Who is God?

sent in by anonymous

Hello to all,

I came from a disfuncitional fundamentalist home. I was raised baptist and was raised to fear God and hell. To do anything biblically wrong was a no-no. I had a learning disorder and was continually doubting my Christianity. I was a people pleaser and lived my life trying to fit in, this was not to be, because when you are different you don't fit in anywhere, especially in church, where the meanest people in the world live.

Being rejected by all my Christian peers while growing up in the church was hard, talk about rejection!

I went for over 40 years believing that I would finally come to a place of rest and peace with myself and with others in the church. Who did I think I was expecting this? I believed it would happen in good time. I participated in ministry and strived to fit in at any cost, and my wife and kids suffered my absence in their lives.

When I was in the military I experienced God in many different and unusual ways. God was real in my life. The God I met there blessed me and showed me things. This God was not the God of my former experience, nor would this God be the God in my future experience in the church.

I have been to methodist, baptist, presbyterian, open bible, non-denominational (calvary chapel), pentcostal, charismatic lutheran, episcopal etc., trying to find at least one church that worshipped the God I met in the military. My search led me and my family into a group of dark, controlling people who sensed our need for acceptance and confirmation. These people controlled our every move. They told us why we had sex, how we were to entertian ourselves, how we needed to spend our money. One lady told my wife to rebel against me if she didn't agree with my decisions.

The straw, and it was a blessed straw, that broke the camel's back was when our daughter married a mormon boy. Talk about a good person, her husband is a good person. I am glad she married him. As soon as our friends found out they didn't come to the wedding and didn't talk to us anymore. Everytime we would get together with them when our daughter was dating this boy, we would be told that "it was not logical for her to date him." These people have an alchoholic daughter who lives under the constant condemnation of these people who call themselves her parents. Poor girl.

As a result of all the problems with our bi-polar son, who also was told that he was demon possessed because he has problems, I had a complete breakdown. I developed high blood pressure, fibromyalgia and went into a deep clinical depression,all courtesy of christians. I am on the mend now and now take wellbutrin. This medication has changed my life. It has helped my ADHD so much that I am no longer depressed and can concentrate and read books for the first time in my life, I am no longer a victim but a conquerer. I now see these phony people for who they are.
The best thing that all of these experiences have taught me is that I no longer have to go to church. I no longer have to compete for peoples acceptance. I no longer have to be part of a brutal organization that systematically strips a person of their individual joy, pride and life. God does not live in the church of these people.

I now am a seeker of who God really is. Church as I see it, is nothing more that a bunch of like minded, self-righteous, hypocrites whos only mission in life is to torture others until they make them into their own image. I am through with church forever. I am blessed to no longer need church or have any desire to go. I find it hard to believe in God because I don't see, nor have ever seen the love that the bible talks about. If God has saved people, then where is the love?
I want to live as I am meant to live. Where is the God I seek? That is the question.

I am unknowing.

Debate of a Lifetime

sent in by Joy-Lyn Gulley

I started pre-school at a Christian school. It was a one building deal that supported Pre thru 12th grade (badly I discovered later).

My parents put me in private school because they thought I'd receive a better education. Plus the school would admit me early (I was only four) where Public school wouldn't. So from Preschool thru the fourth grade, I went there.

In Kindergarten, I was nearly expelled (yes...kindergarten). My crime? Showing my privates to same age boys who'd asked what they looked like.

The school counselor interrogated everyone, and talked to all our parents (it wasn't until much later I learned from my Mom that this pig-headed heel had tried to boot me).

I was also paddled with a wooden board twice.
The first time was during First grade. The teacher was having serious medical problems of her own due to anorexia. She was very moody and very angry pretty much all of the time (she did die several years later). Instead of replacing her, or giving her an assistant to help her deal with a room full of normal young children, the administration simply left her to her own devices. And one day, this included the order that we could not talk during lunch (she had a headache) or we would get paddled. Well....we ALL got paddled that day. We were normal kids after all.

The second time was for "picking up a rock" during recess in second grade. The administration had reasoned that a picked up rock could be thrown at someone...so no picking up rocks.The rock I was accused by a talletale of picking up was about 25 pounds heavy and I'd had to struggle to turn it over to look for bugs underneath. The fact that a 45 pound little girl could NEVER lift a 25 pound rock and throw it was entirely lost on the teachers, and how "no picking up rocks" translated into "no TOUCHING rocks at all" will always be a mystery to me.

As a result, even though I was a Christian, I received several early lessons that religion and school certainly could result in a disasterous combination.

Fortunately my parents had no intention of keeping me there. They put me in public school in the fifth grade. Talk about a culture shock! It was nice to be able to bring my books from home to read during lunch though. In the private school, my reading materials would have been confiscated due to "Demonic" content....evil stuff that Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

We then discovered that there was one area the private school had screwed me royally on. Math. I had to take special tutoring to catch up. This naturally opened me up to the ridicule of my peers.

I never blamed God for anything mind you. I've always known the difference between God and people. But my mind was already working....why had "those people" not focused on the tools I needed to make it through school? Why had "those people" punished me for things that clearly weren't crimes in other schools?

My mother still felt we needed religion, and eventually she prodded us into going to a Methodist church. Oh yipee. By this time, I'd already been reading and studying. I had a heck of a lot of questions concerning the Bible, and I thought they would get answered. They weren't.

Sunday School consisted of everyone learning to be parrots and mimics of the Word without ever questioning the content. Questioning the Bible! That was CRAZY!

So my questions stopped. I thought I could fit in. I couldn't. My scientific mind would rear it's head and everyone would blink vacantly at me...then disregard me and whatever I said entirely.

It wasn't until High School I had my best friend join me at youth group. Youth group was mostly a very lonely place for me for reasons already mentioned. But occasionally we would have some fun and I would forget that I was around people who didn't really think much of me.

Looking back, I never would have invited my friend to youth group. I did not know then that he was in need of real psychological help. I thought he was simply eccentric like me. I didn't learn there was something really wrong until it was too late. He grabbed religion like a lifeline (perhaps he thought it was) and he went deep.

He committed suicide our senior year. One of the things they discovered was that he'd taken a Bible and written side notes and underlined passages justifying his fatal decision all through it. I never saw it, but I didn't have to. I asked THE QUESTION....finally.


Until that moment, like many Christians, I'd never really read the Bible. It was boring.

Now I did. I was revolted.

Slowly I started letting things go. I'd never been a Creationist. As soon as I'd learned about Evolution and of course....EVIDENCE. I'd dropped the creation myth out of my belief system. I just never told anyone. And every derrogatory phrase against women just sounds like primative Patriarchal FEAR....so I'd dropped all that too.

I slowly realized that there was more about the Bible that I didn't believe than what I did.

Jesus was harder to let go of. Until I realized that what I was holding tight to was his existence. Sure. Maybe he existed. Was he the Divine Son of God on Earth? When I asked myself that, I knew the answer was no. And I didn't need for Jesus to be Divine. Plato, Aristotle, and a lot of other philosophers and thinkers had passed wise words into posterity without needing Divine justification to be heard.

Then cam the inevitable....So what the hell am I now? I'm sure not a Christian. But when someone asks me about my belief system...what do I say?

So I went digging. Nothing was fitting. I kept reading. Picking and choosing what I believed versus what I didn't.

Then I discovered Deism. Simple, basic, and unassuming of anything. And learning that many of our Founding Fathers, were Deists was certainly a perk.

And there is a certain pleasure in answering that "what are you" question now. The way people's eyes glaze over in confusion as their brain cells fuse trying to make sense of the word...

I've also learned one other important thing. It took a LOT of studying to come to terms with this one. I've learned enough in my life to be comfortable saying the words "I don't know". People like to jump all over that phrase and treat is as though it means something it doesn't like "I don't know...anything".

As for the nature of God, the existance of heaven, our purpose for being here.....

I don't know.

And it feels good.

Sex: Female
City: Anchorage
State: Alaska
Country: USA
Became a Christian: Maybe 8
Ceased being a Christian: Officially abandoned the label at 22
Labels before: Just Christian, I refused baptism so I was never a "member"
Labels now: Deist
Why I joined: It seemed expected
Why I left: Too many inconsistancies, contradictions, and the unending HYPOCRACY of those who claim to be Christian
Email Address: white_raven23 at hotmail dot com

Living The Lie

sent in by "Withheld for fear of exposure"

1981, Ansbach, Germany: I was a member of the armed forces stationed overseas. I was heavilly into drinking and other self-destructive activities, and feeling very alone so far from home. I came upon a tract in, of all places, the stall of a restroom, and there, with a hang-over headache, and feeling very nauseated from the night before, I read and recited the words that I thought would save me.

No miraculous transformation occured, and in fact, I pretty much wrote it off as a desparate attempt at salvation, but it stayed with me, and for many years I 'played' at being a christian.

And I played it very well for many years, until I finally married a good christian woman who got me more and more involved in the church. Up until this point, I continued to drink heavilly, having never really given it up. Then one night, after praying, I lost the urge to drink, began attending church more and more, and even becoming an active member. I began to attend other church activities beyond just the routine Sunday services, we joined home groups, and even lead several. I played in a worship band, and taught Sunday school. You could say that I was very into the whole christian scene.

Over the past few months, however, I have been coming to a more truthful understanding of what is real in this world and what was made up for the sake of man kind. Good things that happen to christians are always 'blessings from god', and bad things that happen to christians are always 'the will of god'. But good things and bad things happen just a frequently to non-christians without blame or credit being given. After reading through the bible, and completing several studies, I had to come to the conclusion that the bible is best filed away with other such works, such as The Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales, or Mother Goose stories. They were wonderful in teaching someone a moral, great examples when trying to get your story across, but to be taken literally didn't work for me, and truthfully never did.

Well, I could go on as to why I de-converted, but there is one area I would like to cover, and perhaps receive some feedback. My "good christian woman" wife is still that, and seems to gain in her strength with each passing day. Over the years, we have had several conversations about believers marrying non-believers, and how it would never work. I once started to approach the subject with her, dropping small hints, and she became very upset, stating how she has relied on me for MY strength to help her through those tough times. So I continue to wear a face that is not me, putting on the heirs of a christian, as far as still attending church and home group meetings with her. I don't like lying to her, so I chalk it up to being supportive of her, the way I would a child who wants to be a big league ball player, but is just too small. Is this wrong? I don't want my marriage to end, and I can't guarantee it wouldn't if I told her the truth. So the lie continues, just from a different angle. Go figure!

Sex: M
State: PA
Became a Christian: 21
Ceased being a Christian: 44
Labels before: Homegroup Leader/Worship Team Member/Youth Leader
Labels now: Free
Why I joined: Felt Lost
Why I left: Truth
Email Address: Blazing_Snowman at yahoo dot com

Intellectual Honesty

sent in by Robert Marlow

I'm well past "recovering" as a Christian now so this probably isn't really a site aimed at people like me. However I like what's been done with this place and thought perhaps my testimony may help encourage others. I think few people realise how difficult it can be to stop being a Christian. I hear so many Christians talk about how difficult it is to be a Christian. What isn't spoken of often enough is how difficult it can be to stop being a Christian when you already are one. Unlike converting to Christianity there isn't any bait like a promise in the afterlife and, perhaps even worse, there isn't generally a large support group waiting on the other side with open arms to help you with the transition. Sites like this are good because they'll at least help some people cope with what can be a very traumatic, life altering experience.

My story starts when I was about 6. I don't remember it too well but apparently I started asking my mother questions like "who is this God person anyway?" (apologies to Douglas Adams). I think I probably got it from some kid I used to get babysat with on school holidays or perhaps overheard my devout grandmother talking about God. My mother wasn't a believer so she took me somewhere that might be able to answer my questions - the local church's sunday school. I enjoyed it a lot and lapped up the lessons. I was a kid who always wanted to do things the right way regardless of how everyone else acted. So, believing what I was being told in sunday school, I decided I would be a christian and gave my heart (probably a few times) somewhere between the ages of 9 and 11. I don't remember any specific time probably because I was too young for there to be any particular change in my outlook in life. It was more like a gradual transition to christianity and I was more interested in the being than the conversion. I also made decisions based on my faith such as not swearing. I wasn't particularly popular because of it but I felt I was at least doing the right thing regardless what others thought.

When I got to high school things got a little tougher. I've read Dave's testimony and can agree 100% that adolescent hormones make being a christian difficult. On the one hand sexuality is somehow sinful, and on the other it was patently obvious that my body was hardwired to be sexual. I was also friends with a lot of non-christians at school. They asked questions for which I gave standard christian responses confident that they'd convince anyone because I was told they're good arguments. It was frustrating to find that my friends didn't find them to be good arguments at all, and further frustrating to be acknowledging deep down "yes, you're right. That is kind of a stupid argument, isn't it?".

Similar questions to what my friends had been asking as well as many of my own started swimming around in my head causing doubts. My natural christian response was "have faith!". Essentially I was telling myself that it doesn't matter how problematic these questions seem, what's important is I continue believing despite the difficulty. "God's testing me". In effect I was doing what I'd been told to do in difficult times - put faith (believing regardless of reality) at a higher priority than reason.

The turning point for me was when I was about 15 and reading Jesus speaking of moving mountains with faith (Matthew 17:20). I wanted that kind of faith. I'd already decided I wanted to be a pastor or missionary and I wanted to be the best christian I could possibly be. And that meant having faith strong enough to move mountains. Yes, literally. The bible is literal, right? So I decided that having doubts in my mind just wouldn't do. I decided that if I was to have this kind of faith I couldn't have doubts in the back of my mind which I was simply ignoring. I had to confront my doubts head-on. Faith would win through, I'd be a stronger believer, I would be able to answer when non-christians confronted me with similar doubts and of course my faith would become rock-solid!

So I set out with a heavy dose of prayer and philosophising, giving serious consideration to my fairly primitive doubts at the time: how do I know christianity is true when there's so many other religions? People of other religion rely on faith too, they're believing due to what they've learned that their faith is true and putting their hearts fully into it in just the same way christians do. Should they be punished by God simply for being mistaken in their efforts? What about people who have never heard of God? If God punishes them then that doesn't seem fair, but if he saves them, why do they get it so easy compared to those of us who have to face a decision? And what about this whole evil thing? Where did it come from? God created everything, right? Surely evil is a part of everything? Does that mean God created evil? Or at least created satan or humans in such a way that they could bring about evil which in effect sanctions its existence? Fairly standard philosophical difficulties regarding the christian god (I didn't really know enough about biblical problems to add those to my list of difficult questions).

What I was dismayed to find was that these questions were much more difficult than I'd expected. I approached my church pastor about them. He actually thought I wanted to meet up to discuss baptism, the poor man. Instead I started asking all these questions I had problems with hoping he could clear some up for me. Unfortunately he could only at best answer with the same half-arsed answers I'd already tried and discarded. I still remember how despondant he looked. He resigned as the pastor shortly after saying it wasn't his calling. I imagine he'd probably been under pressure from similar questions himself and just couldn't handle carrying his own doubts along with everyone else's and needed a break.

I eventually came to the point where I decided if I had such strong doubts in my mind I couldn't call myself a christian anymore. It was my way of being honest with myself. I decided if I have doubts at all then I don't believe in god with all my heart and if I don't believe in god with all my heart then I'm clearly not a christian. So I took a break from christianity. I announced myself no longer a christian to my family (my mother had since become a christian herself so this was shocking to her - she'd basically become christian through my church attendance and I'd helped her get through her problems of doubt many times before) and took my time to pray to God pleading that if he's really out there to help me return to christianity stronger than before. I decided I wasn't going to harden my heart to christianity, I was going to keep my heart open, constantly hoping that God would enlighten me and bring me back into the fold. After all, if God truly loved me he'd make sure I, his lost sheep, weren't left by the wayside, right?

What I found was that this never happened. I pleaded by prayer with God constantly, I kept seeking answers which were stronger than my doubts and nothing happened. I started to notice things. People say that when they become a christian they notice things change. Well, I noticed that when I stopped being a christian nothing changed at all. Here I was expecting to lose favour, to stop seeing all the fortunate things that used to happen in my life that I attributed to God's guidance and him looking after me. I was just as fortunate as I was when I was a christian. I realised that it wasn't God making good things happen or testing me with bad things, it was just me interpreting things that happen to everyone in a way that it reaffirms something I want to believe in. I also realised that people notice changes in their lives when they become christian often because becoming a christian gives them incentive to change their lives and give up the things which make them unhappy. It didn't seem christianity was anything so special after all.

Slowly but surely I got less and less interested in christianity and more accepting of my agnosticism. I proclaimed happily "I don't know" when people asked about whether there's a god or how everything came to be. I felt comfort in freedom in being totally honest that I simply don't know enough about the universe and can in no way make an honest judgement on whether christianity is true or not. Meanwhile I'd occassionaly philosophise and study a little on christianity, almost always from abstract ideas like whether the christian god makes sense in the universe. I came to the conclusion that it didn't make sense, if there's only one God who created everything and is perfect then it doesn't make sense that he should create things he hates or take partiality with some of his creations. Why would a monotheistic god who is omni-benevolent create evil just to hate it? Why would he create all people and find quite arbitrary favour with the jewish people only to later decide they're not so special after all? Why would he be male? The way I saw it the only way a monotheistic god could be possible is if he was completely neutral and partial to nothing. Only that could explain why nature doesn't care who it kills when it has an earthquake or volcano eruption. A partial, monotheistic god just doesn't make sense in our universe. To presume otherwise is putting arbitrary restrictions on something supposedly more infinite than the universe itself. I wrote about these kinds of things and put them up on my website along with a bunch of other things I had been thinking about during a phase where I was yearning for people to understand me and my views (they're all gone now. I consider most of them too primitive by my current standards).

Eventually I met Jean at university when I was about 21. She was a christian, and like most christians when she heard my story wanted to save me. She soon came to realise that I actually had a pretty good understanding of christianity already and needed a bit more than "Jesus loves you" to win me over. She introduced me to her pastor and I posed my questions to him and he gave me fairly standard responses. I didn't argue with him much because I didn't want to make a bad impression with my new girlfriend's pastor who she admired so much.

Dating a christian reignited my passion for christianity. I'd told Jean I was being an open-minded agnostic and she reminded me that I should still be searching for the answer, so I resumed my search with renewed vigour. By this stage I guess I was already pretty partial to the idea that the christian god was false so I was more happy to read non-christian material. Oh boy, it was a whole new world. I discovered just why people say the bible is full of contradictions. I started studying the meaning of some verses in their hebrew words and realising many christian interpretations were due to poor translations, sometimes intentional (especially for the NIV). I learned how the bible had historical and geographical errors. I learned a lot about how not only was it uncertain whether it was divinely inspired, I learned that it was certain that the bible is full of errors and internal contradictions. I read christian apologetics for these errors and how poorly constructed they were. And above all I learned that christianity is indefensible.

I'm still agnostic in general. I have my reasoned opinions but I can't honestly say I know whether the universe is infinite and self-sufficient or whether a god or many gods created it. I still study christianity and the bible and try to be objective in determining whether the christian or non-christian argument is more convincing. But I can say from what I've learned with almost 100% certainty that christianity is a big lie. Jean, now my wife, is still a christian. She's struggling a bit. She's come to accept that there are indeed problems in the bible. When we decided to marry her pastor refused to marry us on the grounds that we were "unevenly yoked" (as christians love to say). It spawned a fairly lengthy debate between him and I. This time I didn't pull so many punches. He got furious and made veiled physical threats as well as saying he'd pray for something bad to happen to me so I'd have no choice but to ask god for mercy. It didn't bother me at all; I enjoyed the debate. I got a kick out of making a 60 year old former missionary pastor from a family full of missionaries and ministers whose house is full of books on theology run around in circles trapping himself. It was a bit of egoboo. It had a bit of a disillusioning effect on Jean though.

So in summary, be strong everyone. Keep being honest with yourselves and smite ignorance. Leave christians to their belief but always encourage them to keep asking questions and seeking answers. I believe that if someone truly wants to be an honest christian, then they shouldn't be half-arsed about it and they should approach it from honesty, always seeking out the problems so they can strengthen their beliefs. Don't let any christians you know off easy by letting them believe out of ignorance! Make 'em work for their salvation, I say ;)

URL: http://www.bobturf.org/
City: Perth
State: Western Australia
Country: Australia
Became a Christian: 10-11-ish
Ceased being a Christian: 15-16-ish
Labels before: "Congregational" church. It was kinda baptist. But Australian baptist. I think there's slight differences.
Labels now: Agnostic
Why I joined: Trying to do what's right
Why I left: Tried taking my faith to "the next level"

Answers in all the wrong places

sent in by Gina

I was born and raised Catholic, albeit not in a very observant household. A belief in God/Jesus was always there, and all of my siblings and I were baptized as infants, but we never did make Communion or anything that. My earliest memories of church are of me dozing off in the pews - not that we went very often. Every once in a while, my parents were "convicted" and we had to go for a couple weeks, but it never lasted.

My mother was and is what I would consider a pious woman. Granted, she smokes cigarettes, plays the lottery and swears, but she has a heart of gold and has no enemies. In fact, people often comment "I could never dislike your mother". She's the type that is so friendly (in a sincere way), that you cannot help but love her.

Anyway, my mother had the May Procession every, well, May. A young girl in our extended family came over, all of us kids lined up, the Ava Maria was played, the older people all said the rosaries about a hundred times, then we marched up to the lawn statue of the virgin Mary and placed a crown of flowers on her head. Um, hello, pagan much?

That was my early childhood religion experience. As a discontent teen, I began to seek out faith. I studied all there was to study: Mormonism, Jehovah's Witness views, Lutheran views, Rastafari, Buddhism, New age-type stuff, and Wicca. I even dabbled in Satanism a bit - I was searching, motivated by fear in the unknown and an unhealthy fear of death (as a child, I spent many sleepless nights in tears, afraid I wasn't going to wake up the next morning).

Right around the beginning of the new year, at 21, I was gripped by a fear in the Apocalypse, and the end times of the earth. The timing was right, as I was spending a lot of time with my cousin, who was a born-again Christian (though at the time "not practicing"), and she quelled my fears with tales of Jesus from the Bible. I was content, I said the sinner's prayer, and I was born-again.

I was no longer afraid of death, and immediately forsook many of the things I had done prior - drinking, cursing, sex, etc. I stopped hanging out with my friends, carried a bible around at all times, and proudly proclaimed that I was a fundamentalist Christian. I watched televangelists, bought myself many different Bibles (study bibles included), was in constant prayer, and we did Bible Studies almost every night. I even got myself a Bible-believing boyfriend, and attended a Baptist church twice per week. It was all going well, people declared I had changed for the better.

But I started having doubts, the more I read the Bible, and sought out apologist answers on the web and in books. None of them satisfied me for long. I'd get an answer, convince myself it quelled my doubts, and let it go for a while, but the doubt always resurfaced, each time more pronounced, and harder to ignore. I had been a liberal lover of philosophy at University, and though I tried, I couldn't just shut my mind down.

I began to doubt my salvation. I prayed fervently, begging God to help me through it. But doubts filled my head. I couldn't sleep at night sometimes, the feeling was terrible, and I cried to God to help me. That's when I sought answers elsewhere - the secular web. I was horrified by what I read - atrocities of the OT committed in the name of Yahweh, things I had read but either glossed over or put out of my mind. The brainwashing that had occurred during my tenure as a born-again Christian began to melt away, and I have adopted an agnostic, intellectual approach to life.

Christianity told me Evolution was stupid - I know now that it's not so stupid after all. My cousin told me I was going to hell, and she doubt I was ever saved. I told her that Christianity was a temporary fix for some emotional problems I clearly suffered from; problems that the Bible told me were demons or Satan trying to trick me. I finally forsook Christianity and the Bible relatively recently and have finally found some peace.

My pulling away from faith is somewhat recent, but I wanted to share my story nonetheless. I still fear that I could be wrong and that I am going to hell sometimes, and it's not easy to get out of that "everybody is a dirty evil sinner (including myself)" mentality, but I'm working on it, and working on me finally, not trying to mask my problems or seek a quick fix with religion or God(s).

State: PA
Country: USA
Became a Christian: Born and raised Catholic, born-again at 21
Ceased being a Christian: 22
Labels before: Baptist
Labels now: Agnostic
Why I joined: One word: fear.
Why I left: Research, reading, study.

I was a pastor

sent in by Sam

Since I was already so far into my college major at the time of my de-conversion, I had to remain with it; partly because it would take an additional two years to graduate (which I couldn’t afford), and partly because I didn’t have the heart to tell my parents I’d left the faith. I have a double major in biblical studies and theology, and a minor in Hebrew. By the time I graduate I will have completed every single biblical studies and theology class offered on campus, have 18 hours of Hebrew, and 12 hours of New Testament Greek.

I was not just an average “application” Christian of the modern western church, but a student instructed in textual/literary/form criticism, Christian Philosophy, Christian Ethics, advanced homiletics, and advanced exegesis by some of the most renowned names in the evangelical community today. I can accurately lay out Heilsgeschichte (salvation history) with a plethora of biblical and extra-biblical sources from the Ancient Near East up to modern day. In all honesty, I don’t have many problems with academic Christianity. It’s a very coherent and harmonious theory within the evangelical circle. Where I do have a problem, however, is with the “personal” encounters I was supposed to be having with “my savior.” My Christian friends attributed finding their lost car keys to the “help of Jesus,” and when my uncle sobered up he said, “I couldn’t have done it with out the help of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” But don’t the unsaved sober up too? Do they not also become trophy fathers and get their life back on track without the “help of Jesus”?

It’s interesting, but I met an atheist around the time I was leaving Christianity. As I was discussing it with another friend I said, “Isn’t it amazing that God brought an atheist into my life right as I was leaving the faith?” I hadn’t even realized what I’d said. You see, I spoke Christian. It was a language and a thought process to be, my inherent nature! I learned to attribute every good thing in life to a blessing from Christ, and every bad thing as his merely teaching me to grow more dependent on him. I would often quote Tozer to myself, “It isn’t likely God can bless a man greatly whom he hasn’t hurt deeply.” For a long time I thought it was that I was a victim of “spiritual abuse” by the church, and that I was becoming so “anti-Christian” because I correlated the church with Christ, which sadly, was simply something I would not be able to do.

Upon further examination though, I realized my problems extended farther than just the church. I have no problem with the Historical Christ, I think he existed and taught a wonderful message of peace. He was a humanitarian! (Something many Christians are not). I think historical and archeological evidence gives conclusive evidence to the fact there was a Jesus, though not that he was in any way super-human or a Messiah. The problem I have is with the virgin birth, the “blameless life,” and the literal physical resurrection. I had always accepted these things on “faith.” But I really sat back and started thinking… “Wait a minute… IT’S NOT POSSIBLE!” “But this is where faith comes in, Sam!” they would say. That only added to my problem, though. I started to view Christianity as a “sphere” with many roads leading to it, a philosophical road, the historical road, etc. But no road led directly there. At some point a “bridge of faith” would have to be crossed in order to get you there, and some “bridges of faith” required longer bridges depending on which road you were taking. I realized that I would no longer be able to cross any bridge.

I have only been de-converted for a little over six months now. It is very difficult. In all honesty, I never thought I’d stick it out. Ever since middle school, I would always “leave the faith” but I would always come back; primarily out of fear, or because I was having trouble sleeping at night. But this time I’ve stayed the course. I’m not closed minded toward the faith either. I’m actually open to Christianity as I am to many other religions and possibilities, science included. So technically if there is a God, then I will find him. But so far I have not.

It’s becoming clear to me now that I will never be a Christian again. Honestly, it’s a little sad. Almost all of my friends are Christian. They don’t do it on purpose, but it seems now that I can’t be part of their “inner circle,” because our similar “bond” has been broken. Whenever difficulty arises in my life I still find myself instinctually nodding my head to pray about it and then I realize… oh wait, I don’t travel that road any more. I walked in it, and found it wanting.
It’s amazing, but the “freedom” that most people report after joining the faith has materialized in my departure of it.

I now see how western Christianity has really held back the peace process; I see now the blatant racism and hatred that exists in its circles, something the historical Jesus would roll over in his grave over! The journey ahead is no doubt a long one, but I know that it will eventually lead me to gardens unmolested by shame. I now have to actually do something with my life other than “the furtherance of his kingdom.”

City: Conway/Arkadelplhia
State: Arkansas
Country: U.S.A.
Became a Christian: six
Ceased being a Christian: twenty
Labels before: Baptist and Episcopal
Why I joined: It meshed with my surrounding culture at the time
Why I left: I found the faith to be "wanting" in regards to the supposed "personal experience" i was supposed to be having
Email Address: cas38469 at obu dot edu

Renouncing False Gods

sent in by Andrew

I started school in 1990, and went to the local Government school where I was promptly assigned to a Catholic scripture class. Being 4 years old, I didn't think too much of it, and I followed the rituals as taught. The next year, I transferred to another Government school, and I continued being taught the Catholic faith. I didn't know what I was learning, except that I was doing what was right. By the time I was 9, I had doubts about what it was I was doing, and when I was 10, I completely renounced Catholicism.

Normally, this would be where the story ends. Unfortunately, this is where it really begins. I went to a school where, despite being a Government (Public) school, there was a mandatory school prayer, and as I was later to discover - mandatory scripture. By renouncing my "faith", I encountered the wrath of my teachers. I was not allowed to leave Scripture classes - in fact I was severely disciplined, and FORCED to participate in scripture along with the muslims, the jews, the hindi and the atheists. I first recited the school prayer mockingly, then not at all, and I received discipline. These experiences turned me from a non-christian into a vocal critic of christian indoctrination in our public schools, and more than one scripture teacher has had to listen to me tell them off.

URL: http://www.thequahreport.com
City: Sydney
State: NSW
Country: Australia
Became a Christian: 4
Ceased being a Christian: 9
Labels before: Catholic
Labels now: Atheist, Anti-Christian
Why I joined: Mandatory Christian Indoctrination at School
Why I left: I learnt to think for myself
Email Address: andrew.quah at secsmusic dot org

Recovering Christian

sent in by Amethyst Moonstar

I grew up Lutheran in Minnesota, which is still a very Christian state. My parents pretty much forced me to go to a Lutheran school where I never really fit in, no matter how much I tried. I begged them to let me go to a public school for junior high, and they finally caved because it would save them money. I lost my mom to cancer when I was in high school, but that is not the event that made me deconvert -- on the contrary, my belief was probably at the strongest then and it did help to deal with her death.

But a few things started to happen that made me question. Someone at church told my dad my mom was going to hell because she was afraid of dying. That pissed me off immensely. Because if that was true, then no one would be in heaven. I don't think any human being has ever NOT been afraid of dying at the very end, no matter how religious they were in life.

In college, many of my friends were Pagans and/or Agnostics and Athiests. I had some Christian friends, but they were more moderate. I ended up dating an Agnostic who later became Wiccan. We had quite a few interesting debates.

I think, though, what led me to deconvert was that once away from church and home, I was finally free to think about things for the first time.

I believe there is a god, and that it's worth leading a moral life. But I don't think you necessarily have to follow any one religion in order to do so. I'm leaning toward Neopaganism myself because it makes as much sense as anything else.

Unfortunately, I have to remain pretty much in the closet because of where I live. My entire family is Christian -- Lutheran on my Dad's side & Catholic on my stepmom's. Some are more moderate than others, but I have Bible-thumping relatives too. My uncle & his family are ultra-conservative Baptists.

I personally see religions as human creations and just different paths in life. I don't think there is any one right way for everybody. I go to a United Church of Christ church occassionally -- mostly so my relatives won't worry and tell everyone to pray for me. Although the Bible-thumping ones probably do anyway.

Sex: Female
URL: Your Homepage URL
City: Twin Cities
State: MN
Country: USA
Became a Christian: 0 (Baptized)
Ceased being a Christian: About college age
Labels before: Lutheran, agnostic, eclectic/neopagan
Labels now: Eclectic/neopagan
Why I joined: Forced to by my parents
Why I left: Had time to really think about Christianity

Christianity Is Dangerous I Should Know

sent in by Wesley Brown

When I was younger I remember I kept hearing the name Jesus while lying playing with colouring books under my church pew. My parents (my dad a United Methodist pastor) forced me to go to church and some church events (no choice). I hated it because I was always bored but the people were nice to me and the social time afterwards was cool. The vibrations were happy (New age lingo for feel of the room and people in it).

I didn’t question my faith at that time. I was a sore loser at my elementary school and not very many people wanted to hang out with me. I remember being pushed down by a bully and called retard a couple of times anyway this one girl named Jenny was the kindest girl I ever knew at that age. She put her arm around me and said “you know what even Jesus cried” I am very much like that now aided by my decision to leave Christianity.

Anyway when I was thirteen I was going through a lot of shit I hated my parents and I even threw stuff at the walls to tell them I didn’t want to live there anymore. I think some of that was triggered by the belief my parents forced on me that they called Christianity. I was very mad one night and crying and saying what my dad called the dreaded F word (Fuck) and finally after I got calmed down I got into an argument about religious beliefs and the fact is they convinced me “accept Jesus” then they assured me that I was going to heaven if I did this. I believed them and said the prayer something to the effect of we are all sinners I accept that you died for me and accept you into my heart.

I started to change then but noticed it was all driven by the fear that I am going to hell if I don’t confess and my parents warned me that it is better to confess now and get it over with so I confessed things that my parents taught me were sins. Christianity seems to think everything that is living is a sin. It is said in the bible (I don’t know where) something like this for even becoming angry with your parents is punishable to hell, but then somewhere else in the bible it says whoever comes to me and is not willing to hate their family for my sake is not my disciple what load of Bullshit (and my dad says it is a sin even to say that word even more ridicules).

To get to the point once I was so depressed I wanted to kill myself I turned to Christianity to give me more comfort NOT A FREAKING CHANCE it made my pain even worse with the worry that if I did that I could go to hell. I even had to go to the out patient clinic and get some medication and counselling. Now that I am over with those thoughts I am glad. I know those thoughts were partly due to the fact that I am no longer worried about hell. Now I am a very popular boy in high school and I like anyone who is kind and understanding with me. My dad even told me he is in support of them killing the crazy people over in Iraq. He also said he wants more laws governing things that people do that should be their right to do.

My heart goes out to all you people who are thinking of leaving Christianity I give my best wishes to you and I hope you find freedom. I love my friends too much to see a cult like this destroy their lives. If you are or will be raising kids tell them Christianity is wrong if they ask about it and get them involved in a positive religion like paganism, spiritualism, new ageism ect (Not Islam, or Satanism). I just want to say I hope the real god will show you the way (of course if you are an atheist he gives you the right to be that as I under stand it).

To the Christians: If you are in search of the real truth you will find it. I don’t hate you. I love the world enough to tell you what you are doing is wrong you can liberate your mind by knowing there is no hell, and that your friends who torment you with that idea are in fear of it themselves they are not able to be honest they are brainwashed.

City: Clinton
State: Mi
Country: USA
Became a Christian: 13
Ceased being a Christian: 16
Labels before: United Methodist
Labels now: Humanist, Newagest
Why I joined: My Parents Forced It On Me.
Why I left: Because I have seen the kindness of non christians and other people.

My eyes were opened. I saw the light. The Truth set me Free!

sent in by Agagooga

After reading some of the testimonies on ExChristian.net, I feel that my story cannot really compare to the bulk of those on this site. I did not suffer from the hypocrisy and iniquity of fundies, as so many of my fellow apostates have. I was not trapped in a vicious circle of hate, self-doubt and false promises for years, or even decades, like so many of you were. I was and am not surrounded by hordes constantly trying to preach the word of their god to me and to save my soul. Nonetheless, I too have a story to share. Most here saw the light when they realised the logical contradictions and absurdities inherent in the concept of the Christian god, when the sanctimony of (then) their fellow believers showed them that Christianity does not necessarily make one a better person, when no gods came to comfort or save them in my time of need, or when they realised that the bible was just another tome of mythology (and not a particularly interesting one at that, unlike Greek, Egyptian or Norse mythology). My path towards self-actualization was slightly different. It has been a year and 9 months since I embarked upon this journey, and maybe a year and 7 since I've become an atheist.

As far as religion is concerned, I am lucky to have been born in Singapore, and not in the US, as most people on this site seem to have been. In Singapore, Christians make up 15% of the population or so, and our polity is secular, so religion does not pervade public discussion and discourse as much here as I am led to believe it does in the USA. People tend to be less evangelistic here, perhaps due to the need to show respect for those of other religions, and kids don't go around talking to other kids about their gods (and condemning others to hell for blasphemy). I am also lucky not to have been born into a particularly religious family - though my mother brought me up in the tenets of the faith, I was never dragged to church or fed daily tales about the invisible man in the sky (at least not after I was about 9 or so, at least); my father is a free-thinker and my sister does not talk much about her religious beliefs, whatever they might be. Perhaps naturally, I grew up a liberal, non-denominational Christian with an idea about the more general and commonly agreed-upon Christian doctrines, and believing in them, not because of any good reason, but because I had been brought up to do so and vaguely felt the Christian god's presence every now and then. Religion entered my mind but rarely, and I usually didn't dwell upon religious thoughts, seeing no point in doing so.

One of my best childhood friends was and is a staunch Catholic, and comes from a religious family, so the two of us did discuss some religious issues. He told me about things like demons, exorcisms, visions and the like, and I listened curiously; almost incredulously. As time went by, he became more and more devout, and correspondingly hardline in his religious views, and often accused me of not being a real Christian (among other reasons, because I thought homosexuality was permissible), and wondering which god I really worshipped. One of the reasons for his religious fervor was a Catholic retreat which he'd gone too at the age of 16 (if my memory serves me right), from which he'd come back charged and more religious than ever, and from time to time he waxed lyrical about how good the retreat was, and about what he'd experienced. I was a little skeptical about this whole retreat business, and even joked, at the time, that I might become an atheist after the retreat. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine how prophetic my words would be; this retreat was the pivotal point in my religio-spiritual life. Meanwhile, my two other best adolescent friends, by demographical chance, were coincidentally Christians as well, and as time went by they also became more religious, though they were much more reserved in sharing their religiously-inspired views, and were less extreme, to boot.

At the age of 18, I was enslaved. Not having the courage to be a conscientious objector and stew in military barracks for 2 1/2 years, I allowed myself to be enslaved and trained as a killing machine (though I must add, not a very successful one, fortunately). As one might expect, in my despondancy and misery, one of my ways of coping was by turning to religion, and I became slightly more religious, deriving a modicum of comfort from my delusion. Time went by, and slightly more than a year after my enslavement, my staunch Catholic friend asked me to go for the retreat. Apparently it was the last time that this "excellent" priest would be conducting it, so it was my last chance. Biting the bullet, I decided to go for it, to grow in my faith and come closer to my god.

The retreat was an eye-opener. I had been to some church services before, but never had I experienced charismatic preaching and fundamentalist beliefs (eg the condemning of oral sex and contraception), which were alien to my liberal disposition. For its seven days, I was forced to think upon many questions that I had never asked myself, or indeed had been sub-consciously avoiding. I examined and questioned my faith, and the basis for it, and ultimately, after a great deal of (unanswered) prayer, meditation and thought, found that there really was none. There was no evidence at all for the existence of god (or gods, if you like). However, I did witness a Great Power while at the retreat. A power which could slay half the crowd in the spirit. A power which could induce people to start talking in tongues. A power which could heal people of perennial pains. A power which granted great and marvelous visions to all who were struck by it. The power of mass hysteria and wishful thinking.

It would have been easier to just believe, no doubt, but I knew I could not believe in a lie without losing my soul (so to speak).

Some might question the role that logic and reason have to play in religious matters. Prima facie, this is a fair point. However, if we trust only to faith, how are we to tell the true religion(s) from the false? Many tens of thousands of religions and denominations (at least) have been extant on this planet, at one time or another. How are we to tell which are true and which are false? How are we to decide whether to offer libations to? Jehovah, Allah, Brahma, Buddha, Zeus, Amon-Ra, Pele, Kim Jong Il, Quetzalcoatl, Odin, Zarathrustra, Anshar, that big tree over there or the Tooth Fairy? All of them? Or perhaps none of them? Given that a great deal of religions are mutually exclusive and contradictory, it is quite safe to say that they cannot all be right. A true religion, should stand up to the rigour of a test of logic. After all, gods might defy nature, but surely they cannot defy logic.

Some would doggedly insist in the power of faith. However, as Nietzsche memorably observed: "A casual stroll through a lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything". One can have faith that the Moon is made of Green Cheese, that NASA didn't really visit the Moon, or that Jews are evil and were behind the September 11th attacks, or even that God is a rabbit, but that does not change objective reality. Some would argue that they know their god is the true god because they have experienced his power. To which I reply that 4 million Americans believe - indeed *know* - that they have been abducted by aliens (it's called sleep paralysis, among other things). And what about the hordes who claim that they saw Elvis walking into their local pub just the other week? If everyone *knows* that their god exists, and is the only god, who is right? Of course, the faithful will dismiss the others' experiences, just as theirs are in turn dismissed by the rest.

Liberal Christians might be tempted to pull me back into the fold by saying that true Christianity is very different from the fundamentalist streak that disgusts so many non-Christians so. Some even tell me that non-Christians do not go to hell, even though the verses in the New Testament dealing with that topic are among the clearest and hardest to "interpret" away. However, no matter how liberal Christianity may be, there is still no basis for it, so ultimately there is no reason to believe.

I sincerely wish that more may see the light and free themselves from the shackles of religion. One may believe in anything he likes, as long as he does not harm others, but I find self-actualization to be much more meaningful than religious delusion.

As I am wont to tell others:

"My eyes were opened.
I saw the light.
The Truth set me Free!"


Sex: Male
URL: http://gssq.blogspot.com
Country: Singapore
Became a Christian: Birth
Ceased being a Christian: 20
Labels before: Liberal, non-denominational Christian
Labels now: Atheist, bright
Why I joined: Born into it
Why I left: I realised the truth

Faith is Fake

sent in by Chris

As a child, religion was never forced upon me. My father grew up in a strict Lutheran home, and my mother grew up in a strict Catholic home. I was always taught that I had my own freedom to express myself, but it wasn't always that way. When I first started going to private school in 8th grade, that is when I "found god."

At 14 years old, I had moved schools about 4 times and never moved. I had serious social problems as a child, and never had more than one friend at a time. When I became a student at Cornerstone Christian School in Wildomar, California, it seemed like God was the only one who cared. I had hardly any friends, hardly any life, and not much else to do but go to church and delve into the life of a Christian. Little did I know what I was really getting into.

I began going to church at least 3 times a week, and reading the Bible and praying on a daily basis. I was never taught to pay as much attention to the old testament as I was to pay attention to the Gospels, because the new testament was supposed to be what was most important NOW. I prayed as hard as I could, I listened and watched for any sign, but nothing made sense. The kids at my school were a bunch of "Sunday Christians," as I like to call them. A bunch of kids with parents who all go to church on Sunday, and then dismiss all their morals for the rest of the week, believed that sunday "cleansed" them of all their sins. Sometimes, good things would happen, and people would turn to god and thank him, but when did coincidence ever end? When did god ever reach out and touch me? If he loves me so damn much, why didn't he help me when I was unhappy, why did he let me have a horrible schoollife as a kid? It's all a test, a test of my faith. WRONG, it was never a test.

Well, by 11th grade, I had returned to public school because I begged my mother to let me free myself of that forsaken school. I realized religion was a lie, that no one was watching me, and guiding me. No one was really helping me with anything, I was living my own life. By 12th grade, I had turned to god again, with no where else to turn. I had a new girlfriend who had began bringing me to church, and it all seemed right, but I was only blinded by lust rather than faith. The church I had been attending held youth groups on Wednsday nights and I was there weekly without fail. Well, after her and I broke up, she discontinued going and I continued. One week, I had been scheduled at work during Youth Group night, and I couldn't go. I tried my hardest to switch my shift, but it was impossible. Well, turns out, by next wednsday, they had changed all their times and dates without letting me know. These people had come to my HOUSE, sat at DINNER with my family (I'm talking about the pastors and what not), and had called me regularly to make sure I was OK. One week I miss, and they move on me? Well, with no information till Sunday, I just left and came back in the morning to find another surprise, the church had found a new building. I assumed this since there was nothing on the walls anymore, nor was there any posting or set-up like normal. I felt betrayed by the people of god, the people who supported me and kept me going. I mean, it might seem like they might have had other things to do, but the church was only comprised of, maybe 100 people at most, and only 20 kids at youth groups. This was an eye-opener. It made me question more than just god, but his people as well.

I started getting extremely depressed, and searching through prayer and the Bible for answers, but one never came. I fell deep into depression and realized that I had to pull myself out, no god could do it for me. I am now a free man, free of burdens of guilt and fear of death. I will not allow myself to be controlled by a book and some crazy thoughts. I now explore several ideas of atheism and other religions, not searching for answers, but searching for knowledge and englightenment. I will never condemn someone for their beliefs in god, but I will never accept anyone else condemning me for my lack of them. Live your life the way you want, but don't expect me to waste my short time here following a bunch of crazy rules and wasting my life.

Sex: Male
City: Chino
State: CA
Country: USA
Became a Christian: 14
Ceased being a Christian: 18
Labels now: Open Minded
Why I joined: I was taught to be.
Why I left: I came to grips with reality

The Cursed Woman

sent in by "Lilith"

I was raised a Catholic and found that I was seriously questioning the teachings of Christianity and the sect of Catholicism at a very early age. No one could answer my questions with facts, I was supposed to just "believe." I would wrangle over it with my parents who I consider to be wonderful, educated people. They would tell me "most of it's stories, and if you're good you are on the right path." Well, how can people who think like that go to church every Sunday?

I struggled with Catholicism and decided I was an agnostic at age 15. I met a girl when I was 17 and she introduced me to the fire and brimstone of Born Again Christianity. She scared the heck out of me and I tried to believe in the ideology. I finally figured out it was a bunch of scare tactics and definitely not for me.

I have tried other churches in the past: Anglican and Eastern Orthodox. Orthodox really suprised me because they think that women on their periods or who are pregnant are somehow "unclean" and cannot go to communion.

My biggest problem with Christianity is the sexism and how women are manipulated into thinking that it is an inclusive religion. Meanwhile it's god THE FATHER, god THE SON and this ambiguous HOLY SPIRIT who is perceived as a male spirit.

I just think it's hard for people to live day to day and not think that there is something better. I have struggled with it my entire life and sometimes wonder "am I going to go to hell?" I know it sounds crazy but if you were raised Catholic then you would understand.

I would love to believe in something but just can't. I am also tired of being brainwashed into thinking that I am less than a man because I have ovaries and can't bench press 250 lbs.

I've even tried Wicca and other religions but they are as silly to me as Christianity.

I don't hate people who are Christian or religious. I think part of me envies there simplistic lifestyle. Maybe ignorance is truly bliss!

State: PA
Country: USA
Became a Christian: raised as one
Ceased being a Christian: 15
Labels before: The Catholic Church, Born again Christianity, Anglican C hurch, Eastern Orthodox Church
Labels now: agnostic
Why I joined: I was looking for the meaning of life
Why I left: Why did you deconvert? It's confusing and sexist
Email Address: krillykrill at msn dot com

UNSAVED and Happy

sent in by Nathan

I abandoned my faith in Christianity about six months ago, but before I get to that part of the story, I would like to start from the beginning and relate more or less my “whole” testimony. That being: how I became a Christian, why I stayed a Christian for so long, and what drove me to eventually question and abandon my faith.

I was born to Christian parents. After experimenting with drugs and the party scene my parents both converted to Christianity in their twenties. By the time I was born they were strong believers, ready to train up their son “in the way he should go.” I was dedicated as a baby in their church and about a year later they moved to another church in the town that I am living in now, here in Novato, California.

At the age of two I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior. I have only extremely vague memories of this, and obviously I had no idea what was going on. Asking a child to make that type of choice is like asking them to choose a wife. However, I don’t blame my parents for trying to get me “Saved” as early as possible, being under the impression that Hell awaited all unbelievers.

I was baptized at the age of 7 and also “Baptized in the Holy Spirit” at around the same time. I can hardly remember this experience either. About as far back as I can remember, I’ve always “spoke in tongues” and never thought it was odd or out of place.

In Jr. High I made my first attempts to think for myself. I realized that my former decision was only because of my parents Christianity and had nothing to do with my own will. I weighed the information that was given to me. Most of the Christian people I knew seemed happy, and all I really knew of “unsaved” people was what my Christian teachers told me. I went to a private Christian school and almost all of my friends were Christians. I knew a few people that had been “out in the world” and without fail their story always went something like: “The world has nothing to offer but drug addiction, immoral sex, and pain. Thank God that I’m saved again.” In other words the only stories I had ever heard from people that had left Christianity, where from people who had done so only to turn around and run back “into the fold” again. I concluded that no one could be happy without Jesus.

This realization combined with my personal experiences with “the presence of God” caused me to choose Jesus again, this time more consciously.

I got into high school. On the first week of school a girl came up to me and asked me if I was willing to urinate in a bottle so that she could pass her drug test and not be sent to Juvenile Hall. Having been in a private Christian school for the majority of my life switching to public education was a shock for me. Almost all of my peers had tried drugs and this reinforced my feeling that people without Jesus were doomed to lives of drug addiction.

I switched schools again after my sophomore year and high school was bearable. My junior year was the strongest year for my Christianity. I believed that God was everything in the world. I believed that Jesus Christ was my Savior, Master, Father, Friend, Brother, Lover, etc. I would even try to share my faith with some of my peers. By the end of this year I was “on fire” for Jesus.

However, just like every Christian young man I had “lust problems.” I always felt a little insincere because I knew that I was just as much a sinner as anyone else. Although these feeling were negative, the guilt associated with the sin actually drew me closer to Jesus. It assured me that I was still “a man in need of a savior.” I now see that guilt is a necessary part of Christianity. If you don’t feel bad about yourself why do you need a savior?

During my senior year I lost of a lot of my fire and started getting depressed a lot. I was basically spiritually bipolar all through out high school. I would go to church or youth events and feel the presence of God and then when it was over I would be depressed again. Christians always say that all of the “worldly pleasures” are temporary highs that let you down. This is probably true. What they fail to tell you is that the spiritual highs of Christianity are the same way. You go to church feel happy and then want to die the next day.

That year was the first time in my life that I started to honestly question God’s reality. However, I never left the Christian state of mind. There were questions but I always believed deep inside of that Jesus Loved and me that God was right me. I even made my senior quote “Jesus Loves You.”

I graduated from high school and started going to a local Jr. College. At the same time I started dating a girl that I had known from church for a couple years. When we started going out, I felt really happy. I gained a renewed faith in God. My girlfriend and I would pray together all the time and the faith that we shared held the relationship together. I stopped questioning God during this period of my life. Everything was good and happy.

One day I was talking to one of my pastors, and our conversation drifted onto biblical violence. I told him I felt that killing is wrong. He showed me places in the bible where God commanded people to kill. He said this to me:

“You’ve come to a place where your opinion differs from the will of God. That’s ok for now but eventually if something doesn’t change it will keep you out of heaven.”

I tried not to think about what he said too much. I was happy with my life and didn’t want big theological questions to get in the way of my love for God or my girlfriend. I knew that if I abandoned God I would have to break up with my girlfriend. We had almost nothing in common besides faith and I knew it couldn’t work without that spiritual bond.

In the end I didn’t have to make that choice. She broke up with me and said that God had told her to do so. I was shocked because there was nothing leading up to this. It just happened, and it was over.

Now that I wasn’t preoccupied with that relationship I started to think about life more. I started to pray and seek God more. I still believed that he knew what was best and that everything was under his control. For the next month I read a lot of the bible and prayed a lot. I wanted to know what God was doing with my life. I assumed that God had something important for my life now that he had cause this break up.

The more I read the bible the more I thought about the conversation I had with my pastor. The old questions started to come back. “Is God really real?” “Does God Love Me?” I was going back and forth between days of depression and days of seeking God, and asking him to show me his will for my life.

One night it happened. I finally put everything on the line. I started to really question God. “God if you’re real then show me!” “Where are you?” “Jesus?” I found Exchristian.net and started reading testimonies of people who had left Jesus and were glad about it. All of my illusions about needing Jesus to be happy melted away. I started thinking, “Maybe it IS fake.” I also read a testimony on ExChristian.net of a man who was raised a Christian and realized he was gay at age 14. All of my anti-gay attitudes started to melt away. I realized that the only reason for these attitudes was my religion.

That same night I also read the story of Eddie “Gwen” Arajo, a young boy/girl who had been murdered because he/she was genetically male but lived as a female. Christians came to his/her murderers’ trail and held up signs saying that it’s wrong to be gay. I didn’t want to have anything to do with these people. I realized that according to my faith I was obligated to believe that Eddie “Gwen” Arajo is in hell. I was not prepared to believe that.

I finally realized how absurd the bible is. The genocide in Numbers chapter 31 became real to me. It was an obvious contradiction. God said, “don’t kill” and then turned around and said “kill them all; men, women, and children.” (Except for the virgins, whom the Israelite men could keep for themselves) Why would I want to serve a brutal god like this? I reread the gospels and noticed many factual contradictions. None of my Christian friends could give good explanations for these discrepancies.

After that night it only became more and more obvious to me that Jesus is NOT God and that the bible is a fable. I found a renewed hunger for knowledge. I started spending my time reading books and thinking rather than worrying and praying. It took me a long time but I eventually told most of my Christian friends, my pastor, and my parents about my decision to reject Christianity. It has been hard, but I feel like a much more honest person now. I don’t need a big God with a stick leaning over my shoulder threatening to bash my brain in every time I do something wrong. I can be a good person on my own.

City: Novato
State: CA
Country: U.S.A
Became a Christian: 2
Ceased being a Christian: 19
Labels before: Assemblies of God
Labels now: Freethinker, moving towards Atheism
Why I joined: I was young and I thought Jesus Loved Me
Why I left: Jesus Doesn't Love me
Email Address: skinandbones2001 at yahoo dot com

Games Christians Play

sent in by Sunfell

Recruitment Tactics for the Young and Vulnerable

The first time I was exposed to Twice-born Christianity was when I attended high school in the bible belt after my dad got out of the USAF. Until that time, I'd gone to schools with a variety of people and religions, and the subject never came up. Before I got to where I was, my best friends were Buddhist and Jewish.

At that school, I was an outcast from the moment I opened my mouth on day one. I didn't act, dress, or talk like they did, and didn't know any of them. They all knew each other from kindergarten. I was shunned as the oddball geek, and I hid from the bullies, jocks and popular girls behind books.

The first time I was asked if I was 'saved', I didn't really understand the question. Yes, I had savings- why did they want to know about that? I quickly learned that their kind of 'saving' had nothing to do with money. And I'd never been condemned to hell until then, either.

One day one of the popular girls asked me if I wanted to join them for lunch. Hey, why not? I didn't understand why she and her usually snobbish friends were suddenly so nice to me, but I reveled in it. This went on for a few weeks, and then I was asked to come to a party. A party! Normally, I hated parties, but it was so nice to be treated like a human being, that I accepted the invite.

I should have known that something was fishy when the party was held at a church hall. But they had live music, good food, and interesting people and I was actually enjoying myself and my new friends. Then a college age fellow got up on the stage, and started talking to us about Jesus, and I realized that the party was a fake- it was meant to get us to convert and join a church. The sermon went on and on, and I noticed that some kids were starting to cry. When he called on them to go up and get saved, they went. I wasn't moved to tears by the sermon. Instead, it made me very uncomfortable and embarrassed for my friends. Then I noticed that they weren't embarrassed at all. In fact, my new 'friends' urged me to go up too- but I refused.

That was when they dropped the bomb: If I didn't get 'saved', they could no longer be my friends. I still refused- I never could parse the irrational nonsense that was Christianity, and a bunch of popular girls and a persuasive preacher at a fake party weren't going to de-sanitize me. Instead of heeding the altar call, I called home and my mom picked me up. I was in tears when I told her what happened. I think that I was more upset at being faked out than anything. Happily, she understood. She'd given up on trying to drag me to church to please my grandmother, and we'd come to an understanding about religion. I simply was not interested in it except as a social curiosity.

Of course, the 'friendly' girls immediately shunned me the very next school day, and my life returned to its book-bound geekiness. I've been 'love bombed' a few more times, but I've learned to read the signs, and not bite any more. Christianity is a memetically transmitted virus of insanity, and in its own way a kind of mental illness. I mean, how else could anyone explain how young Christians could so callously befriend someone under false pretenses, and then treat them so horridly if they don't convert?

I don't hate Christians- I prefer to avoid them, but I do study the more virulent sects like the Dominionists. I am a TechMage, with over 30 years of metaphysical study and practice under my belt, including an initiatory path of old-school Alexandrian Witchcraft and a long tenure as a Rosicrucian.

I understand that many Christian sects are compelled to spread their mental virus, and that trying to reason with them is fruitless. So is trying to out-zealot them. I've tried both. Today, I keep an uneasy peace with them, understanding that they can break out into a frenzy of Revalation-fueled insanity at any moment. I am watching our hard-fought country, constitution and laws beginning to crumble under the onslaught of the most virulent of their faith- the theonimically oriented Dominionists, and I fear for the future of the US. But I hope that perhaps more will free themselves from their shackles, and keep the Light of reason burning. While there may be a Creator, or even a group of them, I very seriously doubt that Biblegod and Son had anything to do with our existence or our fate.


Sex: F
URL: www.sunfell.com
State: AR
Country: USA
Became a Christian: 'baptised' Catholic (but very messily rejected my baptism, according to my mom. They had to disinfect the font when I got done with them!)
Ceased being a Christian: About 6
Labels before: Magus and Witch
Labels now: AntagoGnostic TechMage
Why I joined: It was 'forced' on me.
Why I left: I prefer to call it shaking off the shackles. It never 'took' so it wasn't a struggle to shed it.

From nerd-dom to freedom

sent in by Narcissist

My father was a dysfunctional non practicing catholic of Italian decent. Mother was a born again evangelical, of Anglo-Saxon decent who copped a lot of verbal and some physical abuse from my father, and was not permitted to practise her protestant religion. Mother was also very loving, despite the crap she copped. When I was old enough, I started copping it too.

I was a nerd at school. I would never fight. I never wanted to. I swore I would never be violent like my old man.

At high school I somehow discovered a group called ISCF (Inter-School Christian Fellowship). I went along ‘cause that’s what good Catholic/Christian boys are supposed to do. Didn’t really do much for me, except to maintain an awareness that God was always watching me. Always. You see, as my young teenage body entered puberty, I became more and more interested in girls. Coincidentally, at exactly the same time, my face became more and more covered with acne. Joy. So here I am, the nerdiest boy in school, getting bullied at school, unable to stand up for myself, because I didn’t want to be violent like my old man, who was screaming his head off at me and beating the shit out of me at home. I’ve got girls turning me down all over the place because of my oily pus covered face, and my wuss-boy, nerdy nature. Good Christian boys didn’t drink and smoke. So how did I attempt to numb the pain of all this crap going on in my life?

Good old masturbation. Hmmm…. It was my daily half hour escape between getting home from school and mum getting home from work. I told no one I was doing it. I thought I was about the only one in my class doing it. As far as I knew, no other human knew what I was up to.

But God knew. God was watching me. I felt so guilty and prayed so hard for God to stop me wanking myself. But, he didn’t, or he wouldn’t. The temptation was so strong, and it felt so good.

The guilt continued.

Towards end of high school, I made a new friend who was a Jehovah’s Witness. I became involved with the Jehovah’s Witnesses not long after finishing high school and leaving home for the first time. These guys, I thought, were the real deal. They seemed to care and seemed to do what God wanted them to do. I wanted to do what God wanted me to do too. But I was still masturbating, and getting quite good at it too, from memory. But I didn’t want to. So eventually I “confessed” to a JW mentor, cause that’s what you’re supposed to do when you sin aren’t you? Didn’t work though. When family found out I was learning to be a JW they were very unhappy. Eventually I began to see the error of the JW’s thanks to reading and thinking. I was drawn the more mainstream forms of Christianity.

I did the whole teary altar call thing, prayed The Prayer that apparently made me a Christian, on a few occasions actually. My continued masturbation made sure I always doubted the integrity my own faith.

I used to go to a variety of churches; Anglican, Baptist, Charismatic. I felt no loyalty towards any one as they all professed the Jesus Christ was their saviour, and that’s all that mattered to me. But I was still a nerd, still wallowing in a low self esteem and still interested in women. Unfortunately they were not interested in me. Lucky I could still masturbate. That provided temporary relief.

But God was still watching.

And I kept on confessing to mentors, elders, etc. But it didn’t work. I kept praying though. Why the hell wasn’t God answering? Didn’t God want me to stop sinning? I did everything he apparently wanted me to do. I went to church every week without fail, often in the morning and a different church in the evening as well. I did the “quiet time” thing diligently and daily. I went to the weekly bible study, and gave my best and my all. I even went to bible college to try and figure out why God wasn’t freeing me from sin and guilt like the Christians promised he would.

In the end it was to the bible itself I turned. I studied that bible hard, looking for answers. Not just about masturbation but the whole Christian experience. Didn’t find the answers I was looking for, but I did find answers. It’s amazing what you discover when you actually start reading the bible for yourself. There’s so much stuff that the Christians just don’t want you to know that is in that bunch of “holy” books.

The beginning of the end began when I met this girl at University. She wasn’t my girlfriend, but I wanted her to be. She wasn’t a Christian. I tried to convert her to Christianity so I could marry her and fuck her brains out. She knew plenty of people who used to be Christian. These where people whose lives had been fucked up by Christians and Christianity in one way or another. I won’t go into details but they’re all similar to other testimonies posted on this site. These people were more welcoming, more loving, caring and compassionate than any Christian I had ever met.

In the end I just got sick of the overwhelming and unredeemable hypocrisy of Christians and Christianity, and the utter unhelpfulness of God, and the unrelenting and inadequate excuses that Christians would inevitably provide when trying to explain why God wouldn’t fulfil the promises that the Christians made on His behalf.

The most money hungry, abusive bosses I ever worked for were Christians. The most irresponsible and deceptive flatmate I lived with was a Christian. The most judgemental and un-Christlike people I have ever known are Christians. The least compassionate people I know are Christians. Of all my high school friends, the ones who got their girlfriends pregnant first where the Christians. The only female I have ever known personally who has had an abortion was a Christian.

By the way, the last time I saw my father was Christmas Day 2001, after he beat the shit out of me because I dared to interrupt him and tell him to “shut up” whilst he insult and verbally abused my younger and only brother. Somehow I had some sort of premonition of this during the preceding year. And there I was praying, begging, grovelling to God that it wouldn’t happen.

Onya God, you malevolent prick!

Sex: Male
State: Tasmania
Country: Australia
Became a Christian: 20
Ceased being a Christian: 29ish
Labels before: Jehovah's Witness, evangelical, fundametalist, born again
Labels now: agnostic
Why I joined: Was promised freedom from sin and guilt
Why I left: Failed to be freed from sin and guilt

What's Love Got To Do With It?

sent in by Sharon Watts

Growing up in a Christian home can be a lonely spirit crushing experience.

As innocent young children we accepted what we were told by our parents and adults because we hadnt yet developed reasoning ability or a deeper understanding of how the world works.

My parents were strict Baptists. Had switched from being Mennonites merely because there was no Mennonite church in the area we had moved to.

Now. I dont blame my parents, they did their best, loved us, gave us everything they could, taught us integrity, never physically hurt us and provided for all our needs. Except one.

As they believed it was their duty to do everything possible to keep us out of hell, we were trained "in the way that we should go'

Tough enough were the guidelines that almost everything that was fun was a Sin; playing cards, dancing..even television, except that once the new pastor happened to have a television in his home, maybe God decided TV wasnt evil after all. This was long before television evangelism.

There was also the heartily enforced message that we were but a worthless speck in God's eye, had somehow displeased him by being born. Since we were born sinners. That any love we got from God was because that was the way he was, not that we actually deserved any love. That we were all undeserving sinners and could gain heaven only by the grace of God.

The message that we had this one desperate chance...we might possibly, perhaps win more of his favor if we were to always be good. God of course knew what we did in every moment, if we thought bad things even God was sure to be displeased. Not to mention stealing a piece of cake from the pantry or wearing pretty things.....which would take glory away from God somehow.

If we did sin, however, we made God unhappy.

Church was 3 times a week. Almost continously we heard about the sinfulness of other religions....oooo, those Catholics!, the sinfulness of heathens, of "backsliders"...and on and on. While the pastor castigated the Communists for their "brain washing" he did exactly that to us. While he pounded on about how much easier it is for a camel to enter the gates of heaven than a rich man, the deacons of the church were the richest people we knew.

My church played a big part in foreign missions, delivering the word of God to the heathens. Not because we respected them, liked them or even loved them, but because it was God's holy commandment to spread his word.

The pastor spoke often of God's love and how infinitely superior it was to human love. Also followed closely by something along the lines of "he that believeth not is dammed"

There was also the message that we must'nt enjoy ourselves too much, for this too would mean we were not loving God. What a sober unhappy guy he must be, I thought even then.

In humility I sat out of dance class in school because my Mom had asked the teacher not to teach me such a sinful thing.

My Dad though must have made God happy cuz when I was 6 he took him "home" to be with Jesus and the angels. That's what Mom told me anyway.

After what I might describe as an impassioned, or perhaps forceful alter call at a youth meeting I accepted Jesus into my heart in the quiet of my own room. Just me and JC were there and I offered as much reverence as my 10 yr old heart was capable of. I was also buying into the concept offered me by the church that once I accepted Jesus into my heart I was guaranteed safety from hell, even if I should change my mind later--I was now safe. I was now born again.

My Dad, my real Dad was gone and I was aching for love. But not one word of kindness from JC or his Dad. Not one soft touch on the shoulder, not a single whisper from the dynamic trio. I tried, my God I tried. I prayed several times a day, went to church always and read my Bible.

Like any book, I started at the beginning. Along about the time I read about God instructing his people to hamstring the horses of other tribes I felt revulsion, trying desperately to believe that my buddy God knew what he was doing. That I had no right to judge.

But of all of my relationships in my young life, it was my pets and other animals who had shown me unconditional love. Lonely and aching for love I felt rich and perfect in their accepting presence. Horses I loved above all animals.

I finished the book and before I was done, my one way relationship with JC and his dad had ceased and I thought of God as a monster. I saw how some of the members of my church were anything but God loving Christians. Saw how the pastor's daughter, who was a friend of mine was put in an impossible position of being the epitomy of a righteous God loving pastors child. The last I had heard of her was that after reform school, she had run away from home and eventually gone to jail for armed robbery.

I'm not saying this in judgement of her but because I knew that even as a young girl she was forced into a role that no child can play. If my youth was lonely and confusing, hers was even more so.

By then, I was a young teenager. Stopped going to church and as much as possible tried not to think of my certain end in hell.

At 16, aching for love and possessing minimal self confidence I accepted a marriage proposal from the first person who said he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me. The details of my physical and emotional abuse, self hatred and guilt I need not share with you. I accept that it was I who made the choice.

Eventually I began to seek strength and love, looking as I often do in books. I have always been a voracious reader, and found a great interest and strength in Deepak Chopra, Joel Goldsmith, Budhism, Hinduism, spiritualism. And finally after I had turned 30 I found the one person who could love me in the way I needed to be loved.

That person was me.

Going against what I was taught as a child in church that self love was among the greatest of sins I began to learn how wonderful, magical, divine and special I was as is every one of us. Somewhere along the way clear logic provided that an omnipotent unconditionally loving God is not consistent with an angry, vengeful, jealous God, whose love is conditional on whether or not you love him. It is an impossibility.

If your story sounds something like mine, I must tell you, that until we know how to love ourselves and accept ourselves just as we are, we cannot know how to love others. My love and compassion for you is real. It doesnt matter what you have done, what you believe or even how you feel about me. Be at peace, seek what you need, love or hate me as you wish.

There are many Christians who think we left Christianity because we got "offended" I left Christianity behind for good because I understand it to be a monstrous lie. If believing in God is your truth, you are welcome to it. I would not wish to change you. But if you seek a more wholesome relationship....know this. It is already inside of you. Freedom is there for those who take it. Love, real love is free.

Am I saved? Hell yes! Saved by the understanding that I am free to believe what serves my truth best. I have a deeply spiritual life. A life of joy, peace, magic, deep compassion and opportunities which present themselves to me as problems.

As for the Big Guy...if he were real....he can go to Hell!

Namaste, Shalom

State: Ontario
Country: Canada
Became a Christian: born into it
Ceased being a Christian: early teens
Labels before: Baptist
Labels now: Divine consciousness hidden behind the human veil of forgetfullness
Why I joined: Well, Hell, it seemed like a good idea at the time.
Why I left: I realized there was nothing to fear.

The Awakened Mind

sent in by David Williams

Most of these stories are emotional. I could tell mine that way, but I consider those emotions sick now, so I will not indulge them.

The day I stopped being a Christian was when I was reading the Bible and realized it was all only a belief. You had to "believe" the stories were true. I asked myself, "What does it mean to believe?"

Then I realized, believing is accepting claims without proof. Now what mature person would conduct their life that way? You would be subject to every con, wacko scheme and political crook that came your way. Why would I be obligated to accept a claim without proof?

Christianity's short answer is God will kill you if you don't. I summarize it this way now: There is a giant invisible man who will kill you if you don't believe there is a giant invisible man who will kill you.

My moment of freedom came when I realized that the fear was a belief too. This has led to the realization that I choose my emotions by choosing what I focus on. If I focus on a Mad Daddy in the Sky, pretty soon I will be afraid. If I focus on reality, I relax and live realistically.

All this flooded through my mind after that first flash of freedom, and once I stepped outside the manipulation of being told to accept claims without proof, I never went back.

By the way, I discovered that all the guilt over leaving the faith was a choice too. I could choose to give others control over my choices, or I could take responsibility and choose productive feelings.

Today I recognize that supernatural beliefs are behind the worst attrocities of our time. Allah wants terrorist to kill innocent people. God wants us to kill Iraqis. Jesus plans to come back and kill all non-Christians (John 3 16). The world's major religions all promise to resolve the problem of non-believers with violence.

I have realized that belief in Jesus, the so-called Prince of Peace, has led to Christian Terrorism throughout the ages, from the Crusades to the Ku Klux Klan. The Bible records terrorism in the name of God in 1 Samuel 15 3, where Saul is supposedly commanded by God to murder infants. Early terrorism.

Today, I do not accept any claims of invisible creatures, magic powers, "energies" or thought power. I would gladly change my mind with proof. Happily, I know I will not be killed for recognizing belief (accepting claims without proof) as a dangerous habit.

For those of you in the middle of fear and guilt over doubting the faith, I am here to tell you that you do not have to feel bad for labeling nonsense as nonsense. I live prosperously, lovingly and joyfully without any invisible creatures.

Became a Christian: Born one
Ceased being a Christian: 30
Labels before: Chrurch of Christ, Presbyterian
Labels now: Atheist
Why I joined: Because Jesus was introduced to me when Santa Claus seemed real--while I was still gullible
Why I left: I decided to get real

Waking up

sent in by Anonymous

I was born into a fundamentalist family and "saved" at the
early age of 4. While I was younger, i was not embarrassed to flaunt my religious beliefs and would strongly argue anyone who disagreed with me or seemed to threaten my beliefs. I remember trying to convert everyone I met, feeling genuinely concerned about whether or not they would go to hell. My parents' religion was very strict and my earliest memories are packed with heavy indoctrination.

I was taught that the only way i would go to "heaven" was by praying and asking jesus to forgive my sins. After that I would have to live like jesus would...a sinless, righteous life, doing nothing but good. I was taught through example that women should submit to men and obey their husbands unconditionally...if not, they were sinners. I was supposed to read the bible daily, and pray throughout the day, and enjoy it. But as I grew older, constant prayer became nothing more than the result of a deeply engrained fear of death and eternal damnation.

I remember lying awake in my bed late into the night, terrified and praying that god would somehow protect me from earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, fires, robberies, or any other disaster that might occur while i was sleeping. This was the effect of being taught to not use logic, and only have faith. The definition of faith is to believe in something which has not been proven. In order to have faith, one must ignore all logical evidence for what's real and believe entirely in something they don't have scientific proof for. The older I got, the more obvious the faults in this way of life would become to me.

When i was about 8, my parents decided to become missionaries. I was thrilled! I couldn't wait to go to a foreign country and share my religion with other people. During the process of deputation, i was further brainwashed into letting other people think for me. i was taught how to battle others, using the bible.

After about two years of deputation, we moved to south america, where my father's main goal was to plant churches. After a few attempts over a couple of years, we managed to establish a small congregation of about ten or more families. The people were very receptive to the teachings we brought them. During our stay in chile, we began to leave behind our fundy ways and began to live more comfortably. but there were still problems created by the several years of hard core programming of legalism. the funny thing is, people who are brainwashed, have no clue that they are.
they think they are thinking for themselves when in reality, they are completely controlled by the church and its leaders. they will swear up and down that their religion is the way to go, that their church does not pressure them at all in any way to do anything. the church is sneaky though and can get its members to do anything with group pressure, no matter what denomination or religion it is...because the church creates an environment where at first, people feel like they can belong. once they become involved, they can't get out. humans have an inborn need to belong to a group. this was an instinct that evolved in early humans that helped them to survive. a group of people was more likely to survive in a blizzard than a single person.

Anyway, as we grew further away from fundamentalism, we began to see how it had affected our family. we began communicating more efficiently, but there was still a blockade created by religion that didn't quite allow us to be ourselves around each other.

about three years into our stay in south america, a family of charismatic pentecostal background joined our church. they brought with them a whole shitload of new ideas and methods of worship. our church services became more noisy. people began swaying and waving their arms during prayer. but the really disturbing changes came when this family persuaded my father to take our congregation to their old church, a member of the G-12 movement.
by this time, i was beginning to have serious doubts about the existence of a god. the discovery channel was starting to really make sense to me.

when we began attending services at this pentecostal church, it scared me.
people seemed to be going crazy, speaking in tongues, casting out demons, convulsing on the floor.

Little did we all know, at the time, my father was having serious doubts as well. He has studied the bible inside and out, and understands it very well. As he now tells us, back then he was scared of his doubts and that was the reason we became involved with the pentecostals.

For a while, all this creepy nonsense going on in the church somehow made me want to believe and i did...until they sent me to a YOUTH ENCOUNTER. just the name ENCOUNTER gave me the creeps. the purpose of these retreats is to teach young people about the way god wants them to live. It is meant to create a tight bond between youth and god and the church. but for me, it had the opposite effect it was supposed to. I was 14. the first day nearly pulled me in. they told us all these awful stories about how jesus had suffered for us. they told us how much he loved us and wanted us to live righteous lives so we could be with him after we died. but on the second day, they did what they call a LIBERATION. that's when they cast out demons and do all the annointing and stuff. they had us sit in a circle and try to make ourselves vomit, telling us that it would cast out demons. then they had the whole room of 300 girls stand up as the LEADERS walked around carrying little bottles of oil and annointed us. they had told us that after annointment the holy spirit would fill us and we would fall to the ground weeping. i watched as all the other girls in the room actually did fall to the ground sobbing. we were told to close our eyes and speak in tongues as they annointed us. i didn't fall. when they had passed me up, i opened my eyes and looked around. My sister and i were the only people still standing in the entire room. something happened to me that day. i realized that all those other girls had fallen only because they had been told they would. That woke up my sense of being an individual. the rest of the encounter, i found the strength to resist what they were trying do to my mind. i didn't follow suit when the others prayed or sang or spoke in tongues. instead i spent the rest of the time in introspection...studying myself on the inside and realizing that the whole thing was just a bunch of bullshit. I still believed in god at that point, but i didn't like him. he was slowly beginning to look like a tyrant...a bad, no horrible parent.

our envolvement in the pentecostal church eventually drove us back to the US. my dad might have lost his job had he stayed. there were some fundy missionaries who threatened to tell the baptists what we had been up to.
Upon our return, we promptly disontinued our once mandatory attendance to church. We began discussing our adventures in the mission field more freely and about a year later, much to our surprise, every member of my family admitted to not believing in god. from that point on, life became incredibly comfortable. we no longer had a need to shove our beliefs down other people's throats, or the desire to argue with people who wanted to debate us about it. the way we see it now...let everyone believe whatever the hell they want. it's not going to affect them in the end anyway, because when they die, they cease to exist, and their beliefs during life will no longer matter. it will be the end. i no longer fear death on any level. while i still want to be alive, i do not fear dying because unlike before, i don't believe in heaven or hell, so i don't have to worry about which one i will go to. the way i think of it now, when i die, i will be no more. there's nothing to look forward to and nothing to fear, so why should death matter. it's only a part of life. death completes life.

And now, for all you fundy nuts who might want to comment on my testimony...let me just tell you this...I'm happier than i've ever been in my life because i don't have a religion. before you try to convert me, let me just tell you, you're wasting your time because i have no need to return to where you are...attending church once or twice a week, praying every night...it's all just unattractive to me...plus, i like having sundays off and i'd rather be watching about evolution on the discovery channel than praying before i go to bed. Good night everybody!

Sex: female
State: arizona
Country: US
Became a Christian: 4
Ceased being a Christian: 15
Labels before: Fundy Baptists, Charismatic Pentecostal
Why I joined: Born into it
Why I left: I started thinking for myself

Pageviews this week: