sent in by Formerfundie
I guess now is as good a time as any to submit this. It takes a certain amount of courage and I hope there are individuals here that can relate, and that there are ones that might read this that will be helped and encouraged.
I was a Christian all my life, since I can remember. I grew up Catholic. There was never any reason for me to think there was not God, that’s all I ever knew. Even when I got older and had an episode where I was involved in Scientology, I still thought there was God, I had no reason not to, and even though I was in that cult, they encouraged anyone who was still going to church to keep going, regardless of what it was, so that never had any effect on me changing my mind. It actually had more of a reinforcing effect because while I was involved in the Church of Scientology I had what I thought at the time was an “out of body” experience. It terrified me, although I did get a lot of attention from the other “church” members at the time. They encouraged delusions of all kinds and considered the “experience” beneficial as it was supposed to somehow be indicative of getting closer to a “clear mind.” This experience happened due to stress and duress and I now know that it was a psychological reaction to blatant mental abuse I was going through at the time. It is where a victim can’t handle what’s happening at the moment so the person shuts his or her mind down and escapes to “another place” in the mind. This is a dark place, much like when an alcoholic has a blackout. I suppose because I was inclined towards and constantly exposed to spirituality I allowed myself to be open to mystical types of occurrences, and I had them. I had them in Scientology. I had them while participating in New Age types of things, and I of course, had them in Christianity. I was what most would call a “seeker”, and my lifelong pursuit seems to always have been a search for truth. As I got older I went from sect to sect of Christianity looking for where I fit. I went from Catholic to Assembly of God, to Methodist, to Lutheran, and when I met my soon to be ex-husband – he was involved in what would be referred to now as “New Age” – he also believed in ET’s and well, what can I say, I was a sucker for such things. What is it I’ve read here about, “If you’ll believe the bible, then you’ll believe anything.” It goes something like that anyway. Well, point made.
He went into the military, we married, had children and life went on. We ended up in California, where he got “born again” for the first time and I guess I got “re-committed” at a nice Assembly of God church. It was while we were being raised up for leadership in that church I discovered my husband had been molesting my daughter since she was four years old, she was nine at the time. When this was brought to the attention of the ministers, he and I went separately for counseling. He went to the Pastor and I went to the Pastor’s wife. I never did find out what he was told. I was informed they thought that it was better not to report it as they thought he’d discontinued the abuse, and they strongly encouraged the continuance of the marriage. I had no reason to not believe him, or them, at the time. While not really meaning to, the Pastor’s wife and one of the other leaders during some different counseling sessions indicated that I was partly the cause of what had happened. After this I got very depressed, and suicidal. These same women told me that I needed to stop being depressed because it was not conducive to my marital relationship. They said that when my husband came home the house and kids (we had three) should be neat and tidy and I should greet him with a smile on my face and a happy hello. I tried, I really tried, but it was useless. We women at the church were always told we should be ready, willing, and able to offer ourselves to our men sexually, too. The first time I “gave” myself to my husband after finding out what had happened, I shuddered inside, but I knew I needed to do this and I did it out of a profound fear and in the thought that if I didn’t he would go after my daughter again, it was also supposed to be a demonstration of forgiving him on my part – after all, this is what Christianity teaches people to do, there wasn’t anyone around telling me anything different. I felt dirty. He didn’t understand why I was crying. We were military and away from both families, and even had the families been closer, I likely would not have revealed it to them. It is not something most people want made known. I was told/taught to forgive and “forget” and go forward. I battled constantly with depression, along with other issues. Due to the doctrinal teachings at the time I thought much of it was demonic and didn’t understand why I could never seemingly overcome the dark creatures. I thought it was all my fault, that I couldn’t get over it because I had too much sin in my life and therefore didn’t have or couldn’t exercise power and authority over these demonics to make them go away, and I had been told/taught that this is what I needed to do. I never had any reason to not believe what I was being told and taught, I was never exposed to or around any type of alternative thinking. I knew nothing else. I grew up surrounded by and “nurtured” in a cocoon of “faith” in God and the supernatural. Needless to say, I felt like a total failure, and like I was never going to be able to live up to their and God’s expectations. I really had to question His creation of me to begin with because I thought it would have been easier for everyone concerned if I’d never shown up on this planet of ours. Now that I think of it, this was probably the beginning of God not making sense to me. My husband was never able to please me sexually, and I continued for the duration of at our relationship to think something was wrong with me(there was but I was never able to find out what that was until years later) so I was always trying to improve myself and be better – for God, and for my husband – and ended up constantly being frustrated and feeling guilty. I felt like I was a horrible wife and a terrible mother, and Christianity just reinforced that, constantly.
He got orders and we moved from California to smack dab in the middle of the Bible Belt. My oldest daughter was now 13, my only son 10, and my youngest daughter 3. We started attending what people now refer to as a “Word of Faith” church, that at the time was supposedly non-denominational. I continued being the “Stepford” wife and actually thought that our marital relationship was improving. Unfortunately, my 13 year old daughter went into a very depressive and suicidal state. She stopped wanting to and then eventually stopped going to church. She started looking into witchcraft – whoops – a big no-no for Christian parents ‘cause you’re taught to keep all that stuff out of your house, along with secular music, etc. The Pastors of the church said it was rebellion and that we should force her to go, in spite of the fact that members of the youth group were always making fun of her and rejected her all the time .(They weren’t willing to recognize that or do anything about it either.) After a particular run in she had one day with the Pastor’s wife and how it was responded to, I decided to leave her alone when it came to forcing her to go to church with us anymore. I tried to get her professional help, but she refused. She locked herself in her room, which she kept dark. I was really scared during this time. I tried to find out what was wrong, but she’d shut me out. Looking back on it now, who could blame the child, were one to attempt to put oneself in her shoes? One day when she was about 15 or 16 she was having a rather heated argument with her dad – they fought constantly and he was always putting her down and belittling any accomplishments she made, she let it be known in no uncertain terms that he had done more than molest her. I am not proud of what I’m about to say, but I really didn’t believe her, and thought she’d just made an accusation because she was mad. In my estimation at the time, things had been improving, and because he was going to church and worshipping God and seemed to be going forward from his past history and we were getting along quite nicely, I had no reason to think otherwise. I really believed he’d been “saved, healed and delivered.” What my daughter had revealed was the truth. I found out later that he’d molested my other daughter too. He’s in jail now (it got reported, he got convicted) and I’m in the process of getting the divorce finalized, although it’s been a very long time in coming and there’s much more to the story. Delusion begets delusion, and for many years, I can honestly say, I was delusional.
The circumstances of our separation prepared the way and opened a desire and a door to a further education – so, I started taking college classes. In George Smith’s book Atheism: A Case Against God, he states that, “When used to eradicate superstition and its detrimental effects, atheism is a benevolent, constructive approach. It clears the air, as it were, leaving the door open for positive principles and philosophies based, not on the supernatural, but on man’s ability to think and comprehend.”
In spite of all the difficulties I had I stayed in the church I was in for years, probably simply out of habit than anything else, and once more to be a conduit of forgiveness, but eventually started questioning much of what was being taught. Then, one day in one of my classes, the teacher, who is an atheist, challenged me to read the contradictions in the bible, and ya know, I didn't have the slightest idea of what he was talking about or why – but, since he was a teacher with a PhD, I figured he was smarter than me - duh, so maybe it’d be a good idea to listen to what he was talking about. I took him up on his "challenge" and started reading and investigating and doing some research. (I must not have been a true christian because how many true christians are willing to do this?) This wonderful, kind, gentle, honest and very moral and ethical individual(okay, you gotta understand here that in christianity, followers are taught - well, maybe not all of them but a vast majority - that atheists are the bad guys - they're horrible dirty rotten sinners who are all going to hell because they have no morals and stuff - pure mythology! so, of course, the contradiction of how he was as opposed to how I’d been taught people like him were supposed to be, was an absolute SHOCK to my mental system) pointed out the mythos and legend involved in the bible and encouraged reading and researching other points of view which led to many other discoveries. I found out I’d been being lied to, for years! It's amazing how you're really blinded to all the stuff that's in the bible when you're immersed in that mindset, huh? It’s like you skim over things without giving them a second thought; you just simply shut your mind off or down. Some people never question it, (you really are taught and told not to think about it). I think the one thing I really had to question the most, was, here was this wonderful teacher, who’s opinion was basically that there are better ways to help and save people than telling them they are going to burn in hell – he was quite vocal about that – and who made so much sense to me, I just couldn’t reconcile that God was so cruel as to have 1) originated hell in the first place and 2) that an all-knowing God, who knew people like this man were going to have such a conflict with the concepts, was going to condemn people like him to eternal torture. I remember I’d also had trouble with the story about God telling Moses and the priests to go kill everybody who was worshipping a golden calf, and I knew if he ever had to tell me to do something like that, I never would be able to do it. It was things like this that made me mad and didn’t make sense to me.
The vice grip finally came off the mind while I was sitting in English class one day (anyone who has been inundated and indoctrinated like myself with the fundie mindset for years on end would understand about the mental hold) after reading an essay from Henry David Thoreau on Civil Disobedience. It's weird but it was THAT essay that ultimately was the final determiner in my leaving Christianity. I no longer wanted to be a part of its “meanness” as HDT so aptly put it. I left the church I’d been going to for ten years, and with that, left the doctrine and dogma of Christianity behind.
I decided that if there was a God, it was not the one most churches were teaching people about, and if God was like how the bible indicated he was – after pondering certain stories about him with a liberated mind, I didn’t want to serve or worship him anymore, anyway. The more I read and studied on the matter, the more and more I thought it unlikely a God/god/goddess existed.
I don't think I ever had my own opinion for years... formulating one's own opinion was whoops - a big no no, ya know – but eventually I finally realized that I hadn’t agreed with standard Christian doctrine or thinking for years, and that I’d been sitting in the church actually lying to myself and to them, by just being there, even though I did not believe what they were preaching and teaching anymore, so I just decided to start being honest about what was going on inside of me and held true to how I really thought about things. That’s why I left. I didn’t think it was wrong or that you’d go to hell for having an occasional drink, I was pro-choice even while I was sitting in the pew listening to the standard spew against abortion because it was considered murder, I was all for the separation of church and state, I was against censorship in most cases, haha and I was for gay marriage, and libertarianism seemed to me like the way to go and I really liked John Stuart Mill’s “No harm” principle. Most of these things go against the standard christian agenda.
I really wish sometimes that I was as smart as many of the people who have shared how Christianity didn’t make any sense to them and they were able to figure things out all by themselves, or they had these kinds of cognitions all on their own, but sometimes it takes confrontation and challenge to get a person to think. Fortunately, I ran into an individual who saw that I had the potential to actually USE MY MIND AND THINK, and he used what he knew as a teacher to get me to go there. So, with much thanks to KMK, here I am. Like it or not, that’s the truth - as I perceive it.
Became a Christian: Ever since I can remember
Ceased being a Christian: 45
Labels before: Christian
Labels now: Agnostic
Why I joined: Born into it
Why I left: Discovery of the lies and deception being propagated as TRUTH
Email Address: Pagimaginator at aol.com
Online Reading List
- An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish by Bertrand Russell (1943)
- Bible Teaching and Religious Practice by Mark Twain
- God is Imaginary
- Is there an Artificial God? by Douglas Adams (1998)
- Skeptics Annotated Bible
- The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine (1795)
- Which Way? by Robert Ingersoll (1884).
- Why I Am Not A Christian by Bertrand Russell (1927)