X-Preacher's Kid

sent in by Angie

I was born and raised in the Church of Christ. My father was a preacher from the time I was 8. He says he went to preaching school to prove the bible false but come to find out he really went to get the approval of his father. He would have surely found discrepancies if he had look hard enough. By the time I turned 11 my father was having inappropriate relations with me. Talk about living with a hypocrite, but still I followed the mindless Christian path. To cope with what I was going through I pushed it all far away. 2 years ago I started having a break down and finally came out with my 22 year old secret of incest. My father at this time had lost his ‘church’ due to his own crazy teachings and actions.

I became a christian 'by being baptized'... yada yada yada... to hopefully make my dad stop touching me and having sex with me. Well that didn't work. How does a young girl tell the world that her dad the preacher was sexually molesting her? I never did, I just coped by pushing it all away.

Since I told my secret I felt free to ‘feel’ and I knew Christianity didn’t feel good to me at all. It really never did. I just couldn’t understand 99% of what I was being taught. It all never made sense to me, and I even tried to teach it one time and I said “Well it’s in the Bible” HA!!!! Hell if I knew where, but I knew it was truth because I heard my dad say it. Thank God/Source or Al Gore for the Internet because I’ve found a wealth of information that has rocketed me into what feels so right for me now. I still struggle with what to call myself but I don’t get hung up on labels. I love the term sacred feminine and the more I learn about that the more I’m intrigued.

I do have a list of what I believe at this point in my life and of course my beliefs are subject to change at any point in time that I choose fits my life!
Here is what I believe:
I believe there is no hell
I believe there is no devil or source of evil,
only source of good and well being.
I believe we as humans pinch ourselves off
from this source of good which then causes
disease, anger, hatred, negative garbage.
I believe in the metaphysical world.
I believe we came from source/God/Pure Positive Energy.
I believe God/Source decided to know his/her self one day and split
and became 'this' and 'that' and from there expanded. The
universe is still expanding, there is scientific proof of that.
I believe when we die we just transform back to this
Pure Positive Energy. WE ALL DO, everyone goes to
'heaven'. But it's not the heaven we've been taught, it's
not the heaven of streets of gold with an old grey bearded
man sitting on a throne being judgmental of the world.
I believe we come here to experience JOY.
I believe that LOVE is the highest emotion, highest form
of communication.
I believe we choose to come here, we choose our parents
and that we've had this choice hundreds of times.
Each time we reemerge into this earthly plain we are caused
to forget where we came from, and some of us are seekers
to the truth of which we came and some are not. Not being a
seeker is not a bad choice, it is only a 'choice'.
We all come here to experience life of our own choosing.
I believe we create everything in our lives by our thoughts
given to it.
I believe in the Law of Attraction, that which is like unto it's self
is drawn. What we give our focus too is what is attracted back
into our lives, either negative or positive.
I believe that no one is keeping score of our rights and wrongs
because we all come here with choices and to experience.
I believe we can't get it wrong and we never get it done.

I've learned alot from metaphysical teachers that call themselves Abraham and channel through Esther Hicks. Wether you believe in channeling or not is fine with me but these folks have brought alot of peace to my life and you can find them HERE.

Thanks to all that make this site what it is. You have created a wonderful place here to come and learn and laugh and enjoy and hang out with like minded folk!

State: Kansas
Country: USA
Became a Christian: Born into it
Ceased being a Christian: 34
Labels before: Church of Christ
Labels now: Sacrad Feminine
Why I joined: To make my Father(the preacher) to stop touching me
Why I left: I have learned the 'truth'
Email Address: kjellberg@kans.com

I Saw the Light

sent in by Chris

Ever since I can remember, I went to church. Unlike many of you, luckily I was not subjected to harsh Fundamentalism thinking, though strong religious thinking runs deep in my family.

I first started attending church at a Nazarene church, but the only thing I remember about that is attending with my best friend and his father. I only went to have fun with my friend.

The second and last church (on any regular basis) I attended was a General Baptist church, in which my wife and mother still attend. If there was any joke of a church, this has to be one. Attendance has dwindled to probably no more than 20 people a service, except for religious holidays. They’ve been through at least 3 pastors in the past 3 or so years. And one of them thought it would be better to buy a $2000 sound system than to feed the needy, which he ended up doing without the church board’s approval. Wow… some Christianly duty.

Anyway, I had stopped attending church on a regular basis only because I found it extremely boring. I believed in God and Christ, and thought that the bible was God’s inerrant word. Like most Fundies, I had a very vague knowledge of the bible, but felt a literal translation was the only correct way of obtaining salvation.

Around the beginning of 2003, hearing things that my sisters (who are very religious) spoke of started to scare me. I was sure we were living in the “end times”. It seemed like many prophecies were being played out.

I decided to research bible prophesy online, and my research always led me to the typical Fundie / Apologetic website.

I also came across a doomsday website about a make-believe Planet X, and I recall telling myself and others the typical Christian response: If it is not in the bible, then it isn’t real! I also came across a Nostradamus website and had a long email discussion with the site’s owner why his and Nostradamus’ predictions were bullshit because none of it is in the bible.

All this time, I’ve held onto a saying my dad used to tell me – “Believe nothing that you hear and only half of what you see.” Though he died believing in the afterlife, he was a very smart man and I think given the knowledge that I now possess, he probably would have become at the very least an Agnostic. But I do believe his brand of religion helped him deal with the pain and suffering he endured at the end.

So, with my dad’s saying echoing in my head, I decided to be fair and give the “other side” a look. I happened upon Dan Barker’s Freedom from Religion site, Dennis McKinsey’s Bible Errancy site and many other Atheist sites. Believe me, the knowledge I gained from those sites truly blew me away. I had no idea of all the errors in the bible!

Having this knowledge lit a fire under my ass, and I spent many, many hours learning of the history of the bible and other religions.

Anyway, it is safe to say that I no longer believe that the bible is “inspired”. And as far as my beliefs go, I am still deciding. But at this point, I guess the best way to put it is that I am Agnostic.

But the real hard part that I am facing right now is letting my friends and family in on my lack of belief. I have told two of my friends, and while one now has some doubts, in light of my evidence, the other is hold strong to her beliefs. In all honesty though, I am not out to change anyone’s beliefs. I’ll only tell them the truth if they ask.

Sex: Male
State: Indiana
Country: USA
Became a Christian: On and off since birth
Ceased being a Christian: 32
Labels before: Nazarene, General Baptist
Labels now: Between Agnostic and Atheist
Why I joined: Fear of Hell
Why I left: Learned the truth!

One more on the side of enlightenment

sent in by Jason

I was born agnostic, as are all children, but both of my parents are Christian. My mom started me in church when I was five. She wanted to do what she felt was best for me; but she's never been able to see the religion from an honest, fresh, and impartial perspective. By the age of seven, I developed a keen interest in dinosaurs. I wondered whether the creation of man or the existence of dinosaurs came first. I learned in school and from my outside reading that dinosaurs were around for millions of years. Adam and Eve, on the other hand, were created in the first week six thousand years ago. I couldn't think of a way to resolve this discrepancy. I asked my mom, but she didn't know either. Instead, she advised me to ask my Sunday School teacher. Her answer was, "We don't know there were dinosaurs." I immediately realized the religion had problems if it resorted to such claims in order to explain scientific discrepancies; but as time went on, I simply attributed further contradictions with science as "explainable in some way" while holding on to the book of "absolute truth."

A great inspiration struck me one day in church when I realized billions of people who didn't accept Jesus as their savior were going to hell. In fact, they were over there in Asia thinking the exact same thing, with the roles reversed. But what if they were right and we were wrong? I remember justifying it by burying my head in the sand and saying Christianity is good and other religions are evil. I'm ashamed of ever thinking that. By the age of seventeen, I began making a list of all the absurd Old Testament rules and regulations God and Moses oppressed on us. Around that time, I completely disregarded the Old Testament as fact due to the cruelty and scientific error it presented. The Bible was no longer a perfect book, but the New Testament was still proof of a god to me. By the age of twenty, I finally did an impartial analysis on the prerequisites of entering heaven. They simply weren't fair. If the New Testament is true, members of other religions are going to hell because they're brainwashed by their respective teachers. They were simply doomed from the beginning. Plus, there was no evidence any of the events surrounding Jesus were true with the exception of four contradicting accounts written decades after the alleged events. It was just a little too convenient the fate of the world was decided in an age that wouldn't allow testable records. Because of this choice God made, no one could know for sure what really happened. All the while, he watches us in silence as we kill ourselves over who has the correct religion.

When I was twenty-two, the internet was in full blown use. I browsed the web to see if there were people who had made the same discoveries. I was amazed to find there were millions of freethinking individuals in America alone. Hundreds dedicated their lives to freeing others from a life of conditioned thought. Enormous amounts of evidence had been discovered that smashed the Bible's credibility to pieces. A select few had an understanding of the Bible far beyond what I ever hoped to ascertain. As for the Christian defense, I could see a lot of straw grasping. Their best spokesmen, having obtained bogus doctorates from paper mills, stretched and twisted biblical text in order to make it fit their agenda. The answer finally became obvious to me. If you undertake an honest, impartial, and emotionless analysis of the Bible, you can easily conclude it's not the word of a deity. Certain facts can't just be absolute truth. The creation of God's afterlife was nothing more than the human defense mechanism against death. All creatures fight for their survival; likewise, man has tricked himself into believing he's immortal.

Even with my newly discovered knowledge, I still attended church. I didn't want my mother to worry about me, so I went to make her happy. There are a few good lessons to be learned through the stories, and the people are some of the kindest I've ever met. At least they're kind to fellow Christians, but they generally don't desire to associate with "the misguided." Once I completed my minor in psychology, I had a better grasp on how religious systems work. Individuals associate with groups who hold similar interests and invite others to join. I had been mentally conditioned, and I tried to recruit others because that's what I was told God wanted me to do. I also realized many Christians don't even know what they believe because they never took the time to read the whole Bible. Their response to presented complications is usually "The Bible says it. I believe it. That settles it." When it comes to religion, they're all zombies just like the cult members everyone watched burn in Waco, Texas. Christians are normal people in the real world, but their brains shut down on Sunday. Cult members can live normal lives most of the time, too.

My family still doesn't know I'm not Christian.

URL: http://errancypage.home.mindspring.com

City: Atlanta

State: GA

Country: USA

Became a Christian: 5

Ceased being a Christian: 20

Labels before: Southern Baptist

Labels now: Agnostic, but Atheist toward Christianity

Why I joined: I didn't want to go to hell. Persuading isn't it?

Why I left: Logic

Email Address: bowie1@mindspring.com

Christian Concern?

sent in by Kevin

When I had finally come up with sufficient courage to leave fundamentalism in order to take up secular work as a therapist, I had to come up with something to tell the congregations and individuals who supported me financially. I didn’t want to face an onslaught of letters from people trying to “re-convert” me, so I opted to simply say that my children were having some difficulties in life that could be best addressed if my family and I did not return to the mission field. While this was not false, it did shrink from telling the WHOLE truth about why I would not be going back to the field.

I mailed the letter to all of my “friends and supporters” and then waited.

And waited . . . .

And waited . . . .

I was surprised that there was no response from anybody. Nobody bothered to try and contact me to see what kind of problems my children were having. The only thing they were quick to do was to pull my financial support.

This all happened in April of 2003. Just last week my wife showed me the ONE letter that came in response to my resignation. She had not wanted to let me see it because when it had arrived I was quite depressed. She let me see the letter now, and I was shocked as I read it.

The letter was from a supporting pastor who did nothing more than launch into a tirade about how I was abandoning God’s call for my life. He also laid on plenty of guilt about how his church had supported us and now we were “backing out.” He then pled with me to reconsider and return to the field.

Not once did he bother to ask me why I was leaving. Not once did he ask about my family and how we were doing. He was only concerned about “getting us to go back.”

Any thoughts?


City: Yuma

State: AZ

Country: USA

Became a Christian: 18

Ceased being a Christian: 36

Labels before: Independent Baptist; Charismatic

Labels now: Atheist

Why I joined: A long story . . . .

Why I left: I was won over by logic and reason

Ex Mennonite

sent in by Marvin

Hi my name is Marvin and I'm an exMennonite. For those who don't know what Mennonites are I'll give a brief description. Mennonites are very fundamentalist Christians who go way beyond the mainstream in their beliefs. For example they believe that television, radios, and other forms of entertainment is wrong. They dress differently than the rest of the world especially the women (almost the same as Amish). They have their own schools and try to avoid contact with the rest of the world as much as they can. I grew up in an environment where I had almost no contact with anyone outside of the Mennonites. With no TV or radio it meant that the influences in my life were almost completely controlled by my parents and the churches school.

I've always been the type of person to question everything though and there were a lot of things that didn't make sense to me. I bought into the Mennonite thing to a degree and joined the church when I was sixteen. I married a someone in the church when I was nineteen.

That's where things started to turn around for me though and I started to question the things that were being shoved down my throat. They controlled you life in and the way you thought in every way if they could. For example they didn't like the length of my hair so they made me stand up in front of the congregation and say I was sorry. If I had not done that they would have told me I'm going to hell and excommunicated me.

After I was married I was able to get away from the really strict Mennonite church and joined a more liberal sect. The only problem was the thinking was the same when you really stripped away all the rhetoric. You had to conform or else you were an ungodly proud heathen who refused to bow to Jesus on the cross who and made the supreme sacrifice for you. Anyone who didn't do that was unbelievably proud and incredibly stupid. The only problem in my mind was that the people who believed the most fervently where the most ignorant.

I actually became a Sunday School teacher for my age group and started to research things from a biblical perspective and discovered that Mennonite beliefs were way our of the mainstream. Instead of swallowing the party line I started teaching things that went against church beliefs and did that get me in trouble LOL. The pastors visited me within a week to see what could be done about the "problem". I refused to accept their interpretation of the bible and they told me that I wasn't one of them until I was ready to accept the teachings of the church.

About a two years later my Mennonite wife had an affair. That was when I realized that all this Christian bullshit was a total waste of time. Anyone that believes this fairytale should be put on medication. After my wife left me all my Mennonite friends deserted me because I was contaminated by adultery or some such crap. In the two years since she left all the people who are filled with the love or Christ have never picked up the phone to call me. When I would meet them somewhere in public it would always be uncomfortable. Within a year I moved out of state and if any of those former friends call I'll be to busy to talk to them. Since then I want nothing to do with Christianity. I have better things to do with my time thank you very much.

City: Calabash

State: NC

Country: USA

Became a Christian: 16

Ceased being a Christian: 25

Labels before: Old order Mennonite

Labels now: What labels, if any would you apply to yourself now?

Why I joined: Why did you become a Christian?

Why I left: there were to many things that didn't make logical sense

Email Address: marvi205@atmc.net

Pushed Into Seeking Looking for the Truth

sent in by Todd

I would have to say that I never really feel like I totally bought into the bible, when I was growing up. I was brought up in a Xtian church, but it wasn't a really strict fundamentalist church by any means. My mother made did make me go to church as much as possible and attended bible school and church camps over the summer, but I only really had fun for the socialization aspect and not the stories of jesus being told.

I have memories of questioning things at a rather young age. My mother had taken me to the minister a few times during my youth, when I had fears of "what if there wasn't a heaven when we die?" and similar thoughts. I would just be told over and over about how god loves me and how I would go to heaven. So, I never had a very strong faith growing up, which made it easy for me to leave it behind when I went to college.

When I went to college, I would tell my mother I was attending church just to make her happy, but I never went once while in school. In college, every few weeks, there would be a group of bible thumpers "preaching the word of the lord" on campus and viewing these people made me more and more disgusted with the religion.

My second semester at school I had a professor, that was an atheist, and one week when a frequent bible thumper was on campus, he started talking about a lot of the faults in the bible, this was the first time I really started to think about the bible from a different perspective. After that point, I never have believed the bible since.

Even though I didn't believe in Xtianity, I didn't know what I believed. It wasn't until a few years later, that I decided to start looking for what I believed.

It was a combination of things that fueled my desire to find out what it was. One was after the last church service, other than a few weddings, that I have attended. It was an Easter church service about 2 years ago. I sat through the service with my family, rolling my eyes over all the BS being said during the service. I remember one thing in particular though. They was a video of a lady from the congregation that went skydiving and had it taped. It was titled "Leap of Faith", she went on and on about how god brought her back down safely. On the ride home, I rode with my sister back to her house, where all the family was going. I started laughing and telling her what a bunch of crap that was about god bringing her safely back to earth. I was like, "yeah it couldn't have been her parachute."

From that point on I have come out to my family about my religious beliefs. The other thing that pushed me into searching for the truth, is that I lost the one woman I have ever loved to one of those damn fundamentalist churches. When we were together her faith wasn't really that strong in the church, but since we have parted, she is now a reborn Xtian and a brainwashed person, that I don't even know anymore. Her family pulled her back into the church and saved her from this "non-believer". That is a really long story, so I won't go into detail.

Believe me though, it has given me a bone to pick with fundamentalist Xtians.

City: Lincoln

State: NE

Country: U.S.A.

Became a Christian: I was born into a Xtian family.

Ceased being a Christian: 20

Labels before: Christian

Labels now: I am a Deist

Why I joined: I was brought into it by my family.

Why I left: Eye opening experiences in college

The truth shall set you free

sent in by Loren Charles Estes,III

Where to begin? This is the shortest as well as the longest story of my life. I was raised as a christian. I was also raised in a very emotionally mixed up family with alot of anger thrown in for good measure. It wasn't all bad, I had brothers and a sister. I'm the oldest of 6 kids. I had a father and mother that did the best that they could, though I would say they were not really prepared to have the family they had. I considered myself to be the one who would be most likely to be the christian we had all hoped we would be. You know working with those less able to look after themselves. Nothing wrong with that really except that it really got in the way of me growing up to be me. I mean I had my life mapped out by everyone who had charge over me and noone thought about my thoughts on the subject at all. Well that didn't sit well with me and by the time I had been though 3 major religious shifts I was 17 and had had enough. But I still had all the fear that was burned into my mind to deal with. That my friends would take many years to figure out. I mean once you leave the christain nest of your own accord you will get no help. So I spent 1/2 my life doing things that I thought would help me grow to be the person I am today.

First, I was too proud or embarassed to go back to public school after my parents uprooted the family and moved us to northern British Columbia where I lost a 18 months of my life to a cult calling themselves the End Time Move. Now that was a deluded bunch of people. That alone was worth a lifetime of rehab. Everything those people put their hands to turned to crap and they even had the nerve to tell me that I didn't have the right to buy myself a jacket to keep myself warm without their ok first.You know what I told those bastards with my parents listening in the same room? I told them to stuff it up their ass. I had such big balls back then. It wasn't long after that that I left the "move" as they like to call it.

Then there was the great idea to get a "ged" and then join the United States Marine Corps. In all fairness if someone had known how messed up I was from the christian cult experiance then I probably would not have gone in the service. To set the record straight I want everyone to know that I have the highest resect for the Marine corps and I wish things had gone differently. Water under the bridge really. After that I thought I know I'll get married.. 2 or 3 times. The third one stuck but the first 2 really put the boots to me for almost 20 years.

Then there was the moving from one side of the country to the other. I did that a few times. Then there were the jobs, so many jobs. Talk about a low thrasehold for bordom.

So how did I turn this all around and make it work for me. Well I'm not rich but I make a living like most people and keep a steady job. I look after my family as best as I can and save alittle here and there for the things I know I will need down the road. I do not celibrate any holidays except my anniversery and the families birthdays. The only prayers we say are the thanks we give to each other at meal times.

I would like to give credit where credit is due. In the bible there is a verse that say seek and ye shall find, ask and it shall be given to you, knock and the door shall be open unto you. It was very useful to me. I learned not to throw good information away. If you get all of jesus savior crap and religion out of the bible and just look at it as fair information then there is no harm done. But if you can't then by all means look somewhere esle as I had first. Fear is stealing from us our very breath. Even if you come to some if any of the same conclusions as I did and realise that this planet was nothing more then a great exparement and we are the result so what? If you think different so what? For now the earth will rotate, there will be rain and sun, etc. I think peace will come when we can get past ourselves and get our governments to think about the health of this planet. But if you are like me then we agree it ain't coming soon.

Became a Christian: I became a chritian at 12

Ceased being a Christian: Stopped being a christian at 17

Labels before: To many to count

Labels now: I don't like to advertise for others, so no labels apply

Why I joined: I was a child, what did I know

Why I left: Knowledge, many years of research

Holy Shit is right

sent in by Sam

After years of watching my mother drink herself into a stupor every night, something even more dysfunctional came to be. Upon learning of her pregnancy, she reconciled with and married an ex-boyfriend, who happened to be a church of christ preacher. So, after years of unsupervised delinquency, I was suddenly smashed in the face with all of these ridiculous rules and regulations brought about by her new husband (religion).

Of course, I rebelled. And what better way than to fully immerse oneself in witchcraft! Regardless of my heartfelt angst, I was always a pacifist. So, the ways of Wicca appealed to me, and even in retrospect I feel it was a very positive experience for me at that time.

However, as I grew older and was failing in many areas of my life, I began to wonder if maybe my Mom was right. I mean, I hadn't even given her the opportunity to explain what she believed in. So, I gave it a go.

Hmmm...where to begin...ahhh...yes, the brainwashing! Not only do these crutch of christ people believe in the bible as the word of god, but they believe EVERY single solitary sect other than their own is going straight to Hell, do not pass go, do not collect $200. I felt like it was a sin to breathe! These people had me second-guessing my every move, because even though I had come to the light, I was still not good enough! And I never would be.

Luckily, throughout the course of my studies with these weirdos, I was able to take advantage of a full-length bible study. The whole damned book all the way through! That's when I started seeing inconsistencies. And that's when I wanted to know more about the history of the bible and of religion in general. Why the hell did these people believe this book was literally written by god? (through quite a few humans, of course)

This is about the time I started putting two and two together and realized that maybe it was all just a big crock with a great big hidden agenda. I also learned more about self-hypnosis and just how powerful it is and realized why it seemed like all of my Wiccan rituals "worked" I have since befriended science and Darwinian theory. I feel more at peace now than ever in my life, I have purpose, my life has meaning, and I care more about the welfare of ALL people. (not just my "brethren")

I will be more than happy to elaborate on any of the above subject matter with anybody who chooses to Email me.

City: Cleveland

State: OH

Country: USA

Became a Christian: 20

Ceased being a Christian: 22

Labels before: Pagan, church of christ

Labels now: Total Atheist

Why I joined: Felt I had based my disbelief on ignorance

Why I left: Once I had the knowledge I concluded it was illogical and downright insane.

Email Address: sugarcoatedsour@sbcglobal.net

A house built on sand

sent in by exhihhuli

Jesus teaches in the Sermon on the Mount to build the houses of our faith on the solid rock of his teachings (Mt 7:24-27). Too bad that the religion based on his teachings is a house built on sand. However strong you make the internal structure of your faith, there is no external rock that it is anchored to. So when the flood of rational thinking hits it, it will fail.

My parents became born again Christians when I was 5. They started in Pentecostal and Lutheran circles, but soon ended in charismatic and Word of Faith (you know, the name-it-and-claim-it bunch, e.g. Hagin, Copeland, Oral Roberts) connections, though there were no such churches in the area we lived. As the only child I grew up with the faith, starting to speak in tongues at 7 and getting baptized at 14.

When the super-charismatic "Toronto movement" landed in Finland in 1995 (I was 18), our family jumped in with no restraints, as the drawbacks of the Word of Faith movement had started to become evident (no matter how you believed and confessed your wish, nothing extraordinary happened). I laughed, cried, shook, groaned, fell to the floor and tipped people over in prayer all through the latter part of the 90s, feeling that God's presence in my life was very tangible. I visited the main pilgrimage targets of the movement (Toronto, Pensacola and Tampa) and spent a lot of time in church related things. Personally I was most interested in the praise&worship music, singing and playing in a couple church "house bands". In all that time I never questioned my faith.

I remember making a conscious choice when I was 11 or 12 to never allow myself to criticize my faith intellectually. The teaching I received discounted the "earthly wisdom" and made the blind faith in the inerrancy of the bible the ideal to strive towards. I had noticed that I was rather good at school and with a disposition to science and pondering. Therefore I feared that my intellect might lead me away from the Lord. So from that on I never took the time to really examine my beliefs. I learned about evidence for the evolution but simply chose to believe in creation. I read about the problems in the bible, but never linked them to my belief in the inerrancy of the book. I noticed some of the inconsistencies in the fundamentalist Christian faith, and saw the discrepancy between the promises and the reality, but never considered their effect on the big picture. I am really amazed about the capability of the human mind to hold contradictory beliefs and direct the focus past them.

For reasons still unknown to me, the degree that I could lose myself in the charismatic feeling started to wane a couple of years ago. At first I interpreted it so that God wanted me, one of the most advanced Christians on the planet to step to a new level of faith that is beyond charismatic (quite extreme religious pride, but what else can you expect when one is taught that one is the focus of God's attention and he will do whatever I pray in his name). But over time I started to question the charismatic experience and see how the driving force behind them is more human emotions and less the holy spirit. That led to deeper soul searching. Finally about a year ago I started to think through by beliefs.

It all started simply by wondering the racism of Jesus towards the syrophoeinicean (sp?) woman, but within one week I was forced to admit the inconsistency of my faith and reverted to deism. I understood that the two main pillars of my faith were actually circular arguments. One was the bible, which clearly declared that God exists and what he wants. However, when I gave myself permission to take one step back to examine bible from without, it no longer was possible to consider it as a word of God, with all the inconsistencies and the unreliable origin. The other pillar, my personal experience, was similar. When I opened the door for the possibility of alternative explanations, no charismatic experience was no longer a reliable witness.

In the little less than year that has gone since that week I have lost the deistic position, labeling myself currently agnostic. There are still some experiences in my Christian past that I cannot reliably explain, so I do not have the courage to descry myself as atheist. Sometimes I wonder where I will end. I know that part of the reason I have set myself apart from Christianity are the bad experiences from the charismatic circles. Maybe as their effect wears off, I will bounce back somewhat, though certainly not back to fundamentalism and charismatism. But on the other hand there is no denying the fact that I cannot rationally support the Christian faith. However, to be honest I envy the people that can take the emotional benefit of trusting in something bigger than this world despite the logical inconsistencies. I believe that for many it is a positive strength in their lives, provided that they do not lean too much on their inexistent crutch.

It has not been that easy to strip down two decades of indoctrination. Though I feel now more free in my mind than ever before, the emotional strain is quite clear. Added to that is the fact that my wife is still a believer (though she has moderated a lot over the same time I have lost my faith) and my parents are full-blown charismatics, getting their living from holding "holy spirit meetings" and providing e-mail teaching newsletters on the charismatic side of the faith.

I am glad that I have found in this site and elsewhere in the Net that I am not the only one to have taken this trip. Hopefully my story helps in turn somebody that is still trying to leave the camp. Jesus' advice on building on the rock is still sensible. It just happens that the rock is reason and the sand Christianity.

There is a lot more that I could share about my journey. I'll probably come back to those on the forum later.

Sex: M

City: Helsinki

Country: Finland

Became a Christian: 5

Ceased being a Christian: 25

Labels before: Charismatic, Fundamentalist, Word of Faith...

Labels now: Agnostic

Why I joined: Parents converted, I grew up with the faith

Why I left: Allowed myself to examine my faith from without, found out that I could no longer rationally support my beliefs

I'd rather believe in myself

sent in by Sallie

I went to a small Nazarene church when I was little, and it had things for the kids to do, so I became very involved in the Caravans and Quizzing programs. In Caravans, you learned verses and such and earned patches -- kind of like Bible boy and girl scouts. Quizzing we studied books of the bible and went to competitions where we were tested on our knowledge and got trophies and ribbons and such state-wide!

Then I went to middle school and befriended a Mormon girl, who gave me a Book of Mormon, and then they started telling me how her religion was evil and so on and so forth, and I started wondering about which church was right. I went to several churches over the years and participated in several youth groups, but I eventually converted to Mormonism when I was seventeen, and quickly quit believing after hearing a bunch of the fucked-up doctrine. I also came out as bisexual, and had to sit through Mormon therapy that told me that I was no better than a child molester because of that. Asshole.

I went to college and went to a gay-friendly church, a catholic church, and even some wicca meetings. After college, I met a friend who was Messianic Jew, and got into all of that, too. All in all, I would have to say it's been one hell of an intersting experience, and hey, it's mostly been fun! I've learned about a lot of different belief systems, which has lead me to one conclusion --


That's right, they're all crap. Basically, religion is a way of explaining why your life sucks so you can have someone to blame it all on, now that we have science to explain such things as, oh say, the weather. There is no such thing as one true church, just what you decide to believe is the truth. I don't need to pore over my bible for hours to figure that out.

However, letting go of my old beliefs was not easy. When I was 21, I had an abortion, and met a wonderful woman that I truly loved and wanted to spend the rest of my life with, which made me wonder if I truly was going to go to hell. That sucked! I'd see one of those awful Jack Chick tracts and get the shivers, knowing I'd believed in that shit for so long. Even with all my religion-hopping, I'd never quite let go of those basic beliefs. I had a tendency to go to a church and throw myself into it, only to later get fed up with it and move on. So instead, I didn't go to church for 2 years, and studied everything on my own.

A few weeks ago I went to a church in my town, and that was when I finally met some people who felt the same way that I did -- that there was a God, but not the asshole church god that I knew and loved, and that the true religion is what's right for you!

And that is where I finally found my closure.

URL: http://www.geocities.com/xenagoddess18

State: Co

Country: USA

Became a Christian: 7

Ceased being a Christian: 23

Labels before: Nazarene, LDS, Messianic Jew

Labels now: My own path

Why I joined: Going to church with mom was fun! And I got cool prizes!

Why I left: I decided it was all a bunch of shit!

Atheist, Brother of Christian

sent in by Deamond

(First, a warning; this story doesn't get interesting until well after I became an Atheist.)

Perhaps it was a mistake for a catholic school to bring children on an excursion to a museum, because such places, unlike schools, encourage you to THINK.

When I was a kid, I had a tendency to question everything. I would never do anything I was told unless they explained to me why I should. I knew, from an early age, I would never be a very good soldier.

I once believed in God, and back then, I also believed in Santa, the Tooth Fairy, Witches, Vampires, Bugs Bunny, you name it. I think I believed in Santa longer than God, actually. I think Courtney Love said it best; "I don't really miss God, but I sure do miss Santa Clause!"

After I became aware of the contradictions between Religion and Science, I began thinking about it. During that time, I didn't know the word "Agnostic", but that's what I was.

I was also aware of other religions, and became aware of the similarities between them. In Australia, there are about 500 different aboriginal tribes, each with their own language and culture. They too have their own genesis stories.

In one story, the Tortoise and the Echidna (An Echidna is a small, ant-eating, semi-subterranean marsupial with a long nose and long sticky tongue, and its back in covered in quills, like a hedgehog, only smaller.)

The two animals were fighting, the Echidna was throwing rocks and the Tortoise was throwing sticks, and somehow the resulting injuries were passed down genetically from one generation to the next, WITH the sticks and rocks, resulting in the shells and quills of today.

The same theme can also be seen in Christianity; the idea that an injury (The loss of a rib) can somehow be passed on genetically.

Eventually I came to the conclusion that Christianity is no different from Greek or Egyptian mythology, whereas Science is actually based on evidence. I also suspect that belief in God is actually very similar to belief in Santa in many respects, is the "Mommy wouldn't lie to me" thing.

It wasn't until long after I became a Atheist that I found out about my parent's own religious doubts.

My Dad was raised Catholic, as I was, and he believes that there is a god, but he doesn't believe everything the Church or the Bible says.

Mum is religious but not a fanatic. She has a sense of humor, she's interested in saints, but she told me once she doesn't believe in Angels.

(Here's where the story gets interesting)

my older brother is a Christian. He's also a liar, a smoker, a drunk, a drug user, a hypocrite, a dickhead, an asshole, a thief, and basically an adult toddler with a drug habit. He claims he is not addicted, yet he has yet to quit, at least, at any given time, he'll usually have used "Choof" as he calls it more recently than the last time he claimed he quit. He's completely selfish and self-centered, he has little concept of logic, and he has a self-serving sense of right and wrong (As I says, he's a hypocrite).

The "Choof" by the way is the cause of his schizophrenia, yet he keeps using it. He was always an asshole and always will be, but now he's a STONED asshole. The first time I saw him really out of it (Just before we put him in a mental ward) he was talking about religion, but not all of it made any sense. The words were English, but the sentences were, I dunno.

I think there are two kinds of "Victims", one is where the word "Victim" is a simple matter of fact, as in someone to whom a crime occurred. The other is where the word "Victim" is a personality trait. Everything that ever happened to you, including your own actions, is everyone's fault but your own. A lot of victims are criminals, because, how can you feel guilt if your own actions weren't your own fault.

My brother is easily the second kind of Victim.

(Here's where it gets real interesting)

New Years, 2000/2001, 3am, a night no one concerned will soon forget.

I was asleep at the time, but Mum woke be up at 5 to tell me what happened at 3.

My brother stole mum's car and smashed it repeatedly into his now ex girlfriend's car (I won't say her name). Also;

*he was drunk
*and stoned
*didn't have a license
*no seatbelts
*took car without permission, and mum soon reported it stolen (I don't think she reported it stolen until after the fact)
*Earlier that night, already got in trouble with cops for disturbing the peace
*Possibly speeding
*Also used Mum's car to destroy a big mailbox (In Australia, some people live in "Flats", which is basically a small group of houses all paying rent to the same person. like an apartment building only flat. In this case, all the flats share one big thing made of bricks which contains mail boxes for each flat.)

Apparently, he was angry at her for two reasons; one minor, the other imagined. The minor one was that she went to a party to which SHE was invited and HE wasn't, because he's an asshole. The imagined reason was that she was supposedly cheating on him. (If there was another guy, why the hell would she hang around this asshole?)

I think it's safe to say that she leered a valuable lesson the hard way; if your boyfriends own family warn you to stay away from him, not because they don't lake you but because he's an asshole, they probably know what they're talking about. She's the nicest person in the world, but seems to make poor choices in men (case in point)

But all that is not the worst of it; at the time, my nephew was three years old, and the girl in question is his mother.

Since then, Mum and my nephew's Mum want absolutely nothing to do with "What's his name" as I like to call him now, both families hat him (Us and my nephew's mother's family) and what's-his-name has been disowned.

As for me, I've been telling Mum that we should've kicked him out ages ago, and no one argues with me anymore.

I'm just glad my nephews Mum's a Baptist; Baptist ministers can marry, and are therefore less likely to be pedophiles.

Then, of course, there's September 11th, which conformed some of my theories, liken that religion is evil, or at least has been corrupted by humans.

City: Melbourne

State: Victoria

Country: Australia

Became a Christian: About 0 or 1

Ceased being a Christian: About 14

Labels before: Roman Catholic

Labels now: Atheist, or Darwinian

Why I joined: Children will believe anything you tell 'em

Why I left: I became an Agnostic because of the difference between Christianity and Science, and an Atheist because of the similarities between Christianity and every other religion on the planet

God Hates the Sin -Christians Hate the Sinner

sent in by Meagan

I have been writing for a few years now, and a great deal of my writing revolved around how my views of Christianity changed. I have seen my close friends change, and many others who I have known remain the same. My close friends have turned away from the Christians, as I have done as well, sometimes unwillingly.

My unanswered questions were the same that everyone else had. For the longest time I had the feeling that God was being sincere to me, and he put me in situations where I was to keep the group of Christians that I had known together and close in the body of Christ. Many agreed with me and followed in my footsteps. We gathered out in the parking lot of a restaurant after the praise and worship service. Three times we had done this, and every experience brought us closer to seeing a glimpse of heaven. The third time was a true experience that I still cannot explain. It was November, fairly cold and late in the evening, right downtown in the heart of the city. We had our prayer circle happening with about twelve of us gathered together. We were praying in great depth and concentration.

One of the girls looked up and she said, 'oh my God you guys look up.' I was not expecting to see anything at all but to my surprise I saw something quite amazing. The Northern Lights were bright above dripping down and swirling in vivid colors of blue and green. Now, everybody knows that you don't usually see the Northern lights early in the winter and you definitely don't see them right downtown and directly above. The reason: the lights of the city are too bright. You can't even see the stars. "Wow! Praise the Lord!" They screamed out, reaching up for the dripping colors and all that crap.

After that experience, I wanted to keep the prayer circle happening, but human nature set in, and the group was divided by their own issues. "Oh, I don't talk to that guy anymore, he downloads porn on his computer. I saw a picture of a girl with a flippy haircut, and a black scoop neck. She looked premiscious." I was devoted at that time to improving the Body of Christ. After all, Christians must be victorious over the devil, right?

It was the beginning of a long realization that it didn't work. I thought Christians were supposed to be devoted to keeping together in fellowship, and in spirit. "Isn't the Lord the reason we're here? We should be uplifting each other." I encouraged them. No one cared.

Now my long time friend of eight years was a well respected Christian. He was married to an "ex-witch" (Oh, I love that line.) He invited me to live with him in his basement suite, which he rents out to university students. A barren room with a concrete floor. The carpet had gone moldy and it had to be removed. Every Tuesday my good roomate had the members of his band come over and they had something called kinship. An actual pastor came by to lead the group in worship. "If you were a part of the body of Christ, which part are you?" They would ask.

As usual, the pastor had some wonky ideas about schizophrenics, thinking that they had some unique gift of being able to connect with the spiritual. "My children have seen the demonic!" Some of the older Christians would say.

"There is a demon over every city in the world that watches. One of my friends prayed over this demon that he saw and he lost his family and everything dear to him!"

Eli's bandmates claimed they could see demons sitting up in the corners of the church. They caused his bandmates to fight amongst themselves.

Theodore's wife was plagued with "evil demons" and she was taken to weekly exorcisms. She was vomiting into a bucket in church. Some of the other possessed had the spirits of rock and roll. The demons of "joke." Of course none other than the bastard saint himself, Bob Larson had his hand in the matter. The Xtian that brought her to the exorcism was seeing her behind her husband's back. "Come out spirit!" He screamed as he fornicated with her on the exorcism couch.

Being the good Christians that we were, we told her husband so that he may know about what is happening behind his own back. Rightly so. She was caught red handed, and he wanted a divorce. "God hates divorce." He had already known, and could not release himself from his own marriage. The only ball and chain around his leg was the one he put there, called "Religion."

She must have been a witch of one kind or another, because her violent hatred brought me through hell for the next couple of months.

A learning experience about Christianity. How far does one explore before they come to this realization. I've been searching everywhere for the past ten years and have scraped up nothing but filth, deceit and hatred. "God hates the sin, and Christians hate the sinner."

The strong ties that Christianity has bound between close friends that have been together for eight years had been broken. The desire to keep the Body of Christ tightly secured has failed, there was nothing that could be done, no matter how hard I try.

My level of respect for Christians and number of Christian friends went from forty to three. Friendships of six months had been abruptly cut short by her friends because they saw that I was not a real Christian. In a rage, I told her friend in front of her good Christian friends, "Don't come and tell me that I'm not a genuine Christian, it is you after all that is getting fucked before you're married."

her face went pale white - she lapsed back into shock and ran from the others that initially brought up their courage to confront the unholy. She was in tears that someone had unleashed the truth in such a bold way.

Now, my real friends, who had long left the church advised me never to get into this bullshit again. "It's garbage, its all about business." In a year, my entire understandings of what Christianity were had been changed to allow me to see something I did not want to see. Everything related to Christianity was negative. Oh, and heaven forbid, my boss at a restaurant was gay. He was a great guy, I liked him a lot, and to be honest, he was one of the best supervisors I had ever had. There was a table that came in to celebrate something. They treated Leo pretty poorly because he was gay. I read one of the cards left behind, and what do you know: the reason why they treated Leo poorly is because they were taught that homosexuality was an abomination, and they'd have nothing to do with him.

Finally, my thoughts towards Xtianity were confirmed. The only guy remaining from the Christian group was a guy that I smoked a few joints with. He smoked now because it gave him relief from the stress he was going through.

A few years later my long time friend who left behind a hard life, lots of drinking, selling drugs became devoted to the Lord and he was able to leave behind many things that kept him back. "If I believe any one thing in my life is keeping me from following Christ, I just get rid of it!" He was always so determined. His life changed for the better, and I was very proud of him.

Again, I am shown great things that the Lord has done to special people in my life, and I watch as it is destroyed. People have moments of strength and weakness. I come to accept that, but during this time of weakness where my friend is smoking marijuana again (heaven forbid) his pastor decided that God asked him to move to Ontario Canada.

For a long time now, my friend and his wife, along with everyone else in the congregation had invested their trust and lives to this man, and he - through Jesus Christ was going to make them into better people. Through the Holy Spirit, there can be no flaw. My friend submitted to the pastor, and allowed him to take control, since he was a pastor that was annointed by the holy spirit.

Then, the pastor abandoned them. Everyone in the congregation was left with nowhere to turn. They felt betrayed, and I was not surprised.

Those who follow an incomplete and flawed religion will be hurt like this, I have come to know it as a fact now. Christianity never worked from the beginning.

Right from the time when Peter, the head honcho of the disciples of Jesus Christ was too racist to eat with anyone who wasn't a Jew.

The only reason why hell is a bad place is because it's filled with Christians.

City: ChTown

State: PE

Country: CAN

Became a Christian: 15

Ceased being a Christian: 26

Labels before: all

Labels now: More Wise

Why I joined: Seemed a wise decision

Why I left: An Open Mind Saw the Faults

Email Address: jmatthews48@hotmail.com

Why not me?

sent in by John E. Denison

I have spent a life time looking for the answer to mankinds most profound questions. I first had experience with church as a child. I would go by myself to evening protestant services at the Army Post Chapel in Bamberg Germany.

A very bizarre thing happened one night when a man I never saw before wouldn't let me and my friend in because we weren't with our parents. That ended 3 years of my faithfull attendance.

We moved to Ft. Ord Ca.(Monterey Bay area) when I was 13 that is where I grew up. I had already begun my search for answers to mankinds burning questions of why are we here, how did we get here, and how are we supposed to conduct ourselves etc? During my adolesence I pretty much professed atheism. This was the 60's. I drifted towards left wing beliefs I joined several well known radical groups thinking they had the answers, I was wrong.

I joined several different eastern religious groups and some new age groups couldn't find it there.

In 1984 I was 36 years old and pretty miserable, I couldn't face the day without being high and had no idea how to be a decent husband and parent. Then I got arrested and sentenced to 6 years probation. During that time I was so despondent about how my life had turned out I began to call out to God even though I wasn't sure anybody was listening. In my despair I think either the placebo effect kicked in or somebody heard me.

I began to make some dramatic changes in my behavior. Several months later I asked my wife if she wanted to go to church, she was suprised but agreed.

Only later did we discover that the church we first went too treated most new comers the way they treated us. Our family was in turmoil we were looking for that church that accepted people as they were, this one didn't like newcomers.

I did develop a relationship of sorts with the Pastor but soon realized that he had a "big fish in a little pond complex". I would ask him questions like didn't Jesus want us to minister to the lost especially the poor and down trodden. He would agree but told me the people in the church weren't ready for that.

Finally there was a church split, I had been encouraging him to start a church where every body was welcome and we didn't forget the poor. He would call me his prophet during this time it was traumatic for every one concerned.

Finally he decided he was going to hook up with the Vineyard Christian Fellowship Churches. Not my idea but I went along, he told every body how God had spoken to him directly. That was strange to me because I had spent alot of time advising and listening to him.

The church he started was very upper middle class and oriented to manifestations of the holy spirit, tongues and prophesy especially. I steadily made people angry because I would say things like if you have the holy spirit why aren't you concerned with the things Jesus was concerned with? Or the gifts of the spirit are supposed to lead to the fruits of the spirit what happened?

A church popped up near me called Victory Outreach. The mission of this church was to reach the poor and down trodden and dope addicts and gangsters because Jesus will set you free. First I was a liason from the Vineyard but then one of the leaders of Victory on the state wide level asked did I really expect the Vineyard to really get behind me and what God was calling me to do. I left the Vineyard and went to Victory.

Not good Victory turned out to be very close to a cult. The cause came before your family or anything else, the nice friendly Pastor Roy in Dallas turned into a fire breathing monster. I worked 40 or 50 hours at my job and another 30 or 40 in the ministry, my wife had to learn how to be a christian wife, so she cleaned the pastors house and was in classes everyday. My children were left alone.

The only reason I stayed there for 3 years was because I really did feel good about ministering to some of the people who came looking for a change in their life.
Finally I resigned, my wife was miserable my children were a mess. I immediately was treated like a guy leaving a gang, they even made subtle physical threats.
Then we decided to go to the Assemblys of God.

Every body told us they loved us, but nobody would visit us because we lived in a low income neighborhood.

I got involved in the churches out reach to the poor.

In 1995 I had quadruple-by-pass. The Doctor told me to find something else to do besides running my little masonry business. So I talked to the Pastor and went to Bible School and Community College for substance abuse counseling certificate.
The church had two houses where homeless people lived and I got the job of riding heard on these gentlemen. I had to work 70 hours a week minimum and was told I would be payed according to what I generated from working with these fellows in jobs that generated an income. I was back to being a working foreman with even more frustrations.

I would tell my guys that Jesus could change them and they could become whatever they wanted but the other leaders in the church kept telling them to stay in their place.

The guys that had a desire to change lost the initiative.
All this time they were looking for a pastor to head up this ministry, the senior pastor said he didn't see me manifesting the gifts of the spirit like speaking real loud in tongues etc.

So I couldn't be more than a glorified babysitter with the title of Discipleship Director. The straw that broke the camels baxk was two fold. One was that I got busy and made the ministry profitable I worked hard used my contacts and encouraged the guys with incentives like store bought food instead of donations. The board decided they better cap my income at $350.00 a week. I was married had six kids at home working 70 plus hours a week no benefits and could only make 350 a week. I really felt loved.

They finally brought in a guy to be pastor of this ministry but he was fixated on helping the senior pastor run the church and talked bad about him all the time.
This guy also contradicted evrything I said or did with the guys in the program. So I realized it was time for me to go.

We tried other churches but the whole family just couldn't handle it.
Looking back on it I think some times what did that guy mean I didn't have the manifestation of the holy spirit?

I truly cared and tried to help the homeless and addicted men I came into contact with, I didn't pray loud in tongues but I did try to show compassion, isn't that what Jesus did?

URL: www.focusonyourlife.net

City: Dallas

State: Texas

Country: USA

Became a Christian: 9 and 36

Ceased being a Christian: 50

Labels before: Assembly's of God, Vineyard Christian Fellowship,Charismatic

Labels now: none

Why I joined: profound spiritual experience

Why I left: contradictions

Email Address: webmaster@focusonyourlife.net

No Longer Religous

sent in by Iris

I’m now 34 years old, I was raised in the Christian Faith. I was in the Church of God in Christ all my life and was taught the doctrine of that domination (cult). At 21, I received the baptism of the Holy Sprit, which was one of the happiest days of my life because for the first time I really felt the presence of God or some higher power in my life. At the church I attended, I sang on the choir, was the secretary of the Women's Department and I participated in the activities that went on there. Everything in my life surrounded by the church I lived and breathed it and I looked down on others the didn’t share my beliefs. I made lots of friends... good friends at that church. I know they are good friends because I always choose my friends carefully. Although I no longer attend church, we are still friends.

My life as a Christian was almost the same as everyone else here before they left Christianity; very restrictive, most confusing and almost oppressive. Almost everything from going to the cinema to wearing nail polish, even clear nail polish was a sin.

Three years ago, out of the blue, I just lost the desire to attend church, any church for that matter. I wasn't angry at anyone, no one had hurt me, I loved the church I went to. My love for God never changed, however, my opinion of the bible has. At first I felt ashamed and scared because of what my family and church friends would think of me so I lied and told them I was attending another church. After a year, I didn’t care who knew.

Some Sundays, I go to my mother's church and I have a great time but I still couldn't understand why I couldn’t get myself to go back to church regularly. I prayed for God to give me understanding about my Dilemma. One day, while surfing the internet, I began to accidentally come into sites that emphasized the importance of having a spiritual relationship with God vs. being religious.

I began studying other religions and their beliefs outside of the Christian religion and found that however, flawed like Christianity, their beliefs surround the principles of God's commandments, however, they don’t emphasize Christ and the Trinity. Some religious books, such as the Koran are in harmony with the bible. The Koran acknowledges Jesus Christ as being the son of God, sent by God to save humanity but they believe that God the Father should be worshiped more than God the Son since He is the one who sent Christ in the first place. I found that we Christians tend to worship God the Son more than God the Father, in church, in our songs and etc.

A few months ago, I stumbled upon this book called "The Dark Side of Christian History" by Helen Ellerbe... have any of you ever read it? If not, I think you should read it sometime. This book was written in a concise fashion and details the horrors, both spiritually and physically, that the early Church visited upon members of society. I found Helen Ellerbe's research to be thorough, with a bibliography citing many historical documents and publications. I believe that the book is not something that Ellerbe just wrote. She did some serious research on the dark history of Christianity when it became a organized religion. Although some things have changed in the Christian church today, some aspects of our doctrines still reflect the dark doctrines of the early church.

In conclusion, folks, God wanted to show me that there is more to him than what I was learning in church. but in order for me to see that, I had to lose the programming that I received from being in the church all my life. I began to research into things that I was forbidden to go into by the church because it was considered a sin. What I learned from my research, is that any person, who is lives a morally clean life, who loves humanity as well as himself has eternal life regardless of whether they worship Christ or not!
I no longer live a religious life but I live a spiritual life in which I now look within myself for answers, not the church.

State: Tennessee

How old were you when you became a christian? --- 10 yrs. old

How old were you when you ceased being a christian? --- 34 yrs. old

What churches or organizations or labels have applied to you? --- Chrismatic/Pentecostal

What labels, if any would you apply to yourself now? --- Spiritual

Why did you become a christian? --- I was taught that it was the right thing to do

Why did you deconvert? --- It was the right thing to do

Email Address: irisaboyd at hotmail.com

I’ll take your freak and your heretic and raise you a sheep

sent in by Erin

You could say that I was raised in the church. I was christened as a baby, I attended scripture classes at school on Thursday mornings from Kindergarten to Year 5 (church and state are not separate in Australia by any means), and my family attended church regularly when I was in Year 4 (yes, it was only for one year). I was even yanked out of the local public school at the age of eleven and a half and enrolled in the local campus of the largest Christian school in the area. At that highly impressionable age, I thought it was the best thing since sliced bread. I ‘knuckled down’ and worked hard, I even willingly attended the start-of-year church service four years in a row, and I went to the local youth group every Friday night from Year 7 to Year 10 (at two different churches mind you – the Anglican church down the road and the Uniting church in the middle of town). But at the very beginning of 2000, my impressions of the church began to change.

For those of you who never attended a Christian school, take my word for it – it is not all it is cracked up to be. Religion is a part of each and every lesson. And I mean each and every. English, Mathematics, languages, Science, it doesn’t matter. And we were FORCED to sit in our roll call rooms while our roll call teachers dished out lie after lie. The teachers at the school I attended are hypocrites and completely insensitive to the students’ needs. They would tell the students to act like good little Christians, and when the students’ backs were turned they themselves would do the complete opposite. And for someone like me, whose self-esteem had already been destroyed by six torturous years in the public school system, who was far too trusting for their own good, and who was insecure both psychologically and emotionally, it was hell on earth. I contemplated suicide in the middle of Year 9, was depressed (but never diagnosed) for the remainder of high school, and tried my damnedest to be sent back to public school from Year 8 onwards. I pretty much just gave up on school – I didn’t want to be there, nor did I care whether I passed or failed.

Here is an example of how hypocritical and insensitive the teachers at the school I went to are. When I was nine, nearly nine and a half, my second cousin Wayne lost his parents in a murder-suicide. It happened ten years ago, yet to this day I am unable to forget one of the worst days of my life. Perhaps because it was my first experience of the brutality and cruelty of death and loss. My parents encouraged me to go to school the day after it happened, which I did, and my teacher explained to my class what had happened to my family. That was the first time I realised how loss can bring people together. Some years later, one of my roll call teachers must have caught me crying over what had happened, for the very next morning she launched into a spiel about how everybody MUST move on after losing someone they loved, looking right at me as she said it. I cannot even begin to tell you how outraged I was. My parents aren’t even aware of how much it still affects me ten years later – the only person I have ever told is my best friend – and yet some teacher can pass judgment without even knowing what happened all those years ago.

Another example involves my tendency to draw a complete blank during major exams. Ever since Year 8, when I started doing end-of-year exams, I have had the major misfortune of ‘freezing up’ during exams – I may have studied my arse off the night before, and yet I will still forget what I’ve learned. It even happened in the exams I did at the end of Year 12, which were the most important exams of my entire thirteen years of school. After roll call one morning during Year 10, the same teacher I have already mentioned pulled me aside as I was leaving for class and basically told me that my freezing up was simply a cry for attention. Believe me, it wasn’t, and to this day it still isn’t. But no matter. Her insensitivity horrified me to the point of tears.

Right up until the time I became an atheist, I was questioning what the Bible says about everything. I have since figured out for myself, using logic, that it is all lies. How could one lonely higher power create an entire world, when there is proof that it could never have happened? We have the fossilised skeletons of dinosaurs as proof – if there is some kind of god who crafted a whole world in one week, why don’t the aforementioned creatures rate a mention? Therefore science is the only proof we have. Does the Bible find cures for diseases? No. Does the Bible aid in medical research or advances? No. Science is the only thing that does this.

Another example. Christmas, Easter and Halloween started out as pagan festivals. And yet, Christians have laid claim to the first two. The school I went to wholly embraced Easter and Christmas, but shunned Halloween as being the root of all evil and associated wholly with the occult. The occult has nothing to do with Halloween in the first place! I repeat, all three began as PAGAN FESTIVALS. If Halloween is evil in every way, shape or form, then why in America, which lays claim to one of the largest contingencies of Christian-based religions in the world, is it celebrated year after year? Okay, yes, Halloween is not an Australian tradition, and I have never had the opportunity to experience it for myself, but no matter.

Ever since I became an atheist, I have been called a freak and a heretic, been followed around school by children up to ten years younger than me who at the same time had been singing sickeningly inane little rhymes, had massively heavy Bibles dropped on top of whatever I may have been doing at the time (no, they did not care if there was something breakable on the desk at the time), and been the constant focus of prayer, even if I have asked (and even ordered) the person doing the praying not to do so. It seems that in the company of Christians, the opinions of atheists and agnostics hold no sway. I am constantly asked by people I consider to be friends if I am a Christian yet. I seriously doubt they will desist anytime soon, despite the fact that my answer is always the same and will never change.

In summary, I have only this to say about Christians in general – they are sheep who blindly follow the teachings of a man who may or may not have even existed, and nothing more. I do not hate Christians, but at the same time I don’t like them; instead I merely tolerate them. Because of my experience with religion, coupled with my experience of school in general, I am bitter, I am cynical, I am hardened emotionally, and I am scarred psychologically. I do not know if the wounds will ever heal, or if the scars that already exist will ever disappear. And unless someone develops a way to do this, I very much doubt that I will ever know.

URL: http://firebird.laminated-rockstar.com

City: Albion Park

State: New South Wales

Country: Australia

Became a Christian: I was born into the faith i.e. christened

Ceased being a Christian: Fifteen

Labels before: Church of England (now the Anglican Church of Australia)

Labels now: Atheist

Why I joined: My parents had me christened, therefore it was not my decision

Why I left: Actions of other Christians, started to question the Bible’s teachings

Betrayal of Heart and Mind

sent in by Maria

This is quite a long and terrible story, and I hope readers will forgive any lack of articulation or misspellings.

>From the very beginning, I was born into a life of difficulty and hardship. I was born the oldest child, into a household of domestic abuse, alcoholism-- my father was in and out of the picture after age 4-- in and out of jail for drugs, abuse toward my mother, ect. Due to these troubles, my mom temporarily decided to seek help and counsel by attending a local Baptist church. The pastor, a real Man of God, instructed my mother to do the will of god and submit, to reconcile with my abusive father-- at least until he finally put her head through our back door and she was rushed to the hospital after fleeing with myself and my younger brother and sister-- the church didn't quite know how to respond to that, though they would eventually come up with some very interesting solutions. Sometime in the middle of these happenings, I remember attending an "adult" service for the first time-- there was no one there to do children's church that evening and so I sat with my mother, at 5, and listened to the preacher scream. I do not remember what compelled me to go up to the altar at that age. But I did. And I remember praying with the ministers wife. O Please Forgive My Five Year Old Sins!

Anyway, after my father was sentenced to 45 days in jail (reduced sentence) for putting my mother in the hospital, and after my mother felt that she was temporarily safe from him (we had gone to a women's shelter for almost the entire second half of my first grade year-- I completed most the assignments at the shelter and my mom would mail them back to the elementary school) we stopped going to church on Sundays and begin going to a beach about an hour north. For awhile, I forgot about god, but before long I was wondering why we stopped going-- a mystery that would remain so for several more years. In the meanwhile, my father was in and out of jail for various things-- mom had a restraining order against him but he still came around. There were several things going on at the same time-- I for one, was diagnosed with a rare syndrome and had two major reconstructive surgeries before age 11- meanwhile my dad did things like-- jump our car and try to kidnap us on memorial day, then broke into the house one night and beat my mother nearly unconscious against the bathroom door--

this was about the time I started going to another Baptist church with my brother and sister-- it started with summer bible school-- this time it was different though. Even as I do not remember all the questions I asked the leaders, I remember being very skeptical about God in general. I wondered why bad things happened-- and I remember them telling a story about children involved in a car accident needing to confess before being burned alive otherwise they were doomed to spend eternity in hell. I remember the end of the story being that the parents died as Christians, trying to get their young children to convert-- they didn't, they all died, and the parents went to heaven, and immediately forgot about their children because it they were sinners and would not accept God's glorious plan. Well folks, even at eleven I knew this was bullshit. I quit church and declared myself an atheist.

During this time my father was apparently in Hawaii. He would send postcards and letters with mixed messages slamming my mother (why he eventually gave up custody, the court order supervised visits-- I suppose when he could no longer harass my mom, he decided we weren't worth it.) Anyway, at 14 mom decided we needed to move somewhere before my dad killed us all. He was back in Michigan again and live the next block over-- even though she had numerous restraining orders. Back then and people tell me it hasn't changed much- the cops didn't take domestic disputes very seriously-- often mom could call the cops, they would show up, leave and that was it. She told them he was just the next block over but they never did anything about it.

So we moved in the middle of my freshman year. We had not been in the new house four months, and a reporter from the Detroit News called to ask my mother about my father. He had killed his adopted father down in Indiana in a very brutal, sick way. Later on (about a year ago) I found some court documents online. Turns out he set a new precedent for the supreme court for the state of Indiana with his appeals request-- go dad! (riiiiiiiiiiiiight)

Anyway, by the time I was 14 I was one fucked up, angry girl, and just prime for a desperate conversion. I started writing. In high school I had a mentor who helped and encouraged my writing. One day while talking to him he commented, "well, there couldn't be good if there wasn't God right." My response was to question if there was even good at all. So the journey began. I read lots of books (all Christian :( ) and still thought it was bullshit. I had a friend at the time who was wiccan. She encouraged my spiritual quest, but also cautioned me. I should've listened to her, but I didn't. I actually ended up judging her and we haven't spoken in years. Another friend of mine was active in the Church of God, Anderson. Well I started going and was eventually adopted into the pastors family as an extra kid. I think now that I am older, I understand what I was seeking was the love of a father. I know it is Freudian, but maybe there's truth to some of that stuff. I've seen it again and again in my role models, relationships, ect. I crave the innocent love of father figures--

but at 15 I didn't think it was about this. I honestly thought I was searching out god. I had theological discussions with this pastor and his wife, and was more and more accepted into the churches inner circle, and into their family. So one day, feeling "the presence of god", I confessed my sins and accepted Christ and was baptized six months later, at 16. I struggled to see god, I struggled to do the right thing-- but I also liked to have fun. My circle of friends at church were real party animals on Saturday-- confessors on Sunday. I saw this at hypocrisy-- but I didn't want to break away and lose the affection of the pastor and his wife. Things were rocky at home with my own family and I spent more and more time at my 21 year boyfriends house (!) and at church (!) Finally, small town as it was, the church found out and began suspecting my activities with my boyfriend. I moved out of my house at 17 and into my boyfriends apartment with his twin brother and my best friend who was dating the brother. I began skipping school, drinking heavily, and smoking pot. But I still went to youth group!!!! At this point I realize I forgot to mention some other horrible events-- my grandpa killed himself, my real dad's dad was in a motorcycle accident, the daughter of the minister's husband was killed in a freak auto accident, a neighbor who;s dogs I watched as a part time job died of diabetes--

anyway enough of this sadness

Three months before graduation, I found out my boyfriend was cheating on me. I had missed a lot of school and just decided to drop out. After that I got on a bus with a backpack and the remainder of my tax refund, to Portland Oregon. I went there because I had applied to college and been accepted out there, and thought there might be a chance I could still go (a Christian college at that !) To be honest, I had sulked around the apartment for a week reading Stephen king novels, and was contemplating suicide, when I got the bright idea to get on a bus.

In Portland I was homeless, worked at a dry cleaner downtown, got an apartment and attending an alternative school, getting my GED, meet so many people who had it worse than I did. During this time I tried to be close to God-- well I read the bible more and prayed a lot-- I was completely alone in the world and really needed God-- and it felt like god was there. That summer I reconciled with my mom and went back home.

I found out July of that year I could still go to Warner. Meanwhile another women in the church, part of the inner circle who I had been close to-- she was a REAL person, she loved to go to the casino-- we related with each other because we were both struggling with "sins". Anyway she died of cancer 4 days before my flight. I spoke at her funeral and got on a plane the next day, back to Portland to begin my Christian education.

The trouble was that I had lived a totally different life in Portland just months earlier and found it impossible to live in the dogmatic bubble that seemed to surround the college. I skipped classes, I dated a man much older than myself, I dated another kid I had met my first time to Portland, and then I dated a seminary student. I thought I was "in love." But alas (this is getting to be long winded so I will try to wrap it up). It didn't work out. I was seeking god out in all this, reading all sorts of books now on all different religions, going to all different churches-- trying anything, fasting, meditating, silent retreats, softball metaphors LOL-- I was desperate. I knew I lost my scholarship winter semester and that I wouldn't be able to return in the spring. I tried to kill myself after the closing night of a play I had starred in-- I convinced myself it was my moral obligation to finish the play-- but not to live! How logical-- anyway I was rushed unconscious to the hospital where I had my stomach pumped, did time in ICU and was released after being told a kid who had taken the same amount of Tylenol I did was going to die if he didn't get a new liver. Oh yeah, my little suicide stunt took place on good Friday too-- creative girl, aint I?

I went home. I got a job as a park ranger and went back to my old church which had a new pastor now. (Old pastor and wife retired, sold everything and moved to Missouri-- I am still in touch with them thankfully, they still love me even though I am not a Christian-- took me a long time to understand that-- for which I am tremendously thankful). At church again I quickly climbed the ladder-- taking a year off from college, I had the time to do it. I became the youth leader. Meanwhile I knew I was almost done with my faith. Even as I told others about God, I hated him or worse, could barely believe in him. Finally I couldn't take it anymore. I was a hypocrite-- a replica of my loathing, the very thing I hated most. So I quit.

By then, encouraged by others, I went back to college at a local school. The college was very different and very secular. I felt very threatened even though I knew I was already done with my faith. At this point I was still trying to pray, trying to work things out-- I had a friend and mentor who was Pentecostal. He told me my problem was I had been THINKING too much and needed to let god takeover. I started going to different Pentecostal churches, looking for god yet again. At the same time I was going through this I had a class which was very challenging to my faith. I often felt attacked and insulted. But at the same time, my ideas were changing, I was starting to have to think about the beliefs I was ascribing to-- finally I decided to become a non Christian-- the last straw was when my friend died the 21st of December, 2001. He asked me to believe God was going to physically heal him as he had been prophesied over with that message. So I did. That same semester I was being intellectually challenged about my faith, I was praying and trusting god with the life of my friend. When he died I was completely devastated.

It broke me. Now I have lived through a lot, but it really broke me. I literally cried for days and days. I tried to pray but was even more devastated. I was deserted, alone, betrayed, emptied out. And I vowed it was over. I have made a lot of New Years resolutions over the years.. but that is the only one I have kept.

It has been almost two years since my resolution and final break from the church. I have spent a great deal of time questioning morality and goodness apart from any church, apart from any god.

There is goodness and beauty in this world, and you don't need religion or god to experience it or find it. Look at the earth. Look at nature.

Nowadays when if I feel consumed by pain and "worldly" suffering-- I think of the words that a wise woman said to me: We save each other. I hope somehow this story can encourage someone else.

No matter what the hurt, or how deep the suffering, THINK for yourself. Don't let your vulnerability weaken you to brainwashing. It is a trick of Christians to accuse others of brainwashing when in fact they oft times are doing just that to YOU while preaching.

I think about all the pain in my life-- the pain caused by religion is almost more than all the other stuff put together. And why? Because I believed. I put my faith in something without thinking because I was hurt and I was young and I needed to be comforted.

God's "mercy" wasn't worth the cost

State: Michigan

Country: U.S.

Became a Christian: at 5 if by Calvin, at 15 if by Wesley

Ceased being a Christian: at 20

Labels before: Baptist, church of god, anderson, flirtations with Pentecostal (ie assemblies, lighthouse, apostolic)

Labels now: bitter agnostic, leanings toward humanist

Why I joined: at age 5, I cant remember what compelled me to confess, at age 15, desperation

Why I left: no evidence of god-- also education, logic

Psychology of Deconversion

sent in by Kevin

I’m wondering if anybody else out there has experienced anything similar to what I went through when I renounced “the Faith.”

When I first realized that I had sold my soul to a lie and was living my life for a future promise of everlasting life that was probably bogus I found myself with a problem. On the one hand, I felt wonderfully liberated from an enslaving mythology. I had become the captain of my own ship, and aside from chance circumstances that I cannot control, I was more or less back in charge of my life.

But a part of me missed the dogmatism. A part of me still longs for “absolute” pat answers to quench the gnawing questions that surface in my mind. I even find myself missing being the spiritual leader of a church. And I have to admit, from time to time the questions arise in my head “What if there really is a God and he kicks your ass at the last judgment?

Is this the work of the Holy Spirit in my life? Is he trying to convince me to rejoin the fold? Hardly. This internal voice that tries to push me back toward Christianity is nothing more than a remnant of my intense indoctrination as a fundamentalist.

I earned my undergraduate degree at an institution that thrived on emotionalism. I was required to attend chapel three times per week, and was subjected to intense group pressure. Visiting preachers would manipulate those in the audience to “come forward” by saying “If you feel convicted, come forward. If you don’t feel convicted, you REALLY need to come forward.” A masterful speaker can make the lone listener feel as though the entire group sides with him, and this creates a tremendous internal dynamic to conform to the group. As a species, evolution has endowed us with the trait of social conformity. In the past this has helped us survive. On the battlefield, for example, we cannot be individuals. In a society that is supposedly accepting of all beliefs (including a lack of belief), this trait can become our downfall. We conform to each other’s superstitions in order to preserve harmony at the cost of furthering our cultural evolution. We remain stuck in a quagmi
re of so-called “morality” that oppresses minorities (racial, sexual, and otherwise) and strives to return to a uniform belief system for all.

My opinion is that this is the basis of all human religion: Group conformity. Societies and cultures were controlled by religion for years. Religion is merely a tool used to promote conformity among citizens. The most ancient examples still endure: The emperor of Japan is Deity incarnate as was the Egyptian Pharaoh. In ancient Israel, it was the priestly class who spoke for Jehovah. In our time, the religious right would like to co-opt this role by “speaking for God” and assuring that the rest of us conform.

So, my fellow Atheists, Agnostics, Freethinkers, or whatever brand of heresy you have chosen to embrace, keep in mind that when the Christians come to this website to debate you, they are above all interested in your conformity. It isn’t so much WHAT you believe, but that you agree with them that matters. You have taken the plunge, extricating yourself from the shackles of superstition. Your very presence threatens them because it alerts them to the possibility of their OWN deconversion. They aren’t really fighting us when they debate us on this website. They are fighting their own doubts and struggles with their faith. You have simply become an object upon which they can externalize this conflict.

Why don’t some of you Christians come forward and address the issues of disbelief that had surfaced in your life? Why don’t you look at it honestly and examine the path that we who have left Christianity have trod? If you REALLY have the truth, you have nothing to be afraid of. If you don’t, well, maybe we can help you.


City: Yuma

State: AZ

Country: USA

Became a Christian: 18

Ceased being a Christian: 36

Labels before: Independent Baptist, Charismatic

Labels now: Atheist

Why I joined: It's a long story . . . .

Why I left: An examination of the facts

The "Why I'm not Christian" letter

Hello, all. My name is Loren.

My testimony will follow in the form of a letter which I wrote to a Christian online friend of mine who asked me why I identify as a former Christian. Isn't cut and paste a beautiful thing? She also asked me what I thought a Christian was, but I didn't answer that in this letter.

I am definitely a deist of some sort, but I now feel that Christianity is absolutely one of the worst things that ever befell us. It is an atrocity, a moral abomination, heresy, sacrilege and blasphemy all coated in honey. There is no excuse for it. It makes my blood boil.

Christians say they have the good news. Sorry, but my news is far better than any I ever heard from any Christian.

The letter follows:

Why I’m not Christian.

Sometime in my youth I took what I was told from the pulpit seriously although a lot of it seemed strange or disjointed from real life. I didn’t really question it too closely; I just thought that it was too complex and esoteric for me to understand. I don’t remember exactly when I became a Christian, but I have taken a number of alter calls, usually out of a sense of “Uh oh, what if it’s really true?”
I was never a devout believer. Rather, I was one of the many who proclaim Jesus publicly in order to avoid going to Hell, but it never really impacted my life beyond that. My sense of what Christianity is was pretty vague.

I’ve always loved theological and philosophical discussion, but even there, it was just an interesting intellectual exercise which didn’t have much to do with my life.

In 1987 something powerful and amazing happened to me. I am not going to go into details, but to put it in a nutshell, without my asking for it to happen, the immediate presence of God was revealed to me.

I know, I know. I realize how such a statement is bound to sound, which is why I almost never talk about it. I may share insights with people, but I don’t tell them how I came to have those insights.

It became undeniably clear to me that God is right here with us and within us. A loving God is present in all things. Absolutely everything is connected. It is all one thing, and it is alive and aware. I can perceive it more directly, as opposed to hearing about it and having to rely on belief.

All of creation is alive and aware and will converse with us if we just listen and pay attention. There is a huge wealth of information available that usually goes untapped by most people.

Of course my first reaction was, “O.K. That’s it. I’m psychotic. I’ve gone insane.” Imagine stepping through a door and finding yourself in a very real fairyland, just like in the children’s books. It was very much like waking up from a deep sleep. For a little while, I assumed that it would just “go away” after a bit, that I would “get better” and the world would go back to normal.

It never did. I spent about two years just trying to determine whether or not I was really insane. That was, after all, the most simple, likely and logical explanation. I ended up tearing down almost all of my old assumptions about reality and had to learn internal honesty and critical thinking from the ground up.

This is a huge reduction of all that I have been through with this stuff, but I felt that you should know that all of my opinions about God, spirit and various religions is centrally informed by my daily experience with living in a living and aware world which talks to me.

Now there are a great many reasons why I am no longer a Christian, but many of them are peripheral, (although they are still important) and I won’t dwell on them in order to keep this as brief as I can.

Being a Christian always felt strange and kind of icky to me. It just never felt right or good. But, of course, due to my Christian indoctrination, I just assumed that these feelings were a result of my own sin and sinful nature. When I went through my awakening, I thought, “Oh, crap!! This is it! I better get my ducks in a row and start being a real Christian before something hits the fan.” So I started doing my best which was still a pretty sad and pathetic example, but it got me to read my Bible more.

A funny thing happened. The more I read the Bible, the more I felt wrong when I claimed to be a Christian. I don’t mean wrong as in “I’m too sinful to be a Christian” or “I’m not sincere enough” or any other version of those old chestnuts. I mean wrong as in “Hey, I think there’s something wrong with my Bible!” And I found more and more things that “God has said” which just made absolutely no sense to me. No logical sense, no moral sense, and above all, no sense in light of what I saw of God’s actual behavior in my life and the world around me.

Now, from the beginning I have always understood that there is a difference between God’s truth and church doctrine. I have always known that there are eleventy-seven sects of Christianity who disagree over doctrine, and many who are perfectly happy to claim that those who disagree with them are “not true Christians”. I never took such things too seriously, and felt that God really didn’t give a rat’s behind whether a baptism was done by dunking or sprinkling. I also understood the variability of such things as the fallibility of translation, interpretation, and the transmission of meaning across the boundaries of cultural context. I knew that such human factor things (and others) would unavoidably lead to weaknesses in the text of the Bible. I have never been a Bible literalist because I was too aware of such things.

So I began by thinking that perhaps my discomfort with being Christian was the result of my assimilating some erroneous or relatively unimportant doctrine(s) which might not be sitting well with my intuition or conscience. I started to examine various tenets and doctrines from the standpoint of this assumption: If I can excise this particular tenet from my Christianity and still be a Christian, then that tenet must not be central to what Christianity really is. I would not even worry about whether the tenet in question was right or wrong. I would just remove it and see what that left me with.

By this method I went through a process of elimination in order to find out what really constituted Christianity. I was looking for a thing (or things) which, when it was present in Christianity, then Christianity could rightly be called Christianity, but when it was absent, one could no longer call what remained Christianity.

Does this make sense to you? It was the best that an uneducated screw up like me could come up with at the time. My problem with taking these questions to pastors and scholars was that while they could often back up their opinions with impressive research, in the end, it was always their own beliefs and why I should conform to them. While I often learned a great deal from such people, I never was left with the feeling that I was getting closer to the truth.

So I continued this process of culling. It was like taking a deck of cards and throwing them in the trash one by one in order to find the joker.

By the same method, I did a parallel search for anything which was genuinely unique only to Christianity. As to this second search, it has never really ended and I have not found any item which is not available elsewhere. I always knew that some of Christianity is an amalgam of other things, but I never expected to find that it is nothing but an amalgam of other things. This did not lead me to conclude that Jesus was entirely fictitious so much as it discredited a huge number of claims made by Christians about the nature of the religion itself. Likewise, I have no problem with syncretism; much of my own spirituality is a mass of things from other systems which made sense to me.

As to the search for the true core of Christianity, I found that it came down to this: Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection as a propitiation or atonement.

I realized that I could discard every single bit of Christian doctrine but that one and I still felt wrong about it.

I’ve been around and around with that thing and here is what I’ve come to:
It is not genuine forgiveness in any form which I can find morally intelligible. If my debt was truly forgiven, then why did it still need to be paid? And why in such a brutal manner? What kind of a person would demand such a payment?

If payment is still required, then the debt has not been truly forgiven in any way that I can understand. If Bob owes me ten dollars, and can’t pay me, I then may choose to forgive the debt. If I do, then that debt is not owed by anybody. Even if Bob’s brother offers to pay the money on Bob’s behalf, I should not take it if it has been forgiven. If I do accept payment from Bob’s brother, then the debt was not forgiven, it was just shifted. Of course, this does get Bob off the hook, but I would never be able to say that the debt had been forgiven. If any court in the land finds a person guilty and then declares that they are forgiven, that court cannot then punish the person.

Is forgiveness what is being paid for? Forgiveness is not a commodity. I have never charged anyone a fee for forgiving them. Not even fifty cents. And most especially, I have never had to kill someone in order to forgive someone else. What kind of a person would do such a thing?

Furthermore, if I am to accept that I truly deserve eternal damnation and that Jesus has, out of love for me, taken my place, then Jesus should be spending eternity in Hell in my place. If he doesn’t, then he has not truly taken my place.

What kind of moral lessons am I to learn from the whole “death on the cross” thing? I am told that these things are all part of the “mystery” and humans just couldn’t understand it. I used to accept that, but the time came when I just couldn’t anymore. If I did, it made too many other things meaningless or nonsensical. Telling me that I can’t understand God’s morality is just not a good enough answer, considering that that whole event is the central lynchpin of the religion. Also, it flies in the face of the fact that the Bible is full of explanations of what God’s morality is and just why it is moral, as well as the fact that the Bible tells us to emulate God to the best of our ability. I’m told to emulate God’s morality and that it’s impossible for me to understand God’s morality. What the hell good does that do?

Then there is the whole “sacrifice” aspect of it all.

There came a time when the light went on in my head, and I thought, “Hey, wait a minute. How is Jesus’ death on the cross morally different from throwing a virgin into a volcano?” What kind of a god would demand such a thing? Human sacrifice is human sacrifice. I don’t see any way to get around that. It is what it is.

Even if it is all true, how could I ever respect a god like that? How can I ever believe God would want such a thing? In order for me to be a Christian, I would have to lie in some way.

I mulled these things (and others) and struggled with them for a good while, as well as praying desperately for guidance.

Then I reached a decision. That night I went outside and burned my Bible. It takes a while to burn a Bible.

At first, for a while, I felt a bit giddy. Also, I felt guilty and frightened. As time went on, it was made abundantly clear to me that God still loved and forgave me and that God had absolutely not deserted me, in spite of the fact that I had committed the one sin that Christianity had told me was unforgivable. As an aside, this was one of the many Christian notions that God has disabused me of: the assertion that God’s forgiveness is absolute followed by the placing of any number of conditions on it.
Despite my decision, God did not pinch my head off, or in any other way change the amazingly loving, wise and miraculously beneficent behavior that God had shown me before my choice.

Since that time, some interesting things have come to light for me. My fascination for any kind of religion, spiritual system or description has only increased, especially my interest in Christianity, although it has become something akin to morbid fascination. It’s a bit like watching a major train wreck in slow motion. It’s hard for me to look away. Nevertheless, I am always interested in Christian apologetics, and it is my digging in these areas which brought the following interesting things to my attention.

It has always somewhat baffled me that if Jesus fulfills prophetic scriptural requirements for messiahship as thoroughly as Christians claim, then why didn’t more of the hundreds of thousands of devout, scholarly rabbis examine the story and shout “Praise G*d! The messiah did come after all!”
Paul’s assertion that the reason was that “they are all a bunch of stubborn, stiff-necked so-and-sos” started to look thinner and thinner. I wondered more and more why the few times I did hear Christian clergy address this issue from the pulpit, that they just quoted Paul and pretty much left it at that. They often didn’t even seem to be really interested in a real, cogent answer to this conundrum, while it seemed to me to be highly important. If anyone would be qualified to recognize the messiah, it would be a rabbi. I found it very difficult to accept the premise that in two thousand years, almost all of those rabbis had been hypocritical, insincere or too ignorant of their own scriptures to recognize the very one they were waiting for. Why did the Christian clergy never seem willing to turn to rabbinical sources, but always fall back on that old, inadequate thin ice of Paul’s? Increasingly, I found this to be very suspicious. So I started seeking my own rabbinical sources.

As an aside, I do know that some of the material attributed to Paul was not truly Pauline. (if there ever was such a person) The idea of Paul being an anti-Semite is more than a little bit silly. The point is not that those passages are or are not Pauline; my point is that they are the passages which are most relied on by apologists and that this is what got me looking for answers elsewhere.

I found some very interesting things.

All these centuries, the rabbis have not “rejected” Jesus. What actually has happened is that they have tested Jesus according to scriptural requirements and found him wanting. He did not fit the job description. For one thing, his lineage is wrong. If Mary was a virgin, then the lineage from David was broken at that point. If one uses Mary’s line, the problem is that while some versions say that she was of David’s line, Jewish society never would have justified kingship through a matrilineal line. If one abandons the virginity of Mary (and there are some very good reasons for doing so, but they are unrelated to this), and traces Jesus’ line through Joseph after all, there is the problem of Joseph being a descendant of Jeconiah. God cursed Jeconiah by saying that none of his line would ever sit on the throne of David.

Then there is the problem of the second coming. The Hebrew scriptures are extremely clear that the messiah will come once and once only. When he comes, there will be no need of faith. It will be very clear who he is. Among other things, he will sit as king of Israel, bring world peace and a number of other things which will be completely obvious once they happen. The very fact that Jesus came and then left again without doing the things the messiah will do clearly disqualifies him for that role.

Then, there is the problem of Jesus being the sin offering. The Hebrew scriptures, like the Bible, have many ambiguities which scholars have always loved to argue over. However, again like the Bible, there are some things which are blunt, simple and unequivocal. The importance of the proper way of making the sin offering is one of these. If Jesus was the ultimate sin offering, then the rite was so inadequately performed as to be an insult to God. One of the essential parts of the ritual was that the blood must be sprinkled or sprayed on the altar. Jesus’ blood never made it anywhere near any altar, let alone the rest of the ritual being done properly.

Another thing about the sin offering which God was very clear about was that it would NEVER, EVER be acceptable to use a human being as the sacrifice. Oh, look. There’s that thing again. Human sacrifice. Imagine that.

One last item about the sin offering:

Christian doctrine says that Jesus was the ultimate sin offering once and for all. Thus, through Jesus, we have our reconciliation with God. Christian doctrine also states pretty clearly that the offering of Jesus’ sinless life is the only method of atonement which is acceptable to God.

HOWEVER, in the Hebrew scriptures, (again, very unequivocally) God states clearly that there are not one, but THREE methods of atonement and reconciliation. Furthermore, the sin offering is the least important of these in God’s eyes. God clearly says that the sin offering is only adequate to cover small sins, for instance, when one sins without realizing that it is a sin. The sin offering is inadequate to cover larger sins, such as a deliberate lie.

For the moment I’m going to be a stinker and keep you in suspense as to what the two most powerful methods of reconciliation are. But you can now see what I saw, that there was a lot more going on in the Jewish “rejection” of Jesus than we are told from the pulpit. If God was so lax as to accept such an inadequately performed sin offering ritual, then it pretty well shoots down the idea that God demands perfect obedience to the law.

Then there is the business of being judged on the basis of having “fallen short of the glory of God.” Why is it not considered an obvious blasphemy to say that I expect God to judge me by the standards that God holds for Himself? The God of the Jews does no such foolish thing. That God makes it abundantly clear that He knows perfectly well that humans are human and not able to achieve the kind of moral perfection that only God could achieve. He does not hold them to such a ridiculous standard nor does He punish them with eternal damnation if they fail to meet it.
Also, God definitely does not tell the Jews that the only way to be with God is to be a member of “the right” religion. He just tells the Jews what their religion should be. He definitely makes it clear that gentiles are welcome, as well. So much for “only one way into heaven”.

Port, I hope you’ll forgive me, but I’m going to postpone an answer to your second question regarding what I think a Christian is. Are you absolutely sure you want me to answer that? ;-)

All right, okay. You’ve been patient with me. Here are the other two more powerful and valid ways of reconciling with God according to the Hebrew Bible. Ready for it?

Here they are.


Sex: male

City: Eugene

State: Oregon

Country: U.S.A.

Became a Christian: Indeterminate

Ceased being a Christian: I think about 30.

Labels before: Christian

Labels now: Living being

Why I joined: Fear, ignorance and subconscious indoctrination from the culture

Why I left: Reasons above

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