Irish ex-Christian

sent in by Joanne

I am from Ireland but I have lived in the USA for several years now. I was raised Catholic and was a regular churchgoer. I said the rosary a couple of times a week. I disagreed with the church on some issues, such as birth control, but I still saw it as a force for good.

In 1992, the High Court in Ireland ruled that a 13 year old suicidal rape victim could not go to England to have an abortion. The girl was prohibited from leaving the country for a period of nine months. The ruling created national outrage and the decision was overturned a couple of weeks later.
Of course, the Church was opposed to the second ruling allowing the abortion. A friend of mine was raped, so I have some understanding of the horrible impact this crime has on it's victims. I was troubled at the Church's lack of compassion for this child. I had been raised to believe that God/Jesus was loving, merciful and compassionate. Yet the Church's stance went against everything God/Jesus supposedly stood for.

One evening I went out to the pub with some friends and acquaintances. Ryan, a guy I never cared for because of his absolute hatred of the church, brought up the case. A huge row broke out with most of us siding with the victim. While I had heard some of Ryan's anti-church views before I never took them seriously. But now he got me thinking.

I started to question the idea of the Church being a force for good. The church created more misery for this already suffering thirteen year old rape victim. What about the misery it was creating for others? Gay people, parents who have more children than they can afford because of the prohibition against birth control, women who find themselves pregnant with children they are not ready or able to care for, and so on.

About a month after the row in the pub, I met Ryan on the street. I asked him if he'd like a drink because I wanted to talk to him about the turmoil I was going through. He was more than happy to listen. He shared more of his feelings and opinions about the Church.

Ryan asked why I would allow a bunch of celibate MEN, who are completely out of touch with how normal people live, dictate how I live my life. He also shared with me the Church's shabby, to put it mildly, treatment of women throughout history. For example, the Church used to forbid the use of painkillers during labor because the Bible says women should suffer during childbirth.

I was completely ignorant of most of the things he told me. He really opened my eyes. Since then the sex abuse scandal and revelations about the existence of Magdalene Convents (see the film The Magdalene Sisters) have reinforced my view that the Church is more of a negative than a positive force.

It took months but I finally stopped going to Mass. Despite my doubts, years of habit and guilt prevented me from making a clean break. Ryan's gentle prodding and support help me break away. I have become a better person since I abandoned organized religion. I have become less judgmental and more compassionate. I no longer condemn people for their flaws or for being different.

I'm sure some of you won't approve but neither Ryan or I are atheists. We do believe there is something out there. However, we reject organized religion. We see no reason to follow ancient Middle Eastern tribal beliefs. Religion is a wolf in sheep's clothing. Compassion, love and mercy on the outside but inhumane, sexist, and intolerant on the inside.

Ryan and I have been married for several years now and we have two children. We have watched with horror the increasing dominance of religion in our adopted homeland. We feel this country is becoming another Ireland, where religion is imposed, rather than a personal choice. If a religious conservative wins the presidency in three years we have decided we will pack up and move to England.

Chino Hills
Joined: Born into it
How old were you when you ceased being a christian? 22
What churches or organizations or labels have applied to you? RC
What labels, if any, would you apply to yourself now?
Why did you become a christian? Born into it
Why did you de-convert? See testimony

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