2/27/09                                                                                       View Comments

Why doesn't God want me to be a Christian?

praying for timeImage by TheAlieness GiselaGiardino²³ via Flickr

By Pineapple

If the God you believe in exists, why did He turn His back on me when I was collapsed on my bedroom floor sobbing and begging Him for more faith? Why did He leave me alone and bewildered when my faith of 20 years begin to unravel?

When I started questioning the Bible I did the right thing. I rebuked Satan, believing he was trying to deceive me and humbled myself before the Lord and prayed for more faith. But He didn't answer my prayer. Or wait, according to Christian reasoning, He did answer my prayer and the answer was a big fat "NO".

While I was crying out to Him on my floor that night, I would have accepted even a vague sense of peace and love as proof of His Spirit and thus His existence, but He offered none. The only conclusion I could come up with was that God didn't want me to be one of His children. I wasn't chosen.

I'm glad that He has blessed you with faith. I'm glad that He chose you and he loves you enough to give you reason to believe. But He didn't give me faith no matter how hard I tried to be a good Christian and have a relationship with Him. All he gave me was a brain and critical thinking capabilities so thus far I've had no other choice but disbelief in the God of the Bible.



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2/26/09                                                                                       View Comments

Casper, the Friendly/Holy Ghost

Still frame from the animated cartoon "Th...Image via Wikipedia

By Mriana

When I was little, there was this cartoon series involving Casper the Friendly Ghost, and I had an invisible friend, as do many children, only his name was Casper. Romper Room hosted some of the Casper shows, which caught my attention and probably encouraged my desire to learn, but it also gave me my invisible friend.

Now, for those of you born long after Romper Room, this was an educational kids’ show in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. There was no Barney though. Rather, in this show, a very human teacher assisted a classroom of children in learning social skills and other important things they needed to learn as preschoolers. It was probably this early learning process, through the media, which lead to me to other profound discoveries, including religious ones.

The interesting thing about having Casper as an invisible friend was the teasing I got from the adults around me. This friend I had a little longer than most children have theirs, probably because I rarely had social contact with others my age, except in school. Therefore, the teasing I received from my grandfather, as I got a little older, was a bit of a scientific educational experience.

When a strong breeze blew the screen door open and shut again, my grandfather would say, “Well, there’s Casper. He just came in the house.” I would laugh and eventually I said, “You’re funny, Grandpa. That was the wind.”

I had pulled back the curtain and looked behind it, but at the same time, my young mind was using various neuro-processes concerning the new information it acquired. A “Matrix” city was virtually being created in my tiny skull as it grew intellectually, but I did not know this at the time, even when Casper became obsolete sometime when I was between six or eight years old in favour of reality and knowledge.

So where am I going with this Casper story, early childhood education, and neurology? Well, I am about to cut through the Holy Ghost noise and give you a glimpse of “B”, which I left out in my previous blog. It was a slow process, which lead to realization, but it was not as easy or as painless as letting go of my invisible friend Casper was and it took more years to do it.

I not only received a bachelor’s degree in Psychology, but over the years, I also studied and researched mythology and religion. However, religion was not my minor until I went back again to acquire another degree in English. The thing is this research did not start in college. It started in high school when I took an English class called “Literature of the Bible”, which my mother was against because she feared it would “destroy my faith”, but I did it anyway, because I wanted to know. I chose to know. She was also against me taking religious courses at a state run university, but I again did my own thing and started to look behind the curtain again.

One of the classes I took was Victor H. Matthews’ class, which was titled the same as his book, “Old Testament Parallels” ( The Old Testament: Text And Context ). It was a fascinating study into the previous myths related to Hebrew mythology. This lead to other questions, such as “Where did the stories of the New Testament originate?”

Through this process of questioning, I continued my research. I read several books concerning the relationship of mythology and current religions, as well as took various religious courses. While reading Acharya’s books ( http://www.truthbeknown.com ) I had dreams concerning John 3:16-18. These dreams had the writers of the gospels, dressed like disciples, working hard on my subconscious while I worked through all that I knew in my sleeping mind. The conversation was much similar to Babylon 5’s Delenn discussion with Sebastian in the episode “Comes the Inquisitor”.

The story goes thus as quoted from Wikia ( http://babylon5.wikia.com/wiki/Delenn ) : “The Inquisitor has Delenn put Pain rings on, using them to bring her pain for incorrect answers. However, he only really asks one question: "who are you?" Delenn struggles to find the answer he seeks, but is unable to satisfy him.” [sic]

Sebastian: “And if the world says otherwise?”
Delenn: “Then the world is wrong!”
Sebastian: “And Delenn is right? Perhaps the world is right and Delenn is wrong. Have you ever considered that? Have you?”
Delenn: “Yes, yes, sometimes.”

In my dreams, I was thrown into a primitive culture that was foreign to me. Therefore, it would make sense that while people were dressed like disciples, I was rather alien and would experience dreams similar to the sci-fi I know and love. While the words were in my dreams related more to John 3:16-18, the questioning was much the same, until I got the courage in one of the dreams to stand up to the superstitious primitive people questioning my daytime activities. It was then the dreams finally ceased and I have not had one since, but it made sense that I would be a person of the future displaced in a time and place that was of the distant primitive past.

In a sense, I was not sleeping very well due to new information that conflicted with old information thereby triggering neuro-processes while I dreamed. This was not a bad thing, because new pathways formed in order to process all the information I acquired that proved old information obsolete. Such dreams were not actually an Inquisition, as much as they were sorting out information and ridding my brain of fears imposed on me as a child. The means to sort this new knowledge was in the form of an Inquisition, probably because my relatives give me the fifth degree when I say something contradictory to their beliefs, which brought me emotional pain, which was in a sense “Pain Rings”. The only difference was that I received pain when I said something that was true.

The thing is, I have found a quote from “The Minority Report” -- “Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark” -- to be very true, because I was making my way out of the dark, but it was not an easy process. This included some mental discomfort along the way, because it is a very lonely and difficult process, just as staying in the dark can cause pain and loneliness too. Even so, I risked the dark, because if my relatives knew how I reached disbelief in their beliefs, I would experience a lot of hateful anger from them. I know this in part because when I bring up the origins of Christianity, which is not in keeping with their religious beliefs, I get the “Inquisition”.

However, as much as I wrestled with old and new information in my dreams and muddled through the emotions thereof, this was not the kicker of the religious memes developed in early childhood. All it did was tell the analytical side of my mind, during my waking hours that such verses were fear tactics to force me to go along with the supposed norms of the social group I grew up in as a child, AKA “tribal thinking”. In the end, just as the Inquisitor did with Delenn, the only real question asked was, “Who are you?” or “What is truth that pertains to you?” The answers to these questions were what I actually sought, and the answers I gave my relatives were not mine nor were they educated answers. Rather, they were answers to appease them and not very satisfying for me.

Regardless, the processing of information day and night was not the “meme buster” during that period to time in my life. “The meme buster” came later during a Hindu class I took while working on an English degree.

The focus of this class was the Bhagavad-Gita. The Ninth and Tenth Teachings have a series of “I AM’s”. Suddenly, the Tenth Teaching, saying 32 says, “I am the beginning, middle, and end…” Where have we heard that before? Then, the professor states the eleventh teaching, saying 24 is the relationship of Krishna/Vishnu, the greatest god, was the ultimate truth and in saying 51, we find that Krishna is Vishnu incarnate on earth.

Something did not compute, so I approached the professor after class to ask him about this. Once again, he said, “Krishna is the incarnation of Vishnu.” My brain “fainted” for a brief moment, while my body still stood. When my mind returned to consciousness, I heard the professor ask me, “You understand?” As my mind was still staggering from the shock of the “epiphany”, I just said, “Yes” and walked around in a daze for the rest of the day, because I realized that there never was a historical Moses or Jesus or if there was, what is written is no more real than Lincoln in John Jakes’ North and South books.

While this might sound as though it were all sudden, the truth is, it was a slow process of educating myself, which lead to the “epiphany”. Of course, I also questioned this realization and went to Robert Price, who I respect greatly, for a second opinion. I asked him if I was reading too much into all of this. Long story short, his reply was “No, you’re not” and went on to explain it as being midrash in nature.

That was not the only thing I noticed in this class about the Krishna/Christ relationship. The professor also referred us to Krishna’s childhood stories. In these stories, Krishna was born via a miraculous birth and smuggled off to Egypt to keep the head honcho from killing him as an infant. This was similar to both Moses and Jesus. Both babies were smuggled off to Egypt in some fashion, due to the head honcho’s desire to kill baby boys. Thus, I asked Bob about this too and like the previous, the people adopted and adapted these stories to their society. That is, the stories were rewritten to a specific audience, just as any other work of literature. In the case of the creation stories, the Hebrew writers geared the Egyptian, Babylonian, and Assyrian creation stories to their own tribe- the Israelites. The same holds true to the stories of Moses and Jesus, from what I understand my mentors to have said to me.

After that, I took a Buddhism class only to find, that while there was a real man named Siddhartha, in which a miraculous birth was attributed to him in the “Buddhacarita or Acts of the Buddha”. That particular story most Buddhists will admit was not true of the Buddha, but rather just a story. This information added to my new view that if there ever was a Jesus, people greatly fictionalized his life and buried it in mythology. The difficulty is finding a real person under all the rewritten stories covering his actual life. Such a task of finding a real man named Siddhartha Gautama with the documentation we have would be easier, even though a miraculous birth story was attributed to him. There appears to be less mythology surrounding his life.

While Fr. Tom Harpur had his “epiphany” via the Horus stories, I had mine via the Krishna stories, but unlike him, I cannot believe in any god of religion, even if I wanted to believe. After Hinduism, the myths seemed to fall into place and Jesus was just one more in a series of mythological stories. Various Evangelical phrases bring a blank to my mind or a complete dead end due to the knowledge I acquired over the years. The Evangelical god concept is just as unbelievable to me as Zeus is to them. I cannot force myself to believe in their god anymore than they can force themselves to believe a god named Zeus is real.

Now reverting to the psychology I learned, we will peek behind the curtain one last time by examining belief itself, via neuro-psychology and cut through the Holy Ghost noise again.

External stimuli trigger neuro-chemicals in brain, specifically those in the frontal lobe. Thus, when Bob Price says, “God is lobe” in his essay “Religious and Secular Humanism What's the difference?” ( http://www.secularhumanism.org/index.php?sectionlibrary&pageprice_22_3 ) he is not speaking factiously. The truth is, all the smells, sounds, sights, and any other sensory stimulation found in various churches are stimuli that triggers internal reactions that people attribute to a deity. These numinous feelings are actually neuro-chemistry that is part of the human condition.

These same triggers are found in nature too. One can achieve the same affects among animals, the woods, nature walks, and even the view of the Holy Lands (See Sam Harris’s “Selfless Consciousness Without Faith” http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/sam_harris/2007/01/consciousness_without_faith_1.html ). These experiences the religious also attribute to something that is external to themselves and label it a deity or the Holy Spirit. The thing is, it is not a deity or a spirit, but rather it is within the human and part of them causing the feeling of being as one with their environment. It is perfectly natural, but it is not divine, except maybe in a metaphoric sense.

How does this relate to my experience? Well as a child, I adored those numinous experiences that nature, animals, and compassion from other humans gave me. I still do, for that matter, except I understand them better now. These experiences are real, but what many attribute them to is superstition, unless they have some scientific knowledge. I chose door number two in an effort to look behind the curtain, only to find that “the wind did it” or in this case, neurochemistry. I also chose to find the origins of the stories taught to me as a child. All this education, once my brain processed it, came to a neurological climax and thanks to the plasticity of our brains, changed the previous neuro-connections, and even formed new ones.

All the old memes “were busted” and I cannot go back to forcing myself to comprehend the superstitions taught to me as a child. Thus, where as before “the Path to Salvation” seemed like a weird fantasy, now makes absolutely no sense on a rational scientific level. Such theological statements give me feelings of puzzlement and I draw a total mental blank. When I hear my Evangelical relatives speak of such things, I cannot help thinking, “What the hell are they talking about?” Belief or disbelief is not a choice for me anymore. I cannot rationally believe such stories and concepts as reality, especially when the evidence says differently. To do so, would be similar to ignoring that the wind opened and shut the screen door, in favour of having my childhood invisible friend Casper again. It would be just plain silly and irrational.

However, those in religious authority would have one believe transcendent experiences are something external to the human and call it the Holy Spirit. They also realize when our senses are overly stimulated we have transcendent experiences. Thus, the mega churches pull out all the stops concerning stimulating people’s senses, and call it “the power of the Holy Spirit” or say that “the Holy Spirit is moving” through the large congregation. In which case, Karl Marx was very accurate with his statement, “Religion is the opiate of the people”. Humans thrive on it, especially because religious services have numerous sensory stimuli, which trigger brain chemistry that gives people a sense of the aesthetic. In the end, people crave such numinous experiences like a drug and attach various superstitions to it all.

The thing is, while there were many men in human history named Jesus, the Jesus written in the Bible never existed as told, God is a human concept, and there is no Casper the friendly ghost, except in a children’s cartoon. We just have to look behind the curtain to find the reality of it all and expose the human condition through science and knowledge. In the process, it could very well answer who we are, without superstitions and in this case, I am an educated human being who faces the world squarely on her own two feet, using science and reason, without religious superstition.

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2/23/09                                                                                       View Comments

Part 5. My Story – The Great Escape

Escape, originally uploaded by SM Photo

By Neal Stone

First off sorry about the delay on this next part. Been a busy week and kind of lost the writing bug for a bit.

You read all the time on the news how someone escapes from jail, but ends up being recaptured right away. Why? Because they failed to prepare for AFTER the got away. You spend all this time on getting free, but not what to do next.

When I graduated it was assumed I would never go to college so I never had an S.A.T. And for a while that was the case. I did get some schooling eventually (GPA 3.5) and took other courses related to work. Turns out I can sit in class, daydream, not read one word in the book and still pull off a B grade average.

After graduating from high school I had no job, do direction and no idea what to do with my life. No one seemed to care and my parents suck at teaching life skills. All this had to be learned on my own.

All the while the dragon was still in hot pursuit. From 1983 to 1998 I fumbled around in my life living mostly with my parents. In 1992 I did have an apartment for year with a friend who turned out to be an arogant ass. I joined a popular MLM and spent 30 days gungho at showing “the plan”. If you are familiar with MLM, then you know who I am talking about. I would eventually drop the whole thing and go to a seminar that was based on Christian values (or so they claimed) but was more psycho-babble mixed with religion. I would buy the books and turn my back on MLM resulting in my roommate treating me like a loser because I didn't do it his way. Turns out that was his biggest problem. Be a total failure and yet expect people to learn from you. NOT! He was very judgmental, but had no problem of accusing you of his own faults. He hasn't changed last I checked.

I won't go into the full details of this time period as too much to cover. But stuff happened in my family that just shouldn't happen in any family. All because of my parents.

I would bounce from one church to another before finally going to one In Lacey, WA. Things were fine for a while. But eventually two people there would result in my eventual leave of Christianity. One was a church leader who's only solution for my search for life meaning was to have me get on my knees and pray for me to speak in tongues. WTF???? The other was also a leader in the church and she disliked me because I was too weird, insecure and didn't fit in. On one church camp out she shared a sleeping bag with one of the popular guys. Yep a real spiritual giant she was.

Gee, all I needed was the Lord right? After all isn't that what she was there for? To minister to people like me? She was a total snob and if you didn't fit into her social club, God didn't need you. Fine with me. In the end, they did me a big favor.

At this point I moved back in with my parents hoping to “be a good testimony” so that I could change their lives for the better. I was about as annoying as a new Christian. I tried for a few years to change them and get them out of their rut and would be really into this seminar I attended each year. I even had a mentor who would give me advice only to up and move away leaving me hanging without any real strength to hold my own. Seems this happens a lot in Christian circles. Start to build someone up, then dump 'em when they still can't stand on their own. Gee thanks!

Finally in 1997 the company I was working for went under. I landed a job at Kinko's and was making enough money that I decided to get my own apartment. Just me and no one else. I was still attending church at the time and my job soon required me to work 12:30pm to 9pm on Sundays. I got the next three days off though which was nice. While living with my parents I commuted across town via bicycle and would pass this dance club called “Thekla's”. It was mainly for gay people but us straight people were allowed to attend if we promised to be nice. I used to stop each night and pray for it to close up until a month or two after getting my apartment. Then thing started to change. I stopped going to church and started to go to this club and go dancing. I LOVED IT AND MISS IT TO THIS DAY! The club eventually closed and now runs under as different name at a different location.

After quitting church I would go through my darkest time in my life. I would slowly become someone I and no one else like. I just became a real jerk and as a result lost some friendships. To this day I hope they can forgive me. Some were Internet friends, but still I don't like being not liked. My health went down hill as I had bad teeth. It runs in the family and you end up with dentures by the time you are 30. Mine had gotten pretty bad and I was skinny (also runs in the family) so I looked bad and like a druggie, except I didn't do drugs.

I would work for Kinko's for two years and live in the apartment for one year. All this time e-mailing my old pastor in trying to get him to understand my decisions and requesting removal from the church membership. I was finally free of church and religion. I used the title “A Good Things...” in my e-mail titles. If you ever saw the last episode of “Start Trek the Next Generation” then you know what I really meant. It had to do with seeing beyond boundaries and doing things you normally couldn't do.

I then decided one day I would move away and change my life. So I moved in with my sister while waiting for things to fall into place. Never did happen and I was unemployed for a while and living in my sisters basement. I had hit rock bottom and my life was as bad as it was going to get.

I finally landed a job at Sears. I was working early in the morning and at least had a job and some co-workers that liked me. So things got a little better. After a few months a friend came in and I was offered a job at full time starting at $12 an hour with benefits. My current job was $7 an hour, no benefits and part time. Of course I needed time to think about it....NOT! I had just been turned down for a promotion just before he came in. The guy who's uncle was the boss got it instead. This guys was a total brown noser who chatted up the supervisors and management while I quietly did the work.

He quit a week after I did which I found out when I came in to buy $300 in new tools. I worked for this company for a year before they went under. It was run by a Christian and he was very dishonest, but that is another bog by itself. 6 months into working for this company I joined a local singles club. Little did I know that the woman who gave me a ride. Elaine, would soon become my girlfriend and eventually my wife.

Even though the company folded and would lay me off, it changed my thinking about my life, my future and my attitude about my career.

After getting laid off I was unemployed for three months. The attack on New York (911) happened right in the middle of that. I tried to go back to Sears but my future wife would have none of that. She felt I was too good to be working dead end jobs anymore. A couple weeks later I started work as an Administrative Assistant for a local non-profit company. This isn't a career populated by men. I have been to two training seminars and only once met another guy in this field and he left half-way through the seminar.

Before I lost the previous job, my wife insisted I get over my fear of dentists and get my teeth fixed. So we charge some on the credit card and paid off the rest and I got dentures. This and the job at the local non-profit would change my life forever. I had a new smile, gained weight to a healthy level and would win over the respect and admiration of my new boss and co-workers. For the first time in my life I really had something worth living for and the adventure had just begun.

Next. Part 6 – 42 or So Long and Thanks for All the Fish.



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2/22/09                                                                                       View Comments

Jesus as my personal tormentor

Sent in by Andrew

I grew up on the extremely Catholic west side of Cincinnati, Ohio. For those of you who aren't familiar with this (and thankfully most of the world isn't) West Side Cincinnati is one of the most isolated metropolitan areas of the country.

Religious, economic, psychological and geographic borders keep these suburbs of about 100,000 people apart from the rest of the city. No easy access to a major interstate due to endless miles of suburbs, anyone that wasn't catholic was ostracized behind closed doors, people from any other area of the city were weird, and the valleys that surrounded this area led to a staggering lack of culture. I was raised to believe that divorced parents and their children were odd and contemptible. My mother is a bigoted, hypocritical fascist, pretending to be compassionate yet speaking ill behind everyone's backs... like a true Christian. My father, coming from good 'ole German stock, was quiet, but had a fury that often led to bouts of physical abuse and blind dedication to things he was TOLD to believe in. They preached the bible and how anyone that was gay was going to hell, yet now that I am openly gay my parents "can't remember ever saying that."

From as far back as I can remember I knew I was gay. The deep self loathing that children are introduced to at an early age is staggering. Feeling alone in that I could never share my secret with anyone, I became withdrawn and paranoid. This condition coupled with a complete lack of compassion from my parents led me to contemplate suicide from about the age of nine.

How could I be doomed to hell when I haven't done anything wrong? I didn't ASK to be like this. All of the most awful children I went to school with were guaranteed a spot in the gated community called heaven, yet I was supposed to swim in a napalm lake for eternity?

I started calling 'bullshit' at a very early age. I can't remember when exactly I stopped believing, but I knew that this bilge they shoved down our throats was not for me. Since 6th grade I have know I was an atheist, but still spiritual in a sense of the wonders of the natural world.

I am currently living in Atlanta, GA, trying to find my place in the world. The problems I developed in my past that relate to self confidence and trust are still with me to this day. I lost someone I am in love with because I still feel victimized and they could not cope with my insecurities.

Recently I have made huge strides in discovering my true self, and shedding these insecurities. I feel more and more confident about myself every single day.

Thanks for giving me an outlet!

I hope you all come to the same inner peace that I am experiencing :)

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2/16/09                                                                                       View Comments

I need a drink

Jesus with little oneImage by freestone via Flickr

Sent in by Jenny the Disaster


Of all the areas of my life, my faith has been challenged the most my entire life. I feel like this has been a long time coming.

I struggled greatly with religion as a child. Even while I was in Sunday school, learning all about Jesus and God and the Bible, I found myself asking very difficult questions. I didn’t have doubt in my heart. I actually enjoyed myself very much. I liked the stories. I loved Jesus. I just thought God was mean.

I didn’t understand why I was to worship someone who made life so difficult for some and so great for others. Was I supposed to worship him until he did something nice for me and hope that my family and I would somehow be one of the lucky ones? What makes you lucky? What makes you better than everyone else? What makes us more important than anyone of any other faith?

It wasn’t my fault I grew up a Christian. Just like it’s not my fault I grew up to be an actor. It’s just the way it’s happened.

But asking these questions was getting me nowhere fast. And the lack of advice on the subject told me I should just accept the fact that I’m lucky and privileged and everyone else was wrong and unprivileged. So I shut my mouth and my mind for years. I waited around for life to happen to me and hoped and prayed we’d continue to be one of the lucky ones.

Thus spirituality, faith ended up being something separate for me. It was something to cling to when I was scared or exhausted. Something I relied upon to pick up the slack with my happiness. Faith pushed everyday frustrations and boredom away from me as much as possible and kept it from affecting my mind or soul.

But did keeping the frustrations away by saying “it’ll all be okay in the end” prevent me from really experiencing life? What was I missing?

So I ride the subway. I see a very poor young man sitting across from me. He is just riding the subway in his dirty clothes and long beard. He has a smile on his face and his hand is cupped around an imaginary drink of some kind. He doesn’t even seem to be going anywhere in particular. He’s just sitting on the train, enjoying the morning with his cup of fake courage.

My first instinct was to pity this guy. However, a strong sense in me arose out of no where. I began to connect with this young man and his strange cup.

With my upbringing, I was programmed to believe this young man is a leech on society with a bad drug habit and I should ignore him before he somehow hurts me.

He was just a boy. Younger than me. Maybe he had a drug habit, I don’t know, I didn’t see it. Maybe he was crazy for sitting there with his imaginary cup, drinking nothing, and smiling at everyone on the train.

I began to wonder what was in his “drink.” Was it coffee? Tea? Gin? Tequila? Perhaps it was a chai latte? I don’t know. Whatever it was, it was doing the job. He was getting through the day and having a pretty grand time at that. He was enjoying his day more than I had enjoyed one in a long time. He was so dirty, so poor, and so happy. I was clean, had enough money to eat and to have fun, and I was miserable. Whatever was driving me to get through the day was failing me fast. I looked enviously at his “drink.” Longing for my own.

I couldn’t stop thinking about my “drink.” I had one for so long. I had an overwhelming sense that despite it all, I’m privelaged and should feel lucky. Bottom line: everything was going to be allright. It had to be, because I was good person.

But what made me so good? What did I do that made me so good? I read the same book my parents did and tried my best to believe it without question. I try to do good deeds for people so that I can make up for all the bad things I’ve done. I don’t hurt anyone physically, I was polite to strangers, and I tried not to take more than I needed. I had good intentions… but was I really a good person? And would everything really be allright in the end?

Days go by. I wait around for something to make my day. More days go by. Question arises: What if I made my own day?

I couldn’t stop thinking about this. It was consuming me. Why had I spent so much of my time denying and ignoring the immediate experiences around me? Was life really so horrible that I couldn’t get enough joy from life in general? Was it so bad that I had to indulge in a spiritual diversion? Is that why religion exists? Or at least, is that why it exists for me?

I wanted to believe so badly. I want there to be something more. I don’t like thinking that nothing will happen to me when I die. Or that I could live my life stepping on people and things and never receive any comeuppance for my behavior. I tried and tried to make it real to me. But I just couldn’t see my worship any different than the guy with the “drink.”

We both wanted so badly to believe something was there.

So the last question I am left with: If God doesn’t exist, what does? And how do I leave myself open to it?

And so the spiritual journey continues. I’m still not sure what’s out there. But I have a feeling I’m only at the beginning of my quest for truth.

I may never get an answer to my hundreds of questions about this life and why we live it, but at least I’m asking. There’s at least one chance I may get some answers.

Or at least, I’ll pay even more attention to those poor “drug addicts” who haunt the Manhattan subways.

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Middle Aged Reason

Wheaton (Washington Metro)Image via Wikipedia

Sent in by Richard

I was raised in a loving family in a quiet suburb of the city of Chicago. My mother was a graduate of Wheaton, the school that produced Billy Graham and many other respected evangelicals. I attended church, went to Christian camps, memorized verse, and studied what I was given in order to be a better lamb of god.

It was actually this study and desire to learn more about the faith that caused me to have what I call my first epiphany. The bible, I discovered at the approximate age of 20, was filled with nonsense. It was incomplete, being a product of Byzantine politics rather than divine inspiration. I did not turn from the faith at this time. Instead I chose to cherry pick the parts of the bible that made sense to me, and ignore the rest.

My second shift came as the result of my profession. I joined the marine corps, and was sent overseas. I saw gut wrenching poverty on a scale that stunned me. I saw absolute squalor, and human misery that made me catch my breath and sob. At this point I asked the question nearly every self described intelligent Christian asks: Why is there such abject suffering among innocents, and why does God do nothing to halt it. The old arguments that justified suffering were no longer words on a page. It was real, and it was in what I still considered gods world.

The final understanding came when I finally understood that there is no half measure in religion, and this brutal iron age myth demands utter obedience to an ethos that is far more interested in keeping individuals faithful than it is in helping the weak, the poor, or the hurt. I came to view self described moderates as fools who give cover to the lunatics. Further, I understood that it was these fanatics who understood the true facts about the religion. It is the plane flying murderers and book banning freaks who understand and accept the bible in its real form. Any cherry picker, as I had been, gave these lunatics the right to exist without ridicule.

I am not a Christian. I do not know what happens after we die. I cannot say how the universe was created. I have no idea if god exists. I only know that I still have the capacity to love, feel awe, pity suffering, and show compassion.

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A Religious Country

lullaby

By the Filipino Infidel

I am a Filipino. I live in the Philippines, a country so proud of itself as the Christian country in the southeast Asian region. I live with fellow Filipinos who devout their lives following the Christian way of life. Everyone is united according to the will of God. Yes, as it is written in Revelations, we will all suffer.

The Philippines had been colonized by Spain for more than 3 decades. Thus, Roman Catholicism has been planted very deeply into our roots. Well, they had a great job of doing it that this religion had played a major role in having the country held for such a long time. Religious leaders then had such great influence to the Filipinos making them believe that the only path to salvation is Christianity. And it is true that were saved. With Christianity, there were saved from the evils of riches, the corruption of power, the addiction of pleasure and fame. And with that, they happily lived poor, exploited and depraved for the rest of their lives as taught by the religion.

Decades passed and we Filipinos really never learned from our history. We are now more devout Christians. We truly live by a religion that is not even ours. Our heroes might have freed us from foreign occupations, but we are still enslaved by the religion they cuffed us with.

You may have no idea how the Philippines works. Everything about us is about God. A third world country with so many poor people with nothing but faith and hope in their plates. A very religious country who pray to its God everyday and every moment for salvation. And we are saved. For the salvation comes to the poor as taught by the Bible. Many religious leaders heroically took the punishment of damnation by unselfishly living a luxurious life and taking the sins of their followers.

We have many Christian divisions: Catholic, Iglesia ni Cristo (Church of Christ), Evangelical, El Shadai, Mormon, Methodist, Adventist, and many many more that I know and might not even know of. Well each of these has its own religious leaders taking care of the religious life of its followers, and of course, their financial life.

I was a Catholic, born of moderately Catholic parents, studied in a Catholic school and married a wife with a devout Catholic family. Everything about me was Catholic. Everything around me is Catholic, if not, Christian. I followed its holy sacraments. I read its holy book that opened my eyes and eventually lead to my deconversion. It’s hard to be infidel in a world of religious people. People easily judge you. My wife is the only one who knows about my destroyed faith.

Many have always argued about the true meaning of “good” and “evil.” Even rich countries have trouble defining it. Well for us it is very simple:
  • Religious, good
  • Not-religious, evil

Why can’t others understand that. When people see you everyday praying in the Church, holding rosaries, praising the Lord publicly, knows the Bible in and out, well you got yourself a medal for being a good person. Even if steal, molest children, batter your wife, etc. as long as you have a very deep faith in God then you are good. Goodness is defined with relationship with God. Well that’s with our thinking.

Our government is so corrupt. I think the list of most corrupt countries is the only world’s list that we can belong to. Ah, wait, I think there are still others. Nah, just my imagination. Each of corrupt politician of our corrupt government has their own “spiritual adviser.” Yes! A Christian religious leader that is guided by the Holy Spirit to straighten the path of this corrupt politician. You’ll often here from the news of government officials apprehended for crimes. And after few days, you’ll see from news scenes of them praying, reading the Bible showing that they are religious. Therefore, they are good men. I want to puke every time I see these corrupt officials in the television displaying them attending Mass, organized prayers, prayer rallies, etc. OUTRIGHT HYPOCRISY!!!

I have been talking all about Christianity for a while. I am not discriminating against the Muslims as they always claim to. Really! They do have their rights. Or else! We also have Muslims in our country. Haven’t you heard from the news that Bin Laden once set foot in our island for hiding and at the same time training for Al Jihad.

One thing Filipino Christians really learned is not to piss off Muslims if you want to live. Well that’s quite a reputation. Philippines is also not outdated to technology since we our own suicide bombers exhibiting the technology behind firepower. Well, every Muslim, even though what place they stay, behaves the same. I now refrain from expounding more. I love my life. But one thing exceptional I can say is that they are so devout with their religion. I don’t think it’s bad or it’s good.

Well, there you go. Philippines is a very religious country. Very religious that it scares me most of the time. Yeah I think we are really going the path of Revelations. And for Filipino infidels like me, well, we might just have to go live in the closet avoiding discrimination.

It’s not that I hate my country and my fellowmen. In fact, I truly love the Philippines and my fellow Filipinos. I just really hate the religious cancer that eats us from within. You never hate a sick person. You hate the sickness. I still do hope there will be cure for our country though. I think I just got to have “faith.” On the other hand, I’ll just hope.

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2/14/09                                                                                       View Comments

A very reluctant atheist

Representation of baptism in early Christian art.Image via Wikipedia

Sent in by Paul D

Greetings, friends.

I want to make clear from the outset that my path from "born-again" Christian to atheist has been very long and very painful. I have been dragged kicking and screaming all the way, and the easiest thing for me to do would be to walk back into that religion. So, any Christian who wants to give me the "chosen to backslide" treatment... forget it. Also, when I say "Christian," I am talking about the type of person who calls themselves "born again". I do have a few dear Christian friends who are not the "born again or go to hell" kind.

There are dozens of reasons for my de-conversion, so for the moment I will just go over a few key events.

My first experience of born-again Christians was when I was a rather mixed up 17-year-old, and I was latched onto by a small group of people whom showed me the kind of love and attention that I had always wanted, but never had. For this reason I started going to a rather grubby little Baptist church in the UK. This church had a young pastor named John Brewster. He could give a sermon so full of emotion and conviction that people were made to laugh, cry, and be deeply emotionally affected. I quickly submitted to his leadership.

Over the next six years he came to be one of the most wicked and vindictive individuals I have ever come across - not the kind of person that goes around molesting children, but rather an very skilled bully and manipulator. Any one who dared to question him or could see him for the person he really was had to be gotten rid off quickly. Not content to get rid of them, he had to get inside their head and destroy them and oh boy does he know how to ...k around with peoples heads. One dear friend of mine whom Brewster tried to drive to suicide because of his homosexuality said it was like looking into the face of evil. This man demanded total obedience to himself and his words and all friendships outside his church should be considered wicked and ended.

More than anything, I am angry at myself for allowing this man to steal my best years. As a brand new Christian I was adopted by a couple: Sarah who was 17 like me and her much older partner Laurence. They took me in and told me to think of them as my own family, which for me is very hard to do. After a few sort months of this wonderful new experience I was met outside church by Laurence who thrust a Good News Bible into my hand and waffled something about God calling them to do something else now, and he wished me good luck in my Christian life. With that, they refused to have anything to do with me ever again.

As time went on I threw myself into the Christian life and believed I could hear the small still voice of the Holy Spirit and feel God with me. Strangely enough, the Christians I knew spoke a lot more about the Devil than they did about Jesus. This disturbed me. They said that the will of God for a person would be what they hated and feared most, and any good thing that happened in life was more than likely a temptation from the Devil. In fact, anything that didn't have a fish sticker on it was "of the devil," and helping the starving and other people in need was to be avoided because they were only going to hell in the end.

Over the years I noticed that Christians were all talk about loving people, but when it came to actually doing it, they didn't.

My thoughts became darker and more depressed as time went on. Thus was the pattern wherever I went: Christians would pretend to be a person's best friend when trying to get their scalp, and after they got it then they couldn't be bothered any more. This disturbed me, but I would push the thought away -- such was the fear of hell that had been drummed into me.

In the middle of this the Toronto movement hit and people were doing all kinds of crazy things under the Spirit, but I couldn't tell the difference between that and people who were supposedly demon possessed. What that movement did best of all was to split churches and cause division. One person whom I spoke to who actually went to Toronto said that when he visited the surrounding churches and asked how the revival had effected them, all replied with blank faces "what revival?"

Shortly after this I moved to Lincoln and joined a mega-church there, but continued to get more and more depressed. When I expressed this someone thrust a book into my hand named "Curses, Causes, and Cure," by Derek Prince. That was like giving a bottle of scotch and a hand full of pills to a suicide case. This book was so depressing and only added to my feelings of guilt. I was told by some of the spiritual elite that I was possessed by demons, and that I needed to be baptised, as the demons come off in the water. Three months after I was baptised I made a suicide attempt, and for the first time I was away from my Christian environment. This church I was at had a membership of at least 2000, with actual attendance of over 4000, so you would expect that I would be well supported, but in fact in my eighteen months of rehabilitation and treatment for manic depression, NOT ONE came to visit me. I found out that after long prayer and guidance this church had decided it was the "Will of God" to sever all contact, "So I could find my own destiny". It was only at this point that I started to question things - but thats another story.

Thank you all for your kind attention.

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2/13/09                                                                                       View Comments

Clear Eyes

Cover of "Anthem"Cover of Anthem

By Kat Sullivan

On Christianity

When you start to really doubt, they tell you to immerse yourself in the "word" and in prayer. And it sounds so wise and like it’s the right thing to do. But really it is the church's built in, self protective mechanism to keep people in the church. The intent seems to be to keep people from spending too long not hearing the “word” and too long away from prayer, because when the “word” and prayer start to seem foreign, weird and a little uncomfortable to people it becomes possible to see Christianity objectively. And it is when we see things objectively that we start to perceive reality, life, the world with more accuracy.

I have become convinced that religions tend to be delusions humans create for ourselves as a coping mechanism to help us get through life and a tool for governing society. In some ways that seems like it might be fine...I have my coping mechanisms too. But at least mine don't consume me, hurt me and hurt those around me like too much religion can do.

This de-conversion process has been so long and hard. Getting my mind blown with this new perception is exhausting. Oh frick man, it’s like I’m the main character in Ayn Rand’s “Anthem”.


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2/9/09                                                                                       View Comments

Fuzzy and mushy and gobbledygook

Gobbledygook has gotta go.Image by AlaskanLibrarian via Flickr

From a UU in Spring, TX

I was raised Catholic-- 12 years of parochial education in Illinois & Missouri. My family on my mother's side were caring, devote people from small-town America who had converted to Catholicism. In high school when visiting California, I remember meeting a guy who said that he was a pagan. That surprised me-- when I thought of "pagan," all I could think of was the people who worshiped the golden calf. Most of my Catholic education taught discipline and critical analysis and I think that it was healthy to think of moral choices that we make in life, but upon reflection, I realize that the concepts of guilt, patriarchy and hatred of those of different faiths were unhealthy.

I stopped attending church in college. After working overseas for 4 years and working with senior citizens in St. Louis, I asked a "Minister for the Aging" (she served seniors who were members of several churches in downtown St. Louis) friend what she thought was the church for me. The second church that she suggested was Eliott Chapel, the Unitarian Universalist church in Kirkwood, MO. It was great. The first person from that church who introduced himself was an atheist. The first April Fools' Day sermon was most memorable: the minister came in wearing a bathrobe, pajamas and slippers. He spoke of how we tried to deny our humanity. Sometimes we need to admit the foolish mistakes that we have made and celebrate life rather than feel guilt and self-loathing.

Lately I've enjoyed reading Rabbi Sherwin Wine, Randy Pausch, Thich Nhat Hanh and Arundhati Roy. Here in Texas I work with people to resist conservatives who have been elected to the State Board of Education-- people who publicly state that comprehension is "fuzzy" and "mushy" and critical analysis is "gobbledygook."

I've enjoyed reading this website. Thanks for helping people work through some of the deep-seated prejudices, fears and anger that organized religion has ingrained in them.

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2/7/09                                                                                       View Comments

Part 4. Cults, Mind Control and Fear, Oh My!

Curis photographed this. In his kitchen. I rea...Image via Wikipedia

By Neal Stone

One of the hardest things to deal with, because of my disability, is I had no skills, talent and not much of a personality. This made my life difficult when it came to trying to fit in.

In the 79/80 school year we finally were able to move into the new church building and the school which was in the basement. It was at this point things would take a weird turn in thew church and my family. My step-dad would marry my mother and start to demand to be called dad and be treated like dad. On top of that he ate up everything the pastor preached and would become real strict at times.

The church would become very cult like and we would be in constant fear. Fear that if we stepped out of line, even in the smallest way, we would be exposed in the church and rebuked. The pastor was one of those scream, yell and kick the pulpit types.

We would have at least 3 church splits before I quit years later. There would also be midnight secret meetings to discuss who was to be thrown out of the church and discuss other things about how the church was to be run. I would see people sell their homes and donate $100,000 to the church. A few months later the pastor would be bitching about a $600 power bill that was six months overdue. No one ever knew where that money went.

In one service we had a meeting after the church service. The pastor got up on the stage at the front of the church and stated something like “If you are going to serve God in this church come up and kneel before me now...”. People went in throngs and kneeled before him. It was creepy.

I would spend the rest of the school years being picked on by the PK (pastors kid) and anyone who was his friend. I wanted to be a good Christian but had no idea how. Any attempt to try and fit in and do right would result in me being pushed away.

My family was hated by this church. If they visited they were treated bad and made to feel unwelcome and the we would be told that they needed to get right with god. What the hell?! On top of that we were told we were worthless sinners and our only right was to burn in hell. I had no self-worth as it was and this didn't help at all.

My step-dad would turn out to be a dishonest person. In one case he needed a lot of money to go on a church trip to Israel, so he prayed for the money. I won't go into the full details, but the money came in and it really wasn't his to use. He cashed the check and used the money even though it belonged to someone else. He and mom would find ways to justify it and “make it up” to the person. My mom is the kind who will convince wrong is right if it fits her agenda, or will convince you what happed didn't happen or visa versa even though the opposite was true. My mind would be f***ed with at every turn.

Twice I cheated in school and got caught. I would get hit with the "There is no excuse" clause. I really tried to get assistance with the problems I was having, but got ignored or got told different ways by different people. It really confused me.

When the school first started, I was sitting at my desk and really had to pee. We weren't allowed to leave our desks without permission so I raised my hand and sat there. Finally it was too late and I just let go and pissed myself. Then the teacher finally decided to come and see what I wanted. I ended up riding my bike home in wet pissed clothes. No one offered me a ride.

If we missed church we heard about in school the next day. No one came to us one-on-one. We got chewed out right there in front of everybody. The pastor got his kicks this way so he could prove how tough he was.

We were controlled at every turn. There were big gossips in the church and my family was a favorite subject. If you went to a movie or did something the church was against, some little spy or tattle tail was ready to expose you and the pastor would expose you in front of the whole church.

We were controlled and brainwashed at every turn.

Finally it came to my last year in school. It was the 82/83 school year ans I was a year and a half behind on my work and in order to graduate I had to complete that plus my regular work. I was given permission to work ahead. I worked hard and fast. Everyday after school I worked and worked.

Before the school year began (summer 82) I went to see the doctor in Seattle about my Epilepsy. After doing a few test and a CT scan they determined I no longer needed medications and was Epilepsy free. I would spend my last year being weaned off the meds.

During the spring we had some event that required getting sponsored and going to stay a week at a dorm at a college for a big A.C.E convention. Kind of like and Olympics, talent show all rolled into one. I didn't have anything to present but wanted to go. I wasn't able to get enough sponsors, however an elderly couple really took me under their wing and paid for the trip. I don't remember his name, but his wife's name was Doris and was the sweetest lady.

On the way home we had ordered dinner at a restaurant and somehow I had lost my money so someone bought me dinner. I went to the bathroom and the PK was right behind me, he cornered me and proceeded to berate me in front of his cronies. I went off on him and then to my surprise one of his buddies also got on his case. I was happy all the way home.

I finally made it to the end of the school year and I was able to complete ALL my work and was set to graduate. I invited everybody even people who no longer attended the school or church. My siblings didn't come for obvious reasons, and I understood their choice. No one else showed, either. I wasn't very popular. Oddly enough, I would discover that I did make a difference, unknowingly, as years later I would encounter people who were kids in the school, to whom I gave Hot Wheels or solved their Rubik's Cubes. These small acts of friendship were enough to make them feel welcome and included. Oddly enough I provided others what I could not attain myself -- a feeling of belonging.

The next year PK graduated, and everybody came. Even the people I had invited to my own graduation, who had bitterly quit the church and school, showed up. I felt so deflated and let down.

One positive in my own graduation was Doris of the retired couple that took me under their wing. She did painting as a hobby and made a special painting for me of an ocean scene with a lighthouse and a boat off in the distance. She titled it “Bright Future.” It wouldn't be till years later that I noticed the title. To this day the painting is my most prized possession and is always treated especially careful when I move to a new place. It is hanging not to far from me now as I type this and is a constant reminder that there is always someone out there who can see you for who you are and believe in you when no one else will. I think she knew I would someday amount to something.

Eventually I would stop going to this church and the pastor and his family moved away. Slowly, and very slow it was, the cloud would start to lift. In 1983 I was given a ten speed bicycle for Christmas and a new chapter in my life would begin.

Next, Part 5. My Story – The Great Escape




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2/5/09                                                                                       View Comments

Free of religious fear and anxiety

The Burning HellImage by Brian Sawyer via Flickr

Sent in by Freeman

I’ve been reading posts here for about the past month and I’m very impressed with the honesty and warmth from both those writing and those responding. A recent series of events culminated in my decision to leave Christianity once and for all. A brother I’m very close to attempted suicide recently. He is now getting help for the depression and severe anxiety that afflicted him for years. This event had a profound impact on all my family members. My fundamentalist father decided that "more Jesus" was the answer for my sibling. I won’t get into all that now – but my father and I had it out and haven’t spoken in months.

I was raised Catholic and when I was 17 I read the bible from cover to cover. I remember thinking that some of this was really weird. I should have trusted my gut then. I got involved with the charismatic renewal and off and on attended churches of various denominations. At one point I followed my family to a Christian community in Maryland. It was in existence for about 30 years and gradually evolved into something quite evil. I later learned that this group fit the profile of a shepherding-discipling cult. It has since disbanded.

I often questioned many of the things others have written about here. Like how could a loving god tolerate a place like hell? I couldn’t envision causing such pain to my worst enemy. And how could anyone enjoy a single moment in heaven knowing a loved one was suffering for all eternity. I lived with these doubts for years. I also had been reading about how Judaism and Christianity borrowed almost all their stories from earlier religions.

I didn’t have an epiphany or anything. I simply woke up one morning and knew that the god of the bible and Jesus were fake. I didn’t need to pray for my family today. I didn’t need to pray for my situation. I didn’t need to fear final retribution. I no longer had anxiety about my life.

I have shared this with my wife and my brother. She is still a Christian and he is still a deist. I guess I’m agnostic – but still working that out. I don’t have a compelling need to tell anyone else about this. I plan on leaving evangelism behind as well. Even evangelism of my new found lack of faith.

Be free.



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2/3/09                                                                                       View Comments

Twenty wasted years

The Super Pit, Australia's largest open-cut go...Image via Wikipedia

Sent in by Susan

Just a real quick 'testimony'. Seems weird using that word. Anyways, I was 'saved' around age 19. Totally got into the whole 'church, witnessing, pleading with my family to get saved, reading my Bible for hours on end' type of life style.

Went off to Bible College, Pacific Coast Baptist Bible College. Graduated with a music degree. Met my now 'ex' husband and got married right off the bat. I was afraid that Jesus would come back before I could have kids and I wanted kids. How gullible was I!?

Anyways, we ended up on the mission field in Australia. We were there for around 5 years. During that time I started really questioning the whole Christian life. It seemed I was always at odds with it. My ex and I were having arguments all the time because I was sick of the whole church thing: tired of the judgmental people, tired of always trying to please Jesus, tired of always being so damn good. You know, that whole 'turn yourself inside out' life. Towards the end of our stay there in Australia I let my ex know I wasn't doing the church-God-Bible thing anymore - that I was know in charge of my life, not God, not the Bible, not him (my ex). I came back to the states with the kids (who were grown by then).

Oh, an important part of my story I left out was, that I was always attracted to women. Part of my getting saved was to try and squash that whole part of me. The whole 20 years I was into the Christian life I was always beating myself up because I would find woman I was attracted to and then I'd feet sinful, shameful and disgusted with myself. It was hard.

Well, after leaving the ex, and a few girlfriends later I have finally found a life partner who I've been with for a decade now. Life is great. It's so much easier, so less stressful. I'm just sorry I wasted those 20 years.

I'm agnostic. I'm not atheist. But I find myself being pretty militant against organized religion. I was so young when I got sucked into the Christian brainwashing. I did grieve for the longest time over the lost years I wasted. But I'm pretty well over that now. I've never been sorry I left the church for one second. It was the BEST decision I ever made.

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I'm a phony

New Orleans Mardi Gras night in the tourist se...Image via Wikipedia

Sent in by Kyle

First, I want to thank whoever is responsible for this site.

I'll explain my title in a bit. But my de-conversion is very typical. I was raised in a Christian home. We attended a Methodist church, but the attitudes were more akin to the Southern Baptists. I have great parents, and I never endured any abuse in the typical sense.

However, church was a big part of life. Sunday morning, Sunday evening, Wednesdays, special events, holidays all revolved around the church schedule. I was indoctrinated with the typical system of prayer and good works coupled with regular church attendance will get you to heaven. I really wasn't even taught much about grace. I was presented with hell and eternal damnation. So I got saved when I was about 7 years old.

The years passed and ended up going on a mission trip with some Baptist family members. That was the first time I was exposed to the true Southern Baptist belief system. I learned about grace, etc. When I returned, I was on fire. I joined the nearest comtemporary church and was back in the routine of church life.

After spending the next seven years in and out of different churches, I left my wife and daughter, and we eventually divorced. It was the most painful choice I ever made. I suffered. I missed my daughter, but I couldn't live with her mother. The pain and torment were excruciating. It was made worse by my mother who would rather see me miserable for the rest of my life than to go through the divorce.

That is when I started searching. Let me say at this point that I had been in true counseling for two years. I was trying to break free of the low self-esteem and people pleasing that had been instilled in me my whole life. I wanted to be comfortable in my own skin without worrying about what everyone else thought and/or said about me.

This search led me to atheism in 2007. I read the God Delusion and my eyes began to open. I kept questioning my old belief system and feeling the confusion of breaking with something I had known my whole life. I went through all the different emotions that I have read about in the other testimonials. But thankfully, my eyes were open. As I have adjusted to this life, I'm happier. The weight of guilt is not there. I have more time to devote to my family and things I enjoy rather than being in church every time the doors are open. I realize that morality and ethics have nothing to do with an imaginary god in the clouds. I have learned that good works should be done because they are the right things to do. I used to do good things out of guilt of fear. Life is much better now


Oh Noes! Atheists!, originally uploaded by seanbonner.

My new wife and my brother are the only ones who know. That brings me to my title. I am a phony, and I will remain one. I am currently an elected official. I serve a small community, but I have aspirations of serving in a very prominent national position. The power of the religious right is so strong in my local area that I fear that I cannot climb the political ladder as an open atheist.

Now I know some of you will say that I am doing this out of fear. Trust me, I would love to debate the Christians I hear everyday, but I can't. I have a higher purpose. I want our government to continue separation of church and state. We need atheists in office to temper the zealots that think they will run our country. We need reason, not faith, in office. We need advances in science that will not be squashed by the fear of progress as proposed by the religious right. We need our country and world to thrive in an age of reason rather than an era of mythology.

So I am a phony. But I'm a phony with a plan. When my political journey comes to an end, I have already settled on a title for my memoirs, "An atheist among us"

I have thoroughly enjoyed this site so far. I look forward to your comments.

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2/1/09                                                                                       View Comments

"Churched Enough" - Update

Climbing out the murkynessssImage by dibsonhoffweiler via Flickr

By DebTheQueenBee

It has been a month since I posted my last testimonial (see "I Feel I've Been 'Churched' Enough") and I would like to share my update with you.

It's been ten months now since I stopped attending church and I tell you it's a GREAT feeling knowing that I am no longer "slaved" to some gawd or the buy-bull. Also, I no longer tithe at the church I used to attend and now I'm saving money like crazy!! Not only that, I can spend money on things I really like. I gave and gave to the church and all I had in the end was being a broke-ass church mouse and an empty wallet. Boy, am I glad that's over.

I work in retail and from time to time, I run into some people I went to church with. Sometimes they ask me why I am not in church anymore or come and tell me that there's a singles meeting at church on the second Saturday and my response will be, "I'll keep that in mind". In reality, I refuse to be "slaved" back into Christianity. I'm already happy with the way things are going now, why would I go back?

In addition, I have one customer who comes into the store frequently and she is like super-religious and that turns me off completely. She asks me how am I doing and I say I'm doing good; then she goes, "God made it that way." I wanted to tell her to leave "gawd" out of this conversation...there is no "GOD". In this business I am working at, I can't really say that because that would get me fired.

I have co-workers who are non-Christians and I get along with them just great. Before my de-conversion, I asked them do they go to church and they say "no", which I can totally understand. This one particular person told me that he was forced to go to church at a young age and he did not like it. I thought about that for a long time and I ended up missing out on so many things like going out to parties and socializing with people. I can't believe I wasted so many years on serving skydaddy and got nothing in return. That was the final straw for me!

When I was a Christian, I had to act a certain way, talk a certain way, walk a certain way. Not anymore!! Where in the buy-bull does it say that you have to be this particular person or stick with Christian people only in order to be "a good person"? As I mentioned in my last testimonial, I went to college and made new friends who were non-believers and in addition made gay and lesbian friends as well. At least they don't judge you or put you down so they're my friends for life.

My mother, who is almost 69 years old, is still a major religious freak. In the past, she and I would get into fights about trying to get me back in church even after I graduated from college (it will be 2 years in May). She still thinks that going to church is the "right thing" for me, but now that I'm older, I can do whatever the hell I want. I'm glad that she doesn't bring up the church issue to me anymore, but what really bugs the hell out of me is that she gets on the phone and talks to her friends/relatives every night about how God did this for her or how God can move mountains and all this other bullshit. It gets really irritating and I want to shout to her, "THERE IS NO GOD!!!!" Also, when I have meals with my family, my mom is the only one who says grace; I don't do that anymore. Every time she says it, I just kind of roll my eyes and don't say anything. Hell, I'm a great person who never broke the law or got into trouble, so why do I need to go to church for THAT?

BTW Mom, no one convinced me that I don't have to be in church anymore; I have my own mind and I have to decide what's right for me, not what's right for you!! I'm in CONTROL of my life, not you or some imaginary gawd! And as Brandine put it so eloquently: If God or Mom doesn't understand it, too fucking bad!!



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Seeds of doubt

A typical breathing treatment for cystic fibro...An example of a breathing treatment for a younger Cystic fibrosis patient. Image via Wikipedia

By CH

I was raised a Christian, but my dad was career Air Force, so I lived in foreign countries until I was a preteen. I always wondered why I was lucky enough to be a Christian, yet the kids I played with in Japan were doomed to hell. They were just kids.

We moved from the UK to Tennessee (August 1960, 'whites-only' restaurants, etc.) when I was eleven years old. I am Caucasian, but until moving to TN, I actually had never categorized others by race. I had friends that were black, oriental, Hispanic, white, and never even put it together that any of us were any "different." TN was quite a shock.

We moved off base, and for the first time we attended a Southern Baptist church instead of the Protestant chapel on base. It wasn't long before I was "saved."

I enjoyed the Sunday School stories and activities, but the seeds of doubt were planted after a shocking episode. The church supported missionaries in Africa. I always wanted to go to Africa, was a Tarzan fan, wanted to see the exotic animals, etc. I couldn't wait to hear the missionaries and meet their converts, real Africans. The church barred the 'converts' from attending the church because they were (horror!) black. I was crushed, mad, sad and embarrassed by this awful action. I glimpsed hatred and bigotry and was shocked to my core by it. And these people were Christians! They sent money so these "converts" could be "brought into the fold!" I had even contributed some of my allowance! I began looking at Christians through wiser, harder eyes, without quite the same trust (or gullibility) that I had enjoyed previously. But, I was still a kid and so continued on as an xtian kid.

I was even xtian for my first year and a half of college. By then I was attending (again, only with family) a fundy Baptist Church in Springfield, MO. I was in nursing school, and even joined the Nurses' Christian Fellowship for that first year. Some of my interactions in that group were interesting, as I found out how many different dogmas are touted, how every brand of Xtianity is absolutely 100% true, and if I didn't believe the "brand" of whomever I was talking to, I was damned to hell. If I went to a dance, I was damned by one sect. If I did homework on Sunday, I was damned by another. If I talked to a girl in my dorm room, and both of us didn't have at least one foot each on the floor, we were automatically lesbians -- I didn't even know what that was.

Anyway, the seeds of doubt about all these "truths" were growing pretty fast. The full bloom occurred when I was rotating through my pediatric clinical experience. I was seeing a couple of siblings: a 5- and 12-year-old girl. They both had cystic fibrosis. They both had multiple hospital admissions and were well known to the entire pediatrics staff. The younger sister died suddenly. It was always expected by the girls, the family, and the doctors and nurses that the younger sister would live longer, and maybe even have a good quality of life into her 40s. The hopes were pinned on advances in cystic fibrosis research, but she suddenly died. The family, the staff everyone was devastated, and the 12-year-old was absolutely grief-stricken. Everyone tried to explain to her and to her family, that it was "God's will," and "God moves in mysterious ways." That was it for me. I realized there could not actually be a God that could do this, so I stopped believing in a personal god. Prayers were just mutterings of wishful thinking and just about as effective.

Since that time, returned to school, became a certified registered nurse anesthetist, earned a master's degree in biology, and became a certified hypnotist. I recently retired, after 38 years as a nurse, and 31 years as a CRNA. I enjoy the challenge of thinking, researching, and formulating my own ideas. I have no need or desire to convince anyone about anything.

I now believe in thinking critically, questioning everything, using factual evidence and reasoning logically, and being willing to change previous beliefs if new facts are uncovered. Remember, the earth used to be thought to be flat.

Be true to yourself, be happy and live a good life.


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