7/30/06                                                                                       View Comments

2000 years of lies

sent in by David Maas

I have decided to write about how I left. I was born into a Christian family. I went to a Christian school from K to 12, so I had 13 years of day in day out indoctrination. The church I was brought up in was the Christian Reform church and I was treated quite well. My family was poor and they did help us out a lot financially, so we wouldn't become homeless and go hungry. This also one of the reasons I stayed a Christian so long.

My deconversion started when I was quite young. My first memory of questioning the Bible was when I was in Kindergarten. The teacher was reading to us a story about dinosaurs, and there was a line in the story the said something like "millions of years before man dinosaurs roamed the earth." Well my school taught that creation took only 6 days, so I asked, "How can this be true, if it only took 6 days to create the world?" The teacher said that she didn't know and that was that. I was always very suspicious of many things taught to me as a child. I can remember a lot of little things that didn't make any sense from the Bible. I really felt sorry for the Canaanites in the Old Test. I really felt God was a mean and cruel god. I also thought that if God is all powerful, why did he have to kill his son for us? If God is all knowing, why then did he make us knowing most of us would end up in hell? As a young child I thought about all those things.

College was the best thing for me since it exposed me to people who weren?t Christian. I also really start to dislike most Christians during college. I found them boring, petty, judgmental and two faced; so most my friends were not Christians. I felt bad that they were all going to hell if they didn't convert. I thought God was really unfair to them. They were good people and more loving to others them most of my Christians acquaintances. Also, I was friends with a lot of gays and lesbians and according to the Bible they were the worse people and going straight to hell.

After college I started to acknowledge that most of the Bible was not literally true. It all started when a friend of mine pointed out to me that if God is love then all my unbelieving friends will not go to hell. Since God is perfect and I am not perfect and I don't want them to go hell then he most definitely doesn?t want them to go to hell and won't send them to hell. It took awhile for me to believe this since I was a literalist at the time. I would have say around this time I became a liberal Christian and stayed that way for several years. I even found a church that was liberal enough for me. They believed that everyone could get to heaven, but Christianity was the better way because it didn't demand works. I could live with this, and got quite involved with that church.

About 3 years ago I moved to Singapore. At first I went to my wife's church. This is when I really started to see what Christianity is really like. Her church preaches what I call a message of hate. It is a hate for yourself and others. The minister would always preach about how you are not good enough and no matter how hard you try you will never be good enough. He would also preach that God isn't answering your prayers because you don't pray right. This church also followed various methods of mind of control. The music would be so loud you could not even hear yourself sing. Also, they would repeat the song about 10 times before they would stop. This would go on for about 45 minutes, and by the end everyone would be so wired and their brains would be fried. Also, this church teaches that you are not supposed to trust your own reason and everything that you think is wrong. This really pissed me off since I am engineer/scientist and everything I think generally involves logic and reason.

After a few months I stopped going to that church and my wife goes by herself. I tried finding a liberal church, but in Singapore there is none. Since I had no one to guide me spiritually, I started to read books about Christianity and its history as a way to fill the void. What I found made me leave Christianity all together. It is all pretty much a fairy tale. It is a message of hate and anger. It is about a petty god and who is more akin to what people think Satan is. The people who put the Bible together were a bunch of evil men who wanted power and hate women. Christianity has killed more people then any other religion. After reading all this history, I get sick when I think about Christianity. It should be destroyed, since it is destroying everything else.

So I haven't been a Christian for about 1.5 years. My wife knows I am not a Christian and it makes her very sad since to her I am going to hell. Also, it ruined her dreams about having a perfect family. For her sake sometimes I wish I could go back, but I can't. Now I hope that she can someday see the light and leave the church, but all her friends are there, so there is a great social pressure for her to stay.

Thanks for reading my story. I still have a lot of anger towards Christianity. I do believe Christians need our understanding and help since many of them have been broken by their churches to think they are worthless and unworthy of happiness and anything good.
Singapore
Born into it
33
Was: Christian Reformed, Methodist
Converted because: There might be something out there
De-converted because: History and reason killed it!
Email: dmaas15ATYahoo_dot_com

7/26/06                                                                                       View Comments

Never Going Back

sent in by Nvrgoingbk

I can't remember a time when I didn't believe in God. I was adopted at three months old into a Catholic family and I remember watching the story of Jesus on television at Christmas time. It broke my heart that he was crucified and treated so poorly when all he did was love us. Catholic statues were common around my home as were the repetitive prayers we said every night but never understood. My parents were not particularly religious. They were what I would consider soft secularists. They believed what they believed, but they didn't force it down our throats. They were hypocrites when it served them. We didn't frequent mass too often. We attended on Christmas and Easter and there was a brief period we attended regularly, but it was short lived. Sitting through mass was agonizing for me: All of the kneeling and standing, all of the prearranged services. Still, as I said before, my family was not particularly religious, so it was easy to not give Jesus and God much thought throughout my childhood years.

I was the only adopted family member. My older brother and younger sister were both the biological children of my adoptive parents. My brother liked to play with my pee-pee. He was five years older than me. I was about nine when it began and thirteen when I ended it by confessing to my school counselor and resource officer. I had never enjoyed a close relationship with my adoptive mother. She was a very controlling and abusive woman. My behavior had been adversely affected by the sexual abuse of my brother so by the time my parents found out about the abuse I had already established myself as a lying, thieving, whore. My family refused to believe my accusations and made sure to inform Child Protective Services that I was nothing but a trouble maker who had a history of compulsive lying. CPS wrote me off as a storyteller and left me in the home. I was thirteen. By the time I was fourteen I started running away. My parents decided to drop me off at a Christian children's home hoping that an Xtian influence would change me.

This was my first experience with "born again" Christians. The house parents were thirty years old with three children of their own. I was fourteen and beautiful and the house mother was very insecure. She hated me and made me know it. I recall an incident where she screamed in my face and spewed all kinds of venomous, religious poison at me and warned me of the horrors of Hell. I was at church with them one Sunday and listened to a sermon preached about how the world was supposed to end on Sept. 13. Well, it was the Sunday before Sept. 13 and the pastor gave the usual alter call and I ran up there sobbing. I sure didn't want to go that horrible place! My house parents were thrilled and gave me my first Bible. Reading it was like reading another language altogether. It was pointless. I only lived there three months before I was successful at getting my heathen self expelled from that loving Christian group home.

I continued to have discipline problems. I landed myself in Indiana Girls School Department of Corrections. I spent a long time there and was the only resident there who never received a visit from family or anyone else for that matter the whole time I was there. That was okay since I didn't like them much anyway. The only people from the outside world that I saw were the missionaries that would come and conduct Bible studies with us. Those ladies were so nice, I thought. Somehow, I don't remember when or how, I just came to believe their testimony of Jesus and how he could save me from my sins. I came to believe that the Bible was the word of God and I began to attend Chapel and pray and love Jesus with all my heart. Born-agains think it important to be able to cite the day of one's conversion, but I don't have a monumental "aha!" moment to rehash here. I just somehow came to believe and that was good enough for me.

For years I held on to those beliefs. I was a constant "backslider" ,but I never let go of my belief that Jesus was the perfect son of God that died for the sins of the world and was the only way to be saved. I would only marry someone I knew to be a believer and so I did. We had my son from a previous relationship and had two daughters of our own. We had a happy family and attended church often. My husband and I tried to have couple's devotionals and I have raised my children to love and fear God all their lives. My marriage did not survive and I attributed it to the fact that we hadn't been living Godly enough lives and that now God was punishing me. Oh how I would beg God to bring my husband back! Oh how I would beg God to change me into a good enough wife! For two years I kept the door open to reconciliation with him. I saw other people, but my husband knew that I would welcome him home if he were to decide to leave his mistress. Eventually I let go of that dream and I met another Christian man. My husband and I were legally divorced and I could love again without guilt. While my husband and I were married, a friend of mine had opened my eyes to the fact that Christians are guilty of paganism and she exposed the lie of the "rapture". I studied it exhaustively and came to the same conclusion, but it wasn't enough to make me leave my Christian roots. It wasn't until I met this new man that the foundation of my faith really began to crumble.

Nick was serious about God. For two years I sacrificed everything I could to show him how much I was willing to come under the authority of God and him as the head of our relationship. I was betrothed to him and considered myself as good as married without the paper. We never had sex; I gave up friends, smoking pot, etc. I allowed my children to love him and he even called them his own. I soon began to feel convicted about loving him and our impending marriage. I searched the scriptures and many other sources for freedom to remarry but could find no such freedom. The more I read the scriptures, the more strict I found the rule of no remarriage to be. I couldn't understand why God would send me to Hell for loving Nick when my first husband didn't want me and had abandoned me and his children for another woman. Why would he want a thirty-year-old mother of three to wait around for her ex-husband who has shown no desire to ever reconcile? I couldn't imagine how a love so beautiful as the one I knew with Nicolas could ever be considered "sin". I was tormented night and day by this and at times felt I would have a nervous breakdown. I entertained thoughts of suicide often. I would torment Nick. There was no relief until I finally just had to ignore Jesus' warning in Matthew and find happiness with Nick. The more I tried to go on though, the less I could ignore other troublesome scriptures in the Bible. I began to question things more and more. I had been a Christian a lot longer than Nick. He was very zealous for the Lord and had not yet begun to scrutinize his beliefs and the Bible. I had passed the stage of childlike faith that he had and could not ignore the inaccuracies, atrocities, etc., that seemed to plague the Bible. It was devastating for him. He wanted a good Christian girl, but I couldn't play the part. He was convinced that Atheist means A-moral and would not let me come between him and God. I wasn't even an Atheist yet! I still believed that Jesus was the savior and all; I just questioned all the other shit. It wasn't until Nicolas broke up with me for the zillionth time and it was really over for us that I began a diligent search for the truth into the origins of the Hebrews, the Christian faith, and the Bible. I already knew of Constantine and the changes that came to the Xtian religion through the Roman govt., but I knew nothing of the Zoroastrians and how much they influenced the Hebrew way of thinking. I knew nothing of the other "gods" who had supposedly been born of virgins, performed miracles, were crucified and raised three days later. I had never heard of Mithras. I knew nothing of the Epic of Gilgamesh and how its story of a world wide flood was almost 500 years older than that of Noah's flood. I had no idea that the Hebrews weren't monotheistic before they were influenced by the Zoroastrians nor did they believe in Satan, a hierarchy of angels and demons, heaven or hell. I had always wondered why Hell was even taught in the church when the Old Testament said little to nothing about it and God had told Adam and Eve that the punishment for their sin in the garden was DEATH not HELL, but I was so damned indoctrinated with fear that I was too afraid to leave Christianity.

I started college at thirty two (Jan of this year). I began to learn so much through the Humanities, World Religion and Ethics. It fed my hunger for knowledge and truth even more and continued to validate my doubts about the Christian faith and the beliefs I had held so dear but had systematically kept me in bondage at the same time. I wrote a ten page paper for my World Religion class this last summer semester. It was on why so many people were leaving the Christian faith. The three reasons I cited were, hypocrisy, the denominational splits, and biblical inaccuracies. My professor was Catholic. I got a 100 on the paper!

I wish that I could say I have found peace in my new found "unbelief". I have not found freedom in that regard. My de-conversion is fairly new compared to my years of brainwashed Christianity. It's a very lonely road to trod. All of my friends were Christians. I have told my ex-husband of my de-conversion and my sister. My best friend also knows and is devastated for me. My sister will continue to pray for me. Her and my best friend is convinced I will come back around and that this is just a phase. My thirteen-year-old son is superior in intelligence and so I have begun to reveal some of the problems in the Bible and with the Christian faith. It is sad for him to lose faith, but he told me that because I have established a foundation of trust with him he knows that I would not tell him something that were a lie and that if I have come to this conclusion, I have obviously studied a lot and come to it through much thought and research and would not knowingly lead him astray. I asked him why he had believed me about Jesus before and he said for the same reason. He knew I would never lie to him and if I had told him that Jesus was the son of God that it must be true. I told him at three years old that there was no Santa Claus. I never wanted him believing in fairy tales and I still don't. I don't tell my daughters. They are only six and seven years old. Their paternal grandmother and her husband are charismatic Christians. They are very involved grandparents and I don't want to cause dissention for them and my daughters. They love their grandparents. Right now I fear they are too young to deal with this earth shattering truth. I don't lie to them about Jesus or God. I just allow them to believe for now, because I don't know how to approach this with them.

I wish that someone would wake me up and tell me that it's all been a bad dream. I wish they'd prove to me that Christianity is real, but Christians can't even agree to the tenets of their own faith. The interdenominational wars continue and the arguing is so loud that they can't hear those of us screaming at the top of our lungs asking for answers. You'd think that if the salvation of one's soul was dependent upon the tenets of the Christian faith that Christians would agree upon what it really takes to be saved. You'd think that if serving God was so important and the Bible was the inerrant, God inspired book it is claimed to be that Christians would agree as to how best serve this God.

I am trying to redefine myself, but it's hard. That's human nature, ya know? We all want to belong to a group of people who believe the way we do even if that group of people have negative connotations attached to a name such as Atheist. I can't really call myself an atheist though. I think that to make a claim such as "There is no God" is just as audacious as to claim that there is only one way to God. As long as we are attached to these mortal frames we will not know what, if any, god exists. The Bible claims that for now we see dimly but that one day we will all see clearly. That is a morsel of truth my mind can accept. Thank you all for listening to me

Port Richey
FL
Pasco Co.
USA
How old were you when you became a Christian? :16
How old were you when you ceased being a Christian?: 32
Was: Baptist, Pentecostal, assemblies of God, non-denominational...
Now: Agnostic
Converted because: I became a Christian because I loved the idea of Jesus, a perfect, loving, man-god that would die for me
De-converted because: Because I honor truth above all
email: Tiffanieradcliffe AT yahoo DOT com

7/17/06                                                                                       View Comments

Logic versus Faith

sent in by Nicholas Brosz

Logic versus religion. Thus is the concept that many people have fought and died for throughout humanity's existence. Some have fought and died for it, while far more have fought and died against it. Here is the result of my thoughts concerning the Bible and stories/miracles mentioned therein.

First, one of the most logic-defying miracles appears in Joshua 10:13. "So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, till the nation avenged itself on [ Or nation triumphed over ] its enemies, as it is written in the Book of Jashar. The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day." Now, in order for the sun to stand still, the earth naturally would have had to cease rotating. However, this would have caused not only gravity itself to cease, but also this would have caused worldwide temperature changes, a temporary changing of the Earth's magnetic field (causing all creatures that use said field for navigation to be thrown into turmoil as their "north star", so to speak, disappeared) as well as giving everyone on the bright side of the Earth a potentially lethal dose of UV radiation due to the deflection power of Earth's magnetic field being temporarily "shut off". And then, if the world had suddenly gone from rotating at 465.11 m/s (at the equator) to no movement at all, everything on the earth would have been shot out into space as if from a slingshot.

Second, according to Genesis chapter 17, Abraham's wife managed to give birth to a son despite having passed menopause. Even if she had a single egg cell left in her ovaries, the chances of that egg being fertilized by Abraham during the narrow window in which it would be possible is so unlikely, it could practically be called impossible.

Third, Noah's Ark. In order to build a boat large enough to hold two of every species of creature on Earth as well as the food required would have without a doubt caused the Ark to be so heavy, it would have undoubtedly sunk. Furthermore, such a construction task would have taken one man's family many decades to build working alone, especially since according to the technical specifications the Bible gives for the ark, it was 450x75x45 feet, which would be 1,518,750 cubic feet, hardly enough to hold 2 of every unclean animal and 7 of every clean animal on Earth (including many species that are now extinct, such as dinosaurs). And then there's the problem of food. How would he feed these creatures for the 150 days in which he resided in the Ark? How would he and his family have managed to single-handedly give all these creatures fresh water (since the new oceans of the Earth would have been quite undrinkable if not due to salt content then due to the microbes from all the decomposing creatures that had died in the flood), cleaned out the dung (which, again, would have gone into their water source), and kept the animals from fighting or in any other way getting riled up? My parents claim that God put them all into hibernation, but that still doesn't explain how they would all fit on the Ark, and most creatures wouldn't be able to go into hibernation and be sustained for 150 days on nothing but body fat (reptiles included, don't store near enough body fat to survive a 150-day hibernation without any food and then, when it was all over, having to wait until other creatures either reproduced or flora returned before they could eat). Then, Noah was informed of the water having drained from the earth (apparently to an undisclosed location, since there doesn't seem to be that much water on Earth now) by a dove having brought him back an olive tree leaf. The problem with this is that olive trees need "average" rainfall. Being submerged for 150 days would have been more than enough to drown any olive tree (and probably any other tree as well for that matter) or at least cause it to die due to lack of sunlight. Furthermore, it would have taken much longer than just a the few days that the water was drained for a new olive tree to sprout and grow to the point of bearing leaves.

Of course, there's also the miracles in which the dead are brought back to life. The problem with this is that by the time 3 days had gone by (in the case of Jesus or Lazarus), the body would have gone into an extended state of decay, all tissue in the body being dead and the brain having suffered irreversible damage. Unless Jesus and Lazarus (and others who were resurrected) could spontaneously regain the chemicals and electric signals that made up their memory (which defies all proven laws of the inability for matter to appear out of nothing), they would have been brought back to life with almost complete memory loss, not to mention their muscles being stricken with rigor mortis (which beings after 3 hours and takes over 72 hours to dissipate), which would have made them unable to even hold their bodies upright and stand.

I could go on, but it is unnecessary. Suffice it to say that I realized how many impossible (by proven scientific facts, versus faith and biblical theory) many (if not most or all) the miracles described in the Bible are. From there I came to realize that religion was not worth what it asked for (not including the weekly church donations that costs my family some 5,000 to 7,500 dollars or more yearly) and the blinding of people to what could be a foreseeable truth, meaning if a scientist discovered groundbreaking evidence that could change the way Humanity worked but would contradict the Bible, Christians, against all logic and reason would stick to their false faith rather than go towards what may cause Humanity and the Earth as a whole to become enlightened.

McLaughlin
South Dakota
United States of America
Joined: Approx. 4
Left: 17
Was: Assembly of God member, Baptist, non-segregated church member
Now: atheist, logician, free thinker, idealist
Converted because: Because I was brought up believing it was the correct way to live.
De-converted because: After much thinking I realized the Bible has no proof.
email: nhbfan AT gmail DOT com

7/15/06                                                                                       View Comments

Breaking The Last Bond of Slavery...

sent in by Shi

I don't even know where to start except to say that I am quite happy that I can see clearly now since my third eye has been restored. I no longer feel awkward, embarrassed, ashamed, uncomfortable, or guilty when I proudly and justifiable tell people that "No, I am not a believer in the program of Christianity and I don't go to church to take part in the distortion of God."

Of course most think I have lost my mind when I say this, but I don't disagree because I have lost the mind that they gave me without my permission. All my life, Christianity was all I knew. I was taught that to think or believe anything else was disrespectful and devious in God's eyes. I was also told that to fellowship with anyone who believed anything different from myself would be disruptive to my soul because such people were lost and unfavorable in God's view. Never once though did anyone bring up the fact that all the images that I would see of God and/or of Jesus never looked like me or the people in my community. They all had European features and such, which I thought was a bit odd because I couldn't help, but wonder would white folk have the same images up in their churches, home and sanctuaries, etc. of their oppressor and savior, and God and enslaver being of like nature?

Even if Blacks weren't the oppressors, I still wonder would white people proudly display a Black Jesus or God figure in their home, sanctuary, etc? The answer that I keep concluded was HELL No, because either consciously or subconsciously people know how powerful images are on the mind. This issue greatly disturbed me every time I'd witness this, which was and still is quite frequently. This didn't make sense to me, but as a good Christian girl, I thought something was wrong with me and not the program that I was made to believe. Attending college was the biggest eye opener for me because so many things had been introduced to me that none of my uneducated family members ever could have even pondered to explore with me, much less themselves.

I began to learn how the Europeans went into Africa spreading this poison called Christianity to subvert the minds of the masses in order to enslave them and in the interim, convince them that they were the savages, barbarians and hedonistic people who had no God consciousness, therefore they deserved to be enslaved. Although they had their own powerful way of relating to the creator, the psychopathology of Christianity seared in their minds for so long made them hate everything that was indicative of their homeland, especially their own religious practices. Learning that the first slave ship to this country was named "Jesus" disturbed me enough to the point that I stopped going to church immediately! I also learned how this religion has been spread all over the world essentially to have every culture's belief system in tuned and on one accord to the exaltation of the European race. As a psych minor, I learned how powerful images are on the mind in that once you start looking at your savior/God in human form with characteristics of the supposed "superior" race, one will naturally assume the role of being inferior and thus relate to that other race with undue reverence by default simply because they automatically mentally equate the "esteemed" race with God (excellent examples of brainwashing via the Christian art on this website).

It's not hard to see why my people are spiritually misaligned, which is mainly due to the pernicious doctrine that they were assigned to in this country in regards to their system of faith. Though my people are no longer in physically slavery, I've have learned why their minds are still in bondage which can be attributed to their inability to understand that their slave masters never ever intended to give them a spiritual system for their own personal benefit.

Christianity has been nothing more than a perpetual enslavement for Black people because of it's deep rooted history of white supremacy. I am proud to have learned about my history and the greatness of the ancient Egyptian spiritual system that is still evidenced today (Can't say that about any of the allegorical people of the bible). Among other mind blowing revelations, when I found out that this so called "Jesus" person had essentially the exact life story like the great ones such as Horus, Buddha, Krishna, and several other enlightened ones, but their stories predate "Jesus' " by hundreds (and some thousands) of years, I felt righteous indignation about being lied to all of my life, which has caused me to be on a mission to free every Black mind that I can from this false belief system that has done the most damage to the natural self perseverational instinct of a people. I am finding out that a lot of people don't wanna be free though. It's much easier, less threatening, and more accepting to suspend common sense and adhere to traditions than to be one who is not satisfied with being told what to think, but rather has an innate affinity to learn how to think.

I am honored to be a part of the vanguard of liberating the next generation from this twisted form of worship through the teachings that I employ with my child, nieces, nephews and others that encourage them to choose the path of learning the truth, researching information, questioning any and everything, and being more inclined to the authority of tangible evidence of Our- story instead of ascribing to the faith of HIS-tory.

I applaud you all for your fortitude and will to un-arrest your development! And for the record, I appreciate and respect all people (Black, White, Yellow, Brown), I just have a vested interest in my own people because of the current state of affairs that has misguided my people to self-destruct in spite of their greatness. ~~M.A.

"In order to understand the historical origins of Christianity, one dominant fact must be understood. This fact is that, to this day, there is no historical data or biography in existence to substantiate the life and times of a Jesus the Christ" ~~John L. McKenzie, S.J., Dictionary of the Bible p.432

Bible Belt
Georgia
USA
I was born into and assigned to this religion since my journey on the planet began
In my heart and soul, I never was a Christian, but I proudly came out of the closet in 2003. Yeah for me!!! : -)
Was: Santified Baptist, Holier than thou Methodist, Jesus Junkie Jehovah Witness
Now: I am in my right mind in that I am expressing my faith through my innate God gene
Converted because: I didn't have a choice in the matter because it was assigned to me through the forced transmission placed on my ancestors
De-converted because: Because my spirit would have it no other way
email: anomalygirl AT hotmail DOT com

7/12/06                                                                                       View Comments

Out of a life of extremism

sent in by Dan

My wife and I were ultra religious up to a few years ago. If you had seen us, you would have suspected we were Amish or Mennonite (it doesn't help that we now live in Lancaster County, PA!). The women in our household wore head-coverings and I had a particular propensity toward wearing clothes that were often confused with the aforementioned religious communities. We have a LARGE family, have been home-schooling, attended church every week (some of my children and I participated in the church orchestra). At one time I aspired to the ministry and was an interim pastor for a mid-west church.

Our religious "trek" took us from conservative Baptist (me) and Catholic (my wife) through the charismatic movement, evangelicalism, Reconstructionism (five-pointers, no less!), Presbyterianism and probably a few other "isms" tossed in for good measure. I was even part of a cult (Witness Lee's "local church" movement) for a year.

A couple years ago, our oldest son moved to the west coast to be part of a presbyterian church that looked like it was going to set him up for his early adult life in a way that would have made both his mom and dad proud. Unfortunately, when he dabbled in the some "sinful" (but normal) early adulthood independence they ended up excommunicating him. We were devastated. We knew he had dome some things he shouldn't have, but his excommunication sent us into a root-level whirlwind that made us question EVERYTHING we'd believed in. While this was going on, we ourselves had moved to another church within that same denomination and I was beginning to be pressed regarding my responsibility in my son's excommunication. I was told I had not acted responsibly, that it was my fault, and that I was not doing enough now to win him back to the faith or prevent similar things happening to my other children. I was told I had not loved him enough. Furthermore, I could already begin to see the pattern they were setting in motion that would have enabled them to excommunicate me.

Those of you who are parents know how much you want your children to share your values. Some of you may have been better at letting go than we have been, but I would venture to guess that you feel a tinge of pride when you hear your child "figure out" a conclusion that you carefully taught them over the years. When the church drove my son away rather than work with him patiently, and then blamed me for his defection, I started to question that which I would not allow myself to question before.

With these events surrounding my son's excommunication, my wife and I began to question the foundations we had lived our lives on. First of all, we saw that the years we had spent carefully plotting our religious progress had made us prideful and exclusive. People were seen by us as threats to our growth, or threats to the development of our children, or as mere prospects for conversion. We saw that when our son discovered that people outside of the faith were normal, and often admirable, he had believed a lie that we had fostered. And, understandably, this drove a wedge between us and our son that tore our hearts in two.

So we began to open up to people outside the faith, too. And like our son, we saw what good people there were out there.

Secondly, we realized the limits we placed on our lives in order to live a life that pleased God had often made us and our children miserable. There aren't a lot of people, we've seen, that can make religion enjoyable. We *did* know a few (and at that point we still admired them), but most of the time, those with religious limits are so careful that they don't cross the lines they carefully draw that they just don't know how to enjoy life. When we saw this we thought - why would ANY of our children, once they see that the world outside is actually a wonderful place to be - full of song and dance and pleasure and joy - want to live the way WE have told them they should?

So we began to loosen our restrictions and encourage our older children to have fun doing things they weren't allowed to do before. We started encouraging our older children to date recreationally. We decided to stop home-schooling so our younger children could be with others their age. And my wife and I also started setting an example for them by going out on Friday nights to dance.

Finally, we realized that the people we'd churched with were not going to accept this new openness. The wheels for my excommunication were already starting to turn. I didn't want my wife of my children to have to face a decision of whether to follow me or the church. So I wrote to the elders and told them we would be looking for a new church and wouldn't be attending theirs any longer. It was abrupt, and many people called us who didn't understand why we were leaving. It was not easy for the family, but it needed to be done. We attended a "liberal" church across the street that was much more accepting of differences.

I mentioned above that I had been an interim pastor for a mid-west church (an inter-denominational church formerly pastored by a presbyterian minister). This meant that I was fairly well-studied since I was often called upon to teach & preach. I particularly remember doing a series on the "canon of the scripture", using FF Bruce's book of the same name as my foundation.

With new doubts in my mind, though, I set out on a quest to revisit many of these issues to see if they survived a higher level of scrutiny than I was willing to apply when I was the spiritual 'overseer' of a flock. I poured into books from various points of view, always with the idea in mind that I would seek out whoever was recommended by proponents of a point of view as the best resource to present that point of view.

Much to my surprise (or maybe not, in retrospect) I found again and again the inability of creedal Christian scholars (i.e. those whose point of view was governed by loyalty to the church's creeds) to answer to even the simplest of observations levied against them by non-creedal scholars. It almost became comic (if the subject matter were not so important). I came to see a pattern - when something the church espoused was exposed as illogical, unreliable or contrary to the non-creedal historical record, it was a matter of "faith". A mystery. Something we simply cannot "know" and therefore must accept.

With my growing awareness that the emperor had no clothes, my wife was overcoming her crisis of faith in a different direction. She appealed to old friends regarding her doubts and was held aloft from the intellectual process I was diving headfirst into. Not only that, but these "caring counselors" recommended that she cut off communications with me over these topics while she was unstable. Her daily telephone conversations with these former "friends" became the means of a rift that has set into our family life and remains to this day.

The shedding of my religion has been exhilarating, but it has extracted a high cost. The knowledge that I am no longer bound by the demands of a childish, vengeful, non-existent deity who would threaten me with eternal punishment for my temporal disobedience brings with it a freedom I have never known. But its a freedom that is muzzled because sharing it with the ones who are most important to me only brings conflict and even the threat of separation. It remains to my mind that my wife has chosen to remain loyal to a deity she believes will justly cast me to eternal fire.

Recently I had a kind of picture come into my mind of how things have gone for my marriage. I saw my wife and I were part of a primitive tribe engaged in their primitive worship. I happened to stumble across the truth, somehow, that the deity we worshiped was simply imaginary. But when I went back to my wife, in her religious frenzy she would not listen. Somehow I ended up on a sacrificial stone, and my wife was the one lifting the blade over me. I looked up, told her that I would lay down my life for her even though I knew the 'god' she was sacrificing me to was imaginary. She ignored my words, and ran the blade across my neck. I lay there bleeding to death, the life slowly ebbing out of my body.

It's a morbid image, I know. I'm unable to convince her that there's any truth to my studies, but I honor my commitment to love, honor and cherish her. As the days go by, my life ebbs away, but I know the last thing I did while I still had a will alive enough to do so, was to let her sacrifice me to her god.

On the positive side, I am growing in ways I never even realized were necessary. I would never go back to the closed-mindedness I accepted when I was a Christian. I have adopted a morality that is simple: "Live to enjoy whatever pleasures you can - so long as you don't hurt anyone (especially those closest to you) in the process. And, if at all possible, help relieve the sufferings of others."

I'm free now to see the reasonableness of things like evolution, gay marriage, erotic art and literature, and much, much more.

7/11/06                                                                                       View Comments

From Pastor's wife to Atheist

sent in by Michelle

Even as a child, I remember sitting in the pew thinking, "no thinking person would believe this stuff". As a pastor's wife, I was embarrassed to think that other's wouldn't believe the shit that I did. I pushed those thoughts down deep, because I really thought my life depended on my willingness not to think. Now I look back and see I was transferring my own disbelief onto others.

Anyway, my story is much like many of you. So, I won't go into details too much. I was raised in a minister's home in the south and taught from birth fundamental evangelical hell-fire and brimstone. I was so burdened with hell...for my friends and family members...and for myself...I was never quite good enough and went to sleep at night afraid of hell. I remember my sister at age 4 or 5 asking me to pray with her because she was afraid of going to hell. Anyway, I went to a christian college, married a christian man and we went into ministry for 10 years.

I began questioning right after leaving home, but never questioned far enough out of christianity until I found the courage to do so after my grandfather died. I have never stopped questioning anything sense and look forward to the day when I can just be present and not question everything anymore.

NOW...can you please help me through some issues I am having?

My family...all my family are fundamental christians. Not only do I have to deal with this when I see them, but my father molested me as a teenager and I reported him a few years ago...he lost his credentials and I have lost closeness with my siblings because of it.

I want to let my family go completely so I can move on. I live in Michigan and don't see them very often, but when I do visit, it seems it takes me months to find my equilibrium again. I don't take care of myself...I kind of go into a depression...Every time, I think "this time will be different"...but he guilt of letting them down...being different...the whole experience when I am with them leaves me in knots.

They say they love me and will pray for me. I'd rather just not see them anymore.

But, I don't want to hurt them. I know they love me as much as they know how to...and I don't want to cause them more pain...more hell than they already experience.

Have any of you had to distance yourself from family, and can it be done without losing yourself after leaving a cult that your family is still in?

I really want to move past this. Any suggestions?


Portage
MI
USA
How old were you when you became a christian? 7
How old were you when you ceased being a christian? Evangelical Christian -32, Agnostic New Age Christian 6 months
What churches or organizations or labels have applied to you? From Fundamental Evangelical in the South, to New Thought churches in the midwest after 30 years old.
What labels, if any, would you apply to yourself now? Atheist
Why did you become a christian? FEAR for self and pity for jesus
Why did you de-convert? seeking, it wasn't working, and education
email: chellebelle69 AT gmail DOT com

From Bible Christian to Catholic to Atheist

sent in by Chris

First off, I would like to say that I appreciate the many testimonies and stories on the site. It has given me hope and courage in the face of the trials I face daily with my decision to search for the truth as opposed to the Christian myth. Ever since I was baptised as an infant my life has been centered around the Christian religion. My mother's family is devout Catholic, which is actually quite rare in the state of Oklahoma. However, after my mother divorced my father, she decided to raise my brother and I as protestant Christians in my small, Baptist-run hometown due to her disgust with the Catholic Church's position on divorce. Everyone I knew in my hometown was a devout Christian and Church attendance was a given for just about everyone. My brother and I were thrown head first into the Christian culture during our childhood and involvement in our youth group. We started the church youth band and spent at least 5 days a week involved in some fuction at church. Summers were spent at multiple church camps playing music and preaching to our peers. It was a pretty normal life for an Oklahoma boy. My brother and I were talented musicians (he more so than I) and we took every opportunity to show off our talent under the guise of worshiping god.

This lifestyle continued throughout high school. I never questioned the Bible or my denomination's interpretation of the Christian religion. Then I went to college. College has been the most interesting and beautiful experience of my life. My first semester was spent partying with a diversity of people that I had never come into contact before: muslims, atheists, socialists, buddhists, catholics, jews, ect. I stopped attending church and became primarily apathetic to religion. This continued into my second semester when one night I attended a choir concert put on by the university. They did a gorgeous rendition of Ave Maria and I was so moved by it that I decided to look into my family's traditional religion. I found that I could believe in evolution and study philosophy while still being a faithful Catholic Christian. I was a firm believer in reason and rationality and it seemed that Catholicism was the light of the Christian world for me. It was like I finally found something to belong to and a community that was intellectually mature and had an ancient identity. I was wrong.

I felt absolute bliss as I went through the rituals of confirmation. The priest was chanting a beatiful gregorian song, the incense smelled heavenly and the orchestra accompanied our ancient liturgical hymns. I was so caught up in my new Catholic faith that I began speaking with my priest about seminary. I was intent on becoming a priest or possibly a monk. I went to meetings with the diocesan vocations director and I enrolled in philosophy in order to fulfill pre-theology requirements set by Pope John Paul II. In my first philosophy class I was to find the true light and purpose of my life. I began to study as much philosophy as I could. Little did my priest know, the philosophy intended to prepare me for the priesthood led to my disavowal of all irrational faith and religion. I began to honestly search for the truth like the great philosophers of the past. Socrates destroyed my belief that god was the standard of morality and the Catholic arguments from natural law were weak and dishonest. Further studies led me to completely reject my faith. Bertrand Russell and other great minds gave me hope and showed me what it was to be a genuine, rational and virtuous person.

Recently, my new convictions of secular humanism have left me with no community and my closest friends no longer ask me to spend time with them. They see me as a sinner and a lost soul. I press on in my search for truth and my search for others who have similar convictions in this Christian strong-hold of Oklahoma. My family still doesn't know about my loss of faith and probably still believe I am considering the Catholic priesthood. It has cost me almost everything to follow this search for truth. Still, I am not unhappy about my discovery of philosophy. Philosophy gives me a reason to press on and change this world for the better. Ethics has given me a chance to study the real foundation for human morality. I would not give up this opportunity for anything. Fond greetings and well wishes to you all from an ex-Christian philosopher.

Oklahoma
How old were you when you became a christian? as early as I can remember
How old were you when you ceased being a christian? 21
What churches or organizations or labels have applied to you? Independant Christian Church and Catholic
What labels, if any, would you apply to yourself now? Atheist/Secular Humanit
Why did you become a christian? Born and Raised, Community
Why did you de-convert? Philosophy, Rationality

7/7/06                                                                                       View Comments

Am I the only one sad to Leave?

sent in by Kitty

Everyone seems so free and liberated to get away from the oppressive Christianity. Am I the only one who had a really good time with it and am sad to leave it? My family is Christian but they are super cool and support me in anything. My Christian friends were awesome, real folks, not judgmental. I loved having a God that looked out for me and cared for me. I felt if I follow God, I would be led upon the best past for my life, and it seemed to work. I always encouraged friends to become Christian because I thought it was awesome to have a relationship with God, never because it was a job to convert them. I had amazing answered prayer experiences. I was an optimistic and cheerful, and excited for life.

Christianity always seemed great for the Christians, but terrible for non-Christians. Finally, I couldn't take it anymore. It should be for the whole world.

But now, I am quite sad. I felt like I had a precious gift, and it has been taken from me. And I can't have it back no matter how much I would like it (because I know the truth). I am also very frustrated with myself for believing it for so long. And all those prayers and moments I had with God, must have been in my head.

Now, I do not trust myself. I like having a spiritual life because life is full of mystery..but it all seems foolish and I do not want to make a mistake again. It really hurts to believe something so passionately and base you life on it, and it was good, and then find it was false. I have became angry..at God, if God is even listening, and I have become pessimistic. I do not like what I have become. Just curious if there is anyone else out there who feels like me? I feel like I am the only one.

*also just a note to all those who dump on Christians..there are a lot of amazing Christians out there. Do not lump them all in the same group of crazy right wing conservative Christian, judgmental people. I have met and know many, who truly love God, people, and just want to do the right thing.


Denver
Joined: 12 year
Left: 28 years
Was: Non-Denominational
Now: Agnostic
Converted because: I heard about the Crucifixion of Jesus, and felt overwhelmed that a God could love me that much.
De-converted because: I told a good friend to seek and you will find. He seriously took on that statement for 7 months. And nothing. I figured if it was real that God would guide him into Christianity. Now, I can no longer make excuses why so much of the world does not believe. If it were God's plan for the world, you would think God would give a little more encouragement to the entire world to follow Christianity.

I feel God everywhere

sent in by A

I was born into a Lutheran family. My parents were both baptized Lutheran, married in a Lutheran church, and had each of their three children, of whom I was the youngest, baptized and confirmed into the Lutheran religion. I attended Sunday school and church pretty much every Sunday for the first 14 years of my life. I was in the church youth choir as well. When I was 12, we moved to another state because my dad was transferred. My father was an alcoholic, and was verbally and physically abusive to all three of us children, while my mother avoided confrontation to the point that she enabled him to get away with it.

When I was a virgin, I was raped by a friend's brother. At this point in my life, at the age of 13, I renounced God. He had taken away all that I loved and let a sacred rite be stolen from me. I chose to be an agnostic, and I called on God or the devil to come take me to use. Later, I returned to Christianity at the age of 22, when I married my husband. We attended counseling classes required by the Lutheran church for my husband and I to be married there, as he was not a Lutheran and had to adopt the Lutheran beliefs. We attended church prior to our wedding, but not much afterward. I had become increasingly disillusioned with religion and religious people over the past 9 years. I attended a church with my in-laws where they preached that Harry Potter was evil, and I almost stood up and walked out right there. The whole "speaking in tongues" thing is often just stupid; it is obvious the person says the same thing every time they are afflicted. A local "preacher" (I cannot in good faith call him that without quotation marks to indicate the absurdity of it) protested the appearance of "Heather Has Two Mommies" and "Daddy Has A Roommate" and waged a war to have them removed from library shelves. Then Bush came along, and all the fundamentalists in this Bible Belt area began praising his idiot name and raving about how evil abortion and gay marriage are.

I finally figured out that there is no religion large enough to encompass the creator of everything. He or she contains all religions, not one. I believe in tenets of Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism and Islam. Probably more.

I am a student of history and I know that Judaism is the oldest religion, and Islam the most popular. Christianity is the most violent. When I read about Christ, I don't see him as a judgmental bigot. I've read "The Lost Books of the Bible" and the idea of an imperfect Jesus rings rather true to me.

I know that the Bible was written by human hands, and potentially "seasoned" with each authors' personal opinions or beliefs. There is much that may have been edited out or into the Bible, likewise with the other holy texts. I give weight and respect to all of these wise texts, the older they are, the more sacred. But I don't believe that the Bible is the end all, be all, last stop decision on who goes to heaven and who doesn't.

When I go to these churches, a lot of them praise and worship, I don't feel surrounded by God anymore than I do outside in nature alone--I feel God everywhere. In those churches, I feel surrounded by people who are there just to show others that they came; much of it has a sort of patting-themselves-on-the-backs feel to it. These are the places that have, instead of crosses at the front of the chapel, a performance stage, light effects, and accompanying sing-along screens. I would be much more comfortable in a Buddhist temple.

I don't feel the need to conform to society's view of a "good Christian" in order to be loved by God. I can't believe that everyone who doesn't believe in Jesus is going to burn in hell. That every Jew and every pagan and every Muslim and every gay person and every Buddhist and every Hindu and every abortionist/abortion recipient/abortion participant is going to burn in hell. That's a lot of damned people. And if they all deserve to burn--Ghandi and Buddha and the Dalai Lama--then I will burn proudly beneath them.

Wichita Falls
Texas
U.S.A.
How old were you when you became a christian? 6 weeks old
How old were you when you ceased being a christian? what U.S. society calls a "Christian?" 13 years ago.
What churches or organizations or labels have applied to you? Lutheran, Christian
What labels, if any, would you apply to yourself now? Independent/Buddhist/Messianic Jew....more too.
Why did you become a christian? no choice, born into it
Why did you de-convert? had my own mind.

7/5/06                                                                                       View Comments

From one Minority to another

sent in by Charmika Stewart

Because I am a black American, I was born into a Christian family. I would be hardpressed to name just two other non-famous black atheists, and even the one I know is most definitely in the closet. For to be black is to be Christian in America. It's a cultural thing, I suppose, dating back to slavery. The church is a strong institution in the culture, where blacks get together and discuss life and bond, and for the longest time it was the only place that this was possible.

My parents were not very religious when I was a child, attending church only about twice a month and never really mentioning God to me terribly much except when they told me it was necessary to pray. My half-sisters, however, all belonged to horrendous Christian cults that have since been disbanded. My oldest sister took me with her to church when I was fairly young, and I became a Pentacostal. My mother, rather disenchanted with the Pentacostal faith, quickly snatched me from its clutches after a few short years and rejoined the church of her youth, bringing me and my two young brothers with me.

We lived in semi-poverty during this years, and attended a church of people in essentially the same social bracket. Due to the squalor, there were exceedingly few persons to be found (in a church of over 1000) who had any form of intelligence. I was the only young person there with a modest intellect, and because of this I became a local celebrity. I wrote plays and poems, tutored, gave speeches, and was elevated beyond my peers. The more I learned, the more I incorporated into my studies, but much to their dismay, I was never too interested in furthering my Christian study. Nevertheless, like my mother, I was deeply religious and rejected all things secular. Indeed, secular was the worst possible thing any one notion could be, and so I rejected everything, even secular music.

During my later puberty years, around 14 or 15, I was very torn, for my longing for men (and occasionally women) conflicted with my religious conviction. Masturbation was wrong, and thus I could never do it. Seminars on "sexual counterfeits" filled me with insurmountabl guilt. (To this day, the guilt that I suffered as a child from sexual fantasy, masturbation, etc, remains something impossible to overcome.) I, nonetheless, remained steadfast in my faith until around my senior year of high school.

It was around this time that my heavily religious mother stopped taking us to chuch 4+ times per week, and I had more time to focus on school. The more I learned, the more I realized that nothing that was being said in church made sense. I began studying the bible on my own and found that it had so many contradictions, so much hypocrisy, and exceedingly little moral value to it. What got to me the most, however, was how God kept "making promises" to my church and breaking them. I couldn't see how these people could reconcile all these obviously wrong things about their faith. On day the pastor was giving a sermon and the thought "God doesn't exist" came through my mind. I was instantly dismayed, and thought for certain that I was going to Hell. I tried to renew my faith, and told myself that I would never become an atheist. My family was too religious, and we heard very often of how the world was going to end fairly soon. I also couldn't offer any explanation of where the world came from if not God, so I didn't see a reason to reject him. Just because I didn't like some things and others didn't make sense, I didn't see it as a reason to immediately reject him. After all, so many people are Christian, they couldn't all be wrong... could they?

One day, my church did something that troubled me greatly. They started attacking evolution and homosexuals. Despite my fervent religion, I never thought the earth was created in just six days and that mountains of scientific evidence for an old earth was at all accurate. I could also not believe that something as inherent as homosexuality could really be condemnable. Although it was always a background issue, I never thought the church's stance on these things was really as fire and brimstone as it seemed. This turned me off to that particular branch of Christianity, and when I entered college, things made another unsuspected turn.

I joined the Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship because I figured "white Christianity" had to be less extreme than "black Christianity." I was pleasantly surprised by the music, the acknowledgment of real life and the similarity in culture of the members. I had alway identified more with what people deem "the white culture" anyway, given that most of my friends and all of my boyfriends had been white. However, it was during this time that most of my Christian friends were losing their faith and I was alone in my resolution to be a Christian to the day I died. I was left with these very shallow people with this branch of Christianity that was becoming more and more evangelical, something I could not accept. Looking back on things, perhaps had I become associated with the Methodist church, I wouldn't have been so turned off, nor would my friends be so interested in trying to "rescue me" from the crazy cult I had joined.

During the next few months I immersed myself in the study of philosophy and physics, and both of which were subtly hinting to me that my faith was nothing but a mound of contradictions and was not to be trusted. It was, however, it was my own family's fervent religion that finally sent me on a quest for God. I had just entered a relationship with a boy who was questioning his faith as well, and when he finally accepted that God was just a figment of our imagination, I decided that I really had to find God. After several weeks of intense study, I realized that there were only two possibilities: Either there was no God, or there was and He/She/It made it look like there wasn't one. The amazing irony was that I was a Christian who moved to a very Christian city (indeed, I doubt a more Chrisitian city of this sizeable population exists in this country) and lost my faith. I'm now a very proud agnostic atheist, agnostic because I don't know if a God exists, atheist, because I don't believe one does. I still can't tell my family, because they would disown me, but I look forward to the day that it'll be possible.

Lafayette
Louisiana
America
Joined at Birth
Left at 18ish
Was: Baptist, Pentacostal
Now: Agnostic Atheist
Converted because of Family
De-converted because: Reason
email: for DOT misc DOT reasons AT gmail DOT com

7/4/06                                                                                       View Comments

From Depressed Christian to Happy Atheist

sent in by Matthew

I am not sure where to start. I have never been creative at writing, but I will try my best. The first time I remember learning about Christianity was in a Southern Baptist church when I was about 7 or 8 years old. And I also went to my mom's friend's church (which was charismatic). They would talk about things that I could not possibly understand such as "Israelites" or "Canaanites", etc. But, when I started going to Sunday School at the Southern baptist church, they would teach me generalized things about Jesus. You know, the colorful drawings of Jesus healing someone or preaching to people. They never showed the negative side of Jesus (that wouldn't help their indoctrination process). They didn't tell me the major doctrines of Christianity (Jesus is God almighty, the trinity, the rapture, etc). They just told me that Jesus was a unique person who lived and he died for me. That was the concept I had (which was enough). It was just enough to make my rather peaceful nature embrace sympathy for Jesus. This was the first step to my conversion. Then when I was about 8 years old, I was deeply affected by Christianity in a way only a pervert could know. We had next door neighbors who were a single mom, a son and daughter. The mom worked during the summertime, so the kids were left alone all day. My mom was supposed to be keeping a eye on us all. Anyway, I would go over to their house and we would play. And one time, the boy (about 12 years old) wanted to play a game, where we would play with each others private parts. I didn't think it was wrong or anything, so I began to do it. Then it got more intense as summer passed. We were in the basement one time, and I remember, we had anal intercourse (I was the assee, he was the poker). It kind of felt good, but I didn't know what it was. Then, one time, were were all naked (including his sister) and either his mom or my mom found us doing it. Then it stopped abruptly. My mom took me and my brother to counseling at the YMCA. We had to describe what happened and everything. The reason I say this was part of my growth as a Christian is, that this boy who molested me went to CATHOLIC school. And the only reason I can guess he molested me was because a priest did it to him.

The next step was when my mother changed churches. I was 11 years old, and she began attending a large Assembly of God church. It was about 5 times bigger than the church we had been at before. And I saw something I never saw before. I saw people lifting up their hands when they would sing songs. I didn't understand why they did it, it seemed weird. Then when I turned 12, I was old enough to join the youth group (even though I was still in 6th grade). I went to the Youth group on Wednesday nights and the 2nd time I went, the pastor offered people to accept Jesus in their heart. I went up front, and received Jesus. A few weeks later, I was baptized in front of the church. Soon after my conversion, I was encouraged to preach the gospel to kids at school. I felt guilty like I wasn't ever doing enough for the bible-god. So, I got some Christian t-shirts to wear to school. And rightfully, kids made fun of me. I had started to read the bible, but not a whole lot. I just believed in Jesus that I was taught at church. A loving, compassionate Jesus. Then, I forget when, I started to get taught the doctrine of hell. They told me Jesus died to save me from hell (but I never realized that God created hell in the first place).

As I was involved in church, it became my life. I tried to be friends with the kids in the youth group and we would hang out at church and go out to eat afterward. But, I felt left out when they would not invite me to places they invited other kids to. I realized, it was a Christianized version of high school. There were times when I wanted to be popular, so I would try to get involved in helping with the Wednesday night services. I really was a sincere, loving Christian kid. I turned the other cheek when the kids at school would make fun of me for wearing Jesus t-shirts. At the time, I felt this proved I was really a good Christian, since the bible says I would be persecuted for Jesus. However, the persecution was self-inflicted (the kids would not have mocked me if I had not worn the Jesus shirts). I think that is what most Christians do. They create a situation in which they realize they will be mocked, and do it anyway (and it further confirms their belief of persecution). It was also when I started realizing that a loving God who creates hell for most people to go to cannot be all loving.

Anyway, I had always been bullied in school (even before Christianity). I had a few school friends, but nothing that lasted. I was a strange kid. But, I began to feel more rejected by these "loving" Christians I had learned to trust. They seemed to look down on me if I didn't do what they wanted. We would all go to Youth crusades and camps and get emotional fixes of "the Spirit". They really pushed speaking in tongues on me. I thought tongues were proof of my commitment to Jesus. Anyway, after enduring the suffering of rejection in the youth group, I eventually got tired of going to church and seeing these kids who hurt me. And I began to get tired of believing in God, yet I still did. I couldn't take the bullies at my public school.

So, in the middle of 9th grade, I transferred to a Christian school called Bible Baptist. They were a fundamentalist Christian school. The kids were basically Christians for appearances. They were worse-behaved than the kids at public school. They made fun of me worse than the kids at public school I think. It made me even more hateful of Christianity. And the teachers were no better. Legalists to the nth degree. For example, you couldn't have a beard in school. You had to be clean shaven. You couldn't have long hair, unless it was combed back. Basically, it was a cookie cutter school. Creating religious robots. Now, I was a charismatic kid, in a fundamentalist school. They often times made fun of charismatics and I became tired of them. I began to get depressed, because I felt like I had no hope in life. I hated God, I hated my school, I hated the kids who made my life hell. I only made 1 friend there.

Anyway, I stopped caring about the bible, and pretty much began listening to secular music (which is a no no in Christianity). Anyway, near the end of 10th grade, I forgot to shave a couple days, and my facial hair grew pretty fast. So, the vice principal who also was a teacher put me in the suspension room. He told me I could not attend class until I shaved. I told him I would do it the next day, but he said it was no good. He left the room and went to get me a razor. I started to panic and paced around. He came in while I was walking around. He asked me why I got up and I started cursing at him. I told him he let the other kids get away with horrible things, but such a pathetic rule as not shaving I could not get away with. I told him what I thought about him. I then stormed out of school and drove home. I was told I could not return to school and was expelled. Some of my teachers felt bad for me, so they let me pass, so I wouldn't have to repeat 10th grade.

And so, I went back to my old public school. But, something changed. My younger brother (2 years younger) began hanging out with the very kids who bullied me before. At first I was bothered by it. But, then they accepted me because of my brother. I almost became a bully from this merger. They were known as the burnouts (smoked weed all the time). I partied with them, but wasn't really into it. They were cool with me not smoking weed. I felt more acceptance from these "heathen" people than I had ever felt from Christians. Anyway, I really didn't feel like I belonged anywhere. Then, I spent the next year just cruising by.

Then, the next summer, we moved to another town. So, my senior year was going to a much bigger school with complete strangers. I would hang out with a few people during lunch, but never developed any friendships. But, it was during this time, I started going back to church. My pastor was very good friends with Grant Jeffreys, who was a bible prophecy teacher. He was nationally known by many Christians. Anyway, he was speaking at the church for 3 days, so I decided to go. He was a very well spoken person. I bought his book "Prince of Darkness" which was the same old dispensational stuff (proof prophecy is coming to pass). I believed it, and this convinced me that God was real and I began to explore Christianity again. My memory is fuzzy on many of these experiences, so they might be out of order, but to the best of my memory.

After high school, I didn't go to graduation, but one day, I had a horrible panic attack and outburst. I broke my car door by kicking it really hard. My parents sent me to a hospital for about a week. It was basically group therapy for mental people. While I was there, my old youth pastor stopped by to talk to me. He convinced me that "God is there for you". By this time, he was promoted in the Assembly of God denomination, and ran the entire youth program for Pennsylvania and Delaware. He ran the youth camps they had. He asked me if I wanted to go, and I said sure. So, I went there and hung out with other kids from all over the state. And the emotional bullshit that went with the evangelist service. I got "spiritual" all over again. Then the pastor asked me if I wanted to earn a few bucks by staying at camp and working in the kitchen. I said no problem. I moved my shit to the staff cabin. It wasn't too bad, but hard work though.

Anyway, after this time, I started to go back to my old church. But this time, it was the young adults group. It was basically a youth group for adults. I met a few chums who were "spiritual". One of them was insane with legalism. He said "let's go driving and see where the spirit leads us". We ended up going to this obscure Christian bookstore. This was one of the only stores which sold Jack Chick publications. They were owned by a fundamentalist, KJV only church. I rented a video there about new age bible versions. This began my journey into fundamentalism. I also bought some books which had eye appeal. One of them was written by Texe Marrs. After I read it, I wanted to read more (because it seemed to be exciting and unique). I began to believe what Texe Marrs said. I also got all the chick tracts and comic books. I was in fundy heaven! Anyway, I wasn't formally at any church, although I went searching. I kind of enjoyed being a "loner". Like the whole world vs. me.

I began to listen to a new show on the radio called "The prophecy club". It was a radio show where they had a commentary by the owner of the club and then they would play audio of their meetings. They were based in Kansas, but would have different Christian speakers travel all over the country and meet at convention centers (hotels). They had these every month. One meeting was about 40 miles from where I lived. So, I began to attend there. I met some people I knew from church or from other places I knew. It was a conspiracists' fantasy land. They had tons of videos and books on several subjects. I wanted to get involved, so I volunteered to help sell videos and books. It also kept me from paying the cover charge to go. I also borrowed the videos they sold and made my own copies. It was more of Disneyland for me, than a spiritual growth seminar. They claimed to be preaching the "gospel" of Jesus using bible prophecy, but nobody ever "converted" to Christianity from it. But, they were making plenty of money ($25 for a 2 hour video).

After a few months, I started seeing the hypocrisy of this movement. They were about making money. And as a Christian, trying to be humble and honest, i could not participate anymore. While I was involved with the Prophecy Club, I began to attend a Jewish Messianic church. I really had an interesting experience. They went to church on Saturdays. It was in a converted house. Maximum attendance was probably 30-40 people. They would usually have bread after service and sometimes have a luncheon. I remember feeling welcome and realized they were more family oriented. Even though almost everything they preached was bullshit. They were an interesting breed. They were basically disobeying the law of Moses by worshiping Jesus (they were just evangelicals in a wanna be Jewish church). Most of them were "non Jews" and even the rabbi was a non-Jew. And even in this small group, there was dissension. One of the regulars was very confrontational over the dumbest things. He would argue for 2 hours over how he believed the new testament was written entirely in Hebrew. Yet, he gave no proof of course.

It was after I left this group that I kind of took a break. I began to catch up with my school chums from private school. They were still living in the area, and we all went bowling every Tuesday night when the bowling center had a special price. We all had fun. The one friend (who I had remained close to) was still a church going fundamentalist. The other guy was not really a Christian anymore, but they weren't really into religion. My close friend was very political (pro life republican). He showed his "Christian compassion" by being a racist and mocking poor people on welfare. It was only recently that I stopped talking with him (about 2 years ago) because he was just so political (and as a Christian I couldn't stand the hypocrisy). So, about 2001, I began to chat online in Christian rooms. I began to do research on Christianity and to find the "true" beliefs using the bible. I had met some 7th day adventists who convinced me that Dispensationalism was false (the belief in the rapture) and they had scripture to back it up. I noticed that people would almost kill each other over disagreements over bible prophecy (pre trib versus post trib). It almost seemed like they enjoyed arguing. It is tempting to have conflict and feel like you win a conversation. I did my fair share as well. I had this pride thing going.

I began to see that the bible taught that God is sovereign and that is when I began to embrace Calvinism. It was at this point that I began to change my loving attitude. I began to hate people (like I did after being hurt in Christianity). I justified it because I thought God hated people too. I treated other people like garbage. But, I realized I had no right to brag. I was being a hypocrite. I then started to learn about the doctrine of hell (www.what-the-hell-is-hell.com) It was a Christian universalist website. And then I went to its sister website which was www.tentmaker.org. It was run by a very nice person named Gary Amirault. I felt welcome and not judged for disagreeing. They really had a lot of tidbits I was not aware of. They said Jesus was the Savior of the world (and that means what it says). That God would universally save everyone. I think it was a way to make an excuse for the lack of compassion in the bible and the lack of a perfect world. However, they were very loving toward me (unlike most Christians I had met). This convinced me that there was something good about it. This was my last stop prior to leaving Christianity.

But, for some reason, I couldn't explain the evil things in this world if God was going to save everyone anyway. I mean, if God is going to force people to change into saints in the future, why make them go through all these horrible things in the first place? Then I realized, that people make the bible say whatever they want. The free willers have proof for their beliefs, the Calvinists have proof for their beliefs and the universalists do as well. That is because the bible is so contradictory, you can justify any belief with it. I then realized, it wasn't all those denominations and theologies that were wrong, it was the source they all used...the bible. The bible was the problem, not those who read it.

It was then, that I realized I was deceived. It was so simple, so how could I have missed it? I had to let go of my "friend" which I called Jesus. Christians tell me "see that proves Jesus is real and you left him". Actually, it was similar to what happened in the movies Castaway and A Beautiful Mind. In Castaway, Tom Hanks' character is isolated on an island for 4 years. He finds a volleyball and draws a face on it. He begins to talk to this volleyball since he was isolated. Then after a few years, he thinks the volleyball is talking back to him. After he attempts to get off the island, he brings his friend "Wilson" the volleyball with him. He continues to talk to Wilson and while out in the ocean, Wilson falls off the raft and floats away. Tom Hanks tries to rescue Wilson, and he can't because the volleyball is too far away. He says "I'm sorry Wilson". Then, he lays on the raft and cries like a baby because his "Friend" was gone. Another example is in a Beautiful Mind, John Nash talks with 3 people, and then finds out they are figments of his imagination (due to schizophrenia). He learns to let go of them, even though they seem real to him, he ignores them. That doesn't mean they were real, it means his brain is convincing him they were real, when they were not.

My point is, that for a few weeks, I felt like Tom Hanks did when losing his friend Wilson. But even Wilson was a real object (a volleyball). That doesn't mean Wilson was a real person, it was invented by the imagination of Tom Hanks. But, to him, it felt like he was losing a friend. That is what it felt like to me to "lose" Jesus. But, then I asked myself, "what kind of friend (Jesus) would threaten me to burn in hell for not believing in him?". So, I then realized I shouldn't feel bad about letting go. I was letting go of depression, misery, frustration, hate, and superstitions. I have gained much more in 4 months of atheism, than in my 18 years as a Christian. I realize that I am the person I am because of those bad experiences, so I would not wish to have changed them. I can only focus on here and now and the future.

I'm still going through bouts of depression (not nearly as much though). The depression usually goes away after a good cry. I just look at the good things in my life and that gives me strength to keep trying. I am content with my life. I am thinking of ways to make a difference and leave the world a better place than when I first found it. I'm still figuring it out. But, the pieces of the puzzle continue to come in.

Mechanicsburg
PA
USA
Joined at 12
Left at 29
Was: Assembly of God, Southern Baptist, Fundamentalist, Charismatic, Messianic
Now: Atheist
Converted because: Emotional reasons
De-converted because: Rationalization
email: brad_religion at yahoo dot com