10/24/08                                                                                       View Comments

Assuming too much

Sent in by Robert

Like all of you on this website, I am an ex-Christian. I was raised Roman Catholic my entire life and even was confirmed into the church a few years back. During that time though, I was beginning to question my faith. Since I was born I was always told different things that contradict religion itself. Some priests would say "God is in everything, if you do good things God is with you and if you do bad things you have allied yourself with the devil" or "God makes a path that you follow and there is no such thing as free-will, there is only good and evil. Really? So me renouncing my faith was the devil talking? ‘Cause it sounds like I am making the decision, not the devil. What I am trying to get at is that religion assumes too much and that there are many fellow ex-Christian brothers and sisters out there who have assumed too much as well. I am of course talking about the assumption of atheism.

I was once an atheist myself right after I told my church to shove a cross up their asses. I was angry at the idea of God. How my entire life, through all the pain and drama, that I would be rewarded in the end. I wasted 16 years of my life to praying at my drywall for nothing. Then, I realized something. I shouldn't be mad at god, I should be mad at myself for continuing the hate that religion breeds every single day. We have to understand why religion came about. Do you know why? Ignorance! Early man did not know why trees grow or what the sun is. Religion was a way of looking at the world without facts. It made man sleep better at night to think there was a purpose for his life and gave him something to live for. So they made up some stories and passed them down from generation to generation until we come to the modern era. Today we have facts. Today we have science: a way of looking at the world with curiosity and factual knowledge.

The reason I renounced atheism is because it is an assumption just as any religion is. It says that there is no God, end of story. But then what is God? We as humans know so little of our entire universe that for all we know God could be an alien from another universe that created our universe. If our universe is inside an atom then that atom could be our god. Fuck, he, she or it could be anything -- probably beyond our comprehension. I know that all Earthly god myths are false, BUT never say that there is WITHOUT A DOUBT NO GOD, because we don't know. We may never know, but that is what drives our thirst for knowledge. And you never know, one day, maybe, if there is a creator, we might just find it.

10/21/08                                                                                       View Comments

On the verge...

Sent in by Michael

It's weird to have this down in writing but I've been working through Christianity for quite a while now and share most if not all the feelings that many of you have already expressed.

Oddly enough it's the values as taught to me by my faith that is leading me to abandon it, or at least rethink it. The truth must come first, and the more I lived as "per se," the more I was confronted with the lies within Christianity as a religion. Nothing outright of course, but extremely subtle.

It's just amazing how easy it is for those in this religion to alter their perceptions as to see things irrationally. Some of the most intelligent people I know are Christians. But, it's a forest for the trees situation.

I won't express everything I'm feeling because it's all been done before but at the moment things are changing as follows:

A) Christianity, as I have been taught, is not absolute truth.

B) The character of God as described in Christianity is not consistent with the truths as taught biblically.

Which directly leads to:

C)God (or whatever we might call it) is something I can barely understand, but I think should nevertheless seek to. (In this situation God-Truth, whatever that may be.)

I remain in Christianity for lack of a better alternative, but I understand now that my faith is merely a choice, and a hope, that there is still something of truth and value in the culture I have been brought up in. Whilst there is much that is disputable and downright dismissable, I must acknowledge that their is a basic spirituality within life that I have experience to some extent and cannot deny. As to it's nature however, that is another complicated mystery. I observe those with a simple faith, and simple goodwill, and must concede that there is something in love.

10/18/08                                                                                       View Comments

My "Awakening" Story

By azsuperman01



The story of how I became an atheist... my most requested video to date.

10/14/08                                                                                       View Comments

I'm no longer stuck waiting on a god

Sent in by Deborah

I first want to say that I never imagined myself writing on some secular website a story about me not not believing in God anymore. This past year has been hard, but it has also been the most crucial year for shaping the person that I am going to be and am becoming.

I started out the good little Christian girl in a big loving family of seven. I grew up safe and secure in the thought of my family always being there for me and God always at the head of our home. I was also very sheltered and always tried to abide by the rules of my parents who were always in line with "God's rules". I basically rode along taking what my parents and the church we were attending told me about truth. I was home schooled from 3rd grade to 7th and then I was sent to a private Christian school. Bible class was requirement and praise and worship times were held every week.I had times when I felt like I was "backsliding" (a term used to describe someone who was saved and decided to sin and was then in danger of hell) but I constantly tried to rededicate myself to God and try and be in relationship with him.

I was married within one year out of high school. We meet in church and we prayed and felt God led us together. We also got pregnant right away not what we wanted but it caused me to grow up pretty quickly. My husband and I had a really hard first year with the coming of our son and not being happy with our church or our financial situation. When times were at there worst he was pulling further and further away from church and God and I was constantly trying to pull him back. I kept thinking if I was good example and kept going to church and praying he would come around again. He then started having some serious doubts about Christianity in general and he kept bringing up questions that I was trying to answer.

He eventually stopped going to church altogether and his questions and doubts grew, and so did my worry. I was praying for him all the time and I spent my time with family and friends crying and finding comfort with them telling me to hang on that God would answer my prayers and we would be the Christian family I always dreamed of. I stopped trying to convince him about the truth of the Christian faith and left it with God. Instead of getting angry when he was questioning the credibility of God and religion I just listened and tried to give a soft answer and really try and open my mind to his doubts.

One day in particular he was reading a website called "God is Imaginary" with 50 simple proofs. When he would read a proof that really couldn't be disputed he would read it out loud to me and I would try and make sense of it. I would say almost instantly that day when he read one talking about prayer it really got me thinking and all the doubts started flooding into my mind as well. The site also gave common answers Christians would use to try and argue back at the question and I realized they never really answered the question it sorta danced around it a way to make it seem right.

For weeks after that day I spent any free time searching the web and studying the history of the Bible and listening to the arguments of atheists and non-believers, all the while trying to remain in church and hang on to this idea of a loving God who would bring us out of this doubt. But the more I attended church, the worse it got for me. I would almost laugh in my head at some of things the preacher was saying and realized his facts were not straight.

The number one doubt was this idea of the will of God. If I pray for something the Bible says whatever I ask I shall receive with just having faith that it will be given to me. But we all know we don't get everything we ask in prayer so this idea of it having to be "God's will" to receive an answer to prayer isn't matching up to what the Bible said. So that meant to me the church was making some of this stuff up. And not only that the Bible was starting to sound just as ridiculous. It was filled with contradictions and crazy stories especially the Old Testament that I just couldn't ignore anymore. It was starting to become more and more clear that the god of the Christians was a delusion and not only that but every god if put under rational thought is made up.

My husband and I started agreeing and the fighting stopped and I stopped going to church. And then the families of both sides found out and the attacks began. But I have to admit it is amusing being on the other side of the fence and seeing them struggle to come back with real answers. We still remain on good terms with our families, but there is still a level of awkwardness, and at times tension between us. They think they are safe and secure in their faith. But they spend so much of their time in fear of what the this big, powerful God is going to do next in there life.

It's amazing to me now how much things don't scare me anymore. You know Christians say they don't fear death or they don't fear what will happen to them tomorrow, because they think God will protect them. But all the Christians I know are some of the most anxious fearful people. I only wish they could let go of the delusions and realize that God really is imaginary and let go of the fear that is created from his delusion.

I now am happy and secure in knowing that I have to make the best of this life because it's all I got. And that me and only me determines what will happen tomorrow. It's up to me to be happy and to make a difference in other people's lives. I'm no longer stuck waiting on a god to give me all the answers when all along I had the answers within me!

Failing The Insider Test

Sent in by Jeffery
"You're here because you know something. What you know you can't explain, but you feel it. You've felt it your entire life, that there's something wrong with the world. You don't know what it is, but it's there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad. It is this feeling that has brought you to me. Do you know what I'm talking about?" -- Morpheus

I grew up as an extreme-core fundamentalist, and have been slowing drifting secular since then. In sixth grade, my parents got rid of Aladdin due to Jasmine's inappropriate garb. My church started playing contemporary music in the evening services, and as this form of music is displeasing to God, we changed churches over the issue. Together with being home schooled and highly gifted mathematically, I was not what you would call a normal child.

Although this may be barely believable to many of you unless you also have been brainwashed at an old enough age to know better, I followed along willingly.
"It will be worth it all, When we see Christ."

In high school, I was not allowed to date. Most of the time, this means that the "courtship" model was the alternative, but in my case, no clear alternative was given. (My adolescence consisted of "enumerated powers." ) As a junior in high school, when cute girls noticed me, it was depressing more than anything, because I could do nothing about it. It's only a slight hyperbole to say that I thought the F-word was flirt (that's a sin too for kids that age, in case you didn't know.) When I was a senior, God told me who I was to marry. *Pathetic story squelched.* A year later, she married another.

As I'm sure you could imagine, my freshman year at a public university was ... interesting. I had shaken off some of my crazier beliefs regarding moral standards regarding music and dating, but that didn't stop me from asking questions like "Who's Jessica Simpson?" or having to go to urbandictionary.com to figure out if "making out" meant sex. I had been betrayed into living a miserably legalistic life with standards above and beyond the Bible. Much of my social dysfunction was suffering left over from trying to live a godly life in the way that other's thought I should. At this point, it would have been rational for me to walk away from faith based on what it did to me. But no, that would be the easy way. My path was the hard one -- one step at a time. It wasn't Christianity that was to blame, but rather my legalistic upbringing. My parents were no longer the Disney-movie-banning type, which went a long was toward helping me laugh at my past without disowning my religion.

By my sophomore year, I had settled into a life as a fundamentalist where I was at peace. I outgrew some of my weirdnesses, and found friends (both Christian and not) who accepted the rest. But as I learned about theology and the Bible and discussed it with my friends, I began growing discontent. There was something wrong, but I found whatever it was to be elusive. What I couldn't admit was that the Bible didn't make sense me. Paul kept on making logical arguments that didn't work. For instance, why couldn't he just say women aren't supposed to teach men and leave it at that in I Timothy 2? I could accept that. Why must he give the reason that man was formed first -- what did that have to do with anything? At this point, it would have been rational for me to walk away from faith based on the way it was clashing with reason. But no, that would be the easy way. My path was the hard one -- one step at a time. It wasn't the Bible that was to blame, I was trying to impose the reason of man of the Word of God. The Bible wasn't wrong, just believe it.

The summer after my sophomore year was spent with 13 other students working on a research project. I was the only Christian, and my roommate was an ex-Christian who knew the Bible better than me. He wasn't obnoxious about it, but when I tried to convert him, he knew how to push back. There's just something about explaining theological concepts to a hostile audience that reveals just how convoluted the arguments are. By the end of the summer, when I thought about religion, neither of us had to open our mouths for my faith to get stomped -- the internal skeptic in me was stronger than the Christian in me. I spent a day as an agnostic, and that could have been the end. But no, that would be the easy way. My path was the hard one -- one step at a time. I was caving in to social pressure and just rejecting the Bible for emotional reasons (if you didn't follow that, then you are following me.) It was then that I had the most real religious experience of my life. However, I also knew even at the time that these feelings were indistinguishable from the ones that told me the one I was to marry. The human will to hope has great power over the mind, even when the hope is in vain.

When my junior year started, I considered myself to be on agnostic watch, and was depressed most of the time. But then I started coming back. I began taking an online theology class that switched me from presuppositional apologetics to evidential apologetics. You mean I don't have to assume the Bible is true a priori, but there's actual evidence for it? Hallelujah! I knew that my mind had outgrown fundamentalism, but at least I knew what I was growing into, evangelicalism. I had been deconstructed down to Jesus' Resurrection and the historical accuracy of the Bible. Now it was time to rebuild. I cared not if my reconstructed theology was anything like what I started with -- fundamentalism wasn't working. I determined to follow the evidence wherever it led.

During the spring of my junior year, I was in for an unpleasant surprise. In order to affirm my beliefs in six-day creation, I began researching origins from all sides. What shocked me was not that there was evidence for evolution, or even more for evolution than other theories. What shocked was that it was not even close. By now, I knew my religious foundations lay in my relationship with God, the moral teachings of Jesus, and especially his Resurrection, but evolution was still a very tough pill to swallow. Among the three statements: evolution is true, Christianity is true, evolution and Christianity are incompatible, one of them had to give. At this point, it would have been rational for me to walk away from faith based on the way it was clashing with science. But no, that would be the easy way. My path was the hard one -- one step at a time. It wasn't the Bible or observations of reality that were wrong, I was trying to impose far more precision and clarity into the Bible than was actually present.

During my senior year of college, I stabilized as moderate evangelical/emerging Christian. I began putting together a coherent picture of what I believed about evolution and the Bible. Whether or not they realize it, all Christians have some sort of distinction in their mind about what aspects of the Bible are due to God and what parts are due to man and which are both. In the case of inerrantists, this is writing style and not much else. To reconcile evolution with Christianity, I expanded which aspects I thought were due to man, now allowing for Moses to use myths to communicate spiritual truths.

I also painlessly let go of several other de facto Christian positions regarding politics. After seeing how easy it is to misunderstand the Bible, I wanted separation of church and state lest both be corrupted (or rather, corrupted further). I thought gay marriage was wrong, but should still be legal. But all things considered, I was a solid evangelical Christian in January 2007. I had just dodged a major bullet in accepting evolution and holding onto what I would still consider to be somewhat conservative theology. But then two things happened to me, both of my own doing, which permanently damaged my faith.

While surfing the web, I found the blog of a former Christian. After reading for several hours, I felt the Spirit leading me to e-mail him. Our religious backgrounds were vastly more similar than I thought possible. My first impression was that this made me one of the best possible people to talk to him -- maybe he rejected God for a reason that I had successfully dealt with. The primary topics were anecdotal evidence, the origin of Jewish monotheism, and the genocide of the Midianites. I soon realized that this was two-way persuasion, and he was my better. I began to see that the ways of every god are justified in its believers' eyes. What was worse, I started to see myself in him and that I just might be an agnostic/atheist in the making.

The second event was that I decided that my friends needed to hear that I had rejected creationism (I was kind of in the closet...) and why. I wrote a 20-page paper defending theistic evolution and posted it on Facebook. I was a conservative evangelical living in the Bible belt. I knew that posting the paper would sacrifice my reputation, but someone had to stand up for truth. For the most part, my friends stuck by me and my acquaintances didn't. In church, I sometimes felt like I was walking around with 666 tattooed on my forehead. I began to realize that unity in Christ is often unity through homogeneity of ideas and the squelching of dissent.

My conversations/debates with the agnostic compared favorably with any conversation/debate I had with a creationist in terms of respect, courtesy, making real arguments, and giving rebuttals that expressed an understanding of what I had said. Both most significantly -- he had better arguments. At this point, it would have been rational for me to walk away from faith based on the way people of faith are wrong on the issue whose truth is most easily determined and based on the way that I got owned in debate. But no, that would be the easy way. My path was the hard one – one step at a time. Maybe most Christians are wrong about evolution because their relationship with God is so real that they forget about empirical evidence. Maybe I was losing my debate because I was simply over matched, and not because his arguments actually were better.

When I graduated, each of the seniors in my campus ministry had a chance to speak to the group of around 200 before leaving. My closing line was something like, "Half of me is excited for the opportunity to be a missionary into the spiritually dark world of graduate school. But the other half is just scared to death." I don't know how many people recognized that I wasn't being humble, I was for real.

The summer after my graduation in 2007, I began the final stage of losing God. I was living away from home and my college town, so I was looking for a church or some form of spiritual support. Quite a few times, I prayed that God would lead me to a church while looking for somewhere to go the next morning. I kept showing up and feeling like they or I was faking something. This process repeated a couple times the next fall at graduate school. But Christianity is not based on feeling, so I persisted. (I have since found it interesting that many consider the strongest argument for faith to be their relationship with God, but when this relationship seems distant, they instead say it's not based on feeling.)

I began to have a great deal of admiration for Mother Teresa's ability to persist while in my state of feeling abandoned by God. When I say abandoned, I'm not referring to trying circumstances, but that no matter what I did, I felt like I was praying to the four walls around me.

I read the Bible, I studied the Bible, but this only discouraged me further. Fall 2007, I set up my schedule to read through the New Testament in a semester. I started with Matthew and for the first time, I decided to look up the context each time he quoted the Old Testament. This Bible study laid the foundation for one of my clearest reasons to disbelieve.

I tried to find where InterVarsity or some other campus ministry met. Their website gave their meeting location from 2006 and an out-of-date e-mail that did not respond. When I just showed up anyway, I found the Episcopal group. That was the closest thing I'd seen in a while to God's leading, so I went with it, despite the fact that at times they were liberal enough that I was a bit uncomfortable. But they were all I had, and I was sick and tired of making theology-based decisions. They loved God and they welcomed me -- should I want more?

I tried reading works like Lewis' "The Problem of Pain" to Tozer's "The Pursuit of God." Nothing. "God, what do you want me to do?" Nothing. This seems like the kind of prayer that God would answer. At this point, it would have been rational for me to walk away from faith based on knowing that I had been seeking God will all my heart, soul, and mind, and yet I didn't have a relationship with God. But no, that would be the easy way. My path was the hard one -- one step at a time. Maybe Christianity was true, but I just wasn't one...

But this destroyed another set of reasons to believe: I thought what I had was real because people had told me that they saw a difference in my life -- skeptic and Christian alike. The Bible says believe and you will be saved, and I believed. Eventually, I realized that it was far easier to explain my past perceived relationship with God in the context of skepticism than it was to understand my difficulties I was having in the context of Christianity.

The death stroke against the argument for God based on others' relationship with God was struck when I compared it with the practice of speaking in tongues. Pentecostals argue that the strengthening of their relationship with God through tongues as a private prayer language means tongues are for real, while cessationists like I was have no trouble writing them off. To quote Jonathan MacArthur as best as I can remember, "You don't interpret the Bible based on experiences, you take your experiences to the Bible." As a skeptic whose primary arguments are biblical, I am following his advice.

C. S. Lewis once warned against an unbalanced leaning on evidential apologetics, as one man he knew became so obsessed with studying the reasons to think it was true that he lost track of what it was that was true. With this story, I was content with my struggle for the final time. That must have been what happened to me.

But then my mind screamed back "That's not how it happened! I studied theology out of -- Lord, I want to know you!" I wanted to know what His Word said. I wanted to know why I believed so I could share a reason for the hope that was in me. I lost my perceived relationship with God, not through neglect, but through wanting it to be more real than the fuzzy feelings I get while watching Rocky. The pouring of myself into apologetics did not cause this loss, but rather, I studied apologetics due to learning how weak and suggestible such a "relationship" can be.

While I had suspected I was losing my faith off and on for over three years, I didn't think there was a chance I actually would, even up until the moment it happened. I sincerely believed it was true, and thus I believed that sincerely seeking the truth would lead me to God in some way.

On April 19, 2008, I went to see the movie "Expelled." I was unsurprised to see ID propaganda, but what surprised me was how many arguments for atheism were presented and how good they looked when paired with Christianity's most foolish tenants. As far as I was concerned, the movie ended when Dawkins was asked what he would say to God were he to meet him after death. Dawkins replied, "Why did you take such pains to conceal yourself?" This retort was crushing as I thought about my lack of a relationship with God.

There was but one piece left of my faith -- my belief that there was evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus. Several times, I had thought to myself that if resurrection apologetics were as bad as creationism apologetics, I wouldn't know the difference. I had read plenty about the historical evidence for Jesus, but only from a Christian perspective. Out of fear of the truth, I had protected myself from learning what skeptics have to say. But finally, with only this left, I overturned the final stone. Just like with evolution, my shock was not that skeptics have a case, but that it's not even close. At the age of 23, I deconverted on Sunday morning, April 20, sometime around 3-5am while reading http://www.users.globalnet.co.uk/~slocks/asym/babinski-jordan/2.html.

When I finally deconverted, I could best describe it as the final scene in a mystery movie, where the detective has been following the bad guy for a while, and finds the smallest clue out of place. A montage follows as he remembers the dozens of times something was amiss, and one-by-one, puts the clues in the proper position and sees he has enough evidence to convict the real villain several times over. After I deconverted, my first thought was "Wow ... What took me so long?"

But my second thought was that I had just lost something very dear to me. I watch The Dark Knight and see myself in Harvey Dent. My identity and purpose for living had been ripped violently away. I had to completely reforge what I think about everything. “Why don't I just kill myself†was a thought that went through my mind – not that I was actually suicidal, but why not? Instead of protecting myself socially from ungodly influences, I had to find a way to re-enter the world without God.
"I didn't say it would be easy, Neo. I just said it would be the truth." -- Morpheus

But the more I know about a secular view of the world, the better it gets. I no longer need a belief in a second life to make this first one precious. Far from being nihilistic, I care about humanity with a passion that I seldom had as a Christian. God isn't helping us -- the only peace and justice to be found in this world are the peace and justice we fight for. I'm finding in free thought more morality and purpose than I ever found in Christianity.

For more detail on the specifics of my academic problems with Christianity, visit my blog at http://failingtheinsidertest.blogspot.com/.

10/8/08                                                                                       View Comments

How do I tell my husband?

Sent in by Sonnie

I have been battling this Christianity thing for several years. I am 21 and a married navy wife with a six-month-old daughter. I always thought being a Christian was the "right" thing to do. I have tried so hard to that good Christian person. I even got married to my husband under the belief I was truly a Christian. Something inside of me really didn't work. My husband is the best in the world and I love him; his family is close knit and all go to the same little country church.

A lot of things appeal to me with Christianity. The morals and values; not the whole hell thing. Baptism, I was never baptized. I been contemplating it because I have really tried over the past several years to " be the Christian"
But I didn't, because I was lying to myself.

I believe in a higher power. My husband is very good man who is a Christian; I do not know how to tell him that I am not a Christian anymore.

I go to church every Sunday for my husband, even though he is deployed. Every Sunday I feel like, "Why am I even here?" The sermons are good where I am at and teach mainly about how to live your life with faith, love, laughter. I have read the bible and still cant feel any connection. I have prayed that my heart will open up to the "Lord." I have read books. It seems the more I learn about it, the more I don't believe.

How do I tell my husband?????

God doesn’t seem to be that concerned about us

Sent in by Melvin

I started taking Christianity serous at the age of six or seven. My father was very involved in the Pentecostal church. My mother was Baptist, but went to my dad's church because that is where my dad's family went. So mom, being very submissive early in the marriage, went along with whatever my dad said.

Don't get me wrong; my dad is the coolest guy to hang out with; he just should never ever marry again.


The day I plunged headfirst into Christianity was when my next door neighbor Johnny told me that I was going to hell because I didn't belong to the Church of Christ. Being a little kid, I went home crying because I thought I was going to burn in hell for all eternity. MY mom told me that as long as I accepted Jesus into my heart I would go to heaven. So there in our family room we knelt down and prayed.

I attended church regularly for several years, but never really read the Bible until I was in my teens. As a teenager with red curly hair, a weight problem, and my first name being Melvin, I was the universal symbol for "stomp my ass and spit in my face." I was harassed on a daily basis. No one would talk to me, and no girl would get within thirty feet. So, needless to say, the thought of a heaven after this life and the continual rant by my church that we shouldn't have stock in this life made me dive deeper into Christianity.

I read my Bible out loud on the bus. I witnessed to people, and I wore stupid scripture T-shirts that had all the catchy slogans. I was ragged on worse than before, and two of the three really good friends I had wouldn't talk to me anymore because they thought I had lost my mind.

Eventually I snapped.

I remember one day I had had enough, and if any one blinked at me wrong I went off. This worked for awhile, but the Bible that had been beaten into my head since birth was hard to escape. So I had two personalities. Some times I was Mr. Praise Jesus. The other times I was captain F--- the world... until I went to a vocational school.

On my second day at this different school, I ran into a kid that taught me about the teachings of the Celestine prophecy -- about meditation and energy flow. Slowly but surely, me and him started a pagan coven of about seven classmates that met up every Friday. Mike taught us Martial arts, and we would spar each other in matches. We also did a circle, where we talked about problems and did meditation and (spells). I loved the coven because we were all the rejects of the school, so we all understood and listened to each other. We were more of a family than any church I have ever been in. Being that my parents were getting divorced at the time and the church people wouldn't hang out with me even if I paid them, this was very exciting experience for me.

Eventually over time the coven turned in to another church, but I had gained long lasting friendships from it. I eventually turned to Satanism. I liked the aggressive ideals of the religion, but eventually that too lost its luster. Now I don't know what I consider myself, but I don't believe in any god of any religion.

There is a possibility that there is a being that created us, but to me it doesn’t really matter if there is or if there isn't. Because if there is one, it doesn’t seem to be that concerned about us.

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10/4/08                                                                                       View Comments

I have no one really to turn to

From Valerie

Hello, I am writing from France where I live - nothing like this site exists in Europe, where fundamental Christianity is little know, and unfortunately there is not much help for former evangelicals.

My husband and I became "converts" way back in 1980, and spent 17 years in a very austere community in Geneva Switzerland, where we were literally cut off from our family and friends for years - brainwashed and psychologically abused by a "Christian" woman who was the leader of the community and her family. The usual thing - prayer meetings every day - prophesies that were more and more threatening and menacing towards anyone with the slightest "rebellious" thought - exploiting our fears and fragilities, making us live in abject poverty both materially and culturally... I finally left the cult, after the most terrible time having been harassed in ways I would rather not say by the son of the Leader. Of course I was blamed as a "sinful" woman for this, when it was not my fault. My husband finally decided to believe me and give our family a new chance, and we left the Church in 1997. It was a total rebirth - but really tough to get back to a normal social, family and professional life.

However, over the last couple of years, my husband has experienced a second "conversion" and although he does not yet go back to Evangelical communities, his ideas are as they were before - only perhaps more subtly expressed...

I am now desperate - our four children have left home now, marked by their childhood in a fundamentalist cult, but nevertheless happy and courageous young people, studying and working... I have no one really to turn to who understands the pain I am going through, after thirty years of marriage when all I wanted was peace from all that brainwashing - to go through it all again... it helps knowing other people have been through the difficulties I have expressed, and if anyone has an encouraging word, or knows of any group in Europe, France or Switzerland which I could join, it would be much appreciated...

Many thanks for publishing this message.. Valerie.

10/2/08                                                                                       View Comments

My arguments to try and justify Christianity failed

Sent in by Stefan

Hi everyone. My name is Stefan and I'm an atheist. (HI Stefan: lol )

Sorry, had to break the ice there. My story isn't that unique to be brutally honest. I'm posting it none the less, because I truly believe there are people out there in that very ugly but necessary phase, where you start to raise serious doubts about your religious convictions, but are simply too afraid to jump off the cliff into the abyss of unbelief. So, I am posting my testimony for them. We all know it's damn (Is swearing permissible here?) hard to finally let go. And it's just that little bit easier if you can relate to others who went through the same situation.

OK, enough rambling.

I was born into a Protestant family in South Africa. For those of you not familiar with white, South African culture, let me say this: You'd be hard pressed to find a non-Protestant Christian in my community, never mind a non-believer and ironically a white person who is not a racist.

My family wasn't at "fundie" level, but they were semi-devout Christians who went to church and dragged us along. I never really liked church, and it always seemed pretty boring until I became a born-again believer in my mid teens. I couldn't wait for Sundays. Jesus was my whole life.

Looking back on it now I think it might be a miracle I came out on the other end unscathed. As with many teens, I felt awkward unsure, and I had a brief stint of depression mixed in there as well. The church youth program caught me hook, line and sinker. I studied the Bible religiously, and I became a "fundie," even lecturing my parent on Christianity.

I had found my purpose and my calling (pretty neat when you're a confused kid with a low self-esteem). I firmly believed that most Christians would go to hell for not living the right way, so as you can imagine, people with other religious convictions or non-believers didn't have much of a chance.

If I had lived a few centuries earlier I would probably have started the inquisition. Bottom line, I was on the extreme end of the conservative Christian spectrum. Now I believe it might well have been a pathetic effort on my part to control the world, because I could not control who I was.

The turning point came one day in a bookstore. I loved books from an early age, and I spent much of my school holidays reading everything from fictional books to encyclopedias. *Sigh*

I admit it. I was a loser who didn't have that many friends.

You can stop laughing now.

My life literally changed the day I entered that bookstore. There was a mass of Christian literature, but somehow I managed to find a book about Jesus way in the back. Only this book was about Jesus' connection to the pagan gods. The title was "The Jesus Mysteries". The book got lost when we moved, or my mom threw it in the trash. Probably the latter.

I bought that book hoping to read and consequently relish in the ignorance of these "soon-to-roast" infidels. Instead, I found some very disturbing ideas. I stopped reading it after a few chapters, but my curiosity got the better of me and I finished it. I started to research articles on Christian history to once and for all disprove these heathen claims. After all, if Christianity were right, it'd have nothing to worry about. Boy was I in for a surprise. I can safely say it was all downhill from there. One after the other my arguments to try and justify Christianity failed, and miserably at that. I did later on encounter some semi-decent arguments for Christianity, but they never really carried enough weight to convince me and they reeked of a desperate attempt to give meaning to one's life.

I relapsed once simply because of the fear of going to hell. Luckily I managed to subdue my fear and pressed on. The first few months were hell on earth. This posh little throne I was sitting on was yanked from under me pretty suddenly and pretty violently. I came to the realization that life didn't make sense and I was going to die, full stop.

Life became bleak and I had a hard time making sense of what to do or what to believe. As we all know, this is not a fun place to be.

The following year I enrolled at university, eventually settling on philosophy and psychology. I quickly fell in love with philosophy and soon had access to all the information about life and humanity I could dream of. As I studied works from authors such as Russell, Hume, Kant, Foucault, Merleau-Ponty, and quite a few others, I came to realize that life is not as black and white as we would like it to be, and we humans are pretty clueless at best. If the smartest among us are dumbstruck by the mystery that is life, who the hell am I to proclaim I know the truth?

Slowly but methodically a sense of peace swept over me. Suddenly life made sense. It made sense in a way you cannot put into a box or analyze. The single most important lesson I learned in my entire life is the notion that life is what it is. I cannot change it, and I sure as hell can't hope to understand it, only how I relate to it. If you leave your "control freak" in the closet for a moment and really think about it, it's quite a liberating thought. I have no idea why I am here and I have no idea how I got here. Sure science can describe the "how" to a certain degree, but as to "why", we are all on the same page -- Page 1. Some only read it differently.

Now I wake up every day knowing that I am one day closer to dying, and it makes me appreciate life like never before. In my opinion, this doctrine of eternal life is a travesty, robbing humanity of the awareness that life is precious. In our attempts to circumvent our fears we have created a monster that is eating us from the inside.

As for death, I fear it no more. Socrates once asked if he was afraid to die and he responded by saying that death is none other than the longest and the deepest sleep you've ever had.

Sounds good to me. I'm in.

There is so much more I wanted to discuss but it would have ended up a trilogy and not a testimony. Feel free to ask me anything.

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10/1/08                                                                                       View Comments

I now feel a bit lost

Sent in by Anton

The last year has seen me slowly de-convert from Christianity until, like others, I one day realized I just don't believe it all any more.

I grew up in a loving Christian home, both my parents were active in church. It was to be expected that at the age of 12 I had a "jelly-in-my-legs" experience at a sermon one morning, went forward and gave my heart to Jesus.

What followed was a life that has been both happy and sad at the same time.Happy because I wasn't raised fundamentalist enough to be ostracized from the world completely, but sad because I was just Christian enough to never quite feel at home in the world.

It's hard to explain, but if you met me today you would think me a confident individual, and in some ways I am. I just feel, however, that Christianity kept me from developing a kinship with my fellow man. By being Christian by definition I was different, and any common ground was ruined because "they" weren't Christian and I was. I think it's all impacted on my identity, and I now feel a bit lost.

So although I wasn't a fire and brimstone type, I nevertheless have spent almost my entire life (31 years) serving in the church and hanging out with Christians.

The turning point came when my wife and I joined a charismatic church and I started investigating "speaking in tongues". When I realised what a load of powerful self-deception THAT was, everything started to fall to pieces bit by bit.

If Christians could be faking tongues, what else could they be faking, consciously or not?

I am songwriter and songs about life. Heartache and disillusionment with church have always been a prolific source of ideas for songs, but I always really struggled to write worship songs. It's as if from somewhere deep inside I just had nothing to say about God!

Similar to being in a relationship and then realising how platonic it actually is.

Anyway, no one knows apart from my wife. (I think she will follow where the facts go and she loves and trusts me unconditionally.)

I don't know if I will ever tell my parents. I know WHY people choose to believe, they need it like some need food and water. In this case I can't give them the heartache and pain of thinking I am going to hell. I'd rather they not know!

Besides I am still on this journey.I consider myself agnostic but not quite atheist.
Things like our human morals and being able to create and appreciate art are still issues for me, as well as a feeling deep down that maybe there is more at play than our living and dying. (A last remnant of my upbringing perhaps?)

I would love comments and pointers to info on some of the things mentioned above.

Thanks for letting me get this of my chest!

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