sent in by Tom Dixon
My deconversion was gradual but became complete 3 years ago after moving to Abilene, Texas, the most fundamentalist little town you've ever been to.(In several Guinness Book of World Records it has the most churches per capita anywhere) When I first got here, there was a sign in front of Mr.Gatti's Pizza that said, "Mr.Gatti says Jesus loves you! "I couldn’t believe my eyes. Later there was a billboard with a huge Jesus on it that said "Abilene belongs to Jesus "Local Jews became upset and made the city take it down. But I was a Christian, albeit a liberal one ,when I moved here in 2000.
My disquiet began early, around 8 or 9.I even remember the exact scripture that started it.My older brother was laughing about it and showed me"....and the Spirit of the Lord was upon Samson and he slew thirty men."The Jericho story bothered me because I couldn’t figure out what these people had done so wrong to deserve this slaughter.The answer I got was something like "They were living on land God had promised to the Hebrews and they were wicked"(Ever notice ,in the O.T. ,how everybody who wasn’t a Hebrew was automatically wicked?)Jericho was presented to us children as a grand and glorious exhibition of God's power. It's the story of the slaughter of men, women and children who were guilty of nothing except defending their homes. I had a hard time reconciling the God of the O.T. and the God of the N.T. even at that young age.
I didn’t take Jesus seriously until I was 14.I went to this Christian summer camp called Laity Lodge. They knew there was a perfect time to convert kids. Once they're old enough to understand sin and the need for redemption, yet still emotionally inexperienced and vulnerable. They also knew if you keep people awake long enough, they become even more emotionally vulnerable. They kept us up all night with all kinds of activities, then at daybreak delivered an emotionally irresistible sermon telling us about this huge chasm between us and God that only Jesus could bridge. They even described in detail physically what it's like to be crucified. They laid it on thick saying"...and He did it. for you....because He loved you that much..."etc., etc. It's no surprise that most of these kids, me included, was in tears giving our hearts to Jesus. I drifted away a few months later, behavior-wise, but retained the basic belief.
I returned to active Christianity big-time in 1979. I was vulnerable again because drinking and drugging had brought me to the place where my self-will and self-determination had failed me. People in this state are prime candidates for religion. I joined up with a group of radical Christians at a place called Fountaingate in Plano, Texas. Oh the stories I could tell you about that place....But I'm grateful for that time because I learned a lot about psychological manipulation and the incredible power of religious ideas. Plus, for the first time I really studied the bible and read it all the way through. This made me more confused than ever. Yet if any of us said we were confused, we were told that the devil is the author of confusion(therefore it wasn’t the bible that was screwy, it was us)
Over the years since then I've avoided fundamentalism but maintained a liberal sort of Christianity. But there was still a disquiet about the theologies and all these elaborate explanations for difficult concepts. And how God evolves and changes over time while the Christian proclaims God is the same yesterday, today and forever. I don't
think they realize that for the first 1500 years of church history, there was no concept of the common man having a relationship with Christ. The church had a relationship with Christ and the common man had a relationship with the church. But now Christians say that” accepting Jesus Christ as your personnel Lord and savior” is the all-important thing and always has been. No, it's been important for the last 500 years or so. Before that you could get burned if you went around telling people they didn’t need the church as a mediator. Church history is a bloody and psychological nightmare that the church would destroy all memory of if they could. Western man would have been infinitely better off without this cancer which would have gone the way of the dodo along with all the other blood-sacrifice cults had it not been for Constantine handing over such unprecedented power for a religion. Christianity didn’t win out because it was true, it won out through sheer brute force.
Three years ago I decided this person described in the gospels is a phantom. I’ve read a lot about historical Jesus both pro and con. The Christian rebuttals are pretty much grasping at straws and insisting over and over that the bible proves itself. The really tough questions like those posed in books like’ The Jesus mysteries’ are ignored or glossed over.
Anyway, I'll wrap it up by saying I haven’t given up on the God idea, I've just gone eastern(far eastern not mid-eastern)But this notion that one needn’t strive for spiritual enlightenment, that Someone else has taken care of all that for you and all it requires is your assent and you can ride on His coattails into some glorified Disneyland called heaven, I've left behind along with Santa Claus.
I upslid. You atheist may think I still have one foot in fantasyland because I still believe in some kind of Deity. But at least I'm honest enough to say you could be right. Peace.
Became a Christian: 14
Ceased being a Christian: 43
Labels before: Baptist, fundamentalist and liberal
Labels now: deist, Unitarian-Universalist, cynic
Why I joined: Became convinced I was in of salvation
Why I left: Disillusionment with the Bible and Christianity in general
Email Address: copyboy8 at netzero.net
Online Reading List
- An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish by Bertrand Russell (1943)
- Bible Teaching and Religious Practice by Mark Twain
- God is Imaginary
- Is there an Artificial God? by Douglas Adams (1998)
- Skeptics Annotated Bible
- The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine (1795)
- Which Way? by Robert Ingersoll (1884).
- Why I Am Not A Christian by Bertrand Russell (1927)