11/30/05                                                                                       View Comments

My wife lost her faith

sent in by Luke

A cousin of mine used to go out and get drunk every single weekend. After a tough week at work he liked nothing better than to let loose and go wild on the weekend. Stress relief is what he called it. When his wife got pregnant with their first child he regretfully decided that his drunken weekends had to come to an end. He was surprised to learn that he not only enjoyed spending his weekends at home or going out and having a couple of quiet drinks but he preferred it to getting drunk. He hasn't been drunk once since then. That is how I felt before losing my faith. I thought life would be meaningless without belief. I couldn't fathom not having God during difficult times. I thought that nonbelievers must lack a moral compass and that their lives must be very empty. Like my cousin, I realised I didn't need a drug to be happy and to have hope and meaning in my life.

Six months after I got married my wife dropped a bombshell. She had been struggling with her faith for a while now but she was afraid to tell me because she was afraid that I wouldn't marry her. She would no longer attend Mass. I had some disagreements with the Catholic Church but I looked forward to raising my family in the faith. I was devastated. My wife said she had done a terrible thing but she was in love and made the wrong decision. She said she would understand if I wanted the marriage annulled. I loved my wife so I told her we would work through it.

I proposed that we discuss her doubts and concerns and then I would help her to understand the church's position on these issues. So, every Sunday afternoon we would get out our Bibles, books, and articles from the Internet and had discussions. I immediately found that I was unable to explain or justify the many concerns and issues she brought up. They are too numerous to go into here but they included the troubling history of the church, negative attitudes toward women, Biblical contradictions and violence, conflicts with scientific knowledge and the cruelty of many doctrines (especially the one about unbaptized people going to hell or limbo). My wife asked such things as how the church can accuse a frightened young girl of murder for aborting a nonsentient embryo when she isn't ready or able to raise a child, and yet make excuses when God kills living, breathing, sentient babies with diseases, drought, starvation, fires and natural disasters. I found myself overwhelmed. I started to question and have doubts myself.

A guy I worked with named Will was a born again Christian. I told him my doubts. He explained to me that the problem is that Catholicism is a false religion and that it is not real Christianity. He invited me to his church. He told me I would find answers to all my concerns. In my confusion and turmoil, I thought yes, that's the problem. Catholicism is wrong and I can find truth elsewhere. Of course, I told my always wise and questioning wife. She pointed out that Catholicism was the original Christian faith and created most Christian doctrine and the final make up of the Bible. All other Christian sects are simply off shoots. Just like you can't build a sturdy house on a weak foundation you can't create a true religion from a false religion. If Catholicism is true all the other Christian religions are false. But if Catholicism is false the other Christian religions that came from it must also be false.

I told Will about this and of course he came up with justifications and excuses, but I got angry and told him justifications and excuses just don't work anymore. I told him that when you really analyze Christianity it just doesn't make any sense. I told him I was tired of pretending that it did. A month later Will went to work for a new company, so our discussions ended.

I suppose I would describe myself as an agnostic now. There may be no God, one God or many Gods. I have no way of knowing. If he/she/they exist I look forward to asking he/she/them why they have allowed so much evil, cruelty and suffering among the beings they have created and supposedly love. As Tori Amos said in her wonderful song God "You make pretty daisies pretty daisies love/I gotta find what you're doing about things here/A few witches burning gets a little toasty here/I gotta find why you always go when the wind blows." That's what I want to know. The flawed free will argument doesn't work for me anymore.

I hadn't seen Will for a few years. I met him a few months ago. He's an exchristian now thanks to me. His wife threw him out but he's engaged to an ex born again and says he's very happy. We've become good friends. Now if only I could convince my ex-drunken cousin that he doesn't need religion either.

"No man holding a strong belief on one side of a question, or even wishing to hold a belief on one side, can investigate it with such fairness and completeness as if he were really in doubt and unbiassed; so that the existence of a belief not founded on fair inquiry unfits a man for the performance of this necessary duty."

The Ethics of Belief–William Kingdon Clifford

11/19/05                                                                                       View Comments

Freedom to be me

sent in by Jo

Well the only religious family member I have is my gran. She is a God
fearing Catholic. She forced my brother, cousin and I to go to church
every Sunday with her from a very early age. We were told that there was
a man sitting at the back who was watching us to make sure we were
being good.

I hated church, though eventually when I was about 8 the brainwashing paid off and I became a good Christian. But something at the back of my mind was niggling me. It kept questioning what the priest would say. I later became Church of England as it was less demanding than Catholicism. But one sermon angered me. The Rev. told us that we were not individuals but we were one. He kept repeating how we were not individuals.

Was he on drugs or something? How can we not be individual? If we were not we would be a mass of pink goo slurping and making weird fart noises as we move as one being!

I came across a website which states all of the evil things in the bible that the Christian god has demanded people to do from raping virgins to killing children, was this a god for me? Hell no!

I am rather new to the craft but I am very happy. Sex is celebrated and our deities are seen as more symbolic than an actual being who is perving on us 24/7. I worship nature and strive to live among it and not rule over it. I am not at all saying that my religion is the right one, who can know if there is one at all? I am saying that it is right for me, I get to live my life as fully as I want without denying myself of pleasure. I felt the anger once I saw the light and realised that the church was just a way to control and subdue the masses but I would not let it take over.

So I toast to the freedom I have found and the happiness I now feel!

Wolverhampton
England
How old were you when you became a Christian? Early childhood
How old were you when you ceased being a Christian? 22
What churches or organizations or labels have applied to you?
Catholicism, then later Church Of England (Protestant)
What labels, if any, would you apply to yourself now? Wiccan
Why did you become a Christian? Had no choice, it was forced fed me
from Catholic grandmother
Why did you de-convert? Paganism made more sense, you don't feel guilty
about living life and you are encouraged to question and learn
Email: Serenitycourt at Yahoo dot Co dot UK

11/5/05                                                                                       View Comments

Faith No More

sent in by Michael

I was raised in a family that talked more about hell than God.
Religion was all about the devil and how he was always watching you and was
going to get you. I was told that the end of the world was coming an
that I shouldnt worry about growing up because the end was coming, and
most likely I was gong to go to hell instead of heaven.

When I was around 15 several of my cousins were "saved", and began
talking to me about it. They went home after they were saved and threw
away all their rock albums, including rare ones that are today worth very
much. Well, I bought into their rhetoric and got "saved". But, I
still didnt throw away my albums, that was NEVER gonna happen.

I began reading the bible, and going to prayer meetings and such. I
always felt like I didnt belong, but I went anyway because I thought it
would score me brownie points with THE BIG GUY LOL. There was all this
talk about how gods work could be seen, and that the devil was at work
against all christians. I personally only saw the results of ones own
work, not gods. And as for the devil, he seemed like a scapegoat.

After highschool I experimented with buddhism, hinduism, and just about
every other "ism" that exists. All fell short of truth and all seemed
empty and silly.

I eventually came to the conclusion that belief in any diety was just
primitive superstition, and sorry to say, just plain ignorance.

I would always pray to god for increases in my natural talent for
playing guitar, and people would say "Wow, God really blessed you with an
amazing talent". Now I say"Actually 22 years of insane study and
practice gave me this talent". I waited for god to show up at my doorstep for
years with answers, only to open it and find the paper boy!!

The truth for me is: There is no promised Utopia of heaven, and there
is no eternal damnation of hell. I see only the reality of what is:
There is beauty, there is hatred, there is peace of mind, and there is
brooding discontent. All these polarities exist, and the promise of
some kind of devine intervention, a second coming seems so childish and
unbelievable. If only christians could see how they are wasting their
lives waiting for their savior. Hes never going to come, and Im not
waiting. I believe in the strength of humanity, that we are strong and
heroic beings capable of our own "saving".(yes I am influenced by ayn
rand)

I have this to say as words of encouragement to newbies in the area:
Deprogramming takes time. You will find yourself praying at times,
saying "thank god" etc. You will also miss the community of "believers".
But remember "The truth shall setyou free!" The truth is: God is a
lie. Thats the truth, and I will bask in that freedom instead of trying
to live up to some impossible standard of morals and behavior.

And think about this too in your ponderings: God supposedly gave us
free will, right? Well, read Genesis and youll see otherwise. He gave
Adam and Eve the choice after their "fall". He basically said "You can
choose either obedience to me, or you can choose death." Some choice
huh? That doesnt sound like free will to me. The bible is a book FULL
of contradictions and such. Truth is knowledge my friends, and I
choose to eat the fruit of its tree. I will risk death and eternal
separation from god. Oh wait, there is no god. You know why I know that? I
ate the fruit from the tree of knowledge, and it gave me the truth that
god feared in the garden: We dont need him.


Erie
Pa
USA
I was 15 when I became a christian
I ceased being christian at various points along the line, but stopped
for good now
I have been born again, involved with mostly non-denominational type
churches
Now I am a Strong Atheist
Converted because I was afraid of hell
De-converted because I was living in hell because I believed all the right-wing garbage
email: guitargeek1986 at aol dot com

I’m not afraid, my whole life ,thus far, has been a long bumpy road

sent in by Craig

I guess it’s my turn, to share my testimony with you all. I wasn’t
going to at first, but after reading so many of them, and realizing how
much they have helped me in this difficult era of my life, I feel
obligated to share my own story in hopes that it will encourage others.
Unfortunately, like many others (testimonies), this too desires to be too
long. I promise to make every effort to keep it tame.

My wife and I moved to Colorado in the fall of ‘96, and after some
shuffling around due to job promotions and such, we landed in a quiet,
medium sized town the fall of ‘98. My wife, being the social butterfly
that she is, began making acquaintances, all of whom, were very nice. I
didn’t find out until later that they were Christians and all of them
belonged to the same church. It wasn’t long before they started inviting
us to different church functions and ultimately, we became exposed to
the gospel message, which we both fell for.

My excitement and enthusiasm for the “good news” was overwhelming and
I set my heart on building “God’s” kingdom. I decided early on, that
there was no greater endeavor in all the world than to do this “work”. I
set out to learn his word, memorizing, studying, sharing, etc... I was
getting up at four in the morning to have “quiet times” reading and
praying. The church we attended (attend) has “small group” meetings held
in homes of “small group leaders” (a.k.a.- Deacons) which we were
attending. The Pastor just happened to be our small group leader at the time.
Eventually I was recognized as a small group leader and began hosting
meetings in our home for Bible study, prayer, fellowship, and community
service projects. During this time, I became more and more involved
with the church. Our church does not meet in a regular building so we have
to “set-up” our “temple” and tear it down every Sunday. I would go
early, and stay late to do this, also became the worship leader, attended
weekly prayer breakfasts with the other Deacons, along with weekly
evening “leadership” classes. I was meeting one on one with my Pastor for
“discipling” and countless other activities. My wife and I were
considering, heavily, moving to Africa as missionaries. We were praying
constantly for what to do, when the Pastor approached me, and asked me to pray
about, becoming a Pastor for the church. This added additional pressure
to figuring out what God’s will was for us. I believe now that this was
the trigger that began my de-conversion.

I desperately wanted to do what God wanted, not what anybody else
wanted, because I knew there would be consequences for choosing the latter.
I prayed harder and studied harder than I ever had before. No answer
would come. As I poured over the scriptures I began to develop questions
that I could not answer, nor could anyone else for that matter. I
decided to take up Greek and Hebrew studies which only led to more
questions. The more questions, the more pressure, and the greater desire to
“know”. I was asking my Pastor these questions during our meetings, but he
would flounder and suggest that I should “take captive every though,
and make it obedient to Christ” and that I didn’t need to have all the
answers, but a “simple relationship based on faith, not fact”. But this
did not sit right with me, after all , it was a “logical” decision to
accept the message of salvation in the first place. How, then could it be
necessary to do away with logic in order to keep it? This heavy
questioning began around September of ‘04 and continued for about a year. In
my searching for the “truth” I joined Christian debate forums to post my
questions (this is where I first took on the screen name “truthbound”)
and continue to use it today. My experience in the forums led to more
startling discoveries and occasionally I would tuck my tail and run
keeping away from those “evil” thoughts.

I then turned to other sources determined to figure out if maybe
modern Christianity had somehow turned from the early “original” plan for
the church. I was disgusted at how particular some Christians were in
choosing a church; whether or not the coffee tasted good, or how we
dressed, if the sermon was good, did the Pastor drop his Bible on the floor,
if the seats were comfortable or not........... It seemed to be about
everything BUT God! It was so self serving, though it claimed to be
service oriented. I decided to go beyond Christian resources to discover the
roots of Christianity in order to revitalize the church back in the
right direction. This became very important to me. However, I ran into
more and more damaging evidence to the creation of the faith myth with all
of it’s political, social, and environmental influences, coupled with
archaeological discoveries (or non-discoveries) as well as scholarly
admissions of critical difficulties. The pressure in my soul had become
unbearable, the one big thing that kept me from falling was that, I
couldn’t believe, among all the scholars in the world, that I would be
making these finds alone. There must be something I have not read, or
somehow that I have missed the answer to restore the damage!

Then it happened. I located an article at infidels.org through a
Goggle search, while trying to find something to help me reconcile the
depression I was experiencing. It was titled “why I’m not a Christian - from
missionary bible translator to agnostic” by Ken Daniels. It was
incredible to read his story, that related to mine in so many ways! I laughed,
I cried, but most of all It occurred to me for the first time that I
was not alone, second that it was OK to feel this way. It was like the
card house collapsing. On the one hand it was disturbing, but on the
other, unbelievable relief. The ability to breathe again! I was suddenly
free, free at last, as though I had been born again, again!

That was about a month ago. I wish I could say that all that joy
lasted, but the truth is, I have begun a journey more difficult than I could
have imagined.. I first, gently informed my wife of my experience,
which at first, did not go very well at all!, but has simmered down some.
The key has been in making no drastic changes in lifestyle that effect
her or the kids. The other problem has been with the church. Being a
“leader” in the church and so visible, has posed a huge problem for them.
I have only revealed my new status with the Pastor at this point, which
has ushered in numerous counseling sessions, phone calls, etc... He has
removed me from all “duties” in the name of a “sabbatical” to fend off
all the questions about my apparent shift in visibility. That is about
as far as I have gotten so far. I have found myself an emotional
roller-coaster, frequently revisiting joy then depression, then fear, then
doubt, then anger, and back to joy again. My wife and I are just barely
able to have discussions about it without battles. But she still tries
to proselytize me at every opportunity. I still go to church, and to
small group (currently lead by the Pastor again) praying at meals
ect..(for the kids benefit). Those who know seem to be waiting for God to bring
me back. My Pastor says “ All great men go through these crossroads, it
is the testing of your faith, by fire. I am convinced God is preparing
you for the Pastorate.” (Rrriiight!)

I am so thankful to have found a site like this. It has given me a
place to begin anew and to learn so much about the world we live in
through other great people and many great resources. My hope is, that anyone
still caught in the “web of confusion” will benefit from all that can
be found here and take that difficult step into a world of freedom. I
know from other posts here that I have a long road ahead, but I’m not
afraid, my whole life ,thus far, has been a long bumpy road. I don’t
suspect that it will ever be much different, and I have learned, that it is
the journey itself, with other people, that makes life worth living at
all.

Best wishes,
Craig - (aka- truthbound)

Loveland
CO
USA
Joined at 30
Left at 35
Was: Born-again evangelical
Now: Agnostic
Converted because: Gospel message made sense at the time
De-converted because: Deep study led to many difficulties

11/3/05                                                                                       View Comments

I was a blood-bought, born-again, Bible-believing Christian

sent in by Blue Heron

My xtimony could be very, very long if I covered every negative thing about my xtian life, but I will make it as short as I can. I apologize for the loooong sentences I’ve used in some of it too.

This deconversion is all VERY recent for me, and unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. My mind has been trying to process it all, and the fact that I’ve been connected to the Matrix all my life, only just now getting unplugged and experiencing a world vastly different that I’ve been missing.

I just turned 32. My whole life was steeped in Christianity. I regret all the years of turmoil, fear, guilt and anguish over the religion (or “relationship” as xtians say). But, I can’t go back and change it, only learn from it and move on. By the way, for all you Christians reading, I was a blood-bought, born-again, Bible-believing Christian with the “lord jesus christ” as my “only savior”. Let there be no saying that I wasn’t really “saved”.

The Bible has to be the most mixed-up, contradictory, brain-twisting book out there. Nobody can agree on what it says and means anyway. There are thousands of
denominations because they can’t agree. Have you noticed how most Christian churches condemn all other religions, then move on to condemn other denominations, than people who just don’t believe every silly doctrine they do? Everyone thinks they are in the One True Church™ and hold all the right beliefs. Nobody can agree on exactly how you “get saved” either. Some say you just believe, others say you have to confess all your sins, others say you have to “confess the Lord Jesus”, others say baptism has to be a part, others say you must do good works, and so
on.

I really think a lot of Christians either spend time worrying about their salvation or they put it all in the back of their mind and go on, not thinking about it too much. But if you are like me, a “deep thinker”- one who gets serious about what they read and hear and analyzes it - and tries to apply it to their life to be what God wants, you can’t just file it away. Especially when you hear contradictory
preaching from one church to the next, and even from pastors in the same church! If you hear things like, “You must be absolutely, 100% sure that you are saved.
If you have ANY doubt, then you better come to the alter and make things right with God tonight, before it’s too late!” Who can be positively sure that every feeling, thought and belief you have is totally in line with everything that preacher or the bible says you must believe/do to get saved? Then you think back to your "conversion” moment. Did you really believe, say and do the right thing at the right time to cause salvation to “take”? The cycle of doubt and fear is almost endless, except for short spans of time when you have somehow convinced yourself that you really did do everything right, and since you spent the previous night confessing every known sin and begging Jesus to save you (while trying not to have even a second of doubt, since that would void the whole process again), you are sure now that you’re OK (until the next moment of crushing doubt comes that even though God loves you, he still might throw you into hell, although he’ll still love you in there as you writhe in agony for endless eternity). There were a lot of scary times in my xtian life, such as fearing I’d “blasphemed the holy ghost”or missed the rapture, and was now without hope.

There were also lots of time I really felt close to the three of them - Jesus, Jehovah, Holy Ghost. I wanted to witness to people, but was shy and didn’t want to be known as a fanatic and weirdo. I supported missionaries, prayed for people, left those scary Chick tracts around, and had a lot of guilt and fear. It also caused me to be judgmental to other Christians. For example, it was easy to condemn others for spending money on brand name clothes, when I bought yard sale stuff to save money for winning souls, so I claimed. At one point, we seriously were considering being full-time missionaries in a foreign country! I was trying to be the best Christian I could be, and was honestly trying to find out how to do that. For a while, I was also a “King James Bible Only-ist” and was starting to think I should just wear skirts and dresses. I even read some of Ruckman’s books and those of other hardcore fundagelicals. I gave money to xtian organizations and was a devoted
believer in .... creationism!

The process of me deconverting was ironic because I was actually the closest and most at peace with God than I had ever been. I had learned and whole-heartedly embraced the doctrine of grace and was trusting fully in Jesus. I was confident and secure. I recently started to learn about Universalism and become more loving. I no longer believed in the doctrine of eternal hell. That led to more liberal views and the freedom to explore and think about things I was never “allowed” to in my hardcore xtian days. Because back then, un-Christian views that a Christian might dare have were blamed on the devil getting a foot-hold, the flesh, the evil world, etc. Finally being able to freely think about my faith led me to the end of this mind-virus known as Christianity.

Now I no longer have to screen everything through the world view of Christianity. As a Christian, I never would have spent too much time on a site like this for fear of reading something that might upset my faith and make me uncomfortable. Or I would have just thought things like: These people just had a bad experience in the church; They were never saved to begin with; They just didn’t know Jesus like I did; They were in the wrong denomination; etc. etc. Does any of that sound familiar??

Anyway, once I felt more freedom to read and learn things that before I would have turned and ran the other way from, I began to think with a part of my brain that had been lying dormant all this time. I consumed information from websites and books that showed that Jesus Christ is a myth, that the Bible and Christianity were put together to serve the church “fathers” selfish, greedy needs. That Yahweh is a
killing, blood-thirsty demon. The way women have been treated was not a big selling point for the religion either.

Sometimes I would want to throw the book across the room in anger when I read something that made me see the humongous LIE I’d been fed all my life. It was
like in that movie “The Count of Monte Christo” when, with the help of Priest, he realizes how he’d been totally duped by his “friend”, and had been naive and
so trusting. He was angry at the deception, and for having spent so much of his life locked up in a dark prison. That’s how I felt.

Christianity, Jesus and the Bible are the biggest scam ever pulled on the human race. I believed it because it is the religion of my family and it was just
accepted as being true. At first, I felt guilt for leaving the faith of my Father and Mother. But over time, what was once a shocking, life-altering wake-up
has now started to become normal to me.

I am a closet xtian for the most part. We live in a very Christian place, and most of my friends & family are Christian. It’s more complex for me to just quit
attending church and related functions because my husband and son are believers. Husband knows about my deconversion, and accepts me anyway. He is very laid
back and loving. We haven’t talked extensively of my leaving Christianity, but someday I will try to explain it all. It is just easier to attend our church, which is very laid back anyway, and see how thing develop in my life. At first, I felt guilty for going when I don’t believe what is being taught, but now I see it as something that is necessary at this time. The social aspect is something I really enjoy in my life. I still love the many good people there, and have close friendships from there. I want to spend time with them. I love the kids and enjoy being part of their lives.

I am actually more loving, more accepting of people, and my mental state is so much more healthy. I am relaxed and at peace. I no longer feel like life isn’t worth living since Jesus is coming back soon. I actually have the drive to go back to school, get a good job and build something out of my life. The road is open before me with limitless possibilities.

I have had some interest in pagan religion just as I deconverted because it was one I had always been attracted to (and forbidden to have anything to do with, of course). But, I feel like I’ve barely had a taste of freedom and I’m already trying to put on religious shackles again. It’s a thought that makes weary to have to study another set of pre-digested material and having to learn another religion that has been long-thought over from every angle. It too has its myriad of books. There are debates on who is doing it right and who is doing it wrong, just as in xtianity. No thanks. I can’t learn a new god/dess all over again. I just don’t have the heart, energy or belief to put into getting to know another deity.

I considered atheism, but I do believe in something - call it what you will - God/dess, Higher Power, Spirit, Universe, Force, Energy, etc. that we are all
connected to, but it is NOTHING like the brutal, jealous, demonic god of Christianity. I have not settled on any particular way of thinking about this
Higher Power yet, but so far, my thinking is more like deism or new age than any organized religion.

It’s nice to have a place like this where you know others have been in the same situation and know the ins and outs, the chapter and verse, so to speak, of
where I’m coming from. Take care!