12/31/05                                                                                       View Comments

Walker Between Worlds

sent in by Sigrun Odinsdottir

I have bipolar disorder, and have been in and out of institutions for the past 3 years. My last experience with a psych facility, I was in for a year and a half, residential, and I won't name names because I don't want to get sued, but most of the staff was born-again Christians. At this time I had been practicing Asatru, which is Norse neo-paganism (www.asatru.org), for five and a half years. I was not allowed to have my Freyja statue or my runes, although another resident was allowed to have a breakable crucifix. Well, after you hear that you and your religion are evil umpteen times a day every day, you are going to break under pressure. On September 27, 2005, i "received Christ as my lord and savior", renounced Asatru, and proceeded to dispose of $1000 worth of books and ritual items (thank the gods that I had more in storage at my mom's house, where I now live). Then the brainwashing began.

Everyone thought I was getting better, but in fact I was getting worse. i started to worry about "saving souls", "repenting of sin", and what "the end times" were going to be like. I also didn't like the fact that the church treated women as second-class citizens (says so right in your holey buy-bull) and says homosexuals should be put to death (I am bisexual and tried to repent and it didn't work). I also didn't like the fact that all these people of other religions, 90% of the world's population in fact, are supposedly going to hell, when they are for the most part good people who are trying to do the right thing and serve their creator(s).

On Christmas day, 2005, some time after I had been discharged, I had a vision of Freyja and Freyr asking me to come back to them. at first it freaked me out, but then I felt... relief - relief that I could once again be myself.

I have always been "different". Some may label me "crazy". Christians have a word for the mentally ill -- "demon-possessed". In Asatru we feel differently. Odin is the god for different people, being a different sort of god himself. I am a walker between worlds, and I finally feel peace with this. Tonight, on Yule night, December 31st, I will be rededicating myself to the Norse gods and goddesses. Odin says, "it's about f***ing time!" LOL

I am not here, by the way, to promote my religion as being better than anyone else's. We all have our different paths to follow. Some may choose Wicca, some may choose Buddhism, and some may choose even atheism. I feel that as long as you are trying your best in life and are "most excellent to one another", that is what counts.



Peace and good harvests

a freysgythia


Meriden
CT
USA
What churches or organizations or labels have applied to you? Assembly of God, Baptist, charismatic, evangelical, fundamentalist, Bible-believing
What labels, if any, would you apply to yourself now? Asatru, Norse heathen, bisexual, feminist, shaman, free to be me!
Why did you become a christian? I was bullied into it by the persecution of my religion (Asatru)
I had a dream about the Norse Gods calling me back to them
email: gnirevol26 at aol dot com

Everyone thought I was getting better, but in fact I was getting worse. i started to worry about "saving souls", "repenting of sin", and what "the end times" were going to be like. I also didn't like the fact that the church treated women as second-class citizens (says so right in your holey buy-bull) and says homosexuals should be put to death (I am bisexual and tried to repent and it didn't work). I also didn't like the fact that all these people of other religions, 90% of the world's population in fact, are supposedly going to hell, when they are for the most part good people who are trying to do the right thing and serve their creator(s).

On Christmas day, 2005, some time after I had been discharged, I had a vision of Freyja and Freyr asking me to come back to them. at first it freaked me out, but then I felt... relief - relief that I could once again be myself.

I have always been "different". Some may label me "crazy". Christians have a word for the mentally ill -- "demon-possessed". In Asatru we feel differently. Odin is the god for different people, being a different sort of god himself. I am a walker between worlds, and I finally feel peace with this. Tonight, on Yule night, December 31st, I will be rededicating myself to the Norse gods and goddesses. Odin says, "it's about f***ing time!" LOL

I am not here, by the way, to promote my religion as being better than anyone else's. We all have our different paths to follow. Some may choose Wicca, some may choose Buddhism, and some may choose even atheism. I feel that as long as you are trying your best in life and are "most excellent to one another", that is what counts.



Peace and good harvests

a freysgythia


Meriden
CT
USA
What churches or organizations or labels have applied to you? Assembly of God, Baptist, charismatic, evangelical, fundamentalist, Bible-believing
What labels, if any, would you apply to yourself now? Asatru, Norse heathen, bisexual, feminist, shaman, free to be me!
Why did you become a christian? I was bullied into it by the persecution of my religion (Asatru)
I had a dream about the Norse Gods calling me back to them
email: gnirevol26 at aol dot com

12/30/05                                                                                       View Comments

Fantasy versus Reality

sent in by Angie

I was raised in a devout Catholic family. We went to Mass every Sunday, and said the Rosary every evening. I had doubts as early as nine or ten. This was about the age when I started to separate fantasy from reality. I started to realise that magic, dragons, fairy tales, Santa Claus, storks delivering babies, etc. were simply fantasy. I couldn't help but throw religion into the fantasy category.

Yet, I was confused because unlike dragons and fairy tales the adults around around me took religion very seriously. Like with Santa, I thought maybe everyone was pretending to believe for the sake of us kids. I actually asked my mother one day if God was make believe and got into trouble. Then I realised that, yes, God was real.

So, I continued go to Mass. I was involved in youth activities. I met my husband at a church singles event. Despite my good Catholic exterior, inside it all still seemed like fantasy but I kept this to myself.

My older brother, my only sibling. was a very devout Catholic. I really looked up to him. He was five years older than me and I thought he was so smart. He seriously considered becoming a priest but decided he really wanted to marry and have kids. When my brother was around, religion always came up as a topic of conversation. He believed that Christianity was the foundation of western civilization. Without God we would not have morality or the rule of law. I had thought to myself many times that if my brother believes in God and Jesus they have to be real. It's hard to explain but I thought it was all real and all made up at the same time.

My brother moved about 60 miles from home. He got married two years later to a nonCatholic (secular Jew), which was a huge shock to everyone. His wife got me a job close by, so I decided to move in with them for a couple of months until I got married. My first day at their house I noticed that there weren't any statues or religious icons around the house. I thought maybe my sister-in-law doesn't allow them.

My first Sunday I slept til noon. I was surprised that my brother didn't come and wake me for Mass and even more surprised to see him reading the paper in his pajamas in the living room. I asked him if he was going to Mass. He sheepishly said no because Christianity is complete baloney. Without even thinking, and much to my surprise, I replied "I'm glad you finally figured that out." It was the first time I admitted what I'd known all along. It's a fantasy.

I hate to say that my brother had to come to that conclusion before I finally admitted what I had known all along. But you're indoctrinated from such a young age it can be hard to admit to yourself that none of it is true. After I stopped going to church a friend of mine said everyone has doubts from time to time. It's normal. I told her yes, everyone does have doubts but only a few have the courage to take that next step and admit that the doubts have validity.

Anyway, I started doing a lot of reading after that, so now I know why the fantasy is so prevalent. My husband Luke submitted his testimony a couple of months ago. We have told my brother to submit his as well. Leaving our faith was hard at first, mainly because our parents were so upset, but today we are all happy to be exchristians.

"What really moves people to believe in God is not any intellectual argument at all. Most people believe in God because they have been taught from early infancy to do it, and that is the main reason. Then I think that the next most powerful reason is the wish for safety, a sort of feeling that there is a big brother who will look after you. That plays a very profound part in influencing people's desire for a belief in God." - Why I Am Not A Christian by Bertrand Russell

A pastor no more

sent in by former pastor

left the church and Christianity two years ago.

I had been a Christian since the age of eight when, out of fear of hell, I prayed to Jesus to forgive me.

My family had only intermittent contact with the church over the next 12 years, but at the age of 20 I had what I believed was a real conversion experience (more so than my fearful prayer as a child) and began an 18 year ’adventure’ in Christianity and the church.

I believed I was called to minister, so much of this time was taken up with bible college, one-to-one studies and tutoring, mentor ships and so on, and then with my own teaching, serving on church boards, serving as a deacon, and culminating with becoming a pastor.

All through this time, I saw the best and worst that exists in the church. I received great help and support when I needed them; I knew many deeply loving people who moved me with their depth of character; I saw people pulled out of bad situations (addictions, abusive relationships, etc.). I also witnesses raging hypocrisy; I saw the worst in class system and racial bigotry; I knew people for whom Christianity was a convenient blind for hatred, fear and ignorance; I saw intellect denigrated and received many deep, personal hurts.

Also during this period, my knowledge of the bible, history, language, and comparative religions was growing, and with that, the small, nagging doubts about the absolute truth of the bible and Christianity (which, to be honest, were always there) also grew. I had never whole heartedly bought into thing like creationism, the concept of an eternal hell, the ’evil’ of homosexuality and so forth, and this tendency was increasing. I even got into some slight trouble when I was teaching a class on Genesis for suggesting such things as possible allegorical or mythical interpretations of the creation accounts; that Ph.D.s in geology and biology might have some idea what they’re talking about; or that there is similarity between Genesis accounts and other culture’s stories. (Ironically, my Genesis class doubled in attendance from start to finish).

Although there were some parts of the bible that troubled and disturbed me, such as wholesale mass murders, the generally capricious and bloodthirsty OT god, or the wife stealing, murdering bastard David being put forward as a spiritual ’hero’, I simply filed them away in the ’for further study someday’ part of my brain and ignored them.

But it all came to a head for me in 2003. I had been studying a variety of neopagan, heathen, and atheist books and websites for some classes that I was teaching, and although many of them were superficial and largely useless, there were several that were articulate, intelligently written, and perceptive; especially in their criticism of the bible and Christianity.

I opened up that mental ’for further study someday’ file and began to take a long, difficult, honest look at what was there. The process took some time, but by its end I knew that I no longer believed in the bible or Christianity.

Christmas was approaching, and I knew I could not preach through the season things that I no longer believed. I resigned from my church, and returned my credentials to the denomination. It gave rise to much consternation with both my church and denomination officials that I was not just leaving one church for another (which happens all the time), but that I was leaving the ministry entirely.

That was two years ago. It’s been a painful process and adjustment. I’ve lost my professional position; the financial security it took me years to achieve; many relationships and the support system that had seen me through many hardships. My marriage is on troubled ground because my wife remains a committed Christian, and I don’t know what the outcome of this will be.

I’m past the rage and bitter tears now, thought they flare up from time to time. I’m still working through the mourning process, and I’m still picking up the pieces left from my old life.

I have lost a great deal, but I hold on to what I’ve found. I have a strong sense of peace from being able to face the truth. I have a freedom that I haven’t known before in my life. I even have a modicum of self-respect and, in spite of the bumps ahead, I think the future looks bright.

Illinois
USA
Joined: 8
Left: 38
Was: Christian pastor
Now: None. I'm just me.
Converted: Originally out of fear
De-converted: I learned too much

12/22/05                                                                                       View Comments

Where was this 'god' when I needed him most?

sent in by Mark

I am a seminary graduate, so I know all the 'arguements' of these shallow, glassy-eyed hypocrites. I served as a 'lay leader' in a couple of churches for 15 years, often being hurt by those who most demanded that I pander to their spiritual 'needs'. Yet god was nowhere when:

1. My wife dies in my arms with cancer five years ago,

2. My Father endured two decades of ill health, and

3. My Mother died of cancer last month.

If you're a Christian reading this, don't you dare tell me "all thisa happened so you can serve God better", else I shall REALLY get angry!


London
England
Joined at 17
Left at 39
Was: Pentecostal
Now: Angery agnostic/atheist
Converted because: My friends are members of a church youth club
De-converted because: The whole thing was no help when the brown stuff hit the twirly thing

12/21/05                                                                                       View Comments

NEVER going back to the Churches of Christ

sent in by John

My story begins when I was three years old, my mother, who just left my father, rededicates herself to God through her connection to her church, The Church of Christ, and dedicates her children as a gift to God... This comes as some friends from this church help her to kick an amphetamine habit.

When I was nine, one Sunday morning in 1973, my mother explains to me that I must obey God today, that I was a "footstool of the Lord" and that I had no choice but to be baptized today... At church, she pushed me down the aisle, but I told the minister my mother made me do this and asked him to talk to her... He lectured her about when a child was ready for baptism... My mother soon placed membership in another Church of Christ in the area and asked the minister and elders to talk with me.

This started in earnest in 1975, when I was 12... Gospel Meeting, a visiting minister wanted to meet all the eligible "young people"... When he was told by an acquaintance that I haven't obeyed my God, he declared loudly "we'll make a Christian of him before the week is out"... I endured five nights of being singled out by name, reading bible verses out loud with him, and standing through seven stanza invitation hymns while that itinerant minister, the church's minister, and numerous others stare and beck at me to walk down the aisle... I stood firm... after the end of night five, that guest minister confronted me coming out the auditorium, and I let him have it... I told him if HE was an example of how a Christian acted, I never want to be one... I also told the minister I wasn't coming back. However, my mother threatened physical discipline and hell, and the church's minister apologized for the incidents... so I went back... Things got quieter, until we got a new church minister...

My mother harangued me to be baptized at least once or twice a day... The minister did it most every Sunday, my class instructor, was at it at least every other Sunday and I sat through it because I wanted to keep peace in my family... My two younger brothers did it at age 10, one to not ruffle feathers, the other to shut them all up... I had issues with that other brother, I felt he was either caving in or maybe playing games with them... Anyway when it happened, my mother, the minister, and a few acquaintances publicly challenged me to follow suit at that service... I told them no.

The last straw came in 1978, when I turned 16... They added a new tack... In a Wednesday night class, I was asked about my new girlfriend, the questions quickly turned provocative... What was her affiliation??? Why don't you bring her to your church??? When it got to "What's wrong with OUR girls???" I opened fire... I told them what was wrong with each girl, girl by girl... I then told them what was wrong with bringing my girl to that church and with the church itself... The teacher left for five minutes, returned and we were marched into the auditorium.

The minister gave a blistering sermon about unproductive members and how they were cut off "from the vine", followed by another seven stanza invitation hymn... I knew where I stood... I told the minister that that was one of the most interesting and revealing sermons I ever heard him give, walked out the door and never came back... My mother came back at me about it and I threatened legal emancipation action (I found out later, I might have had a good chance of getting it)...I told her I was NEVER going back to the Churches of Christ for any reason and if she kept assaulting me emotionally and physically about it, I would take legal action.

The following year, I was on my own, and never felt so free.

More soon.

J.

Little Rock
Arkansas
US
Joined at: Good question... Might have been in my twenties, might have been never, depends on who and which Christian sect you ask
Left at 34
Was: Church of Christ, Episcopal, Neo-Pagan
Now: I try to avoid that these days
Converted because: fear
De-converted because: freedom

damaged

sent in by MJ

Where to begin...I'll start with what the word "Christian" meant to me
"Christ-like". I'd like to say that I was trying my hardest to be
Christ-like everyday since I was 8. I wanted to grow up and be in the
ministry. When I was 15 er so my church's pastor had an affair. I was a
little angry by the hypocrisy, but I knew that all 'sin' and who was I to
judge anyway. I watched that church split in half. Then a year later it
split again. Well shortly after that I found a different church in
Urbana to go to. I hoped that I would never experience that type of pain
again. After all, who was I to put a human on a pedestal?

I began to love that new church. After graduating from high-school
and when I was going to college I became a leader at that church's youth
group. I was the leader of the drama team there. It was then I started to
see the politics involved behind the scenes. I was a strong believer
that church was a place that people could come to fellowship together and
support each other. After a while, I knew that in order for me to reach
my "calling" I needed to go away to a school in Ohio. The plans were
that after I completed my schooling I was to come back a start a
discipleship training program at my home church.

So, off I went to Ohio. I went to a discipleship training school. To
those who don't know, it's schooling that is supposed to help you get
closer to God and get you prepared to be in the ministry (youth pastor,
children's pastor, pastor, women's pastor, music pastor, i.e.). I loved
it. Then, the person that I looked up to the most, the director of the
school's wife had an affair w/ a 16 year-old boy (he was the worship
leader of the youth group). She was pregnant. The boy was the father. Over
the summer, between school year's I got a call from the church's pastor
saying that the director and his wife were not going to be back for my
2nd year. They said he was going to be a senior pastor elsewhere. I
went back the second year only to find out half-way through the school
year, after we couldn't get a refund or even transfer, what happened the
first year I was there. The only reason that the church told us was
because the 16 year-old got full custody of the new baby and was bringing
it to church w/ him. The church rejects people who sin but yet if
someone of significance of the church gets caught up in it, then the church
tries to cover it up.

You would think that after my 2nd big disappointment that I would run
far, far, far away. I didn't. I don't like to quit. That's not in my
nature. Well I came back to the church in Urbana. Remember I left for
Ohio, so I could come back and start a new ministry at that church. That
didn't happen. The church in Urbana decided to overlook me, a girl, and
give it to a guy. He wasn't qualified and had no idea what this ministry
was about. I just kept my mouth shut but inside I was livid. I thought
how could this guy who's only form of exercise is running over people
on a daily basis get this job. Oh, maybe cause there was a glass
ceiling. The closest that a woman could get to being a leader of a ministry is
if they are the pastor's wife!

I still stayed loyal. I went back to being a youth leader at Urbana's
youth group. I felt like I was making a difference. All of a sudden, a
bunch of teens who were gay and lesbian and bisexual started coming to
the youth group. Not very many of the youth leader's were understanding
and loving. I was the only one being Christ-like. I loved those teens.
I was the only one there that understood that no matter what your
sexual orientation, what you looked like, how much money you had, how
popular at school you were, how talented you were it didn't matter. Everyone
there had the right to be there and to be treated the same. (perfect
world). I was was in charge of the drama team again. In my final year, it
included but was not limited to a lesbian, a girl that was having sex
w/ her boyfriend, a guy that did drugs, i.e. I included them. I loved
those guys. I didn't care that they weren't perfect. I didn't care that
they were involved in 'sin'. They were teens that just needed someone to
look up to. They needed a place to belong. The youth pastor found out
about the type of people that were involved in the drama team. He knew
their names, but now he knew of their 'sin'. He called me into his
office and told me that since the teens involved in the drama team were
sinners, that there was something wrong with me. He said that my fruit was
bad, and since the fruit was bad I was bad. He kicked me off of the
leadership team. My crime, letting teens who weren't perfect in the eyes
of the church be involved in something that made them happy. I was so
hurt. I thought that I was being Christ-like. Hell, I was being a
role-model. I accepted everyone no matter who they were and what they did.

Well, that was the straw that broke the camels back. I stopped going to
church. I know that church is not my salvation. It never was and never
will be. That's what Jesus was for. I didn't stop loving God at that
point. I stopped going to church. When I stopped going, that's when the
majority of my friends stopped hanging out w/ me. They assumed I wasn't
'saved' anymore. I lost hope. They stopped believing in me, I stopped
believing. When I started 'sinning' they started judging me. I refuse to
believe that the follower's of Jesus-Christ will ever prove to me that
there is something out there that is loving, just, merciful, etc. If
the Christ followers aren't loving, merciful, etc. why would their God
be? If I were trying to follow a god, I would try to portray the
character and nature of that god. Not do the exact opposite. I believe that the
Christian God can't exist if His people can't even get Him right.


Savoy
State IL
US
How old were you when you became a Christian? 8
How old were you when you ceased being a Christian? 25ish
Why did you become a Christian? I loved the fact that someone could
forgive me
Why did you de-convert? I hated the fact that when I 'failed, sinned,
back-slide' (whatever you call it) the Christians never forgave.
reed dot melinda at gmail dot com

12/20/05                                                                                       View Comments

The same old lies and Christian dribble

sent in by Jim T

Before I start I just want to let everyone know who has posted a comment or testimony by saying that you have really helped me sort out a lot of the thoughts and questions running through my mind. I think my testimony is similar to many others in here and I would like to share it with everyone.

First let me give you a little background to my story. I guess I can begin my story at about 6 years old. My family and I were living in a suburb outside of Detroit called Pontiac which many of you will be familiar with from the car. It was me, my mom, my brother, and my dad. Everything was going fine until my dad decided he wanted more out of life and struggling with his own personal issues succumbed to the bar life and drugs. Well, my mom was not too thrilled with my dad's new habits and after two years of fighting and arguing and not to mention my dad living a destructive lifestyle, my mother finally divorced him. After the divorce, my mother who had always had a bit of a feisty side to her decided she did not want her kids to sit around and watch their dad destroy his life and theirs any longer. So one day my mom pulled out a map and asked my brother and I where we wanted to move to. I said Arizona and my brother said San Diego. We moved to San Diego. Four Years after some great experiences and meeting some great friends we turned back around and moved to Pittsburgh mainly because my brother was drinking heavily and using drugs.

My grandparents had retired from GM and my mom of course wanted to be closer to them so that's why we moved here to Pittsburgh where I met my first girlfriend at the age of 15. Little did I know that she was a Christian which probably would not have bothered me anyway. Her father was basically an assistant pastor at a neighborhood church. He was a very nice guy and I always thought the world of him because he was so humble and so nice. He just seemed like he had great aura to him. Everyone thought that of him. He just had a real nice way about him. My girlfriend and I of course like teenagers do fell in love with each other which led to us basically having sex almost everyday. Shortly into our relationship when I was 15 and her being 17 was invited to a church summer camp which was held by a local church district in western Pennsylvania (at a very nice campsite in New Castle PA). It basically turned out to be an eye opening experience. I remember being memorized by all the kids there who just seemed like they loved God so much. Being the kind person I am which is generally good natured I thought it was the most awesome thing I had ever seen. A few days later during one of the evening services I of course went to the front to receive Jesus as my Lord and Savior which to this day still has an emotional affect on me when I talk about it. At that time in my life I was a very emotional and impressionable young guy. I remember how great I thought it would be to belong to such a great group of people a "family". I was beyond excited which a lot of people probably reading this can relate to. I felt great. To this day I still get emotional talking about the experience because I remember all the feelings I had experienced when I made this decision to become a born again Christian and accept Jesus into my heart.

After camp my girlfriend and I came home and of course continued to have sex even having sex one time in the church basement which to this day I'm not proud of. Her being the Christian youth leader basically ate away at our "Christian conscience" and I ended up breaking off the relationship which after three years was hard.

After that being the great Christian I thought I was and wanted to be I went to study God's word at a Christian University in Lynchburg VA. Take a wild guess at whose college that was. If you guessed Jerry's you get the prize. After about a year and a half and some terrible experiences I decided to come home. To make a long story short I eventually found my way out of Christianity. I like many others in here studied Christian apologetics. While studying apologetics I pretty much read every Christian theologian and book you could possibly name. Being the free thinker I thought I was read a book called The Case Against Christianity by Michael Martin. I thought it was a great book. Hearing the Christian responses to this book probably threw me over the edge. It was the same old lies and Christian dribble that gets force fed down every Christian's throat. After a while the contradictions and lies became too much to swallow just like anyone else who has actually studied the facts knows. I just could not do it any longer. I like many others on this site decided to just walk away from it after ten years at the age of 25. Today being 29 years old with a four year old son, working two jobs I'm a little grateful and a little bitter about my Christian experience. I felt like I should have went to a technical school and could have gotten a good trade or something instead of putting so much energy into chasing after a false hope which was never there.

12/16/05                                                                                       View Comments

My Christian University experience

sent in by Mark

Well I grew up in an ultra fundamentalist home. Dad was a marine DI,
mom was a very involved Christian/homemaker. I was hit and abused as a
child. As I became a teen I was confused, attracted to other guys, and
told all gays were going to hell, my life was very sad. All through
high school I had sex with others at my school, and at church asked for
forgiveness. I was alone and very conflicted. I was close to suicide
often.

I applied for and was accepted to BIOLA (college) in 1977. I went to
the college, and was lodged in the all male (men and women were
separated) dorms. Living in such close proximity to so many other young (teen)
men, I became very sexual.

I had sex with MANY of the young men at the college. I changed
roommates. I asked a very effeminate and obviously gay older schoolmate to
become my new roommate. His name was Zane. He agreed. We moved into
another room in the freshman dorm. He was a junior. The first night in
the room, I confessed to him I was gay. I assumed he would be
thrilled. He became very homophobic, and ran to the RA. Telling him of my
confession.

I was called into the Dean of Men's office the next day. He was very
ignorant on the issue of homosexuality, and asked me how long I had
wanted to be a woman. He was an idiot. He then wanted names of others I
had been involved with on campus. I refused. I was kicked out of
school because I was gay.

I was very conflicted still, and went on a two year horror-show, back
and forth between self hate and "redemption." My parents had become a
part of a fundamentalist group called "Spatula." I was a group that was
supposed to help parents of gay kids. Some of us 'gay kids" attended
once in a while. We all screwed each other. Lots of sex, and guilt.

I also, at the forcing of my father, attended a group called Exodus
that was supposed to save us from our sexuality. At the time it was
headed buy a guy named Mike Bussey. Well Mike and I had many "sessions"
together. And sex. So much for saving me from my sin. Mike has since
come back to reality, and has renounced the lie that people can change
their sexuality.

I was also connected for a short while with a group called "Love in
Action" in San Francisco. I was still only 18, and kind of cute. Well
the "saved and converted" gay men were all over me. Trying to have sex
all the time. They were liars. There is no Jesus transformation. If
you are a queer, you are a queer.

My life in my late teens was hell. I turned tricks to survive. LA,
San Francisco. Lots of drugs drinking and sex. I was reacting to the
repression, and the guilt. I tried to commit suicide several times, and
was very unhappy. All because of the guilt I felt, and my fear of
being sent to hell for my sexuality.

Then I met a guy. We became a couple. He had not grown up in a
religious family. He was free of guilt; he was happy, gay and very handsome.
We fell in love. He taught me not to be afraid, and to love. He
taught me that you can be a fantastic human being, loving and good, without
any fear of a hateful god.

We have been together now for 21 years. We love each other very much,
and find a life without fear of god very fulfilling. I am productive,
and feel good about myself and my future. Life is good. My life is
good because god is dead for me. I am very lucky. Many young people are
so burdened by the belief in god, they never recover.

Good luck to all of you. Live happy lives unencumbered by the myth of
god. Live life to its fullest.


Oregon
USA
Joined: 5
Left: 18
Was: Christian and Missionary Alliance - BIOLA University
Now: Free Man
Converted because I grew up in the myth
De-converted because I am gay, and well I just outgrew the lie
email: onanite at gay dot com

12/15/05                                                                                       View Comments

Since my departure from "the faith"

sent in by "Freedy" Jackson

For 22yrs I was a minister/Christian songwriter & keyboardist. Over this period I wrote over 200 crappy, sappy worship & praise songs...what a waste! In the last year I've been reading a lot of books like the Jesus mysteries, which expose the truth of the Jesus myth cycle. I've come to believe the bible to be a compilation of plagiarized myths & fictional history.

Now that I'm free from that patriarchal, tyrannical serial killer and torturer "god of the bible," I can now move on to seek & study vast universe of truths about what or who god may be.

Since my departure from "the faith," my wife, a Christian school teacher, divorced me. I also lost all my friends & some of my family. There is definitely a grieving process to all of this. I also have four very smart kids, three of which do not believe. They attend a strict style Christian school where they are made to pledge the allegiance to bible and to obey every thing in it. Two of my sons refused and were harassed & threatened with expulsion... so of course they relented. I

Sure glad I found this site!... Freedy


Fort Worth
Texas
USA
How old were you when you became a Christian? 23
How old were you when you ceased being a Christian?45
What churches or organizations or labels have applied to you? non-denominational/ charismatic
What labels, if any, would you apply to yourself now? agnostic/deist/true seeker
Why did you become a Christian? I was lost in sea of booze,drugs & sex
Why did you de-convert? I no longer could take the crazy doctrine and or people in the church,....it just stopped working and I woke up !
email: caseyjack3 at netscape dot com

12/9/05                                                                                       View Comments

Still Holding On

sent in by J. Strong

For the past five years, I've struggled with making a decision.
Whether I should stay with Christianity or leave it alone. Over a period of
time, I've found that the religion I've once relied on has the
credibility of any children's fable. I go to church every week and sing in the
choir. The whole experience can be nerve racking because I feel like
I'm the only one saying "am I the only one hearing this garbage?". I
don't have any experiences of abuse or mistreatment by the church. As a
matter of fact, I've grown to respect, love and appreciate members of
the church. Especially those who have been a part of my life since the
very beginning.

That's one of the reasons it's so difficult to leave. The other
is that my wife, mother, father, sisters are all Christians, therefore
it would not be a great environment for an agnostic or atheist. I don't
have many other friends or activities outside of the church. It's
pretty much all I know and without it, I have absolutely nothing. I don't
feel smart enough to operate in the real world where you're required to
be clever, witty and dependent on yourself. I've spent my whole life
depending on a God that doesn't exist. I want to have someone help me
or tell me what to do. I want someone to love me and have my back. I
want someone to manage the things I can't control. Although I know the
truth, I still find myself holding on. Hoping that maybe I'm wrong and
that this God will talk to me face to face. But after many years of
asking, I suppose that's not going to happen.

It's difficult to talk to believers because they don't require
evidence for what they believe. Their fundamental question is do I
believe in God? The fundamental question for me is does God exist? If God
doesn't exist then every other thing based on God existing is
irrelevant, regardless of what I believe. So should I take the pill and enter a
world that can be cold, lonely, uninviting, potentially good but
utterly pointless where I'll be free but miserable. Or should I take the
other pill which keeps me where I am. A place where people act like they
care, I have a purpose and can really make a difference (although I
don't know what my purpose is). Even if I know that whold world is based
on a complete lie.

I wanted to choose to go back to the matrix, but once I found out
it wasn't real, there was no point. I seem to be doomed to live a
miserable, depressed life with no hope for anything different. No matter
what decision I make. Life sucks.

Chicago
IL
Cook
Joined: 9
Left: Still claiming (29)
Was: Presbyterian
Now: Certain but Confused
Converted because: Felt I should do it and get it out the way.
Considering de-conversion because: It's not real
Email: JERALDA at SBCGLOBAL dot NET

12/8/05                                                                                       View Comments

On the Path to Recovery

sent in by Kevin Smith

First of all, let me say how much I have enjoyed this website, and how encouraging it is to hear from others out there who have sacrificed the spirit of superstition at the alter of reason. I would especially like to thank this website for introducing me to the works of Thomas Paine. Secondly, writing this is part of a very difficult process for me. Working through these religous issues has not been easy, it has conjured up painful memories and forced me to relive them. One episode of the Sopranos said it best, Tony's psychiatrist likened the purging of painful memories to giving birth, Tony replied "no, it's definately like taking a shit". Well, anyway, maybe it's a good idea to start "In the beginning...".

Like many of you, my childhood was spent in a fundamentalist charismatic home. At the age of five, my parents left a mainstream Baptist church (ok, they were kicked out) and joined the home church movement. They went from being normal, likeable people, to bible-thumping, tongues-speaking, faith-healing, Jesus freaks. In a nutshell, they became intolerant and intolerable. My world was turned upside down, all of a sudden there were strange people in my face, casting out my demons, and imploring the holy spirit it knock me out (keep in mind, I was only five when it started). Stories were told of black-hooded, faceless demons visiting people in the night, which had the result of plaguing me with nightmares and insomnia to this very day (I'm 37). The feelings they told me I should have were just not there, in fact I was just scared to death. Since they could not break through to me, they dismissed me as not accepting the holy spirit. I really wanted to please my parents, and I wanted to feel what they said I should feel, so it left me wondering what was wrong with me. My parents had great ambitions to be spiritual leaders, and they did not appreciate me holding them back.

It wasn't long before my school teachers started calling to ask why there were dark bags under my eyes, and what was with my morbid attitude. They wanted to know why I thought Christmas was a demonic holiday and why I was saying Santa was just Satan with the letters rearranged. Some of the kids were upset and crying because I was telling them Santa didn't exist, and that they were going to hell for believing in him. So my parents told them to put me out in the hallway by myself during parties, movies, or anything else they deemed demonic. By the end of the third grade my parents gave up on exercising the demons from the public school and decided to put me into a fundamentalist Baptist school. Those of you who are familiar with fundamentalism, knows that one fundamentalist group does not mix well with another. At school, I was constantly singled out and told how my parents were demon possessed and were riding the bullet train to hell. At home, my parents had a equally disturbing retort, they said my teachers were rapture rejects and would soon learn the meaning of weeping and nashing of teeth. So once again, I found myself pushed to the outside, and held up to constant ridicule. I'm not sure where the brotherly love was in all this, but it didn't appear to be high on the priority list.

There were, however, strong similarities between the two evangelical groups. Children were not highly esteemed (especially in the charismatic group), self-worth was equated with the sin of pride, life was meant for humiliation and suffering, and NEVER trust your own thoughts or intuition. They both taught any knowledge, outside of bible "knowledge", was a satanic trap. They called it carnal knowledge. Yes, to most of us the word carnal has a sexual implication (ooh, la, la!), but they preferred an older meaning which meant anything worldly, which is anything except the bible. So basically, nothing and nobody in this world is to be trusted because it all merely exists to lure us into eternal damnation. You better watch your ass, because if you believe the wrong thing, say the wrong thing, or do the wrong thing, your soul would be as worthless as week old sushi.

By the time my teenage years rolled around, the home church had been moved to my home. So between home and school, I had been totally immersed in a world of absolutes, fanaticism, and superstition. It may seem impossible for someone in such a position to ever escape the emotional prison that had been built for them. But, there was a "saving grace" for me, and that was my grandparents. Most of our family didn't admit being related to us, and sure as hell never visted, but there were a few who took the time to make me feel worthwhile and let me see that there were alternatives to what I was being taught. My trusted peers had filled my brain with bullshit, but one man's bullshit is another man's fertilizer, and the seeds that were planted in my mind by my grandparents were well fertilized.

Like a lot of kids who feel like nothing they do is good enough, I started rejecting any and all input from my authority figures. I was saved, I prayed and read my bibly daily. But, it had become too tiring to sort through all the conflicting dogma that was being force fed to me. I put my trust fully in jesus that he would guide me through the darkness and lead me to the light. The college years (well, a year and a half) came with a bang. I was like a spring that had been completely compressed then suddenly let go. My baptist education had not prepared me to be an engineer, and I soon gave up on college (ok, flunked out). On my last day at college, I knew I wouldn't be coming back, and I felt like a complete and utter failure. I closed myself in my dorm room closet and began to pray for guidance, and immediately an idea came in my head to join the military. Thank you jesus!

Now, ironically, as anti-authority as I had become, the Army was just what I needed. All my life, my parents and teachers had rejected me, now the military told me that I was worthwhile and they were happy to have me. This gave my faith in jesus a second wind. At first, this was all great, but there was the war and killing thing that wasn't as glamorous as the movies had led me to believe. This is where the first serious cracks in my faith began. There was sort of a mindlessness about it that reminded me of the religon I had know in my early years. The attitude that you should just do what you are told and let the leaders worry about whether it was right or wrong, was beginning to grate my sensibilities. Where was personal resposibitlity? What about personal freedom? Could I stand in front of god on judgement day and explain that I had killed people just because Bush Sr. had told me to?

Ok, the Army wasn't right for me after all, but it did give me a sense of confidence and a personal drive. I hadn't quite learned how to think for myself yet, I just knew that what I was being told about jesus was not giving me a sense of comfort and well-being. College was not so bad the second time around, and I was successful in my studies. But, most importantly, something was changing inside of me, I was beginning to trust my instincts, and I was learning how to apply an honest critical analysis to many problems. Many hours were spent discussing god and religon with my fellow students, and I was starting to discover that the principles of christianity did not stand up to reason. And so my path to becoming a freethinker began.

I would honestly like to say that I had some epiphany and the light just turned on, but it wasn't so. Growing away from god was a slow and painful experience, but I wanted truth and was determined to find it. I had to learn that it wasn't as important for others to love me, as it was for me to love myself. Slowly, I stopped praying as it was obvious that nobody was listening, and that was no fault of mine. I became friends with agnostics and athiests, and realized they were not nihilists, but very decent, intelligent people. As a matter of fact, in most cases, they were more enlightened and happy than the religous people I had know.

Today, my parents have cooled down somewhat, and even apologized for some things, but they still put religon above family and friends. They do not communicate with me very often, and basically ignore my three children. They do not send presents or cards at birthdays, and do not acknowledge my wonderful wife (who is also recovering from religous addiction). From their occasional e-mails it's obvious that they are harboring incredible guilt for the way they treated me, and they just don't know how to make ammends. But, it only makes my mission that much clearer: love and adore my children with every ounce of energy I can muster, and maybe one day they will grow to be loving, moral people who will not rely on imaginary friends for guidance but will have enough confidence to find the power to be happy within their selves.

How old were you when you became a christian? too early to remember
How old were you when you ceased being a christian? 30
What churches or organizations or labels have applied to you? charismatic
What labels, if any, would you apply to yourself now? agnostic
Why did you become a christian? it was the only thing I knew
Why did you de-convert? logic / reason / couldn't handle the emotional burden
email: y2kevins at yahoo dot com

12/7/05                                                                                       View Comments

Life as a slinky

sent in by redwolfd

I'll admit it. I was a Christian at one point in my life. I will not lie to anyone and say that I did not think I was happy either. I was the typical Baptist bible thumping goody two shoes who always stood out as the example for other christians to follow after. I can remember in high school being the leader of teaching sessions to new christians teaching them how to act "proper" because it was more effective when someone who was the same age as the other kids who would show them what was "Christian". I was very good at being the person whom every young person should strive to be like.

Yet I always questioned whether or not what I was doing was true, or why I was even doing it in the first place. I noticed how the favorites got played among the leaders of the church by "promoting" relatives and friends into positions of leadership and forgetting about those who were not of proper lineage. I remember being told as a young man that because I had not been to church for 2 weeks that I would have to step down from a ministry I was involved in. At the same time the man who demoted me, the son of the head pastor, had just been appointed as the youth pastor after being out of the Marine Corp. for about a week(a real christian environment lol). I remember some other people who were in high school being turned the blind eye when they got caught having sex or drinking. Yet you could rest assured that someone who did not matter, like me for instance, would be punished and brought before the church.

When I reached eighteen years of age my father had quit going to church. He became depressed and resorted to alcoholism. I can remember my mother and I begging for help from the church leaders to comfort and love my father like the great Jesus had commanded. All that was ever produced, though, was empty promises from church leaders who cared to much about sticking their heads up their superiors ass than lending a hand to someone who needed it. The reason was simple, my father did not matter. He was not important enough to give a dam about. I realized, at that moment, the games I had been involved in. How I had lived a life of pleasing those whom had thrown me aside when I became of little use them. And for once it was crystal clear to me; The church was nothing more than politics in its most dangerous form. It made you believe that if you simply did what was asked of you in a book which was constantly misqouted that you could be happy and accepted. And in the end all that occurs is the tearing down of a persons individualism and liberties.

I walked away from the church the day that I opened my eyes to this. I have heard people say that I cannot judge my personal relationship with god on others. But would a real god allow his place of worship to be tarnished with corruption and glory of the primitive human? Would a real god who preached reaching out to those who are in need let half of the world starve and those who are not of worldly stature fall to the wayside? Would a real god write to us about how much he loves us while allowing all kinds of evil to ruin peoples lives?

I am now free from the guilt of leaving the political institute which I once embraced. And needless to say I do not worry much about god smiting me with a thunderbolt anymore. All that is left for me to do is to start living very late in life and find out who the hell I am. Yet, suprisingly, I am more at peace with the world and my life than i have ever been. My eyes have been opened to different things that were condemned in the religious realm. I am finally accepting and being accepted and enjoying the things in life that make me happy. Finally, I am becoming whole.


Male
Las Vegas
Nevada
United States
Joined: Nine years of age
Left: Seventeen years of age
Was: Independent fundamental Baptist
Now: Agnostic
Converted because: Family pressure and conviction from sermons.
De-converted because: The realization of being lied to and treated as a pawn.
email: richdennis84 at yahoo dot com

12/4/05                                                                                       View Comments

Trying to find peace in my soul

sent in by Thomas

I was born into a evangelical family. I became a Christian at age 12,
it was an enormous relief after years of being desperate to know I was a
Christian and no longer facing hell. Through my teenage years I was
100% convinced and read the Bible every day. I was persecuted at school
for my faith but always turned the other cheek when beaten up, which was
not a very successful strategy. At Univerisity I was president of the
Christian Union and led the "mission" to promote Christianity to the
lost students. Nothing made me happier than seeing people come to faith
and find salvation.

I married very young, believing it was better to marry early rather
than risk falling into sin. We attended Church early in our marriage 5 or
6 times a week. The first tremor to shake my faith was a few years
later when I found out that the leader I most respected in the church had
been committing not just a sordid sin but something that was criminal as
well. Furthermore the pastor had known for over a year and had decided
not to challenge him. This experience was devastating and I was
appalled at how the gospel had been brought into disrepute.

We later joined a great church which was growing rapidly and was a
loving and caring community, but I now had conflicting thoughts in my head
about what the truth was.

The next body blow was at the graveside of my baby son. My pastor could
give no assurance as to the eternal destiny of my child, who of course
never believed in Christ. He just said we should trust God. Terrible as
this is I think it does reflect what the Bible says - the age of
accountability is not in there and all are born in sin. I did feel comfort
that people were praying for us, and for the futile jestures of endless
pre-cooked dinners. But after this as the months went by and my wife
suffered horrible grief and pain, and doubt, and believed that she must be
a terrible mother if it was "working together for good" for God to kill
our child.

This started a new phase in my spirituality. I started to really think
about Hell. It is a truely awful and hideous concept, after a billion
years of torture you can only look forward to a billion times as much
pain again. I started to resent the fact my other son, who despite my
investment in Christian schooling, says he does not believe the scriptures
although he believes in God might end up there. It was very hard to
love a God who would allow my son to end up there when he is all powerful
and surely could avoid this happening. I then started thinking about
all the other millions of unbelievers - what about the devout Muslim
teenager who was overwhelmed by the tsumani - why should he have to wake up
in Hell. I stood by Stone Henge that summer and (I am not becoming a
new age hippy BTW) and thought of the hundreds of people who must have
worked on it who were born with a 100% chance of not finding Christ or
Yahweh and hence were going to be tortured for eternity. Or what about my
loving Grandparents who are within months of the abyss right now. This
thinking about hell which I don't think Christians really do, created
severe doubts. An omnipotent, all loving God and the Biblical Hell just
don't fit together.

At this time I increased my reading of science and history and saw
that, while the evolutionary story (for me) really fails to explain how and
why we got here, equally there seems to be compelling evidence that God
did not create the world 6000 years ago as I had always believed. Why
are mammal fossils never found in the cambrian, why are like fossils
always together, what was Homo Erectus doing wondering the earth, why are
there ice cores with 700,000 annual melt rings, why can we see things a
million light years away? Equally Christianity, and my brand of it in
particular, was really a minority part of history, had the living and
loving God really left so many people in the dark?

These doubts, and the increasing feeling that ignoring them is an act
of dishonesty not an act of faith are really hurting. My whole family
life and friendships are based around Christianity and to "come out"
could have devastating effects. Also what is the alternative? The
foundation of my world view is shattering and life seems senseless at times. I
still at times fear Hell and even writing this although it is genuine
feels blasphamous.

Have have never just the internet like this before but welcome comments
of ex or current Christians that might help

regards

Thomas

UK
12
34
Was: evangelical, reformed
Now: agnostic, seeking the truth, doubting christian
Converted because: Believed it to be the truth
De-converted because: Suspect it is not the truth

12/3/05                                                                                       View Comments

On the eve of my ex-Christianity

sent in by anonymous

Practically from day one, I have been brainwashed by Christian schooling. Oh, I don't doubt that they had nothing but the best intentions, but that is beside the point. I went to a Christian elementary school, where I thought I had become saved at a very early age. There was however no joy or feeling of the spirit, etc...a fact which later caused me accept countless more salvations. Saved, not saved, saved, not saved....Let's not even go into the Tulip Principle. After elementary school, I (and of my own decision,unfortunatly) went to another Christian school. The former was Lutheran, this was Mennonite based, but really was a collection of the individual beliefs of each teacher. Upon arrival I noticed the startling difference in their worship,(you know...sappy, emotional music, hands raised, prayers said under the breath. The kind of stuff that sucks you in...you know) and had strong feelings of guilt that I was unable to share their enthusiasm or mentality. I went through junior high and high school being a victim of the beliefs of my teachers and peers. I have always been dangerously impressionable and succeptible to the slightest coercion. I believed almost every word they said, in fact, every word every Christian has ever told me, even when those words conflicted (which is often). In fact, one day one of my bible teachers commented once that we were being brainwashed-day by day being told what to believe and how to think and if you don't you're going to hell. I didn't want to believe him then, but I completely do now.

I flip-flopped back and forth through periods of contentment (when I would completely forget about Christianity and its teachings, we'll call this the recession), through periods of zealousness and a false sense that I had a good relationship with god (basically when I didn't question the crap I was taught), and periods of intense confusion and emotional pain (periods when I would question its teachings and began to realize its startling amount of phliosophical, scientific, logical, and historical flaws). The climax was a couple months ago when after recession I decided to give being saved one last shot;there was always something I'd thought I'd screwed up. But by this time, I had already questioned too much and had a sour taste for the religion. I being more confused and chaotic than ever. I thought that because I had never been happy with the religion before was because I yet agained messed something up, and I needed a literal miracle. I had even begun to believe I might be "possesed". Coincidently, we were trying to sell a house and this real estate agent came along who happened to have this pamphlet that teaches you how to "get a miracle" by basically saying a series of prayers. I thought he must be sent from god because of the coincidence, so I determined to make it work this time. Oh, did you know that confusion and chaos (and pokemon) are sins? Neither did I. Another reason to feel guilty, but that's probably a sin too. --Here's the problem with this religion. It's called the power of suggestion, also known as the placebo affect. If you believe that a healing (or a pill filled with sugar) is working, you will feel it working-even physically. You must believe it's working for it to work. That's how the power of suggestion works. Oddly enough, Christians (and this real estate agent) will tell you that you have to "believe". Well, you know what? I can make my tenitus (ringing of the ears, which according to him was the result of some sin I had to cast off) go away by simply focusing on the sound, imagining that it is leaving. And it does! This same technique is used in eastern religions which they claim are "of the devil".

--Funny story: I work late night shift for a hotel. Nothing usually happens save for the occasional froot loop. Well,a couple weeks ago, a lady came in. At first she seemed just eccentric, overly zealous Christian, but it was later apparent to everyone else excluding me that she was CooCoo for Cocoa Puffs. Mind you, I was, and still am, on the eve of my ex-christianity, so I mostly believed her. She was a schizophrenic who made up imaginary stories in her mind and then played them out. The turning point, however, was when she reached over the counter and told me, "Touch my finger, I'm gonna ZAP you in the name of Jeeesus." WTF?! I, dumbfounded but compliant as usual, obeyed. At that moment I began to feel a "force", which I quickly gained control of. The story ends in my manager...and my mom (who as a nurse has worked with people like this)...and the police coming over and banishing her from the hotel chain.--

Anyway, I tried his methods, and they worked only until I stopped believing them. Duh. Feeling I had failed again, I tried again repetedly at home, at church which also worked momentarily, and even by one of those ridiculous tv healers (send me money, god will send you a miracle, blah, blah, blah...30 more dollars for your miracle...yak, yak...buy my magical healing soap...blubber, blubber, you're miracle is almost here!...) What I needed wasn't a miracle, it was a splash of cold water and someone slapping me in the face shouting, "Snap out of it!"

There are so many denominations, beliefs and interpretations, and they are each convinced that it's their way or the highway.

Tickets for eternity cancelled!

sent in by Ryan

I have been educating myself on this forum for several months now. I must say, I have learned so much from everyone on this website and I truly appreciate the inspiration and comfort I receive.

To begin with, I was raised from day one into the Southern Baptist dogma and culture. I was always taught the Baptists had the right way and no others. Catholics? Going to Hell! I can remember as young as seven being stricken with fear as the preacher asked all the saved people of our church to come forward in the altar area to fellowship. My mother had informed me beforehand that I would not be going forward because I was not “saved” yet. Well, when everyone went forward I thought I was going to hell, not to mention I had the deepest sense of being abandoned by my family, sitting alone in the pew. As you can imagine, I bawled like a baby. I guess the preacher thought I was being a repentant sinner, so he took me aside afterwards to ascertain whether I understood the plan of salvation. I remember crying a lot, yet not quite attaining that “born again” status. This was around the time that my father and several uncles had just died within several months of each
other. So I guess I equated church and the smell of flowers with death.

Almost two years passed, and my mother remarried and we moved to another small town in Indiana. We were involved in a very small country church that was pretty much Southern Baptist in doctrine and style but had Independent on the door. I do have several good memories of this church and the friends, families involved. This was the church I was saved in at 11 years old. The preaching was the fire and brimstone type, which certainly kept me awake. Now when I say fundamental, I mean this church was fundy to the max! The bible inerrant, every dot and tittle! My brother’s future Father-in-law even believed the earth was flat! Thankfully, no one else did though. But every story in the bible was believed without question.

Like I said before, I was 11 years old when I was “born again”. I bawled like a baby again! Although for the life of me, I couldn’t really think of any major sins I was guilty of! Maybe it was the guilt of blowing up my plastic soldiers with firecrackers! I was saved during a revival. A side note, why do Christians always need revivals anyway? Aren’t we supposed to have the Holy Spirit indwelled? Oh, the cares and snares of this world! I digress, my mother had just given her testimony during the Sunday morning service about how she thanked god for her salvation and that all of her kids were saved except one. Well, you guessed it. It was I! Oh, the guilt and pressure hoisted upon an 11 year old! In retrospect, it seemed like the natural thing to do. Like it was expected. You had to have that “experience”. You had to come to a realization that you were a miserable, disgusting sinner and then lay it at the foot of Calvary. I have often wanted to ask my mother if she
thought I would have gone to hell if I had died right before being saved. I am sure I may have fallen into the “age of accountability” loophole. Where is that in the bible again?

Well, the next night my stepsister got saved. What is ironic about that is it happened during a thunderstorm and the lights went out. She said she was up at the altar when the lights went out and got saved. My stepfather and mother always questioned that experience and they had their doubts. So, a month or two later I got baptized along with all the other recent converts in an actual creek! It was dirty and cold as hell! But, I got baptized just like Jesus in the river! No dunk tank in the church for me! Hallelujah, the whole family is saved and will be in heaven forever!

A few months later, our small church had a terrible break up due to some disagreement with the pastor. It was divided right down the middle and over half the church left, including our family. To this day I really don’t know what exactly caused it. It made me realize though, if Christians can’t get along with each other with the love of Jesus, what is the point? So for a while, we moved to a different church until that pastor left. The other Baptist church we went to for awhile was not quite as fire and brimstone, but it had great emphasis on the salvation
message. Every week the same message nearly. So I was thoroughly versed in the salvation plan by this time. It seemed like every week, a backslider or two would come forward to rededicate their life to Christ. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to do that throughout my life.

As I grew into my teenage years, I still carried this tremendous fear and guilt, always feeling I wasn’t living up to what a Christian should be. Always having those nasty, lustful thoughts! I read the bible, required to nearly every day. I always read the smaller chapters in Psalms to rack up a good count to turn in the next Sunday during Sunday school. We had to memorize chapters also. I just remember it being extremely boring to read the bible, except the war, killing and raping parts.

As I grew into adulthood, I joined the military at 18. Talk about an eye opening experience to the real world! For the first time in my life, I met people who didn’t think like I did or do things like I did. Now obviously there were worldly vices in my community, I just didn’t get involved in them until I joined the military. I had never even had a beer until I was 18! Yea, I was somewhat sheltered to the realities of the outside world. Keep in mind; we didn’t have cable back in those days!

When I joined the military, religion and Christianity took a back seat. I was free on my own! I went to Korea and had a helluva time! Wine, Women, and Song as they say, and then some! Then I married a Korean girl toward the end of my tour. Talk about the audacity I had of marrying a non-Christian, non-Baptist, non-white girl! I was unequally yoked according to my parents and they said leave her over there. They definitely didn’t think god would bless the marriage; she was a heathen
oriental after all! After she came to the states, they were a little more accepting, especially after she got saved herself.

The next twenty years of marriage and until my divorce, I was pretty much adherent to the faith, even becoming a spirit filled, tongues talking, charismatic deacon in an Assemblies of God church when I was stationed in Ohio. I also for many years was a Sunday school teacher for the various Korean churches, which my wife attended. Despite all this, I still felt like I wasn’t good enough to teach or serve as a deacon. The guilt and pressure were tremendous. During this period though, I never questioned if I was saved or not, and never wondered about the
validity of the religion itself. It was a given in my mind.

It was not until as recently as a couple of years ago right before my divorce that certain doubts came to mind. Throughout my indoctrination, it was always emphasized that one’s relationship with Christ is a personal one, not religion. That’s why we were different from all the other religions and those were all false except for ours. As I begin to question more and more, I felt we did as much “religious” stuff as the next religion. God’s love was unconditional, yet we had to witness and bring souls into the kingdom, tithe, attend services, prayer
meetings, ask people to come to church, pray daily, sing those silly little maranatha songs, and etc, etc. Doesn’t god get tired of the same songs
week after week? I know I sure did!

I began to question, why does it have to be like this? I mean the aspect of an omnipotent, omniscient deity requiring worship. Is it because he is insecure? Lonely? Doesn’t he have all those cherubim and seraphim to keep him company and grovel at his feet? At the time, I kept those concerns to myself and really did not feel the need to ask someone in authority. Once again, it was in my mind just a given. I mean what else was there?

During my last tour overseas before I retired, I stopped going to church and when I got back I never went again. After my divorce, on my own, I still did not go back. Neither did I contact any of the former people I knew from church. Even though I still felt I was a Christian I didn’t feel like explaining why I wasn’t coming back to church, or any church for that matter. I did run into one guy from my church where I was a deacon at a local restaurant one day and I told him I didn’t
feel like a Christian anymore. He pretty much said that was okay and just invited me to his new church anyway. He was always the type of Christian you would feel comfortable telling. Let me make this perfectly clear, I have been hurt, stolen from, lied to, backstabbed from other church members just like everyone else. That is not the reason I left. At first, it just became a habit of not going back to church, because the relationship to the deity is personal, right? Church is only a form of control. To keep the flock in line and give you strength to make it through a grueling work week. After all, we American Christians are so persecuted and oppressed by Satan and his horde of secular humanists!

It has only been this past year that I have come to the succinct conclusion that I am no longer a Christian and that I have lived a lie for the past 43 years! My family does not know, although they may suspect. They pretty much know I don’t go to church anymore. My parents asked me last year after I moved to Rhode Island, if I had found a church. I said, “Well they are pretty liberal up there.” They said, “Yea, I imagine so.” The subject was pretty much dropped. This past October I went back to Indiana for a friend’s wedding that I have known since high school. I have told him. He is a Christian but doesn’t have a problem with it. Anyway, I was at my oldest sister’s house and the subject came up about my niece going to the local tavern in our very small town and getting some Mexican food from there. My sister was explaining to my two nieces about how it’s not a positive Christian witness to go into taverns. You know, that appearance of evil thing. Well yes, I would agree, it’s not. If you are a Christian that certainly holds true. Being my obnoxious self I said, “Well it’s a good thing I don’t have to worry about that anymore, and that’s all I got to say about the subject.” They kind of looked at me funny. So I think they suspect. One of my nieces does joke around with me about being a heathen. There is one thing that really stands out in my mind during my visit. I was watching Fox news (yea, I know) with my stepfather, who is a licensed minister by the way, regarding a segment about gays marching in San Francisco. All
he said was, “Bunch of Faggots!” Then that very Sunday, he preached a message about compassion! I sat in the back (Yea, I had to go, it’s a respect thing for my parents) thinking, WTF? Oh, the irony! Don’t get me wrong I love my family very much, but I had to cringe and bite my tongue so many times during that visit.

About the only person I have discussed my deconversion with is a good friend of mine who I just met last year. Although she grew up in Wisconsin, she was never raised in church. I told her that was the best gift her mother could have ever gave her! She really didn’t have any idea what Christianity was all about and was fascinated by my experiences in church. Especially the speaking in tongues aspect. She was very curious about that and the laying on of hands and catching people who
were slain in the spirit. I told her I could still speak in tongues and that was how I knew it was all B. S. She is always asking me to speak in tongues, she really gets a kick out of it. She mentioned my experiences to a religious friend of hers and her friend told her I have a gift from god because I can speak in tongues and that I would come back to him. I could only laugh and told her to tell her friend she doesn’t know her bible very well. Hebrews 6:4, about the impossibility of coming back after having been enlightened and denying the faith. Another friend of mine, who I just recently informed of my deconversion, refuses to accept this verse even after I explicitly explained it to him. “I will still pray for you brother!” Why do Christians refuse to go by their own bible? I basically told him, that he needed to research his faith and why he believes the way he does. He bases it solely on personal experiences and he feels he would have never gotten to where he is today without Christ.

To sum this up, I have never felt more freedom and guiltlessness than I do today. Although I do not consider myself an atheist, I am certainly heading that direction. And to think I used to despise that word so much! A few years ago, I would have thought it impossible to be where I am at today in regards to religion. It was a given. Well, no more!