Have any of you gone through this?

Sent in by Lance K

So I'm done with Christianity, but I have a question that I need your help with. I could give you all my reasons, but as I read the other testimonies here, my own issues resonate well with them. And really, my reasons for leaving are not why I need help. A quick but not complete summary of my reasons would be that I find atheists can have more integrity, tolerance and love than Bible believing Christians, that the search for truth has shown me that Christianity does not have it, that the god of the Old Testament is quite an A-hole, the ugly history of the church - especially the support of slavery in the US, the Christian right-wing and their hatred of gays, and of course that listening to the creation/evolution debate made me realize these people are simply not honest with themselves.

So now for my question. I am 45 years old and have a great wife and three kids who are not quite with me on this whole adventure. I'm in the middle of pulling the family from the the Evangelical Church we now attend, and moving to a more liberal church as a bit of a compromise. I don't really buy the stuff at the new church, but at least I can listen to this pastor without wanting to vomit. I love my wife and kids and don't want something as unimportant as doctrine to fuck that up. Have any of you gone through this? Is moving to a more liberal church enough? Is is possible to slowly undo the damage the old church has done to my kids (ages 6, 9 & 11)? Will the new church keep messing up my kids? I feel I can't stay home on Sunday morning because I need to do damage control on the kids after Sunday school.

Luckily my wife is a thinking person, and is not dogmatic, but this is a stretch for her, as she grew up in the church. There is tension but she is not completely freaking out.

One last piece of history. We had been in a large diverse church in California that could tolerate my free-thinking and questions, but we moved to a rural area and ended up in a more fundamentalist church. It was here that I was confronted with the "inerrant word of god" crap and slowly started to realize that my questions did not have answers. And worse was the the answers these people gave made my head spin with the number of logical fallacies, and just plain screwy reasoning. As I dug deeper, the whole thing came tumbling down. I finally realized that I could be a more whole and loving person by being a ex-Christian.

My mind is still too twisted by the many years of Christianity to completely shake myself yet from a belief in God, but the odd thing is that the love thy neighbor stuff of my Christian up-brining actually helped me see what a load of crap the industrial Christianity of America is and helped me find my way out.

I'll end with a quote from Margaret Mead. She said "The best thing one can do for oneself is to have a religious experience and then get over it."

Thanks for listening. Any ideas would be appreciated. Unless you are going to quote scripture at me and tell me to go back, which will just piss me off. And if you are a Christian that sees this and wants to "help" me, please rest assured that there are lots of people praying for me now. Please let God work through them. This is an ex-Christian web site and I want the perspective of the folks here, not you. Thanks for understanding.

18 comments:

Lynn said...

There is a movement in Yelm Washington you can access on line that are many ex-christians. They have a different take on God. The absolutely believe in God, but not in a way you'd think.

It's Ramtha's School of Enlightenment. There's a site called beyondtheordinary.net where you can listen to many of the teachings.

I came from the situation you describe that you're in. I was brainwashed by the fundamentalists for years.

Good luck.
Lynn

jim earl said...

"Is moving to a more liberal church enough? Is is possible to slowly undo the damage the old church has done to my kids (ages 6, 9 & 11)? Will the new church keep messing up my kids? I feel I can't stay home on Sunday morning because I need to do damage control on the kids after Sunday school."

I have gone through some of the very same thing you are facing now. I have two sons ages 21 and 18 and we live in the deep south knee deep in fundies. When the boys were small, I had already begun my slide away from the church. We tried several different churches but in my experience the churches can and do mess up a child's mind. After all, they do teach things that can't be proven and encourage belief in said things.

But not all is lost because you can undo much of what the church teaches with your input.

Both of my boys are freethinkers today and I am very proud that they escaped the church and all the trappings of religion. All they need is someone to guide them and they have that in you. Good luck.

Harlequin said...

I confess, I have a fondness for Ramtha, not becuase I agree with the teachings,since I don't particularly,but because I like thier attitude. Take what you want from here and ignore the rest. If you don't like it, it's fine, if you believe every jot and tittle, that's fine too..

There have been some accusations of it being a cult, and yes, you can encounter some who are the archetypal glassy eyed 'cultists', who are largely just an embarrassment to everyone else.

Having said that, I have the feeling that Paul (the apostle) was that type of follower...

If you don't want to go as 'left field' as the Ram, I'd look at Episcopal (low/mid-level church, rather than high) and interview the Priests first! Soon as they start condemning lifestyles, leave...

Jamie said...

Lance, your story sounds a bit like mine, except I just left my church (Seventh-day Adventist), and my wife still goes.

I have an extra wrench in there as well in that I am a gay man, but in a straight marriage, having hoped the 'gay' would go 'away', but it never did. It's here that I see how my belief in what I was taught was detrimental not only to me, but to my wife as well who now finds 'unequally yoked' and some seriously fundamental levels. I also have four children caught in the crossfire.

I can't be too upset, though...if I had not belonged to a religion that encouraged me to suppress who I am, then I wouldn't have had the four kids, whom I love like crazy. But I can't help thinking of the disservice my church has done to me, my wife, and my kids. While I don't rest 100% blame on a church (since I could have been more courageous and admitted to myself earlier that I really was gay), I do hold them to some responsibility.

It also leads me to some of the same questions you have about your kids. Because I grew up in such an environment, I had to suppress who I was. I don't think this is limited to those of us who are gay, although the church certainly turns that into a more black and white issue. But I think that being told week after week after week that I was unworthy, but Jesus died for my sorry-ass soul anyway, probably had an affect on my view of myself and my confidence. That is the main reason I had to finally leave. Even if I believe in God (and there is still a question in my mind), I can't keep listening to the "unworthiness" lament from the pulpit. I don't think it's good for me, and I'm not sure what it's doing to my kids, if they are even listening.

My wife loves church and finds it a source of joy. I can't argue with that, but I can't force myself into the same experience...

Good luck, and keep us updated.

dano said...

Lance K
Lets just assume for the purpose of this discussion that there is a God up there watching everything we do, and he made everything, and can do anything he wants to do anytime he wants to do it.

With that supposition in mind, you have to come to the conclusion, that God isn't concerned about us in the same way we are concerned about ourselves. He doesn't give a rats ass about our suffering. He allows the strong to subjugate the weak.

There seems to be no limit to how many people he wants on this planet, struggling for finite resources. In short he put into place a system where the only thing that counts is survival, and he isn't even all that particular as to what form of life down here does survive.

He has been known to wipe out large segments of life, only to favor some other form to evolve. We made it after the dinosaurs were wiped out and became "thinking man," because a large brain was a very good survival characteristic.

To cut to the point: We can take life seriously, but we cant take God seriously. You must assume that he doesn't exist or that he has a very perverted sense of humor.

The worst thing you can do is keep blaming God for everything, because THERE IS NO EVIDENCE THAT HE EXISTS. Bible God is a joke, and the worst thing you can do is take him seriously.

People will talk to you about God, till the cows come home, but the fact of the matter is, they are talking about a myth that man created for the purpose of fulfilling a natural instinctual need for believing in something bigger than ourselves. Nobody knows anything about God, simply because no one can define "It"

The closest thing to a God that we can come up with today to replace mythology, is science, and what it can teach us about ourselves, but maybe "more importantly," what it can teach us about freeing our minds from the clutter of gods, heavens, hells, demons and such!

You don't have to be ashamed of not believing in "Bible God", Lance. It only proves that your brain is working right and you should, and will, become ever more proud of that!

There are a lot more Lances, and Danos', out there than you may think. You are in good company!

Dan (70 year old ex-mytholigist)

Jamie G. said...

Lance,
Tough story. I wouldn't recommend trading one form of mythology for another, though.

First, I am an atheist and freethinker. If I were in your shoes I would quit going to church period. If your family still wants to go, let them go where they want to, but let them know where you stand if they pester you in to going. I would find and read books like David Mills "Atheist Universe" or Richard Dawkins "God Delusion". And then I would be content to live my life. I am not saying abandon your family, who I am sure you deeply love, but since this life is your only shot to do what you feel is right, then this comes with tough decisions....what are you willing to live with? This goes for Jamie (above) who is gay. I say live your life honestly how you think you ought and take one day at a time. Maybe things will work out with your family, and maybe they won't, but I'd rather live like I think I ought than to run out of time wishing I did.

Telmi said...

Lance, be patient. Your experience is not unique, as you can see, from the comments by jim and jamie. I became ex-Christian after reading all the Bible crap and arguments from atheists/agnostics and what science has taught us. My elder daughter and her hubby are Catholics, and I am coping well with their beliefs. My younger daughter is a Catholic in name only; has not been to Church for umpteen years, has not [I believe] even touched the Bible.

People who have been indoctrinated from young to believe in God will need a lot of guidance to make them change their position. Being exposed to debates about God/religion and then weighing the arguments on their merits/demerits will help to enlighten one's perspectives; but they will have to understand what they read or hear. This may have to be a gradual process.

muttmutt1978 said...

I heard that Unitarian Universalist church is really great for a liberal outlook. I myself see no point in going to any church, but if your wife feels it a neccesary evil then i suggest you find the nearest Unitarian Universalist church, they talk about other religions besides christianity, and it would be a great help to your kids to learn about other alternatives besides christianity. http://www.uua.org

Anonymous said...

Lance,

I can totally relate to your situation, because I'm dealing with the same thing. I won't bother telling you what to do, since everyone and everything is different. What has worked for me, may well spell disaster for you. I'll just tell you what I've done and why, and tell you how it's working so far.

Once I became an atheist I let it be known that I was NOT bothering with church any longer. There would be NO pretending and putting on a happy face for the crowds. To continue attending would be hypocritical and I want my kids to learn to be true to themselves -- no matter who else doesn't like it.

So when Sunday morning comes along, the wife and my two sons trundle off to church, and not a word is spoken. The ONLY reason I permit them to attend church is that it has ZERO efect on their thinking and behavior. They attend a very liberal, so-called Pentecostal church, where it's more of a social gathering than a religious experience. No one comes home preaching and praying and talking church jargon. My boys (15-yr old twins) are very much into "secular" living. They watch more "R"-rated movies than I do. They are totally immersed in "worldly" pleasures and have no intent of giving any of that up for "God" or "Jesus".

And so long as this status quo doesn't change, I'm content to let it all slide.

ONCE in a blue moon (like when we're watching Penn & Teller's Bullshit!) I engage my sons' minds about rational thinking and questioning retarded beliefs. Their religion included. Using these teaching moments assures me that they are growing up free thinkers. Just because they go to church, that doesn't mean that I don't have the last word on what they believe.

Bottom line for me is that so long as my family aren't showing signs of being brain washed zombies for "Jesus", then I let them play their church games. No harm, no foul. And MOST churches are this way. If you keep away from most Baptist and Charismatic churches, then church life is pretty benign and "lukewarm".

I will say this about YOUR situation: Even IF you plant your family into a liberal church (The Disciples of Christ ordains women and gays. So you KNOW they don't take scripture seriously.) you should NOT go with them. I think that sends mixed messages. Just let them have their fun and be prepared to interact with your kids in such a way that the SECULAR overshadows the religious.

Trust me, kids will ALWAYS choose the "ways of the world". It's human nature.

dead__fish said...

Go to Jordan Maxwell's website and order the video titled "The Naked Truth". http://www.jordanmaxwell.com/

Sit down with your wife and kids and watch it together. In that video Jordan and his friends explain the origins of Churchianity. It's a real eye opener! In fact, that is the video that changed my life forever by waking me up from that christianity coma! ALL of Jordan Maxwell's videos are VERY enlightening! "Matrix of Power" and "The Light of Egypt" are the ones I recommend for a recovering x-tian. BTW, I de-converted my devout catholic hubby with those videos! Before he saw them we used to call him "father Wayne"! Now he is just as anti-churchiology as I am!
If you need more info email me at hereticdeadfish@yahoo.com

Good Luck!
heretic

Roberto said...

Lance,

My wife is Catholic and takes the kids to church. She is not a fanatic though and doesn't agree with the church's stance on many things. (But she can't let go completely)

I make a point of not going to church with them so the kids see that there are people who don't.

I haven't told my kids that I don't believe in god yet, but that's coming soon and I know my wife won't like it.

eel_shepherd said...

Lance wrote:
"...we moved to a rural area and ended up in a more fundamentalist church. It was here that I was confronted with the "inerrant word of god" crap and slowly started to realize that my questions did not have answers..."

Neither do theirs. They just don't care.

"...And if you are a Christian that sees this and wants to `help' me, please rest assured that there are lots of people praying for me now..."

Ah, but are they True Christians[TM]? ;-/

Lia said...

Dear Lance, I fully sympathize with u. In fact I became a born-again sometime in 1986. After about 5 years in the church, I gave up becos' I thought I was on my way to hell. No matter how many times I confessed I felt that I could never be forgiven, becos as you said the old testament God was something. Moreover the people in church were so holy and not exactly friendly. To make it worse I was smoking and everytime I smoked I had to make sure no one from the church saw . Someone even told me once that I grieved the holy spirit. So I left the church in 1991 and I felt happy for many years, until early 2005 someone gave me a tape by a Pastor Joseph Prince of New Creation Church Singapore I didn't bother about it for some time. I finally listened just so I could tell my friend that I heard it and comment "what's new?". Instead I listened and I heard something that I never heard before....my righteousness from God is a gift, and I didn't have to earn it, as required by the law (Romans 5:17). Also, he became sin so in Him we would become God's righteousness (2 Cor 5:21). Jesus is a once for all sacrifice (Hebrews 10:10. See also Romans 3:21-22). Think about it, the Jews have it better - their bulls and goats sacrifice availed them one years' forgiveness; the Catholics have at least one week; we confess so mamy times in one day and still feel condemned. Please check out the NCC's website. Through this pastor Ive gotten to know a God who is wonderful, extremely loving and kind and generous; even my sins and punishments due to me was borne by his son Jesus (Isaiah 53:4-5). I had a stroke on the 6th of Jan 2006 with a blood pressure of 210/140. I could not move my right arm nor my right leg and my speech was slurred. However, I was discharged on the 3rd day. Today if you see me it's like nothing ever happened to me....becos I believed that He already took them on the cross 2000 years ago. Anyway, there was so much that I didn't know before. Before you throw it all away, please check out the site.

Steven Bently said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steven Bently said...

Lia, I would be willing to bet that you're still smoking and under the influence of a mind-altering drug.

Just by your comments, you've exposed yourself as being mentally unhealthy. You, like all christians, suffer greatly from mental neurosis!

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petchef said...

Bonnie said
The Better Thing I have ever done in my Life is ask Christ Jesus to come in my Life.
I have read alot of the other comments made 1 or 2 that I was reading, I am sure there are more.
Have Our Savior Jesus Christ in their lives. Others I have keep hear is their went to church. Ging to church does not make you a Christian (A Beliver in Jesus Christ The Son Of God) No more than I can sit garage that does not make me a pick-up truck. Stop listening to lie about that their is no God/ Jesus Christ. God Loves Us All of Us. He wants us to turn to him for everything. He is Our Father. He is all that matters. Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. John 14:6 The people that don't think Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is Real, than just because you think he is not real does mean he is not. Jesus Is Coming Back. And God is giving you a change to turn away from evil things. Please listen to a few Pastors online www.josephprince.org
http://www.joycemeyer.org/. And if you have any Questions how you feel about God or anything this website will help http://www.gotquestions.org

Lord Bless You All

boomSLANG said...

Dear illiterate, Christian guest,

I don't believe in gods, and as for "the Lord" of the Christian bible, no such being exists.

Buh bye.

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