I am a former youth pastor

Sent in by Caleb C

I recently de-converted from Christianity a couple of months ago. I am still very conflicted and am struggling with the idea of telling my friends. I have told one though, and have had several conversations with him about it since. Every time I talk to him, I am ever repeatedly reminded of the fundamentalist way of thinking. In the face of whatever rational information / history / science you offer them, they can only respond with a confused and agitated look. In their mind, they keep thinking... "there must be some explanation, some conspiracy to this. I just don't know what it is yet."

To me, the biggest problem is that the "Christian message" is always delivered in a very protected way. A way similar to brain-washing. Go to a fundamentalist with a question of doubt resulting from something you read or watched on TV, and they will often give the same response (they often did to me). They'll tell you to "guard your mind" from information of "that sort." They'll argue that it is Satan's way of confusing you and making you doubt. Of course, they are either unwilling or unable to even address the issues you bring up. In the early days of the rise of the Christian religion (because of good ole Constantine), they just murdered and burned unbelievers as a way of erasing potential doubters of the faith. Nowadays, I really feel it is done with mind control tactics. The Christian must only put in their mind information designed to convince them of their religion's superiority.

I am a former youth pastor and skateboard ministry director. You see, my de-conversion story actually started with my desire to preach a message that would convince my youth group of the superiority of the Christian Faith and of Jesus Christ. I started researching religions, because I felt in my heart that Christianity had to be more unique and full of either older or more original revelations about God than all of the other religions. You can imagine my dismay when I found that Christianity is really an eclectic copy of stories from ancient mythology and pagan religions.

But I digress, this story isn't about that. I want to write about what happened when I recently visited the Christian skate park I founded and directed for three years. I just wanted to fellowship with the kids. The current director of the ministry is a close friend of mine. He is the friend I wrote of earlier, so he knows of my current atheist beliefs. He is a good guy though, and trusts me not to push my beliefs there. I sincerely just missed the kids and wanted to hang out. My mistake came when I decided to sit in on their Bible study (the same Bible study I used to deliver twice a week), and was shocked and disgusted by what I witnessed. The leader of the study was actually having each kid in turn speak and describe the worst sin they struggled with the week prior. You should have seen their faces. They were so remorseful, and so conflicted. I mean, I know every one of those kids. I know that most of the time they just struggle over whether or not they even believe God exists at all. I had to speak up. I told them that they were putting the wagon before the horse. I said they shouldn't be so focused on beating themselves up over their so - called "sin" when they weren't even sure if they believed in God in the first place.

Then I felt bad when I realized that's what I had done as a pastor and preacher. And I felt even worse, when I realized that was what was done to me my whole life by men and women of the faith that I looked up to. People are taught to only program their mind with what I now equate to "religious propaganda." Nothing that could potentially cause doubt is let in. Then, when they stay so focused on their sin, and how worthless, evil, and pathetic they are, who has time or mental energy to believe or investigate anything else? Now I know this post comes off rather brash. I also know that most fundamentalist are very caring, well-meaning people. They just don't know any better. They, like I, had simply been trained that way. Therefore, they do it that way too. At least I know I was, and did.

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