1/4/09                                                                                       View Comments

Escape from fundamentalism

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I was born into a fundamentalist family. My mother has a very strong faith. My father claimed to be a Christian, but his actions convinced me otherwise. I made a "decision for Christ" at age six. By age 10 I was convinced that God wanted me to be a missionary in Japan and the direction of my life headed towards that goal from that time.

My family would now be described as dysfunctional. My paternal grandfather was a drunkard who beat his wife to death. My father carried an incredible amount of anger throughout his life stemming from the terrible experiences of his childhood.

He was converted at the Joyful News Mission in Brisbane Australia. He met my mother at that church. My mother's mother was a Methodist. Her father was also violent, but not to the extent of my paternal grandfather. My maternal grandfather left my grandmother during the Great Depression.

My life as a child was one of vigorous defense of the faith, coupled with anger regarding my unfair treatment at the hands of my parents. Life was filled with blame.

As children, my sister and I were constantly being yelled at for misdemeanors such as leaving drawers open! At school I studied Japanese and worked hard getting reasonably good marks. I was involved in many church activities at this time. Upon leaving school I worked to save up enough money to go to bible college. I attended Bible College of New Zealand for three years, full time. I did a short term missionary stint in Japan during this time. The missionaries' report on me was not favourable. I was devastated. I had put an enormous amount of work into preparing for the mission field.

I married a guy I had met at Bible College. This marriage lasted for 13 years but was beset with problems caused, in part, by my upbringing. We divorced 11 years ago. Early in our marriage we sought help from a psychoanalyst who began to challenge my beliefs. My world was very black and white, and absolutist. He challenged these ideas. He said that ideas that are unbending are brittle. He challenged me to consider Jesus' humanity and the fact that he (Jesus) may have made mistakes. We also talked a lot about guilt, Original Sin and fear. I began to believe that we are not all sinners and that our life experiences shape us. We spent a lot of time looking at my poor self esteem and the fact that it was this and extreme loneliness that had drawn my husband and I together. I found much healing in psychotherapy. I was able to forgive my father to his face at this time. My husband began to study philosophy and became an atheist. I began to see that my faith was based on fear and that fear is not a good motivator.

I left the church a few years after leaving my husband. I have continued to study the Bible and I try to understand it. Lately I have been involved in an Internet discussion group which is a mix of atheists, agnostics and Christians (One of them recommended this site.). I shared my story with them including my resentment of my mother sticking with my father all these years. An atheist encouraged me to make peace with her and forgive her, which I did. She is now 87 years old and our relationship is good. I have very recently renounced the God of the Bible (the problem of pain) and have decided that the Trinity doesn't make sense. I believe that Jesus was just a man with an amazing message.

I believe that truth lies in unconditional love for others. Nine years ago I met a lovely guy and we are very happy together.

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