sent in by Greg
After more than 15 years struggling to be a fundamentalist Christian, I finally (and with much trepidation) made my break from Christianity about a month ago. After years of being in and out of church and struggling to believe the hopelessly illogical dogma of mainstream fundamentalism, the loss of my faith hit me suddenly, like a bolt out of the blue. I've been reading the response letters from Christians, and it seems they have many misconceptions about us "apostates".
For instance, many of them believe that it was the people that drove us away from the faith, that somehow the church let us down, and we're just leaving out of spite or resentment. For some that may be the case. But for me (and I'd wager most of us), the people were, by and large, very loving and sincere, if a bit closed-minded. For most of us, our faith was far too precious to be abandoned on the basis of politics or disagreements. For most of us, the battle was entirely within ourselves. It was a pitched battle between our faith and our reason, and eventually our reason just refused to be suppressed any longer, no matter what the potential consequences.
Many of them believe that we just flippantly "chose" to walk away from our faith. They don't realize that for so many of us, it was the hardest and most terrifying thing we've ever done. We prayed for guidance. We agonized over it, we tried for years to stifle our intelligence and our reason, told ourselves we were wrong, that the Devil was trying to deceive us, that our thoughts are not God's thoughts nor his ways our ways, tortured ourselves with guilt and fear for even entertaining such ideas as this, quivered in terror that we might be wrong and burn forever in Hell as a result. But in the end, not even threats of eternal torment could force us to love a God as petty, sadistic and tyranical as the one put forth by mainstream Christianity. A God who calls Himself "good", while he orders babies and children murdered, women raped, animals tortured. Who, though knowing all and having all power, sits idly by while humans suffer and die horribly by the millions every day of starvation, disease, war and natural disasters. Who sets forth arbitrary laws and rules and punishes all who disobey (or even fail to believe) by roasting them alive in a slow fire for all eternity, (though it makes him really sad) and justifies all this purely on the basis of his power. How does this make him "good"? What then is his definition of "good"? Does his might alone make him right? How does this make him any different than Hitler or Attilla the Hun? By this definition, the cruelest human tyrant that ever lived was an angel by comparison, even the devil himself is "good".
Many of them believe we weren't "genuine" converts, that our profession of faith was somehow superficial and insincere, that we weren't "really saved" and that's why our faith did not persist. But, if my conversion was insincere, then I can't fathom what sincere conversion is. See if this sounds familiar. I was converted when I came to believe that I was a sinner separated from God, who could not pay the debt of my own sin, and that Christ had come to die in my place on the cross to restore me to God. When the realization of this hit me, it was like I had been hit in the forehead with a bolt of lightning. I believed it and accepted it with all my heart, and I asked Jesus that very moment, with every ounce of sincerity in my body, to come into my heart and save me and cleanse me and purify me and sanctify me and keep me from temptation. At that moment I had the same conversion experience that so many other Christians have had, and that so many cling to so desperately in the final death throes of their faith. It was a genuine transcendant experience. I felt I was in the very loving embrace of God, like a newborn baby in its mothers arms. Completely safe, completely secure, not a doubt, not a worry, not a single fear. I wept at the beauty of it all. How much more sincere can one be? Must one weep tears of blood? And yet now, in the face of the irrationality of this belief system, not even an experience as powerful as this can continue to convince me of its truth. Because you see, it wasn't long before that pure, loving, wonderful experience was trampled upon by the jaugernaut of Christian dogma and guilt. I went from loving God with all my heart, to trembling in fear of him. From security and safety, to constant worry that I might screw up and lose my salvation. From joy and bliss to guilt and self-condemnation. From loving my neighbor to sitting in judgement of him. And in over 15 years of church going and bible reading and pastoral counseling and listening to advice from Christian friends, and fervent, heartfelt prayer, often accompanied with tears, I can tell you that I never had more than 10 minutes of real peace, nor did I become one shred holier or less prone to sin than I was on the day of my conversion. There is not a scripture that hasn't been spouted to me, not an explanation or an apologetic I haven't heard and sincerely listened to at least a hundred times. And yet, in the end there was only one conclusion I could come to without completely assassinating my reason. And I have come to it.
Many of them believe we are out to "convert" them, or take them away from the faith. I personally have no such desire, and I don't think you do either. If a person is truly happy as a Christian, and if it truly fills a void in their psyche, I would never want to jeopardize that for them. Faith is a very precious thing. Lord knows I tried to hang on to my own. But it's so good to know that for those who are in Christianity and who know deep down inside that they just can't believe it anymore, there are others of like mind out there. They don't have to make the journey alone.
Became a Christian: 21
Ceased being a Christian: 38
Labels before: Fundamentalist Christian, Baptist, Assembly of God, Charismatic
Labels now: Agnostic, Humanist, Skeptic, Ex-Christian
Why I joined: Was drawn by the beautiful, loving simplicity of the plan of salvation
Why I left: Could not love a God that claims to love me, claims to be all powerful and claims to want all flesh "saved", but is only able to save a handful, while the rest will be roasted alive for all eternity for the sin of being born as He created them and failing to believe something they can't believe, and for no other pupose than sadistic revenge.
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)