8/25/06                                                                                       View Comments

Why I Left: Problems and Unanswered Questions Regarding Christianity and theism

Sent in by Benjamin Anderson

First thing's first, this is copied from my blog on blogspot: www.benjamintc.blogspot.com. If what I write interests you, please visit my blog and comment on what I write.

What Keeps Me Up at Night

My childhood and early teen years revolved significantly around Christianity. I was raised by two Lutheran parents, attending church at least once a week, praying before meals and bedtime, and celebrating all the important Christian holidays. By the time I turned 16, (over 4 years ago) I had gone through a lengthy process of expunging my faith in God, Jesus and Christianity. Too many problems with piled up; too many questions were left unanswered. The result, although far from immediate, was me settling upon atheism as the most accurate set of beliefs regarding the realities of our world.

I don't recall what I felt exactly at the time, but these days, from time to time, I almost wish that was the end of the story. I found the truth, so why can't I go on with my life? Why do I dwell on the topic of religion? The only answer I can produce is that religion and religious people are utterly fascinating. It always blows my mind when I read and hear what religious people think, believe and do.

The Silver Dollar Phenomenon

If you are not an atheist, or agnostic, if you subscribe wholly or partially to an organized religion, try putting yourself in my shoes for the moment. Imagine everywhere you go 90% or more of the population believes fervently in the tooth fairy. You, on the other hand, abandoned the tooth fairy myth when you were in grade school, or perhaps, never believed in it at all.

Yet almost every person you meet holds this belief in the tooth fairy. If you ever try to question or analyze the existence of it, you may be scorned. People may think you mad -- and why not? Everyone believes in the tooth fairy. You may hear poor, specious justifications and explanations for the existence of the tooth fairy. Explain how the silver dollar appeared under my pillow when I put a tooth underneath it the night before.

Now imagine different peoples have different peoples have opposing views on the, let's call it: "Silver dollar phenomenon." The belief in the tooth fairy is so deep-seeded, and so crucial to the culture that surrounds us, that any opposing viewpoint on the silver dollar phenomenon is dangerous, alien, wicked, heretical, vile, and stupid.

Now imagine that our disagreements on the origin of the silver dollar phenomenon shape domestic and foreign policy, shape our relationships with strangers and acquaintances, shape how people spend money, shape how people live their lives, and how wars are fought and why.

Can you imagine anyone defending the belief in a tooth fairy to the point of murder? Of course not. That would be absurd. But is it? Turn on CNN. Read the newspaper headlines. Listen to the radio (NPR, Fox, BBC, it doesn't matter.) The cause of much of the wars, suffering, willful ignorance, hate and prejudice is a direct result of a belief that is just as irrational, absurd and childish as that of the belief in the tooth fairy: the belief in a knowable, omniscient god.

Why It Matters

Now I hope you at least understand what I feel, even if you do not agree with my beliefs. I'd be willing to bet many Christians who read this (this is hypothetical; I don't think anyone is actually reading this) would agree in some way that religious people are responsible for much of the atrocities of the world.

But I don't think they understand to what extent. I don't think they understand why. And I don't think they understand what it has to do with them: Everything.

I think the automatic response a well-intentioned Christian has to the things for which they acknowledge religion holds at least part of the blame is to whitewash religion's role. I've heard so many times, "They use religion as a cloak," meaning that it isn't the religion that is to blame, it is an individual, or a group, such as al qaida, or the nazis, who successfully mislead their followers, and bastardize their religion in pursuit of something that their religion would oppose.

This viewpoint is often wrong. I believe that most people do not understand just how perverse, violent, and ugly the books of Islam and Christianity truly are. I have read the Koran and much of the bible. There are things written in both texts, that in any context should disgust and repulse any thinking reader.

Need Proof? Just Open Your Bible.

I bet you wouldn't expect an atheist to encourage people to read the bible. No, really, do it. I remember going to church and hearing the same 2 dozen or so stories again and again over my 14 years attending a Lutheran Evangelical mid-west church. What I found is they left a lot out. But isn't the entire bible the word of God? So why are some parts important, and others not? I think you'll find that if a priest read and taught everything that was in the bible, the listeners would pick up on a lot of the realities of the bible.

The Reality of the Bible.

The reality of the bible is rather simple. It was written by dozens of different, and contradicting authors. It was written over an extremely long period of time. It was pieced together centuries after the individual parts were written by a handful of Hebrews, who kept some texts, threw out some others to form what we know today as the bible.

So when it is said that the bible is the word of God, what evidence is there that these ancient authors had any idea what they were talking about? Or, what evidence is there that any of this was written literally. Probably the writer of Noah's Ark did not write the story the week after a global flood. It is much more likely that perhaps there was a local flood, and after years of oral tradition was exaggerated: The magnitude of the flood, why it happened, and so on. Or perhaps it is entirely fictional and the moral is what we should focus on, not the event. For people to defend the global flood as an actual historical event is absolutely absurd, and stupefyingly ignorant of reality.

But the real danger of the bible comes not from fairy tales of great floods, 9 foot tall men, or a man walking on water. These are benign beliefs; if someone believes them, fine. What is worrisome about the bible are the parts that, thankfully, few people even know about.

I recommend this 8 minute video for evidence, directly from the bible, that proves the bible gives us repulsive commands. For example, we must kill any one who works on the sabbath, a violation of the 4th commandment. This instruction given immediately after the 10 commandments are listed in the book of exodus. (I will certainly address this more in a future entry)



I also recommend www.skepticsannotatedbible.com

This site contains an entire online copy of the bible, koran and book of mormon. It analyzes every word and page. Footnotes are given; numerous contradictions are listed, and analysis of disgusting, stupid and just silly aspects of these holy books are spelled out so any intelligent, open minded reader will realize just what is in these books.

What about God?

All of this is important to realize that the bible is an unreliable collection of childish ancient myths, and horrendous commandments from a vindictive god. So if God exists, and is accurately depicted in the bible, then God is certainly an asshole. A murderous, genocidal, self-centered, bigoted, sexist, pro-slavery, pro-violent death penalty... asshole.

But that doesn't prove that god doesn't exist. Maybe he exists as in the bible, or in some other way, such as the one imagined by those who don't know what's actually in the bible, i.e. most Christians. He can still exist, right?

No.

God does not exist. There is no experiment which will reveal the existence of any god. There is no testable hypothesis which could falsifiably produce evidence of any god. The belief in a god is unfalsifiable, now before you get too proud about that, understand what it means. Falsifiability means that we can acknowledge something as true, yet leave the window open for some piece of evidence to come along and prove us wrong.

Example: Evolution is a falsifiable belief; although there are mountains of evidence that all point to evolution by natural selection, if we were to find, say, a primate fossil inside the ribcage of a t-rex, this would certainly call into question much of what we understand about the time line of life on earth (because, of course, primates and dinosaurs are separated in time by tens of millions of years.)

Why I Left

Religion has no such falsifiability. No matter what evidence is presented, no matter what is said, most people will never be shaken from their belief in an unprovable, invisible, yet all powerful deity.

This is why I put no stock in superstitious beliefs such as religion and god. There is no pursuit of truth by means of demonstrable facts in the religious world. There is no questioning of age-old beliefs or practices. Skepticism is not a virtue among the religious; faith is. You are supposed to believe in something, not because it is provably true, but because you are supposed to believe in it. This is exactly what faith is.

What Faith is, and What Faith I Have

Faith is the belief in something that is not provable. All to often, it is in stark contradiction with common sense, rationality, and provable realities of our world.

People who believe the bible is the inerrant word of god willfully ignore most, if not all of the basic fundamentals of science.

As a child, I was tremendously enthralled with dinosaurs. Yet as young as I was, I was immediately able to find a glaring contradiction between what I'd read in my dinosaur books, and the genesis account of the creation of life. My dinosaur books told me about a 65 million year gap between the mass extinction of dinosaurs, and the emergence of homo sapiens. In fact, as Carl Sagan explains, if the time spanning from the big bang to the immediate present, a span of about 15 billion years, were to be simplified to the length of a calendar year, January 1st at midnight being the big bang, and the final instant before new years being right now, human beings only appear on earth within the final minutes of December 31.

However, the bible said Adam was created within the first week of creation, and nothing is said about extinctions.

It was clear to me early that the bible was neither inerrant nor literal. From then on, it was a process of realizing that what was written in the bible was written by people. Simple, ancient uninformed people. No god involved. How could anyone know that there was? We can clearly demonstrate that much of these fairy tales didn't actually happen, therefore either god is wrong, god is lying, or god had nothing to do with it.

Or, you just need faith.

So if I can't trust the bible on important points like the origin of the universe, how can I trust it on even more complicated issues such as the existence of the supernatural, right and wrong or what to believe. I found eventually that I can't. I can trust the bible's content with nothing regarding the reality of our world.

Faith explains away all criticisms, all potential problems. If only you have the faith to believe it. Faith can be dangerous, as we see every night on the news.

What faith do I have? I have faith that sometime before I die, I will at least be able to witness a turnaround in this type of nonsense. I have faith that people will come to the realization that these beliefs would be silly if they weren't so disastrously tragic. I have faith that people will come to recognize science, and reason as the best ways to understand the cosmos.

I believe these things will happen without any proof or evidence on my side. At least I admit my beliefs are just that: beliefs.


Minneapolis
Minnesota
USA
Joined: 0
Left: 15
Was: Lutheran, Christian, monotheist, believer
Now: Atheist, skeptic, naturalist
Converted because: It is what I was told accurately described reality
De-converted because: Its just factually incorrect
email: tobbems at gmail dot com

8/21/06                                                                                       View Comments

The Theory Has Holes

sent in by a Pennsylvanian agnostic

I was raised Catholic and went to Catholic school for 12 years. I was obsessed with the idea that praying to Jesus was the only solution to every worry in life. He was my hero. What I was taught about Christianity is that it's about love, kindness, and self-sacrifice and getting rewarded with your own personal invisible super hero who will protect you through life and reward you after you die. The first part are good ideas to live by, but what gets mixed into that is magical properties that seemed to work all the time a few thousands years ago, yet you never see work today. When was the last time you saw a "miracle", something that defies all known understanding of the physical laws of the universe (and wasn't performed by David Copperfield or Blaine using clever tricks)? Once I started being exposed to other religions, books, and movies I started realizing the alternative explanations had about as much proof behind them as the one that had been forced upon me in early childhood. So, with a cynical eye, over the past 10 years I've been looking for alternate explanations for what I used to believe.

I've never seen anything miraculous, but the ability to control the way people think seems a likely motivation for the invention of this idea of "God". Didn't the Church and state used to be more intertwined? I think it's likely a lot of it was made up. Maybe it was those History Channel specials that explain how the Bible was basically just a bunch of manuscripts the early church leaders arbitrarily threw together and decided to call the "Word of God". Maybe it was the way the Holy Trinity and the divinity of Jesus was debated in the early Church. So, because some people with their limited knowledge a few thousand years ago decided something, that makes it literally true today? -- Of course, it might not be that malevolent. A lot of the people who perpetuate it are just afraid of their own deaths and the uncertainty of the world they live in. --

I'm not saying everything Christianity claims is false. Some of it could have just been exaggerated. Other parts could have been due to alien influence (assuming aliens from other planets or wherever even exist), and the lastly the supernatural events could be true. I don't claim to know everything about the universe. I only claim not to believe it's all described by a single, short-sighted religion.

Besides, I've reasoned recently how can there even be a single all-powerful being who created the universe? I've thought about what it was like before the universe (all of it) existed and decided that the idea doesn't make sense. So, the universe must have always existed. I've also thought about what's beyond the universe and decided that idea doesn't make sense either. So, the universe must be infinite. In an infinite universe, for every being that's powerful, there's some other being that's more powerful. Look at all the different species on earth. Now, just imagine a being evolved by a few more billion years, possibly able to tap into physical laws that we haven't yet discovered (are fireflies, electric eels, or even birds magic? didn't we used to think the sun revolved around the earth?). If some simple people with no technology encountered an intelligent being like this, wouldn't they have called it a "God"? Just imagine what some isolated tribe in a jungle somewhere thought the first time they saw a piece of 20th century technology in action. They'd think it was magic. They could be convinced the person using it was some sort of god. Imagine what else lies out in the universe.

-- Here's a question. Why does an all-powerful and benevolent supernatural being require worship from lesser beings like us? If it's all-powerful then it doesn't need worship, and if it's benevolent then it wouldn't want worship. So, any being that pretends to be a "God" or "god" would either have to be a liar or a tyrant. --

-- Here's another question. If "God" is perfect and loving and creates all life, then why are there birth defects? I understand everyone can't be super good looking or super smart, but why screw someone over so severely? I think a better explanation than "God" is that the basic chemical and physical processes that define life aren't concerned with complicated ideas like perfection or love. --

I'm not an atheist. It's obvious to me the universe has many properties and rhythms I only partly understand. I'm interested in breaking the chains of a single, limited religion and exploring the possibilities one day at a time.

Pennsylvania
USA
Joined at birth
Left at 18
Was: Catholic
Now: Agnostic
Converted because: Born into it
De-converted because: Lack of evidence

8/18/06                                                                                       View Comments

The truth will set you free

sent in by John Donovan

I was born into Christianity and its teachings. On my Mothers side they are very strict Pentecostals. My grandfather was an Apostolic Pentecostal minister—very strict. I was raised up in that kind of environment.

When I was 23, I was on the job and I was working with a Pentecostal person that was very devoted to that faith. He started telling me about Hell—that it was a deep dark pit and a person would fall for ever through flames, with other damned people trying to grab on to you. To be honest, that scared me. I started imagining myself falling through these flames. Well, being as young as I was, and ignorant of Christianity, I fell for it—Hook, Line and Sinker!

I started going to a Baptist church, soon went to a Pentecostal church, and became a minister. I preached several years, was licensed, and went to the fellowship meetings. I was the full-fledged thing.

I started disagreeing with the strictness of Pentecostal doctrine then and moved on to a non-denominational church. At that time I started getting interested in messianic Judaism, and stayed with that several years.

As I was surfing one day on the Internet, I came across a Jewish site that taught the errors of Christianity. Soon after that my life in Yeshua (Jesus) was turned upside down. I found out that Jesus was just another fabrication in a long list of fabrications. I did not want to believe it; I was flabbergasted. Everything I was taught and believed in was gone. After several months, I went on. I still had God and right and wrong. I went into pure Judaism, no Jesus.

But questions still nagged me: "If their is no Jesus, what about God?" The first book I read on the subject was "Losing Faith In Faith," by Dan Barker. I began to see that 16 of my years were wasted being a faithful Christian and believer in God. I didn't want to accept it, but the evidence was there. I wanted to believe and went through a back-and-forth battle with religion. It wasn't an overnight change. I would say it took almost two years for me to say I was an atheist.

I am so much happier now. Religion is frustrating and confusing. Who's right and who's wrong arguments just get old.


Orange
Texas
USA
Joined: 23
Left: 38
Was: Baptist,Pentecostal,Messianic Judaism,Orthodox Judaism
Now: Atheist
Converted: To be "saved",Fear
De-converted: To keep my sanity
Email: mind2hunt39 at yahoo dot com

The truth hurts, sometimes

sent in by Carolyn

How I wish there had been a world-wide web when I was a kid trying to sort this out.

I grew up in a nice French-Canadian Catholic family, though there were some complications. My grandfather had an objection to the church itself, so my immediate family was Anglican (as close as you can get without the same hierarchy). That same grandfather read to me from a simplified language Old Testament and, thankfully, let me know that Genesis wasn't literal, and most of the stories weren't 100% reliable. I believed because I had no reason not to. These were the adults and they were telling me the truth.

The New Testament was supposed to be the one that was really true, but I didn't understand it and my grandfather didn't have an easy English version.

I prayed, and didn't get a response, but I just thought it was a matter of time.

My father stopped going to church when I was very young. I think it was related to my brother's death, but he won't talk about it. He went back about a decade later.

In the way that children believe strange things, I really thought that religion was something you inherited, like a cultural value or national origin. I presumed that the actual beliefs were common to everyone, because they were reality, and slight differences were only on what could be called matters of taste.

Then in fourth grade, during one of my Moral and Religious Education classes (a compulsory thing in all schools when I was growing up, though mine were of the secular, religious comparison variety) we were all asked what religion were were, durning a class discussion. The teacher confronted (gently, but really, now I don't think anything in the situation was right for a school setting) students who said they were "half this, half that", especially the ones who said something like "half Protestant, half Christian", and gave a brief run-down of the Christian sects that I didn't really understand. I mumbled something about being Christian, I think. I was really confused.

Later, I asked my mother about it, and I'm sure I said something about a religion being what your parents were, etc. She gave a much more comprehensible run-down of religions, and though she didn't include Islam or any eastern religions, she added agnostic and atheist to the list, and said your religion was what you believed. I said "I think I'd be an agnostic, then," and she firmly told me I was a Christian.

Even at nine I thought there was something wrong there, but, well, she was the Mom, so I tried harder. I think that conversation led to one of our intervals of high intensity church attendance, actually.

I kept praying. I really envied the kids who really believed, who wore crosses and who seemed so sure. I really wanted God to let me know he was there, that the misery of being an awkward kid who just didn't fit in, the short kid with a hearing problem and too much love for books and puzzles, wasn't all for nothing.

Years passed, and I still felt uncomfortable with my lack of real belief, but I still thought the problem was me. I felt weird babysitting for the family with the religious kids' videos, and weirder really listening in church. I dated a religious man, and went to his church for a while. I finally really read the bible, and didn't like the God there at all. Still, I just said things like "No religion has a monopoly on truth," and "I just don't understand," but that still didn't fit.

Finally, I stopped going to church, and faced reality. I never believed, I never was a Christian. I had prayed long enough.

The first time I mentioned I was an atheist to a friend, she said that she had seen things she didn't understand. Well, so have I. I just don't think any of them mean there's a god out there who cares for me. I don't tell many people I'm an atheist, people may assume I'm Catholic since I put out a crèche at Christmas and have a few meaningful bits of Catholicism from my great grandmother. I guess that's OK, though I never lie about it. I just try and leave the conversation when someone tells me what a great movie "The Passion of The Christ" is.

My family still doesn't believe I'm an atheist, even after a completely godless, egalitarian wedding. Discussing that, ahead of time, my mother asked if I didn't believe in Christianity, didn't I believe in the ideas in the Bible, anyway? That was her code for, "You can still have a church wedding!" I think my response, that no, I didn't think there was anything of value there, really hurt her.

But maybe the truth hurts, sometimes.



Canada
How old were you when you became a Christian? Never became one, thought I just was one.
How old were you when you ceased being a Christian?9 then again 22
What churches or organizations or labels have applied to you? Catholic, Anglican, Christian, United Church, Unitarian
What labels, if any, would you apply to yourself now? Humanist. Atheist. Maybe Unitarian again.
Why did you become a Christian? I really never thought I had a choice, then I really wanted to believe, since everyone else did.
Why did you de-convert? I just couldn't try to fool myself anymore.
Email: carolynthenotsogreat at gmail dot com

8/15/06                                                                                       View Comments

"That's me in the corner!"

sent in by Randy

First off, I am here because ChristianAnswers.net could not even provide a simple way for me to ask a question providing nothing but a bunch of hoops to jump through, again!

As a second-grade kid I would lay awake and worry that I had not accepted Christ correctly and was thus going to fry in hell forever (infinite punishment for finite offenses, god is love). Every year after that, and before, that I can recall, they told my I was a bad person, no matter what I did: read the Bible, pray, fellowship, memorize the Bible (87 bleeping verses, won a goddamned Scofield Bible for that one).

Bottom line, none of their stuff ever made any sense. Of course, god does not have to make sense, HE is way up there were we can't understand. No, asshole, I can understand malevolent behavior. I can understand when I am required to "keep an open mind" while those I am questioning don't have to — 'cause they supposedly know the final truth.

Evil is Evil. Lies are Lies. And a Sac of Shit is a Sac of Shit is a Sac of Shit.

Step Up!


mpls
MN
Joined: 6
Left: ? 8 maybe but 21 for sure
Was: Baptist, Grace & Missionary Alliance
Now: Behaviorist
Converted because: Barneys Barrel
De-converted because: malevolent god
email: rr64459 at aol dot com

8/13/06                                                                                       View Comments

The price is worth it

sent in by Cad

Jesus didn't die for my sins; I didn't give him permission.

I attended three church services a week for over 20 years, and have read the Bible at least ten times, with about a quarter of it memorized. I told myself I had experienced a relationship with Jesus, but really it was a relationship with my ego.

It all became suspect when I realized the God I worshipped was worse than Hitler. I couldn't imagine an all-powerful loving God allowing a Hell for billions of people. How many Christians can ponder torturing a total stranger for days, much less eternity?

Then I suspected God couldn't give a rat's ass as to whether he was worshipped or not. I looked around and realized that worship was really a sexual outlet for my repressed friends. If you look at people while they worship, their faces are terribly erotic, mixed with a yearning quality that borders on orgasmic.

Finally, I realized that anthropomorphising God required infinite hubris. The Christian apologist Paul Tillich once said that argue that God exists is to deny Him. Real spiritual belief, as I understand it, is counterintuitively natural--an oxymoron on par with quantum physics. Do I believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross and rose again? You bet--as a metaphor only. His story is a great symbol of how the ego must be sacrificed in order for true awareness to emerge.

Now, I no longer fear Hell. I feel the glory of existence flowing through my heart, embracing everyone I see with love. Just like Huck Finn, Billy Budd, Jesus Christ, and hundreds of other literary characters, in order to get to heaven, I had to be willing to go to hell. The price is worth it.

Irving
TX
USA
Joined: 6
Left: 30
Was: Evangelical, Charismatic, Baptist, Pentecostal, Non-Denominational
Now: Buddhist
Convterted because: Fear
De-converted because: No fear
email: caddycomp at gmail dot com

8/10/06                                                                                       View Comments

The paradigm shift

sent in by don't-know-what-I-believe

Growing up I was a child prone to deep thoughts and depression. My family life did not help matters as there was much violence and strife in my home. I remember getting very depressed when I was around 11yrs old as I would think about God, existence, how the universe came to be. My big fear was that I would cease to exist and that the whole universe would one day cease to be.

As a child, Christianity seemed to be a foreign concept to me. My family would occasionally attend a church and in the summer time I would go to a vacation bible school. I remember simply not "getting" it. Even though I was exposed to Christianity on several occasions in my childhood, it was a mystery to me. I suppose that my troubled childhood contributed to my lack of understanding Christian religion.

During my teen age years I dove into the library and would read much in the para-psychology section. I had a hunger to learn about people and why they behaved the way they did. I also had a hunger to learn about God. As time progressed I was open to some New Age beliefs. I was open to reincarnation, astral projection, and who knows what else. (fuzzy memory) All I know is that I believed there was a God.

When I was 18 I was severely depressed and made a suicide attempt with OTC sleeping pills. I stopped taking them mid way through because I feared I would go to hell. I hadn't believed in hell prior to that day and for a few years after I didn't either, but that day it was one of the things that stopped me from taking my life. Honestly I think I really wanted to live.

Years 18 - 21 were strong searching years. I was looking for God, talking to God, and trying to find meaning in my life.

When I was 21 I remember seeing a Christmas play at a friends church and I started to believe that Jesus was real after that. I remember praying to God and telling him I was sorry I hadn't believed before. When I think about it now, I am not really sure what it was that convinced me that Jesus was the son of God.

For the next 9 months I was trying to figure out Christianity. I attended a couple churches briefly and attempted to read the bible. Then comes the International Church of Christ. I was 'reached out' to by a customer at the bank I worked at. Two or three weeks later we met for our first bible study and then two weeks after that I was baptized into this cult. See www.reveal.org or www.rightcyberup.org to learn about this cult. The ICC had a discipling hierarchy. Every member was convinced they needed to have a more mature Christian disciple them in the faith. I can't begin to tell you of the psychological abuse that occurs in the ICC. (Now I know that many other denominations have similar abuses just on different scales.) I bought into it hook, line and sinker. I believed I was a part of the one true church and that all those other "Christians" were really not saved. I also was constantly labeled as proud and independent by the leaders in the cult. I had such a hard time submitting to the authority of discipling, but I became brainwashed into believing it was needed.

Eventually my eyes were opened in March 2003 after reading a letter that a leader in the London Church of Christ wrote. This letter was leaked in the Internet and it spread like wildfire through out the ICC. I was finally validated after 11 years of spiritual abuse. The letter talked about many of the issues that I struggled with over the years, the biggest one concerning the issue of discipling. It also brought up the MONEY issue. This was an issue I was blind to and hadn't let my self question over the years. I learned how much people were making in the ministry and was appalled that they were making more than the average member of the church.

I left the ICC in March 2003 and started to visit several churches. After a few months I settled in at a Baptist church where John Piper preaches. It was a very large church and the majority of the church were Calvinists. I got involved in small groups right away. I believe that was to help fill the void after leaving the ICC cult.

During this time I was processing my cult experience. I was troubled with the similarities of evangelical Christianity with the ICC cult. (I won't get into all the nitty-gritty because this is already getting to long.)

After about a year or so I decided to quit going to church altogether. I also stopped reading my bible and having "quiet times." I had been having those daily QT's for over 13 years.

I also had started school for massage therapy right before I stopped attending church. The school I attending was very "new age" and they did shove their belief system down our throats. I felt very conflicted as this wounded Christian going to a new age school. I was working full time and going to school while continuing to process my cult experience and to sort out Christianity.

Something else disturbed me. A good friend who also left the ICC cult eventually became an Ex-Christian! I was so sad! How could she stop believing? I feared that one day I would too stop believing and that would mean I could go to hell. (Good grief!)

Also in the past couple years I married a good friend who had left the ICC over 10 years ago. He still believed in Christ but had become much more liberal over the years. My husband and I recently listened to a lecture series from Bart Ehrman about how the New Testament came to be and how the scribe change things. I heard how some of the Pauline letters are considered to be written by others well after the life of Paul. That lecture series helped fast forward my breakdown of Christianity and being able to use my mind to evaluate the Christian teachings and the bible. I have been pondering the things I learned in the lecture series for the past month or two since we heard it.

Finally the paradigm shift occurred a few days ago. It's as if I have woken up from a dream. My mind works again. The fear of going to hell is no more. I have been soaking my mind with reading ex-Christian testimonies and essays. I just finished the "Dark Side" book that is advertised on this site. I feel free and happy! I also feel sad as I am grieving over losing my imaginary friend, Jesus. I also feel some similar emotions to my experience in leaving the ICC cult. I left the smaller cult a few years ago and now I am leaving the bigger Christianity cult right now.

I really don't know what I believe right now and that's OK.

Thanks for listening and thanks to all of you who previously wrote your testimony.

A long journey

sent in by Rachel

I was raised in a Christian family and my mother remains one of the people I respect most in the world. A desire to please her, and a natural child-like acceptance of what I was taught in, I do believe, good faith, led me to 'give my heart to Jesus' at 8 years old. My parents became disillusioned with the congregational church they then attended and moved to the Brethren shortly after my own conversion. Thus the religious influences on my adolescent years were strict and uncompromising; I had to cover my head in services and was expected to submit to male authority. Cinema, dancing and 'worldliness' was disapproved of and I think I welcomed those clear rules. I was different and I liked that distinction. Once I left school and went to university to study literature (a subject I was warned against because of its influences), I was exposed to a broader Christianity and was very actively involved in the student Christian movement. I learned about speaking in tongues etc and wanted to be 'filled with the spirit', feeling i was an inferior Christian. I prayed earnestly for this and had no answer(!)

I began my first job as a teacher well away from both family and friends. for the first time my immediate circle was not Christian. I joined a church but never felt part of it and the questions in my mind were getting bigger all the time.

I prayed; I asked for prayer; I was desperate.

I met and fell in love with a divorced man who had a vague connection with Christianity but barely thought about it (like most Brits). This was crunch point. How would my parents react? I couldn't bear disappointing them and I realize now that this was part of the reason why I decided to work abroad. I ended up in a Muslim country where I met locals who were devout and wonderful people and ex-pats who were completely irreligious - and wonderful people. I encountered kindness, generosity, etc etc, all of the qualities claimed by Christians as their own. Gradually, over this time, I admitted I was no longer a Christian. I saw too may things I couldn't reconcile and asked questions which the church could not satisfactorily answer.

On my return I married my 'non-Christian' man and we've been together for 13 years now. We're happy but he struggles at times to understand why my Christian past still has a hold.

My Father died recently. The support given to my mother by her church (not Brethren - she persuaded my Father to leave some years ago) has been great and reminds me of what I valued in the church community. I also miss the comfort she finds in believing that their separation is only temporary. I seethed through his funeral where the vicar warned the congregation that they were sure to be condemned to hell if they didn't share Dad's faith. i don't find being an ex-Christian easy; I do, however feel that I am being honest with myself and others. I thought I would find the same certainty elsewhere. I haven't. Maybe one day it will no longer matter to me. Meanwhile I find many things in life to enjoy and believe that I am still a decent respectable woman with a personal morality which stands up to scrutiny!

UK
8
Left: gradually, through my twenties
Was: Christian Brethren, evangelical
Now: open-minded
Converted because: family
De-converted because: too many doubts/ had to be honest with myself

Fear leads to the Dark side

sent in by Dan

I became a Christian as a result of a burnout on drugs (hash,opium) that I had at the ripe old age of 16 while living in Europe. After experiencing a great deal of paranoia and instability, I encountered a pastor of a newly developing church called International Christian Fellowship. Basically this was a spin-off of the Assemblies of God, made for the European market.

Their claims of charismatic encounters with a "real God" intrigued me as did their assertions that the miracles and all of the things the bible said were true. Because of a great need to believe in something and get my life back together I swallowed everything they said and became a devoted follower of Christ. I was convinced that because of my "sins" of drug use and listening to Heavy Metal music I had opened the door to the Devil and this was why I had so many doubts, was so messed up, etc...

Being so young and impressionable I believed all this, burned my albums (ouch!) cut my hair (Oh no Delilah!) and basically became a completely brainwashed Evangelical.

We would preach to people of all nations, creeds and backgrounds through our church and I became what others considered to be the best at Christian Apologetics. It seemed as if I had an answer for every argument against Christianity at the time. When the church began to indoctrinate us further and require classes for all assistant pastors I complied and became fully immersed in it.

I stopped sleeping with my girlfriend who also became a Christian (what was I thinking?), I stopped smoking (not bad I admit), and became the perfect "soldier for Christ" The church used "before and after" photos of me to show the transforming power of Jesus. Heavy rocker to Christian. Whoopee!

But all was not well in paradise. As I became more and more involved in learning about the religion and being a defender of it I became aware of the entire history of the church , its evolution, it's inconsistencies etc.. i also had my suspicions that a lot of the prophecies , speaking in tongues etc.. might not be really happening and I started having doubts about them. Still I was fairly convinced of some of the "miracles" I was seeing and certainly had bought into the whole religion. In fact I had become what I would now call deeply indoctrinated. Nevertheless I continued my investigations with the reasoning that the more I studied the more I could backup my religious beliefs.

When the church eventually kicked me out for continuing to live with my girlfriend, when they labeled me a backslider and said I was listening to "doctrines of demons" my attachment to them and my brainwashing was so complete that I literally had what can only be described as a nervous breakdown.

I prayed incessantly for the "peace that would pass all understanding" but it never came. I woke up in the middle of the night fearing hell, shaking in cold sweats, terrified that if I died I would certainly be judged for having these doubts and blasphemous ideas. I lost my girlfriend after she she left the church, I left the college I was studying theology in , and then joined a fairly dark heavy rock band. I became very angry at God and at Christians in general but unfortunately I held onto the belief that the bible was still essentially true and was unable to fully shake the hold that the whole paradigm had on me.

My fears followed me for years and I must say I became an extremely dark person because of it. I became the monster so the monster wouldn't break me so to speak, I ran headlong into the fear and anger instead of exposing it for what it was; a lie to control peoples thinking and keep them in bondage to fear.

In retrospect I still bought into the whole thing at that time, only I was acting the part of the damned instead of the saved! Not good for ones mental health I assure you.

The whole thing came crashing down eventually and I had to face all of these problems and the fear I had sought to drive away through the various masks I wore. I had to confront this God and this belief head on and stop acting out this temper tantrum. With the same tenacity used to defend Christianity previously I decided to listen to all the arguments against it and for it and compare everything equally without bias. I even prayed to God to let the truth be known! What I discovered was this. Christianity is a man made religion created by a Roman emperor to facilitate an orderly society. The history of the church since then has been one of increasing control, repeated tragedies and an inability to admit it's own ignorance.

The end result was that I discovered two tendencies. One is what I call mans inherent tendency to reach for the "divine" or transcendent and try to explain it. The second is mans inherent tendency to put his findings in a book, label them all and call it "absolute truth". While I can't accept the atheists stand I definitely think that organized religion is more often than not counterproductive to the development of any kind of spirituality.

As the bible itself says "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love" (1John 4:18). Interesting statement from a book that preaches hell fire and a religion that uses fear to gain adherents. Fear leads to anger and hatred and has never been a basis for developing any sound social or spiritual harmony.

I left the fold after that realization and I am now what I call a truth seeker I suppose. I'm always up for any idea or spiritual,religious discussion ,but I now realize that it is all conjecture. The real enemy to social/spiritual progress is the "true believer" for me. The true believer will not take no for an answer and he is on the march everywhere spreading fear trying to convert the world. Its time to move out of this darkness and truly into the light. The light of reason.

San Rafael
CA
USA
Joined at 16
Left at 37
Was: Born Again, Evangelical, Charismatic
Now: Truth Seeker, Spiritualist,
Converted because: As a result of burning out on drugs
De-converted because: Intolerant ideas, inconsistencies, broken promises of peace

8/9/06                                                                                       View Comments

Waking up from the nightmare

sent in by Gretchen

I've always been a people pleaser. No matter what it was, I would do it. I guess that's why it was so easy for me to fall into the trap of Christianity. I remember my conversion well. I was attending vacation bible school and had been listening to this woman talk about Jesus' love and sacrifice for us. How he didn't want us to go to hell. How we were not worthy, but if we let him into our heart, he would come in and wash all of our sins away.

Afterward they did an alter call. I sat their thinking as a child does, how much the stupid little things I had ever done was hurting him. I went up to the alter and, with the help of a teacher, said the sinner's prayer. As I prayed, I cried and begged Jesus to forgive me. When I was finished I felt like I had been given a clean-slate.

I started to go to church full force for awhile, but tapered off. I only went to church sporadically. When I did go it was because of my grandmother. She was a devout Christian and was always telling me I needed to go. So I would go to Sunday School and Children's Church services, all the while thinking that some of this stuff can't be for real. I mean, I never could figure out how Noah got all of those critter's into that boat.

I was a very inquisitive child and I know I made the adults mad. I was always asking why. I never did get those answers. The only thing they did do was make me second guess myself. I began to believe that I just wasn't reading or interpreting it right. I was a child after all and these were grown ups. They had to know what they were talking about.

By the time I was a teenager, I quit going all together. I figured that if God and Jesus were real they didn't care if I went to church or not. All that mattered is that I believed in them. My junior year of high school I became pregnant. I was so afraid of how my family was going to react. I was scared that I was going to be disowned. Amazingly, they took the news well. But the guys mother wasn't as pleased. I don't know if her attitude toward the situation was because of her fanatical catholicism or what, but she told me I wasn't ready and wanted me to give my child up for adoption. Being the stubborn person I am, it didn't happen.

My child's father and I eventually married. It was at this time in my life that I found out what it was like to be pressured to convert. My mother-in-law was constantly on me to change religions for the sake of my family. I went to counseling with the priest, a church sanctioned therapist, and even a weekend retreat aimed at teaching you how to be a "godly" couple. The only thing I took away from that experience is that catholics are control freaks.

It never got better with her. For a long time she tried to make me feel guilty that my son had not been baptized. His father and I had decided to wait and let him make the decision on religion when he got older. But she kept pushing. At age three he was baptized in the Wesleyan church. I know it pissed her off royally. But in my mind he was safe from the insanity she called faith.

After Carl and I divorced, I only went to church once or twice in a 5 year time period. But I still held onto the notion that God was real. I even studied Revelation. I was scared to death of going to hell. I even got hooked on watching Jack Van Impe's predictions. At the time, it all made since to me.

Then this year my belief in Christianity was broken forever. I lost my grandmother,on my birthday, very unexpectedly. It was one of those freak things where she's fine one minute, falls over and is gone in the span of one day. It really threw me. I had been really close to this woman and in the blink of an eye, she was gone.

At her funeral, one of the pastors she had known for a long time presided over her service. He talked about her life and read a poem she wrote to her family. During this my life changed forever. He told a story about how she had stopped attending services regularly to take care of her ailing husband and mother. Then one day she told him that she was going to come back to church, no matter what. He then proceeded to say that because of this, she is now in heaven. That one decision shows how much of a good Christian she was and that we should all strive to be like that.

I remember literally wanting to jump up and strangle this man. According to him, her greatest accomplishment was the fact that she started to go to church again? Her life was reduced to her level of Christianity? Never mind the sacrifices she made to take care of them. Running back and forth twice a day. Never mind her ability to make you feel special no matter what. No, it all boiled down to whether or not she was in that pew every Sunday and Wednesday. His words made me sick.

I became angry. I couldn't believe a man of god would think like that. Then I began to question the whole thing. I started researching Christianity and began to see it for what it was. Baloney. Crap. A Lie.

During my search I came across this site. It has become a wealth of information and reading the testimonies on here has helped a lot. It's made me see that I'm not alone. That it's okay to feel like I do.

I'm still learning. "When you stop learning, you die." has become my mantra. I'm not sure what philosophy or belief I will end up with. I may even never find one and that's okay with me. But I do know that my mind has been closed to Christianity.


Indiana
USA
Joined: 10
Left: 27
Was: Wesleyan, Nazarene
Now: Human
Converted because: Wanted to please family, fear of hell
De-converted because: Started questioning Christianity and found it to be false.
email: greckylou AT yahoo dot com

8/8/06                                                                                       View Comments

The Eternal Collection Plate

sent in by R Shelby

I have been reading the posts on this website for many weeks. I am not afraid to tell you that even though we are strangers, I consider all of you my friends. You compelled me to leave a brief testimonal.

I am an ex-Christian because in a moment of weakness, when I was very young, I prayed to Jesus to not condemn me to the eternal files of hell. As a young man a family member took me to churches. I was usually accompanied by a friend and we always sat in back to avoiding standing up to sing. We visited several churches, each with their own brand of holy-book dribble. One thing remained constant: each church begged for dollars and the collection plate always made it back to the pew we were sitting. The preachers always told a tired story about how god?s people should give to the church even if their financial future may be uncertain. I found these begging session disdainful. To this day I am stunned that people swallow these stories like a fat woman gulping a chocolate drop.

It was college that released me from the chains of Christianity. Many right-wing war mongers complain that colleges are full of queers and pot heads, no place for god?s sheep. While campuses have their share of drug addicts and lowlifes, the Philosophy departments do not teach students to believe in fiction. What would life be like without knowing the works of Nietzsche, Russell, Hume, Mill and other great men? Imagine knowing nothing more than the cruel, torturous stories compiled into the bible.

America is a bubbling cauldron of theocratic snot. Because of this a man by the name of George "Alfred E. Neuman" Bush was reelected to the Presidency of this once great country. And for what? To prevent the use of stem cells to fight diseases such as Alzheimer's and cancer? And millions of religious trilobites applaud as their leader slowly pushes this country back to the dark ages. Maybe Bush?s next move is to outlaw Polio vaccinations because god will protect the people of his country. Perhaps Bushy may see his days end in dementia, something he could have prevented.

May the intelligence of man and his technologies protect all of my friends, be they agnostics or athiests.


USA
Now: God-Damn Agnostic
Converted because: Afraid of Hell
De-converted because: I have a brain.

A letter to a friend who is a fundy and jokingly told me last night I was going to hell...

sent in by Shellie

Dear Rog,

Please note that I fully understand your commitment to religion, Jesus and the Bible and I mean you no disrespect. As I have said, for most of my life I was very much the same way. I took years for me to fully accept that Christianity is (in my opinion) very misguided and well, wrong.

Religion is a personal thing, and you have never once tried to push your beliefs on me, except for last night when you told me to have fun in hell. I just see you in this in-between place (where I once was) and I want you to hear my story. I have a lot of respect for you. You are very intelligent and I often find myself engaging in sophisticated conversation when we are together.

Here goes...

These are the 5 major questions that kept popping up in my head and would not go away.

1. Why are there so many different denominations, who all interpret the same book in various ways, and which one is right? If the Church of Christ-ers are right, then all Presbyterian, Methodist, Catholics (all whom love and worship the exact same god and Jesus from the exact same book) are wasting their time and going to hell. (Prime example: Galileo)

2. Hell! I had a hard time trying to accept that god (who is all powerful) and loves us would create humans (knowing some would not accept Jesus) and condemn them to hell. You would not condemn your children to an endless life of misery, no matter how bad they were. It is evil. So the all loving, compassionate god that I loved so much would send someone he created, that just wasn't a good enough Christian, to suffer for eternity????

3. How is it that god created millions of generations of humans across the planet (such as native American and African tribes) with no way for them to be told about Christ and be saved (years before missionaries arrived) just to exist in a life of sin and be sent to hell.

4. Why, if we are all made in the image of god, are women expected to be submissive? This is the verse I had the most trouble with when Jesus says that divorce is permissible when the wife is guilty of fornication. But what if the husband is unfaithful? Jesus doesn't seem to care about that.
Matthew 5:32 - But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.
5. We are told to accept that Jesus existed based upon the Gospels of the Bible, yet the Gospels are so poorly written that a logical person is at best left to ponder if Jesus even existed. The Gospels are consistently contradictive, filled with mathematic errors and don't compliment each other on very important details. Why? Why? Why? Why is the holy book, which is inspired by god, full of so many mistakes?

I must have prayed for 2 years straight for god to show me a sign that the doubts in my mind were wrong. Leaving your faith and belief system behind is a very hard thing to do. Much like you, my entire family was very involved in church. I spent every Sunday of my life sitting next to my mom and grandmother in church. I could type for a week on all of my church activities and how involved I was. I loved my church family. I truly did. They were and are still some of the most kind, genuine people on the planet. When my step dad was dying with cancer, if it had not been for the love and support of the people from our church I do not know how my mom and I would have survived.

I even went to a very liberal Presbyterian church where drinking (in moderation) and dancing are allowed. I loved my pastor. He is a graduate from Princeton University, extremely smart and to this day we still correspond in writing and he takes the time to discuss each and every issue I present to him in my questioning Christianity and the existence of god.

In my quest to cling to my 'faith' I began to research Christianity in effort to ease my doubts and strengthen my faith. I began to study and read the bible, and then realized quickly, I knew very little about the book and religion I so avidly defended.

Not only was I rusty on the contents of the holy book, I knew very little of it's history or the history of Christianity all together. This I think is true for most Christians. I think the focus in church, youth group and Sunday school is on warm fuzzy verses (mostly in the New Testament) that deal with love and good works and Jesus' miracles. You even mention the New Testament last night.

I would agree that the New Testament paints are far more gracious picture of god, than the evil, spiteful god of the Old Testament. However, there are still some very disturbing issues presented in the New Testament.

You would think that Jesus and the New Testament would have a different view of slavery, but slavery is still approved of in the New Testament, as the following passages show.
Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ. (Ephesians 6:5 NLT)
Christians who are slaves should give their masters full respect so that the name of God and his teaching will not be shamed. If your master is a Christian, that is no excuse for being disrespectful. You should work all the harder because you are helping another believer by your efforts. Teach these truths, Timothy, and encourage everyone to obey them. (1 Timothy 6:1-2 NLT)

In the following parable, Jesus clearly approves of beating slaves even if they didn't know they were doing anything wrong.
The servant will be severely punished, for though he knew his duty, he refused to do it. "But people who are not aware that they are doing wrong will be punished only lightly. Much is required from those to whom much is given, and much more is required from those to whom much more is given." (Luke 12:47-48 NLT)
This list goes on and on. In my quest for answers I found more questions and more reason to be concerned. It has led me to this conclusion:
  • Christianity is one of 100's religions used by humans to explain life.
  • There is no god with whom I can have a personal relationship.
  • We are all left to chance.
  • Not believing in god does not make me a bad, evil or non-moral person. I do not have the urge to lie, steal, cheat on my husband, watch porn, or be "tempted" to do harmful things to my own body (such as smoking, hard drugs) or anyone else just because I do not believe in Jesus.

I feel more free and liberated than I have in my entire life. No more sins and guilt the next morning.

It was hard for my family to accept my new position and they still often question me.

That is my story. It is long. Sorry about that. But, I think you should entertain this idea. I think you are trapped between 2 worlds and I know how hard that can be. If I am way of base, I am apologize and I will never mention it again.

Peace.

S Watts
Cape Coral
FL
USA
How old were you when you became a christian? 10
How old were you when you ceased being a christian? 24
What churches or organizations or labels have applied to you? Presbyterian
What labels, if any, would you apply to yourself now? Non-beleiver
Why did you become a christian? born into it
Why did you de-convert? Couldn't stop questioning.
email: swatts at leegov dot com

8/5/06                                                                                       View Comments

I wish I knew what I know now when I was younger...

sent in by Robert

Both my parents were raised Catholic, and just like most Christians I've met, had never thought twice about it. It was always 'the way things are' even if they didn't quite live according to the doctrine. Like all children, I believed what I was told, and when any question regarding how the Earth was made or why we were here, or why something was the way it was, I was immediately referred to the Bible by my mother.

I had gone to a Catholic church until the age of 5, when my family then started attending a Christian church. I became very involved with the church the older I got, but never really felt the spiritual aspect. I would go to a youth group on Sundays and felt it more of a social gathering than anything else. I played percussion in the worship band and attended weekly bible studies, but only to see cute girls, or to hang out with friends. I had always felt too old for my age, and although I didn't have very many friends at school, I felt like I fit in better with the older kids at church, who accepted me and made me feel like an equal. I still never questioned the validity of the teachings or the faith, but I did very often feel guilty about things I did: lying very frequently (especially to the older kids at church, to seem cooler), and worst of all: masturbating. I had a very strong sex drive starting in elementary school, but I knew that God looked down upon lust, and that to look at a girl with lusting eyes is just as bad as having sex with her.

I guess the guilt factor was one of the things that kept me in church, even though I felt even guiltier about being a "Sunday Christian" than anything I had actually done. I would go to school and curse with the other boys and even (at times) deny I was a Christian for fear that I would be laughed at. I would try to pray in my room at night, but after hearing no response from God, I would feel like maybe he didn't loved me, or looked down on me so much because of my sins that he couldn't even talk to me. I had never felt his presence in my heart, or ever heard his voice during a prayer. I would see the folks in church who would lift their hands up to praise this god and I wished so badly to have that kind of faith and to really feel the presence of god. But I never did. I felt like maybe it was a test, and so I was baptized in the church, mostly (although unconsciously) to gain attention and acceptance from the church community and my parents, but I really did want to dedicate myself to god so that I might feel his presence like everyone else did. I continued sinning, even when I would try with all my might not too, and begged for forgiveness every night.

By the time my parents got divorced I felt things were changing. When my parents started dating other people and my dad would have his girlfriend stay over and vice versa, I became very resentful and would call him a hypocrite. He eventually would stop coming to church with me, and would just take me and pick me up (often times picking me up half an hour late). Because of this I ended up not going to church again until I got my drivers license. I drove myself to church the first weekend I had my license, and have never been back since. The next few years I forgot about Christianity more or less, until some big problem or event came up and then I would pray to god for everything to be ok....for him to be there and help me....and adamantly apologize for having forsaken him for such a long time.

When I turned 18 I was forced into homelessness by both of my parents refusing to let me stay with them (my dad had subsequently moved 3 hours north of where I lived). I slept in my car and worked a full time job for months, in a very confused and frustrated state. This is the first time I really questioned whether or not there was a god, and whether or not the Christian faith was really what it claimed to be (I had already figured out that our society was in shambles once I smoked pot for the first time, and this mind opening allowed me to continue figuring things out). Finally I was able to admit to myself that god had never been there for me, had never showed himself to me or talked to me, and that any emotional response I had gotten from praying had been self induced.

The hardest part was admitting that there was no heaven and that I really didn’t know what happened when people died. It was very tough realizing that I really didn't know what people were or why they were here, or what this all meant. I decided to start from square one and forget everything I thought I knew about the world. Looking at Christianity from an outsider’s perspective allowed me to realize how incredibly flawed it is.

You are supposed to keep a certain level of naivety and contentedness in knowing that you have the answer and that everyone is wrong and that god loves you no matter what you do. It's hard to realize you don’t know the answer, and that no one does. But once you do, the burden is released and things seem a lot clearer.

Thousand Oaks
California
USA
Joined: Raised Christian, baptized at ages 6 months, 12 years old, and 14 years old (the latter two by my own will )
Left: 18 years old
Was: Christian
Now: Homo Sapien
Converted because: I was raised that it was just the way things were, and could never see past that
De-converted because: I was finally able to admit to myself that there was no god (at least the abrahamic god)
email: nonamakermusic AT yahoo dot com

8/3/06                                                                                       View Comments

What's the best way to leave fundamentalism?

sent in by Mike

I'd be grateful if anyone could tell me the best ways of coping with leaving fundamentalism.

I've been a Christian for 23 years, mainly in the charismatic movement. But after several years of increased doubting about the inerrancy of the bible, I've reached the stage where I can't go on any further.

I've debated long and hard with my friends at church, trying to get them so see the contradictions, atrocities and mistakes in the bible, but all I get is a glassy-eyed stare and a mantra of "you need more faith. Try reading the bible more."

From reading previous posts, I realise that leaving a fundamentalist church isn't the easiest thing in the world to do. Even though all my friends know the validity of my faith thus far, I'm still expecting barbs such as "you must never have been a true Christian if you now doubt." Things like that will hurt, but I don't want to be a whipping post for other people's insecurities. Even now, during our debates, people have started to admit that the strength of my research and logic is proving taxing to their faith.

Like many who've posted on this site, I've considered attending a UU congregation, as I'm not yet convinced whether I'm an agnostic, an atheist or a very liberal Christian. All I know is that I can't pretend any longer that I'm a fundamentalist.

How have you all coped with leaving fundamentalism? Is it at all possible to keep fundy friends as friends? Do you find that you get ostracised? Please help me out with your experience.

Oh, and thanks for the site. It's really kept me sane and helped me realise that I'm not the only one who sees that the emperor hasn't any clothes.

Birmingham
England
Joined: 17
Left: 40
Was: Charismatic, fundamentalist
Now: Agnostic? V. Liberal?
Converted because: Thought the bible was the truth
De-converted because: Realisde it wasn't