasher died), and it dawned on me: There… is…. no…. God! No help but from what I do. My friends have actually loved and helped me here, in reality, unlike the imaginary friend I once wasted so much time on.

I am so very happy now. My wife says I became much more pleasant to live with after that.

I hope this made sense—I left some chunks out, but basically this is what happened.


Crystal Lake
IL
USA
Joined: From birth
Left: Began questioning at 13, completely out by 18
Was: Lutheran, then vague searcher, atheist
Now: Atheist
Converted: Baptized into it, and then raised in it.
De-converted: Started leaving because "love" and "hell" just don't mix.
email: jeffa93 at yahoo dot com

7/9/05                                                                                       View Comments

Turning My Brain On

sent in by Sandy

I grew up Mormon, which was not a good experience. I was born to a single teenage mother and was then adopted by my great-grandparents who did love me very much. But as a child born to an unwed mother I was automatically labeled as a bad kid. I remember when I was about 11 I started asking questions. Looking back I realize how much my Great-grandmother really loved me. I asked why the doctrine didn't make sense, and she simple said she didn't know. At home I never got in trouble for asking questions.

Around the same time some of my friends would invite me to their churches, and Mama (great-granma) would let me go. To Mormons that is a big no-no. You see people might get ideas and slowly start thinking for themselves. One Sunday I went to the Baptist church and was given the oh so lovely "your Mormon parent is going to hell" speech. Real nice thing to tell a kid.

Well I was a pretty shy kid with a vicious temper. I got expelled from Jr. High, and needless to say good Mormon girls never get in fights (or stand up for themselves) so I got labeled retarded trouble maker. (they thought I was retarded because of my shyness). I tended to ignore the other youth as I grew up and viewed church as something I had to bear with until I turned 18.

At 17 Mama passed away, Papa had passed when I was 6. I lived with a Mormon friend of mamma's for a year before I got fed up and walked 6 miles to the next town. Mama left me property there when she passed. I lived on the property in a travel trailer for a few months, and then met my first boyfriend. I was 19. I felt soooo guilty when I had sex for the first time. In fact fact I was miserable through the whole relationship.

I then moved to a small town in New Mexico. Where at 21 I met my second boyfriend. Once again I always felt guilty about sex. And this time things got a lot more complicated. I got pregnant. Then the loving Mormons excommunicated me. Also my boyfriend left town. Permanently. So I was faced with being pregnant, jobless, and soon homeless. My landlord was Mormon and was one of the people who had me excommunicated. Well at this time I met a pastor and his wife. Who are actually very kind hearted people. They helped my pay for the gas to be hooked up so I could move into the low income housing, and let me stay in their home over that Thanksgiving weekend.

I was not expected to go to church on Sunday, so I decided to go. And In my loneliness and desperation I became a Christian. And soon I learned how selfish Christians could be. I saw that they behaved no differently from the Mormons I knew. The pastor noticed that there are a lot of single parent families in the community and wanted to do something to help. He talked to the board about starting a small storehouse with diapers, childrens clothing, and toys. The board said they didn't see where it was their job to help the community. Within three months they had gotten rid of the pastor. It was a terrible thing to witness.

I then joined a Pentecostal church. What a shock that was to me! I had never seen people act so stupid in public before. All that talking in gibberish and rolling around on the floor! And then I got in trouble for nursing my newborn in the sanctuary! Which is pretty sad because I had my baby under a blanket. And then the pastor had a get rid of members who ask questions crusade. Please pardon spelling.

I then decided to go the Baptist church. Which I stayed at for a little over a year. I left before they could kick me out. (the shy girl was slowly dying) I kept asking why the Bible said one thing and they said it meant the opposite.

Then I became involved in the messianic movement. My child was then 2. The rabbi said he welcomed questions. But he didn't like ones that challenged the dogma or his authority. And the congregation did not like having a single never been married mother in there midst. They didn't like that I was on welfare, because they are to few jobs where I live.

About a year ago my kid began asking me some tough questions that I just couldn't give a good answer to. One of the best examples was, "Mommy why can't we eat pork?" and then I heard some friends talking about how women should know their place in church, family, and society. I saw my daughter listening in and felt a cold chill. I didn't want her to grow up thinking she is second place to a man. So for about 8 months I did a lot of studying and thinking, and figured out that a loving and caring god would not behave in such a manner.

About 2 months ago I met a guy. He is now a friend. I have had sex with him and for the first time felt no guilt. I am currently jobless again, but now I am not relying on an imaginary character to gain me employment. I rely on my own intelligence. And come spring I will be going to college! I am thinking of becoming an English or History teacher. I am so glad that I am now thinking for myself.

NM
US
Joined: 21
Left: 27
Was: moron-er Mormon, Christian, messyantics-er messianic
Now: capable of using brain
Converted out of desperation
De-converted because: started thinking