sent in by a born-again atheist
I was born in 1971 into a beer drinking redneck family. We were Lutherans and went to a small country church about one weekend per month. Church was boring to my older brother and I, and, like most kids, we whined and moaned when our parents tried to make us go.
My parents took us to church because they thought it was the right thing to do, but they didn’t seem that enthusiastic about it, and some Sundays they were too hung over to go and relented to our begging to not go.
In 1980, with my mom in the hospital undergoing a stomach operation, my dad was “lead to the Lord” by a coworker and was “saved”.
He had his friend visit my mom and I (my brother was away somewhere) and we both “accepted Christ” into our hearts. I remember my dad’s friend talking to us for about 2 hours. It seemed like an eternity to a 9-year-old. At the end of his presentation, he asked my mother and I to repeat a prayer after him, and, not being averse to prayer, I repeated after him the words to what I later learned was the “Sinner’s prayer”, and I was “saved”. I didn’t feel any different. I was relieved that I could now go upstairs and play with my Star Wars action figures.
Well, my parents joined the local independent Baptist church, and we started going twice every Sunday and to Wednesday night prayer meetings. I remember being afraid of Baptists. I feared that they were going to take me into a back room and actively try to brainwash me. There had been a Baptist kid a few grades ahead of me that people said was a Bible-thumper nutcase. Well, no one took me into the back room and held me down or deprived me of food. The brainwashing was more subtle. I was exposed to their doctrines 3 times a week. I sang the songs, I listened to the sermons, I listened to the adults, and I memorized Bible verses. I became good friends with the pastor’s son and the youth minister. They were all nice people, really. The just weren’t critical thinkers, but I was too naïve and young to realize.
I became devout.
As I learned more about Roman’s Road, and the path to salvation, I became worried that maybe I hadn’t really understood the path to salvation when it was presented to me the first time. So, I said the sinner’s prayer again, and meant it with earnest.
Later on I was baptized by immersion, and I formerly joined the church.
In 8th grade I started to attend a local Baptist high school in a town not too far away. I sincerely wanted to attend a christian school, and learn amongst other teenagers who were godly. I remember being interviewed by the school’s principal before I was admitted. I told him that I wanted to lead a christian life and be separate from the unbelievers, etc.
I was disillusioned by what I saw in the Baptist school. These children, teenagers, young adults, people that had been raised all their lives in Christian households, were very cynical about Jesus and the bible stories. Many of them were rebellious. They also seemed very naïve. They were ignorant of cultural phenomenon like popular music, movies, and sayings. The girls dressed and had hairstyles that had been popular in the 1950’s. I had been expecting a bunch of pious, sincere christians (like I thought I was) and found a bunch of immature, cynical, anachronisms. The preacher preached about hellfire, sin, and damnation during our chapel services, and most people stared down at their shoes, bored.
Then, I started to enter puberty. I started to have more sexual feelings. I knew they were sinful and I prayed for strength. I masturbated and felt guilty about it, and I prayed more. I had spontaneous, uncontrolled erections and fantasies. I prayed more and more, but to no avail. I really think that this is when my illusion of the all-powerful God started to crack. I mean, Jesus said that if we prayed to him, he would give us strength. There was nothing we couldn’t overcome if we asked for God’s (jesus’) help. Here I was, a sincerely devout young man, asking God to help me have the strength to abstain from masturbation, and no help was given. I succumbed every time. Satan was winning.
I left the Baptist school and went back to the public school. I still earnestly believed Jesus, but I started asking serious questions that occurred to me. I remember asking my pastor about predestination and free will. If God knew that Adam and Eve would disobey him, then why did he create them? It seems like they were flawed from the beginning. He replied, “Just because God knew they would sin, it still didn’t mean they didn’t have a choice.” His answer didn’t make sense to me.
The sexual fantasies continued, and so did the masturbation. This really weakened my faith. Didn’t I have faith as big as a mustard seed? Why wasn’t god answering my prayers? I started falling away. I still clung to the notion of salvation through Christ, but I lost the zeal to go to church or to be a witness to others.
As I got older, I started hanging around with some popular guys, and we chased girls, and talked psychology. I met some girls that were into great literature, and I started reading Salinger, Kerouac, and exposing myself to new ideas. I was a smart kid, and my mind was a sponge. I became hyper analytical. I studied peoples behaviors, and I started noticing more and more the hypocrisy of the people I went to church with. Some of the deacons in the church played cards, or smoked, or went to movies. None of them went “soul winning”. Some told semi-dirty jokes.
Then I experimented with marijuana, shrooms, and acid. I did very little, and was paranoid that my parents would find out. I felt that I had committed terrible sins. It made me feel more separate from my fellow church members. None of them knew what drugs were like, although they raved at how sinful they were.
By the end of my senior year, I didn’t believe much in Christianity. I didn’t believe in the literal interpretations of the stories of the old testament, but I still clang to the story of Christ and his atonement for my sins. I still feared death, and what would happen to me if I wasn’t saved.
Then I went to college. Wow. I finally met some very intelligent people, people that I could really relate to. I made some very deep friendships that still endure to this day. We talked and debated philosophy, and soon I came to the conclusion that there truly was no God. By the end of my Freshman year, I was able to declare myself an Atheist.
But I was a born-again atheist. I went around trying to deconvert every christian I came in contact with. I was actually successful in a few occasions. I enjoyed being blasphemous. I felt liberated.
I later calmed down.
Now I live and let live. If people approach me and ask me about my beliefs or non-beliefs, I am happy to discuss them in a mature manner, but I feel no need to wear my atheism on my sleeve, or the need to deconvert people. I still have a fascination for the study of religions and philosophies, and science. I still am fascinated by the Christ myth and its stronghold on our culture and others. How does this cannibalistic, sun-god, pagan religion retain any credibility amongst modern humans? Probably because few of us are actually modern. Most live with a pre 20th century philosophy and worldview.
Anyway, when I first started doubting chistianity and started my descent down the rabbit hole, I really wish I had had someone to talk to who had been through all of this. I went through some really sad and anxiety-riddled times. I wish this website had been available to me. I hope that my deconversion story is able to help someone out who is going through the same crisis that I went through. It does get better. The guilt will go away. You will make new friends. Seek peace and you will find it. The truth will set you free.
Lutheran, Independent Baptist
Converted because: Sincerely believed I needed Christ to be saved from eternity in Hell
De-converted because: I became a rational human being. God never seemed to answer my prayers.
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)