8/27/09                                                                                       View Comments

The Aftermath

By Neal Stone

AftermathImage by Philerooski via Flickr

All of us at this site either are at that point or past that point where we finally stopped doing the Xian thing. We feel that sense of loss, frustration and anger for what we have been through and given up or lost as a result.

My time was 1998 when I had that breakdown and sense of frustration and anger over what I lost and gave up because of my life as an Xian. I went through a very dark period of my life as I gave into the anger and frustration of what I went through.

So what is one to do at this point? After looking at my life then and now I feel I can point out some help and hopefully help someone avoid the same journey and dark place I went through.

1. Don't give in to the anger.

The anger will eat you up inside. Xians love this as it makes them feel they were right all along about thinking you can only be happy with god. Do you really want to prove them right? Hell no! The anger will also take you down even farther and make your recovery harder than ever. Took me years.

Instead let the anger go and if you can't do that us it. Yes focus the anger into a tool and find ways to make your life better. I put a lot of energy into working on computers as learning is how I focused my anger. Take up a hobby or a class and focus on something that will make your life better.

2. Cherish the loss.

Huh? Cherish the loss? Think of it as a truck driving with a load of junk and as the driver turns the corner all the junk falls out of the truck. He can sit there and focus on all the junk he just lost or he can turn around and see that nice empty truck. A nice empty truck that is now free to be filled with better stuff. Leave the junk behind and go out and find something good to fill that empty void. Art, music, hell it's a big world with many possibilities and now that you are no longer limited by being an xian you are free to load up. Yes I'm telling you to litter. LOL

3. Don't look back.

Ever see a runner in a race? Ever see what happens when they peer over their should as they run? They start to lose their speed. This happened to me as a kid. I was in a 100 yard dash and was in the lead. I saw my mom on the side and turned to smile and wave. I lost the race because I slowed down from being distracted. Pick a direction in life you want to go and just take off running. Don't let anyone hold you back or slow you down. You may find yourself losing friends because of this, but this is a big world with lots of new friends who support you and the direction you chose in life.

4. No Fear

Don't be afraid. This is the hardest part and I still struggle here. But the fear slowly fades as I move forward. I may be afraid a bit to share with friends and family my new belief system (or is that lack of belief system? LOL). But I am not afraid to change my life or live as I see fit to live my life. The best part is I have made my life much better than many xians I know and they admire me for it. Just gives me more of a chance to prove life without god is possible and lessons the fear of telling them even more.

5. Build that new life

Now that you have all this time and freedom what are you doing sitting on your butt? Get up and look at all the doors that are now open to you. The possibilities are endless and you can really build yourself an awesome life without limits. It's now your life and all is up to you. No one else has the right to tell you different. Now get going and get building!

Here at this site we have all made new friends. Friends who support and understand what we have been through and lost. Feel free to seek us out for advice and support. That's what we are here for. I hope that this helps a few if not more people who have been through what I have been through.

Remember, healing and recovery take time. Be patient and work through it. If you work at it the outcome will be worth it.


8/26/09                                                                                       View Comments

Free At Long Last

Sent in by Brain User

It was a long time coming.

In Christian school I never really took religion seriously. All that prayer for things that never seemed to happen just didn't add up. God never talked to me and I never felt any sensations of his presence. But everybody else did, or so they said, so I went along with it. I felt emotions, for sure, but nothing that was obviously other-worldly. Like every youngster, I wanted to be accepted.

Later in my early 20's I really wanted to believe and re-dedicated my life to Jesus, praying fervently for various things, including the gift of speaking in tongues, but it never happened. In my 30's I joined a church that believed in healing and miracles, and there seemed to be biblical reason for the belief, so I kept praying.

I must not have had even the faith of a mustard seed because I never did speak in tongues. A lot of other prayers went unanswered, too, including fervent prayers from the very faithful. Prayers like "We ask for your healing power on so and so" was a common refrain in one part of worship. Yet, just as often as not, the person stayed sick or died from the ailment.

It just didn't add up.

When my wife, a far more faithful sort than I, wound up falling and ended up in a coma. We prayed. Lots of people prayed. I had never prayed with such vigor. Sort of like "God, *this* would be the time to show me your presence."

She died anyway.

Interestingly, I wasn't angry at God, it was just one very powerful note to add among the others that reinforced the fact that prayer is just so much speaking to the ceiling. I went thinking, yet again, that "Wow, this really doesn't add up."

I'd been subscribing to Answers In Genesis in an effort to reconcile all the contradiction that religion had with science. I've always been fascinated by what scientists, using the scientific method, have been able to ferret out from our surroundings. Yet I wasn't allowed to believe in one of its fundamental concepts in biology: evolution. Thus the AIG magazine subscription. I still wanted to believe, I wanted it to add up, to be logical but was having serious doubts.

After my Church's paster died in a restaurant in spite of prayers from some of his close faithful. One more nail in my coffin of blind faith. But I still clung to the improbability of evolution. That is until I was challenged by a friend who suggested checking into some interesting evidence. It wasn't hard by this point, and I took a look.

Wow! I couldn't believe what I found. That there is no dispute, absolutely none, that evolution explains Speciation. Science considers evolution to be about the same strength as gravity and there is, in fact, no debate among real scientists. Real being those whose world view isn't constrained by a religious text.

That made my de-conversion complete. I'm disappointed at being duped by the fantasy for so long, but figure that I'm one of the lucky ones. My social network had already changed quite a bit to be people outside the church.

Now I feel free. It's like having blinders removed, I'm free to look at what the evidence suggests rather than confined to what some religious zealout says it suggests. I'm free to think, to consider all views on their merits rather than their religious implications. Is so refreshing.

Free at last.

Thanks to the guy who finally challenged my lingering belief and put me on the road to thinking for myself. I can only hope to help free others, too.




8/24/09                                                                                       View Comments

Santa Isn't Real Either

Sent in by Anonymous

Islamic bumper stickersImage by Ann Althouse via Flickr

As a relative newcomer to the life of parenthood, I debate many issues internally and with my wife. One of those things is the Santa Claus lie, or rather, "Should we tell our children they get presents from a mythological man who, lives forever, knows about everybody's deeds, and visits their homes one night out of the year to deliver gifts?" There are negative effects to perpetuating such a lie, but it's embedded in our culture. If you live in the US, it's unlikely you don't know about Santa Claus. So, what are the positive effects of the Santa Claus myth? I can't think of any. At some point, your kids will discover there isn't a Santa Claus and you've been lying to them.

My parents never told me Santa brought me something, encouraged me to leave carrots for the flying reindeer, or took me to visit a fat man in a costume to tell him what I wanted for Christmas. This wasn't just because Santa didn't exist and reindeer don't fly. This was because Santa got in the way of another myth: a man was born of a virgin impregnated by God, healed people, said stuff about olive trees, and died on a cross to save me from eternity in Hell.

Perhaps it's easy to break free from the Santa Claus myth. No one above 10 years of age believes he exists. It was considerably harder to break free of the Jesus myth. According to this article, 76% of the US call themselves Christian. I'm assuming most of those polled are over the age of 10. This also assumes Christian means "I believe Jesus died on the cross for my sins". For me, the best way to start questioning the myth of Christ is to be immersed in another one.

For the first 20 years of my life, I was in church. We belonged to and my parents were very active in a non-denominational, evangelical church. We went to services at least 3 times a week, and I went to a Christian school. My mother was at first a teacher and then a principal for the school. After that, she became a bookkeeper for the church. My father was an usher at the church on a voluntary basis. I found myself early on to be bored with church, so the best way for me to occupy my time was to get involved with the television production of the church. That's right; we had an accounting department and a television production team -- at a church. I worked on the camera setup and light input monitoring aspects of the production. It was a lot of fun.

When I was 19, a missionary working in Indonesia asked our pastor if he knew anyone that would be interested in staying in Jakarta and helping with the television ministry they operated there. I was approached, and so I packed up and went on a two and a half month vacation in a strange land. It was a shock. I was awakened at something like three in the morning by a man singing over a loudspeaker. I inquired about the interruption, and I learned that Indonesia is a Muslim country and the sound was the call to prayer. The island of Java at the time was something like 95% Muslim. It was odd to see a culture that was equally or more immersed in Islam as the US was in Christianity.

Then, several questions hit me. I saw a religious bumper sticker. That was the moment that I still remember. They have religious bumper stickers. They're very similar to Christian bumper stickers. What if I had been born there? Would I believe the one true religion was Islam? Would my parents have taught me about Mohamed? A friend I had there told me the religions both started off at the same point and separated at Abraham. Which split was the right way to go? Next is the most difficult question of all: was either religion the one true religion?

I came back to the US, and I didn't leave the church right away. It wasn't long before I stopped going, but my parents insisted while I lived with them, I would go to church. So, I moved out. Thus began my journey to discover God for myself. At some point I realized the Bible was written by humans. They seemed to believe in some other forces from "the heavens", so maybe God was an alien. I read a couple of alien abduction stories, but I couldn't find an aluminum hat that would fit properly.

Maybe God is like Santa Claus. He's a myth to keep us "good" because he doesn't just leave coal in your stocking -- he sends you to a place of eternal torture. He's a way of controlling populations at the will of men who crave power. God was made by us, in our image.


8/23/09                                                                                       View Comments

I don't know what I am yet, but I know I'm no longer a Christian

Sent in by Maestra

I know my story is not unique as I’ve been reading many others just like mine, but I know it will be cathartic for me to write my own. I am the granddaughter of an evangelist and I was raised in an evangelical church. I was a “Missionette honor star.” I bet some of you on this site were too! I went to Evangel College (University now) and married the son of two pastors. My grandmother was into prophesy and prophesied when my sister and I were little that my sister would grow up to be a nurse and I would one day be an evangelist. My sister is a nurse…..dun dun duunnnnn.

I LOVED my church growing up. My husband and I decided to “take a break” from church in January of 2009, and I miss it (the people). Growing up, I looked forward to every aspect of church; Sunday and Wednesday nights were definitely the highlights of my week. Our Sunday school teachers and youth pastors would always encourage us to bring our friends from school to church, but I never wanted to. First of all, I didn’t have any friends at school, because I was taking to heart the whole “You are in this world, but not of it” ideology. I also took on God’s view that anybody who was not a believer was “wicked.” So, anybody at school was to me a potential convert, but nobody for me to actually be friends with, other than to potentially witness to. But I didn’t want to bring these people to church, because church was my safe haven, free from the evil, evil world. I realize now, looking back, that I would even try to figure out if my teachers were Christians or not, and if I determined by what they said or did that they must not be, I don’t think I learned from them as well because I would subconsciously discredit what they -- or anybody who wasn’t a Christian, for that matter -- had to say. This indoctrination was very subtle and I didn’t even realize I had this mentality and how unhealthy and off-base it was at the time.

It was probably more than 10 years ago in my early 20’s that I started really questioning what I believed and why I believed it. I remember sitting through a sermon where the pastor was describing how his sister was in hell. He said that today she would be pleading with us and telling us how hell is a terrible, horrible place and that it IS reality for those who don’t accept Christ. I had heard about hell a million times, but that day something snapped in me. I remember really considering the implications of hell -- hell for people who were merely brought up to believe something else, or whose life circumstances prevented them from being open to accepting an idea of “a loving god.” I remember thinking how billions of years from now when the world finally explodes (if we don’t do it to ourselves before then) their suffering in hell is JUST beginning, merely for a giant misunderstanding on their part. And if I REALLY believed a loved one was in hell experiencing excruciating suffering. I couldn’t go on! I would be devastated! And I certainly wouldn’t be worshipping the one who sent him or her there and who had the power to rescue, but chose not to.

I remember discussing hell with my mom and she said, “Well Maestra (ha ha), you’re not the first person to wonder about these things. You just have to trust that God is a just and loving God and that He will deal with people accordingly.” Then, just a few weeks later I was watching the youth group do a reenactment of the youth pastor’s troubled childhood. In one scene, the youth pastor was about 10 years old, experiencing trauma in his family, and emotional devastation. The scene showed him running wildly around in a state of crazed anguish. All the while “Jesus” was standing there with his arms outstretched waiting for him to run to Him. But the 10-year-old boy could not see this and ran outside the house in hopeless despair. (Jesus didn’t follow him, by the way, He still stood in the house with His arms outstretched -- looking dejected). The congregation was sobbing. I was getting angry. I was a mom at this point and I thought, “What loving ‘father’ is like this? If I see my child is in any sort of turmoil and needs me, I am not going to stand there and wait for him to come to me… I am going to go to him.” I also started thinking about how this “relationship” with God is really very one-way. And it is always my fault for not hearing Him because my life is too busy for him, or I have things so good that I don’t need Him… Along the same lines, I thought, “What loving parent makes it such an impossible game for their children to hear from them?” If my child asks me something and I respond, but see my child didn’t hear me or doesn’t understand me, I KNOW it is MY responsibility and my DESIRE to say it again and again in as many ways as possible to make sure my child understands what I’m communicating. Is God like a dead-beat dad? And who encourages the child of a dead beat dad to keep pursing a relationship with him?

I talked with my family members about my thoughts and was told they understood, but that “God is mysterious and one day it will all make sense to us” and I just need to have faith in God. That’s all He asks. I wondered though, “WHY have faith in a God who doesn’t do anything or respond in any way?” It makes sense to have faith in my husband, who has shown a pattern of being loyal and loving and responsive and responsible. Although I can’t be sure, I can have faith that he will continue to be this way, and it makes sense for my life to keep that faith. But why have faith in God who is none of these things and does nothing He promises he will do for us in the Bible and never has (I know many Christians would beg to differ with me on that point)?

I was having serious doubts and I know my husband was too, but he would tell me sometimes, like in our marriage, love is a choice. And we need to choose to love God. So I continued on, still having my doubts, but still enjoying church, for the most part, and enjoying my Christian friends. These days, I have noticed church is a lot less legalistic. I haven’t heard a sermon on hell in a very long time, and the message is usually about peace and love and hope and helping each other through life. I can swallow that message.

But then there was still my pastor talking about her strategy of befriending the Hindus in her apartment complex to share about Christ. Can you have a true friendship when that is the purpose? Isn’t that insincere and even deceptive to the people you’re befriending? Has she considered if she is successful in her endeavor to convert even one of her Hindu friends in that family that while she would be singing God’s praises and count that as a victory, what that might do to the family dynamic of the Hindu family and how it might be devastating to them?

There was still all the rhetoric of God being “faithful” and “He will never let you down,” and I never understood what people meant when they say things like that. I was also beginning to cringe at the worship songs that would talk about us being nothing without God, and proclaim his mercies, and have words like, “I am so in love with you.” I was starting to be purposefully late to worship to avoid either singing these songs, which would be a lie in every way for me, or having to stand there and not sing and have everybody wonder what my problem was.

Wow, my story is too long and I have so much more to say…sorry. I think I’ll continue writing independently, but cut to the chase for this forum.

My husband and I finally decided to “take a break” from church in January. In that time I have been reading the Bible again from Genesis to Revelations (Ummm… that is making things much worse for me). I finally allowed myself to read the “other side” and read “Letter to a Christian Nation,” “Losing My Religion: How I Lost My Faith Reporting on Religion in America-and Found Unexpected Peace,” and many other books. I have also been reading Christian apologetic books again too, which I now find incredibly weak in comparison. Last night my husband and I watched the Julia Sweeney’s monologue, “Letting Go of God,” and it was incredibly good. I have outed myself to all of my friends and family, and they are very sad and alarmed, but we have stopped discussing it. I feel SO compelled to share with them everything I’m reading and feeling because I so want them to come to the side of reason, but I’m finding that it is best to not talk about it and am learning to not say anything unless I’m asked a specific question. I guess people have to come to these conclusions on their own.

I’m very nervous. I’m still trying to figure out how to live life minus religion. I have two incredible children, a 10-year-old and a 6-year-old who have gone to Christian school up until this year. We thought we’d sit them down and have to tell them Mom and Dad no longer believe and explain everything, but so far we have said nothing and only answer questions as they come up. And few have come up. Just the other day my 10-year-old son asked my husband, “Dad, do you really believe in heaven?” That is the hardest thing for me. It seems so sterile and unkind to not be able to give your kids the hope of heaven. What if one of them was suffering from a terminal illness? How would we comfort them? Or ourselves for that matter? But I liked my husband’s answer. He said, “I hope there is a heaven Dude, but nobody really knows for sure.” And my son was satisfied and went out to play with his friends. I was so worried about my daughter being upset we weren’t going to church because she seemed to love it. But she is not. We have organized family time every Sunday morning and go out and do something.

I still worry though. I do not believe Christianity is true, but practicing it has given me more good things than bad. Without it I wouldn’t have met my husband or other incredible people in my life, and I worry sometimes I’m jipping my kids of something. While I know plenty of people who have raised kids both successfully and unsuccessfully with religion, I know nobody who has raised successful kids without it. Yes, my world is still very narrow. I’m working on that…

Thanks to those of you who got through this very long story! It’s amazing how I feel compelled to say, “Keep me in your prayers” as I go through this journey. But I know better. Your verbal support is all I can ask for, and really, that is enough!

I don’t know what I am yet. I still can’t completely drop the “I’m a Christian” thing, because I feel like it’s in my blood. But I do know I’m not a Christian. I can’t call myself an atheist either. In truth I’m agnostic, but I probably don’t need to label myself just yet!


8/17/09                                                                                       View Comments

The words that precipitated my deconversion

Sent in by Priscilla

death sinImage by Romy Schneider via Flickr

“You know he may die during the surgery… the Bible says that the wages of sin is death.” My mother, hundreds of miles away, stung me with these words over the phone about a year ago. By then I had stopped going to church, although I wasn’t planning on leaving the faith. I was a backslider of sorts, a Christian without a church. In her comment she was referring to my then-fiancé -now husband- who had been experiencing health issues from a genetic disease and was about to have a very complicated and dangerous surgery. Our sin, according to my mother, was that we had purchased a house a few months earlier and ever since had been living together without being married. Apparently, this was punishable by death. Anything bad that happened to us was now because of this.

At the time I thought that even though my mother did not agree with my living arrangements –as she had expressed very clearly in a previous uncomfortable conversation- she had learned to tolerate my choice, or so I thought. That day, when I told her about how we decided to postpone the wedding until the following year because of the logistics challenges from the surgeries, she interrupted me with these words: “You shouldn’t get married. What’s the point? You are already living together; don’t waste your money. But remember that you’re fornicating, and that sin has consequences. This isn’t what we taught you. You know it will be a dangerous procedure…he may die during the surgery… the bible says that the wages of sin is death.” These words stung because they appealed to my deepest fears: the loss of my future husband and the possibility that he ended up in hell. I thought she was right, but at the same time I couldn’t help but wonder about such an uncharitable comment: “what kind of religion justifies that you tell a scared young woman that her fiancé –who is about to go through a dangerous surgery - may die at the operating table? How is that supporting? How that is appropriate? How is that love?”

I was 30 years old, and had been going to church for most of my life. At the time I wasn’t attending any church because I wasn’t happy with its culture: it seemed that if you are not married, with children, and extroverted you don’t count. As an adult, I had not being able to find a niche at any church, and was aware that it was mostly my fault, due to my personality. If only I were more vivacious, more talkative, more fervent… I tried several things before giving up. I even took a test to see whether I had any spiritual gifts but it only confirmed that I had nothing to offer. Since my social support was outside church it wasn’t hard for me to stop going. Not fitting in at church didn’t de-convert me, but it took away the weekly reinforcement of dogma.

In the other hand, my mom got more fundamentalist over the last few years, after my father died. Her church community provided emotional support during her grief, a social life, and in time, leadership roles. Her sanctimonious attitude and jargon had been grating on me for some time, but as long as she was happy, I was happy.

My husband is a nominal Catholic, but never goes to church and is rather agnostic. I never tried to convert him because I was never good at witnessing, I loved him for himself, and frankly, I didn’t want to lose him for something that I myself didn’t believe that much anymore. My faith was shaky because there were so many unanswered questions. I think that at the time I was holding onto religion because of fear of the unknown and inertia, but I had been on my way to becoming agnostic for who knows how long, but did not dare to admit it yet.

My mother’s words caused something besides emotional turmoil and insomnia: they sparked my full de-conversion. Ultimately, I became an atheist after reading a lot and putting my doubts under honest and rigorous scrutiny. But it took that emotional spark to start it all.

The situation with my husband was not the first crisis I had experienced. When any of my loved ones died or suffered, I was able to justify it. Now, however, after listening to her words I couldn’t stomach all the platitudes and clichéd phrases that used to bring me comfort: “We’re praying for you” (If that makes you feel better, go nuts with that), “Have faith in God and you’ll see that he will recover, because God never fails” (so, it wasn’t your god the one who made the genetics booboo? Did the devil start to play genetics engineer with my poor husband? In any event, your god FAILED), “God has a plan for you” (I wouldn’t let your lousy god plan a birthday party for my cat), etc. I became cynical and rebellious towards God and the stupid phrases that some people said.

I even stopped praying because, what’s the point? Christians are not immune to suffering. They only justify it differently. In someone they perceive as a “sinner” (like my honest, affable, hard-working, loving husband), suffering is punishment, or a way for God to catch his attention. In a believer, suffering is part of God’s mysterious ways, or the devil trying to take away his faith.

My new skeptical attitude about religion opened my mind. I changed my opinion about certain social issues and alleged “sins”. Then I started to study history, got acquainted with mythology, philosophy, origins of the Bible, biology… until I realized that religion and God were a fabrication. This conclusion wasn’t easy to grasp at first, given my indoctrination since childhood, but the evidence was solid and I had to accept it if I wanted to remain honest.

I don’t hold a grudge against my mom. I love her very much, actually, and I know that she loves me too, in her way. Now that her life has improved (she was going through difficult times) our conversations are pleasant again. I don’t expect an apology from her, but I don’t dwell on her words. You know when an alcoholic says nonsense people say “It’s the alcohol talking”? Well, in her case, it was the Christianity talking. I know I shouldn’t justify her, but I’m too happy to care now that her words have lost their bite since I became an atheist. My husband is doing well and improving; we decided to not wait and got married at the court house a couple of months after the conversation with my mother. In spite of the difficulties, I am probably the happiest I have ever been!


8/16/09                                                                                       View Comments

The Door to the Chicken Coup

Sent in by RandallScott

Chicken CoopImage by stevesheriw via Flickr

My name is Randal and I'm currently in recovery. I'm a recovering Baptist. My sponsor told me to stay away from anyone who is condemning and judgmental, so I immediately quit going to church.

I'm not really sure when my 'de-conversion' process reared its beautiful head. I would love to tell you a great story about an "A-ha!" moment, but I don't have it. I did, however, wake up one day and just kinda get it. But it wasn't, and isn't, an overnight process. For years, I've been tirelessly and religiously chipping away at my theological prison wall like Andy Dufresne. To be the person that I wanted to be, I had to dig as deep as I could possibly dig. Rest then repeat. Rest. Repeat.

But if I had to pinpoint a time, in my life, I would say it was when I started reading. Reading "other" material.

My dad was an intellectual student of theology and received his Master of Divinity at a conservative seminary. From there he became a Baptist preacher. He left the ministry when I was around 5 and we moved back to Texas where he was an interim minister for various churches, preaching when he could. No matter what, we'd still go somewhere for church every Sunday. If we didn't go out, he'd have a few people come in our house for the service. So growing up, I wasn't technically a preacher's kid but I certainly knew the drill. My orange juice was spiked with the "Five Points of Calvinism" and I had divine-selection doctrine as icing on my cake. However, unlike most preacher’s kids, I never felt the intense pressure to be perfect 100% of the time...just 99.

My entire living family, Mom, Dad, Grandmoms and Granddad, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, Nephews, Nieces, Second Cousins, Third cousins, Great Aunts, Great Uncles, and everyone else in between claims some form of "Christian" belief. Most of it from the proto-orthodox channel. In fact many, at least 8, have some formal Divine education with experience in the ministry field. We are ass deep in a “Protestantial,” conservative, institute-like “theolosophy”.

I had to memorize and recite Bible verses until I was 13 years old. I went to all the camps, knew all the songs, and probably got "saved," literally, 6 times. I think I might have even been baptized twice. I was a good little Christian soldier. I remember going around telling stories to my childhood friends about our imminent doom if we didn't "ask Jesus to come in to our hearts." I tried to save them. I look back now and wonder, "Save them from what? Happiness?"

I remember specifically sitting in Sunday School when I was around the age of 8 and the teacher was yammerin' away at some story. Then he said something that whipped me around. He said, "That's why putting any kind of Christian, or Jesus-like bumper sticker on your car is not a good idea. Because if we do or say something that we shouldn't while we are driving, we don't anyone to know that we are Christians."

Jesus, meet doubt. Doubt, this is Jesus.

That mighta got the ball rollin' in my head a little. Things like that were probably, looking back, the beginning of the end. My mom thinks that what started my walk away was how I had disdain for the church itself. Church, Inc. if you will. I had the opportunity to see the church as a business. Not good. While this is true, it's not entirely true. I have more legitimate, deeper beefs with Christianity than this. However, it is what I used, and still use, to legitimize my view that Church, Inc. is actually at polemic odds for which is stands.

The way I saw Christians talk and act at church was, and is, different than the way I saw them talk and act...not-at-church. Time after time, I was witness to jealousy, mind-manipulation, pettiness, verbal abuse, self-victimization for self-benefit, guilt extracting, spiritual one-upmanship, gossip, fear mongering, and lying. I'm not sure if all kids pick up on this kinda stuff, but I was acutely aware of the hypocritical nature of "my people." But what was I to do?

Since it was all I knew, I swam with the sharks. And since I was always on the attack, I was always in defense also. I lived life in a shell of jealousy and pettiness. Fear, shame and guilt (all as giver and receiver). I was better than you. It was your fault that I didn't get what I needed and I was going to step on you to get it later. I was the best gossiper and if you turned your back, I'd stab it. And unfortunately, I did the mother of all offenses...I danced.

I don't want to imply that I was sheltered. My parents didn't pretend that other stuff was out there. I was free to do as I please. I was not prohibited to read certain books. See certain films. Listen to certain music. It wasn't prohibited; it just wasn't talked about or presented as an equal. I had free will.

I was like a free range chicken being raised for slaughter. A “free range” chicken is a chicken that has the "option" of leaving the coup and ranging on a small designated piece of land outside. What this technically means, is that the chicken has the “option” of leaving the overcrowded, mainstream chicken house through a tiny door in a corner that he doesn’t even know exists. He is "free" to do as he pleases...but he has to get there on his own. But dig this, the chickens aren't allowed to go outside until they are 5 weeks old. Then they're killed at 7 weeks, so, really the chickens have only 2 weeks to find a small door in the corner, walk through it, and go to place they have no idea exists. So guess what? No chickens roam outside because none of their chickens are either so how would they know. In my case, the outside was Satan. And the door was secularist material.

If the philosophy, music, art, literature, science, history, or poetry wasn’t in the Bible, or it didn’t have that spin on it…it was not presented as legitimate, and discounted as faulty or sinful.

After the birth of my first son, I began to unconsciously deconstruct my faith by an innate feeling. I read "other" material and talked to anyone who would listen. Life, the questions of such, philosophy, God, does he or does he not exist, the Biblical contradictions, the trinity, did Jesus really exist, they all became a passion of mine.

I was tired of trying to win arguments by always yelling “ 'Cause the Bible says so!” I knew it wasn’t’ so but it was still an uncomfortable moment when I realized that the foundation of my faith, the one that I was inoculated with, the one that was “built on a rock,” was actually built on sand.

Reading, studying, meditating, contemplating, talking and listening allowed me to pull back the curtain on the mysticism of religion, specifically Judeo-Christianity, allowed me to see reality. The mythological roots of Judaism are true but that's what they are myth. Stories were lifted, stolen, enhanced, and edited from other religions. The Israelites were just trying to make sense of their suffering in their times with their people. They were not writing "The Bible." After the Bible became errant and the religion of Judiasm a myth, then the cloak of Christianity dropped and beauty stood before me. Everything now made sense and fell into place. I had a rebirth.

In my years since my turning away from Christianity, I am less anxious and fearful, and more calm. I am less petty and jealous, and more encouraging. I am less shameful and guilt filled, and more prideful. I am less judging and condemning, and more empathetic. I have better morals, higher character, and stronger integrity. I’m a victim no longer and I have no need for justice. I don’t hoard my stuff so you can’t take it away. I don’t idolize fancy labels, nice cars, or real estate. I have no reason to get ahead because it’s an illusion. I live life more in the moment and when I mess up, or when something goes wrong, I know it’s exactly as it should be. It always is.

I’m like a free range chicken, making the esoteric idea of freedom a reality.

I found the door! It’s over here everyone, it’s over here!



26,000 kids died of starvation last night. Where was God?

Sent in by Alexander

Where was God?Image by troismarteaux via Flickr

I have just recently made a break with Christianity. Looking back on it, it seems to be the end of 4 7-year cycles. In my early twenties, I thought more and more about little things about Christianity that annoyed me. My entire primary school education, save grades 7 and 8 (thankfully) were spent in some sort of religious school. In the South, religion is as omnipresent as Crisco. Let me say now that Muslims aren't the only one with their own fundamentalist schools. Christians have them too, and they are just as bad.

One thing that annoyed me was how in the Bible, there's a prohibition on eating pork which shows up in Islam and Judaism, but somehow Christians get around it. "That was the Old Testament" is what I was usually told. I took the "Islam method" to that and stopped eating pork in high school. Actually, it makes me sick today if I eat it. Heh, have a bout of pork poisoning on a flight down the entire east coast and you'll stop eating it too.

Anyways, that always bugged me, and then slowly, I thought about all the people that had been mean to me and committed acts of emotional abuse upon me. They were all Christian. 100% of them. But didn't God command us to love our brothers as ourselves? And didn't God say not to judge in the New Testament since the Old one is arbitrarily outdated? Christians get away with ignoring the commands set forth and nothing happens to them.

Other things that annoyed me were things like why God wouldn't answer my prayers. If I'm made by a loving God, why would he not answer my prayers? I've had the same prayers most of my life and one day I realized that they had not been answered. That really got the question marks going. And if the world needs more good, why are the good being snuffed out left and right while the bad keeps on prospering?

A very negative side effect of this, I feel, is a sort of social retardation. I went on to college and graduated twice before I got catapulted into this crappy economy (another issue -- why would God allow that to happen? Al-Qaeda isn't enough?), but my social skills were in poor order. After much soul searching and walking down roads paved with broken glass, I realized that it was because I had taken this religion way, way, waaaaaay too seriously. And more stupidly, I expected everyone else to take it as seriously as me.

If anyone ever bothers to read the Bible, you will see that not only do all sins count the same (horrible), but virtually everything is a sin. When I see a hot girl and think "Wow, what a hottie", I'm committing adultery and thus a sin. That adultery counts the SAME as a mass murder of 100,000. That's retarded.

I left Christianity as a religion about two years ago. I was fed up with the corruption and constant hypocrisy. How do poverty pimps like T.D. Jakes and Creflo Dollar (what a last name) sleep with themselves stealing all those poor people's money? And why are the poor the most religious? I strongly maintain that Christianity holds people, especially the poor and minorities, back. Instead of watching/going to church, why not watch some National Geographic or make it up to The Learning Annex or Kumon Learning Centers? That's where the rich are Sunday morning at 11AM.

The one single thing that pushed me over the edge in regards to God an Christianity was a bumper sticker I saw: "26,000 kids died of starvation last night. Where was God?"

And on top of all that, look at the track record of Christianity. It is totally mired in blood, and nothing bad happened to the perpetrators (Spain, I'm looking squarely at you).

8/15/09                                                                                       View Comments

How does a normal family deal with...?

by A Seeker

An extended family: Eastpoint, FloridaImage by State Library and Archives of Florida via Flickr

Lately, in pensive thinking of how to converse with my Mother about our past issues, many points of thought come to mind which I am not clear in. One of those is getting a clear picture of how my very religious family could have handled my leaving the "fold". I want to compare it to a normal family who has a teen/twenty-year-old, free-thinking child who wants to leave home and start out on her own.

Here is the history of how my story went down and I'd like feedback on how it could have been handled "normally", so that when my Mother and I speak about it there is a clear picture of how they could have reacted differently.

Growing up as the 3rd eldest of nine children in the home of a Primitive Baptist preacher, we grew up very sheltered, in a bubble so to speak. Our entire life consisted of church, people in the religion, school in the religion and then homeschooling. Our year was full of various trips to church meetings and such. The whole extended family on both sides of the family tree were in the religion, so there was little to no influence from "the world."

Coming into this family, was me. A headstrong, self propelled youngster, but very beloved. As I grew, there was always a feeling that I was different, but at the time I was very concerned with fitting in and so I tried to mold myself to fit. However as my teens raged on, my desire to "fit in" to this crowd began to dim in comparison to finding personal identity and to finding answers to a multitude of answers. The problem was that #1 there is no room for questions in the religion, it's about trusting and blind faith, not logic or analyzing. Secondly, there is also no space for personal identification unless it is one of the pre-established molds of the virtuous women around me, which were constantly being exemplified.

So, off I go at the age of 18 to a massage school, four states away from my home bubble, to stay with cousins of my dad who just happened to be much more open minded. My world opened up as I began to experience music unlimited (we always had to sneak back home), more stylish clothes, and so many ways of expressing those hidden aspects of self that had always been restricted before. I was loving it!

Back home I went, my horizons broadened, trying to fit this expanded self back into the tight mold expected of me in my home. It did not work, and my mother and I went to war. Over clothes first, she did not approve of my new look... it was horrid. All the "virtuous," "holy" women in my church and family talking to me about the sin of drawing attention from men to me, and on and on.

To make a long story short, I moved out and my Mother told my siblings not to talk to me, and began a long seven year program of turning their hearts from me. In short, she was trying to "protect" her remaining children from my influence, so she "HAD" to sow seeds of fear and distrust in their heart about me.

I came home briefly, but during that time felt completely out of place, etc. Now there were things during this period that I definitely did wrong, like lying and covering up, etc. I was afraid of facing the opposition head on, though.

Now, skip ahead 5 years. The man I met during that time, and I moved away, cutting off most contact with my family, by necessity. My mother told me that my siblings did not want to talk to me because the had nothing in common with me anymore. ON top of that, for example; my baby sister was 4 at the time and did not understand why I left, and there was no way for me to explain it to them, but my mother held her while she was crying for missing me and told her over and over "Don't worry, Mama will never leave you like your sister did..."

Now here is were I get confused. Don't lots of sisters have to move away to different states? What would normal Mothers say to comfort a child missing their sibling? How would a normal family treat their member who has moved far away, and how would they reference and talk about them?

It's all such a blur to me as to know what normal families even act like. Coming from such a seemingly "loving" family all my life, then being cut out completely was an experience.

Now I am back here with them and we are trying to sort things out, to an extent. Things will never go back to the loving ways with my siblings, they have so much distrust and fear about me. My little sister does not even want to be alone with me. But I have found my strength to confront my parents head on with issues. That is why it's important for me to figure out what's normal and what's not.

Thanks for reading!

8/11/09                                                                                       View Comments

My path to reality

Sent in by Escaping Religion

Magic PathImage by cindy47452 via Flickr

I was raised in a fundamental Baptist family. My parents divorced when I was 5 due to domestic violence. All the time I was growing up I went to church at least three times a week, was forced to participate in door to door evangelizing and running a bus route proselytizing children, to bring them to church on Sunday mornings. All my life I heard how great this god was how he gave his followers everything,yet I grew up in poverty.

While my mother spent all morning laying in bed reading the bible, the kids were left to fend for themselves. We were not allowed to go to school, and in fact I reached age 18 without ever going to any school.

I was a very precocious child though, and read extensively and taught myself as much as I could on my own. One night when I was seventeen we were driving home from a church function, my mom and step-dad got in a fight over something insignificant, and it escalated until my mother was crying as we pulled up to the house. Fighting was frequent as was beating the children but this night it went to far and my siblings and I ended up calling the police on my step-dad for hitting the younger children with a belt across the arms and back and head. I left that night. After staying with some relatives until I turned 18, I left for Seattle. (We had moved to Kansas City in a twelve-passenger van when I was 12 years old.) I started my life over again, getting my GED and a job as a security guard. Having many dreams and goals and wishing to go to college, but not having the money, I joined the Navy, which I am still in.

After I had moved out and started my own life, I struggled to make sense of everything, I tried different religions, and then one day I realized that I did not believe in the faith I was raised in, and I certainly did not believe in all the new ones I found. I realized that most of my problems in life could have been solved by people taking action to change their lives instead of praying to some nonexistent deity to save them from their troubles. In other words I became an atheist. Now years later I am married, have my first child on the way and am happy and free. Now that I look at life realistically, and with no mental religious delusional crutch, I am am achieving so my goals and have never been happier. Religion causes more problems than it solves. It is a mental disease that needs to be eradicated from our world.

Thank you for letting me tell my story. Live in the real world because reality is awesome.

Rollercoaster ride of Faith

Sent in by Joshua

Expedition GeForce at Holiday Park, GermanyImage via Wikipedia

First off, I can't believe I'm actually submitting this and putting my past on display, but holy crap!

I can be a jerk. I know this and anyone who knows me knows this. I'm stubborn, pig-headed and I think I know everything. I know quite a bit about a lot of stuff, but I like to pretend that because I have mad debating skills that I know more than most people. This simply isn't true and deep down I know that just because I might have a little more knowledge about a subject doesn't mean that I know everything there is to know about it. Ask my wife and she'll tell you.

I don't like to be wrong and I'll try weird and exotic tactics to be right. The one thing I do have going for me though, is that if I know I'm right, I will not let it go. I know I can't convince you to change your opinion but if I can get you to at least look at it from my point of view and say, "Yeah, I can understand that" then, I’m perfectly content. I couldn't give a damn that you think I'm wrong; all I want is to be acknowledged. People who blindly believe everything they are taught piss me the hell off. It may be a flaw or it may be the beginning of a road to greater understanding, I don't know.

I used to be a person who believed everything I was taught. Everything I was told had to be true. You can ask my dad about a story I once read in the tabloids. I was naive and stupid. I had conversation with a co-worker about history and he lent me a book entitled, "Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong". I took it with a grain of salt and rolled my eyes. I assumed it was a conspiracy book about how the Illuminati and the masons or some other secret society were controlling history. Instead, it introduced extremely well thought out ideas with a citation every 2 sentences. Instead of taking a history book and examining it, the author took 12 history books, compared them and then proved them wrong using facts, teachings and writings from hundreds of other sources. I learned that not everything in those history books were wrong, but in fact exaggerations and half-truths with the scary and horrible details left out. It truly opened my eyes to the world and I went from a blind follower to a student of how the world actually was.

It may not sound like some great epiphany but that book truly changed my life. I began to question not just history, but everything in my life. The government wasn't some great benefactor who knew what was best for me (I was a republican), Religion didn't make a lick of sense and who determined what 'good and evil' were? My entire belief system became objective. I went from hating everyone because they didn't agree with me to understand and accepting that their beliefs were different than mine and I couldn't change that by fervently getting in their face and forcing them to change. I began to understand that you had to challenge someone's beliefs by showing them the other side of it and in a way that would let them see without feeling backed into a corner. I hope she doesn't get mad at me for using her as an example but my greatest success story is my wife. She's English and learned things in the English school systems from their own point of view of history. They are taught histories differently than we are, not just on their own history but on the same subject, like the world wars. This may seem obvious to you, but she was never taught that America participated in World War one. It seems like an oh my gosh, what the hell sort of moment, but it doesn't make them stupid or ignorant or bad. It's just different. I've met Americans who comes to Europe expecting everyone to know the complete history of the US. Anyway, back on subject.

I got into a heated discussion with my wife one night about the hydrogen bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. She was adamantly opposed to the idea that it might have been necessary. I happened to agree with her that there could have been some other way and an alternative solution could have been found with the same effect but I understood that the bombs were necessary. I spent hours trying to wear her down to the idea and I failed miserably. I decided to take a different route. We talked until we cooled down and I began to explain to her the rational and reasoning behind why the President at the time gave the signal. Why they weren't animalistic monsters and why to them, it was perfectly reasonably and just. I was careful to explain that just because they thought it was right, that it doesn't make it so. I had to explain that I was playing devil's advocate and I didn't really believe it was right myself, just that there was more reasoning behind the decision to drop the bombs then blood lust.

The result? It worked! I didn't change her mind and she still hates the bombs, but I got her thinking outside the box. Horrible cliché, I know.

I found it easier to slip into that 3rd party and examine both sides of the issue. I looked at both sides of the argument, understood why they believed the way they did and then chose the side that most appealed to me. In certain subject like politics, I chose the opposing view of both sides. As it stands, I'm Libertarian and I think that both the Democrats and Republicans are the same.

The main problem with this objective thinking is it inevitably leads to misunderstanding and arrogance. You start to think that you are enlightened and your ability to think past things makes you better than those who don't. I constantly have to remind myself that just because someone doesn't think outside the box, doesn't make them inferior. God knows I get told this on a daily basis by Gemma. I know for a fact that she's smarter than me and she can see through my bullshit and has no problem telling me when I'm wrong. I am extremely grateful for this as she knows exactly how to knock me off of my pedestal and out of the clouds.

I'm not saying that I'm always like this, I usually only get that way when it concerns a belief of mine that I hold dear and is important to me. The one that always crops up with me is my religious beliefs, or lack thereof. Now, if you're my father reading this, then you've probably just been hit hard. Fortunately I have matured and while I do care deeply about what my dad thinks, I also believe it is extremely important to live life the way you want to and if you believe in something you should not be afraid to believe it openly. As it stands now, I am agnostic. To me, an agnostic person is a person who claims that they cannot have true knowledge about the existence of God (but does not deny that God might exist. I don't disbelieve in God, but I do disbelieve in religion.

I've always had mixed feelings about religion, specifically the Christian religion. I was raised Baptist and spent a huge portion of my childhood going to church, blindly believing what I was told because I didn't know any better. I was told that Jesus loved me no matter what and that if I was good, I would get to go to heaven and if I was bad, I would go to the bad place. A place which is a swear word and isn't, depending on how you were using it. This is not a rant to bash religion, Christians or anything like that. All I am doing is creating an explanation about why I no longer associate myself with a religion and hope that someone reads it and says, “Hey! That makes sense” or “I can totally relate to that.” If not, well I hope you come from this with a greater understanding about why people are turned off from religion and to ask yourself whether your blindly following a belief or if you’re following because it makes sense to you.

When it comes to Christianity, I’ve been on all sides of the fence. I’ve been that fundamentalist who thinks that everyone is a sinner and needs to convert in order to be saved from going to hell. I’ve also been the skeptic that questioned everything the bible has said. From the first time I went to church until about 19 years of age, I was a Christian. I tried to live my life as pure as possible, I chose not to drink, smoke and I even gave up on masturbation because it was a sin and I wanted to be the perfect Christian warrior for Christ. It was my mission to show everybody how happy I was living this life and to convince them that this was the way to be and no other lifestyle would do.

Emotionally, I was pretty fucked up. I managed to convince myself that all of these negative emotions and urges would go away if I believed hard enough that all I had to do was give myself over to Christ completely and I would be happy. So I repressed all of my feelings. I already grew up with a warped sense of what sexuality was because I was taught that sexual feelings are evil and it’s wrong to have sex and have sexual thoughts before marriage.

I withdrew upon myself and took up the mantra of “It’s all good” and became a shell of my former self. I would allow no emotions and I took anything that cropped up and hid it away where I couldn’t get to it. I became an asexual robot and I didn’t see anything wrong with it. I shied away from alcohol because I was told that it’s wrong and that alcoholism ran in my family and that if I drank, I would become an alcoholic too. Everybody I knew saw it and told me numerous times that I had become an asshole. I judged everyone and I became holier than thou because they were all sinners.

The first time I went to the desert (Qatar) it started to fall apart around me. I began to lose control of myself and had established a pornography addiction. This may sound weird as I just previous said that I considered masturbating to be wrong and a sin. I still did and to be 100% honest I rarely did it. It wasn’t the act of pleasure or the women in the pictures and movies that turned me toward porn, it was the overwhelming loneliness. I lived a life of complete and utter loneliness where I would not let anyone get close to me because the bible said that you should not associate with anyone who would turn you away from the path of Christ. I took this idea and ran with it.

My first deployment came and I can tell you that being utterly lonely with only a God who doesn’t talk back to you to lean on is depressing, especially when you add on all the stress of being in an environment of long days and extreme heat. I gave in an opened up a little and made friends. They wouldn’t take no for an answer when I told them that I didn’t drink and I had my first beer. I only drank one night a week and there was a three drink maximum so getting drunk was out of the question. For the first time in a long time, I enjoyed myself.

The loneliness came back after I got back from the desert and my life only got worse. I was on the Internet all the time, throwing myself at video games, books and movies where I could detach myself from reality and be someone else for a while.

Eventually I moved here to England and made the conscious decision to change my life. I discovered that my religious views and belief in God did not follow the hypocritical path that Christianity dominated. I became almost fanatical in my attempts to convince people that they needed to see the light and see that they were not true Christians and should stop pretending that they were. In short, I became no better than they were.

I met my Wife, Gemma and got together with her knowing that she was not Christian and was in fact pagan. She was raised by an atheist Father and a Mother whose background included the Church of England. I knew my Dad wouldn’t approve and I didn’t really care, I thought myself enlightened and was pretty proud that I fell in love with someone of a different religion.

I thought myself on top of the world when I took a required college course on contemporary moral ethics and I was the only non-Christian in the class. I beat the pants off of everyone in the class when it came to topics like, Homosexuality, abortion or any other number of hot button topics that are discussed today. I thought myself better than they were because not only did I believe in God, but I did so while believing that every person was equal and deserved a fair chance in life. You can see how hypocritical I was as well.

It all came crashing down when my boss told me of a friend who loves debating religion and wanted to meet me. I accepted the invitation to a luncheon and we spent two hours arguing religion. I threw out every argument against Christianity that I could think of, I spit it out poisonously, hoping to get him on a million different contradictions in the bible and in the basic tenants of Christian philosophy. He beat the pants off of me in every argument. When I say beat the pants off of me, I mean that he whipped my ass pretty soundly. He countered every argument and stumped me in a million different ways.

I thought that this was a sign from God and that I was being told that I was wrong and should change my ways. I promised to change and came home to Gemma and spent a few hours proclaiming the miracle of what had happened. She thought I was crazy and I convinced myself that she could think what she wanted, I had found God again and he actually reached out to me.

Unfortunately this feeling wouldn’t last. Instead of hating on all Christians, I began denouncing those who did evil in God’s name and told people that true Christians are not like that and don’t believe it. The majority are good and peaceful and tolerant. My views changed once again and this time for good.
The shooting of Dr. Tiller, the Doctor who performed late-term abortions. I was completely shocked to read this online and that it was done in the name of God. I looked forwarding to seeing church leaders and my fellow Christians to stand up and denounce the murderer and admit that even though they may believe that abortion was murder that he was wrong to kill the doctor. In reality, I saw the exact opposite. I saw dozens of preachers and religious leaders praise the cowardly act. I saw and heard of hundreds of thousands of Christians cheer and say that they were glad that he was killed and the murderer did the right thing. I saw prominent political figures like Bill O’Reilly and Rush Limbaugh tell their millions of followers that he deserved to die and encouraged their followers to think the same. I was shocked and horrified. I went to work and heard all my religious co-workers endorsing the murder and praising the killer.

Desperate, I turned toward the bible, trying to find anything that would either put this into perspective or let me know that I was right in not agreeing with the masses. What I found opened my eyes once and for all. I did not find a God who was loving and caring, I found a God that killed and murdered for his own purposes. A God that painted all non-believers with the same brush and committed mass murder to get his way. A God that kicked Adam and Eve out of Eden because of his own pride. A God that encourages his followers to kill those who don’t believe in him and to kill those who try to convert them. I tried to rationalize all of these actions and tell myself that he did it for the good of mankind, but then I started to think. How can God expect mankind to love thy neighbor and to not murder/kill when he’s doing it left and right?

Before anyone tries to tell me that God didn’t kill anyone, sending a flood and protecting one family and killing everyone else on earth is not just murder, it’s fucking genocide. Deciding that a whole world of people aren’t following you anymore and killing everyone in the world, even if there might have been devout followers and believers in him is just sick and not the actions of a kind and just God.
I turned from the Bible, no longer believing anything I read in it and turned toward the Internet. I looked up something that might restore my faith, something that could help me and instead, I discovered one website: www.exchristian.net. What I read wasn’t Christian bashing and it wasn’t God hating. It was ordinary people like me who used to be Christian and had similar stories. I read one in particular that left me in tears. It was at this point that I realized that I was done with religion and done with God.

As you’ve read I’ve always had problems with Christianity, but kept my faith in God.

I can safely and proudly say that I do not believe in God and never will. I know my Dad is going to flip his lid while reading this and I’m scared to death of his reaction. I once told him that I lost faith in Christianity and he told me that he was saddened that his son was going to hell, so I cannot imagine what is going to happen. But, as I said before it’s my life to live as I see fit and I am no longer going to live my life in the fear that an all loving God will seek his revenge in the afterlife.

I am deeply saddened by this loss in my life, I feel like there is something missing and my wife ended up becoming Agnostic in the long run and she told me that she felt the same thing. I am also joyous that I have been truly enlightened and a can live my life without that extra complications.

I do not feel the need to go around and “preach” the evils of God and Christianity and will not force my beliefs on anyone else. If you are of the mind that this story is doing just that, just remember that nobody forced you to read this and it was your choice.

I do however believe that once Human kind can move past this religious phase then we can reach our true potential.

As of submtting these, I've actually sent what I've written to my parents and I'm still scared to death of the reaction.

8/9/09                                                                                       View Comments

My confession of freethought

by Angie

The pansy, symbol of freethought.The pansy, a symbol of Freethought — via Wikipedia

My mother, gotta love her, but recently the 'christian' emails from her have been driving me insane. She has sent lots of stuff over the years but it seems to be heating up right now. She sent me the old Laminin email a couple days ago and I sent her back the Snopes.com articles on it. No return answer.

She just sent me this...
Subject: Take a look at this
www.wallbuilders.com

I wrote back:
What are you expecting for me to get out of this website because I don't buy that 'all' the founding fathers were Christian. In fact I have studied this topic very well and know many of them were free thinkers and atheist.

I know you mean well but you can keep all your Christian based emails and websites to yourself or send them to actual christians that will get a hoot out of them. They do nothing for me now days since I don't buy into the myths anymore. I have studied many hours on the bible, history of the bible, the history of how religion evolved and everything in between. I have come to the conclusion that organized religion is not for me or my family. That free thinking and knowledge is the key to life. We are free thinking atheist/agnostics now and have chosen this path after much study, debate and soul searching.

Again, I know you mean well.

Love,
Angie

I have never confessed to my family that I even lean atheist/agnostic. I'm sure I'll have bible thumpers on my door step by tomorrow. I just snapped and knee jerked that email off to her. I want to be proud and not fearful of who I am anymore and I thought a few encouraging words from my favorite website and folks might help.

I am an EX-COC Preachers (who molested me in my early teens) Kid who is FREE INDEED! And with the power of 'study to show thyself approved', I do feel really good about calling myself an Atheist. I don't fear much anymore but I do fear angry christians and my mother!

8/8/09                                                                                       View Comments

Driven away by what brought me in

by Eric, an in-betweener

on the fenceImage by atconc via Flickr

Hi, my name is Eric, I am currently on the fence between continuing a Christian concentration and just kinda letting it go. I'm just looking for comments or suggestions or insights.

I was raised believing in God, but not very strictly or "raised in a bible" as I like to put it. In high school, some of my friends started taking me with them to the youth ministry at what is now my church. As it was the first time I had really delved into religion and Christianity, I was intrigued and was quickly pulled in.

Well, as I've continued over the last three years, I have learned more and more. The more I learn, the more doubts I have about Christianity. First of all, and I read about this on another submission on this site, one of the primary things that attracted me is now what is driving me away the fastest. I am so tired of all the optimism and prayers. When having a problem or a dilemma, I want to be able to go to someone I trust and get advice, and support. Well at church, if you seek advice you get told to pray about it; or, if the person happens to have time, they will pray with you. Then there is the eternal optimism: "You were laid off from work, whereupon you arrived home to find your house had burnt to the ground, and then you suffer a massive heart attack that almost killed you" after this, most christians will say something along these lines: "Well, God must have thought it was time for a change in your life" or "Well God's plan is not finished yet, I'm sure everything will work out fine."

What Christians fail to realise is that, dammit, sometimes there are just shitty situations. Sometimes, no matter how hard you pray, you are in a bad situation and you have to make the best of it.

Next, and something else that drew me in is being in a group that supports healthy decisions and avoiding addictions, etc. Well with me, and with many of the people at my church, this view made me EXTREMELY closed-minded and almost abusive to people who made "bad" choices. I would be vocally outspoken against my mates at school who drank alcohol, or had sex, or smoked. Then finally, earlier just this year, my life changed (the details of which are for another time) and I finally woke up.

I saw what I had done to myself, I had limited my friends to only those that fit the "Christian way," while looking down on those who made those "sinful" choices in life. So I finally changed my thinking, I went out with a mate and got drunk, I had a cigar and a couple cigarettes, I cussed like a sailor, and (as bad as it sounds looking at it this way) life got easier. I was making friends with the people I met, accepting them for who they were and not thinking about their imperfections. I do what I enjoy now, not what some book says to do with my life.

So now here is where I have been plopped. I have few friends left in the church (the "escapades" detailed above sent most of the compassionate, non-judgmental christian people in my life away, yes...it is sarcasm) and I now have been spending time with mates who aren't expecting me to do this better or stop doing that. I'm happy, but the Christian that is left inside me says it is wrong to abandon the faith.

I'm just lost, I hate to give up on it, but going to church every Sunday has become a lie, and all I think about when I'm there is how much it all doesn't make sense.

Sorry for ranting on for so long, please leave a comment or some insights.

Thanks,
Eric

8/6/09                                                                                       View Comments

Waking up

by Micah

Things that I hate - WAKING UP IN A PUDDLE OF DROOL MY DOG WOULD BE PROUD OFImage by aknacer via Flickr

Well, I don’t know if I can exactly pinpoint when I started to doubt. I know it all started out subtly then grew. I was raised in a non-denominational church all my life. We believed in “saved by grace, not of works” like a lot of other modern churches today. I have no idea how I started to wake up out of it. I guess my brain just got the better part of me.

Growing up I was really into God and the whole Christian thing. I can honestly say that I didn’t try to force my beliefs on anyone else. That whole part of it just didn’t fell quite right. Though I do think there is a difference between stating one’s views versus pressing one’s views. I was very passionate about god. Both my parents were ordained ministers by the time is was 13. Our family was entrenched with belief. My mother of course was the most zealous of us all always bantering about something with God. It would annoy the shit out of me. I’m not claiming that people who believe in God are unintelligent, but looking at her I can clearly see how she still believes.

Up until somewhere between 18 to 19 it never once entered my mind that God didn’t exist. I KNEW that God existed. I “talked” and “fellowshipped” with him on a regular basis. (Now, it’s only that I understand where people come from when they say they talk to “god” that I don’t think they’re mentally ill.) I went to church with my family every Sunday and Wednesday like clockwork, and I LOVED it. Praise and Worship were my favorite. That’s what I thought God had called me to do in the ministry, I was going to be a worship leader one day. Every time I worshipped I could feel the presence of God right there beside me, inside me, and all around my very being. It was….Euphoric in a way. I guess “feelings” can’t near compare with the truth reality holds in its opens hands.

It all started with what I would I consider basic logical questions. Questions like "Isn’t all this praying suppose to amount to something?," or “How come praying seems so benign when It comes to reality?” It didn’t seem to matter if one prayed or not, situations seemed not to care whether you prayed. And yes I was “patient” and “prudent” and all that nonsense. I mean, I knew I “felt” God when I worshipped and praised him but in my everyday life I couldn’t really see concrete evidence that he was involved in my life. I thought that I used to talk with holy spirit and could “hear” him speaking back, in a sense. Not actual words, more like thoughts. I now realize it was my own thoughts the whole time. After a while of doubt I start making a conscious effort to examine my reality on a regular basis. I started taking into account things like “ does this really all add up and make sense?” in my every day life. Up until this point my only reality was one were God existed above who had sent his son blah blah yada yada…….I didn’t know anything else, but that didn’t mean I didn’t hunger for something real in life.

So I started to read,…..and read…and read. I don’t know, but I guess I’m just different because it was virtually painless, you know….the part where you find out it’s all a humongous fairy tale. I didn’t go through any kind of shock or depression except the part when you realize you’re not going to live forever. That was kind of surreal. I’m over it now though, now I found that I really don’t want to live forever. One day, I want to die. (when I’m old of course) All it took for me was to read about the history of Christianity. Anyone with half a brain can see when looking at its history how the Christian religion is just another run of the mill myth. I’ve noticed when talking people that some of them can literally see the evidence and continue to hang on to their beliefs. I understand the emotional attachment. I just take it they have yet to mature or grow up. Of course, I do live in the epicenter of Christian belief, the bible belt…..Mississippi to be exact. I just get so internally frustrated, Children wanting to hang on to their Santa Clause.

I’m much happier now that I’ve let go of fantasy. Reality’s so much more interesting. I really enjoy reading all the testimonies on this site. I relate and they make me not feel so alone. Where I live I feel like an alien visiting a planet called Mississippi.

8/3/09                                                                                       View Comments

My secret is out

Sent in by A Few Months In

This has been an interesting week. People from my old church are starting to notice that I haven't been there for the past few months, and when I see them they start to ask questions. I made the mistake of being honest and telling them where I was in life, but this is before I realised they didn't actually care what I thought or how I felt - they just wanted a lead-in so they could share their "journey with god" with me (as if I hadn't heard it before when I went to church with them). Here's a few extracts

Online:
One of the guys I went to church with decided to strike up a conversation with me (only because he was offended by my AIM nickname) and started asking innocuous questions about how I felt about the church. Each answer was greeted with a deep-set and mystical interpretation of not so much the bible, but his interpretation of what Jesus meant and how he felt about Jesus. He then decided we needed to meet up for lunch sometime to discuss it further, and left without saying any more.

On the train:

A girl who turned up to our church a few years ago sat next to me and asked why I hadn't been in church recently. Once again, my faith in mankind mean I was honest, and as a result I was treated to a half-hour evangelical explanation of how important Jesus was. Every time I contradicted her with biblical scripture (which she wasn't familiar with but assured me god meant something else), real life examples (but god created Adam and eve, not Adam and Steve, therefore homosexuality is wrong), or psychology explaining why people have visions (but the visions i had of Jesus were much more real than the hallucinations i had before), I was stonewalled, and talked down to, even though when I left the church I was highly respected for my biblical knowledge and interpretation.

My own family:

I stopped off to visit my grandmother this weekend, and she said that it was unfortunate that I'd taken a "rest" from church, but I must be careful not to lose my faith, because there are many things that will eagerly pull me away from church. I kept my mouth shut this time, but it was obvious by this stage that the only "pull" I was experiencing was one from every Christian I had ever known telling me I was lazy and destined for hell for not going to church. Thankfully I got a call from my parents telling me dinner was ready (thankfully they are incredibly supportive of my atheism, and are "heartbroken" by all the christians who behave "in un-Christian ways" as described here) and I made a hasty escape.

This is only a drop in the ocean though, whenever I see people from church I'm told that I've been "slack" for not making an appearance, or that I need to "sort myself out".

I suppose none of these people would appreciate the irony in the fact that I still seek inspiration from the bible (although I hold it no higher than any other book, but it is still very useful), and so here are a couple of verses to encourage you:

John 12:40 "God has blinded their eyes and closed their minds, so that their eyes would not see, and their minds would not understand"

John 16:1" I have told you this, so that you will not give up your faith. You will be expelled from the synagogues, and the time will come when those who kill you will think that by doing this they are serving God."