This is a somewhat "different" story, compared to most other texts one can find on this website (as far as I can tell). The main reason (probably) is that I'm a German, and Christianity in Germany seems to be a VERY different thing than the Christian faith in the U. S. But some of you may find my contribution interesting... :)
(I apologize for any bizarre errors you will probably find in this text - though I keep receiving compliments about my command of the English language being very good for a German I'm far from perfect and I know it ;) )
For those who have never been to Germany let me first explain that nominally, Germany is a Christian nation (well, divided between Catholic and Protestant Church, but who cares)... but in everyday life you usually won't notice that. Faith here has a basically social function - you are a Christian because, well, that's the church your whole family belongs to, and anyway, (almost) everyone around you is one too so just go with the flow. There is very very little "fundamentalism" here, which looks like a blessing to me when I compare my home with what I read on the net about the United States.
So I was more or less raised as a none-too-fervent German Protestant, which did not keep me from noticing and sometimes wondering how people who are supposed to be Christians can disregard that faith's basic commandment of "love your neighbor" so often. But I never really thought about it... and anyway, when confirmed in the Protestant church (around age 14) you can expect huge cash gifts from family and relatives, and what teenager does not want to get extra money?
My first "closer contact" with the Christian faith came when I joined the German St. John's ambulance service in the summer of '95. Some members there don't forget that it's a Protestant organization (though being a Christian is not mandatory to join and to gain some rank - our current platoon leader is a muslim ;) ), so one naturally thinks about faith every now and then. One might have to accompany and care for, some day, a dying person, and wouldn't it be nice to know what words best to say to this Christian about to pass to The Beyond?
Then, in '99, I got a job with the "YouthCamp 2000 association", a group sponsored by the two major German churches organizing an international youth camp for the Expo 2000 world exhibition in nearby Hannover. Now my faith suddenly DID matter - as I was told that unless I can prove to be a church member I won't get this job. I was not exactly amused but accepted it - anyway, getting a written note from my community's pastor was no more difficult than a phone call to ask him when I could drop in and receive it. But it DID cross my mind from time to time.
I am glad to say without telling anything but the truth that I enjoyed my work for the YouthCamp as I experienced the good side of Christianity there, day by day - many people who felt compelled by their faith to do good things and to try as best they could to "love their neighbor". Yes, I still think Christianity does have it's advantages - but, as with drugs and poisons of any kind, the dosage is what matters ;) Anyway, toward the end of my contract (it expired December 1st 2001) there was not much to do for me anymore, but of course I still had to spend my day at the office... but hey, I always wanted to read the whole bible some day, and a Christian employer surely would not object as long as I didn't neglect to do my work, right? So I did what (as far as I know) few Christians ever did... I read the whole thing through, old and new covenant. Uh-huh... interesting tales. Somewhat fascinating to read as a historical collection of scripture, though of course (so I thought from the
beginning) nothing to be taken literally. Indeed the thought that someone today, in the age of science, could even try to follow that many-centuries-old book by the letter never crossed my mind.
So how comes that I now write this text to be submitted to exchristian.com?
Well, early last summer (around May 2002) I started searching for, and reading, texts that few people normally show interest in. On the list of texts I read since that day were, among others, Hitler's "Mein Kampf" (I like to _know_ my enemy ;) ), and the "Malleus Maleficarum", the manual of the good "christian" medi-evil witch-burner. Toward the end of my reading phase I finally got my hands on the Edda - the collection of holy songs and poems of the ancient norse tribes.
Guess what? I never thought I would one day say this, but on the second page of the Edda, in the midst of the Norse "creation myth" I was struck by what I can only call a feeling of being "finally at home" - yep, kind of religious revelation!
I thought about it for some day, then decided that I can't fight my inner feelings - I would consider myself to be, from now on, not a Christian but an Asatruar - a follower of the ancient gods of the North.
I started visiting some Asatru and generic heathen sites on the web and found that many people there held more than a grudge against Christianity. It made me curious - well,
Christianity has its problems for sure, but so much wrath? I started reading in alt.religion.christian.
Oh no - may the gods forbid this to continue!
Here now I stared into the UGLY face of Christendom. I was confronted every single day with US "christian" fundamentalism. And now I understood all the vengeful feelings of my fellow Asatruar.
Of course I don't tell something new to those who read this site. All the bigotry, the preaching of hatred in the name of their god's so-called "love", the claim to follow the bible by the letter (and the threat that anyone who does not will burn in hell), the IMPOSSIBILITY of doing this (consider, for example, how one is supposed to BOTH turn the other cheek and take revenge eye for an eye), the obviously brainwashed dupes of the fundie cult leaders... in short, all the madness and evil of "christian" fundamentalism made me feel sick.
I knew of course that "christians" once showed my Asatruar ancestors the "love" of their god by fire and sword, but I rested peacefully knowing that these times were gone forever... or so I thought. Imagine the utter horror I felt when among the first postings I read was a call for all "good christians" to give money to the Israeli military to that the evil unbelievers finally can be exterminated! "Love your neighbor"?! Let alone the call of the fundies to push the world back into the darkness of the middle-ages by abandoning all science because science does not agree with the bible... the ridiculous "proof" presented by creationists for the book of genesis being the literal truth! (My favorite is the babbling "Since no human writings older than 6000 years have been found the earth cannot be older than that". I could laugh my a**e off for hours if it would not be too serious!)
It did not take long for me to realize that, not only are the fundie cults utterly incompatible with the basics of Christianity, but they are a menace to the world at large! Imagine these religious bigot madmen ever gain too much political (and military?!) power in the world's most powerful nation! If this ever happens we only need to worry about how to call the result - world war 3 or perhaps the first new age crusade!
So what's my situation now? I still respect every _sane and rational_ Christian who tries to live by the message of Christ (love your neighbor, you know) in our selfish times... but I despise and oppose those who hide behind their dusty bible pages to push an agenda of hatred and of lust for power and wealth, because that's obviously what they want! I enjoy the worldview of the Asatruar faith that does not even propagate one single "law" but only suggests advice to the humans (Do whatever you want, but bear the consequences - so you better think before acting!), but I have no mercy for the religious dictators leading the fundie cults. If the fundies are not stopped it will become a question of "us versus them" - freedom-loving, just and rational people against fanatic zombies in the service of a perverted "religion" that should have died centuries ago!
So, to all those who read this while doubting their fundamentalist doctrines I say this:
Why is it that your cult leaders tell you the bible is inerrant but cannot offer any explanation for the many contradictions in it? Why do they claim to be christians but routinely spit on the basic commandment of Christ to "Love your neighbor, even love your enemies"?! You have been betrayed! You gave all your faith and all your loyalty, and how did they thank you for it?!
You are to be honored for being willing to devote your lives to more than just "How can I get as much as I can, no matter how much others have to suffer?"... but if you follow the fundies you sacrifice yourself for nothing! You have been deceived for much too long, and you are beginning to realize it (or else you would not be reading my story) - so do the right thing and stand up to fight for justice! Show your cult leaders the infamous finger and say "NO MORE!".
Well, that's all that occurs to me at the moment. Thank you for reading, and I sincerely hope that my writing can do some good even if I'm surely not the "average ex-christian" ;)
Tocis, proud German Asatruar
Became a Christian: born :)
Ceased being a Christian: 33
Labels before: German Protestant
Labels now: Asatruar (ancient Norse faith)
Why I joined: Born into christian society
Why I left: Reading the Edda (Asatru scripture) made me think about the bible...