My Anti-Testimony, or, I Was a Christian Zombie

sent in by ApostateLiberalEvilDoer

Like many other Jesus-bots, I was labeled a misfit at an early age. First, I was abused emotionally and physically. I suspect this was because I refused to be the obedient little soldier my alcoholic mother expected me to be. My brother was the family favorite; consequently, the blame for all of the family’s problems was assigned to me. My family thought I was a worthless, lazy misfit and wouldn’t let me forget it for a minute.

School wasn’t much better. I was above average intelligence and prone to non-mainstream obsessive interests. My peers quickly labeled me with all the usual statuses: freak, weirdo, gay, etc. I understood that the Social Darwinism of the school system was engineered to destroy kids like me. For this reason, I spent my first 18 years on the margins of social life, and the only advice that teachers and counselors had for me was “Laugh it off until you get to college, everything will be different. You’ll Fit In™.”

In short, I was prime zombie material.

Thus, I began college with a shitload of baggage from my abuse and no clue as to just how I was to Fit In. I still had few friends, and dating? Forget it. I soon found that the same alpha males were in control of college life, albeit much more politely. So there I was in college, in California, in the middle of the mid-70s sexual revolution, and I felt like the only guy in the place who wasn’t getting any! Here was another factor that made me a favorite target for the then-popular Jesus movement. People who don't have sex are attracted to groups that tell you you can't anyway.

One day I sat alone on campus, watching the Sexual Revolution pass me by. That was my first mistake. These people are all over a solitary college student like critics on Ben Affleck. It wasn’t the fourth week of my freshman year before I was approached by two men, one college-age guy who introduced himself as “Brent,” and a thirtysomething man who looked middle-aged. “John” was his name and he seemed to be training Brent for something.

“Can we sit down?”

My first thought was, “Are they gay?” But no, these guys had the fashion sense of a couple of Amish hit men. I was curious about what they wanted. After polite talk about classes and homework, they asked me the Real Question. “So how are you getting along in college? Are you lonely? Do you wonder about the meaning of life? Wouldn’t you like to be in a family that never lets you down?”

Yada yada yada.

Any other day, I’d have smiled and nodded, then politely declined. But today they had me at a low point, and they seemed to know it. For reasons I wasn’t quite sure I understood, I found myself saying the Sinner’s Prayer® with them, and wondering just why I was such a sinner anyway. After all, what I was worried about at the time, was that for a normal 17-year-old, in The O.C. in the 70s, I hadn’t done enough sinning.

It took John five years to get me inside a church, but I went to “bible study” regularly, where I made a lot of new friends and even got a couple of dates. John really is a decent guy despite his total cultural cluelessness, and for a while it seemed like I really had found the loving family I’d been promised. And my life improved, too. I left college for a career in broadcasting, and along came my first girlfriend! I was too deceived to chalk this up to the fact that the years from 17 to 21 are dog years, emotionally speaking. I thought God must have blessed me. Ironically, I was doing a lot more sinning now than I had done prior to my salvation, but I kept my lives compartmented away from each other.

Even so, I thought myself very Christian. I happily discussed scriptural minutiae with my fellow zombies. I listened intently to group members’ prayer needs and showed emotion at all the right times (If I have to hear one more “Oh yes, amen, Lord,” I will throw up). I was up on all the latest “Christian rock,” which deep down I knew didn’t sound as good as the real thing. We laughed and hugged and sang, vying with one another for who had the most “joy of the Lord.” We opened gallons of sparkling apple juice (“Christian champagne”) for each other’s birthday parties. I chatted up the cute single women in the group, with indifferent success.

Even so, what I knew about science and society, stayed with me. I secretly questioned the Great Truths we were learning. But any expression of doubt is frowned on by evangelical Christians—I kept it to myself. After all, if someone has a “faith crisis,” that could be a challenge to the entire belief system of the whole group…we can’t have that so shut up and sing! Most of all, we feared being “back in the world.” We had been completely socialized to believe that any kind of life outside of Christian circles was dull, unloving and miserable—possibly even dangerous, since all that sin had to lead to STDs, alcohol poisoning, and *gasp* R-rated movies! And well, since most of us had few friends outside the group, we didn’t have much opportunity to test that hypothesis.

So, in the middle of all my questions, I brutally suppressed critical thinking.

About this time, John felt it was time to start molding me into a little recruiter. During one of our talks, he informed me gravely that Brent (who had moved to San José some years before) was “back in the world”—for the born-again, a fate worse than disco. Even worse, Brent was divorced and living the carefree hippie life. Never mind that it was 1981 and all the hippies were now investment bankers or Republican activists…John was always a little off in his cultural references.

This intensified my questioning, but more importantly I found that I envied Brent.

My response to all this questioning was to put it further out of my mind. Within a couple of years I was working in Christian radio with all the rest of the loser ex-DJs, happily toting my bible to work each day while wearing my Ramones gear on weekends. The propaganda told me my next step was to hook up with an uber-Christian female—something I did with alacrity.

The woman in question turned out to be from a fire-breathing Pentecostal family. I had never actually met any superstitious people before, and now I knew a house full of them! Their approach to Christianity was about as subtle as Romanian Merlot. For example, I never could convince them that earthquakes were caused by tectonic movement, not “the devil.” And let’s say they were always more than a little upset that I never took part in their practice of smearing “blessed” olive oil to protect their rooms, their attempts to raise recently dead relatives, and their periodic book burnings to remove “evil” influences from their home.

Yes. They burned books. And CDs. And inked pretty, scantily-clad models out of magazine ads.

All the same, I felt this was where I was “supposed” to be. Here I was, formerly a person of very little responsibility, now acting as on-call handyman for a large unemployed family *and* assisting in parenting my lady friend’s three special-needs children! I had no time for myself, and any ego I ever expressed was brutally put down. I thought: “This must be true Christianity! I now have the Heart of a Servant™.”

All of this begged the question: servant, or sucker? Or something else?

Now, my lady friend also had her Achilles heel—we lived “in sin” for several years, unbeknownst to either of our groups. But my partner’s beliefs stirred those old questions in me. I heard them speak in tongues—it sounded to me like made-up gibberish. I saw preachers trip little old ladies to make sure they were properly “slain in the Spirit.” And I heard well-meaning though ignorant people lament their “sin” after some evangelist blamed them for their own illnesses and poverty—poverty that I’m sure was not helped by the money I saw them heap onto Jaguar-driving evangelists. In short, I questioned the authoritarian structure and the lack of thought in fundamentalism. Needless to say, though I put up a good front I had very little “joy of the Lord.”

Whatever that is.

Another area of question that came up about this time was in the arena of my political beliefs and social values. I have always been a liberal. To me, the liberal values of tolerance, compassion and improving the quality of life for everyone, just make sense. This includes acceptance of sexuality, and equality for men and women. But starting in the 80s, my leaders began to preach a political party line to go with all those spiritual truths. I was even told that to be a good Christian I must also become a good right-wing conservative, and that right soon. My support of gender equality and universal health care showed that I was “in sin.” Was spirituality really tied to a political belief that didn’t exist until the 19th Century?

Fundamentalists are fond of saying that their world view changes lives. Well, mine certainly changed at this point. Prior to my conversion, I’d been a shy, socially awkward, though reasonably normative teenager. By the time I hit the big three-zero, I was a person of highly questionable character. I had lied, stolen, been an accessory to fraud, committed assault, and acted in thoughtless ways that hurt people. Now, I know what you’re going to say. You will tell me that “I was never in the fold,” or “true faith means God will change your life.” Trouble with that reasoning is, I thought he was changing my life. I really couldn’t see the person I’d become, because I was surrounded by people acting in the same ways. And they all thought “Jesus was changing their lives.”

As my relationship with my partner was ending, I had also returned to college intent on finishing my long-delayed degree (that’s part of why she ended the relationship). Ideas are bad for blind faith; that’s why fundamentalist Christians are discouraged from thinking too much. I began to read again, and learned many things that I had forgotten. I read about the fossil record—just how does that fit into a literal Bible view? I read that humanity shares as much as 99% of its DNA with the chimpanzee. God testing our faith? I read about Darwin and the finches of the Galapagos. And the final nail in the coffin of my blind faith: I read myths of other cultures, most of which bore more than a passing resemblance to the Jesus story. I saw (re-saw) that the Christian story is but a part of the great web of human thought, and though it may contain beauty and wisdom, there is beauty and wisdom to be had elsewhere also.

I knew what I had to do. And I didn’t like it.

Reluctantly, dragging my feet, but knowing I was doing the right thing, I ventured back into the world. I stopped going to church, and since it was one of those eleventy-zillion member megachurches, no one noticed. I re-established connections with a couple of people I’d known before I surrendered reason. They remarked how much more relaxed and healthy I seemed. And yes, I did make a sort of goodbye call to my old friend John. Marriage and politics had divided his group some years before. John always was forgetful, and he had to ask me several times what I’d been doing. But he reminded me that the One True Church™ was always there for me.

Sometimes it’s still scary. Sometimes I miss my friends, and the sense of connection we had. It would be really nice if there was a “Lord” who looked out for us. But I don’t miss the mindless acceptance of everything we were told, or the narrow, black-white view of the world. I was determined to face my fate, and…my life has never been better. After feeling very holy in a number of indifferent jobs, I’ve now completed a Master’s degree. I do what I love, teaching community college. And the woman I married on New Year’s Day, 2001, is like me: an unrepentant liberal who questions everything. We have good days and bad days, but we know we are the makers of our own days.

OK, time to review what we’ve learned. (I’m a teacher, so sue me).

What to Do When Approached by Fundamentalist People While in College

1. The best defense is prevention. Try to avoid being contacted at all:

a. Travel in groups; they love a lonely freshman.

b. If they approach you while walking, find your center. Pick a spot on the horizon, look straight ahead and don’t acknowledge their presence. That would only encourage them. Hold your invisible sword and walk to your goal.

c. How to spot them:

i. Be on the lookout for men wearing dress shirts and slacks but no tie. Matching belt and shoes is also a dead giveaway.

ii. Females are somewhat more difficult; they blend in better. But watch for pairs of women who don’t seem quite comfortable with their surroundings. Outdated 80s hair is also a clue.

iii. Avoid pairs of people toting book-sized leather cases.



2. If approached, remain calm. They are as scared of you as you are of them, but they can use your fear against you.



3. Don’t shout at them or insult them or be a smart-ass. They live for this; they call it “persecution” and they’re programmed to expect it.



4. Be polite and controlled, but be firm. When they start asking you about the “meaning of life,” tell them thank you, but you will find it for yourself.



5. Blend with their attack, but be insistent.

a. When they tell you about your sin and need for salvation, point out that sin is a construct, differently defined in different cultures. Ask them if there is any evidence for this concept outside of the Bible. That should at least give them the urge to think.

b. When they give you their “testimony,” remember this is college! You have the right to ask for empirical research to back up their statement. Testimonials are not evidence.

c. They will tell you to “close your mind and listen with your heart.” Bad, just bad, really really bad idea! Closing the mind and making decisions with your emotions will set you on the zombie road. Listen with your mind and test what they have to say. Society is messed up enough from people listening with their hearts. Listen with your heart long enough, and soon you’ll believe Iraq planned 9/11, Satan sends messages through backward masking, and Elvis is alive onboard a UFO. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Truthiness).

d. Take control. When they start to “interview” you for the position of Christian, you interview them. Ask them how much time the job requires. Are there any days off? How about fringe benefits?



Do I regret my years as an extra in “Night of the Living Evangelicals?” Sometimes. It was a lot of my life. I postponed college, career and real adulthood in the pursuit of something I thought solid, that melted into air. I’m still paying the bill. But I've found that there is life once you put down your cross, and it's not empty, dull or dangerous. I teach. I practice martial arts. I love cooking and good wine. I write fiction that I'll never sell, but it's very therapeutic. My outlook now is so much better, I’m doing so much and thinking so freely, that I can’t help but think I have my best years ahead of me.

Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted. —Martin Luther King, Jr.


Bill & Ted Country, CA
US
How old were you when you became a christian? 17
How old were you when you ceased being a christian? 37
What churches or organizations or labels have applied to you? Calvary Chapel, Seventh-day Adventist
What labels, if any, would you apply to yourself now? Human
Why did you become a christian? Lonely and searching
Why did you de-convert? Found out I'd been deceived

25 comments:

Interested Atheist said...

Awww, come on Webmaster, he deserves more than that!
Thanks a lot, Apostate. Great story!
Sorry for your troubles, glad you're out of the nightmare.

jim earl said...

Thanks for your story, Apostate. Look on the bright side. You wasted some years but you are free now and still a young man. I was in my fifties before I made the team. Welcome to the real world.

Anonymous said...

"I stopped going to church, and since it was one of those eleventy-zillion member megachurches, no one noticed."

This quote is a perfect description of the mega church I grew up in. Though it's been several years since I regularly attended, I have been back "for old times sake" on a couple occasions. What cracks me up is that each time I go back I run into someone I once knew who is seemingly unaware that it's been an ENTIRE YEAR since I last visited! For crying out loud .... If I was really as good a friend as you pretended I was, you just might have noticed that I haven't been around......

I've since learned that true friendship is better found outside the church..... Where people don't wear masks.

Thank you so much for sharing! I really enjoyed reading your story!

Todd said...

This was a great x-stimony...=0)

I think the theme, no matter the circumstance, is always the same.

Christianity is about discouraging thought and rationale. It is about yielding just to become apart of something.

I'm so happy for you. Welcome to exchristian.net!

Wayne O said...

Ha! You really connected with that posting, ApostateLiberalEvilDoer. What a great combination of insight and humor. I've been out of the zombiesphere myself for about thirty years and I've never regretted the exit. Welcome indeed!

JTFINALLYFREE said...

"I saw (re-saw) that the Christian story is but a part of the great web of human thought, and though it may contain beauty and wisdom, there is beauty and wisdom to be had elsewhere also."

Wow!! Well said and Welcome to the website!!! I know speaking for myself this was one of the hardest things I struggled with at the end of my christian walk. I thought my life would never be the same. I can now say that my life is definitely alott better since I left the madness of christianity. Christianity is to me what alcohol is to an alcoholic. I still find myself wanting a drink every now and then and I'm not even sure why. The urge usually leaves once rational thinking and logic start taking over. I personally believe Christianity is one of the worst addictions ever right up there with crack cocaine and alcohol. It may not ruin you physically but it does torture you mentally.

Truth0r said...

Apostate, that was a terrific write-up! Your command of the english language is inspiring to me. I liked the review towards the end. It's so true! =)

Unlike what others in the past have told you, you have much reason to be confident in yourself - not over-confidence but a healty amount. I think it's so important to encourage people, especially younger people since they get much of their sense of self-worth from the way others treat and view them.

I think many Christians suffer from being afraid god is not happy with them "sinning" all the time and develop a low self-esteem. On the flipside of this thought, I think some people (generally new converts) need a belief in a god that loves them, believes in them, and will pull them out of trouble in order for them to get on their feet. What I've seen is that god doesn't do the changing but rather the power of that individual's mind doing the change. It can be a belief in any religion or lack thereof.

Anyway, I wish you many more years to come.

Michael

tigg13 said...

Hey, ex-zombie, you are so cool man. Great to have you.
You know what my favorite "bug off" line is to christians? "Sure, I know God. We talk all the time. Funny, He's never mentioned you, though."

mq59 said...

I believe in gender equality and I'm a Christian.

I don't believe in the gov't running the health-care system though, but for economic, not religious reasons.

There is no "thou shalt not be liberal." I have more respect for left-wing Christians like Martin Sheen and Jim Wallis than for Pat Robertson and most televangelists, and I apologize for the "JAYSUS is a REPUBLICAN" crowd who helped alienate you from Christianity.

And the stuff you described coming from the Pentecostals (earthquakes caused by supernatural forces, burning stuff, etc) is just plain ridiculous.

Although some people in the book of Acts burned their occult books (to finalize their turning away from the occultish stuff they were into), something tells me the stuff they were burning was much more innocuous.

Furthermore, on the matter of the "sinner's prayer," I'm sure you've lied or stolen or used God's name as a cuss word, so those are some sins to repent of. They may be smaller than, say, murder or rape, but they're still wrong.

Have a wonderful day. I hope it isn't as foggy where you're at as it is over here.

mq59 said...

By "they," I'm referring to your Pentecostal friends, not the people in the book of Acts.

GoneNsane said...

Great story! Thanks for sharing it!

"I'm sure you've lied or stolen or used God's name as a cuss word, so those are some sins to repent of."

Sorry, God's name isn't "God." Try again.

Truth0r said...

mq59,

I think many, if not most people turn away from the faith ultimately on the basis of logic and not what people have done to them. The actions of others only confirms the crap that is fed to them.

I will not say for sure there is no god but I can say the churches in America could do a much better job. That's not taking into account the inherent problems fundamentalist Christianity creates.

He doesn't need your sympathy but rather your logic. If you can give us good reasons to believe in Jesus, then go for it but be aware many will not agree with the evidence you present.

Faolchú Airgid said...

"And the stuff you described coming from the Pentecostals (earthquakes caused by supernatural forces, burning stuff, etc) is just plain ridiculous. "

Well, the ARE quit ridiculous, you're quite right!

Loved the story, and the list of how to avoid them, brilliant!!
I've printed it and passed it out in college, the reactions were fantastic and I must say, some people didn't look quite as happy when they saw it, they left with all of their flyers, and not a soul richer.
Poor little mindsuckers......

mq59 said...

Point conceded on God's name not actually being "God." Yahweh or Jehovah or simply "I am who I am" works better.

But if Jesus is God, then saying "Jesus!" when you stub your toe is taking God's name in vain.

mq59 said...

truth0r,

You're right in some cases, but in the cases of a lot of people I know personally who've left (and a bunch on this site), the stupidity and obnoxiousness of so-called Christians was what set off the leaving process.

mq59 said...

truth0r,

Define "fundamentalist." My own personal views lie in the Methodist/Presbyterian Church (USA) zone.

However, like those two denominations, I believe in the Four Fundamentals (Deity of Christ, literal resurrection, and a couple of other things). By that standard, I suppose we're all fundamentalists.

However, if by "fundamentalist," you're thinking of people who follow televangelists in a zombie-like manner, think the Earth is only 6000 years old, obsess over the content of movies while not caring about the poor, and support Bush b/c they think he's going to start a major Middle Eastern war and thus make Jesus come back, then NOOOOOOOO!

mq59 said...

Okay, logic/evidence time:

http://www.carm.org/bible/ms_science.htm

How are a bunch of pastoralists and shepherds going to know about oceanic currents and such?

Earlier on this site, someone pointed out that the "circle of the Earth" is not necessarily a round Earth, but that only eliminates (or possibly eliminates) one of the points elucidated on that web-site, not all of them.

south2003 said...

Welcome to the ex apostate.

Emagine forcing yourself to not do what is natural...like eating pizza..What a relieve to be back with the living!

Passerby said...

Don't forget, your god's name is Jealous. So, when you call someone Jealous you better ask your Jealous god for forgivness. Ex 34:14

HAHAHAHAHAHA

Truth0r said...

Hey mq59,

The main thing I'd like to say is there is almost always two sides of every story. Your posts actually made me think for a bit, thanks.

On the definition of fundamentalist - "A usually religious movement or point of view characterized by a return to fundamental principles, by rigid adherence to those principles, and often by intolerance of other views and opposition to secularism." I'm talking about strict adherence to the Bible.

http://exchristian.net/exchristian/2002/08/lead-us-not-into-temptation.php

I don't like the idea of god making the tree of K.O.G.E. and putting it there to tempt Adam & Eve. At the very least he allowed it there. Read the article it is much more in-depth.

This is also mentioned in one of the linked articles but where did evil come from if everything that god creates is good? Why did god not deal with lucifer immediately when he fell? Instead god allowed satan to take away 1/3 of all heavenly hosts and then later on tempt man. It would seem by god's lack of action, he is just as responsible for man's present condition as satan is.

Genesis 2:8-9, 15-17 8 And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east; and there he put the man whom he had formed. 9 And out of the ground the LORD God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

http://exchristian.net/exchristian/2002/05/proof-that-there-is-no-god.php

"The theodicé problem
We also have the theodice problem, stated by David Hume:
If the evil in the world is intended by god he is not good. If it violates his intentions he is not almighty. God can't be both almighty and good. There are many objections to this, but none that holds since god is ultimately responsible for the existence of evil. Besides, if only god can create he must have created evil. If somebody else (the devil) created evil, how can one know that god, and not Satan created the universe?"

This is my thinking now. Why does god need to have beings worship him? Forget the glory garbage. I think god is cruel. A loving god would know that beings that HE created would eventually fall away and cause pain to billions upon billions of angels/people's lives. Knowing this, if I were god I would never have created an environment for this to happen because I wouldn't want to cause anyone pain the likes we have today. I don't need ANY sympathy either. =) Just stating facts...


The author of the link you provided was initially rather surprising but fails to explain why the scriptures he quotes should be interpreted that way. I do intend to investigate more of that site's apologetics since some of them are decent.

http://www.skepticfiles.org/sr/4scien90.htm

Take a look a this link for some really good reading.

Comments on points on your link:

1.) Tent implies a flat surface, not a sphere. I don't like the analogy.

2.) Perhaps I'm interpreting this wrong, I wouldn't know since your author didn't explain it but like my link points out, there is no "empty space" to the north. Also, it appears to have been known for a while that the earth was round due to Lunar eclipses.

3.) I see nothing remarkable about this point. It's just an observation.

4.) Seas get deeper towards the middle. You could call that a valley. Again, not remarkable.

5.) Another observation that doesn't have to be god inspired.

6.) http://home.netcom.com/~jrhowell/rel/biblesci.htm
"... and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas. (Psalms 8:8)
According to reference [1] below, “paths of the seas” does not necessarily refer to ocean currents. It could just as easily refer to the ocean trade routes that were used then. The Hebrew word translated as “path” actually means “customary road.” And even if “ocean currents” is the intended meaning, how do we know that ocean currents were unknown then? "

7.) Water is not drawn up in "drops" but Job may have meant the drops that would eventually come down. It's also been argued that it's not that difficult to figure out even though this was apparently finalized in the 1600's, early suspicions I think were noted in ~400a.d. findings? It's really late but it seems this is the best one yet.

8.) I think this refers to god being everlasting and not entropy. They're just slapping a scientific term onto it.

9.) I'm not going to take the time to read all this now...

You can post more if you want but I'd rather do my own research on my own time. It's too time consuming for me to research each claim all at once.

mq59 said...

truth0r,

Thanks for looking over the stuff. I'll have to look more deeply.

J. C. Samuelson said...

That was an excellent anti-testimony! Glad you made it out, and I hope you stick around for awhile!

"...the fashion sense of a couple of Amish hit men.."

Priceless!

mq59 said...

I agree. The comment about "Amish hit men" was pretty funny.

Brent said...

I am a Christian and once didn't believe in the God of the Bible.

I am still a sinner and if I don't adimit that then I am a liar and calling God a liar.

I will sin everyday until I meet Jesus and become perfect as he is. I wouldn't give the best 15 sec of my life to get into heaven.

I don't speak in tounges and I don't believe that people's sin is the reasone for sickness and poverty.

I don't believe in getting people to say the sinners prayer without them doing so one on one between God and themselves.

The idea that christian values should be attached to American Conservative Politcal values is way off the mark.

I am a Christian first and last.

Liberality is very improtant aspect of Christianity. Taking care of those in need like widows or orphans the sick and poverty stricken is not just expected but any real christian would want to help these people. Those who hold to speaking in what they call tounges need to really read their Bible.

As for intolerance to those who are in need at home or around the world need to read what Jesus said and take heed.

I feel that you have been cheated from real faith and hope if you would earnestly trust God and not look to any man or women but to him alone you would find true faith.

boomSLANG said...

Brent...I am a Christian and once didn't believe in the God of the Bible.

Yes, of course...everyone is born a passive Atheist.

Brent...Liberality is very improtant aspect of Christianity.

It's very important to liberal Christians, yes. On the other hand, it's very unimportant to Christian fundamentalists, that is, those who take and interpret scripture at face-value..i.e..for what it actually says, and that includes without doctrinal omissions.

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