I was "saved" when I was seven years old. My mother was always a very religious woman, and like most people who are converted, she was going through a bad time in her life. She grabbed fundamentalist Christianity with both hands and held on for dear life.
I spent the first 5 years of my life "on fire for God," as they say in the church. But as I grew into an adolescent girl, I began to resent the way the church had mapped out my future as a woman- don't worry about education, darling, you've got cookies to bake. I wistfully looked out the window at the boys youth group, wrestling, playing basketball, etc., while I was stuck inside, being taught how to deny my feelings and wants.
When I was 12, it was discovered that the very married Pastor of our church had sexually abused at least 5 women over a period of years. With all the women, it had taken place during counseling, when each one of the women was in a devastating point in her life. All these women were made to go to the front of the church, and confess that they had sinned (they were not allowed to be specific), and the pastor just sat there. I remember my face getting flushed. As a year or two passed, the collusion that had happened became more and more apparent, and let me say I got pissed.
Through Christian high school and University (Liberty University) I was miserable. I knew fundamentalism was not for me- personally, I was pro-choice, pro-woman, pro-gay, pro-environment, pro-socialist, an evolutionist, and committed to fighting racism. Not the dyed in the wool conservative nightmares I was around.
This was the most difficult time in my life- my Christian friends could not understand my political and personal beliefs, and my “pinko” liberal friends could not understand my Christianity. I always considered myself a strong Christian; but also a rebel. I was proud of the work I had done, reconciling all my beliefs with the Bible.
But it was exhausting.
Upon moving to England, my ways of thinking progressed quite a bit. I cultivated my long-time interest in science, and began to really consider the way the Christian church fought against things I knew to be fact, such as evolution, etc. Simultaneously I began doing research on sexual abuse in fundamentalist churches, with specific emphasis on Jack Hyles. It was the COLLUSION that really bothered me- abuse is to be expected from people in all positions of power. I couldn't understand how the church could excuse these pastors and coldly turn against these victims.
I had my first real crisis of faith in February 2001. I didn't want to be part of a group of people who could have these beliefs. I called my Mother, and others and asked them to pray for me. I started to check out sites of ex-Christians because I felt isolated. I read the Bible (with particular emphasis on Biblical contradictions and atrocities).
There were things I couldn't ignore or excuse away anymore. I didn't want to say "We'll know God's reason for that when we go to Heaven," to excuse away His behavior anymore. It was devastating to realize that I was wrong for all these years. The whole process of my deconversion took about a year.
I found myself unable to believe anymore. Ironic that it took re-reading the Bible and researching the church reconverted me.
And I'm so happy now. I have confidence in my decisions, my ability to rationalize, and to control my destiny. I have triumphed over the need to rely on someone else's code of "morality."
Yahoo ID: Cow_hugger
City: Liverpool among others
Age that I joined Christianity: 7
Age that I left: 29
What Kind of Churches did I attend? Independent Baptist, Fundamentalist Baptist and non-denominational Christian
I am now a “Comfortable Atheist”
Why_joined: Because I was 7!!!!
Why_left: Two reasons. First, I grew tired of trying to reconcile the Bible with feminism, evolution, intellectual thought, the struggle against bigotry, etc. Second, I lost the emotional need for a relationship with "God."
Online Reading List
- An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish by Bertrand Russell (1943)
- Bible Teaching and Religious Practice by Mark Twain
- God is Imaginary
- Is there an Artificial God? by Douglas Adams (1998)
- Skeptics Annotated Bible
- The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine (1795)
- Which Way? by Robert Ingersoll (1884).
- Why I Am Not A Christian by Bertrand Russell (1927)