sent in by D.E.C
I've been surfing your site for a while and have finally got round to posting my testimony. It's not the most dramatic or exciting conversion story but I hope that some might be able to relate to it. I apologise for any spelling errors, but having a learning disability and being an ex-fundamentalist is hardly the best recipe for good literary skills.
It's a shame that there was no Internet and Websites like yours at the time of my deconversion in the mid eighties; it would have made the whole affair less stressful.
Having read the testimonies posted, I must confess that I feel somewhat ashamed since I realise that I have less of an excuse than many of you for getting sucked into this crazy business. Firstly my family background is not a Christian one. Secondly my country is one where fundamentalism is low profile; the ratio of bars and pubs to fundamentalist churches is at least 100 to 1 in the UK. Gay bars are probably about as common as fundamentalist churches. And the police have the right to ask anybody who is preaching the gospel in public places to move on.
My conversion was nothing out of the ordinary. At the age of 17, I had suffered so many setbacks that I didn't know where to turn. My sister had died from a suicide caused by mental illness two years earlier, while my mother had died (after a 10 year battle) from cancer four months earlier. Added to this, I was an ugly geek who could never get a girlfriend, the clumsy last kid to be picked for the sports team, and had also been told by my school that my academic ability was so seriously limited that I had no chance of ever getting on in terms of university/careers. All in all it seemed that I had been born with the body of Woody Allen or worse, the brains of Joey from Friends coupled with the social skills of Rain Man. Realising that you are no good at anything and never will be, hardly raises your zest for living.
At the time my life already seemed like hell (although with hindsight there were of course people much worse off than me) and had given me a somewhat pessimistic 'victim' outlook on life. Thus when Billy Graham came to my home town during Mission England 1984 warning us all of an even worse hell if we didn't accept the free gift of eternal life by giving our lives to Jesus, I saw no option but to sign up.
Initially everything seemed quite attractive. I thought I'd found the answers I'd been seeking for years. Plus having been an isolated geek for all of my teenage years, the glossy Billy Graham brochures made me feel as if I had become a member of Christ's big worldwide family. Friends now seemed as globally numerous as McDonalds restaurants. Some might say that McDonalds restaurants have more individuality and personality than Christian fundamentalist, but I digress.
Of course the honeymoon period was short lived. I started going to a bible studies group. The initially very pleasant people, especially to somebody who had been socially isolated for so long, quickly started to appear brainwashed, naive and judgmental (even if unintentionally so). I got some serious criticism from the leaders for not making enough effort because I often fell asleep during the 930 to 1030 pm lecture which took place AFTER two hours of bible study from 730 to 930 pm (remember everybody had been at work all day, so much for salvation being a free gift?). The kinder group members suggested prayer to be the answer to this problem, which of course it wasn't. The real issue at stake was an undiagnosed learning disabilty, which I'm sure these people would have been aware of if their claimed daily relationship with the living God had had any substance to it.
I started to have real inner conflict with the command to love one's neighbour as oneself and yet at the same time keep one's sanity when the majority of the human race would end up roasting in hell for eternity. Plus there was the slow realisation of the irony of my worshipping some sick fuckprick of a god, who was at the same time deliberately and vindictively tormenting my recently deceased mother and sister, who had both already suffered enough while on earth (all because they happened not to have responded correctly to somebody who had lived 2000 years ago).
The final straw that broke the camel's back was the pressure to evangelise. Having to present my beliefs to others cause me to question them, which led to them smashing into tiny fragments. In other words I had bought the fire insurance, but having read the smallprint was unable to sell it. I tried to stick it out for a bit longer, and I even went so far as to say in my prayers to god, "If you exist and the gospels are true, please cause my left hand to fall off". But since these prayers never got answered I quickly realised that, like it or not, I had become an agnostic.
I was told to read more of the bible to get my faith back. Following their advice I started on the epistle of James, which says words to the effect of "the man who doubts should not expect to receive anything from the Lord because he is unstable etc". Well that really made me feel great. However the best 'no win' line is that from Revelation which says that the place for "the unbelieving and all liars is the lake of fire and brimstone". How fucking marvellous! If you fake your belief you get burnt for eternity for being a liar, but if you honestly say that you don't believe the same fate awaits you for unbelief. But of course it's our own stinking rotten fault for being born (without choice) in the first place. Well if that's God's and Jesus' justice, I think it would be better if Robert Mugabee and Saddam Hussein preside Judgment Day.
Of course I got the usual old bollocks from the bible studies group members such as "The evidence for Christianity is all there for you if you read Josh McDowell. Your unbelief is because you don't want God in your life." It wasn't as if there was a glittering career in showbusiness around the corner together with a whole queue of gorgeous girls waiting to sleep with me, if I just gave God up.
Josh McDowell of course just seemed to be full of smokescreen statistics. I was astonished that university graduate Christians could fall for arguments that were weak even to a 'stupid' person like myself.
I finally got confronted by the wife of the bible studies group leader in church one Sunday evening. Her words were "Your doubts are irritating a lot of people. What's the problem? God exists. The resurrection happened. The Bible clearly says so. If you don't trust the bible you'd better stop sitting on the fence and coming here until you're able to believe." Despite her naive faith in the bible, she seemed blissfully unaware of the following statements written in that good book:-
a) Women must not have short hair and wear hats in church. (She broke both rules)
b) Women should not instruct men in church.
c) According that notorious verse in Hebrews 6/4-6, any Christian who abandons their faith, can never return. (She'll be answerable for the death of my soul on judgment day!)
Although I quickly lost my faith at a conscious level, its vestiges seemed to haunt me for years at a subconscious level; the 'what if you're wrong?' thought has come up in my mind for many years. Having been so unsuccessful in life, has made me lack confidence in my own judgements. Plus the learning disability makes me not only quick to tire but also a slow reader, so I was not able to quickly do the extensive reading that some contributors to this site have done.
I suppose fundamentalists fall into 3 categories:- i) those born into it ii) the dogmatic iii) the weak who feel they have nothing in this life. I am very direct towards the first two types, since the truth might do them some good. However I feel that I should be careful about attacking the third type, since knowing the truth would be doing them something of a diservice.
Leaving Christianity has not been the end of my problems. My life has continued to be seriously hampered with regard to career, sports, socially, romantically etc by my learning disability. However I am currently undergoing a new form of treatment for the problem and might actually start living properly at the age of 39. So my last words to everybody are to raise your glass to science and point your piss at superstition (just like the webmaster's picture).
Before I go, I would like to ask one question. Why does everybody reply to the fundamntalists who post here? They seem to get more replies than the many really top form anti testimonies that come here. Surely if they get ignored, they'll stop posting. Remember they believe that another brick is being laid to their 'in progress' mansion in heaven every time they get 'persecuted' for the gospel.
Your Country: England
How old were you when you became a christian? 17
How old were you when you ceased being a christian? 18
What churches or organizations or labels have applied to you? Evangelical
What labels, if any, would you apply to yourself now? Truth Seeker
Why did you become a christian? Bought the fear argument plus disappointment in life
Why did you de-convert? Couldn't sell the fear argument
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)