5/26/08                                                                                       View Comments

I am not a Christian

Sent in by Gregory S

I am not a Christian.

Those words come from my mind (not yet from my lips) after forty-four years of serving Christ and his church with all of my heart. I gave my heart to Jesus when I was eleven, on Father's Day one hot June to honor my dad; I'm now fifty-five.

It is a scary thing, this leaving the faith business. Perhaps some do so in disgust, anger, or despair, but for me, walking away was scary. It would have been much easier, in some respects, if I had been outed and ostracized.

I'm an anime fan (google it), and one of my favorites is Fulmetal Alchemist. The main character is an atheist, as is his brother. In the first few episodes, he exposes a priest who is misleading a young girl into believing that he can bring her boyfriend back from the dead.

After the priest is discredited, the girl asks Ed (the main character), "What am I supposed to do now? How am I supposed to make sense of life?" Ed's answer has brought me a lot of comfort lately.

"You've got legs; stand up and use them to walk into the future."

Harsh?

Yes.

Good?

Also yes.

So, scary, yes. But there is peace, also. I will have to learn how to connect with people in a whole new way, but I'm already grateful for the ability to breathe, to think, question, ponder, and not worry if it's god's will or not.

Thanks for listening.

5/24/08                                                                                       View Comments

To be a Christian...

Sent in by Mark R

To be a Christian,
  1. Don't ask questions that might jeopardize your faith.
  2. Do not accept logical answers.
  3. God is the only truth; anyone else is automatically a liar even before opening their mouths.
  4. Believe without question.
  5. Anything that deviates from your beliefs is an automatic lie.
  6. And finally, if someone asks you to prove your faith, do not ever give them a straight answer.
This is what I faced over the years. I tried to ask questions about my faith and I never received a straight answer. I asked questions about creation and evolution and I was told that Creation was the truth and evolution was a lie. I was told that Christianity is the only path to God and that other religions are false.

I attended a college "Christian" club. They had a guest speaker. He was talking about how evolution and these other religions were lies and that only Jesus was the truth. I dared to question where he got his facts. I engaged this person with many questions. I was asked to leave and to never return because I was "rude." I thought at college was where you were supposed to scrutinize what you learn?

I was also told that God will never love me unless I believed as they believe.

5/22/08                                                                                       View Comments

How can I deal with having to go to church?

sent in by Meranda

The yelling, screaming. The illiterate leaders and pastors. Sexism, elitism, arrogance and pushing people to accept something while saying "it’s a choice". It’s a lie.

I don’t know how much longer I can last. I don’t have a license, no job, so I cant begin to forge a way to independence and I’m 21. I’m going to college, however. I want to invest so much and want to have about 10,000 dollars in the bank by the time I'm ready to graduate (in two years). Anyone know how to do that?

Anyway...

With my mom I can often say no and she doesn’t force me. But my dad is one of those, unapologetically loud, no nonsense Caribbean guys who believe church is the best place you can be. He scares me. Since I was a child, I was always scared of him. As the only child of Caribbean immigrant Pentecostals, what choice did I have?

I said no to my mom on going to church, and then dad came home as my mom was getting ready to leave. He sees her and asks why Im not with her, then practicallly yells " you must always bring that child with you when your going to church". I cant tell you how disrespected I felt. Im 21. But Im a coward. I got scared. Instead of standing up for myself, I punched afew walls in my room and hurredly got ready to leave at 6pm.

I did the childish thing. As I was getting into the car, I threw my purse in and practically slammed the door. I was pissed. I just wanted to stay home. Later, when we arrived in the church parking lot, I walked out of the car while my mom was trying to park and slammed the door. I practically busted down the church door when I opened it. I’m sure anger must have been rife on my face. Yes, this is how much I loathe church. Being an atheist/non-theist in a house of worship makes one nuts.

Later, when I returned home ( 10:30 pm!!!!), my dad and I had a talk. He is a firm believer in God and was shocked that I reacted that way in his words “to go to church, eh?". He says I’m an adult then and that I can do as I want ( however, he still expects my mom to carry "that child to church with her"!?) He also believes that God is supreme, and that bad things happen when we disobey him, so that’s why he encouraged me to go to church because of some recent trauma in my life. He also believes that the Devil punishes people for wrong doing, even if you repent, just like Jesus was tempted in the dessert. The only difference is for the Christian, God makes it a little easier (I guess this is how he explains suffering, he's been through a lot). I wanted to say so bad that it looks like God is doing his job of allowing people to suffer then expecting them to call him a "fair god" after they repent and drone of his goodness.


It gave me a different view. I’m still atheistic/non-theist. However, just to ease his mind, I go to church. I guess he believes I don’t want to go because he doesn’t go ( He still doesn’t seem to realize, or maybe can’t verbalize, that I am an adult with my own reasons independent of his actions for why I do things). I realized by acting the way I did, it only made it somewhat worse for me. Maybe if I had just said OK, got ready, and really fought my temper (which is hard, I tried so hard not to punch that wall), none of that shit would have happened. I will try to be better next time. But my temper is tough.

He's a poor, old man, immigrant who barely knows English and failed in business. He's been in the USA for over 20 years and it is not a successful immigrant story. He hates his marriage but stays because he is "not that kind of guy". He has an older son who never talks to him. The church has practically abandoned him and the world is changing in ways he can’t believe. He wants to leave so bad.

I just need some help. I already brings books, food, my Ipod, etc., in my overstuffed purse to keep me company.

I have anger issues. I don’t know how to solve them. Praying never helped. I wonder, what’s wrong?

I’m studying the “Tao Te Chin” and getting “The Art of War.”

5/21/08                                                                                       View Comments

My descent into freethought

Sent in by Jackie

I have been visiting this website for about 2 years now and have made a few comments. I appreciate everyone's honesty here -- even when it's brutal. You guys have helped my husband and I become confident in who we are and what we don't believe. It's good to know that we aren't alone out there.

I figured it's about time to put my anti-testimony and a couple of rants. So, here goes...

I grew up in a spiritual didn't-really-know-what-we-believed atmosphere. In other words, we had no idea what being a Christian really was and didn't care. But we called ourselves Christians because... still don't know why. We started going to church when I was 17. At that time I was starting to dabble with smoking pot and having sex so my mom thought it would be good for me. It made me feel guilty enough that my senior year in high school I was a super holy-roller. I also became introduced to Master's Commission and felt that was what God wanted me to do. For those of you who don't know, Master's Commission is a 9 month discipleship program where you don't work, date, go to school, etc. You learn scripture and become completely brainwashed into their way of thinking and living. It was a good excuse at the time to not go to college. When I look back at the two years I spent in that program, I get ticked that I didn't go to college instead. This group is a cult stemming from the Assembly of God cult. They recruit kids just out of high school and make it seem appealing with music, and theater-type productions. Oh, and the travel... you get to go all over the country spreading the lies.

I did my first year of that program in Phoenix and my second year in Springfield, MO., where I now live. (I'm from Oklahoma) I didn't know what to do with myself afterwards so I got a job and spent a lot of time at the church. I was so used to the non-stop ministry that I all I did in my spare time was church. I couldn't move back home because now my parents where a hindrance for what God was calling me to, which I still didn't really know what that was. But I felt that I was to stay in Springfield.

Three years later Tommy and I started dating. We had been friends for 2 years before. We had something in common (well, a lot, but this was big). We both saw that most Christians were total hypocrites and didn't really know what they believed. We were going to change that.

We got married 9 months later. He was going to an Assembly of God bible college. I was working, waiting for God to open that door to his will. Tommy was going to be a pastor. Maybe start as a youth pastor.

One day he came home and told me something that neither one of us had ever heard and had a hard time believing. His theology pastor told the class about how the word "virgin" in the Virgin Mary was added about 200 years after the book itself was written. This started our descent into freethinking.

We both decided to research everything we believed. We both came up empty handed when it came to proving our faith. I had always been intrigued as to why atheists knew more about my faith than my fellow followers did. I was going to change that.
We went down the progressive Christian path following the teachings of Rob Bell and Brian McLaren. We soon found the folly in that. You either are a bible-believing Christian or not. You either believe all of it or you don't.

We realized that every Christian we knew pretty much made up his or her religion. They cherry pick what they want to believe and throw out things like following the Sabbath or giving all of their possessions to the poor to follow Christ.

Finally, after all the research and all the bullshit we endured my husband looked at me and said "you know... I don't think I'm a Christian any more."
What a relief for me because I was starting to think that I didn't have reason to believe anymore. I prayed and prayed for a sign... got nothing. I pondered the very existence of religion, Christ, free-will, etc. I came to terms with the fact that there is no such thing as free-will in the realm of Christendom. There is no proof that Jesus walked the face of Earth or any of the events in the Bible even happened and religion came about by the ancient people in an attempt to explain the world around them.

Walking away was easy. Then there are friends and family. That's a whole other story which I will not go into now.

It's been 2 years and I have never been happier. I feel like I am a better person now. I am aware of the world around me. Instead of being heaven-bound now I'm planet conscience. I care more about the earth than I did before. I am a more honest person. I have nothing to hide or hide behind. Most of all I feel comfortable in my own skin and appreciate myself for who I am.

P.S. If there is anyone out there that was in Master's Commission I would really like to connect.

5/20/08                                                                                       View Comments

Spiritual, but no longer religious

From Adam W

Like many of you, I was raised an evangelical Christian along with my entire family. I went to church on Sundays, bible study on Wednesdays, church camp during the summer, you name it. But during all of that, there was some part of me that realized, on a very deep level, that a lot of it was just total b.s., especially the parts about "non-believers" going to hell.

It is totally impossible to believe that your fellow brothers and sisters on this planet are going to hell and also be happy yourself at the same time. Happiness requires being able to sense the worth and goodness of every human being. Christianity, on the other hand, teaches people that they are worthless sinners. It is a despicable religion that we should do away with. Has anybody else noticed that Chrisitians are by far the most neurotic people in society?

Although I am no longer religious, I consider myself to be very spiritual. Have you guys read the works of Joseph Campbell, where he identifies the similarities among the world's religious traditions? Symbols like being born of a virgin, death and resurrection, etc. are common symbols in many traditions, not just Christianity.

I also encourage people to read A Course in Miracles, which uses the langauage of traditional Christianity, but clearly explains how the notion of sin doesn't exist, that God is a word for the collective Spirit in all of us, and that we are all perfect creations and all entitled to bliss and brotherhood.

The author of A Course in Miracles said that she wrote it to "correct" the errors of Christianity, namely its obsession with judgment and punishment.

5/17/08                                                                                       View Comments

Sent parents home without dinner

Sent in by Ted

My story is typical of everyone else.

I was raised in a fundy home. My father, who thinks he can sing, would occasionally torture, I mean sing for the church. He would have my siblings and I sit before him while he sang. This was an overt display to his "Christian friends" that he was a "godly family man."

My parents were number one first class hypocrites. Jesus says to give to the poor, but when my folks see a homeless person begging they turn their nose up at them saying, "The reason that they are poor is because they are lazy."

The final nail in the Christian coffin was when my older and favorite brother came out of the closet and said he was gay. My parents have been trying for years to "correct and to save him." I finally left Christianity when I started attending college, where I was exposed to a wide variety of people.

Anyway, last Thanksgiving my wife and I were planning a secular, non-religious dinner. Instead of praying to an invisible God we were going to be thankful for what it means to be human. My brother and his partner were invited along with my folks. My folks were specifically instructed to leave their religion at home. Of course when they showed up they tried to straighten out my brother and his partner by suggesting they attend a recovery class for homosexuals. I promptly showed my parents to the door and told them they could go to a local restaurant for diner. I suggested that my younger brother and sister, who are still living at home, were welcome to stay and could be picked up later. Of course my folks refused.

According to my younger sister, soon after they had an enormous prayer vigil at their church to ask God to free their family from the "grasp of Satan." They glorified themselves by claiming, "We have been persecuted in the name of Jesus!” Both my brother and sister have told me that they cannot wait to get out of that house.

I have one grown sister who is an atheist and one brother who still believes in Jesus, but only goes to church occasionally.

5/15/08                                                                                       View Comments

It all seemed so empty

Sent in by A Bit Lonely

I'm the only child of Christian Parents. I was born into it. From a very early age I attended church, had a children's bible, children's devotional books.

All through my childhood I believed in Jesus. I believed in his love for me and felt he had picked me personally as one of the chosen saved. I felt honored and grateful. I would get choked up thinking about how some one could love me so much as to die on a cross for me. I was home-schooled along with a few other Christian friends, quite sheltered. I really thought I knew the truth, because that was all that was ever pumped into my head, over and over. I felt sure I knew things my secular neighbors and relatives did not. I prayed for them to know God. I'd wish I were in heaven all ready, so I wouldn't have to grow up and spend so much time on earth. I hardly gave hell a second thought.

The only time in childhood I remember questioning whether Christianity was true, I was about seven. I was in Vacation Bible School, and the adults were re-enacting an Old Testament scene. I just remember thinking, "I don't really know if this is true. I'm just being told it is. How do I know this is true, honestly?" I felt uneasy and when I ran into the Bible School teacher in the bathroom, I asked her how we KNOW. She told me we have to have FAITH, Christianity was based on faith. I nodded, but I didn't feel my question was answered.

When I was twelve, I started attending private school. I still attended church, but my faith was harder to keep with so many secular influences on my life. In order to fit in, I started cursing, laughing at dirty jokes, would gossip about others to take negative attention away from myself. I definitely didn't witness to any one at school because I knew it would make me a laughingstock. I felt ashamed of my God and didn't live by His rules at all. At night the guilt would come and I would pray "God, please forgive me, I'm sorry." over and over, trying to feel that same God connection as only a year before. I felt empty.

At fourteen, I went back to home-schooling, and re-found my faith. It was easy enough since my only social outlet was high-school youth group. I thought the seniors were so accepting and mature compared with the mean-spirited, judgmental kids I'd just been in school with. With relief, I delved back into "purity". I even threw away my Greenday "Dookie" album because I thought it was sinful.

The same year, I began to really question Old Testament passages where God slays men, women and children for disobeying him. It was so inconsistent with the teachings of Jesus' unconditional love, yet supposedly they are the same God. I became deeply disturbed and angered by the idea of Hell. For the first time, I became afraid of going there, and afraid for my fellow humans. I questioned God's goodness, but I still believed in him. Hell seemed as real to me as this world, and for one entire week, I spent all my time awake with tears pouring from my eyes, grief-stricken over the fact that this God I'd grown up with was such a cruel, misunderstanding bully. I would pray, "God, I hate you, but I don't want to. Please help." I felt no response. I was deeply depressed and wished I'd never been born, because I saw so much beauty and goodness in ALL life, but Hell made all Non-Christian existence pointless. I felt isolated from Christians and Non-Christians both because neither understood my misery.

Since I couldn't live in such misery, I decided to simply ignore Christianity. I wasn't that I didn't still believe; it was that I couldn't live in a functional way while still believing in Hell. I didn't understand Christians anymore for being able to do just that. I told myself that I would just have to think about Christianity later in life; for now it was killing me. So I took a break. I stopped praying. I began making up excuses to skip church and at age 15 told my parents I didn't believe anymore, and after that they treated me as an adult who they wouldn't force to get up for church. I felt sad over losing this faith, losing this world I'd grown up. It all seemed so empty.

At sixteen, I began attending community college and exposure to secular life once again was unbelievably refreshing. I LOVED it. The old Hell fear would pop up every now and again, but I'd push it away, and eventually, I came to realize there are many different organized religions that tell you they are THE way, yet no one knows. Sweet relief.

I LOVE my parents; they are wonderful people. I wish them happiness, love, and peace. I wish they could understand me.

5/9/08                                                                                       View Comments

Pi: 3.14159265...

Sent in by Tim B

My childhood was a fairly typical one as far as growing up goes. My parents were hard working middle class folks who weren’t particularly religious. For a time, we did attend an Anglican church where I was able to dress up as a camel for the Christmas pageant or go to the annual church picnic for lots of candy and games. My parents told me that when I was confirmed into the church, I was old enough to decide for myself if I wanted to keep going or not. I looked forward to my Confirmation with glee, knowing I could finally sleep in on Sunday mornings and never go to stupid, boring church again. And that’s what I did.

Then, a few years later, I went to University to study theater arts (I wanted to be a movie star at the time lol). When I got there I started to have a lot of fun doing drugs, dating girls and partying as hard as I could. One of my friends there was a Christian, and he enjoyed partying as much as I did. We became very good friends and ended up as roommates. We quickly earned the reputation of being the crazy dudes who liked to have a lot of fun – and we did.

But of course, his Christianity came up here and there and I began to read the bible a bit, and we would get stoned and have long conversations on god and the meaning of life. To make a long story short, one day I woke up and had a god experience. I felt that god was telling me to stop what I was doing and start to live a godly life. So I went on a truth crusade and basically abandoned all my friends (except my Christian friend) and started over from scratch. I started going to a Pentecostal church in my neighborhood (because they served free food to starving students) and I got a job at a Christian organization. I also got engaged to my friend’s ex-girlfriend (another long story) and almost overnight I was living a very fulfilling charismatic Christian life.

Of course I went nuts buying bibles for my family and telling them they were going to hell if they didn’t repent like me. I got very involved in the “Drama Ministry” at church and basically was engulfed in the Christian life with absolutely no non-Christian friends at all. I got married and my wife and I were happy little Christians living to please God in all that we did.

This went on for ten years. We have moved twice since attending that church (Pentecostal) and have been active members in two other churches, one being a Christian Missionary Alliance and the most recent being Christian Reformed. We both taught the Alpha bible study program and we both lead small groups. We attended retreats, we were baptized publicly (full immersion and in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Smoke), and we both received the gift of tongues. We were avid prayer group attendees, we helped out around the church with odd jobs, and we loved our friends there. I was very much into studying the word of god and I particularly loved Christian history and the early church fathers.

I listened to Hank Haanegraf, Charles Stanley, Ravi Zacharias and a slew of others. I was very much against the prosperity teachings of Kenneth Copeland, Joyce Meyers, Creflo Dollar and the doofus – Benny Hinn (although I did have friends who loved these guys). I was, for all intents and purposes, a Christian Apologist who was eager to tell the world how to get to heaven. My big frustration in life was that I had never “saved” anyone.

Then one day, last October (2007), I was on a forum that discussed god vs. everything else. Being the smart godly dude that I was, I enjoyed ranting about the sinful nature of man and the righteousness of the church. I read a post that talked about the bible and the value of Pi. I was intrigued and so I immediately looked up the passage. It was there in 1 Kings 7:23 that my life changed forever.

“23Now he made the sea of cast metal ten cubits from brim to brim, circular in form, and its height was five cubits, and thirty cubits in circumference. “ (NASB).

When I read it, I felt like there was a glass bubble that surrounded my brain and in an instant, the bubble was shattered into a million pieces. I was literally dumbfounded. I had found an error in the holy, perfect, inerrant word of god!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! In that instant, every argument I had ever had for the reality, perfection and truthfulness of god’s word was destroyed. God made a mistake. Not just a minor spelling mistake or textual mistranslation. This was MAJOR! God’s word said that Pi 3!!??!!.

For anyone who is interested, here is a link that explains Pi:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pi

The value of Pi is approximately 3.1415926535897932384626433832795…on to infinity. It is an irrational number and mathematicians are still to this day calculating its size – so far it’s decimal translation has never repeated itself.

Once the bubble had burst, my eyes were finally opened. “Something like scales fell from my eyes!” 

I began to study all about the errors in the bible (which there are MANYMANYMANY!!!). I could not believe how stupid and foolish I was to have believed all this crap, not knowing it was all a lie! How many debates did I have with non-Christians (who I now call humans) about the smallest detail of Christ’s ministry? AARRRRGGHHHHHH!!!!. For the first week I was in utter shock. I told no one – not even my beautiful god-fearing wife. We had a 4 year old and one on the way. My wife was actually 7 months pregnant at the time. How could I tell her??? I would drive past churches and give them the finger and curse at their stupidity. I would curse myself for being such an idiot, and then I would laugh out loud at my new found freedom. I was FREE! Free from dogma. Free from the law. Free from grace. Free from HELL and free from Heaven! Free from ever feeling guilty for thinking a bad thought ever again! Free from having to convince my family that Jesus was the only way to heaven. Free from giving away 10% of my income every week! And most of all, I was free to sleep in on Sunday for the rest of my life!

I was going to wait till after the baby was born and after Christmas to tell my wife that she was now unequally yoked to a godless heathen, but my gut was in knots and my head was dizzy with all the “shock and awe” I was experiencing. So about two weeks later, I sat her down to have a bible study. In that study I went through ten pages of errors, inconsistencies and false prophesies in the bible to show her that it was not the inerrant word of god, but a human book that borrowed and stole bits and pieces of other cultures and their gods. At the end of the study, she thought I was insane and told me I needed to see a psychiatrist. Again, I really suck at convincing people to believe the same things I believe.

Over the course of the next two weeks, she began to study the bible on her own and really ask the hard questions. She had a lengthy discourse with a pastor friend of ours and was not getting the answers she was looking for. In the end, she came to the realization that the bible wasn’t 100% true and that Jesus was not god. Our marriage was saved, which is a good thing because I really love her and our children.

So I called my pastor to tell him that I could no longer direct the Christmas play or lead the drama ministry or lead small group, or believe in anything the bible had to say. We met to have a face to face talk, and I explained very honestly what happened. He was pretty much speechless. He had some words of advice, prayed for me and made plans to meet again. I have not heard from him since, and we have not been back to church since. We still talk to friends who go there and have no animosity towards anyone.

I am now free from the indoctrination of the bible, the dogmas and religious head games it plays, and above all the utter foolishness that the Christian bible teaches. I love my family more than ever, and I have a new found love for the human race that I had previously condemned to hell in the name of Jesus. I am truly free. And the value of Pi is NOT 3!

5/2/08                                                                                       View Comments

Do you miss yourself?

Sent in by Claire

Do you miss yourself?

When I hear a question such as this, I recoil in disappointment; I sigh with disgust. It is posed in such a way as if to assume that the person being asked about is no longer authentic, real, or are somehow empty.

It's condescending, presumptuous and I find it downright rude.

"Do you miss yourself?" has been asked of me in various forms since my journey outside the realm of religion and faith began, just over a year ago. Due to my lack of certainty (and the lack of evidence), I have officially de-converted from Christianity. Since then, questions have been raised about the validity of my reasoning and in turn, my very self.

Don't you miss who you used to be?

I am not surprised by these questions, knowing full well the world in which I used to live is constructed of persons who are taught to hold each other accountable for a myriad of things: actions, tastes in music, emotions, sexual preferences, interpretations of scripture... and doubts.

While I understand the questioners intent (after all I was guilty of the same), what I find so unappealing is the question itself, (don't even get me started on "Ex-Christians, how can there be such a thing?"). These really aren't genuine questions after all, for a genuine question is not asked with the answer already implied.

All that said, I have decided to respond to this rhetorical nonsense in hopes of demonstrating how “myself” is really much better off having left it's delusions behind and how I really don't miss "that self" at all.

Do you miss that self?

No, I do not miss "that self."

I do not miss the mind numbingly absurd reality “that self” lived in, the plateau at which that self's intelligence was set, the circular condemnation and double think “that self” endured on a daily basis.

No, I do not miss that self.

I do not miss feeling like that self was something bad and that that self could do no good without a supreme deity to guide the way, I do not miss that self second guessing every action, every relationship, every idea,

I do not miss that self.

No, I do not miss that self's lack of responsibility for the earth, that self’s desire for the world to be destroyed and for its people to be condemned, that self’s superiority, naivety and idealism.

I do not miss that self.

I do not miss that self’s conversations with the ceiling, that self’s weight of the worlds salvation, that self’s conscious dismissal of science, that self’s ala cart projection of the Bible, that self’s silver platter consumption of truth from the pulpit.

No, I do not miss that self.

My self rejoices in reality and embraces humanity.

“That self” can go fuck itself.