Hello. My name is Jamie Atkinson. I have had a couple of people ask me to give my testimony about how I went from being a licensed minister of the Southern Baptist Convention to being an atheist. So I am going to write it all out for you.
Starting with my upbringing, I was raised in a very conservative Christian home. Both of my parents were devote believers in Jesus and God. We attended a Nazarene church until I was about 10 years old then switched to a Baptist church. The switch was due primarily because the Baptist church was closer to our home. I had been studying the Bible for as long as I can remember. I wanted to know everything there was to know about what I believed. I took to heart what the apostle Paul said, “Be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in you”. By the time I got into high school, I had become quite a good religious debater. I had studied Mormonism and Jehovah’s Witness beliefs. I could make them all run home to their mothers. I knew the answers to their questions and could easily “prove” them wrong. I had gone on missionary trips to Indian reservations, and had even had my hand in converting a Mormon to “true Christianity”.
When I finished high school I joined the Air Force. My first station was Altus Air Force Base in Altus, Ok. Coming from southern California, it was quite a bit of culture shock for me, and I wanted nothing more than to get out of Oklahoma. Eventually I found my peace at First Baptist Church, Altus. I began to go to Sunday school and became active in the Baptist Student Union (BSU), a college club of sorts. I was able to prove myself to the Christians with whom I associated. It wasn’t long before I was teaching others more about the Bible and their belief system. Then I began to fill in for my Sunday school teacher, who was the pastor’s wife. After a couple of months doing that, she let me have her position and I became the regular teacher of the college Sunday school class. At the BSU, I began to take several leadership positions. Then one day the pastor’s wife asked me if I would like to be licensed. Well, I thought that I would have to go through school or something, but apparently, it is just up to the deacon board. Once they agree to give me a license it goes before the church and they vote on it. So the next thing you know I was a licensed minister. I actually performed one wedding, luckily I was never asked to do a funeral. About a year later, I took a position as a youth minister at on of the local churches. I did that for about nine months.
Then the change began to happen to me. I began to wonder about some of the things that I had been studying in Bible. There seemed to be contradictions and a lot of violence. I also was wondering about how God could be considered just and holy. I read some things that just didn’t seem right. In the mean time my twin brother had turned away from the church, as had my oldest brother. They both seemed to use logic as a way out of the church. My brother came to me one day and started to ask me some questions about some of the problems that he had with Christianity. The problem was that even with all of my studying and all of my years experience, I didn’t have the answers.
It was at that point that I began to really take a hard look at what I was involved in. I began to read other books, ones that were not written by Christian authors. I started to see that I was not the only one who had serious doubts about the religion that I called my own. I read some of Anton LaVey’s works. Then I started to read some other authors. I realized that this was not something that I wanted to be connected to. So I abandoned my faith.
To give you a look at where I am now, I claim pure atheism. I don’t believe that there is a god or any one way of believing. If you are a Christian, that is ok with me. If you want to debate the subject, I am open to that. What I will not do is argue or fight with you about it. I am at peace with my decision. I don’t go to bed afraid that if I don’t wake up I might be in hell.
In closing, I would invite all of you ExChristians to open up your Bibles again. Keep researching. I have found that when I get into a debate with a Christian I normally win because I know more about their religion than they do. Knowledge is a powerful tool to use against a Christian. Remember what GI Joe said knowing the enemy is half the battle. Also, study the works of other atheists. I have listed some sites in the bookmark section of this group (http://egroup.exchristian.com/) and would highly recommend that you check them out. They are a great resource for anti-Christian information.
Well I hope that satisfies those of you were interested and didn’t bore those who were not. Let me know what you think.
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)