12/30/07                                                                                       View Comments

12/26/07                                                                                       View Comments

I ruined my parent's Christmas Day and I feel very guilty

Sent in by Joseph

You remember Cypher? The traitor from the movie called The Matrix? There was a moment in the film when Cypher tells Neo..."Who oh why didn't I take the BLUE pill". Neo laughs at first...and then he becomes quiet...because he was silently wishing the same thing" Remember that moment in the film? Well, I had my Cypher "I wish I took the blue pill" moment today...of all days Christmas.

I ruined my parent's Christmas Day and I feel very guilty. I've been harboring doubts about the existence of God for a very long time and today...I felt I had to express my feelings. I had to let them know what I felt...and now I feel guilty.

I love my parents very much...but too much faith in religion and all belief involved and I had it. I had to tell them what I thought was the truth. The truth is, from my perspective...God does NOT exist. I feel guilty because I told them this on Christmas Day. Am I wrong for saying this to them? Especially on a day like Christmas Day? I don't know.

I just know I can't keep this inside of me anymore. I had to say it...regardless of the consequences to me and my future. I love my parents very much...but I felt my gift was at least telling them MY truth from the many years of studying the Bible, reasoning, and thinking about God...which no longer made any sense for me.

Nevertheless, I tried to reason with them and they wouldn't listen. I understand why they won't listen...but I felt hurt for letting them think they let me down because I didn't believe their religious faith!

In essence...I tried to reason with my mother specifically. I was in the kitchen with her and we were having discussions about politics, music and then...at one point - religion and the Catholic services. (I grew up Catholic, by the way).

Something in me snapped and I had to tell her the truth. It all started with me telling my mother an innocent remark about a recent admission from the Archbishop of Canterbury. He announced to the world that the Nativity Scene of the Birth of Christ was most definitely a myth. I wanted to say something humorous to my mother about this...but she got ahead of me and gave me a shock..."Of course the Nativity happened."

It stunned me to realize my mother still actually believed this nonsense. I felt sorry for her and I wanted to open her eyes. Just once I wanted her to see something of what I learned and grasp what I've discovered. But to my horror...her religious faith in believing "God" and "Jesus" and the Catholic Church was so strong...no matter what I said...she wouldn't give in and felt heartbroken that I didn't "believe". Silently I thought to myself and I'm telling all of you out here...we really are all alone in this world and it's impossible to get through to people who refuse to see reason! That's the true meaning of nihilism! No wonder Nietzsche went mad!

In any case...I decided to lower the boom on my mother for the heck of it. Yes, I felt a vindictive streak and tried to show her that my reasoning was stronger and more logical than her faith. I gently told her this: all the Gospels that have been written about Christ...NONE of the people who wrote them EVER saw him. Not a single one actually saw the Christ. She simply said "so what". I told her the Gospel of Mark was the most underused of all the gospels because it was the most embarrassing. No Nativity scene, no Resurrection scene, not even a mention about Christ's genealogy. I rounded up my argument by telling her..."if you believe in God...why bother? Since God is "real"...there would be no need to "believe"! She still refused to see reason and I felt defeated.

In the end...I realized my mistake in making my own mother broken hearted...so I backtracked on my "truths"..and "lied"...and told her I simply had alot of doubts about God and I still need a lot of "faith" to continue believing in God. I'm telling all of you this for a reason...if you have parents and people who really love you...something like this truth about the reality of existence is something too brutal, too frank for some people to absorb...like my parents. So...you just have to let them continue to believe in the myths they believe to be real...because otherwise they'd lose their reason to live and just die of apathy.

So in a way...I'm like Cypher now...I have this knowledge..and I wish I had taken the blue pill...but now I'm stuck because I chose to take the Red pill and can't go back. I just wish I had my own Trinity to comfort me right now and tell me...I"m alright and I made the right decision. I just feel very sad...because the truth not only hurts...it can hurt you if people you wish to learn the same thing...refuse to listen and lament you're unwillingness to "believe" and have "faith" in God.

12/22/07                                                                                       View Comments

Cutting the tie that binds

Sent in by Gabe

I broke free from Christian fundamentalism in April 2006. I was a third year student at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY. This seminary is considered by many to be the intellectual hub of evangelical seminaries. The president of the seminary, Dr. Albert Mohler, has been called "the leading intellectual voice for evangelicals in America." He has been a frequent guest on Larry King Live, debating controversial topics such as gay marriage, abortion, religious tolerance, etc. Dr. William Dembski also teaches at the seminary, who is widely considered the world's leading proponent of Intelligent Design. Dr. Dembski was my professor in the fall semester of 2005.

But with one year left to complete a Masters of Divinity in Theology, I could no longer ignore the questions that were piling up in my mind. My questions and doubts troubled me to the point that I simply could no longer preach and teach something that I wasn't sure if believed any longer. I had become a member of a Southern Baptist church almost a year earlier. I absolutely loved this church, and all three pastors were also students at the seminary. The pastor was a Ph.D student, so I really enjoyed his sermons because they were really "deep" theologically. So when I informed them of my decision to leave the faith, you can imagine their reaction! Shortly after hearing of my decision, they held a Wednesday night service to excommunicate me from the church and "deliver my soul over to satan for the destruction of my flesh and the eternal flames of hell." Here is the email correspondence that took place after I informed them of my decision to leave the faith. Hope you enjoy:

MY FIRST EMAIL INFORMING MY PASTORS OF MY DECONVERSION:

Chris,

How's it going? This is Gabe. I apologize for not contacting you, Brandon, and John sooner. I hope things are going well for you. As you know I am not in seminary this semester. You are only the second person from the seminary I have emailed so far, and I regret causing such a stir by not contacting anyone before this semester began. First I want to say that you and everyone at Crossroad have been great friends. But I must get down to the heart of the matter. I know a good number of people are wondering where I am and why I have not shown up for class. I actually just dropped my classes, so I know my name has been called on the role for the last few days, and I'm sure that people are asking where I am. I don't know what the situation is like on the seminary campus. It may be that I have become the topic of many conversations, understandably so. I guess my roommate Craig has already informed you of the change in my beliefs, or at least some of the doubts I have. I have hesitated to speak to anyone because it is so difficult to tell you, my friends, and those I know of the change in my beliefs. I guess I should go ahead and tell you that I am no longer a Christian. And I can imagine how you feel from reading that statement. I could probably use the word shocked to describe the way you feel, but horrified is probably a better description. I fully understand everyone's reaction. In the eyes of a Christian something like this is more dreadful than a Christian cheating on his wife, because in my case the whole belief system which I held so fervently has crumbled. My family and friends in Georgia and South Carolina are completely shocked. I know that when the news gets around, everyone will be worried that I am on my way to hell, and I fully understand should anyone put forth an effort to bring me back into the fold. If it were me two months ago hearing of a brother or sister leaving the faith, I would have probably cried in prayer that God would bring him/her back. I know that many, if not all, will conclude that I was never a sincere born-again Christian due to the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints. But I can assure you that was not the case. This might not be the best time to get into the specifics which led me to leave the faith, but I know that I will probably end up in a few debates. People are going to want to know. I can assure you that this is not something that I have taken lightly, and my deconversion did not come at a whim. This has been a very emotional process, and I even prayed for God to lead me back to my Christian beliefs if indeed I was wrong. I have had doubts in the back of my mind for quite a while, but I simply ignored them, as many Christians do. The only way I could continue steadfast in my faith was to ignore my doubts. I even preached this summer while going through this process, simply because I had already committed to preaching there a month prior. It was the most difficult sermon I have ever preached because I knew I was preaching something I no longer believed. If anyone asks you why I have not returned, feel free to tell them. Many are probably thinking that I have fallen back into being the partying drunk and drug addict, but I have not. There are too many responsibilities in life for that. I do not regret going to seminary, it has been the deepest learning experience of my life, emotionally and intellectually. Right now I am doing construction with my brother while looking for a job in which I can use my business degree. I'll talk to you later. Again, I apologize for any heartache I have caused. This is certainly not my intention. I hope the best for you all. Talk to you later.

RESPONSE FROM CHRIS (SENIOR PASTOR)

Gabe,

I must say that I am very disappointed with both your decision to abandon the faith once for all delivered to the saints and the approach you have taken in arriving at that decision. As your pastor I am absolutely shocked that you failed to contact me when these doubts began to enter your mind. I am not sure what resources you chose to consult as you sought to assuage your doubts, but obviously they were poor ones. I, along with every professor at Southern, would have been at your disposal had you merely picked up the phone or sent an email. Instead you waited until you left town to begin the process of walking away from Christ and then never bothered to contact either your pastors or your professors. Did you doubt our ability to answer the questions you were facing? Do you think that [...], Al Mohler, or Bill Dembski would hold to a faith that was not intellectually viable? Or did you doubt our veracity? Had we ever given you the impression that we were lying or did not have your best interests in mind? These are questions that I am dying to have answered. Your comments that you did not want to get into the specifics or discuss specifics about your change of heart leads me to conclude that you are not very serious about discovering the truth. He whose mind is closed has ceased to learn. Give me specifics and I will answer any questions you have.

Of course at this point I must admit that I am a bit skeptical of your claims to no longer believe the Bible (as your roommate conveyed to us). To me it sounds as if you have found something that you love more than Christ (sin) and merely have changed your mind about Scripture in an effort to self-medicate against feelings of guilt and conviction of sin. Sin is crouching at your door Gabe. You must master it.

We have shared your abandonment with the members of CrossRoad Church and have called for a corporate fast on your behalf. Please rest assured that it will not be the last time we do so. We will not surrender you to the enemy. Gabe you need to return to Christ. The first step will be to share some specifics of your struggle and call me on my cell (###-###-####). At the very minimum we need to have considerable email correspondence. Brandon, John, and I are all prepared to travel to the Georgia/South Carolina area to sit down with you. You still have a trailer up here. Why don't you come up and visit for a week? We can sit down and discuss this issue patiently.

Gabe you requested that we remove your name from our church rolls. Please know that we will not give up on you that easily. We will pursue church discipline. Our church is prepared to put you out of the church, but that does not mean that our relationship with you will cease. It merely means that our relationship with you will change. At this point Gabe you give us little reason to conclude anything other than the possibility that you are either very confused by the attacks of the enemy or you were never a Christian to begin with. I pray you will give us a chance to relieve those fears.

Gabe, you are the victim of satanic strongholds (false ideas about God). If you will pursue the truth diligently God will lead you to it. Failure to let your pastors know about your struggles is not diligent pursuit of the truth.

Please call me.

Your friend,

Chris


MY INITIAL EMAIL FORWARDED BY CHRIS TO THE ASSISTANT PASTORS, JOHN AND BRANDON. THIS IS JOHN’S RESPONSE:

Gabe,

My mind is racing right now with all of the things I want to say to you. Chris and Brandon have responded to you well so I won't belabor any point that has been addressed. Please listen to what we are saying to you. We are in complete unity in our love and commitment to you. Gabe, there is nothing wrong with having some doubts in your mind. Anyone who is honest and engaged intellectually will have some from time to time. God is big enough to handle and answer your doubts if you are seriously searching after the truth.

I have found the disconnect you are experiencing usually begins with either a refusal to believe something that is true to the nature of God or a refusal to repent and forsake sin. My brothers have pleaded with you in both of these areas. Gabe, I really think you need to remove yourself from the atmosphere where sin has clouded your mind and return to Indiana. Maybe you need to sit out a semester -- that's fine. You need to be with people who love you as you are and long to help you understand the richness that can be found only in Christ.

We are praying and fasting fervently for you. Gabe, I would rather not eat than to lose you to Satan. It's like I'm watching my son play in the highway and I can't get to him. Come back home, Gabe.

Yours in Christ,

John


BRANDON’S RESPONSE TO MY INITIAL EMAIL. BRANDON IS THE PASTOR WHO FEELS HE IS GIFTED IN ADMINISTERING SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINE!

Gabe,

I have read the email that you sent to Chris and I am deeply disturbed and upset with your decision and line of reasoning. In fact Gabe, I do not believe your story at all. You are a very intelligent individual who is steeped in theology and apologetics. I don't think for one second that in your heart you fully deny the truthfulness of God's word and the exclusivity of the Lord Jesus Christ. You may have convinced yourself that these claims are false but you have been strongly deceived. Gabe lets get down to the bottom line here. This is the fact----you were saved out of a drug abusive lifestyle saturated with sexual immorality and these things still to this day haunt you and rid your conscience with guilt. This summer before you left I warned you that the enemy was going to swift you like wheat and try to tempt you to sin---talk about a prophetic word from GOD---how is that for prophecy? Gabe you told me that your brother was hooked on meth and was a drug addict as well as his wife. We grieved over his drug abuse and over the state of his soul. You have been with him all summer long.

Gabe lets cut to the chase here---what drugs are you on? Is it cocaine again?--I know you told Ryan you used to snort. Are you on meth? Smoking weed? What is it Gabe? No Christian in the history of creation walks away from the faith in the manner that you have. There is always a sin issue!! ALWAYS! I will not except this garbage that you just stopped believing because of some doubts you had. You can tell me that all day long and I don't except that Gabe. That is nothing but an excuse from Satan. Gabe take it from a man who has done drugs and abused alcohol and backsliden in the faith----I know what it feels like to walk away from Christ and i am telling you this---you are about to feel the biggest pain in your life if you do not repent of your lifestyle sin. God has put a hook in my nose and he will do the same for you---IF you are or ever were his child to begin with---which by the way I feel that you did give evidence of being a genuine Christian. We will help you. We love you. We will do whatever it takes to heal the pain that you are going through. Gabe I will drive to Georgia if I have to in order to get you some help...only stop telling me that you just don't believe because of some doubts because when you do that Gabe you insult my intelligence and my friendship.

Gabe I am praying for you and I love you. I want to help. We as a church want to help. In your response please tell us the truth about your sin so that we can attack the root issue.

In Christ,

Brandon



MY FIRST RESPONSE TO BRANDON:


Brandon, I received your message, and I will say that I am not surprised by your tone. But I know that you must rebuke them sharply. First I will say that you have been a good friend. But I must respond to your message. First I want to comment on your statement that "no Christian in the history of creation has walked away from the faith" as I did. I don't know where you came up with that. I don't know if you have ever heard of a man by the name of Dr. Charles Templeton. He was Billy Graham's best friend and original preaching partner when Billy Graham started in the revivalism circuit. It has been said that he was every bit as strong in the gospel as Billy Graham. However, upon examining the evidence for and against his Christian faith, he became an agnostic. There are countless other examples of people who have deconverted from Christianity, including Farrell Till, who is a former minister, but now an outspoken critic of Christianity. He even debated Norman Geisler, who as you know is one of the most highly respected Christian apologists in the world. You can read the debate online as I did, but if you don't want your faith shaken then I suggest you refrain from reading it. This debate didn't turn out so well for Dr. Geisler. Dan Barker is another example, a former Baptist preacher for 19 years, a touring evangelist, and a successful Christian song writer, who also turned away from the faith after much research. There are tons of other testimonies just like these of people who left the faith after putting their beliefs to the test. And you said that you do not believe that I abandoned the Christian faith because of some doubts that I had. Well if it were just a few problems I perhaps could have continued in the faith, but the problems and doubts are by no means few. How many problems does it take for one to honestly question whether his beliefs are true? Not many when the foundation of your faith is that the Bible is inerrant and infallible. John Wesley even said, "If there be any mistake in the Bible, there may well be a thousand. If there be one falsehood in that book, it did not come from the God of truth." (John Wesley, Journal, Wed., July 24, 1776). But of course a presupposition that it is inerrant and infallible makes it easy to explain away any problems. Under such a presupposition, you have no choice but to somehow make it "fit."

Second I want to clarify that my brother is not on methamphetamine. I never said he was. I only said his wife was at one point. But that's no big deal, just a little misunderstanding on our part. But she is still in rehad where she is receiving treatment, and we are confident that she will fully recover from this addiction. My brother has not done any meth in over four years. He has a son whom he takes care of every day, and he simply has too many responsibilities. And myself, I've been clean for almost six years and I plan on staying that way. Its not "garbage" when I say that I'm not on drugs, and its not "garbage" when I say that my doubts led me to abandon the Christian faith. And honestly, I do not like it one bit when you talk to me like that, nor does anyone else. Its late, so I have to go. Take care.

Gabe


A FOLLOW UP MESSAGE THAT I SENT BRANDON, INSPIRED BY HIS SMART-ASS "PROPHETIC WORD FROM GOD" STATEMENT:



Brandon, since in your email you mentioned prophecy, it reminded me to include a link to Farrell Till's discussion on the validity of using prophecy to prove the Bible is inspired. I was wondering if you wanted to read it. If the faith is true then it will withstand any objection brought against it, but it is strange that the vast majority of Christians are afraid to read anything that challenges their faith. Here's the link:

http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/farrell_till/prophecy.html

Talk to you later,

Gabe


BRANDON’S RESPONSE, AFTER REALIZING THAT MAYBE HE WAS BEING A LITTLE ARROGANT. FRANKLY, I THINK HE GETS A KICK OUT OF ADMINISTERING CHURCH DISCIPLINE. I GUESS IT ADDS A LITTLE VARIETY TO HIS MINISTERIAL DUTIES. ITS GOTTA GET RATHER BORING REPEATING THE SAME MESSAGE OVER AND OVER, WEEK AFTER WEEK, YEAR AFTER YEAR. HE BEGINS HIS RESPONSE IN AN APOLOGETIC TONE, BUT BY THE END HE’S JUST AS HARSH AS EVER.




Gabe,

First I want to say that I love you dearly. I am not trying to be rude or mean to you. Gabe I fear for your soul....I can't imagine you burning in hell for all eternity. Second, I am glad that you are not on drugs and if apologize if I misunderstood about your brother. Thirdly Gabe you misquoted my original email. What I said was this: "No Christian in the history of creation walks away from the faith in the manner that you have. There is always a sin issue!! ALWAYS!" I am not arguing that no one walks away from the faith. What I am arguing is that there is always a sin issue associated with the apostasy.

Gabriel I have read the material you sent and have a response to each point, however I want to know if you are open to hearing a response. If you have already made up your mind on this issue and are not open to the truth then I will be wasting my time and energy. However, if you are open then I suggest we have dialog on the subject.

Gabe this is a very serious matter and we are taking it seriously. There is a scheduled meeting for next Wednesday to excommunicate you from the flock of God. This will include handing you over to Satan for the destruction of your flesh.

1 Cor 5:5 "you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.

As you know Gabe, this means that the Lord himself will sit in judgment with us as a body and deliver you over to demonic torment in an attempt to force you into repentance. Whatever we bind on earth the Lord Jesus will bind in heaven. I don't want you to be demoniacally tormented the rest of your life. I fear for your soul the rest of your days on earth and for the eternal flames that await you on the day of judgment if you do not repent. Gabe think about these issues seriously...demonic torment....eternal fire.

Gabriel we are willing to suspend this vote if you are willing to be open and talk with us about these issues. A phone conversation, email correspondence, or a personal visit will do. Chris and myself will drive to Georgia and sit down with you and work through these issues. Gabe we made a covenant with you and we take that very seriously. Gabe I am your pastor and I will give an account to God Almighty for your soul. I will search for the lost sheep.

Please respond with your openness to doctrinal correction and repentance to sin. I have also copied John and Chris so that they are informed about our conversation.

Gabe again I am pleading with your soul out of love....please don't forsake Christ. Gabe little 5 year old [...] knelt beside her bed last night and prayed the following, "Jesus please help Gabe to remember you again." Chris's daughter Brooke prayed that "Gabe would come back to Jesus." Gabe even the little children of CrossRoad Church are pleading with the Lord for your soul. We have fasted as a church for your soul. Gabe please don't force us to hand your soul over to demonic torment and the eternal flames of Hell.

Brandon


MY LAST RESPONSE BEFORE WE MET IN PERSON:

Brandon, I am more than willing and open to any correction in what I have researched. But it is clearly evident that you are not open to the option that your beliefs are false, because you said to me, "If you have already made up your mind on this issue and are not open to the truth then I will be wasting my time and energy. However, if you are open then I suggest we have dialogs on the subject." You question whether I have already made up my mind on this issue. I am open to being corrected, but the arguments opposing the Christian faith are much stronger. But you are guilty of having already made up your mind, because you claim that I may not be open to the truth, proving that your presupposition is that your beliefs are correct and mine are false. Brandon, lets be honest, if you had never been told that the Bible is the Word of God, would you believe it is inspired? Talk to you later.

Gabe





HOPE YOU ENJOYED, SORRY ABOUT THE LENGTH.

Thank you Jim Bob Duggar!

Sent in by Amy

For those of you that may not know, Jim Bob Duggar is the Arkansas man whose primary claim to fame is that he has managed to father 17 children, at last count (or the last time I cared about counting…). He has also served in politics at a local level and his platform is primarily built on the total abolition of abortion. (How fitting!) Anyway, I like to credit Jim Bob and his lifestyle, broadcast for the entire world to see on the Discovery Health Channel, for my leaving religion altogether. His lifestyle is of course dictated by his fundamentalist view of the Bible, from which he and his wife have extrapolated that it is their duty to fill the world with mini-Duggars, dressed in a weird combination of fashions from the early to mid 1980’s and Little House on the Prairie. But enough about them. How did Jim Bob facilitate my complete and total apostasy from Christianity?

First let me share that I was raised by nice and well-meaning parents. Their conversion to evangelical Christianity when I was a year old was motivated by the fact that they could not bear the thought of me going to hell. We were a military family and the church gave us an “insta-community” with all the moving around we did. This life included homeschooling, church every time the doors opened and no Halloween. My parents considered themselves pretty liberal by the standard set within “those” circles. My mother wore pants (literally and figuratively…without her interest I suspect my father’s faith would have faded years ago, not long after his collection of 70’s rock records were nearly committed to the fire by one of my mom’s favorite pastors. Don’t worry, he rescued them.), limited the size of their family to 4 children, and allowed us to listen to Christian music. All of this would have probably resulted ultimately in my attending a Christian college, marrying a pastor and settling down to a life of homeschooling, Bible studies and wifely submission. However, when it was time for me to decide on college my mom did a curious thing, for which to this day, has expressed regret. The college I wanted to attend was located in Tennessee, and she and my father had settled in southern Ohio upon his retirement from the military. She simply could not bear the thought of me being so far away and so forbade me from going there. I obediently enrolled in community college, and after two years ended up at a very liberal state university.

College and university were my first real exposure to an array of ideas. Ideas purported, explained and taught by very intelligent and articulate people. People much more so, than the preachers, teachers at my Christian schools, or youth leaders that had heretofore been my source of information. And so I played with their beliefs, trying them out as if they were my own. “What if there is no GOD?” I remember saying bitterly to my parents, who sat in stunned silence. We had of course, been arguing about my lifestyle of sex and booze—a lifestyle I had adopted when I arrived at public university because well, it was fun. Anyway, I eventually graduated and started out on a life of adulthood. At that point I didn’t consider myself a non-believer. Primarily just backslidden, I felt that one day, when I was finished having fun, I would return.

Well, all of a sudden I was 25 and pregnant with my long-time on-again-off-again boyfriend/ex-fiance’s child. We decided to get married and so we did. My parents were actually glad, probably because it meant I was settling down and would perhaps soon be living the life they had raised me to live. I did try attending church. After all, I didn’t want my daughter to go to hell, right? But a few things troubled me. My own experience with church and Christians wasn’t all peaches and roses. Corporal punishment (could I really let someone else effectively beat my child?), humiliation of those that didn’t quite fit the prescribed mold, the graphic descriptions of hell, fear mongering with threats of being left behind when the rapture came…was I really going to give my precious, intelligent, and beautiful daughter over to these things too?

So where does Jim Bob enter the picture? Well, one night, during this “I need to go back to church, it’s now or never” period, I watched "14 Children and Pregnant Again," the story of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar and their 14+ names that all start with “J” (gag) children. I watched with amusement and fascination. Their lifestyle was familiar, although more extreme, than mine had been, but a kinship was undeniable. I called my mom the next day to share my amusement and, well shock, at the way they were living. My mother had watched the special too (I think that she harbors wistful thoughts of a more Duggar-like existence had my father been more gung-ho about the religion thing in general…thanks Dad! No really, thank you.). She was ecstatic with praise and admiration. I barely get a word in edgewise. So the next day, I logged onto the Internet and found a thread on Television Without Pity about the show. With glee, I reveled in the snark, sarcasm and derision I found there. I finished reading the thread and was left wanting more. Surely, there was more, somewhere, on the wide, wide Web. Going to Google I typed in the following: fundamentalism, quiverfull. Several sites popped up. Many of them were supportive of the lifestyle—over those, I skipped. But there was one site I could not ignore: WalkAwayers, or “Walking Away from Fundamentalism.” What?!!! People that walked away??? I couldn’t help myself, I was intrigued. I spent the next several days reading testimonies, discussions and articles. They expressed my doubts, my questions, my opinions—things I had barely dared to think, much less express. These were people that had backgrounds similar to mine, which had the courage to face those nagging thoughts and walk into the dark unknown.

Well, it was pretty much downhill from there. I remember vividly the “deconversion” experience, as real as any tearful altar call. I was on my way to pick up my daughter from her babysitter, I thought, “I don’t believe in God, Jesus, the devil and all that shite…anymore.” My whole body seemed lighter, somehow. As if I had instantly lost 20 pounds (the Holy Spirit leaving perhaps??) and was free from some unseen bindings. Life now, a couple of years later, has a depth and breadth that it never had when I was a Christian. And thanks to the World of Jim Bob, I have found my happiness.

12/18/07                                                                                       View Comments

Without god, everything makes sense

Sent in by Korinne

I was raised in a secular household, and never had more than background input from religion. I was always encouraged to think deeply and rationally, and ended up studying science at university.

While at uni, I met some Xians, who invited me over for a chat which ended in a massive discussion about everything under the sun - the reliability of the bible, the reality of god, morals, homosexuality, all that. They were very patient and non-judgmental. We had a really open and honest discussion, but I was still unconvinced. I stayed in touch, though, and eventually went to church and had what I felt was a supernatural experience. I tingled, I felt elated, I "gave my life to Christ".

I still had questions but I suspended my disbelief and threw myself into Xianity completely, alienating myself from all my gay and feminist friends, eating meat again, talking about demons and angels, and adopting quite a superior attitude - all this was encouraged on the basis that my queer friends would only influence me negatively anyway, so better be rid of them, meat is for man and you can't be anything but a meat-eater, the devil is real and our church had the truth, any other reasoning that wasn't ours must be flawed. This church was one of a major church movement in Australia - not a wacky cult.

But my mind wouldn't turn off, and I grew tired of hearing preachers make in-informed comments about the science that was my job. I starting asking questions again ... only this time I found that asking questions in unacceptable. Once you are in the fold, you can't ask anymore. The people who so kindly debated me as an atheist treated me with disdain for having a "lack of faith" as a xian.

So, i talked to atheists. And guess what? They listened, they reasoned, they talked to me about the question, not ad hominem attacks about my supposed "hidden sin" or whatever. And then I realised that if god didn't exist, my whole world could make sense again and I could be free mentally. So I left. I don't believe. I was right the first time!

12/16/07                                                                                       View Comments

I refuse to call myself a Christian anymore

From Marie

I grew up in a Christian Fundamentalist home, where the Bible was law and nobody questioned its authority. As a child we would watch the "Those Who Are Left Behind" type propaganda movies, and I was left with a deep fear of the so-called "End Times." I would never dream about my wedding day, having kids, or anything else most kids dream about, out of fear that I would be found "not diligently waiting with a lamp full of oil when the groom returns." I believed that it was pointless to plan ahead, as we are living in the End Times, and I would probably never get married anyway.

As I grew older a new fear took its place. I was taught that God loved us so much that He sent Jesus to die for our sins. Great. Since I was saved I had nothing to worry about. Not! Enter the fear of grieving the Holy Spirit. To this day I have no idea what that means, but it is terrifying. Constantly walking on eggshells. Checking your thoughts all the time. Never daring to question, never daring to search, as surely that would constitute a great grievance!

In church we were encouraged to continuously sacrifice ourselves and to be aware that no earthly thing came between our First Love and us. No idea what that means, but to a 17-year-old who loves music, the only thing I could think of was that maybe I had to place my guitar on the altar to prove my devotion. Luckily at that point I already had some sense of reason, and abandoned the idea. I was torn up with guilt for a while after that, convinced that I had somehow proven myself greatly unworthy.

I was deeply involved with the church: worship team, children's church teacher, even went to Bible School. When I left school I moved to another city and proceeded through what Christians call a "backslidden" phase. Living 800km from home meant that mom and dad could not pop in at the drop of a hat, thus, for the first time in my life, I lived!

During that time I met a Deist. He made a statement one-day saying that the whole Jesus story had been repeated many times through the ages, and that Christianity was based on mythology. Well, I was highly offended. Backslidden and all, I knew that this was blasphemy -- no doubt about it! But the thought stuck. He also taught me tolerance and acceptance of the gay community. (Being a South African, this was a huge step for me). I know that that is not exactly relevant, but my point is, Dom opened my eyes and nudged me towards an attitude of questioning my values and beliefs.

Years passed. I recommitted my life to Jesus, but could never find a church that I felt comfortable in. I started to criticise. I noticed how music could dictate the mood of the congregation. It was interesting to find that using certain instruments almost always resulted in the "tangible presence of God". I was amused to find that every time an altar-call was made, most of the congregation would rise, and I asked the question, "Is this real, or peer pressure?" Adding to that, I married a man who is even more critical than I am. He introduced me to sci-fi, fantasy and evolution. Church leaders hated that. We dared to disagree with them over issues. Then I started to question my prayer life. I would catch myself quoting scripture and repeating "catch phrases" that sounded right. Candy coating as it were. Was I sincere? Hell, no! Next I questioned my salvation. Based on love for God and a real desire to serve Him. Not! Fear of being thrown into the lake of fire was more like it. I wondered how salvation based on fear could be salvation at all. Through all of this Dom's comment about mythology nagged me.

Jump to the present.

I am now 33. For the first time I have found enough courage to REALLY question the things that I have held dear for so long. I found a website last night listing the similarities between Jesus and Horus. Scary. Everything matches. I found another site where a certain Rev Pete disproves the Bible by using the Bible. Even more scary. No argument I ever had for Christianity holds water any more. I am now convinced that God is not affiliated to any religion. He does not care where in the world you live. And He certainly does not want to throw us into a lake of fire!

I am not entirely sure where that leaves me, but I refuse to call myself a Christian anymore. I am still looking for answers, testing what I have been taught against true evidence. Till then, I remain pissed off.

12/11/07                                                                                       View Comments

My spirit is still reaching

Sent in by Gloria

Having dismissed the former fairy tale

Now standing on my own

I find myself searching still

For a system of belief

Somewhere to direct my spirit

In connection with others

With souls of compassion, understanding,

Acceptance, and good will.

What I got from religion before

Was not the answers

To life's tough questions

Nor hope for eternal life,

I received connection, direction

For love and giving

Until the rules and condemnation

And exclusion of

So many good souls

Pushed me away.

It became harder and harder

To find a like-minded

"Christian" because I found

that I am not one at all.

But I do still have a need

To connect somewhere

Beyond myself

With mankind and life

And death and

Something universal,

Something much greater

Than myself.

And the Bible holds

No answers for me,

The church has grown cold,

Yet my spirit is still reaching

For me to find something

To give it direction

Beyond my own life

Again.

12/10/07                                                                                       View Comments

What changed your mind?

Sent in by Steven G

I got an e-mail a bit ago, asking me the above question regarding my change of marge after so many years a devoted Christian. Here is the bulk of my reply, which expounds upon the concepts of theism, atheism and agnosticism.

Well, it all started when I began deliberating hell more completely. It was always a vague notion which church leaders purposely ignored quite a bit, or when speaking of it, did so in a non-descriptive, passive way. They would almost never preach the descriptive passages which depict agony and torment. So, during a certain phase of my life, I became very serious about studying the Bible with exegesis of various passages, and what I came to be immersed with unsettled me (to say the least!). I realized that multiplied billions of people were going to be sent to an unending torture chamber: The "Lake of Fire," like an immense bowl of lava, wherein resurrected, damned souls will flop about screaming and smoking and weeping without end in bodies that can fully experience pain, yet never death. And I--where would I be? I would be feasting and laughing and happy and full of love and comforts. The former could be cast there with such minor sins as lying and being cowardly. I realized there was no justice in such a scenario. It was unboundedly sadistic. I began to pray to be erased. For two months I prayed to God to simply erase me. I knew that in the Kingdom of Heaven I would have perfect knowledge, perfect perception, and this meant that I would be utterly aware, every moment of my being, that there existed a vast population of people--people just like myself, who were screaming from irrevocable suffering. A certain passage, which Jesus Himself quoted oft from (Isa. 66), says that those who make it into his kingdom will actually pass by these burning bodies, and they will be an abhorrence to all. But the only difference between myself and them, is that these just couldn't believe, or just didn't stop lying, or just didn't stop being cowardly, etc. There is no justice in that. None at all. So, because I believed this all to be absolutely true, I wished that I had never existed. I didn't want to die--I wanted to vanish. This is where it began.

After some time, I came to accept that this cannot be just, and therefore, perhaps man got his fingers into the writing of the Bible. I began to search it all--no longer holding any premise as precious and above reproach. It all came under scrutiny. And, consequently, I came to realize that I had already from childhood been conditioned to unquestioningly accept certain premises. One of them was that the Bible was the inspired Word of God. I decided I cannot just believe that without proper testing--after all, every child in every religion thinks the same of their "Holy Book." Once I dissected it--much the way I had with the texts of other faiths while as a Christian, and examined its roots, and any possible contradictions and errors, I came to understand what I had hidden from myself for so long through my willful ignorance (spelled -- "brainwashing"): the truth that the Bible, like every other written work, was the product of the imagination of humans, and ancient men at that, and was in no part "divine." There was nothing I could say was of divine origin for sure. I became deist, and later, agnostic.

I should say, though, that I was atheist for a short while--and my beliefs currently are perhaps the same, but something came to my realization when considering the philosophy of the existence of God, and that was, there can be no such thing. Not only "no God," but no "theist." And, therefore, there can be no "a-theist." If there is no positive, there can be no negative. "Theism" is a misnomer. It is sub-par even, to something made up-- "toothfairianism," let's say. Well, if a group of people believed in the tooth fairy (as many little kids do), then shall we erect an entire classification for these for their belief? "Toothfairianists?" And shall we further provide a classification for all of those who do not hold this belief? Say, call them, "atoothfairianits?" Of course not. Why? Because it would be silly. But would it be correct, nonetheless? Yes, it would. After all, they do actually believe in tooth fairies, and the others do not. However, the important point here is that a "tooth fairy" is a definable, fathomable thing--however mythological. It is nevertheless fathomable. You could draw a tooth fairy. You could describe it, and give it characteristics and confine it to time, space and matter. The word "tooth fairy" is not a misnomer, therefore. However, the word "God" is a misnomer, only. How? In that, it (He) is only describable by way of what is indescribable, which in turn is only fathomable because of what is actual, and NOT because of WHAT IT (the indescribable) IS.

This is tricky to explain, but once it is understood, it is painfully simple. In fact, I believe the only reason so many theologians have overlooked its simplicity, is because they have, with little or no question, accepted certain premises. These premises are the very foundation of any faith in any deity. These premises are the actual "indescribables" mentioned above. These premises, are, God. What is God? He is indescribable. You may say His form resembles a human's, but if you are right, you are also wrong. You may say He has a mind, but if you are right, you are also wrong. You may say He is a "He," but if you are right, you are also wrong. You may say He has emotions, but if you are right, you are also wrong. etc. How? You are right, in that this is how you may understand certain of His attributes, but you are immediately binding him to your understanding, as well as to time, space, and matter, and once you have, you must be wrong, because He remains unfathomable. He is infinite. He is omnipresent. He is omnipotent. He is unfathomable. He is perfect. He is omniscient. He is all-loving. He is, NOTHING. I will tell you why: what is infinite? What is one less than infinite? "Infinity" does not exist. Language is funny in this way. Certain words have an actual converse, others do not--but all words have a "converse," simply by the nature of words--some exist on paper, in that you can write them, but they cannot exist otherwise. Positive has a converse--negative. Up has a converse--down. In--out. East--west. Smell--no smell, etc. Some are supposed converses, but not complete, like clean--unclean, and hard--soft. These are not complete, because, "unclean" can happen with one stain or one hundred, and hard and soft have varying degrees, of course. So, you would have to tweak it a little, and say: clean--completely unclean, and, completely soft--completely hard.

But here we have our first misnomers: what is "completely unclean?" What is "completely soft?" what is "completely hard?" They do not exist. We can carry this into more obvious things even: a wall. A wall exists. What is the converse of "a wall?" No wall. What is "no wall?" Nothing. Now, when applied to the supposed attributes of God, the same happens. He vanishes. How? He either, like "completely unclean/ hard/ soft," cannot exist, or, like "no wall," He becomes nothing. Here's how: infinite... God is infinitely everything good/ pure/ loving/ etc. What is infinite? This is only answerable from the root of that word--finite. What is finite? "A determinable amount of a thing or things." Finite is like the wall--it is there. Even if their number grows extremely large, they are still there. But once we force finite to converse--we get "infinite," which is, "An indeterminable amount of a thing or things." Or, simply, NOTHING. Infinite is a misnomer. There is no such thing. It is only used in scientific terminology to best describe something so vast, that no quantifying amount could aptly describe it. It, as it is, is irreducible. You could subtract 1 x 10 to the 900 quadrillionth power from it, and it would not lose any value. Like 0. 0 nothing. In theory, you can play around with negative numbers, but they do not actually exist. Now, if you add anything to infinity, even that same extreme number above, you will not have changed its value at all. Is the same true of nothing? Actually, yes it is. Nothing is what it is--nothing. If you add anything to "nothing" you have not changed "no thing's" value, you have simply placed something that has its own value in "no thing's" space. Therefore, if God's qualities are infinite, they are nothing, and therefore, "God" is nothing.

Additionally, "Omni-whatever" is the equivalent of not existing, just as that "hardest" and "softest" and "dirtiest" do not exist independently--they can only describe something finite. Thus, when you say "God is omnipotent," then you are saying, "God is the converse of finite potency," which is "God is infinite potency," which, as we've seen, means "God is nothing." "God" is not knowable by potency, and therefore He cannot be categorized by such, and therefore in this instance, both "God" and "omnipotent" are both misnomers, as they are both open-ended and in this context unreal. Now, a person could be the "most potent" of all people, or, a "god" in the sense of a "lord" who is worshiped perhaps the greatest of all "gods" (both close-ended ideas), but "God," the great open-ended idea, is a misnomer.

Thus, we find the same applies to all of God's attributes. Then it comes to mind--what is God, then? God is a gap. It is what we fill the, "I don't know" section with. It is a way of saying you know, with a word which by its essence means "Unknown," and therefore are saying "I don't know," in a concealed, mystical sort of way. Who created the universe? "I don't know (God)." Therefore, "theist" is a misnomer, and thus so is "atheist." A theist, without knowing it, is saying "I believe in nothing (God)," which is actually saying nothing. An atheist is replying, "I do not believe there is empirical evidence to suggest nothing (God) exists," which is actually responding to the belief in nothing (God), with the unbelief in nothing (God). If you are theist, everything you think you know about God, you do not know; therefore, both believers, and non-believers, whether they understand it or not, are agnostic.

12/9/07                                                                                       View Comments

The whole concept of god just seems silly

Sent in by Wayne

I can remember being sent to church as a kid. Not any specific denomination, mind you. I think it was just convenient for my folks to cart me off for a few hours every Sunday. I'd been to Protestant, Baptist, Evangelical, Lutheran and even to a few Catholic services (too much of a workout for me, however).

I didn't really start seeing the cracks in the wall until one Sunday at a Baptist church just south of Seattle. I had been shipped off to this church for almost a year at this point, so I knew the routines pretty well - an hour of Sunday School and an hour of the "full service". At the regular services, there were always new families coming and going. It wasn't odd to see new faces in the pews every week... and then it happened.

A black family came to church one Sunday (I'm saying BLACK because I don't know if they were "African-American, Haitian, or something else, so please try not to let a word get anybody in a tizzy). They came in and sat in the row in front of me. When the service started, and our VERY Southern Bbaptist minister reached the pulpit - he almost immediately pointed them out and "welcomed" this family to the church. I know it doesn't seem to sound strange, but get this - he had NEVER done that with any of the myriad WHITE families that came to church. At the tender age of 10 - I began to question why.

Needless to say, they didn't show the following weekend.

I stopped going shortly thereafter. I basically begged to stay home, and my folks finally caved.

Now, during my years of "churching", I made friends, had some really great meals, and had some real fun - but I never really felt a connection to what was being said for the most part. Most of the "love thy neighbor" stuff seemed to me as just common decency, and I had serious internal conflicts with the concept of a "loving God" who allows suffering on this planet. the stock answer was always the "god's will" or "it's all part of his plan" kind of thing.

I'm really glad that I finally let go of all of that stuff. I've never felt more hope for the future than I have now. The whole concept of god just seems silly now. I guess I'm happiest about that now I don't need to question horrible or wonderful events with the "god frame" around. They just happen, and we live our too short but wonderful lives.

Freedom from religion dropped so much stress from my mind. I really feel truly free now!

There is NO GOD

Sent in by Janet

I was raised a catholic and had quite a strict catholic upbringing. I doubted as a child, but always told myself that despite the fact nothing really made sense to me (the huge contradictions in the bible and the fact that god is supposed to be all loving and power yet there is clearly so much suffering in the world), I was not ever supposed to understand god's plan.

My first major doubts happened when I learned about evolution at the age of 16. The idea of evolution came as a bit of a shock to me, and I really was on the edge of losing my faith for a while, but in my mind I resolved the situation by accepting evolution as part of god's design. Evolution was just an easy way for Him to do what He wanted to do.

Much later, at the age of 21, my faith finally gave way, while studying the genetics of receptors while at university. I was looking at the tiny genetic differences in receptors across species. It occurred to me that the single nucleotide changes within the DNA were accidental, they were NOT designed, they were mistakes, like a switch being turned on. Then it occurred to me that god didn't exist.

After a few moments of blind panic — similar to the feeling of being thrown of a cliff — I felt anger at all the bullshit I had been told over the years. The anger subsided to be replaced by a feeling of freedom. All the problems and contradictions that my mind had struggled to understand finally made sense: there is NO GOD.

With a thirst for knowledge, I took to reading everything I could to explain life, evolution, nature, psychology, etc. Without a god to factor in, it all seemed to make so much more sense.

I can say honestly that becoming an atheist has improved my quality of life and allowed me to fully appreciate how fantastically lucky each of us are to be here.

12/7/07                                                                                       View Comments

Free at last...

Sent in by Jason

From the first day I was able to be away from home as a newborn child, I attended church. My parents are Christians, and my mother’s parents are Christians and they believe that the Bible is the inerrant word of God. The vast majority of friends I ever had up until college were other kids that went to church with me.

Growing up, we were taught that it was best to marry another Christian, so I did. Though we both lived pretty loosely at the time of our initial meeting, my wife and I never lost hold of the faith and traditions instilled within us. Upon marrying, my wife and I both made concerted efforts to try to live a more godly life and seemed to succeed at doing so.

We have had four children (the oldest being nearly 9 years old) and have raised them the same way we were, attending church, and obeying the rules and regulations set forth by the infallible Bible give to us by the omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent God. As we were likewise taught, we have warned our children of disobedience to us, and by extension God, as well as the eternal consequences of sinful decisions. Then something happened.

A few years ago, my wife’s brother (who at the time was struggling with his own faith as he was unable to defend it from seemingly easy questions about the inerrancy of the Bible and the nature of God) introduced me to a document I believe he had found online. If you were to visualize a lifetime of Christian beliefs as a tall, elaborate house of cards, this document was the equivalent of someone lightly bumping into the table upon which it stands. The cards didn’t come tumbling down, but the whole thing shook precariously for a bit. This document was a thorough study on many other Christ-like deities and respective belief systems including many that predated Christianity, which shared many of the same properties like a messiah-like figure miraculously conceived, of virgin birth, who was crucified, and raised from the dead (to name only a few). At that moment, I felt a profound sense of doubt about my beliefs, which unfortunately, I immediately sublimated due to the possible ramifications of losing my faith that quickly ran through my head. I thought that if I were to un-convert, my life would be inexorable changed, my physical family would disown me up to and including being written out of the will and my spiritual family would sever contact and friendly communications with me.

So, like a sheep I continued plotting the course with which I had been indoctrinated my entire life. Then within the past year, as my wife and I would sit and listen to Bible class stories and teachings, she would point out scripture to me that was never taught because it was either clearly contradictory or difficult to explain. Over the months we began to look more into the discrepancies and tyrannical nature of the Old Testament God of the Bible and were scared with what we found. The more we investigated the more unsettling it became. To truly understand how unsettling it was, you have to realize that both my wife and I could name all of the books of the Old & New Testament by the age of five. We could quote book, chapter, and verse for most of our beliefs as adolescents. We were taught (cynically) about other religions and how to answer their questions. We attended lectures, gospel meetings, and special services just to bolster the knowledge of our faith.

But what most people within a religion do not realize is that they have been taught to think from within a sphere of existing predefined conclusions. If God can never contradict Himself, then whatever logical gymnastics you perform within the constraints of that sphere to explain a contradiction will be just fine as long as the conclusion will never be that He had been contradictory. This explains the ridiculous Christian explanations you may hear or read about while studying to break free from a Christian faith. Unfortunately, this means that a believer who has been thus affected and controlled will never leave the tenacious grip of a religious belief system. Once someone seeking the honest truth will remove those constraints on free thought, it is very easy to debunk the myth of the Bible being an inerrant, God-breathed ancient book containing everything man needs to live and be acceptable in His sight.

With the help of some early doubts and especially my wife, we very recently took off the blinders. When faced with the choice to take the blue or red pill, we took the red one to see how deep the rabbit-hole goes.

Despite the liberating feeling of being utterly convinced we are doing the right thing, we still have to deal with the familial and social ramifications of this radical change in our lives. One can’t live ingrained in a conservative, Bible-Belt Christian society and not have exit wounds while extricating themselves from the mess. Even my boss is a member of the church we used to attend, so we still have many things to overcome. Still, I can tell you this: Neither, I, or my wife, or any of my children will ever life their lives in fear of a tyrannical, immature, jealous, vindictive master of the universe that watches our every move and is ready to condemn us to eternal torment for lack of obedience. My family and I will strongly challenge any religious ideas brought to us by tradition, ascribed authority, or revelation.

Free at last. Free at last.

Religion made me sick!

Sent in by Joshua

Religion literally made me sick. In order to fully understand what I mean by this, it is necessary to go back to before I even became a Christian. I had always been raised in church and taught by my parents to fear God and all. I went to church every Sunday and did everything that a good "Christian" was supposed to do. I even walked the isle as a child to be saved. Well, to make a long story short, I was not "saved" when I was a kid and walked the isle.

When I was a teenager, I went through some trying times and had several illnesses, ultimately culminating in having surgery. This whole time friends of my mother prayed for me and my recovery. I even received a prayer letter from her friends' church. I decided that I should go and visit there. Well, we ended up joining that church and I became very active in the youth group there. Not long after joining this church, I went to an evangelism crusade and, while there, became convinced that I was not really "saved." Now, I got myself really worked up (about had an anxiety attack) and was afraid that I would die and go to hell before I could ask Jesus to save me. So, I became saved and this burden of anxiety was lifted because I knew for sure that I had truly been saved.

Fast forward about a year and a half and I was asked, by my principal, to be in a religious play at his church. It was "Heavens Gates and Hell's Flames." For anyone not familiar with it, the whole point is to scare everyone into accepting Jesus. This is done with the use of actors portraying scenes from everyday life and then they die and either are welcomed into heaven by Jesus or literally dragged to hell by the devil. Now, this would scare even the most devout Christian into making sure that they were "saved." Well, needless to say, it scared the mess out of me.

Now, let me take a brief moment to explain that I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). I did not know it at that time. I went through months of obsessively praying the sinners prayer over and over to "make sure" that I was saved. I could think of nothing else. Now, my parents did not take me to a doctor or anything and eventually I learned to cope with this. It sort of worked out of my system and I became assured that I was saved. So, I am going along and everything is fine and I am over all of this. I graduate from high school, go to college, graduate, and get a job. I change jobs and am in a much more stressful environment (school teacher) and eventually the stress gets the better of me and triggers another lapse into OCD. This time I go to the doctor and get into therapy and everything gets better. I am not obsessing about religious matters at this time.

Well, about this time, a friend of mine invites me to go with him (he is Catholic) to his church. So, I go and I like it, so I go more and become a regular. Well, I am upset that even though I am a Christian, I cannot participate in communion, so I decide to convert to Catholicism. So, in September of 2006, I begin to go to catechism classes. Everything is going along fine and I am buying what they are selling hook, line, and sinker. Well, things at my job continue to get more stressful and eventually I decide to resign at the semester break. Now, for those of you who do not know, extreme stress can trigger a lapse with OCD. Well, in January, I am at one of the catechism classes and the instructor asks the question: "How can we know that what we believe is the truth?" Well, ladies and gentlemen, that was the straw that broke the camel's back. I answered the question that it is all faith, but this answer did not appease my mind, which continued to explore this question.

I basically "fell off the mountain." What I mean by this is that I began to obsess about this question and the many answers or lack thereof. Clinically, obsessing over religious matters is known as scrupulosity. Even though I was going to the doctor and seeing a therapist, my condition continued to worsen. I fell into an extreme depression and basically had a hard time functioning. All of this was due to my constantly obsessing about whether Jesus really rose from the dead or not and how could we know for sure. Well, after months of therapy and a medicine change, I began to recover and in May, I was about back to normal. I was still a Christian and knew that I believed and the like.

Well, I still had the question about whether the resurrection was true of not and I began to scour the internet looking for answers. I was reading a biography of Benjamin Franklin at the time and the book mentions that Franklin explored Deism in his lifetime. Now, I knew a little about Deist philosophy but not enough so I Googled it and found a ton of information. I ended up on the World Union of Deists site and began to explore the links that were provided. The more I researched, the more that I found out that what I had always believed as a Christian was not true. I discovered the pagan origins of many of the stories attributed to Jesus. I learned that Paul made up a great deal of the New Testament and that the "gospels" were actually written decades after the events were supposed to take place and were written by people who were not eyewitnesses to the events. Now, many Bibles have the words of Jesus in red. If they were not eyewitnesses and the accounts were written many decades later, how do we know that Jesus actually said that? Now, come on. So, I became a deist. I gave up my belief that the Bible was "God's word." When I gave that up and de-converted, it was as if a weight was lifted. Only two of my family members know some of my beliefs and I am not sure that they realize that I am not a Christian anymore. My mother is devout and she said recently that she hoped that I still believed the Bible. She said this after I questioned her over an inconsistency in the Bible.

Now, I know that the Christians who read this will say that I was never really saved. Well, I can assure you that I was at one time but I am not now because I don't believe in the fairy tales anymore. My mind is clear, I do not obsess anymore. I have never been happier or felt as free.

12/4/07                                                                                       View Comments

The world is more wonderful with all its various shades of gray

Sent in by G

Up until a few years ago, I was heavily involved in “the church.”

In college, I got involved with a very small storefront church that focused primarily on college age people. It was there that I was exposed to the Charismatic “gifts” of the spirit and such. It was also where my life started to get twisted.

I didn’t associate with anyone other than those I went to church with. Even other Christians were not to be associated with as everyone was going to hell but us. And when we DID get to know people outside the church, it was strictly for the purpose of getting them to become believers and then to attend our church. We weren’t interested in getting to actually know anyone for the sake of developing real friendships, but only as “trophies.”

As time went on, we actually began to see how messed up we were and realized that we needed to be more “in the world” if we were going to have any impact for “The Kingdom.” So we began to read much more widely and broadened our outlook. We were reading stuff by Reconstructionists and Dominionists (David Chilton, Gary North, Rushdoony). They wrote about how the United States should be governed by Old Testament law (stone unruly children, abolish public education, democracy is heresy). And we ate it up. It was like a whole new world for us after being so focused on ourselves for so long. And it portrayed Christianity as the ultimate solution for the worlds issues. Over the course of time, however, things started changing.

You don’t participate in such a group without eventually noticing that things aren’t going the way they should. People’s lives were heavily controlled, not through direct manipulation but rather by more subtle means of hints and intimidation. Basically, if the pastor didn’t approve of something, it was a problem. Eventually, I left the group when I couldn’t take it anymore. This was the hardest thing I ever did as I basically left all my friends behind. You see, no one ever left this church on good terms. If you left, you were shunned. Consequently, I was basically on my own, no friends to fall back on.

Up until that moment, I hadn’t missed a church service on seven years. The first Sunday after leaving the church I stayed in bed… and it felt FAN-FRIGGIN-TASTIC!!!

Though I had left that abusive church, I still considered myself a believer and eventually began to visit other larger churches that were large enough to allow me a level of anonymity I hadn’t experienced in the previous church. I eventually started regularly attending a PCA (Presbyterian Church in America) church and made a diligent effort to get a real foundation under me and try to determine how much of what I had been taught was legit and what was crap. As a result, I eventually came to embrace Calvinism and I also became a deacon in the church I ultimately joined.

But even then, I was also struggling with the issue of my being a closeted homosexual and trying to deal with it in the context of the Christian outlook. I tried an ex-gay support group (which weirded me out), and I also tried a sex-addicts group for men. Nothing seemed to work.

I eventually relocated to another state for a job opportunity and decided to not bother going back to church as it wasn’t helping anything. I kept trying to tell myself that I was just needed to try harder “abiding in Christ” but I just wasn’t able to relate.

I also came to accept myself as I am and come out of the closet to my friends and deal with life as it was, rather than how I was told it should be. I also began to seriously investigate the claims of Christianity and also to read books I had always been afraid to touch (regarding philosophy and arguments against the existence of the supernatural). When I started to actually examine what I believed for so long, it didn’t stand up to the scrutiny of well-thought arguments and legitimate questions. The first book I purchased was FREETHINKERS and it set me on the road to more books and serious examination of the claims of religion.

I would be lying if I said it was easy. It was like cutting off my own hand or leg.

But for the first time in my life I can honestly state that I am more content now than I have ever been in my life. I’m no longer worrying about pleasing some invisible mind-reader. I no longer worry about trying to find God’s “will for my life” but live the life I choose and take responsibility for the decisions I make and make the most of the opportunities that present themselves. I no longer worry that something is happening in my life because God wants to teach me something and I then agonize over what it might mean. When I make friends, I no longer see them as “prizes to be won for the Kingdom.” I actually get to know them for who they are and appreciate them for their individuality.

If you’re a Christian reading this, you won’t understand any of this until you actually make the decision yourself to legitimately and fairly consider the claims of those who’ve rejected supernaturalism. But you most likely won’t do that. If you’re anything like I was, you’ll be too wracked with fear for just seriously examining whether what you were taught as a child is legit or if it’s simply what your parents taught you and leave it at that.

The world is more wonderful with all its various shades of gray than it ever was in stark black and white.