25 Years Wasted

sent in by William H. Pratt

I grew up in church, but it didn't really "take" until I was 17. At that dramatic "turning-point" time in my life, I was very emotional, no real direction in my life, and one night when I was at home all alone, I dropped to my knees and Received Jesus as my Savior and Lord, amen.

Over the next three decades, I memorized hundreds of Bible verses. I taught Sunday School classes. I collected 22 different translations of the Bible. When that wasn't enough for me, I learned Greek and Hebrew so that I wouldn't have to rely on translations (Greek, by the way, is MUCH more difficult than Hebrew).

And I got to know a LOT of Christians. They're a pretty twisted bunch - as evil as any of us, but they're CHRISTIAN about it. No atheist ever fucked with me or cheated me or stabbed me in the back the way Christians did.

And I really tried to ignore the blatant contradictions in the Bible, and the descriptions of hateful, despicable acts that were attributed to God, or were ordered by him. One day, I realized that I was more moral than he was.

Sex: Male
URL: HitlerBitch.Com
City: Indianapolis
State: IN
Country: USA
Became a Christian: 17
Ceased being a Christian: 38
Labels before: Baptist, Protestant
Labels now: Ex-Christian
Why I joined: It was an emotional-release thing.
Why I left: I read the Bible. REALLY read the Bible.
Email Address: hitlerbitch at twisted-motherfucker.com

Lost By The Wayside

sent in by mynameisnotbob

I, like a good many people on this site, was born as a Christian. My parents are into it in a fairly big way- my dad is, bless his heart, a fundamentalist wacko since his semi-midlife crisis; I don't entirely blame him- he needed a release from his stressful and demeaning job, and religiousness is at least less destructive than blowing my family's savings on a sports car or something. My mom is tied up in the social aspects and the like (she actually works as our church's treasurer) even if she doesn't agree with everything. She has a wonderfully open mind and has inspired me to the same, though religion and I do not get along, it seems. My church is an unusual one; I am, or was, a Quaker, or a member of a Friends Church, as we liked to call ourselves to dodge the somewhat anachronistic connotation of the former. I still rather respect the denomination, though at this point I consider the underlying aspects of all Christianity rather silly...

Bear with me, this is going to be really long. :D

My childhood was that of the fat, asthmatic, over-intelligent kid. I had few friends, did horribly in sports despite occasional attempts, was made fun of semi-regularly, and was generally a wonderful little student to my teachers and an overzealous kiss-up to my peers. Eventually, I began reacting to the feelings of rejection and affirmations of my outcast nature, eventually becoming quite an ass to many people that could've been my friends. I also suffered from guilt trips, even back then, blaming everything on myself. I reacted most frequently by retreating into a self-inflicted fantasy world, one where God and I had a very close relationship that seemed to make up for the lack of affection I was getting from my peers. My parents weren't really at fault, here- I was a damn jerk as a kid, and yet I wondered why people didn't like me. At this point I am more or less aware that it was because I wasn't reaching out to anyone else to be liked, simply remaining content to be that nerdy guy in the back of the class who always asked all those questions when I was in a good mood and beating myself up over my failings at social outreach when I was in a bad one.

By seventh grade I was a bit of an emotional wreck. I started hanging around with two other disaffected fat kids and one longhaired skinny guy; we would've been cool, "maverick loner rebels against society", except that we were too fat and dorky even for that. The main excitement in our playground lives were the passive-agressive insult and the prurient joke, the latter of which was very strange for me since I still existed under a heavy blanket of spirituality: sex was something I had nothing and likely never would have anything to do with and adultery- horror of horrors- was something that I'd rather choke on my own spit and die than commit. My innocence had been shattered one day on the playground in I believe second grade- some kid asked me if I knew what sex was, and when I replied "no" he informed me that it was when a boy put his penis into a girl's vagina, something I'd heard mythical rumors about but never comprehended. So, despite my "knowledge" about the proceedings, I hung around with these punks out of a sort of horrified fascination, gaining an interestingly foul mouth in the process. I still remember the first time I actually used the "f-word" at home... my mother was so shocked that I was simply shamed into not doing so. To her credit, she did tell me that it was just a word, after all, but just not something that you go around saying...

Seventh grade also resulted in a very large amount of people asking me if I was gay, something I suppose was attributed to the fact that I wore facial hair (I had a mustache in sixth grade, which I thought was cool and everyone else, evidently, did not. Evidently, the bulk of my testosterone was expended upon the furious growth of facial hair and not upon any more enviable things such as muscles or penis size). The rumors of my homosexuality spread, and I eventually became so defensive and angry about it that I turned into a rampant homophobe. I started thinking, "well, what if... horror of horrors... I AM gay?" Then, of course, the well-conditioned guilt centers in my spiritual conscious took over and firmly ground myself into paste. I determined that I'd rather commit suicide than be gay.

Anyway, in eighth grade I finally found some reputable geek friends and moved wholly into computers, fantasy and science fiction, more classic geek pursuits. In a sense, they saved my self esteem, though I was still very damaged. I took to wearing sanctimonious Christian T-Shirts to school each and every day, to the exclusion of all else save plain color shirts here and there. These were, sadly, almost an attempt to remind myself of that which I believed, since I obviously knew that I was a sinful and wayward soul.

High school came around and I was pressed into the honors track, having been in the "Very Intelligent" bracket my entire educational career. I progressed further into my anti-homosexualism campaign, eventually encroaching on sexuality as a whole. I determined that the sexual response in an organism was solely to make new organisms, an interesting scientific inset into largely irrational beliefs. From this and my own extremely low feelings of self-worth I determined that not only would no rational future woman would want such "weak" genes as mine, but that I would rise above not just average temptation but every temptation and simply not marry at all, ever. I seem to recall writing some quotation of Paul's about how "it is better for man not to marry" into my life and, depressingly, lived by it for the better part of two and a half years. I never once dated anyone or really even entertained any sort of sexual fantasy about anything, thinking instead that I would just remain sexless and androgynous ("pure", as I thought of it) my entire life. No one had ever bothered to create any sort of deep relationship with me before, (except, of course, for my whole God fantasy) and I had no conscious thought that they ever would hereafter, since I wouldn't be marrying anyone and therefore had no real purpose to pursue anything except platonic friendship. I retreated even farther into Christian things- I attended ministry training camps, regularly attended a Youth Group with people I hated just because it was God, and eventually forced myself to throw out my beloved Magic card sets since they were, well, technically maybe not super-innately evil, but they "distracted me from God". At some point I prided myself in not even having gotten an erection- obviously a sinful reminder of the sack of flesh the "pure" me was stuck in- in over four months.

Interestingly, this all changed one night when I was sitting up late at night, alone, on the computer, feeling absolutely miserable. I had just turned seventeen years old at that point, but in certain areas of my life I may have just as well still been stuck in seventh grade. I was angry about something at the time, angry at myself and at God, so I did the unthinkable- I loaded up a search engine and found myself some pornography. I was intrigued mostly from a technical viewpoint; up until then I really had no idea what a vagina even looked like. My first porn was really just some black-and-white "artistic nudes" (interestingly, somewhat like the ones on this site) which didn't do anything for me at first, but as soon as I'd given up and gone to bed, I accidentally brushed up against something and then decided that I should "do something" about the arousal I'd built up. That led to my first accidental masturbation, inside my pajamas and everything. At that point the miserable emotions were wiped clean away and I was left with nothing but a glowing feeling of... could it be... self worth? That I had actually done something that made me feel... good? That was when I knew something had been wrong with what I had believed all along. All the abstinence lectures... all the moralizing anti-adultery tirades... the whole of the damn thing, really. I'd invested so much of the religious process in some damned version of sexless, androgyne celibacy that when I started questioning that the whole thing came spiralling down.

I passed through several "Download a whole bunch of porn, masturbate furiously for several weeks, then repent and delete it all" periods over the next year, but I still knew something was wrong. I affirmed that I was, in fact, heterosexual and became comfortable enough with that to allow for the existance of homosexuals, God's Extensive List of Holy Fucking Commandments to the contrary be damned. You know the ones I'm talking about, the huge lists of what is and is not able to be fucked? I finally began realizing some of the real problems and inconsistencies in the "Good Book"; possibly what moved me the most was the sexism and the like espoused therein. Even if it was "progressive for it's time", as one of my youth pastors is fond of reciting, it's still chock full of degrading references to women and their roles in society.

When the moderately liberal pastor of my church moved on and was replaced by an older, far more conservative "preacher" it was pretty much the last straw. Interestingly, I actually still attend sunday services- I'm the audio technician, so it's really a job to me. I am interested in the actual music, making sure the band sounds good and everything, but I sometimes get just struck by the silliness of it all. God is, like so many T-shirts have proclaimed, no more than Santa Claus for adults, and at times I actually feel guilty for helping propagate that illusion. I still respect many of the people at my church, regardless of whether or not they want to live a life of delusion, but it's just not something I can continue believing in. No amount of willpower is going to make Grandma come back after she's died, save you from your own faults or fill the enormous gaps in a faulty, two-thousand year old myth.

I've still got some scars from growing up like that. I'm still a virgin (working on that, though- finally) and I still have a mostly "christian-ish" moral outlook, though thankfully as I broaden my experiences in college even that's beginning to wane. With any luck, I can make up for not having passed through all the standard high-school era "rites of passage", et al, in time to save myself from the celibate fate I so had my heart set on as a kid. ;)

City: Whittier
State: CA
Country: USA
Became a Christian: 2? 3?
Ceased being a Christian: 20
Labels before: Quaker, Friends
Labels now: Religiously Indifferent
Why I joined: Born into it.
Why I left: Realized myself and grew out of it
Email Address: mynameisnotbob at hotmail dot com

Heresy is only another word for freedom of thought

sent in by Phoenix

So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence.
-Bertrand Russell

when i was young, my family was not religious. granted, we went to church and i attented a catholic school, but we never really discussed god too much. when i was eight, we moved to another city. a few years later, my mother had pains with her back and was forced to be bedridden. it was at this time she became closer to god. and that's when hell started.

for the next few years, everything was all right. we did have some disagreements on theology, as i was a scientific child and she was now a devout catholic, who took the bible literally. my interest in other religions began to grow.

we moved again, and in ninth grade i became depressed and suicidal. noticing that i didn't seem happy, mom would comment that i wasn't close enough to god. it was at this stage i began seeking the truth.

in 10th grade, i had atheist and wiccan friends, as well as christian friends. i began to notice similarities between religions, and some inconsistencies in the bible. my religion teachers got angry at me for my views. views that differed from theirs and their book. mom began to notice, and banned me from talking to my non-christian friends. i was told that i was possessed and that i was going to hell.

the next few years were fairly uneventful, as i would not voice my opinions. i didn't really believe in catholicism anymore, but i was scared that i might be wrong. then i met judd, my boyfriend, in my sophomore year of college. he is an atheist and against christianity. he forced me think about what i was believing in. he made me look at all the fallicies. only thanks to him did i really began to think for myself. i spent hundreds of hours reading about christianity. he was there for me the entire time i was in my deconversion, as it was quite hard for me to do so. finally i renounced my faith in christianity, and i felt free and more peaceful at last. i was able to live a life of science, facts, love, and not fear and mythology.

i began to argue quite forcibly with my family about religion. it was still being forced on me. eventually, i was seen as the "bad daughter" and immoral. thing is, that's just from what i had said about my views of homosexuality and other moral issues. i still haven't told mom i'm not a christian. frankly, i'm scared of her.

since i lost faith, i have lost my fear of everything and have slowly begun to truly live.

Sex: Female
URL: http://www.phoenixtx.com
State: Minnesota
Country: USA
Became a Christian: born into it
Ceased being a Christian: 19
Labels before: roman catholic
Labels now: heretic
Why I joined: born into the faith
Why I left: began thinking for myself

Never a real fundie, just a "wannabe"

sent in by Cabin Fever

My story probably isn't as exciting as a lot of others I've read here. And I guess that makes me the lucky one! You see, I never really was a fundie, just a fundie "wannabe" for a while. I was raised American Baptist, which is a rather liberal denomination as far as Baptists go. I don't recall anyone there ever talking about the need to be "saved", or threatening us with Hell if we didn't believe the right way. In fact, our pastor quoted existentialists like Paul Tillich about as much as he quoted scripture in his sermons. Baptism at age 10 or 11 was more of a "rite of passage", rather than some huge, life-changing event. Anyway, I did all the usual church stuff - Sunday school, choir, youth group, & poured coffee at more church suppers than I care to remember! In all, it was a pretty secure, comfortable, "safe" place to be. (Then again, it was about all I'd ever known.) And living in a rural area made church even more the center of our lives.

Keep in mind, this was back in the early '70's. Jesus freaks were the new "in" crowd. (Does anybody remember the "Scott Ross Show" on the radio Sunday nights?) And the Christian Broadcasting Network owned a chain of FM stations in our area at that time. I got hooked on shows like "Power Time" and "The 700 Club". This was a different brand of Christianity than I'd grown up with! These people seemed to have something (that "fire" or "spirit" or whatever) that was lacking in my American Baptist church, and I wanted it, too! Then someone told me about Hal Lindsey's book "The Late, Great Planet Earth". After reading that non-stop, I was convinced that the Rapture and the Great Tribulation were right around the corner, and I sure didn't want to be left behind! (I'd never heard American Baptists talk about this stuff, either!)

I went off to college in 1973, and this introverted farm kid suddenly found himself on a campus of over 15,000 students, most of them from much more urban areas. Talk about culture shock! It was pretty overwhelming, and I was feeling rather insecure among so many people from diverse backgrounds, religions and such. Right away I started attending services at the college chapel, which helped bring back some of that sense of security I'd had growing up. Somehow though, it still wasn't enough. Then I saw a notice in the student newspaper about Campus Bible Fellowship. I started attending their meetings, and thoght I'd found exactly what I was looking for. These were Baptists, but much more fundamental than the American Baptists. (And also more critical of other denominations, and critical of other college Christian groups like Campus Crusade and Intervarsity Christian Fellowship. They also didn't think much of the chapel services on campus - too liberal and ecumenical. This stand-offish attitude did bother me just a bit, but I was still convinced that CBF was the right place for me.)

All this time, I was so convinced that I was finally following the "right faith". Somehow though, I still felt like a spectator, not really a "player". Still lacking that "fire" that these other folks had. At an overnight retreat one weekend, I confided to the CBF pastor that even though I truly believed, I still felt something was lacking, and that I wanted a "closer walk with God". He told me that my problem was that I'd been attending the wrong church up until now, that I'd never really been "saved", wasn't truly a Christian. And so, convinced that he was right, I prayed the "sinner's prayer" with him, and suddenly felt...ABSOLUTELY NOTHING (other than a great deal of peer pressure.) No lightning bolts, no fireworks, the earth didn't shake, none of that. But worst of all, I didn't feel that sense of inner peace that I'd been promised. What a letdown! (I didn't tell anyone about this right then. Didn't want to spoil the "moment" for everyone else at the retreat. Pretty sad, huh?)

I remember getting sick to my stomach when I got back to campus that night. I've never felt as confused and alone as I did right then. Don't think I slept at all. My new-found "salvation" just didn't seem real to me. But how could all these other CBF people be wrong? Maybe my "sinner's prayer" wasn't sincere enough?! The next morning I went to Sunday services at the pastor's church a few miles from campus. I remember being called down in front and introduced to the congregation as a "new soul for Christ". I smiled my best smile, all the while knowing I was just going through the motions, and that it was all a big lie. That afternoon, I finally admitted to the pastor that this wasn't working for me, that I didn't feel "saved" or anything close to it. He wanted me to say "the prayer" again. (As if once wasn't enough?? I declined.)

The pastor tried several times after that to get me back to CBF, but I just couldn't see any point. He'd always leave me with the usual condescending "We'll be praying for you." (Yeah, whatever...Go nuts!) When I'd run into CBF members on campus, some were genuinely interested in how I was doing, others shunned me like I was some unwashed heathen! Oh well...

Somehow, life went on after all this happened. I never really resolved all the questions I had, I just quit dealing with religion altogether. (Couldn't stay with fundie-ism, but couldn't go back to the old beliefs, either.) Joined a fraternity, had a good time, graduated with honors, and found work in my chosen field. I've had my share of ups and downs since then, but overall, life's been OK. (I do confess to having watched the PTL Club, Jimmy Swaggart and Robert Tilton now and then, just for laughs!)

This all happened over 30 years ago. So why am I here on this website now, after all this time?

Fast forward to 1996. Finally found the woman of my dreams and got married at age 40, despite the fact that she was a rather devout United Methodist. That really didn't bother me - we were alike in so many other ways. Thank God she wasn't a fundie! (Oops, bad choice of words!) I even went to church with her now and then, if only because I enjoyed her company (and still do - I love her dearly). But about two years ago, she dropped a bombshell on me - she said she believed she'd been called by God to become a minister. I don't doubt her sincerity at all - but I sure can't relate to what she's doing, either. It's brought back a lot of those old doubts I swept under the rug so long ago. I started wondering again if there's something wrong with me - why doesn't Christianity seem real to me?

I haven't been to church with her in over a year, because I just don't feel like I belong there. I don't care to be a hypocrite, either. I wish I could find a good reason to go with her, but I just got so tired of sitting there in the pew, beating my head against the wall. (To my wife's credit, she's never pressured me to go with her, much as she wishes I would.) So now, when she's at church, choir practice, St. Ignatius exercises, or meeting with her spiritual director, I'm usually out hiking, snowshoeing or otherwise enjoying nature (one thing I can relate to anymore!) Either that, or I'm logged onto this website, reading your testimonies and discussions, and realizing that I'm not alone! And for that, you folks have been a great help.

Hope I haven't bored you all to death with this ramble. I don't claim to have any answers, just wanted to let you know where I'm coming from. I'm sure this story's gonna take a few more twists and turns. I'll keep in touch!

Sex: Male
Country: USA
Ceased being a Christian: 18
Labels before: American Baptist
Labels now: Agnostic, married to a Methodist
Why I joined: born into it
Why I left: it never felt real

...god who gave me this new found power

sent in by Nikki

First, I would like to start off by saying that I am no where nearly as knowledgeable about the bible or Christianity as those I’ve observed on this site. I have been involved in many different faiths and sects of the Christian religion.

My mother was a free spirit raised in a Catholic family. My dad was a drunken druggie who came from a drunken family. He was never around though so, that’s it about him. When I was born my Grandmother begged my Mom to have me baptized, and my Mom refused. She told my Grandmother that she wanted me to be able to make my own decision about religion. I was still raised in Catholic Tradition, that is, Latino Catholic Traditions. Latino Catholicism seems a lot more superstitious, I guess a mix of indigenous rituals of the Aztecs and the Spanish Christianity that was forced upon them.

I still had family members that believed in healers, curses, and “evil eye” or “ojo” as it’s referred to in Spanish. I remember when I was a little girl and got sick; my Grandma would run an egg over my body saying the Hail Mary, just in case someone had given me “ojo”.

Jesus Christ and Lucifer were the other superstitions I was raised with. Luckily, it was no where near as oppressive as most of the stories I have read on here, or would later witness for myself.

When I was seven, my Mom got married to man I can only describe as an asshole. He was physically and mentally abusive to both my mom and to me. He had complete control over my Mother, and I still feel to this day that she put his needs before mine.

He was a Jehovah’s Witness, so guess what we became. He was never overly religious, but my mom wanted to be; thinking it would make her marriage better. I remember when my Mom and step dad first started to “study” with them at our home, I over heard the bible study leader telling my mom that children were like sponges, and it was good that she got me involved in the religion when she did, although if she would have gotten me involved sooner, that I probably would have received the “training” (brainwashing) better.

My mom stuck with it for a while, and then she started backing away (Not sure why, too young to remember). When she did they came after her. They told her if she didn’t come back to them, that when rapture came she and her children would die. They started sending people to our house at random times to talk to her, and one time accused her of peeking out of the window and then not answering the door when she saw it was them. (Although that is what we always did when Jehovah’s Witnesses came to our door before she converted.)

We were “godless” again for a while. Slowly but surely her husband started letting us get Christmas Trees and celebrate birthdays. As far as the abuse, nothing changed. Later on when I was a freshman in High school, she started attending a “Non-Denominational” church. I will tell you it was a sick strange blend of Baptist and Pentecostal. Talking in tongues, rolling around on the floor, and fainting—it was all there! By this time, his abuse had started to wear on me as well as my mother. I was looking for something, anything, to help me escape my destructive home life. I was following in my Mom’s pattern of looking to GOD to make it all better.

I flew head first into that Church, I prayed and prayed and then one day received Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I began to attend church with my Mom every Sunday, some Wednesdays and then I started to attend youth night on Friday nights. Since I lived in a poor Mexican neighborhood, I was told it was a place for kids to go and hang out instead of on the streets. It was fun! Basketball, games, and friendships-- I ate it up! I threw away my secular music; I prayed and tried to help others see the light that was helping me through my hardships! (Now I know I sounded like an annoying ass!)

Then the Church’s Youth Ministry took us to “Acquire the Fire,” some of you may have heard of it. It is a traveling youth ministry that teaches kids the evil of “the secular world”. When we came back the youth minister (head pastor’s son—about to graduate Med School) was “on fire for God.” He decided that he was called by God to minister to the youth. Only problem, the Church couldn’t pay him. So he told these poor Mexican kids he was trying to keep off the streets to each bring in $10.00-$15.00 every week. Our youth group now had a cover charge. It wasn’t even fun anymore. We would pray and cry and faint and roll on the floor the WHOLE time; no basketball, no games, nothing.

Kids starting dropping out like flies, and it went from the youth pastor wanting to keep kids out of the streets to “Now we have weeded out the non-believers.” I still stuck with it.

About this time my mother was pregnant with my youngest brother. She was suicidal, depressed, and did not want her baby. The abuse had escalated, even while she was pregnant. She went to the Pastor’s wife and asked for help. She told them how she felt; and more so that she felt evil and horrible for feeling the way she did. They told her that she should feel guilty for those thoughts, and that she must not have much faith in God; because if she did, she would not have those thoughts. Guess you can figure how much that helped. Luckily she made it through.

In 1995, a Tejano music superstar, Selena Quintanilla was murdered; many young Hispanic girls looked up to her. Everyone Loved her. So when she died many of the girls (me included) were very upset. That week we went to youth night and we were told that Selena had gone to Hell because she sang secular music. It broke so many girls in that room. It was horrible.

Then one day, a man from the Church came up to me, I was wearing a crucifix with Jesus on it; this Church did not believed in the idols, since Jesus had risen from the dead, he should no longer be on the cross. He asked me why I wore it if I knew how the Church stood on it. I explained it was a gift from my grandmother. He told me that she would go to hell since she believed that way. I was PISSED! This was a man who had a child out of wedlock, and now acted as if the child did not exist even though the child attended the church. Now that he was a Christian he was ashamed of the boy. HYPOCRITE!

Now, the straw that broke the camels back: As I said the youth pastor decided to quit his job and school, and preach and he wanted 10 bucks from each of us poor ghetto children. Well, some kids stopped paying, some didn’t pay every week, and so one night the head pastor comes in and starts preaching about the importance of tithing. This was normal, we were used to it. He then starts screaming at us, and tells us that we were cancers of God and that God spit on us (as he theatrically spit on the floor). God meant for his churches to be taken care of and blah blah blah.

I never went back. Like every other religion, they started coming after me when I left. I was so over it though it didn’t bother me much.

I know that many of you Christians out there are thinking, just bad experience with Churches. Here’s my retort: First of all, you would think that. You are too blind to see these things happening in your own church, you are too blind to see that you are doing these things yourself. Second, I prayed and begged God for years to stop the abuse on me. Why did he never answer? Am I supposed to believe that it was Gods will that I got my ass whooped by a grown man? Am I supposed to believe that God wanted me to become suicidal at the age of 8? Just to try, I prayed my last time for forty days and forty nights to show God my vigilance. I prayed that the abuse would stop, that I would not want to kill myself anymore, and that God would be the Father I never had. Just like the other two fathers, he wasn’t there. He never answered.

Now, I’m 25, I have let go of hoping my dad would be a real father; I have stood up to the man that beat me all my life and am no longer afraid of him, and I have stopped depending on god for my happiness. I have piece of mind of knowing those men that hurt me was not my punishment, I did nothing wrong. It is them who are sick.

I stood up for myself and made myself happy. I have a great job in nonprofit work, where I actually do help people with no strings attached, I have my home, my dogs, and best of all a wonderful husband (he post on this site as fool_ps14:1).

It was not god who gave me this new found power; he was the one who held me back from finding it within myself.

City: Houston
State: TX
Country: USA
Became a Christian: Off and On since birth
Ceased being a Christian: 17
Labels before: Catholic, Jehovah's Witness, Baptist, Pentecostal
Labels now: Atheist, Happy Person with a free mind!
Why I joined: Looking for love in all the wrong places!
Why I left: Stopped looking in all the wrong places.

Jesus was not enough?!?

sent in by Maddie

My deconversion came about quite accidentally. I was happily conducting my life in blind faith, and was made quite ecstatic by the idea of gouging the proverbial eyes out of intellectually functional non-believers.

I am the youngest of six kids born to missionary parents. Their only hope for all of us was that we would take up the torch of truth and become missionaries for the Lord in some exotic and distant land - Even more enticing was the idea of being martyred by spear-toting tribal people we may one day be translating the Bible for. Physical death was secondary, these heathens would thank us in heaven one day and we would receive our jeweled crowns.

Like so many young aspiring Christians I went on a summer mission trip to India. I came home to report sordid stories of heathen practices and beliefs. I was going to be a great missionary! I could quite safely call myself a fundamentalist Christian (It's true, you have to be mental to think it's any fun). Then one day I met a young man who convinced me that it was God's will that we get married - of course like many young Christians I was impressed by his ability to 'know' God's will for me and married him (Love wasn't in the equation). After about four years I realized he was not the impressive ambassador of God's will I thought, and decided to look into the Biblical idea of marriage. Would I going to go to Hell if I left him? Well, believe it or not, I found that modern Christian principals surrounding marriage and divorce are Biblically sketchy at best and totally unfounded at worst.

This is where I started second guessing not only the validity but the logical basis on which the 'inerrant Christian beliefs' were founded. I became so fed up by all of the questions starting to form in my mind. Up to that point I had always relied on cliche and pat-answers (who the hell is pat anyway?) to still my logical thought process - But this time these questions actually concerned ME.. For once I wasn't blagging them off to some other poor searching soul.

The final straw came when I decided that if I was going to believe in Christianity's God, I would take Jesus' words and example alone and live by that. To my utter shock - this was not good enough. I could not live by Christ's words alone, I could not follow Christ's example alone - oh good lord no! Paul could not be evicted from my personal house of faith. If I got rid of Paul it was as good as getting rid of Christ!!! Shock and horror!!! There was not one Christian I spoke to who would agree that I could live by the words or example of Christ alone. Well this as I said finished everything off for me.

The founder of the Christian religion/faith was no longer enough for it's adherents thereby stamping a seal which read 'BOLLOCKS', in big red letters, onto the end of that chapter in my life, enclosing within it a lifestyle and community I had once treasured. Now I find it difficult not to despise the very mention of religion and God as I find them completely outdated and inane (very close to insane).

Sex: F
City: Manchester
Country: England
Became a Christian: 4-5
Ceased being a Christian: 22
Labels before: Non-denominational and Evangelical
Labels now: Agnostic
Why I joined: Because my parents told me it was true
Why I left: Confusion and hypocrisy

Leaving my very LONG season of hell on earth

sent in by Genita

City: Wichita
State: Ks
Country: USA
Became a Christian: I was 10 years old
Ceased being a Christian: I was 30....
Labels before: Independant Baptist, Southern Baptist, Free Will Baptist...Nazarene
Labels now: Pagan/ Wiccan
Why I joined: I was under the missasumption that "GOD" and "Jesus" DID in fact exist,That I was guilty of sin, and was condemned to roast in hell if I didn't 'serve' God- and all that stupidity...

Why I left: I left because I learned that it was a hoax, a line of feces...riddled with patriarchy, hypocrisy, bigotry...that rape, abuse, molestation, and child molesters were acceptable "Wholesome Christian Activities"- in short I left because I learned the hard way that the Christian notion of "God" and "Jesus" DO not exist, and that the bible and prayer are tools for those playing the sick mind games to control your life, judge you and make your life a living hell....Got sick and tired of the lies and mind games...sick and tired of the biggotry,hypocrisy, patriarchial control freak mind games....

From Catholic to Cynic

sent in by Casey

I was adopted into a Catholic family shortly after I was born. I was an only child, and I grew up in the bush (in the US you'd call it the sticks or the boondocks). We ran sheep, and I still run about 5,000 on 7,000 acres.My mother and father were both Catholics, but as the one was of Scots descent and the other Irish, they argued a lot, sometimes violently.

It didn't help matters that my mother was mentally ill, and had been institutionalised for it. My Dad tried his best, but he hadn't the skill to cope, and his beliefs precluded divorce. It was about then I started having doubts. Praying to God for some break in the endless arguments didn't work, he was twice as deaf as a post.

Rain hail or shine they would still attend mass every Sunday, and always put their money on the plate. Even during the 65 drought they would give to the church. Funny thing, I know that one of our parish priests during this time was connected years later to a horse-racing scandal known as "The Fine Cotton Affair". This was a "ring-in" where a high-class horse is secretly switched for a no-hoper in order to cash in at long odds. For his pains he was barred for life from Australian race courses. (He is still a priest, as far as I know.)

That really shouldn't have come as a surprise, given the priest and his brother had years earlier been banned from (illegal) money card games in a city not far from where I live. They were banned because they consistently had the sort of luck at such games that used to get people shot. By which I mean the sort where a low Straight Flush beats Four Queens, say. Highly improbable at Five Card Draw, you will agree. And the good Father's womanising created the odd scandal too, or so t'was said, but I digress.

I had learned how to read at about four years of age, and was duly sent to the local convent school when I was of age. This was run by the Sisters of Mercy, a badly mis-named order. I make no apologies when I say they were for the most part cruel, frustrated old bitches. A quick trip on the banana express would've done the lot of 'em a power of good, but they were married to Jesus, weren't they? What a bigamist he must be! And if he's got to shag THEM and their associates for the rest of Eternity, he's got the job ahead of him, I must say.

They took out their frustrations sexual and otherwise on us kids. We were told every day we were useless good-for-nothings, and that was the least of it. If you're told such things often enough, you come to believe them, especially if, as I did, you return home to more of the same. I think they hoped we would be so scared of hellfire that we'd become nuns or priests. If verbal abuse didn't work, they weren't above resorting to physical abuse.

I witnessed one vicious old cow turn a Fifth Grader into a snivelling wreck one day. It was a mixture of hitting and maniacal yelling that beggars description, and if memory serves it was done in front of at least thirty of us. Suffice it to say I later learned that the German Army (the infamous Wehrmacht of both the Imperial and Nazi versions) used to call that "making a sow" out of someone.

This was accepted in those days (late Sixties), because nuns and brothers were regarded by many parents (mine included) as being Lares et Penates (Roman household gods) and thus not to be questioned, no matter what their excesses nor how bad they were.

I left that school in 1970 and was sent to a "Christian" brothers school in Brisbane, the State Capital. My first three years in that place were absolute hell. I have described some abuse incidents and how they affected me here http://www.nospank.net/casey.htm. Warning, this story contains graphic descriptions of physical and sexual child abuse which might disturb some readers.

I'll just add a couple of things. I once fell off a set of parallel bars while trying an excercise of which I wasn't capable. I knocked myself out for a quarter of an hour, but when I woke up I was so scared of being late for school that I didn't even bother to wash the blood and dirt off my face. Nor did I kick up enough of a row to make them treat me properly instead of shrugging off my injuries in the way they did. Some years later that bit of Stoicism cost me four teeth, but such was the discipline under which we lived.

Yet the worst thing wasn't so much abuse as the fact that my eyes turned bad when I was thirteen, not long after I'd been abused. My abuser wore glasses, and now I'd have to look like him, whether I liked it or not. Once again praying was of no use. All the crap in the bible (and contrary to what some might think, we were allowed to read it) about Jesus H Himself healing the blind was just that, crap. That was when I REALLY became bitter and twisted.

When I left school I was restless, unable to concentrate, and subject to mood swings such that I'd be high as a kite one day, and somewhere under my own boots the next. I now recognise these as symptoms of PTSD, but those days you had to be an Army or Police veteran to suffer from that, so I just battled on.

A few years ago I got my eyes lasered. That cost me four grand, and JC had nothing to do with that, I notice. Still, it was one step in lifting myself out of the hole I was in, and I was grateful to the surgeon, anyway. You wouldn't believe the bitterness those glasses caused me, nor how angry I used to get, I tell you. But then I should've realized that any God who would let things like that happen was only a sadistic moron, shouldn't I?

Nowadays I work the 4,000 acre block my Dad left me. Setting that to rights was hard work, as it and the sheep it ran had got into a dreadful state, but I'm a stubborn cuss when I want to be, so thirteen years after I started it's come good, and it'll get better. If I'd prayed to God for it to happen, I reckon I'd be waiting yet.

Now that I have left the church, and have nothing to do with Catholicism or any other sort of Christianity, I no longer worry about heaven or hell. When we die, we rot. So it's up to us to live our lives the best we can. Freedom is just two English words "free" and "doom". I wish it hadn't taken me so long to learn that simple lesson.

Hope you can use this, and my apologies for not being much of a writer.

Sex: M
State: Qld
Country: Australia
Became a Christian: I was born RC
Ceased being a Christian: 17-18
Labels before: RC
Labels now: Cynic
Why I joined: Born into it
Why I left: Anger and bitterness


sent in by David McCord

My mother and I were charter members of a Congregational Church in Lincoln, NE. She was a very devout Christian and insisted that I always attend church with her. My father never went to Church. He believed in God, but had a problem with the methods used in organized religion.

In 1963, while working on my Boy Scout God and Country award (these were quite rare back then), I was required to study the world's great religions. The more questions I asked, the less sense the answers made. Faith does not stand up well to questions. Eventually, I became agnostic. I no longer accepted the "truths" that were preached from the pulpit.

I was training to become an engineer and learned to investigate things using scientific method. Logic and the search for truth became very important to me. The bizarre and twisted logic used by the Church to "prove" their beliefs became not only hard for me to swallow, they struck me as a brainwashing tactic used to break down any skepticism which made the members more accepting of the seemingly (to me, anyway) ridiculous dogma of the church. Not only was the church preaching lies as absolute truths, it was doing all it could to break down normal skepticism in its members and making them gullible patsies for evangelical moneygrubbers. Of course, "brainwashing” is a relative term, depending on your point of view. A believer's "effective teaching methods" are a non-believer's brainwashing.

Although my profession is in engineering, I have always had a fascination for the human mind. The ability of humans to accept any reality when given the right conditioning is quite amazing. While working on a science fiction novel that was published last year, I studied brainwashing methods and was struck by how many of them are used by the church. Of course, they are also heavily used by governments (especially in the military), and advertising, but the church has done the most work to formalize the brainwashing process and has spent centuries developing a very effective cradle to grave method of reinforcement of the belief indoctrination.

What I really hate about religions is their horrendous use of fallacious reasoning to "prove" the "truth" of their dogma. For example, a proof that the universe was created for mankind is that the earth's orbit is in the right place and the mixture of gasses on earth are correct as well as thousands of other "miraculous" conditions created by God so man could survive and thrive. The fallacy, of course, is that man happens to be the way he is because all of these conditions existed. For example, if the air had less oxygen, we'd have bigger lungs or possibly not exist at all. The creatures evolved to match the environment; the environment was not created for the creatures. If the environment changes, we must adapt or die.

Did God create man, or did man create God? I have eventually come to the conclusion that the latter is true. The concept of God exists because of several human weaknesses, two of which I include here.

1. Humans cannot comprehend the idea of infinity -- nothing that is physical can last forever or have existed forever. The idea of the mass and energy that makes up an infinite universe never having been created is impossible for most human minds to grasp. It is ironic that they are able to accept the notion that some "intelligent creator" can be around forever and create the universe out of nothing, but they cannot accept the possibility of the infinite life of the mass of the universe.

Whether the life of the universe is endless or not, the extent of it probably is. If it isn't, what is beyond the farthest star? And then, what is beyond that? Convoluted theories by geniuses that use mathematics to play tricks with distance and time don't stand up very well to critical thought. In the end, Occam's razor usually applies. The simplist theory is probably the truest -- the universe is infinite in both space and time.

2. Humans cannot comprehend the idea of their own non-existance. Once the mind has developed sufficient data and memories to have a personality, it cannot accept the idea of totally disappering. Hence, we need to have an afterlife. To assure conversion of new believers, we make this afterlife into a wonderful heaven, which helps us accept the lousy life we lead (things will be great after we die), and also temper the great loss felt when a loved one dies (They’re in a better place and we'll see them again when we die). This rather bizarre belief also serves double duty. Heaven can be used as a reward for the good (those that do as the religious leaders think they should) and Hell can be used to punish the bad (those that dare to go against those who claim to know God's will.)

Personally, I have no problem with non-existance. Living forever would really get boring, even in the best heaven I can imagine. If we keep things fresh by forgetting and starting over every few hundred years, what's the point of living forever? Being shut down like an unplugged computer and never being plagued by memories of thoughtless and mean things I did in the past, or having to deal with the aches and pains of a decaying body is all the heaven I need.

Anyway, I did not choose to not believe in God no more than I chose to not believe in Santa Clause or the tooth fairy. Eventually, the mountain of evidence against the belief system that was programmed into me was overwhelming. Like watching a really bad science fiction movie, I could no longer suspend disbelief.

This is not to say that I could never believe in God again. If a deep voice came out of the heavens and said, "now watch this!" and the earth reversed its direction of rotation on its axis, I could become a believer again. Frankly, though, the piddly "miracles" put forth by religions to prove God's existence don't cut it.

I could go on forever on this subject. I rather enjoy ripping apart the convoluted logic of theists. But, make no mistake; I will also rip apart the logic of atheists if it is fallacious.

I have no reason to be an atheist except for the fact that my thirst for logic and truth will not allow me to be any other way. There is still very strong prejudice against atheists in our society, so it is easier to just go along with everyone else and bow to the cross, Star of David, or whatever. Merely by admitting that I don’t believe in God, I have eliminated myself from ever holding any elective office, including dogcatcher. In the eyes of the faithful, a “Godless” man is an evil man.

Frankly, I think a Humanist who works to make the world a better place for his fellow humans without worrying about an afterlife is working on a far higher ethical plane than someone that does good or avoids evil in order to receive a reward or avoid a punishment after death. Believing that God is responsible for all that is good and humans are responsible for all that is bad is degrading to the selfless spirit that humans can have and their willingness to sacrifice and help each other just because they think it is the right thing to do, God or no God.

City: Omaha
State: NE
Country: USA
Became a Christian: A baby.
Ceased being a Christian: During a period from 14 to 20 years old.
Labels before: Congregational
Labels now: Atheist
Why I joined: Same reason as most, brainwashed as infant.
Why I left: Asked too many questions.

Enlightenment From The Father....

sent in by Colin Wright

I was brought up Catholic. We’ve got the VHS tape of my baptism, we’ve got little certificates saying that, yes, I did indeed go through my First Communion. I went to a private Catholic school in California before moving to Missouri, and I think that was the biggest ingraining factor for the longest time. The fact that all my peers were going through the same rituals and being told the same things as I was made them right and factual. Any time I would mentally triangulate something that didn’t seem quite right, well, I only had to look around to be reassured of its righteousness.

After moving to Missouri, I started attending a public school. That was a shock. There were kids of different ethnicities (there was one African American and one Philippino in my entire grade level at the Catholic school), different social background (not everyone here is loaded…whoa) and with different spiritual beliefs. That was the biggest shock. There were all these kids who came from families that didn’t push them to go to church on Sunday morning and Sunday School that night! I was absolutely amazed. Thus began my battle.

It started out as kind of an assumed loophole I had found. I never for a moment doubted that there was a God, and that he watched over me, etc etc etc. I did, however, start to develop my own view on things within that realm. I decided that God couldn’t possibly be so vain as to want all these people to go and worship him all the time. If I were God, I later told my mother, I wouldn’t make people skip overnights at friends’ houses just so they could come and kneel and stand for an hour with a bunch of overdressed Missourians. Well, my mother would have none of that. She knew my weakness. Being the good kid, all she had to do was say something along the lines of “That’s your choice to make, but I really wish you would come along with us.” That one always got me. Invariably I would be ready to go before anyone else, waiting to sit through another grueling mass.

While my battle may have had the quaintest of beginnings, or perhaps selfish would be the better word, they soon took a much more serious turn. After years of helping my mother set up for Sunday School classes (her job is to direct and run the Sunday School program at her church), and 3 more years of babysitting all Sunday morning during masses, I was 14 and finally entering the dating scene. Up to this point, I had focused my worldly energies on reading and schoolwork and games, not to mention the job at a local independent bookstore I had recently secured. My whole family loved Lindsey, and I did too. The problem about loving something is that you always get hurt. In my case, it wasn’t until later that she hurt me intentionally by breaking up with me. Before that, though, there was a more devastating realization: Lindsey was anoremic. Anoremia is what you get when you mix anorexia and bulimia. She would go without eating for long periods of times, only to binge on food for a meal or two before throwing it all up again. The scary thing about any eating disorder is that no matter how intelligent or logical the person may be, and she was very intelligent and logical with everything else, the victim can’t seem to break away from the disease. After she told me, I had to think.

I went out to the local state park and walked around. I don’t know how long I walked, but what I do know is that I walked into that park officially a Catholic and mentally a Non-denominational Christian, only to walk out a militant atheist. I couldn’t understand the concept of a supposedly loving all-powerful being who could conceive of such a horrendous way to torture its creations. It was that line of thinking that opened the floodgate. If one thing I was told is wrong, how many other things have I been blindly believing all this time that aren’t true as well?

I didn’t let my family know for a long time. It wasn’t until 2 years later that I let it all out. I was in the car with my mother and somehow religion came up and I just thought it was time to stop living the lie. I couldn’t keep going into that church and putting on the face of acceptance that everyone wanted to see. At first, I told her that I was agnostic, that I accepted religion and that there may be a god out there somewhere, but that there isn’t any way to know and no reason to participate in something I don’t fully believe in. For a while, she fought me on the subject. She constantly ‘invited’ me to masses and dropped hints that I should say the blessing before dinner and such. I constantly but politely refused. Eventually, she gave over. My father was a bit tougher to deal with.

To this day, I still don’t talk to my father about religion. For one, his side of the family has more roots in religion than my mother’s side. All of his brother (4 of them) were planning on attending or had attended seminary school at one time. My grandfather on his side lives a block away from the church so he can attend daily. The statues of Mary and Joseph outside the church were donated by him. So yeah, I knew from the get-go that my father would have a harder time accepting my revelation. I was right. The reason that I don’t talk to my father about religion stems from one moment in time I remember down to the smallest detail. We were in the car, driving home from the mall. My younger brother had been giving the whole family trouble for several weeks, misbehaving in a most annoying fashion and it was wearing on everyone’s nerves, so I like to think that a lot of my father’s reaction was due to that. In any case, we were driving and he just snapped, only for a moment, but there it was. I’ve never seen my father as anything but completely cool and collected, very often outgoing and humorous, especially with our family. His job is managing people in a governmental position, so he is very good at dealing with individuals. On that day, at that time, however, his eyes got wide, glistened wetly and he started telling me what a failure he is. Obviously, he must be a failure if one son misbehaves all the time and the other doesn’t believe in God. I felt as though I had been slapped. All my life I had aspired to succeed. I’d always been the good kid. The one who, the one time I was sent to the principal’s office, cried as soon as I sat down. I’d participated in activities like Boy Scouts and baseball and soccer and always got good grades. My older sister was in high school and a drunken lush who dated drug dealers, yet I, I, the child who had never done anything markedly heinous was suddenly the black sheep.

I don’t hold this moment against my father. I feel very grateful that it was the only run-in I’ve ever had with the man, and I continue to respect him greatly for all that he is. In fact, the moment itself helped me achieve another insight that until that point I had been blind to: my militant atheism wasn’t the right thing for me to be holding onto. If I had held onto the hate and derision that I had for the church, I would have been no better than those who would condemn me for my beliefs. My beliefs were right for me, just as my father’s are right for him. He’s a very successful man, and a very good man. I believe I can be the same. I plan on taking a different path completely, but the idea is still the same. If something works for someone else, despite what I may think about their belief, I have no right to call them down for it.

This new trait has helped me in more spheres of life than I could have possibly predicted. Socially, it’s much easier to make friends when you don’t ridicule others for their personal beliefs. Educationally, I find it far simpler to put myself in the shoes of someone from another cultural background and therefore expand my knowledge of the world, mostly because of my total avoidance of conscious ethnocentrism. True, when I was up-in-arms against the ’plague of religion,’ I felt I had a cause. But isn’t personal development far more important than trying to change what others think? I think a world where no one tried to force their beliefs on someone else, no matter how pure their motives, would definitely be a world without religiously-tied violence, and most likely solve many other problems as well.

Just thought I would throw this story and what I believe to be it’s moral out there. Take from it what you will. I’m definitely NOT trying to make anyone think the same way I do.

City: Columbia
State: Missouri
Country: United States
Became a Christian: 1
Ceased being a Christian: 14
Labels before: Catholic, Christian, Non-Denominational
Labels now: Open-Minded Atheist
Why I joined: No other options were given
Why I left: I opened my eyes
Email Address: ouphe at hotmail.com

Proud and Alone: a story of reason and corruption

sent in by Asuryan

I think I'm the first Italian that writes her story on this website... please excuse me if I'll do some errors and stay with me 'till the end :) I'll also be happy to read your comments, if you have some, since perhaps Italian Catholic, American Catholic and Protestant churches are very different.

I'm 24 years old, I'm an Italian and I've always been. It's Catholic custom to baptize (hope I've got it right) very small children only days after they're born. The reason for this has something absurd and sick in it: priests say that since Adam and Eve soiled themselves the Original Sin, every human being that comes to life is a sinner, and should he/she die he/she'll go straight to hell. If you ask a priest what happens to a baby that dies at childbirth, though, he usually says that an unbaptized baby ends up in a place in Hell called "Limbo", which is a bit less horrible than the rest of Hell. However the priest says "Surely you don't want your child to suffer hell for eternity! Baptize him NOW so that, should something happen to him, he'll stay in heaven and not in hell."

And Lo and Behold! The baby is sprinkled with water and becomes clean and pure as snow (a metaphore they often use).

So I became a Catholic. As other people knows, Italian Catholics think THEY are Christians and all other churches are not true christians. Obviously Protestants, Anglicans, Jehova Witnesses, not to say homosexuals, bisexuals, and all others are going to hell, BUT (here's the trick) in Italian Catholic Church priests have learned that nobody likes to hear you when you start ranting about the "Fiery lake of hell" and all that bullshit. Often because Catholics should ALL go to hell if you follow the scriptures (they commit idolatry, they very often go to mass just on easter and christmas thus not sanctifying the sabbath, and so on).

So if you directly ask a priest here "will x go to hell since he's a *insert something unCatholic here*?" he'll start acting uneasy, looking around as if searching for help, blubbering and then finally he'll say "Weeelll... yeeess... but he can always repent on his deathbed (or it's even better if he does that sooner) and embrace true faith, so there's nothing to worry about."

Or perhaps he would answer me that way only because I was very little at the time, and he'd answer me very differently should he see me and speak with me now.

So I grew up. My parents kept saying me that I was a Christian, thus I had to go to mass every sunday, and then attend every thursday afternoon some sort of school when you go and learn about god for 2 hours (here we call it Catechismo, don't know how it translates in english). I absolutely had no will to go to this religious school so I asked my parents "Why do I have to go?" and they said "If you don't go you won't be able to do your First Communion" (eating the holy wafer). So I asked "What's so bad in not being able to do 1st communion?" they answered: "If you do your First communion there will be a great party just for you, there are going to be chocolate Confetti, some cake, all of your friends will be invited too, and all of your relatives are going to make you very nice gifts, even gold rings and gold necklaces".

Can you imagine THAT? They convinced me when I was 6 with promises of gifts and jewels and they said NOTHING about being able to eat holy wafers thus purifying myself from sin and all that stuff. So the only reason they provided for me to become fully Christian was purely materialistic.

So I went to my Catechismo. Man, was that useless! We sat around a great table, with a teacher that said us to sing some happy song (some of them were christian, other clearly weren't, I still remember one that went "Our chief's car has a hole in a wheel and we're going to repair it with bubblegum". Talk about time loss...). We also read pages from a little book, with lots of pictures and some stories from the Bible.

Then there was my 1st communion. I hate the holy wafer, and didn't feel anything strange, but everybody were so happy and sure, I got many jewels, necklaces, gold rings, and all of my relatives were so happy...

I went to mass every sunday, sometimes I questioned why my parents weren't coming with me a single time, but they answered "Do what I tell you to, not what I'm doing". So they again resorted to corruption: they knew I loved reading, so they gave me some money every sunday to buy something to read at the local newspaper store while I was there. Sometimes I thought of becoming a priestess (little did I know that catholics think that women absolutely cannot do that) so that everybody's eyes would've been on me... sort like hoping to become an actress one day *LOL*.

One day, though, when I was 10, my grandmother died. That day I prayed all day to God: I asked him to save my grandmother, I really loved her very much, she was like a mother to me, since my real mother had to go to work and hadn't much time for me.

The same year a sick bastard raped me. My parents weren't any help: they just said "just shut up and pretend nothing has happened, and never go in the place you've seen that guy that did those things to you." Didn't take me to a Doctor, didn't take me to the police.

I was shocked. And I started to ask myself some questions.

If god was so powerful, if he could create the world, and do everything he wanted, then why hadn't he saved my grandmother? She was a good woman and she died without a reason, just because her surgeon was an ass.

Why did he allow such horrible things to happen? Again if he was so powerful, he surely could destroy Evil and the Devil in a second, or less. I asked my religious school teacher why God permitted some horrible things to happen, and she said that "God doesn't want us to be like puppets, he gives us the freedom to choose between good and evil".

That didn't relieve me one bit. Okay, the rapist had chosen his path - evil. God had given him his freedom to choose, but... what about me? God hadn't done anything for me. In the Bible, God was always ready to help his believers in need... well, he surely didn't help ME, that's for sure.

I started asking questions, receiving answers that didn't seem complete, and then trying to answer them myself. I studied the inquisition: on our Italian story books there's almost nothing about Inquisition, it's just mentioned "en passant" like some sort of strange thing, very folkloristic but not important in the end. I started talking more with my uncle, a great person, he was sweet, caring, very intelligent, he had a psychology and a pedagogy degree, and he was an atheist. I asked him questions, he answered me always reminding him that this was just his point of view. He wasn't afraid of death. He wasn't afraid of it being the end of all things: he just said "when I'll be old I hope to die without pain... I'll accept death, why shouldn't I? I've lived a full life and I've nothing to regret."

Catholics, when they are 13 or 14 (I think, perhaps I'm wrong of a few years) do a thing called "Second Communion". It's like a three-step procedure: first you have to be baptized, second you have to do "First Communion" and then you can take holy wafers, and lastly you have to do "Second Communion", and then you can marry yourself in the church. Well, I said my mother that I didn't want anything anymore with Catholicism and that I wasn't going to make my Second Communion.

Boy, she went crazy! At first she was all sweet and questioning: why are you saying that, perhaps some boy at religious school did something wrong to you, tell me what is the problem...

And I said her. Perhaps I still hoped she'd have some good answers to provide, but her fearful eyes told a me a different story: not only she didn't have any good answer, but I was also frightening her. She didn't want to look inside herself and admit that neither her fully believed the Catholic crap.

Then she tried corruption again. If you take your second communion there will be even greater gifts, gold wristwatches, gold necklaces and rings (again), a little motorcycle, a lot of money... didn't I want money, she asked, sure I wanted them, all relatives could have given me money and then I could have done with them as I pleased...
My answer remained No.

Then she became menacious. You live in my house you'll do what I say, you have to follow some rules, all our town will speak ill of us if you don't take your 2nd communion... again my answer was no. I didn't care for neighbors or gifts. I didn't care not marrying in the church. She even lied to me, by saying that if you marry in the Town Hall you cannot have music, a white dress, and friends greeting you when you go out.


Some months later, we went together, my mom and I, at my future High School for subscription. Along with all the bureaucratic papers there was one saying:
Do you wish to follow the weekly hour of Catholic Religion?

My mother took the paper and compiled that for me. Here's how our dialogue went.
"I'm going to make you follow the Catholic Religion hour."

"Please, don't. I already said to you that I'm not Catholic anymore."

"I don't care what YOU say. I'm your mother and I'll choose for you until you are adult. Besides what else could you do?"

"I could come home one hour before the normal timetable..."

"No, I'll sign you in just now."

And then the secretary said "Excuse me, mrs, but do you see THIS blank space at the end of the paper... it's for your daughter's signature... I'm sorry but the choice is not yours, it's hers."

I think my "HA!" made those old walls tremble, and the secretary surely smiled. My mother started being all kind and sugarlike again: Catholicism is part of our culture, and I should give it a try, and... I didn't listen to her. I compiled my paper the way I wanted, and I gave it to the secretary returning her smile with mine, happy that my freedom had been respected.

That was the end of my Catholic disadventure. But here in my home war still goes on, at least with my mother. My sister has become an atheist just like me, and I'm proud to have taught her to use her mind when it comes to religion. My father leaves me freedom of choice. My mother though is very upset at me: it's funny, even if she isn't Catholic she insists that I should be and that she is one (she has never ever read a bible in her life!). Sometimes I try to explain to her the reasons behind my choice, and she screams "I don't want to listen you! You're just trying to spread hate and to humiliate me! Just shut up!".

Perhaps one day she'll see the light :D

Everybody that wants to email me about my story or Catholicism is free to do that - and I welcome comments (be kind with me if I've done some mistakes, since my mother language is Italian) even if from Christians: I'm always interested in hearing what they have to say - provided they don't just say "god still love you" and then run away never to comment back to my answer.

I used my nickname here just because everyone on the 'net knows me as Asuryan, not by my real name, and I'd like to take credit for what I've written here today. I'm not afraid to say my real name, I won't shield behind anonimacy, if someone wants to hear my real name just email me and you'll know it. :)

Waiting to hear from you all! :)

Sex: Female
URL: www.jpknet.com & www.asuryan.splinder.it
City: Torre del Lago
State: Tuscany
Country: Italy
Became a Christian: At birth
Ceased being a Christian: I think I was 13 or 14.
Labels before: Roman Catholic Apostholic
Labels now: Proudly Atheist
Why I joined: They forced it on me.
Why I left: Read my story :)
Email Address: asuryan at jpknet.com

self esteem vs god

sent in by Daryl

I was raised in a Fundamentalist Christian home, and did the whole “Forgive the lowly sinner and thanks for the blood” thing when I was three years old. I was baptized at age thirteen, and was my parent’s great hope of having a preacher in the family. I memorized entire books of the bible, involved myself in theological discussions, and was a major pain in the ass to any non-believer in school as I testified incessantly. I was hard core.

Around the age of sixteen, I came across some challenging questions that I couldn’t find the answer to:
1) If God didn’t condone drunkenness, then why did Jesus turn water into wine at a point in the party when everyone was getting drunk?
2) Why did God put Job through such horrible trials just to prove a point to someone he had already condemned to hell?
3) In the Garden of Eden, didn’t the snake actually tell the truth, and God lied?

The answers I received from my parents, youth group leaders, and my pastor were as follows:
1) Who are you to question God’s will?
2) Who are you to question God’s will?
3) Blasphemy!!!

I also encountered puberty around this time, and that horrible, disgusting vile, sinful, repugnant practice of self exploration……….masturbation!

For the next three years I was in a constant state of struggle. I would research scriptures ant theological texts constantly, trying to disprove my questions. I would spend hours in prayer every night trying to gain control of this awful demon of lust that had taken hold of me.

Finally, around age twenty, I gave up. I was so tired of living in confusion and shame, that I finally said “Fuck it. I give up!” I decided I was no longer a Christian. Unfortunately, I still believed in my heart that the bible was true. Twenty years of brainwashing can be a hard thing to overcome.

I began indulging in all the things that had been forbidden to me all those years. I began drinking heavily, using drugs, stealing, and masturbating excessively. I believed that I was going to hell, so I figured I might as well enjoy the trip. Christianity had taught me that “Without God, you are nothing,” and I was living without god; therefore, I was worthless.

I had just started a new job, and was working with non-christian who had traveled extensively. As we became friends, he and I discussed religion, and how different beliefs had impacted some of the cultures he had experienced around the world. He told me about the Catholic cathedrals he had seen in places like Mexico and Venezuela, these amazing buildings of artistry and wealth that had been built by taking money from some of the poorest people on the planet. We talked about the islamic religions and their brutal treatment of women, the christian faith and the Holy Inquisition, and the hindu beliefs and the caste system. He felt, as I now believe, that the truest judge of a belief structure is how it treats its followers.

In our discussions, he brought me back to the questions I had about the bible, and, for the fist time, I began to see the book for what it truly is, a complete pack of lies, Absolute Bullshit! I came to realize that the reason I could never find answers to my questions is that there aren’t any. And if the whole book is false, then the part about me being worthless without god is false as well.

Now started the newest and most exciting phase of my life, the discovery of my self worth. I stopped stealing, quit drugs, and eventually quit drinking. I met the most amazing woman on the planet, and no longer need to masturbate. I see myself for what I truly am, a hard working, intelligent man, a loving and very loved husband, and an all round good person. I need no god to validate me, no system of rituals to prove my worth.

Psalms 14:1 says “The fool has said in his heart ‘there is no god,’” I am proud to be that fool!

Became a Christian: 3
Ceased being a Christian: 20
Labels before: fundamentalist baptist
Labels now: atheist
Why I joined: truly believed
Why I left: woke up

Schizo Affective / Bipolar's Story

sent in by Kurt O

Let me first start off that I've been diagnosed with a mental disorder: Schizo Affective / Bipolar Disorder. I hear voices, feel spirits/demons/angels/God's wrath most of the time. On with my story, it's long but I'll make it short.

What "sins" I have comitted are irelavant. I'll start with my conversion. It was full of pressure from so-called "Disciples of Christ" from the Boston Movement. They said I had to do what they told me or I would not be a christian. So I trudged along being faithful to the "church" (though it's really a sinking ship). I was asked to leave due to my behavior due to illness. Up until that time I had a daily "quiet time" and "prayer walks" which I hated to do but I DID THEM ANYWAY BECAUSE I WANTED TO BE SAVED.

After I was asked to leave I didn't pray or have "quiet times" anymore. 3 months later I had a nervous breakdown and was diagnosed with schizo affective disorder.

I went back years later to the same church, wanting to be saved again. I was told to do the things that lead me to have a nervous breakdown in the first place: have "quiet times", "prayer walks" and read the bible.

I am convinced that the Boston Movement, led by Kip McKean, are steeped in rules that lead to bondage and are far from the truth.

URL: www.kurtolsson.com
City: Tyler
State: TX
Country: USA
Became a Christian: 22
Ceased being a Christian: Still debating
Labels before: Boston Movement
Why I joined: Guilt
Why I left: Hate
Email Address: ko at kurtolsson.com

Deconversion by attrition

sent in by Brian

I have no spectacular tale to tell, nothing that makes for good reading, nothing that will cause tears to be shed. All the same I was raised by loving parents (though NOT demonstrative) to believe that the most vile invention of humankind was 'the truth'.

As an adult I have read parts of the bible and am astounded that such a rediculous collection of fantasies (the NT) and horrendous accounts of savage bloodshed and superstition (the OT) can be so highly regarded by so many otherwise clever people. It causes me to shake my head in utter disbelief. We give ourselves far too much credit as a species if this sampling can be called representative of the 'average'. I often want to scream "Wake up, you mindless fools!"

Back to my deconversion; I was 13 and attending Catholic school when I was first able, though only in the gaurded spaces of my mind, to admit that I didn't believe in gawd (or J. Hoover, as I sometimes like to call him). To a kid who's cognitive abilities were just forming, as well as those 'other' changes that were happening then, this was a major event. Not as terrifying as you might expect, though I was riddled with self doubt and anxiety over my new-found disbelief. I kept my guilty little secret for several years from everyone. That was no picnic, having to bite my tongue, going along with the religeous holidays, watching my older sisters marry and begin raising their kids to swallow the same, destructive, negative shit I had to fight my way from. I felt completely alone in a sea of nut-cases. Luckily, I began attending a public high school that fall and was able to disassociate myself from that crazy faction.

Let me lay out my cards, stated as plainly as I can; I hate religion. I hate it for what it has done to an otherwise promising species. I hate it for causing so many lives to be wasted so completely. Not just the endless parade of sheep who pissed away their most precious gift on a fantasy, but also the ranks of holy warriors who have killed and been killed to support the political will of their churches. I hate it for the obstacles it's adherants have thrown up to defete social, technological and human progress. True, we did this to ourselves by inventing the damn thing in the first place, however the time for scratching around in the dirt for answers (with apologies to any archaeologists out there) is long gone. When are we going to collectively wake up? What is it going to take before people will open their bloody eyes? Sigh...

So, here I sit, atheist and, frankly, proud of it. I shook off the guilt and confusion of theism and encourage others to do so at every opportunity. It doesn't win me a lot of support or friends, but, I remind myself, those who object could never be my friends anyway. It wasn't a quick and easy process. It took years of soul searching and analytical thinking to get me where I am today. I can easily recall the terror and confusion I used to feel while under the spell of theism. If I can bring light into any dark minds, any relief to the tormented, I feel that is the best thing I can do with my time remaining.

My family still don't understand me. My mother even recently professed that she has been praying for me (Don't get me started on the usefullness of that practice!). They still accept me, from a comfortable distance, but I can never feel as close to them as I should. In itself this is a tragedy, after all, who else do we have in this world but our families? Who else cares for us unconditionally?

Thanks for listening, its great to be in the presence of people who understand the implications of my journey and have suffered as I. Cheers, long life!

City: Ottawa
Country: Canada
Became a Christian: born into a Catholic family
Ceased being a Christian: 13
Labels now: humanist, anti-religionist
Why I left: I came to my senses

How could a logical person come to the conclusion that Christianity is true?

sent in by Ben Anderson

The main thing that sold me the idea that Christianity is wrong is this question:
Why did Christianity become the biggest religion in the world?
Here are the conclusions I came to:

1. Christianity is a bully religion. Holy wars and inquisitions are just the beginning. The bible encourages its followers to spread the word across the globe. To their credit, Christians have done this very well. For hundreds of years, Europe was Christian by law practically. There wasn't a line separating Church and state, let alone a wall as we (are supposed to) have in America.

2. I've always had an interest in world history. So I look through history and see all of the vile, disgusting things Christians have done in the name of their god. That wasn't a proof of untruth, but it was an absolute turn off.

3. Christianity is a myth. A modern myth. Thousands of years ago, people needed explanations of why things are the way they are so they made up stories. There is nothing wrong with this. Hypothesizing the origins of life, the cosmos, the earth, the sun, the moon, animals, the seas, these are all part of our world culture. Its just, now that we know for a scientific fact that the world is over 4 billion years old, why should we still give merit to a myth that tells us it is 5,000? That is not the only example of how science puts Christianity in the mud. Science is my Christianity.

4. Regarding world history again, I looked at the ancient religions of the world. The Greeks, the Romans, the Egyptians, the Norse, the Native Americans, the Indians, Chinese, Africans, etc. These people believed with the same conviction and dedication that what they believed was true, but any Christian will tell you they were all dead wrong. Hell, I can tell you that too. What makes their ideas wrong while Christians can say without a breath of doubt that they are right? Christianity is just a modern version of these religions, only with a few exceptions. The Greek gods, and Egyptian gods, and all those deities never required them to forcefully impose their strict rules upon the nonbelievers, or believers of other things.

5. Then there is the kicker. This, I believe is responsible for a large number of people being/staying/becoming Christian: Its like the payoff matrix (for those of you who have taken economics). There are two possibilities regarding the existence of god (either there is one or there isn't) and whether or not to be a Christian (either you are or you are not). Of these choices, there are 4 possible outcomes.
A. You are Christian + God exists = you go to heaven B. You are Christian + God doesn't exist = you just die C. You are not Christian + God doesn't exist = you just die D. You are not Christian + God exists = you go to hell

Now, out of these choices, only one outcome is particularly undesirable, choice D. The only real way to avoid choice D is to become a Christian. So this is the choice many people make based on this formula.

I have given all these reasons for becoming an exchristian atheist. I omitted things I could have included such as there being absolutely no evidence of the existence of a god, and the countless contradictions in the bible. I'll write about those later in life, when I have a publishing contract.

City: Minneapolis
State: MN
Country: USA
Became a Christian: 0
Ceased being a Christian: 14-16
Labels before: Lutheran
Labels now: Atheist
Why I joined: Born into it
Why I left: Christianity is wrong
Email Address: revmouse at rome.com

The fundamental questions will never go away!

sent in by BimmuDorgir

I was one of those Christians who was a Christian because I was told I that was. Ever since I've been able to remember, I was told by my mom, and the rest of my family that I was Christian, and that, when I die, I would go to heaven, because I believed in Jesus.

Luckily, my mom was religiously slack, and although we went to church on occasion, she never made a big deal out of it. She did, however, throw in her own little religious lessons every once in a while, like "If you don't believe in Jesus, you will go to Hell", "Jesus died for our sins" and "Everyone is a sinner", etc.

Some of these teachings never seemed to meld with me, though. For example, I was also taught that you have to believe in Jesus and God to be saved (from hell), but that God and Jesus were infinitely loving, etc. That just didn't seem to fit. Also, I knew of the existence of other religions, and by the time I was 8 or so, I was well aware that Christianity was more of a western civilization phenomenon, which, in turn, sparked within me a very fundamental question: "What about all the other religions of the world and their followers?" And logically, more questions followed…"Would they not be subject to hell simply because they do not have the 'convenience' of having Christ (churches) on every (street) corner? And if they were to go to hell, is it their fault they had no such convenience? If God is loving, should they be punished for not doing something they didn't know they could even do in the first place? And if they weren't subject to hell, why couldn't I have been fortunate enough to have been born in a society where I would not have to worry about going to hell (in other words, a region with no 10-to-1 ratio between the number of churches and McDonald's restaurants)?"

So, I asked. I asked my mom, my grandpa, and even people at church. I never got any straight answers. Usually, I was told not to think such things, for those thoughts could land me a spot in hell.

As a few years went by, other questions came, too. For example, early on in school, I was taught about evolution (which doesn't coincide well with the story of Adam and Eve). So, jokingly, I wondered, "were Adam and Eve" gorilla-like primates? Haha! But still, I did what I was told, and ignored these questions simply because it was wrong to question God, and his word. So, as far as the evolution issue is concerned, I simply did what I guess most Christians children wind up doing: believe both. When you are asked in church about the origins of human-kind, you say, "Adam and Eve" and when you are asked outside of church, you say, "evolution". Simple as that.

Later on, around the age of 16, I became immersed in a hobby that forced me to come face to face with others that stood in blatant disagreement with my beliefs. But, my interest in this hobby would not wane (nor did I want it to). So, instead of scrapping it all, simply because of some of the beliefs held by some of the others that were interested in the same hobby, I decided to take the "Zeus" standpoint on it. I knew that I did not believe in Zeus, or any other Greek/Roman Gods, yet I still loved to hear stories about them. So, I developed a mental division between that which I considered to be "my belief" and that which I considered to be merely "entertainment". "I don't have to believe what they do, just because I enjoy the same form of entertainment."

It did not turn out like that.

At first, I believed that all these other people were actually evil, and under the influence of Satan! In fact, a lot of them would openly profess that they were "Satanic" (but not in the way that I had perceived at the time). Soon, though, I began to try to look at things from their standpoints. I even began befriending some of these people. Eventually, I realized that many of them were decent people, and in a lot of cases, good and moral people. Now I wanted to evaluate them without prejudice, for obviously my religion had made me wrongfully biased against them (you know, "think for myself", as most people tend to start doing right about this age). I wanted to judge for myself the quality of their characters, instead of letting my beliefs do so for me.

Lo, and behold: I started seeing something in them I had not seen before; something very strange. I began to notice that these other people were…well...just like me! I began noticing that they were (dare I say) human! A lot of them were merely kids (or early adults, 17 - 23 or so), just…like...me! They had names, and lives, and faced many of the same problems I faced. They had families. They loved. They did everything just like me…and they were not Christian! Was this possible?

By this time, all my unanswered fundamental questions I had about my belief began to re-surface, only now I was not able to simply ignore them, for I could not deny that these people were human. To ignore these questions would be to ignore reason and would be very uncompassionate to my newfound friends.

So, I began asking myself, "Should they all go to hell, for believing what they believe? If they are evil, what exactly is evil about them? Are they evil in the first place, or are they simply being 'human'? Is 'sin' what makes one 'evil'? What exactly is sin? Can the terms 'sinner' and 'human' be interchanged? In other words the can the Christian teaching that 'We are all sinners' be changed to 'We are all human'?"

Very quickly, I came up with an answer. The answer was, "Christianity is not the answer." None of those people were evil at all. None of them deserve an eternity of torment for believing anything.

I began to notice how limited and narrow-minded I had been, because of my religious prejudices. All my opinions about them came full circle. Even the ones that were "Satanic" showed an heir of human-like qualities (imagine that)! In fact, they were generally very humanitarian in their beliefs!

This process was not a quick one. As I stated earlier, I was about 16 when I got interested in this hobby. By this point, I was almost 18.

I was finally not afraid to question my beliefs anymore, and tons and tons of new questions surfaced, and I welcomed them. In fact, I began to reject all my religious views, for they seemed to demonize everything it did not agree with. I began to realize that to do so was illogical, and just ridiculous!

I loved thinking on my own, for it made me seem all-the-more-independent (especially being that I was just about to leave home to go to college). I'd finally found something that let me be human, without regret.

Am I a sinner? I guess so, if you wanna call it that. I do make mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes. It's part of being human. But one of the many great qualities of being human includes our ability to learn from these mistakes. This quality alone makes the concept of a place of eternal torment unjust and just absurd! Hell would only be just if we could not learn from our mistakes, therefore, no "just"/"good" God could ever have anything to do with such a concept.

Okay, so now I knew I was not Christian, but what was I? Well, for the time being, I was content with calling myself agnostic. Then, eventually, when I was 20 or so, I met some people that belonged to an Atheist organization at my university. They had all sorts of pamphlets and other anti-religious stuff that they gave out for free every Wednesday, on campus, so I took them, and read them, for I had no qualms about doing so anymore. And…they fascinated me! After reading these pamphlets and such, I decided that they posed very reasonable arguments, that were completely logical, and that I…agreed.

All my unanswered and unanswerable questions of my Christian past were now gone. "What about all the other religions of the world, and their followers?" Nothing. They are all simply people that have beliefs that help them cope with problems in their lives, and helps them to understand that which they don't understand. I don't like having unanswered questions, and neither do they, only for them, religious Scripture, in combination with apologetic interpretation/flim-flam are adequate in providing them with those answers, whereas, for...doesn't work anymore.

Thus was born the Atheist in me. \m/ (*-*) \m/


By the way, what was this "hobby" of mine that introduced me to other non-Christians and even Satanist? The answer: heavy metal music! I did not wish to mention this in the beginning, for I did not want to sound like a simple metal-head saying he was not Christian because it was "un-cool" for me to be one, as a "metal-head!"

Sex: Male
City: Tampa
State: Florida
Country: United States
Became a Christian: 2? 3? Before I can even remember. Brainwashing works best that way.
Ceased being a Christian: 17 or 18
Labels before: Baptist
Labels now: Atheist
Why I joined: Indoctrinated as a toddler.
Why I left: Nothing about it made sense. It was all totally unreasonable, and utterly illogical.

Ex Hindu

sent in by semagoohay

I had written a letter to the webmaster regarding my Hindu background and the subsequent detachment from it. The webmaster was kind enough to publish it too, but I was not a registered member then, nor did I place the message in the correct forum. So here is another go at it.

I was born in India in a Hindu family and I belonged to the so-called highest caste – the Brahmins. For the benefit of those who don’t know, Hinduism splits its followers into four groups (or classes or castes) – Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vysyas, and Sudras. Brahmins are the preachers, teachers, mathematicians, scientists, and the defenders of the faith. In short, they are the erudite and the elite class. Please understand that such distinction no longer exists. Whatever I said was true only in the past. Kshatriyas are the warriors. Kings and Generals belonged to this class. Vysyas are the business people and Sudras (pronounced shoe-druhs) are the people of the lowest class. I feel terribly guilty even describing this atrocious divisive nature of Hinduism and assure you that I do not harbor any such distinction myself.

When I came to the U.S. fifteen years back, as a masters student in mechanical engineering, a crusader (from Campus Crusade for Christ) asked me if I was saved. Don’t get me wrong. My English has always been pretty decent, but this question totally baffled me and I had no clue as to what it meant! When I found out, I was taken aback. Usually such a question was followed by what Hinduism stood for. Quite frankly, though I was a Hindu for 23 years by then, I had never really given much thought to that specific question. You see, I just lived as a Hindu along with a large majority of people just like me. Never needed to explain about my belief to anybody.

Did I believe in the Hindu gods? You bet. Come on, level with me here. If you prayed to these gods all your life and have sought them for personal favors, of which every one was granted, wouldn’t you believe? I wanted to be first in my school in the statewide exam in tenth grade. Not only was I first in school, I was first in the entire district. Then I wanted to do mechanical engineering in a particular, well reputed, engineering school. Wish granted. After graduating, I wanted a job. I got one in a campus interview, even before finishing school. I wanted, oh, this I wanted sooooo badly, to come to America. Granted. It seemed like my gods were right there watching over me and granting anything I wished for. And so, when Christians came to me thumping their bibles and claiming that my gods were not gods and that the Judeo-Christian god was the only true god, I was terribly offended. More on this later.

Then I visited an Indian friend in Pittsburgh. His grandfather, an old man in his seventies, broached the subject of religion. You see, until then I thought old people, due to their proximity to death, believed in religion a lot more than the younger ones. So I bragged to him about how I knew many chapters of the Bhagavadgita by heart. I surely thought the old man would be impressed. Instead, he asked me if I knew this particular verse in Gita, in which, Krishna promises that he will take an avatar anytime righteousness (dharma) goes down and unrighteousness (adharma) comes up. I said yes. Then he asked if that were the case how come He never showed up when Hitler killed millions of Jews. Huh! My jaw dropped. I was speechless.

In the mean time, my now brother-in-law (I was dating his sister then) had gotten saved from Jainism (an offshoot of Hinduism and very fundamental in its beliefs). He is the valedictorian in high school kind of guy - very intelligent, and a voracious reader. As a fresh convert, his passion was to take the word of god to the nonbelievers and debate with them with gusto. So, one day he picked up a debate with me. Initially it was decent, with exchange of ideas back and forth, but then one statement, a very strong statement, changed the entire course of the debate, and for that matter, my religious life. “There is not a single discrepancy or contradiction in the Bible.” And I was like, hey, wait a minute. Let me read the damn bible before I respond to that. He suggested that I read the book of John. I said, as an engineer, I am more methodical; so let me read from the beginning. Genesis.

He was glad to present me with a good bible and I started to read Genesis. No sooner did I start than I ran into this controversial claim from god that the day Adam or Eve ate from the tree, they shall certainly die. I read further and found that they ate, but did not die. Gotcha! Interestingly, there was a footnote in that wonderful bible. It said that the statement was not a contradiction because Adam and Eve did die, a ‘spiritual’ death, not a ‘physical’ death. I was like, what?!?! Further reading brought out many similar problems in the bible, but as you might have guessed, my brother-in-law had an answer for everything.

Well, once it occurred to me that the Christians will “explain” away any blatant contradiction or, for that matter, anything ridiculous, such as god stopping the earth, I asked myself if I was guilty of the same in my defense of Hindu gods and their stories. Lo and behold! I was.

So I suspended all my beliefs and examined things more critically. Now, ladies and gentlemen, I am proud to call myself an atheist. And, that is my story.

email: semagoohay88 at yahoo.com
Sex: Male
State: Tennessee
Country: USA

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