I no longer believe

Sent in by Ray J

This is written for the purposes of 'coming out,' to finalise within myself what I have come to understand, and so others know that what they're doing and thinking is ok.

I am a bible college graduate (Faith Mission Bible College, Edinburgh) and a BA(Hons) Theology graduate (Nazarene Theological College, Manchester.)

I was the guy in school who made the anonymous evangelistic posters and stuck them up around the school.

I'm the guy who wouldn't go to my school formal becuase it was an un-Christian alcohol-fest.

I'm the guy that taught the others at Bible College about sanctification and initially shook my head at any bible other than the KJV.

I'm the guy who stood at 'open-air meetings' in Edinburgh and allowed myself to be laughed at, have stones thrown at me, and stood up bravely to teach the Gospel of Christ because I would stand against the world and be a fool for Christ.

I'm also the guy who felt a lot of misery becuase the world was such an awful bad place, a world full of sinners, and I wasn't one them...except that sometimes I was, that f****d with my 'heart.'

I'm the guy who missed out on so much of the social life a kid has because I was a Christian & I was gonna stand by Jesus rather than join the infidels.

I'm the guy who didn't discover I was actually an independent person until a little later because I was concerned with being someone else (Jesus Christ) rather than being myself, the guy who suffered a smack right between the eyes when I realised that I could be myself. I'm still dazzled by that smack between the eyes. It's great.

The first inkling that it was all nonsense was when I said in one of my missionary reports in-front of hundreds of people that I gave all of the glory to God for our missionary success and not to the organisation (I actually said it emphatically three times to impress my peers, "said brave words to impress the fundies" as a line in one of my poems goes.) My Faith Mission overseers pulled me in for saying this (SURPRISE!! Thought I was doing what was expected, thought I'd be declared a brave unshakable man of God) gave me the most blatant b******ing I had had up to that point, made me pray at the end to make it a 'Christian' b******ing and then boasted to someone afterword that I was 'that small' (showing a small size with fingers) when I left the office. (the person they boasted to informed my Father about their attitude.)

It's not out of anger at this that I left, although I am angry at how I was treated, it's just that this made me realise that I'd been serving a system and not Jesus. So, I resolved to serve Jesus alone, as I began to do this and think for myself I began to change and became vocal about it which caused one student to tell me that I had darkness in my eyes and was leading the group of guys I socialised with down hill.

So, I went to do my BA to learn more about the Bible and the tradition so I could serve my God in full truth and honesty forever-more, over the process of studying I slowly came to realise that it doesn't make sense. Just look at the proceeding pagan myths, the theories of NT construction not to mention the fact that Christianity simply uses the same arguments over and above Judaism as Islam uses over and above Christianity as Bahai uses over and above them all....where you gonna stop with that then, and man I wish God would stop starting all these new religions lol.)

On-top of that, as a philosophy, it's very in-humane, the god behind this existence just philosophically can't be sensibly thought of in the same way as the Christian God.

You wanna learn about god? Get your head outta that holy book (Man if gods gonna teach us he isn't going to write it in an abusable twistable book) and look at what's around you.

I've spent the last 3 years since graduating trying to convince myself that it is true, but it can't be done, the evidence says it's not, and I feel so happy that I no longer believe in this. That I've been strong enough to overcome the psychological bashing Christianity had previously given me. I feel so free, so REDEEMED, it's unbelievable!

The only reason someone who pursues an honest evaluation into Christianity will continue to believe in Christianity is because they want it to be true more than they want to discover the truth.

Thanks to deciding to serve Jesus alone I no longer believe the system they blamed him on or the book they wrote about him. I think there probably was an enthusiastic Jewish preacher behind the stories, but f*** did his followers screw him over. Poor guy.

I'm not an atheist though, I don't think that makes enough sense either, eternally existent physical matter makes a whole lot less sense to me than an eternally existent metaphysical energies (god in popular thought,) but I can understand why some are. It might even be 'god' who helped me get out of the Christian nonsense because whilst still a Christian I prayed very earnestly again and again to know the truth and see reality, maybe my desires where somehow acknowledged by the energies behind existence I don't know. My studies suggest some sort of pantheistic 'god,' but I also think that the only honest philosophical perspective on 'god' is that of agnosticism.

Only problem is I gave my whole education over to this Christian foolishness, despite one of my teachers telling me not to, what a waste...but then, becuase of who I was, if I hadn't I'd still be stuck in that mythological & oppressive anti-human system.

Now for the closing note of my freedom song: for those who think that my only problem is encountered in evangelical theology, I began training some time after my evangelical education to work towards becoming an Eastern Orthodox priest, but their theologies fall apart too. And I've read Brian McLaren and been a student and advocate of Emerging Christianity for the past couple of years, but then I woke up. There's no point in building an emerging post-modern theology upon myths that just aren't true, no matter how post-modernly palatable these new theologies happen to be, the myths they are built on just aren't true, so there's no point in advocating an immature theology which exists only to preserve ancient myths in new theologies. Just drop the myths and move on.

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A few points of why I de-converted

Sent in by DC

My testimony of de-conversion is not as dramatic as some that I've read on this site but I decided to post it early on in my membership so no one could accuse me of copying it from someone else’s story. There are, no doubt, similarities to other stories because many of the reasons for doubting are the same for many people.

I was raised in a Christian family. We went to church every Sunday but seldom discussed it outside of church. So I was not beaten into submission or strongly coerced or anything. One of my few arguments as a teenager with my parents was not about me going to church, but about where I would go to church.

In writing this down I tried to distill things into just a few points of why I de-converted. There are literally at least a hundred reasons. Most of them minor ones that may not make much sense to anyone but me. So here are those I boiled it down to:

1. Never, in my 41 years as a "Christian," was there a clear, definite answer from God to a prayer.

2. God has never "moved" in my life in a tangible way.

3. God is in no way real. I cannot touch, taste, smell, hear, or see him, so therefore, if he did exist, there is no way to interact with him.

4. I got to a point that I realized I didn't care about heaven. If I'm not willing to do what is required of me by Christianity in this life it's not worth doing.

5. Bible does contain errors/contradict itself.

6. Real archeology/bible do not match.

7. If it was god's plan for Jesus to come to earth, be betrayed, and be crucified, why would Judas be condemned for carrying out god's plan?

8. I truly, deeply, sincerely believed in god and wanted a deeper relationship with him. The further I went in seeking the less real it all became. I wanted to know what first century Christianity was like and discovered it was not at all of one accord. Discovered that what ended up in the canon of scripture had more to do with politics than religion.

The first 8 reasons listed are all internal to me. In other words, not based upon the actions of others or observations of others. The final two items are based on others.

9. The church that I belong to preaches all about love and forgiveness until you get the least little bit out of line. Then they become totally condemning and hateful.

10. People's lives are not changed. One woman I know who has been a Christian "since I was a little girl" is now on husband #5. In the 5 or 6 years I've known her she's also lived with at least three different men. I commented on this to a friend and was told - well, she just makes poor choices. I'm thinking, poor choices? Sounds more like she's a "professional" to me! Another woman, once again a Christian since she was a little girl, had multiple affairs during her first marriage because her husband had an affair. Three of the four children out of that marriage were not fathered by her husband. She divorced, remarried, divorced again. Since I have met her, she has had two affairs with married men. Yet there she is, front row of the choir every Sunday, lifting up her hands and praising the Lord! Except, of course, if she is out of town with one of her boyfriends.

Whatever damage this has done to me has been more of "by omission" than "by commission." Instead of taking responsibility for my own life and actions I spent too many years expecting god to magically do something to show me where he wanted me to go, what he wanted me to do, to take me out of one situation or another, and to provide guidance in my life,. The only time things have improved is when I took action.

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I started to research the history, and...

Sent in by The Bloviator

The Evangelicals Made Me Do It

I have, by way of introduction, been viewing this site for quite a while now, and am finally at a stage of willingness to commit to voicing my disbelief in the Christian life-scheme.

In all honesty, were it not for the well-intentioned efforts of the evangelical Christian community, I would never have reached the conclusion that Christianity is simply a house of cards, waiting for the merest breath of introspection and research to bring it down.

As background, I was raised a Catholic in the '60s, with the folk mass and "Kumbaya, my Lord" as watchwords. Although my grandparents were quite devout (grandpa walked to mass every single morning at 6am), my folks took a very liberal view of church. We attended once a week (beware the mortal sin of missing mass!!!) and all the usual holidays, but were otherwise uninvolved. When given the option at 14 years of age, I chose not to attend mass any further, though I never renounced my "faith".

Fast-forward to the late '70s and college. I ended up in a dormitory full of catholics in what was in every other regard a secular institution. We grouped together, talking loosely of god and spirit and other issues, attending mass from time to time, and basically keeping the flame burning (if ever so slightly).

Now on to 1990, the year I married my wife. She was raised in an atheist household ( pop vociferously anti-religion, mom a typical rebellious "preacher's kid"), but through a Young Life group became a born-again believer at age 14. She was very happy in a kind of loosey-goosey spirit-world way, believing little of the dogma and seeing signs and messages from god in everything -- I thought it was kinda cute. For years we were on-and-off attendees at everything from UCC to Presbyterian and even Episcopalian churches (but NEVER catholic -- too much for her born-again sensibilities). Basically, no big deal.

Now in the 21st century, we become parents. AND EVERYTHING CHANGED. Now she saw religion as very important for the kids for building moral character, etc. and, looking back on it, I agreed completely.

We joined a Baptist church on the recommendation of someone my wife knew and trusted. The place did seem full of the spirit of the Lord (or something, anyway), and we became avid attendees.

All of the above is by way of an explanation to both believers and non-believers alike: if you want to keep the boat from rocking, don't introduce the concept of hard dogma and biblical inerrancy. In no way did I want to walk out on my concept of "faith" and "god", but my new friends at church, with their hammers and nails and planks of dogma and inerrancy, built a coffin, assisted me in placing my faith inside said box, and then nailed the damned thing shut.

I wasn't raised on strict beliefs and therefore could accommodate just about anything I wanted into my spiritual belief system. I suppose that is another way of saying that I stuck my head in the sand, but I am now comfortable admitting as much. In a reaction to the views of some church members, I started to research the history of their particular calvinistic dogma. I was a history major in school, so this was actually a bit of fun for me. Funny thing about doing research -- you never know what you will find. As many of you had found, the more I examined the history of Christianity, the more it began to resemble an amalgam of older pagan rituals and rites. Well, said I, at least the Christ-bit is unique, so even if I reject the rest, I can hold onto Jesus being a seminal teacher of things divine. WRONG! Turns out that most everything attributed to the J-man was said before. The miracles? Well, I hadn't believed in that stuff for ages anyway, so what was left? Nothing. Abso-fucking-lutely nothing.

Meanwhile, as faith and belief unraveled, my wife has become closer to a true born-again than she ever was before. Yuk! I have tested the waters in terms of letting her in on my views, but it didn't go too well. Hope springs eternal, right? Time will tell, but one thing is "Truth", to borrow a phrase from my brothers and sisters in Christ: you can't ever go back.

Whether I believe in an afterlife or a true moral code or Universal Truth or any other thing is now irrelevant. What is, is. All I have is what I see here, today. And that is worth living for. Thanks for listening.

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I received a double dose of cognitive dissonance

Sent in by Jack E

I was raised in the SDA (Seventh Day Adventist) church as far back as I can remember. Baptized into their belief system at the age of 9, I did the church thing until I left the church when I was 18 years of age.

As with most who have been raised in the sheltered environment of religion, when released I ran amok for a few years. Then I finally settled in a church named Calvary Chapel (CC), where I felt at liberty as opposed to the legalistic confines of Adventism and their prophet Ellen G. White.

After a few years at CC, I married and continued my spiritual quest by attending a Baptist church. I even became ordained and helped start a local church. While attending the Baptist Church a study group was going through Rick Warrens' book "The Purpose Driven Life," and as the 40 days wound down I began to question God and his character as espoused by Warren and his ilk.

Like, why does God need our constant attention and worship? Why does he get jealous, angry, sad etc. Why does he condone killing of men women and children because they do not believe the way he wants? Why would God effectively force one to become a believer while the gun of hell fire is held to their head and yet claim we have free will? (Stockholm Syndrome) Why does God prohibit the very thing he instructs us not to do?

It took two years for me to leave my belief in religion, i.e., Christianity. I am presently a deist and am struggling with any belief in a supreme being. I can't begin to express how much pain, confusion and anger I went through those two years. The same thing occurred when I left the SDA church. So, in essence, I received a double dose of cognitive dissonance.

My spouse has been extremely supportive and the scales have fallen from her eyes, so to speak. She is starting to reason and ask the hard questions of her Christian friends, which drives them nuts.

It's been a long hard fought road, but worth every tear, frustration and sleepless nights. I have a few close friends who are supportive of what I believe and I cannot stress how important that is to anyone who has left the fold. It is also extremely important to keep reading material that questions Christianity and it's dogma. Education is a constant process since believers will use every trick in the book to bring one back to church.

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I feared hell with a nearly paralyzing fear

Sent in by libertarianchick

I am a born and bred Southern Baptist, with six preachers as grandfathers and great-grandfathers (also one Nazi, but I digress). I was bathed in church from birth. I got saved at six and baptized. I went to camps, choir, GAs, Acteens, VBS, etc¡ I fully believed in God until about age 12. Unlike many other ex-Christians, I did start to de-convert because I wanted to sin. I desperately wanted to have sex, and I had an extremely high drive (especially for a girl). I often feared that I would not have the courage to have premarital sex and that I would have to wait a long time to get married. Needless to say, I found the courage.

I feared (and still do, a little) hell with a nearly paralyzing fear. I had elaborate plans to pray and get saved upon knowing that I was going to die. I still fear sudden death even as an atheist, all the logic in the world cannot overcome this. I read this site and others "religiously," convincing myself of the utter stupidity of hell and Christian doctrine, but it never seems to replace the Chick tracts deep in my mind.

As a college student in microbiology, I fell in love with evolution and its wonderful science and logic and ideas. I began to see and study logical reasons for not believing in Christianity. I feel that spiritual things are not for me, but I am not a militant atheist. One minute, I consider my atheism a deficiency in spirituality because these other people seem to get so much out of their religion, but on the other hand, it is mostly my kind that keeps this world from slipping back into the dark ages.

I have not and will not tell my parents. I do not understand the compulsion to tell them. They are intellectually stunted. They do not have the capacity to not believe in God. My de-conversion would only bring them extreme pain. I enjoy going places with my family, but I do not look to them for an honest, highly emotional relationship. I live far away and can hide not going to church at this time. I may have to tell them something one day, but I'm going to string it out as long as possible.

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Believing in yourself is better than god

Sent in by Alex C

I stumbled upon this site a couple years ago and found it to be a breath of fresh air. I knew on a purely intellectual level that there -had- to be others that had left Christianity, but I'd never met any. Sometimes, and I'm sure that you, dear reader, can sympathize, one feels dreadfully alone when recovering from the abuse and scars that fundamentalist Christianity can leave. I was so happy to know, finally really -know-, that there were others out there, like me, who had pulled themselves away from the church. I've read many anti-testimonies, and have seen my own struggle reflected at me in some of them. I've read accounts of the abuse that others have suffered and sighed the I-know-exactly-what-you-mean sigh. Now, I feel like it's time to share with you my own story, that others may see some of their struggles reflected in mine.

Unlike a good number of you, I wasn't raised in church. My mom was raised Catholic, and my dad was raised as a generic protestant, and neither were very religious when I was little. My dad's mom, however, really liked going to church. I remember when I was a little kid going to church with her on easter sometimes. All I remember about that is being in Sunday school, eating snacks and coloring pictures with crayons.

When I really started going to church, I was sixteen, and I went for all the wrong reasons; over a girl. Before I get too much further into this, the reader should be aware that I am transgendered. I was born with girl parts, but I now identify and live my life as a man. When I started going to church, though, I thought that I was a girl. You can start to see the problem, I'm sure.

The girl's name was Jessica, and she had been raised in church. The Assemblies of God, in particular. To make a very long story short, we fell in love, but only one of us was aware of it (and it wasn't me ). One Wednesday evening in February (in the late 90's), Jessica pulled me aside at Youth Group and told me that she never wanted to talk to me again. To say that I was shocked hardly begins to describe it. I felt like I'd just been blindsided by a Boeing 757. She said to me, "I'm having feelings about you that just aren't right." I didn't understand what she meant at the time, but I think I do now. She'd fallen in love with a female-bodied person, and that set her entire world on its ear. I had heard later, through a mutual friend, that Jessica had tried to kill herself that night. Evidently, one of her sisters walked into her room to find Jessica out cold on her bedroom floor; she'd swallowed a bottle of Advil. She was transported to a hospital, locked up in the psych ward for a week, and then subjected to some, "Christian Counseling." For those who don't quite know what that means, it's code for intensive brainwashing. I guess they had to get the gay outta her somehow.

Now, if my story had ended with that, it might not have been so bad. But, alas, it was not to be.

Since I didn't understand what Jessica had really meant, I assumed that I wasn't a good enough Christian. So, I tried harder. I went to church every time the doors were open; I prayed harder; I read the bible through in a month, and then read it again (though, I didn't pay much attention to the details - I might have left sooner if I had); I got baptized in water; I got baptized in the Holy Spirit, babbling in lounges and everything. All the stuff I was told that I was supposed to do, I did. At least, I tried.

I always had my struggles, though. When I was between 12 and 14, I was sexually abused by an older cousin. Most victims of sexual abuse think it's their fault. Add that to the fact that I kind of enjoyed it most of the time, and you've got yourself a formula for years of therapy. Since I enjoyed that, I thought I might enjoy sex with other guys. Thus, I became a pretty sexually active teenager. Even after I got 'saved,' that was still the case. I think that, through this time, I had about as much guilt as any Catholic. I knew that I wasn't supposed to be having sex, 'cuz Jesus said so (or was that Paul... I get so confused as to who's speaking for god at any given time ). I sure as h*%! wasn't supposed to be -enjoying- it, cuz women aren't supposed to enjoy sex. And I SURE as H@#$ wasn't supposed to be touching myself! After all, Jesus is watching you masturbate (the f'n perv)! I struggled with my sexuality constantly. Not only did I not understand that I was afflicted with a severe mental disorder regarding my gender identity, I also didn't understand that I was attracted to men and women more or less equally. Because I knew that I wasn't supposed to be sexually active in any way shape or form, I was riddled with guilt. I can remember countless nights that I spent sobbing and crying out to god to rid me of this horrible sin. The silence I received was deafening. However, I knew that my sexual sin was something I had to keep hidden at all costs. Don't ask me how I knew that, I don't know. I just did. At church, I was the happiest kid in the kingdom of god. At home, I suffered in my sin, and I suffered alone.

I got saved in 1995. In November of 2001, I had something of an epiphany. As I looked around me at church one night, I saw something. I saw perfect people. I don't mean the standard 'sinners-saved-by-grace,' thing. I mean actual, living, perfect people. None of these people cried at church every time they came. None of them appeared to be having any struggle with their faith at all, let alone the horrible sin that I struggled with. They came in, sang the songs, spoke in tongues, listened to the pastor, sang some more, and left. I pondered what that might mean for a while.

In December of 2001, I reached my conclusion. Either these people were not having the same struggles I had, in which case I was seriously out of my league. Or, they had similar struggles to me, but were much more adept at concealing it than I was. In that case, I was disinclined to participate in their mass delusion.

I remember it being unusually warm for December, and I sat on the tailgate of the pickup truck that I owned at the time. It was a clear night, and I looked up at the stars. I said, "You know, I think I'm done. At this point, I think we're both wasting our time here. I may come back at some point, but I wouldn't hold my breath if I were you. I wish I could say that it's been fun, but we both know that'd be a lie. Goodbye." After that, I got into my truck and drove off.

I told some friends at the time about my decision. Some of them said that I had been trying too hard; that I should have let go and let god. Others said that I hadn't been trying hard enough; that I should have prayed more or read the bible more or gone to church more. Then, they tried the old standby speeches to try to bring me back into the fold. I stopped them before they got too far, saying that I'd heard it all before and had said most of it myself. They didn't understand, and eventually, I lost touch with most of them.

Today, I have achieved one of my major goals in life - I earned my bachelors degree. In a fit of irony, my degree is in History, Philosophy and Religious Studies. I'm getting ready to begin graduate study in the fall and hope to begin my career as a College Housing Officer soon. I have found my gender identity and have come to terms with my sexuality. Even now, I sometimes wonder if I really did have The Truth when I was younger. Then, I remind myself that I'm happier now than I've ever been in my life. I love my life now, and I would not trade it for anything, even heaven. I also peruse Fundies Say The Darndest Things (fstdt.com) to remind myself where I've been and why I don't want to go back.

It's been a tough road, but I made it. There are also many others that have made it also. If you, dear reader, are struggling to make it, know that there truly is hope. I heartily recommend believing in yourself. It does much more than believing in god.

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I am definitely not a Christian anymore

Sent in by Jennifer N

Ok (deep breath), I think that I'm finally ready to put into words what I have been feeling in the last year or so about leaving Christianity. While I was reading some of the other testimonials on this site, I was amazed at the stories of people who had rejected Christianity outright from childhood. All I can say is that I wish I had your backbone but I never was a rebel, and instead I am a bit of an introvert and like to avoid conflict.

I was raised in a mainstream Protestant denomination and my family were not"born-again" or "right-wing" type of Christians. I had great parents and was not really limited in what I could wear, watch, read, etc. We went to church on a fairly regular basis, but we weren't averse to skipping a week or two here and there, especially if there was an important game on. My mom had been a bit of a rebel herself by leaving Catholicism when she married my dad (she didn't like the Roman Catholic stance on women), but she still thought religion was important and made sure that I was baptized, confirmed etc.

As I said before I am a bit shy and introverted, which is really hard as a kid. I had an especially difficult time in middle school and high school and turned to reading the Bible and religion as comfort. Feeling closer to God helped me feel less isolated and alone. In college I was a biology major and I did very well in my classes, but I still tried to conform religion with science. I guess you could say that I was in the "intelligent design" camp. Although I became a bit less introverted as an adult, i still hung on to my religion and prayed faithfully every night.

The big wake up call for me was during a trip to Africa when I met a preacher (who was white) who would go around to black communities ravaged by AIDS and tell them about how condoms have microscopic holes in them and are not effective, and how everyone must be abstinent until marriage, etc. He had a pamphlet that he gave out telling people with AIDS to repent of their sins, etc. I was pretty pissed off about this BS, and it definitely made me question the values that Christianity is imparting around the world, but I still was not ready to leave religion entirely. Then by chance I happened to pick up the book "The Spiral Staircase" by Karen Armstrong which is the autobiography of an ex-nun who leaves Christianity. While I was reading the book I began to realize that I was feeling just like her. To see some of your own thoughts mirrored back to you on paper and realizing that you are not the only one to have them was a life-changing experience.

It has been over a year since I read that book and I have been taking baby steps towards leaving Christianity ever since. I don't really go to church or pray anymore, but my family has been very negative about me leaving Christianity, so I have to keep my feelings to myself when I am around them. The other problem I am having is trying to "fill the void" left by rejecting the religion that has been my spiritual center. I am definitely not a Christian anymore, but I don't think that I am wholly an atheist either, and still want to have a spiritual connection. Some elements of Buddhism appeal to me and I took a course on it in college, but I don't think just switching to another religion is the right fit either. I guess right now I have settled on "spiritual but not deist" and I'll work from there.

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I just went to church for the last time!

Sent in by Michie S

Sunday I attended Church with my parents and I think it will be the last time I ever set foot in a Church as a Christian. I have been wrestling with my decision to leave Christianity since the beginning of 2007. I stopped attending an Apostolic Pentecostal Church - that I now consider a cult - over two years ago. I was a member of that Church for over 12years. I was in ministry, in leadership and worked quite closely with the Pastor. I have been attending various other Churches on and off since, but I can't do it anymore - I can't pretend I believe when I know in my heart I don't.

Over the years the hypocrisy, judgmental attitudes, constant fasting, praying, superiority complex and outright lies of so called Christians (my Pastor included) broke through the barrier of the "don't ask, don't doubt and especially don't question" dogma that I was brainwashed into believing. I am sick, angry and heartbroken to realize that I believed all of this nonsense for so long and wasted so much of my life trying to be a good Christian and to live holy. I was abused horribly by that Apostolic Church, and gave so much of myself, my money and my time to ministry and service. Nothing belonged to me, it was all for God and his glory and his kingdom. Even my son suffered so that I could do God's work!

I got to the point where I felt that I could never be good enough, or holy enough or saved enough. Going to Church meant being put down, shouted at to try harder and always leaving feeling worse than when I arrived. When I first left people called to try and persuade me to come back, telling me to just "sit under the word" and somehow God would open my eyes to the delusion that I had fallen under. When this did not work both my son and I were shunned by people who were our dearest and closest friends - it was as if we had the plague. I was told that I had put my life and my his life in danger and that we would go to hell! I was never allowed to defend my reasons for leaving.

This is all so fresh and new to me and I finally know what "I" feel and "I" believe. I can think for myself and trust my own instincts! The hard part now will be telling my friends - many of whom are still devout Christians as well as my parents. I think it will be hard for them to accept. Anyone who knew me even 18 months ago would not believe that I'm where I am today. I was tongue talking, foot stomping, bible thumping, prophesying, anointed oil carrying saint of the most high God!

I'm not sure what to call myself, I just know that I don't believe in Christianity or the bible and I can hardly comprehend it myself sometimes. It all seems like a bad dream, that I've woken up from and realized that I'm free! I have no intention -to misquote the bible -- of being "entangled in that yoke of bondage again"

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Is moving away the only easy way to leave the faith?

Sent in by Brian T

I was a "believer" starting at the age of 19. The conversion experience seemed real enough. I have to admit that I felt that feeling of weight lifted off, an indescribable peace, and I'm sure many of you know what I'm talking about.

I didn't begin doubting until I began to learn more about the history or origin of the bible. I was puzzled as to why pastors in a church never mention how the story of Moses in a basket is similar to an older story from the Annals of Sargon. There are other stories in other religions about someone being raised from the dead.

I remember learning about ziggurats and later hearing a pastor mention it. "You don't need to know about ziggurats." was in his sermon. Why not explain what ziggurats were?

I loved the "Da Vinci Code" movie. The more and more I learned about the Bible the less and less I believed in Christianity.

I am still in the closet except to my spouse, who has tried to be understanding, but can't help but feel betrayed.

I don't want to be hostile to any religion, unfortunately that's what many Christians sects do. I don't want to abandon one type of hypocrisy for another.

Any advice, is moving away the only easy way to leave the faith?

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I've wasted my life on a lie

Sent in by Floss (name changed at request of author)

I really thought I was going to lose it in the car not so long ago. I mean breakdown and lose my sanity. I cried, although I tried not to, but I just couldn't put forward reasonable arguments in a coherent fashion to my husband to justify my change in beliefs. In fact I could argue his case better than my own. I ended up scared that I'd got it all wrong and wished I could go backwards but I can't. I just can't. My mind won't let me.

It doesn't help that he's an AoG (Assembly of God) minister. We've been married over 30 years. He actually said to me today that I'd better think of leaving him then because now he's unequally yoked. I know he didn't mean it, at least I don't think he did, but he sees what I've done as a betrayal of my faith.

What have I done? Just read and thought for myself for once. I was saved when I was 10 years old, so I missed out completely on the critical thinking stage of adolescence. My parents weren't even churchgoers, so I was always referred to as coming from an unsaved household. I didn't see it then but now understand what a wedge was put between me and my family.

I used to go to social clubs with them. Mum and dad loved to dance. So did I but I felt so guilty. They always had the radio on with pop music. I loved it but again felt guilty for listening to it. "Worldly."

I couldn't go out with non-Christian boys of course, even though they were always the ones I fancied! No make up, no jewelry, no immodest clothes etc etc. I'm sure you get the picture.

Worst of all I got ill and wasn't healed. For many years I felt as if it was my somehow my fault and people made me feel small and my self confidence flew out of the window.

I had many traumatic personal and family situations over which I prayed and prayed and prayed without answer. At the time I never thought to ask why. I just trusted God as I'd been taught to. That was my trouble all along. I did exactly as I was told. And never questioned anything. Why would I?

I really was a good Christian. I followed everything to the letter. I believed with all my heart and tried to live what I heard preached. It was my life.

Fast forward to 2005. I became friends with an atheist -- a questionable thing in itself for a Pentecostal! And yes, I felt guilty about that too. Religion was never an issue between us at all but one day I was asked a question about Jesus and God that I couldn't answer, so I said I'd look into it and get back to my friend later.

So began my journey out of Christianity. Far from wishing it to be so I thought - as all good Christians should -- that this was a God given opportunity to get my friend saved!

I read all sort of books that had been banned before. We were always taught to guard our minds and not read anything that might cause us to doubt. To be honest I was scared stiff. Really scared. But I told God that all I wanted was the truth, so would he please understand that I wasn't trying to be sinful. I read a great quote at the time -- Truth cannot deny truth. I thought, that's all right then, believing at the time that Christianity would be validated. And if there was a God, he'd surely be interested in the truth.

I read Shelby Spong and Marcus Borg and thought at first I could go for their type of Christianity. But as I dug deeper and read everything I could get my hands on it dawned on me that I couldn't do half measures. It was either true or it wasn't.

I lived in a twilight world for a few months, not daring to voice what was going on in my head. My world had been turned upside down and I felt more alone than ever in my entire life. I recall one night when I couldn't sleep and felt very afraid. I opened my mouth to talk to God and was mortified when I realized I couldn't do that anymore. No point. That was one of my lowest moments.

God had always been my friend. That's how I used to think of him. I'd had him as a confidant for 44 years. I miss that side of things dreadfully. I've lost my friend. Occasionally, especially when I'm out walking, I'll forget and start telling God everything just as I used to. I would stop myself but now I let myself do it if it helps. The difference is that now I call it talking to myself and I'm aware that it's a psychological comfort thing.

I'm surrounded on all sides by Christians. My whole network is of churchgoers. I feel like a black sheep. No-one knows about my views except my husband and I've only recently shared the extent of them with him. My 24 year old daughter thinks I'm going through a midlife crisis as I'm doing things now I have never done, like having my ears pierced (something I'd longed to do since I was a teenager) and other "sinful" things.

This is so isolating and I'm not sure what to do from here. My husband is wanting me to go back to church (haven't been for a while because of illness) but I don't really want to. Seems hypocritical. He thinks being in the presence of god will help me.

I thought I was stronger than I feel right now. But after the conversation in the car and how it knocked the stuffing out of me and gave me an unexpected wobble, I'm not sure I'm up to being on the receiving end of all those well meant, trite, Christianese comments that I know will come my way.

I feel very angry at the moment -- actually the anger alternates with sheer devastating sadness -- that I've wasted my life on a lie. All my life decisions were based on something that isn't what it seemed. And I can't go back. The die has been cast. That really makes me want to weep. 44 years of my life lost. That's how I feel.

I've totally appreciated this site. It was like finding water in the desert. From reading the first post I felt as if I was amongst friends and like minded people. I don't know where else to go at the moment to feel as if I'm normal! Of course I'm a backslider now and having been on the other side I know how backsliders are viewed!

BTW I would never expose a child to the religious brainwashing I had as a youngster. I've read many a time that it's regarded by some as child abuse. When I first came across that idea it was abhorrent to me. Now I most decidedly agree with that point of view. I only regret it was too late to save my own children from such an upbringing.

Thank you for listening.

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My biggest problem

Sent in by Caleb C

I have enjoyed reading some of the testimonials on this site. I concur with so many of the thought processes shared. I myself, cannot imagine that the God of the Bible and Christianity is for real. I do believe in Karma or at least some kind of "spirit force." I mean, I've at least experienced at times in my life the old adage, "what goes around comes around."

Coming out with my doubts and disbeliefs now is hard for me for several reasons. 1. All of my friends are devout Christians... I don't wanna lose them. 2. I've been programmed my whole life to believe in the God of Christianity. 3. I am a former youth pastor and non profit ministry director where I preached so passionately about the truths of God and Jesus Christ. We saw hundreds saved!

None of it makes sense anymore though. There is no rhyme or reason to the truths of the Bible. None of the guarantees work, and the history is not very credible at all. I have such a problem with how the canon of scripture for the Bible was compiled too. I mean, all of those "saints" with all of their agendas, deciding on what the sacred text should be. Seems so political, and godless to me. I mean, aren't they the very kind of men that the modern Christian Faith's founders dissented from?

My wife started having these feelings first. She came out to me about her disbelief several years ago. She was raised in church, and was programmed to belief in Jesus as God since birth. It just never became real to her.

Anyway, I guess my biggest problem is making the decision to leave it all behind. I'm scared to close that window, because I could be wrong. I almost feel that if I never formally make the decision to leave Christianity behind, I can still go back to God if I need to. Isn't that lame? It is all just fear on my part. If I'm right, and the God of the Bible does not exist, we are screwed. I mean, we just die and that's it! That is a scary proposition to me. Anyway, I guess I am writing this to hear advice from anyone that may have had, or is having an experience like mine. Thanks for reading.

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Help, My Husband Thinks I'm the Devil's Puppet

Sent in by Kelli

Hi, I'm a 29-year-old, happy agnostic. My struggle with the faith began about two years ago. Up until then I was insanely devout. I had accepted the fact that most of the people I love will probably spend eternity in hell and tried not to think about it except when I was busy blaming myself for not being able to convince them of God's saving truth. I read my Bible, sometimes for hours a day. I prayed, for around an hour every day and still it was never enough. If I woke in the middle of the night, it was because God wanted me to pray more, and so I did. My husband and I were "equally yoked," and spent many hours discussing God's purpose for our lives and our terrible failure to live up to His standards of purity and devotion.

Yet despite all this, the truth somehow got to me. Around two years ago I began to have doubts which felt like moments of clarity — moments where the fog of self brainwashing lifted and I saw reality — moments where I perceived Christianity to be just like all the other false belief systems and superstitions. I quickly apologized to God whenever this happened and begged His forgiveness. I began fasting and decided to read the Bible strait through to try and fight the satanic attack against my faith. Of course, you all know what happened next. Every day there was something else in the Bible I had to ignore to keep believing in God. I was a living paradox. Part of me knew I was really alone when I prayed and what a foolish waste of precious time it was to talk to myself for an hour a day, repeating the same prayer I said yesterday and the day before and the day before. This other part grew in "faith" until I was almost ready to raise the dead. (Or just make a real spectacle of myself at a funeral.)

Then last year my cousin actually died. (Don't worry, I didn't try to raise him.) He was a non-believer. At first I cried for him, believing him to be in hell. People tried to say he could have asked Jesus into his heart in those last moments before his death. Isn't it convenient that you can do that? You can just assume all the non-believers who you love actually did accept Christ at the last second, and then you don't have to face the actual scary, cruel teachings of your religion.

So there was an internal struggle between someone I'd actually known and loved and the imaginary being I thought I knew and loved. I felt it was a test. The ultimate test. I had to accept God's divine wisdom and goodness for sending my unbelieving relative to hell just because he didn't believe. I turned to the Bible for comfort but for the first time I couldn't just bury all the disturbing things I saw there. Even the good parts were disturbing. For example the Bible says we're going to spend all of eternity singing praises to god. Just standing there singing praises to God is not my idea of a happy eternity. It's just better than hell, right? And what kind of being creates other beings just to do that? And how could the same being who created other beings to worship Him for all eternity have to create me with the internal logic that makes that seem crazy?

I could go on forever but the real reason I wrote this is actually to ask for some advice. My husband can't accept my loss of faith. He can't accept it because it's messing with his faith. I'm happy, I'm agnostic, I'm still a good person. This is all too much for him. He says seeing what's happened to me and hearing all my arguments against the Bible is bringing his faith down. I say we just shouldn't talk about it anymore but then he puffs his chest out like a rooster and says he will not remain quiet about his God in his home. I try not to laugh.

He can't believe I don't realize that the Devil is using me to bring down his faith. He says that the Devil uses women to get to men, as in Eve with the apple and Solomons wives. He said the very fact that I'm so good to him and have always been such a good person is what will make it the ultimate trick when he goes to hell because of me.

I'm trying to be patient because I know he's brainwashed. It's amazing how I can show him out right contradictions in the Bible and he'll twist them to try and make sense. What's worse is when he's doing it and I'm seeing myself two years ago doing the same thing.

He has two arguments that I'm hoping someone will be able to help me with. One is if they didn't actually see Jesus resurrected then why did they martyr themselves for their faith. I'm not entirely sure where he's getting his facts from but he's sure all the original disciples died for refusing to deny Christ and can't see why they would if they hadn't seen him resurrected. Does anyone know anything about this? The other question he posed has to do with prophesies. He says Jesus fulfilled all these Biblical prophesies and that's one of the reasons he can't stop believing. Can anyone give me any ideas of where to go in my research to come up with answers to these challenges?

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We are enemies of God?

Sent in by Brooke T

I'm 21 years old. Up until a few weeks ago, I was what is known as a Born-again Christian. I converted when I was 16 and soon had a couple of the best years of my life. My soul felt sincerely clean, and I wondered how I could go on living in such a filthy world (as I perceived it to be). I had a Bible and a couple of devotial books that I used to read all the time. I went to a sweet little church that I still miss despite not believing in the religion anymore. I thought I would never stop believing in Jesus Christ. It felt like a sheer impossibility. I mean, look at all the proof! Emotional and physical signs during a baptism, spontaneously speaking in tongues, answered prayers (I had those too), and... so many other things.

Nevertheless, during those five years as a Christian I began to discover various facts that contradicted the truth of the Bible and of Jesus Himself. At first I was terrified. The concept of "falling away from the faith" haunted me on a daily basis. I felt faint with fear during those times of doubt. Frequent trips to Christian apologetic forums helped build my faith up again. And there were, after all, those spiritual signs that accompanied the born-again Christian experience. Who could deny those? I relaxed and went on with praying and reading my Bible and devotionals.

But over time something else happened that caused renewed panic in me. I began to lose interest in God. Praying became a drudge, a bore. As far as I was concerned, I was becoming what is known as "lukewarm". I tried telling myself that lukewarmness had to do with sin, not apathy, but a talk with another Christian I knew caused another wave of despair. She said that if a person never prays again, how could he expect God to let him into Heaven? This was when I started clinging to the teaching of "once saved, always saved". This was the only way that I could remain sane, without being constantly weak with fear.

I stopped praying altogether before long, not wanting to present a dishonest image to God of being devoted to Him. I knew of no way to regain any of my past love for Him. In my mind, I was doomed no matter what. I must not have been one of the true Elect after all, is what I thought.

Around this time, I still wished that I could go back to experiencing God as the close, loving Father that I had known once upon a time. But I couldn't. I was too far gone. With weariness, I resigned and gave up the effort completely, thinking with whatever last shred of faith in Him that He would find a way to bring me back to Him sometime in the future.

Before long, I discovered pictures of outer space. I thought with wonder about how unimaginably vast and beautiful the universe was. No longer could I think of the human race as being more than a tiny, tiny part of the whole of creation. My mind began to construct a different personality for God than I originally thought He had. I welcomed it.

In one way or another, this led to my exploration of other realms of faith. I discovered that Christianity doesn't own the market on miracles and spiritual experiences. I realized a greater and more loving way of thinking, far removed from what Christianity taught me. Christianity teaches that we are enemies of God by default, all for the crime of being born with the stain of a single man's sin on our souls. It teaches that the only way we can escape the inevitable punishment for such a heinous crime is to believe in a man without the aid of any helpful proof.

I reject those views, and welcome the one that says we are children born of love with the freedom to see the light of Love in any way that we would like to. I believe that the universe and our very selves have more value than we can imagine, a contrast indeed with the Christian view that we're lower than the nastiest virus in God's eyes. I read near-death experiences that described encounters with an equally loving and welcoming deity. And I still believe in the authenticity of spiritual experiences... only now I no longer think that it's limited to one faith.

And at the very moment that I began to believe these things, I felt such an incredible freedom from everything that had held me in chains before: fear of hell; low self-esteem; an intimidating perception of God. In fact, I'm going through every website I can find that argues against Christianity, trying to convince myself that Christianity isn't true... just so I won't have to go back to believing those things.

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Shut up and have faith

Sent in by Chris

Let me first say that this site is a haven from Bible spouting Christian people that I encounter. I am a 23-year-old black man who has come to the decision that I despise religion. I have not grown up on it as others may have, but encountered it at the beginning of my teens. My mother converted to Baptist after years of never going to church and began on me and my brother. I will stop on personal story to tell all here (even the foolish Christians) that I converted to atheism because of doubts and the sneaky ways of Christian followers.

Let's start with the doubts that fuel my separation from Christianity and other forms of religion. The first being the question is how an all-powerful and all-knowing God can allow such pain to even exist if he is so loving. Then there's the question of how the Bible can speak of the beginning when nobody was there. Another question is why I have to repent and suffer for the sins of an idiot ancestor. And there is the constant sorrow of trying to stay on the righteous path that is supposed to give me peace of mind, and it doesn't. The constant question of which of the world religions is the true path, since they all claim to be the 1-and-only path in life. Why is it that we consider those who here God from Bible days as miraculous, and yet now the same situation would give you a padded cell? Why prayer and faith DO NOT WORK. Yet, the worst part to all the doubt and questions is that when asked to a Christian, you are told a slew of things that all add up to... "Shut up and have faith!"

So what do you do in this situation? My answer was to abandon God and spirituality completely. Since all religions claim to have the path, I chose to stand outside them all. I chose to remove myself from religion to get an unbiased view of them all. This is when I started to see the true side of Christians. The two-faced, ignorant, hatefulness: the everything that they say they are not. The driving force for my stubbornness regarding religion has been Christians. The ones that insult me when they believe I am a devil worshiper. Those that feel the need to convert me as though I'm broken. The one's who nag and nag and nag... to the point that I want to put super glue in their mouth. In the Christian's attempt to change my mind they have only pushed me further away.

Today, I'm still an atheist, but one who has taken on Buddhist philosophy. I ignore them (Christians) and laugh to myself. To this I say to Christians: You can do more by not trying than by fervently pursuing. I believe in balance, action through inaction, one's personal thoughts and feelings are what you make them and the same applies to others. To me the more I am preached to, the more I despise your God, the Bible, and it's followers. And here's the worst part, if Christians are what it means to follow the word of "God," I'd rather be in Hell. The Bible gives me no comfort and neither does prayer. I will shape my future, or die trying. I will live as I see fit in fairness, happiness, and understanding. For me I know who I am, and it is not to be found in the Bible.

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See you in hell

Sent in by Steve M

Well, let's see. I was brought up in a Baptist environment and of course being a young child I believed all that I was told. As the years passed I became a young adult and was still active in the church. Even taught Sunday school for a short while.

Now I am 54 years old and have seen many things transpire in my life and have read the "Good Book" and many other books along religious lines. I have come to see that it is facts that count, not bullshit stories that no one can prove or back up. If it isn't fact, then it is fantasy! I have seen much evil done in the name of God!

I just love the bit about how God has given man a free will to make his own decisions. God sez, do it my way or do not pass go and go straight to hell! It's like you're sitting in a chair and I walk up to you with a gun in my hand and I tell you this. I put a 44 to your head and tell you, looky here. You have free will. You can do things my way or I will pull the trigger! That's supposed to be a choice? Give me a freaking break!

I am so sick of all the self-righteous, better-than-thou shit heads that do more "sinful" crap than even I do! With me, what you see is what you get. No pretense at being a goody two shoes!

I am so glad I found this website and it is good to know that I am not alone in my thinking! So I guess I'll see you all in hell one day. LOL

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The biggest mistake a devout Christian can make

Hi, My name is Jillian and I am an ex-xian.

You may ask why I started my testimonial as if I were at my first AA meeting. It is simple. I see religion like any other addiction.

Things are going shitty in your life, you tend to turn to something external. In my case, I turned to Christianity. Like all other addictions though, it makes your logical thought fuzzy, divides and causes hassles and rifts in your family, and you reason with yourself constantly, that it is actually doing you some good, despite the fact you don't actually like who you are on this "drug" of choice; you think it makes you feel better about yourself and who you are, when in reality you just lose all of who you are and become a fake individual, living in a synthetic, "Stepford wives" kind of pseudo reality.

I lived the bliss of ignorance for near 2 decades. Believed what the pastor told me, believed the Ark story, believed the immaculate conception of Jesus... or was it the Davidic bloodline one??... oh well... even though they contradicted themselves it didn't matter, believed that if I dared to ask any questions, that "it's gods will" or "god works in mysterious ways" was a viable enough response, which sadly at the time, made sense because I needed it to!

The ironic thing is though, in my quest to please god, I started reading the Bible! ACTUALLY READING IT! Seems that this is the biggest mistake a devout Christian can make: actually reading it, rather than relying only on the carefully chosen sermons of the day provided by the resident brainwasher/pastor, or those chosen for the perky Bible studies class, where you can "glow and grow" in the love of Christ! lol

Well, I read and I learned, I cross referenced and read some more. I even asked the pastor as to my many new questions, but it was obvious by his replies that HE had never actually READ the Bible, but instead just went with the fodder he was feeding the parishioners , week to week as well! I could go on and on and on as to my now ex-xian status, however when it comes down to it, it is this simple quote that put my non-belief into perspective.

“Love is always patient and kind; it is never jealous, love is never boastful or conceited; it is never rude or selfish; it does not take offense, and is not resentful. Love takes no pleasure in other people’s sins but delights in the truth; it is always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope, and to endure whatever comes. Love does not come to an end.”

If you read the bible, god is impatient and jealous and boastful and conceited and rude and selfish, he takes offense and is resentful, he takes pleasure in peoples' sins and constantly changes 'His' mind as to what truth is or isn't, doesn't like excuses, trusts no one and his claimed love is purely conditional, based on fear and wrath.

God is the contradiction of what love is supposed to be... so therefore... see ya God... it's been totally UNreal!

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A confession -- I want to believe

By HeIsSailing

And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil – John 3:19 (KJV)

I was a Christian for most of my life of 43 years. I fell away for one simple reason: I finally found the claims of Christianity to be unbelievable. I no longer believe in presupposing that the Bible is inerrant and divinely inspired so that I can wrap my worldview around it. I do not trust the Christian Church, run by mortal and fallible men just like me, to know my path to eternal salvation. Like the noble Bereans, I had to investigate the Scriptures for myself, and read them without the filter of Church Creeds to interpret them. And the Scriptures, while more fascinating than any Creed could make them, do not in any way hold as an infallible belief system.

But I want to believe. It is so much easier to fit into society when we all have common beliefs. It is easier for people to relate to each other when we all have our shared beliefs to bond us together. It is not easy going against the stream of common or popular thought. Most people take their belief in Christianity for granted and never think it out. Maybe they do this because of a lack of care, lack of concern, or because of the fear of doubt. Maybe it is because they trust that their church has the correct path to heaven. Maybe it is because they were born into their religion, and their religion gives them a cultural heritage that they see no reason to question. Yes, most Christians take their beliefs as axiomatic. It must be true because… well… because! I dared to step out and challenge those assumptions. And I have found that is all Christianity is – baseless assumptions. Our churches are not the body of Christ run by the power of the Holy Spirit, but politically driven institutions run by human beings no better than you or me.

But I want to believe. I want to believe in the same thing my wife and my wife’s family believes. It would be so much easier to go with the flow. I would not feel so uncomfortable refusing to receive the bread and wine that my friends depend on for their salvation. I would not feel like I am standing out, or that everyone probably looks on me as a sinner, when I refuse the elements. But my conscience tells me otherwise. How can I not get upset when I am accused of having an illegitimate marriage because I have left the Faith? But I can no longer take the knowledge of the salvation via the death of Jesus Christ for granted. What is the evidence that it actually happened? I am not asking for proof, but when the existing evidence is non-existent, unclear, contradictory, or just flat out fabricated, then something is wrong. Belief without evidence is called Faith. Belief despite contradictory evidence is called Delusion. I cannot continue believing in falsehoods and willingly accept a self-delusion while maintaining any integrity.

But I want to believe. The Gospel story is a beautiful story, and the fabric of it is very plausible to me. If God exists, I expect him to be transcendent, perfectly holy and separate from us. I fully understand the ancient writers when they say we are sinful and imperfect beings next to a perfect Divinity! It makes sense to me that a holy God cannot accept us as imperfect as we are because it is against his nature. God cannot accept our sinful nature any more than water can mix with oil. So he sent a part of himself, The Christ named Jesus, to suffer and die to provide whatever mysterious mechanism that is required for us to join him in paradise. As Daniel Dennett has said, religions, including Christianity, are brilliantly designed. I want to believe this beautiful idea, and I am not the only one. From the Phoenix, to Osiris, to Mithras, to Adonis, and even Gandalf and Aslan, the age-old dying and rising hero motif has been popular throughout history, and for good reason! It is very appealing to the mystically minded, and I admit, very compelling and even hypnotic to me. But Jesus, as a mythical god figure, fits right into that motif, just like the rest of mythology. All the other ancient Mediterranean gods are now viewed as myths, but I had always assumed that Jesus was different from the others. Why should Jesus be held to a different standard from the other mystery religions that abounded during that time? I am challenging those assumptions.

But I want to believe. I want to believe that there is hope for us here on earth, comfort for the sick and needy, help for the helpless and love for the unloved. I want to believe in assurance for abundant life here on earth, and everlasting life in the hereafter. I want to believe that I will spend all eternity with my wife, the woman that I love. I want to believe there is hope in the future, there is relief when I get older, and there is confidence of my eternity. This is lovely and wonderful to believe – but I had always neglected to consider the other side of the Gospel story. I neglected the belief in everlasting torment for the wicked unbeliever, the belief that Jesus is the exclusive path to salvation with no other option available, and the belief that the way of salvation is narrow and few will make it. I neglected the belief in a demanding and sometimes brutal god who will punish the unfaithful on earth with disasters and illnesses, and test the believing with similar disasters and illnesses. I neglected the belief of the faithlessness of man, that we can loose our salvation merely for lack of faith in Jesus. I neglected the unanswered prayers with excuses of not being in God’s will, or being chastised by God because of a faithless and sinful life. I just conveniently swept then under the rug, and continued with my happy Christian beliefs as if whistling in the dark.

But even as an unbeliever, I still want to believe. What it boils down to is this. I want to believe the beautiful, lovely and hopeful aspects of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I want to believe in universal salvation, a loving heavenly father, and hope for eternal life. I do not want to believe in eternal punishment for my loved ones, even if Scripture tells me that is their ultimate fate as unbelievers. I tried to excuse God who seemingly ignores us when we need him the most. And I know that I was not the only Christian who wanted to believe in this selective way. In fact I am willing to bet that most Christians choose not to believe the unsavory aspects of the Gospel, despite what their Bibles and churches tell them. The gospel contains both sides, both the good and the bad, and I was taught that if I wanted to be a serious Christian, I have to accept that. God is who he is, and no amount of believing what I wish to be true would change his nature. I could not claim to know the mind of God and invent my own religion of only peace and light.

That is the dilemma. Do I continue to be a Christian who pretends all is well, or do I follow my convictions and leave what I know is not true? I figure if there is a God, he knows my heart and knows I do not believe. So why pretend? It seems honesty is more noble then putting up a front of piety.

So as a Christian, I was forced to fully accept and believe everything in the Bible as literal truth. Now, as an ex-Christian, I fully reject the belief of the Gospel of the atonement of Jesus Christ.

But I want to believe. Despite what John 3:19 claims, I am grieved to lose my beliefs. I feel like I had been hoodwinked for most of my 43 years on Earth. It is sad, and somewhat painful to put my entire belief system up for critique and find it entirely lacking in any credibility. But I must, not because I love darkness, but because I must be true and honest to myself, and to my family, friends and loved ones. And in that sense, I really do want to believe.

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Everyone "fakes it" once and awhile

By Nicholas B

The first time I ever "faked it," I was in jail, and a pastor was walking around the chapel laying hands on the mens' foreheads, praying for our deliverance from drugs, alcohol, and a myriad of other evils we were guilty of or addicted to. When he came to me, I expected to feel something…anything, but when I didn't, I became embarrassed, flushed, anxious. Nothing was happening. "What should I do now," I thought. I fell back and laid on the floor assuming the "slain in the spirit" position, while the pastor went on and on and on praying, all along thinking that I had been touched by Spirit of Gawd.

Another time, we were all sitting around the chapel. The pastor asked the "congregation" if any one in the audience wanted an extra measure of faith. I was nervous. I knew he was going to try and see us receive the "gift of tongues." I was paranoid. "Please, NO, don't come over here," my mind screamed. "This shit is FAKE," but then I felt guilty, because I loved the Lord, and if the gifts were real, then I wanted to please him.

Another pastor told the congregation that although we might be saved, unless we received the "Baptism of the Holy Spirit," we would never walk in the power of the spirit, something that would keep us strong in the faith and out of prison after our release.

I never forgot those experiences, and they haunted me throughout my Christian walk, but I would read 1 Corinthians and remind myself that Love was the greatest gift of all, and would try and comfort myself with the knowledge that I had the gift of love. I tried to believe in the other gifts. They were biblical weren’t they? God wanted all of us to have them, didn't he? There must be something wrong with me, I thought. Obviously, I didn't have enough faith. It must be some sin that was hindering me. But deep down, I knew better. I knew that my faith was sincere. I knew that I wanted the things of God more than anything. I knew that to please Him was my first priority.

So, why wasn't the Spirit manifesting in me? Why was He playing favorites with the others around me? Again, I knew better. I knew in my gut that it was all a show. I knew in my gut that I was the only one being sincere. I didn't have the "fake it, till you make it" mentality required of "faith." Either the gifts of the spirit were real, or they weren't. Either God was going to prove him self, or the Bible was full of shit. I fasted, I prayed, I believed. I studied the Word and surrounded myself with concordances. Waiting ... nope still no babbling brook of inane commentary flowed from my mouth, no prophetic utterances, no virtue of healing power dripped from my finger tips. God was failing to prove himself to me. My faith was waning. Slowly, the chips began to fall.

The "gifts of the Spirit" was only one confusing doctrine in a line of many that would eventually seal my religious fate. After years of trying to justify one contradiction after another, I walked away for good, but I can't help but to think about this one particular belief of the Christian faith and wonder how many of you out there experienced a similar experience with the "charismatic" denominations. Anyone willing to admit that they "faked it" too?

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Questions and doubts grew... I was scared

Sent in by Butch

I’ve enjoyed this site and the support I’ve gotten from reading about so many other ex-Christians around the globe for a while now. I’ve been meaning to write my own de-conversion story but never got around to it. What follows grew out of a recent email exchange in response to a monthly column I write for my local paper, usually about freethinking, atheism, etc. First some background:

I grew up in a Southern Baptist home with very loving and supportive parents. My childhood was pretty typical and happy. I was saved as a teenager at a revival, made my public profession of faith, and baptized. For the next 10 years or so I was a Biblical-literalist, born again evangelical. I was active in the church, went to youth camps like Centrifuge, prayed daily, had a quit time almost daily, read the Bible incessantly, and witnessed whenever I got the chance. In short, I was “on fire for God” and I was happy.

In my early 20’s (in college of course) I started to meet a lot of people who believed differently than me, and a lot of these people were a lot smarter than me. I started reading things that I couldn’t answer and began to have doubts about some aspects of my faith, but never questioned God’s love or wisdom. To work on my doubts, I did what every good Christian should. I prayed. A lot. I also read the Bible independently and with various study guides and apologetic literature.

My initial questions dealt with alcohol. I was raised believing drinking was sin, plain and simple. But reading the Bible I found out that it never says that. There are even Bible passages (such as Proverbs 31:6-7) that say moderate drinking is a good thing! Next came the overwhelming evidence for evolution. I was taught in Sunday school that the earth was less than 10,000 years old and there was no evidence for evolution. But when I looked at the mountains (literally in some cases) of evidence in support of evolution I saw that wasn’t so, and that evolution is in fact one of the most vigorously supported theories in science supported by many independent lines of evidence from many different fields of science. If “the church” was lying about these types of things, what else might they be lying about, I asked myself. In essence, these lies opened the door and made me question the other things. If I had been raised in a more moderate or liberal denomination I may never had had the onus to question my faith at all.

The problem was the way I approached it. There’s a reason preachers always say you should start with the Bible as your foundation and check the facts against it. I am by nature a left-brained person and logic appeals to me. I was studying science in school and learning how the scientific process worked, and as a result I was approaching faith the same way. I was examining facts, and trying to see what conclusion they best supported rather than simply relying on the Bible as pure truth regardless of the facts.

Over the next few years my questions and doubts grew. I was pretty scared during this time because my faith was the most precious thing in the world to me. In desperation I met with ministers, priests, preachers, and respected laypeople hoping they could help me resolve my questions or at least point me to satisfactory scripture. But none of their answers, or those I could find myself seemed reasonable. Please keep in mind that through all of this, I was still a Bible believing Christian and was praying constantly. But sometime in this process I slowly moved to what I would call an agnostic believer. I wasn’t sure anymore, but I was still desperate to cling to my faith. Maybe out of fear of death or hell, aversion to the familiar and social ostracism I knew would follow if I left the faith.

My problem, though, is that I kept asking questions, and that I expected answers based on facts rather than faith.

Another problem was that I had the same misconception about what atheism was that most theists have. I thought it was a positive declaration that God doesn’t exist. I thought it must be an empty and sad existence. But it isn’t either one. It’s simply a lack of a positive belief in a god, and most atheists seemed pretty happy and content.

Eventually I came to the conclusion that I was an atheist myself. The final straw was that my God, God whom I loved and wanted to please more than anything, God who promised to always be there with me, God who was supposed to be the almighty…simply let me go. Despite my agonized, weeping prayers begging for faith, my God remained silent. I know I was a real Christian. I know I wanted to remain that way. I wasn’t rebelling or simply wanting to live a consequence free sinful life. In short, this “almighty” God was crushed out of existence by reason.

De-converting was a painful and extremely scary process. But I believe that sometimes doing the right thing is hard, and that truth is more important that comfort. In the end, it was worth it. I was ostracized by former friends, had family members get angry and hurt, and lost the promise of eternal bliss. But even though I was a happy Christian, I’m a happier atheist.

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I'm in a very lonely place right now

Sent in by notabarbie

I began my journey of de-conversion a little over a year ago, although I had had many unanswered questions for years and just buried them; mostly because I felt sinful for even considering them. It has been a long and arduous quest that continues and I'm sure will for a long time. If it had not been for caring ex-Christians on the internet, I don't know what I would have done. They have been as encouraging and honest as they could be and it has helped me tremendously. I hope I can do the same for others once I'm through the really tough parts.

I knew what I would lose when I de-converted, but when I was faced with all the evidence I couldn’t continue on. I'm not very good at faking it and just couldn't do it. It was destroying me. My husband knew of my struggles and questions, but it wasn't until I told him I couldn't go to church anymore that he realized the gravity of the situation. He says he understands and that he has his doubts too, but he continues to go without me and take our kids—that is tough.

I haven't really come out to most of my friends, but just the fact that I don't go to church anymore has caused many to avoid me. Even the friends that are still hanging in make me feel like they are here to "bring me back to the fold." There is a lot of pressure. It's not that I don't understand their motives — I do. I've been there myself and that makes me cringe a little. I have to be honest, I'm in a very lonely place right now, but I'm working on finding new friends and a new community, not that the cyber one hasn't been amazing, but I need a little human contact too; someone I can look in the eyes and pour my heart out to, you know?

Some might wonder why I would bring all this upon myself. Why not just quietly continue on attending church, etc., and just keep my beliefs under wraps? I can't do that and be true to myself or my family and despite the hurt and abandonment I feel at times, I have never felt more comfortable in my own skin before or felt more peace or joy and yes even love for my fellow humans. To do things solely out of caring and desire is so freeing. In the process my children are learning to be free thinkers and less judgmental. That is huge. I could never go back.

My internet friends told me things would be hard, but that they would slowly but surely get better and they were right of course. There are really bad days, but there are more and more good ones and I feel myself getting stronger and stronger everyday. I know I will eventually be completely honest with my friends, but I think that will be more gradual and hopefully less traumatic.

I know this was long, but thank you for the opportunity to tell a bit of my story. It has been very therapeutic.

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My "conversion" to atheism

By askegg

This is is short overview of my life as a Christian and why I became an atheist. This is mainly for those religious people who may state that I do not know what I am talking about, or that I have not studied Christianity in any real depth.

There is a slight problem with the Youtube version - it cuts off one of two closing slides and the credit for the music, which called "High Drama" from the album "Pictures" by Timo Maas.

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Confessions of a former Christian

By FightingAtheist

I am an atheist and a former Christian. As a former Christian I look back to what I used to believe. I wonder how I could have been no naive.

As a Christians I had very little knowledge about evolutionary biology, physics, geology, and chemistry. Yet I argued about evolution, fossils, and radioactive dating. I claimed to know problems that scientists just happen to miss when developing these thoroughly tested methods. These supposed flaws were pointed out to me by other Christians. Now I have read several books on each of these subjects and understand more than I thought I ever would. I know now that scientist have accounted for these supposed flaws.

As a Christians I vigorously denied the existence of thousands of gods claimed by other religions, but I was irritated when someone denied the existence of my God. I had an emotional attachment to my belief. My beliefs are now based on logic and reasoning and not emotional feelings.

As a Christians I felt insulted and "dehumanized" when scientists said that humans evolved from other life forms, but I had no problem with the Biblical claim that people were created from dirt. I ignored the evidence from millions of scientific tests that pointed to a different theory. Now I study these scientific findings with an open mind.

As a Christians I laughed at polytheists, but I had no problem believing in the father, son, and Holy Spirit that are separate yet the same. To me a trinity made more sense that multiple gods. Now I don't believe in any gods.

As a Christians I got upset when I heard of the violence attributed to Islam, or any other religion, but not when the bloodshed was committed by my God. I made excuses for my God. For Example: the slaughtering all the Egyptian babies in Exodus and the genocide performed in "Joshua" including women, children, animals and trees. I also claimed that my God was loving and kind.

As a Christians I thought Hindu beliefs that deify humans were just silly. I believed Greek claims about gods sleeping with women were absurd. Yet I had no problem believing that the Holy Spirit impregnated Mary, who then gave birth to a man-god who got killed, came back to life and then flew up into the sky. I realize now that the difference between these beliefs is minuscule. One is just as silly as the next.

As a Christians I was willing to spend my life looking for loopholes in the scientifically established age of the Earth, which is a few billion years, but I found nothing wrong with believing dates recorded by Bronze Age tribesmen sitting in their tents and guessing the age of the Earth.

As a Christians I believed that the entire population of this planet, with the exception of those who shared my beliefs, would spend Eternity in an infinite Hell of Suffering. And I considered my religion "tolerant" and "loving." I am free of the fear of hell now.

As a Christians I ignored the textual scholars that showed evidence that the Bible was not a reliable source. However an emotional person rolling around on the floor screaming gibberish was all the evidence I needed. I know now it was just plain nonsense.

As a Christians I thought that the double blind studies showing prayer completely ineffective were diversions from Satan. I believed the unanswered prayers were simply God saying "No." I ignored the fact that praying to any god produced the same results. I also ignored the fact that if my god was the one true god, my prayers would be answered more often than other religions which would cause a statistical anomaly that could be measured. I don't waste my time praying now.

As a Christians I actually knew little more about my religion than what I heard in church. I did not study the history of Christianity, the early church, how the bible was written, what books were left out of the bible, the mistranslations from the original Hebrew, and the atrocities committed in the name of Christianity. This knowledge was not needed to be a Christian. Studying all of these items and actually reading the entire bible helped me see the truth.

I am happy I do not believe in superstitions anymore. I believe actions are more important that beliefs.

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I finally made my decision -- I couldn't possibly believe in a God

Sent in by Andrew P

Just to give a little background, when I was born, my parents both attended a Lutheran church. My father's parents were devout Finnish Apostolic Lutherans. His mother considered drinking, smoking, dancing, card playing, any gambling, and all forms of non-hymnal music to be sins. Obviously, being in the 1960's, my father rebelled against this, but had to keep it quiet from her. My mother had been raised Pentecostal, before going Lutheran at age 17. The night before she was baptized a Lutheran, her father said to her "One day you will find the Pentecostal church is the ONLY right church."

Fast forward fourteen years. This is where I come into the picture. My parents were married and attending a Lutheran church in Iowa. I was born in April, baptized in July, and officially declared a Christian by everyone. Of course at two months of age, it's a little hard to make any sort of statement of faith, so I'm not sure I can truly call myself an ex-Christian.

Soon after, we moved to Ohio and started attending a Finnish Apostolic Lutheran church. The minister, during a Christmas Eve children's sermon actually told all the children that there is no Santa Claus, that he is just a distraction from the true meaning of Christmas. Several families left the church after that, but we stayed, as I was only about two and a half years old and didn't understand much more than eating, walking, and pooping.

It didn't take me long to start questioning Christianity, as the whole thing just made little sense. A big guy in the sky watching everything we do? Where? Why can't I see him? When I was five years old, I actually told my mom that I didn't think Jesus Christ ever truly existed. Her only warning to me was not to tell that to my Sunday school teachers, and certainly don't tell my grandmother.

After Sunday school went from the fun stories, games, and crafts dealing with Biblical teachings, and actually turned to the more hardcore coverage of the Bible and quoting from it in classes, that's when I had enough. The minister retired, and in the ensuing commotion in trying to find a new minister to take his place, my family decided to leave. For about a year, we chose not to attend a church, then moving on to the Unitarian Universalist church near us. My mother and I began attending, soon followed by my father. He left not long after. He was employed at a nuclear power plant as an electrical engineer, and when a church member made a comment in opposition to nuclear power, he took it to be an attack against him. He called the church "nothing but a front for a left-wing political organization" and chose to stop attending.

The Unitarian Universalist church was an eye-opening experience for me in many ways. I learned I wasn't the only one who questioned the idea of the divinity of Jesus or the existence of a God. I was exposed to many beliefs, including Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, while also briefly covering Buddhism, Taoism, and Hinduism. At about this time, my father entered alcohol rehab, then treatment for depression. Not long after, he was attending Lutheran services again.

My parents began to grow further apart. My mom was a pagan, emerging from the "broom closet" after being a quietly-practicing Wiccan and pagan since she was 19. My father jumped on the Rush Limbaugh bandwagon and got more heavily involved with the Lutherans. Both parents believed in their own form of a God, and here I was, stuck in the middle.

I couldn't accept the divinity of Christ. I couldn't even accept the existence of a God. It all just went against all science and logic. After some particularly hellacious elementary and middle school years, I finally made my decision. I couldn't possibly believe in a God. I tried to go back numerous times, but every prayer went unanswered. All I asked for was some stability in my life and some inner peace. And I got nothing.

Throughout high school, I continued attending the UU church with my mom, and my opinions on any sort of church soured greatly. Several members of the church wanted to start a "CUUPS" group-- Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans. According to the minister, the board of trustees would not approve funding for it. Each time it was brought up for a vote, it never passed for one reason or another-- not enough funding, we didn't need it, it just doesn't have enough support. Most of the time, it was blamed on the board's chairman. The minister was a very polarizing figure. Many families chose to leave the church. When my mom ran into one family at a bookstore and asked why they weren't attending, they said "We'll be back once she leaves," referring to the minister. This past year, she left. It was also stated by several members of the board that she was the one who opposed the CUUPS group, not members of the board. She admitted halfway through her time with us that she was a "Christian Unitarian Universalist." While I was not in opposition to this, I did opposed the treatment that the humanist and pagan UU's received from her. This was my first glimpse into the truth that you can remove religion from politics, but you'll never remove politics from religion.

I didn't last much longer as a UU. Before one of the national elections, I opted to support a third party while most of the church supported the Democratic candidate. I was actually told by a fellow choir member "You know, my father once told me not to waste my vote on a third party because they'll never win. You should just vote for the lesser of two evils." My response was "By supporting the lesser of two evils, it's still supporting evil. And who's to say I don't believe the Republican is the lesser evil?" After being called a racist this past year by a fellow UU (just because I don't like European hockey I'm a racist?), I have chosen to end all association with the Unitarian Universalist Church, and organized religion as a whole.

I had another shaping experience in college. After my freshman year, my mom decided to divorce my dad. I knew about it because she told me in July, but I couldn't tell him. She wanted to do it, and she wasn't going to until October. I had to live with this on my mind, weighing me down for three months. In that time, from the stress, I lost 30 pounds. I repeatedly got into fights with former friends. And when I went back to college in August, a once-close friend of mine never wanted to speak to me again.

And then I discovered Buddhism. Finally, a religion that had structure while not requiring the absurd belief in a big guy in the sky who we can't see, but will reward us if we do as he tells us! For once in my life, I was finally finding peace. I could deal with my problems while not letting them completely bog me down. I found for once in my life that there is good in everything if you just look for it and that there is no use in doing anything if it doesn't make you happy.

It can be hard at times to stay perfectly with all the tenets of Buddhism. I'm only human after all. But being a good Buddhist is so much easier than being a "good Christian." There are too many theories on what makes a good Christian, and all are too different. To be a good Buddhist, you basically only need to strive for happiness while not harming others. It's so much easier and makes so much more sense. And after all, as the Buddha once said, "Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter even if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense."

Currently, I live in Wichita Falls, TX, home to one of the largest Baptist congregations in the state, if not in all of the country. I am certainly a minority here as a Buddhist atheist, and possibly the only one here, but I am a much happier person in my beliefs now than I was in the Christian beliefs that dominated my upbringing. And didn't the Buddha teach that one should seek only happiness?

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