Cutting the tie that binds

Sent in by Gabe

I broke free from Christian fundamentalism in April 2006. I was a third year student at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY. This seminary is considered by many to be the intellectual hub of evangelical seminaries. The president of the seminary, Dr. Albert Mohler, has been called "the leading intellectual voice for evangelicals in America." He has been a frequent guest on Larry King Live, debating controversial topics such as gay marriage, abortion, religious tolerance, etc. Dr. William Dembski also teaches at the seminary, who is widely considered the world's leading proponent of Intelligent Design. Dr. Dembski was my professor in the fall semester of 2005.

But with one year left to complete a Masters of Divinity in Theology, I could no longer ignore the questions that were piling up in my mind. My questions and doubts troubled me to the point that I simply could no longer preach and teach something that I wasn't sure if believed any longer. I had become a member of a Southern Baptist church almost a year earlier. I absolutely loved this church, and all three pastors were also students at the seminary. The pastor was a Ph.D student, so I really enjoyed his sermons because they were really "deep" theologically. So when I informed them of my decision to leave the faith, you can imagine their reaction! Shortly after hearing of my decision, they held a Wednesday night service to excommunicate me from the church and "deliver my soul over to satan for the destruction of my flesh and the eternal flames of hell." Here is the email correspondence that took place after I informed them of my decision to leave the faith. Hope you enjoy:

MY FIRST EMAIL INFORMING MY PASTORS OF MY DECONVERSION:

Chris,

How's it going? This is Gabe. I apologize for not contacting you, Brandon, and John sooner. I hope things are going well for you. As you know I am not in seminary this semester. You are only the second person from the seminary I have emailed so far, and I regret causing such a stir by not contacting anyone before this semester began. First I want to say that you and everyone at Crossroad have been great friends. But I must get down to the heart of the matter. I know a good number of people are wondering where I am and why I have not shown up for class. I actually just dropped my classes, so I know my name has been called on the role for the last few days, and I'm sure that people are asking where I am. I don't know what the situation is like on the seminary campus. It may be that I have become the topic of many conversations, understandably so. I guess my roommate Craig has already informed you of the change in my beliefs, or at least some of the doubts I have. I have hesitated to speak to anyone because it is so difficult to tell you, my friends, and those I know of the change in my beliefs. I guess I should go ahead and tell you that I am no longer a Christian. And I can imagine how you feel from reading that statement. I could probably use the word shocked to describe the way you feel, but horrified is probably a better description. I fully understand everyone's reaction. In the eyes of a Christian something like this is more dreadful than a Christian cheating on his wife, because in my case the whole belief system which I held so fervently has crumbled. My family and friends in Georgia and South Carolina are completely shocked. I know that when the news gets around, everyone will be worried that I am on my way to hell, and I fully understand should anyone put forth an effort to bring me back into the fold. If it were me two months ago hearing of a brother or sister leaving the faith, I would have probably cried in prayer that God would bring him/her back. I know that many, if not all, will conclude that I was never a sincere born-again Christian due to the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints. But I can assure you that was not the case. This might not be the best time to get into the specifics which led me to leave the faith, but I know that I will probably end up in a few debates. People are going to want to know. I can assure you that this is not something that I have taken lightly, and my deconversion did not come at a whim. This has been a very emotional process, and I even prayed for God to lead me back to my Christian beliefs if indeed I was wrong. I have had doubts in the back of my mind for quite a while, but I simply ignored them, as many Christians do. The only way I could continue steadfast in my faith was to ignore my doubts. I even preached this summer while going through this process, simply because I had already committed to preaching there a month prior. It was the most difficult sermon I have ever preached because I knew I was preaching something I no longer believed. If anyone asks you why I have not returned, feel free to tell them. Many are probably thinking that I have fallen back into being the partying drunk and drug addict, but I have not. There are too many responsibilities in life for that. I do not regret going to seminary, it has been the deepest learning experience of my life, emotionally and intellectually. Right now I am doing construction with my brother while looking for a job in which I can use my business degree. I'll talk to you later. Again, I apologize for any heartache I have caused. This is certainly not my intention. I hope the best for you all. Talk to you later.

RESPONSE FROM CHRIS (SENIOR PASTOR)

Gabe,

I must say that I am very disappointed with both your decision to abandon the faith once for all delivered to the saints and the approach you have taken in arriving at that decision. As your pastor I am absolutely shocked that you failed to contact me when these doubts began to enter your mind. I am not sure what resources you chose to consult as you sought to assuage your doubts, but obviously they were poor ones. I, along with every professor at Southern, would have been at your disposal had you merely picked up the phone or sent an email. Instead you waited until you left town to begin the process of walking away from Christ and then never bothered to contact either your pastors or your professors. Did you doubt our ability to answer the questions you were facing? Do you think that [...], Al Mohler, or Bill Dembski would hold to a faith that was not intellectually viable? Or did you doubt our veracity? Had we ever given you the impression that we were lying or did not have your best interests in mind? These are questions that I am dying to have answered. Your comments that you did not want to get into the specifics or discuss specifics about your change of heart leads me to conclude that you are not very serious about discovering the truth. He whose mind is closed has ceased to learn. Give me specifics and I will answer any questions you have.

Of course at this point I must admit that I am a bit skeptical of your claims to no longer believe the Bible (as your roommate conveyed to us). To me it sounds as if you have found something that you love more than Christ (sin) and merely have changed your mind about Scripture in an effort to self-medicate against feelings of guilt and conviction of sin. Sin is crouching at your door Gabe. You must master it.

We have shared your abandonment with the members of CrossRoad Church and have called for a corporate fast on your behalf. Please rest assured that it will not be the last time we do so. We will not surrender you to the enemy. Gabe you need to return to Christ. The first step will be to share some specifics of your struggle and call me on my cell (###-###-####). At the very minimum we need to have considerable email correspondence. Brandon, John, and I are all prepared to travel to the Georgia/South Carolina area to sit down with you. You still have a trailer up here. Why don't you come up and visit for a week? We can sit down and discuss this issue patiently.

Gabe you requested that we remove your name from our church rolls. Please know that we will not give up on you that easily. We will pursue church discipline. Our church is prepared to put you out of the church, but that does not mean that our relationship with you will cease. It merely means that our relationship with you will change. At this point Gabe you give us little reason to conclude anything other than the possibility that you are either very confused by the attacks of the enemy or you were never a Christian to begin with. I pray you will give us a chance to relieve those fears.

Gabe, you are the victim of satanic strongholds (false ideas about God). If you will pursue the truth diligently God will lead you to it. Failure to let your pastors know about your struggles is not diligent pursuit of the truth.

Please call me.

Your friend,

Chris


MY INITIAL EMAIL FORWARDED BY CHRIS TO THE ASSISTANT PASTORS, JOHN AND BRANDON. THIS IS JOHN’S RESPONSE:

Gabe,

My mind is racing right now with all of the things I want to say to you. Chris and Brandon have responded to you well so I won't belabor any point that has been addressed. Please listen to what we are saying to you. We are in complete unity in our love and commitment to you. Gabe, there is nothing wrong with having some doubts in your mind. Anyone who is honest and engaged intellectually will have some from time to time. God is big enough to handle and answer your doubts if you are seriously searching after the truth.

I have found the disconnect you are experiencing usually begins with either a refusal to believe something that is true to the nature of God or a refusal to repent and forsake sin. My brothers have pleaded with you in both of these areas. Gabe, I really think you need to remove yourself from the atmosphere where sin has clouded your mind and return to Indiana. Maybe you need to sit out a semester -- that's fine. You need to be with people who love you as you are and long to help you understand the richness that can be found only in Christ.

We are praying and fasting fervently for you. Gabe, I would rather not eat than to lose you to Satan. It's like I'm watching my son play in the highway and I can't get to him. Come back home, Gabe.

Yours in Christ,

John


BRANDON’S RESPONSE TO MY INITIAL EMAIL. BRANDON IS THE PASTOR WHO FEELS HE IS GIFTED IN ADMINISTERING SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINE!

Gabe,

I have read the email that you sent to Chris and I am deeply disturbed and upset with your decision and line of reasoning. In fact Gabe, I do not believe your story at all. You are a very intelligent individual who is steeped in theology and apologetics. I don't think for one second that in your heart you fully deny the truthfulness of God's word and the exclusivity of the Lord Jesus Christ. You may have convinced yourself that these claims are false but you have been strongly deceived. Gabe lets get down to the bottom line here. This is the fact----you were saved out of a drug abusive lifestyle saturated with sexual immorality and these things still to this day haunt you and rid your conscience with guilt. This summer before you left I warned you that the enemy was going to swift you like wheat and try to tempt you to sin---talk about a prophetic word from GOD---how is that for prophecy? Gabe you told me that your brother was hooked on meth and was a drug addict as well as his wife. We grieved over his drug abuse and over the state of his soul. You have been with him all summer long.

Gabe lets cut to the chase here---what drugs are you on? Is it cocaine again?--I know you told Ryan you used to snort. Are you on meth? Smoking weed? What is it Gabe? No Christian in the history of creation walks away from the faith in the manner that you have. There is always a sin issue!! ALWAYS! I will not except this garbage that you just stopped believing because of some doubts you had. You can tell me that all day long and I don't except that Gabe. That is nothing but an excuse from Satan. Gabe take it from a man who has done drugs and abused alcohol and backsliden in the faith----I know what it feels like to walk away from Christ and i am telling you this---you are about to feel the biggest pain in your life if you do not repent of your lifestyle sin. God has put a hook in my nose and he will do the same for you---IF you are or ever were his child to begin with---which by the way I feel that you did give evidence of being a genuine Christian. We will help you. We love you. We will do whatever it takes to heal the pain that you are going through. Gabe I will drive to Georgia if I have to in order to get you some help...only stop telling me that you just don't believe because of some doubts because when you do that Gabe you insult my intelligence and my friendship.

Gabe I am praying for you and I love you. I want to help. We as a church want to help. In your response please tell us the truth about your sin so that we can attack the root issue.

In Christ,

Brandon



MY FIRST RESPONSE TO BRANDON:


Brandon, I received your message, and I will say that I am not surprised by your tone. But I know that you must rebuke them sharply. First I will say that you have been a good friend. But I must respond to your message. First I want to comment on your statement that "no Christian in the history of creation has walked away from the faith" as I did. I don't know where you came up with that. I don't know if you have ever heard of a man by the name of Dr. Charles Templeton. He was Billy Graham's best friend and original preaching partner when Billy Graham started in the revivalism circuit. It has been said that he was every bit as strong in the gospel as Billy Graham. However, upon examining the evidence for and against his Christian faith, he became an agnostic. There are countless other examples of people who have deconverted from Christianity, including Farrell Till, who is a former minister, but now an outspoken critic of Christianity. He even debated Norman Geisler, who as you know is one of the most highly respected Christian apologists in the world. You can read the debate online as I did, but if you don't want your faith shaken then I suggest you refrain from reading it. This debate didn't turn out so well for Dr. Geisler. Dan Barker is another example, a former Baptist preacher for 19 years, a touring evangelist, and a successful Christian song writer, who also turned away from the faith after much research. There are tons of other testimonies just like these of people who left the faith after putting their beliefs to the test. And you said that you do not believe that I abandoned the Christian faith because of some doubts that I had. Well if it were just a few problems I perhaps could have continued in the faith, but the problems and doubts are by no means few. How many problems does it take for one to honestly question whether his beliefs are true? Not many when the foundation of your faith is that the Bible is inerrant and infallible. John Wesley even said, "If there be any mistake in the Bible, there may well be a thousand. If there be one falsehood in that book, it did not come from the God of truth." (John Wesley, Journal, Wed., July 24, 1776). But of course a presupposition that it is inerrant and infallible makes it easy to explain away any problems. Under such a presupposition, you have no choice but to somehow make it "fit."

Second I want to clarify that my brother is not on methamphetamine. I never said he was. I only said his wife was at one point. But that's no big deal, just a little misunderstanding on our part. But she is still in rehad where she is receiving treatment, and we are confident that she will fully recover from this addiction. My brother has not done any meth in over four years. He has a son whom he takes care of every day, and he simply has too many responsibilities. And myself, I've been clean for almost six years and I plan on staying that way. Its not "garbage" when I say that I'm not on drugs, and its not "garbage" when I say that my doubts led me to abandon the Christian faith. And honestly, I do not like it one bit when you talk to me like that, nor does anyone else. Its late, so I have to go. Take care.

Gabe


A FOLLOW UP MESSAGE THAT I SENT BRANDON, INSPIRED BY HIS SMART-ASS "PROPHETIC WORD FROM GOD" STATEMENT:



Brandon, since in your email you mentioned prophecy, it reminded me to include a link to Farrell Till's discussion on the validity of using prophecy to prove the Bible is inspired. I was wondering if you wanted to read it. If the faith is true then it will withstand any objection brought against it, but it is strange that the vast majority of Christians are afraid to read anything that challenges their faith. Here's the link:

http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/farrell_till/prophecy.html

Talk to you later,

Gabe


BRANDON’S RESPONSE, AFTER REALIZING THAT MAYBE HE WAS BEING A LITTLE ARROGANT. FRANKLY, I THINK HE GETS A KICK OUT OF ADMINISTERING CHURCH DISCIPLINE. I GUESS IT ADDS A LITTLE VARIETY TO HIS MINISTERIAL DUTIES. ITS GOTTA GET RATHER BORING REPEATING THE SAME MESSAGE OVER AND OVER, WEEK AFTER WEEK, YEAR AFTER YEAR. HE BEGINS HIS RESPONSE IN AN APOLOGETIC TONE, BUT BY THE END HE’S JUST AS HARSH AS EVER.




Gabe,

First I want to say that I love you dearly. I am not trying to be rude or mean to you. Gabe I fear for your soul....I can't imagine you burning in hell for all eternity. Second, I am glad that you are not on drugs and if apologize if I misunderstood about your brother. Thirdly Gabe you misquoted my original email. What I said was this: "No Christian in the history of creation walks away from the faith in the manner that you have. There is always a sin issue!! ALWAYS!" I am not arguing that no one walks away from the faith. What I am arguing is that there is always a sin issue associated with the apostasy.

Gabriel I have read the material you sent and have a response to each point, however I want to know if you are open to hearing a response. If you have already made up your mind on this issue and are not open to the truth then I will be wasting my time and energy. However, if you are open then I suggest we have dialog on the subject.

Gabe this is a very serious matter and we are taking it seriously. There is a scheduled meeting for next Wednesday to excommunicate you from the flock of God. This will include handing you over to Satan for the destruction of your flesh.

1 Cor 5:5 "you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.

As you know Gabe, this means that the Lord himself will sit in judgment with us as a body and deliver you over to demonic torment in an attempt to force you into repentance. Whatever we bind on earth the Lord Jesus will bind in heaven. I don't want you to be demoniacally tormented the rest of your life. I fear for your soul the rest of your days on earth and for the eternal flames that await you on the day of judgment if you do not repent. Gabe think about these issues seriously...demonic torment....eternal fire.

Gabriel we are willing to suspend this vote if you are willing to be open and talk with us about these issues. A phone conversation, email correspondence, or a personal visit will do. Chris and myself will drive to Georgia and sit down with you and work through these issues. Gabe we made a covenant with you and we take that very seriously. Gabe I am your pastor and I will give an account to God Almighty for your soul. I will search for the lost sheep.

Please respond with your openness to doctrinal correction and repentance to sin. I have also copied John and Chris so that they are informed about our conversation.

Gabe again I am pleading with your soul out of love....please don't forsake Christ. Gabe little 5 year old [...] knelt beside her bed last night and prayed the following, "Jesus please help Gabe to remember you again." Chris's daughter Brooke prayed that "Gabe would come back to Jesus." Gabe even the little children of CrossRoad Church are pleading with the Lord for your soul. We have fasted as a church for your soul. Gabe please don't force us to hand your soul over to demonic torment and the eternal flames of Hell.

Brandon


MY LAST RESPONSE BEFORE WE MET IN PERSON:

Brandon, I am more than willing and open to any correction in what I have researched. But it is clearly evident that you are not open to the option that your beliefs are false, because you said to me, "If you have already made up your mind on this issue and are not open to the truth then I will be wasting my time and energy. However, if you are open then I suggest we have dialogs on the subject." You question whether I have already made up my mind on this issue. I am open to being corrected, but the arguments opposing the Christian faith are much stronger. But you are guilty of having already made up your mind, because you claim that I may not be open to the truth, proving that your presupposition is that your beliefs are correct and mine are false. Brandon, lets be honest, if you had never been told that the Bible is the Word of God, would you believe it is inspired? Talk to you later.

Gabe





HOPE YOU ENJOYED, SORRY ABOUT THE LENGTH.

88 comments:

Stephen B said...

These are good examples of how even intelligent people can miss getting it. Pastor Chris said it well..."Why didn't you tell me about your doubts?" Why did Gabe abandon a common decency in friendship and mentoring...talking directly and honestly? There's more going on here than just changed beliefs.

stronger now said...

It's pretty easily explained when you understand that the people he was getting away from, consider a book that condones and requires the stoneing of unbelievers to be the word of god.

Telmi said...

Gabe, just continue with reason and leave all irrational beliefs behind. A new vista has already opened up for you. Hope this will lead you to greater happiness and peace of mind.

Jeff P said...

Gabe, I enjoyed your post.

What I love about this site are the contributions of folks who have been deeply involved, committed, and enmeshed in the religious world--who have then seen enlightenment through their realities, readings, and ability to forge through that house of cards whereby finally enough of them fall that the whole house comes tumbling down.

I'm reading "Leaving the Fold, Testimonies of Former Fundamentalists" by Edward Babinski--It's another great read that I think you'd find enlightening. Lots of stories similar to yours.

When I read the responses of your former "friends," I do see at least on a superficial level a love, or at least a concern, for you. However, we've all seen how that concern is very conditional, and will soon evaporate when it becomes clear that you're unable to further support their house of cards.

Best of luck to you.

Evanrude said...

Thanks for great post. I enjoyed your honesty.

As a contrast to that honesty the letters you received back were lacking but very typical. Christians don't even consider it presumptuous that they know the true reason of your deconversion. Instead of taking what you said at face value they read in a hidden motive of sin. This illustrates exactly what is wrong with Christianity. They are making a claim that they know nothing about. As anyone who has been through deconversion knows this is a lie. I went through the process as you did, reluctantly. I prayed multiple times for God to show me the way back. However in the end I felt I could not continue to rationalize away my doubts. I essences I grew up.

One response from Brandon illustrates why the Christian Cult has such a grip on so many.
He said 'Gabe I fear for your soul....I can't imagine you burning in hell for all eternity.' He is exactly correct. I can't imagine a worse evil. If Brandon truly searches his understanding for why this is wrong he will find he is not only at odds with God's idea of justice but repulsed by it. If indeed the Christian God is this evil than the believer and unbeliever are both screwed. I am exceedingly grateful that I don't in this repugnant myth anymore.

Thanks for you letters and good luck in process of growing towards full human maturity.

Jim Arvo said...

Gabe,

Thanks for posting your story. I can only imagine how difficult that transition must have been for you. Robert Price also describes how he came to doubt his faith while still in divinity school. He said that in his effort to become the best apologist he could be, he felt obliged to study opposing views very seriously. In so doing, he realized their actual force. According to Price, it's not all that uncommon for divinity students to leave the faith for similar reasons; i.e. having been exposed to critical arguments for the first time, as a side effect of studying apologetics. I'm wondering if you learned of other students who were also questioning their faith, or were you alone in this.

To Stephen B: You assert that there must be something more going on. Apparently you cannot accept that some people have the courage to critically examine their beliefs and the intellectual honesty to change their views in the light of new information. Taking Gabe at his word, it appears that he did just that.

Congratulations, Gabe. You showed a lot of courage. I hope you find a new world of intellectual challenges opening up to you.

mike said...

Gabe this is a very serious matter and we are taking it seriously. There is a scheduled meeting for next Wednesday to excommunicate you from the flock of God. This will include handing you over to Satan for the destruction of your flesh

Isnt the "love" of christians amazing. They say they love someone, yet are willing to cast them into hell? My friends that is not love. Also, if God is real is he not supposed to keep those whom the father has given him?

Christianity yet disproves Christianity.

Madame M said...

Stephen, Gabe did tell them about his doubts, after he explored the issues and came to a decision. There is always more to a persons story then meets the eye in writing, it doesn't mean they are being disengenous, just that people are complex. Was there more than meets the eye to your salvation testimony? The pastors said that all who leave have a "sin" issue. Well, nobody is perfect so I guess they could find something to point the finger at on anyone. On the other hand, I could say that all people who recieve salvation have some stressor in their life. If you look hard enough, you could find stress in anyone's life. So what was yours? Does it invalidate your decision for Christ?
****************************

Gabe, don't apologize for the length. I was so involved in the story that I was flat out disappointed when you ended it before the face to face meeting. What happened? How did that end?

I had to laugh when you were called close minded while they refused to consider any other options than those that supported their preconcieved notions of those who leave.

If you are not already a member, we have message board forums here.

Madame M said...

Mike,

Actually the belief is to turn the person over to satan on earth, so that satan and demons can torment the person until they cry "mercy" and go back to the faith, thus "saving them from hell". Doesn't make it any more loving though. It is a deplorable belief one way or the other, that leads believers to rejoice when one who leaves the fold is stricken with disease, loss of loved ones, financial woes...etc because they feel these tribulations are going to bring them so far to the bottom that they scramble back to christianity in desperation. Love through force. I suppose they are really only showing the attributes of the god they worship, who uses the fear of hell to extract "freely given unconditional love" from his followers- a paradox.

exfundie said...

Great Post! I've had similar experiences. What I find the most ironic now is looking at the people I once held in such high regard and seeing them as merely brainwashed and superstitious. All that useless worry over mastering sin, and Satan getting the better of you. How silly.

Jim Arvo said...

Madame M said "Actually the belief is to turn the person over to satan on earth, so that satan and demons can torment the person until they cry 'mercy' and go back to the faith, thus 'saving them from hell'."

Gasp! What a horrid belief system. Sure, they paint is as "compassion" in that they are attempting to save the apostate from an eternity in Hell. But just look at what behavior this entails. Rather than simply accepting the person's choice and wishing them the best of luck, they are actively seeking to inflict great pain and distress on the person. In effect, if they cannot win them back through "reason" they resort to torment! How despicable is that?

Lance said...

Great Post Gabe. I love how you included their responses. It was good to see a lot of the give and take session.

It is typical how Brandon accused you of having a closed mind, but refused to see how closed his was.

In two of the circumstances I have had in which ex-christian brothers offered to walk along side me and help bring me back, I agreed as long as they would agree to put their faith on the line. I said I was open to their arguments, but they would have to thoughtfully consider mine, and not just bat them away before the ideas could lodge in their heads. They would have to start from the place in which neither of us knew the truth and we would seek it together. They would have to start with the presupposition that they could be wrong.

I told them not to answer right away, but to think about it and decide if they could honestly start from a position of doubt.

In these cases, both came back to me later saying they could not do that. One said that god told him to "hold fast," and not to question. The other did not want to give satan a stronghold.

Thus ended our conversations. If ever they bring up the subject now I can remind them that they chose not to honestly seek the truth with me. Of course they say that they already have the truth, but I no longer have time to beat my head against that wall.

I still have great conversations with people of various levels of faith that are open minded, but as for those fundamentalists, Thomas Paine said it best; "To argue with a man who has renounced his reason is like giving medicine to the dead."

I'd say you are doing the right thing by leaving those folks behind and going on to live a good life.

Best of luck.

- Lance

Anonymous said...

Always gotta be somethin' other than rational examination of the material to have someone leave the flock, hm? Obviously Jesus was pissed at the Jews, thus his heresy, right? Anyway, Gabe, I'll just say good on ya, and welcome to reason, which has no season.

M. Lee

Denis said...

Gabe,

No need to apologize for the length. Thanks for posting your email correspondence with the pastoral staff. It's interesting to me that they would not honor your request to simply be removed from the church rolls, but chose to kick you out instead. The fact that they want to see you mentally and spiritually tormented says a lot about their manipulative and controlling state of mind.

They could have said: "Our commitment is to the truth, and we honor your journey in finding it." But of course, their commitment is not to truth but to defending a set of ideas they hold, even against evidence to the contrary.

You've embarked upon an exciting and rewarding journey, even though breaking away from your former social environment is not easy. In the long run, you will be glad you did.

-- Denis

Brian Worley said...

Wow! Gabe, there have been many great post to this site, yours is as good as they get! Your story really resonates with me. Welcome to the honest preacher's club (true ministers who left the ministry because they won't propogate something that they themselves don't believe in).

I have done the same as you and walked away from the ministry. I liked the way you left (with letters). You handled it in a much better way than what I did, I just went away silently. I do wish that you would give your surname to bolster this fine post. I would understand if you choose not to!

I was joyfully laughing when others suspected that you wanted to leave and go into sin. Get used to plenty of strange Christian attitudes towards you. I hope that you have some true loving people around yourself. I wish you all the best and I hope that you will continue to tell your story.

Anonymous said...

I was a student at SBTS during the time that Gabe was there. I graduated in Dec. 2004. I went to pastor a church and was forced to resign in 6 months time. Christians have hurt me, and they can often be very hard to be real wtih. But I'm still one of them. I don't know if I knew Gabe or not. Either way I am grieved about what has happened. I have my own struggle to believe. I know a lot of things intellectually about the Christian faith, but I am troubled by how little it has changed me. I struggle to keep believing that Jesus is more to be desired than porn--when it has such a pull on my heart. I struggle to believe that Jesus can change a person, when I treat my wife and children so harshly sometimes. I struggle to believe that God has any good plan for me, when I've faced so many failures and disappointments. In the end. "I" am a desparate sinner. I have no room to judge anyone for what they have done. But I believe that I am justified not by anything good about me, but by the work of Christ. I stand in judgment over no one. But what I will say is that everyone reading this--including myself--will one day stand before a judgment. The only hope for me, and the only hope for any of you, is to run to Jesus for refuge. He will turn no one away to flies to him for refuge. Turn to him.

an ominous said...

"I was a student at SBTS during the time that Gabe was there. I graduated in Dec. 2004. I went to pastor a church and was forced to resign in 6 months time. Christians have hurt me, and they can often be very hard to be real wtih. But I'm still one of them."

I can relate with everything you wrote, and wanted to lend written support by acknowleging your relpy.

I won't get into my Christian beliefs because it's probably not appropriate right now, but do I ever relate to you. It does get better. Slowly. Real slow.

I can really feel for gabe. His post left me almost speechless and sad.

clair said...

Anon poster, thanks, that clears it up for me. All these years, and to think all I needed to do was regurgitate what I just healed myself of, and once again live in fear of every breath. I did miss the pain a bit, like every good christian woman should. Again, thanks. And may it be returned to you thousand times ten.

Wayne said...

Hey anon...
seems like every time I opened myself for the possibility of believing - something terrible would happen. Nervous breakdown, death of a friend, death of my mother, etc...

Is this what your lord does for people to help usher them back into the fold?

There is nothing you can do do deem yourself worthy of this god you so highly regard,because every sect of christianity has a different tweak on things...what and what isn't a "sin".

If you truly followed the buy-bull, you don't need to feel bad for treating your wife and kids badly. It's all fine and dandy, because kids and women are property according to that wretched book.

The day you rely on faith is the day you stop trying to understand, and that equals a closed mind.

xrayman said...

Anon said,

"But what I will say is that everyone reading this--including myself--will one day stand before a judgment. The only hope for me, and the only hope for any of you, is to run to Jesus for refuge."

Wow, just when I think I am so comfortable in my skin as an atheist, this guy stops by and reminds me of judgement day. Son of a bitch I forgot about judgement day. I have been repressing the thought of it for two years. Somebody please qoute some scriture please.

Seriously, Great story Gabe. I really want to hear how this whole thing turned out. You kind of left us hanging. What exactly are your beliefs now? Are you going to stop by and tell us more? Please do.

xrayman said...

Oh my God G Bus has just taken away my ability to spell.

AtheistToothFairy said...

exfundie wrote:
What I find the most ironic now is looking at the people I once held in such high regard and seeing them as merely brainwashed and superstitious
----
I concur exfundie, that where I once held these xtian authority figures in great esteem, I now see them as still being held fast by the brainwashing done to them.


TO ALL:

Just out of curiosity, suppose one could travel back in time, to a year when you were a deep believer in the xtian god. Now you meet your former self, knowing what you know NOW.
Does anyone think they could convince their former selves that the xtian religion is all a myth?

I sometimes have wondered if I went back a couple decades in time and then found my younger xtian self, could I convince that younger 'me' (with what I know today about god and the bible), that I was being misguided.

Would our former selves be just as stubborn and blind-sided as most of the fundies we see bouncing in here?

What would YOU say to your younger self, if you could go back in time to meet yourself??
Would you use logic, examples of contradictions, science knowledge, or something different to convince your old-self?


ATF (who couldn't think of anything to say HERE this time..LOL)

Lance said...

Hey Anonymous,
I do understand your torment and pain and I will not berate you. But from my perspective, the only thing holding you to your set of untenable beliefs is the fear of hell.

Think about it, they crammed that stuff into your head when you were still Santa Claus eligible, and then slammed on a cork of fear to hold it in.

But the real kicker is that part of your brain knows that God must be good, while the other part has been convinced that you will be sent to hell by this good and loving god if your faith wavers.

You need to bring those two parts of your brain together so the conflict can collide. You need to see that a good god would not put people through this short and confusing life, playing a deadly game of hide and seek all the while, just so he could send billions to eternal torment for not believing the correct doctrine.

You need to look the hell question straight in the face, and realize it does not fit with a good and loving god. Either that, or you need to join Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptists who are the only Christians that really proclaim the god found in the bible. One that hates us and is looking forward to watching us burn in hell. (Google Fred Phelps and Westboro Baptist Church if you are interested.)

You need to realize that Christianity does not have a good and loving god as you think, but that Christianity is nothing more than a set of doctrines to explain why God can be a complete jerk if he wants to be. It is his universe and he can do whatever he wants, right?

You know in your heart that it just does not make sense, but the fear holds you back from acknowledging this huge logical problem.

That conflict in your head is tearing you up. Let go of the fear and embrace the loving side of yourself.

Since I left Christianity, I am a more honest, loving, tolerant, nonjudgmental, and less tormented person. And I have perfect faith that a good god would not send me to eternal torment for rejecting such a gruesome fairy tale.

And as far as Judgment day goes, how do you know God won't say something like "Why would you believe that crazy book? It made me look like a raving lunatic. Couldn't you tell in your heart that I was not such an A-hole? Couldn't you look at the history of Christianity and see that I was not part of all the misery it brought? I tried to reach you, but you kept pushing me away in favor of that stupid book and your precious doctrines."

There is a lot of mystery without the Christian god. But you can embrace mystery and live a wonderful life without dragging all those insane doctrines around.

I don't believe any of it anymore, but if you want to continue to trust Jesus, go ahead, but trust the Jesus that was always concerned about the condition of someones heart, and not concerned about their having a rigid belief system. And remember, it was always the religious leaders, like yourself, that he had the harshest words for.

So drop the bible, toss the religion, and let go of the fear.

You can keep God if you want, but the Christian god is not real.

Peace.

- Lance

Lance said...

Hi Again Gabe,
Thanks again for the post. Just a couple last thoughts about the pastors saying it is sin in your life that led you astray.

First off, that is easy for them to say, since in their book all are sinful, so it will be easy for them to start looking for and finding some sin to pin on you. In my case they said it was the sin of pride that pushed me away. But if not that, they would have found something else.

The problem is that they acknowledge that all people, Christians included, are sinful. So why does God not turn everyone over to their sins? Why does God keep so many child molesters in the ranks of the saved, and especially in the church leadership? Why does he not kick them out? Why do they not reject God because of their sin?

So we have established that all are sinners in their books, but why do only the sinners that question their beliefs get turned over to those sins by God?

It appears that the only sin their god really can't stand is the sin of thinking for oneself. Think about it, you can have any sins in the world, but as long as you avoid skepticism God won't turn you over to them.

Or maybe you just evaluated their truth claims and rejected them because they did not make sense. Nah, couldn't be that!!!

- Lance

Randy said...

Thank you Gabe for sharing. The length was warranted. I commend you for thinking for yourself despite a fairly extensive and punitive system set up precisely to prevent that. If you ever go back to your faith, no one is going to write you nastygrams for not coming to them first so that they could talk you out of it. No one is going to tell you that their child was up crying all night for Gabe to remain a free thinker. No one is going to tell you that they love you but are hoping you get hit by a bus so that you will remain a free thinker.

Those are they kind of dirty underhanded tricks that someone would use if and only if their belief system was a fragile house of cards that required bullying, threat and massive amounts of guilt to maintain.

Fight the good fight Gabe.

Edward T. Babinski said...

Hi Gabe,

I'm the editor of "Leaving the Fold: Testimonies of Former Fundamentalists," and I've gotten to know a number of ex-seminarians after my book was published in 1995. Some took classes with apologists like Gary Habermas or William Lane Craig.

I hope you'll share more in future. Or feel free to email me just to talk. By the way, I liked Lance's discussion above mine, concerning the mystery, and would even go further in saying that there are ex-inerrantists who have become moderates, liberals, even agnostics/atheists who yet find some things about Christianity attractive. There is a wide spectrum of belief as it were, and some people during their lives etertain beliefs that vary widely along that spectrum, while others may have beliefs that only move along the spectrum a bit, and only on some topics, leaving other beliefs relatively unchanged over the years. Some even move back and forth, though it appears to me that people who have had their beliefs stretched by a new question or new idea rarely if ever have their beliefs simply spring back to their originally dimensions. And, of course there's other religions too, one's that include the acknowledgement of more mystery as a matter of course.

I wish you well on your journey.

For any Christians reading this I would like to simply remind them that life is not easy, and that even "with" God or "with" Christ, or "with" any other supernatural things one might add, religious believers still suffer bouts of uncertainty, confusion and loneliness. Such is life for us all. So of course it's good to have friends you can speak with.

And in your case, if one is in the situation of leaving a particular fold, it's good to be able to speak with others who have left that fold, because all major reorientations of one's mind and emotions are difficult in many ways (but also exhilerating in other ways). I have a lengthy online article, titled, "The Uniqueness of the Christian Experience" that might help explain matters better.

Best wishes,
Edward T. Babinski

Edward T. Babinski said...

Gabe,
I exchanged some emails with your professor a while back, Dr. Dembski. My questions and his responses can be found online if you simply google:

Babinski Dembski

Or google:

www.edwardtbabinski.us/dembski.html

Anonymous said...

Gabe, I was a student of William Lane Craig's before I left the fold. Congratulations on breaking free. More and more it seems Christianity is in trouble. More and more people are leaving the fold. Be a part of it. Help us break down that delusion. Save people from "wasting" their lives following that yellow brick road that goes no where.

John

Edward T. Babinski said...

Gabe,
I ran across the story of another person whose doubts developed in seminary, quite a prestigious seminary in fact, during the Victorian era, and he was ex-communicated.

I even found out that the book he wrote that contained his doubts is online. And I read about another book that is due to be published soon that mentions this individual and the biblical questions that exacerbated his doubts:

George Bethune English (1787–1828)graduated from Harvard College in 1807, and received the highest academic award, the Bowdoin Prize for his dissertation, and was awarded a Masters in theology in 1811. During his theological studies at Harvard he began to doubt the truth of the Christian religion which he critiqued in a book entitled The Grounds of Christianity Examined (Boston, 1813) [IT IS ONLINE] that drew a great deal of attention at that time. On November 4, 1814, the Church of Christ in Cambridge excommunicated him for this work.

He wrote a second book "A Letter to the Reverend Mr. Cary," as a result of criticism of his first work and the controversy that it provoked. At this time he also published replies to the Unitarian leader William Ellery Channing's (1780-1842) "Two Sermons on Infidelity." A colleague from Harvard, Edward Everett, published a rejoinder to English's book "The Grounds of Christianity Examined," to which English responded with his 1824 book "Five Smooth Stones out of the Brook."

English was nominated by President James Madison on February 27th, 1815 and commissioned on March 1, 1815 as a second lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps during the War of 1812. English worked in the Diplomatic Corps of the United States and worked to secure a trade agreement between the United States and the Ottoman Empire, which had trade valued at nearly $800,000 in 1822. In 1827, he returned to the United States and died in Washington the next year.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

What would make a nineteenth-century Harvard Divinity School graduate turn his back on his deeply held religious beliefs and write an incisive attack on Christianity? An obscure sixteenth-century polemic called the Chizzuk Emunah, written by a scholar from a heretical Jewish group, forever changed George Bethune English's life. Formerly a Congregationalist minister, Bethune English had rejected challenges to his faith until he discovered Rabbi Isaac ben Abraham of Troki's book, which led him to write:

"Either the Old Testament contains a Revelation from God, or it does not." From this he concluded that if the Old Testament were true, Christians were distorting the divine revelation. If it were false, then there could be no basis for their faith.

The result of his newfound beliefs was The Grounds of Christianity Examined, a widely circulated critique of Christianity addressed to an extremely religious America.

Aware of the hostile response that he could expect, Bethune English not only argued his case against Christianity, but also his right to argue his case.

One reader commented that his work would "pass like wild-fire through the country," yet an accessible and informative version of Bethune English's groundbreaking critique has not been available until now.

Historian and philosopher Richard H. Popkin in his book [Disputing Christianity: The 400-Year-Old Debate over Rabbi Isaac Ben Abraham of Troki's Classic Arguments, 2007] provides a fascinating commentary that notes many points of historical interest and demonstrates the significance of Bethune English's analysis of the Chizzuk Emunah.

For example, Voltaire on a visit to England in 1724 learned of the original Jewish work from an associate of the Reverend Anthony Collins, an English deist. The work was also used in debates about the merits of Christianity between Unitarian minister Joseph Priestly and Anglo-Jewish theologian David Levi. German scholars Hermann Samuel Reimarus and Ephraim Gotthold Lessing referred to the work in their early publications initiating the Higher Criticism movement examining the historical origins of Christianity. And the work also had an influence on Abraham Geiger, the founder of Reform Judaism; on David Deutsch, the defender of Orthodox Judaism; and on Evangelical Christian leader Hermann Strack of Berlin, whose use of excerpts from Rabbi Isaac’s work can still be found in Evangelical Christian literature today.

Dave Rattigan said...

Good God. How quickly these pastors and mentors stooped to crass manipulation to keep you in the fold.

Nightmare said...

I know I'm gonna get shit (due to the atheist and materialist majority on this board) but that's ok - I firmly acknowledge the possibility that my own beliefs are merely delusional.

Anyway, in regards to "This will include handing you over to Satan for the destruction of your flesh." - well, that certainly sounds like a curse (in the magical sense of the term) to me. Myself, if someone told me the I'd view it as tantamount to a declaration of war.

Ruth Tucker said...

Gabe,

As the author of WALKING AWAY FROM FAITH, I found your story similar to many others I have read and researched--and the response from your ministers very similar to that of James Bruckner (pp. 172-177). I certainly understand why you didn't give them heads up before getting out of town. Your story should be read by every minister on how NOT to respond to those who struggle with unbelief. Doubt and unbelief are taken far too lightly by many Christians when they say "everyone has doubts," implying your faith-threatening doubts are just like everyone else's passing doubts. As you know, some of us have massive doubts and continue on in our Christian pilgrimage. I'd love to chat with you sometime.

Ruth Tucker
www.ruthtucker.net
www.questioningfaith.com

Reverend Frag said...

It must be very difficult to just walk away from a church like you have done, with full open honesty about why you were doing it. It must be even harder when you have spent so many years getting deeper and deeper into the workings of that church. Congratulations on your intellectual honesty and courage.

Jeff P said...

What a great comments section!

I just wanted to take time to personally thank Edward Babinski and John Loftus for their books and efforts, I am learning from and enjoying them hugely.

Ruth I look forward to reading more about your story and will purchase your book as well.

Three others I wanted to mention, during this comment string, would be "Doubt, a History" by Jennifer Hecht, and "Freethinkers," by Susan Jacoby. I also loved "The Dark Side," by Valerie Tarico. All very enlightening, and relevant to the posts on this testimony.

What an honor to be see these authors post here.

resonate11 said...

Gabe,

I am amazed by brave souls--the totality of one's being, not some eternal ghost--like you who are able to escape dogma.

What struck me about your testimony was how angry the two of the pastors seemed that you would have the audacity to leave "the" faith. I believe that anger is a sign of cognitive dissonance. If so, then there really is hope for them too.

I hope you revel in your new found thought freedom and belief honesty.

Madame m said...

"I" am a desparate sinner. I have no room to judge anyone for what they have done. But I believe that I am justified not by anything good about me, but by the work of Christ."

Anon, you sound like you are really struggling to make positive changes by using religion as your catalyst for change. One thing though, if perhaps you believed there was anything good about you, perhaps you would have the inner strength and confidence to make the changes you so desire. Sometimes we make our own self fulfilling prophecies whether we intend to or not. Believing that you are "unworthy" and waiting on an invisible diety to make that change, does not effect any boosting of your self esteem or morale. Perhaps if you tried believing in your own capacity for goodness you would find that inner strength.

I'm not perfect either, but I can tell you this, since leaving christianity and finding my own self strength, I have been able to make more positive changes and see more good in my life then when I was chained to the self-deprecation that comes with Christianity. Not to mention waiting on Jesus to do any magical work. I've seen many lives bogged down, put on hold and completely derailed by people waiting for a god to come to the rescue, give them all the inner strength they were promised they would recieve upon salvation and give them all the answers.

Christians hurt people because they are just people, plain and simple. The bible says that the indwelling of the holy spirit brings about the fruits of the spirit, and that christians will be known by these fruits. Therefore if there were any power in the spirit, a group of christians would be the most loving, positive and wonderful group anyone could belong in. They aren't, they are less peaceful sometimes than a public school PTA. Think about it.

Debbie K said...

Gabe,
You are braver than I. I have yet to tell my family or old church friends of my deconversion (about one and half years ago). They all assume I have "backslidden", but don't realize my compelte change in thoughts and abandoning the faith. As a missionary kid with both siblings also missionaries, I would rather keep it quiet and not disturb my family, especially my elderly mother. But as soon as she has passed, I can't WAIT to come out of the closet!!!

I'm also in Georgia and would love to get together with any ex-fundies to help me on this road. I still have guilt feelings from over 50 years of indoctrination!

Debbie

buffettphan said...

Gabe said: "Lets be honest, if you had never been told that the Bible is the Word of God, would you believe it is inspired?" ---- What a powerful line! If you don't mind, I think I might start using it on the fundies around here who bother me almost daily. ;-)

Great post, Gabe. I, like many others here can't wait to read about "THE MEETING"....

Jeff P said...

Debbie K, I have a special place in my heart and interest for those folks who've been Christians for over 4 decades, as that is where I fit in. My delusion lasted 46 years, and I find myself in a similar situation, living in Texas, where "coming out" publicly would be harmful to me in my work and play. It's just "safer" currently to just be non-supportive of religious tripe, but I'd love to hear your story as a testimonial posted at this site.

billybee said...

Prayer never heard at a christian prayer meeting: Oh Lord, You have all the power. You can change the system of how you deal with mere mortals. PLEASE don't burn our unsaved love ones in Hell!!! YOU can bring everyone to heaven. This we pray in Jesus name. Amen.

billybee said...

hPrayer never heard at a christian prayer meeting: Oh Lord, You have all the power. You can change the system of how you deal with mere mortals. PLEASE don't burn our unsaved love ones in Hell!!! YOU can bring everyone to heaven. This we pray in Jesus name. Amen.

Anonymous said...

Holy shit! Do you see how they play the eternal torment card? That's Christianity, one big threat. Its a terroristic faith, pure and simple.

nightflight

badrita said...

Ummm, I'm not sure where to begin. I stumbled across this site while surfing. I'm no super-spiritual Bible thumper. I barely make it to church but a handful of times a year. I struggle with my faith, and I joke that my prayer to God is, "Dear Lord, save me from your followers!"

I think there is a big, giant difference between the Christianity preached by uber-fundy seminaries and mega-churches, and the actual words of Christ as recorded in the Bible, and I can see how many, many people get fed up with the hypocrisy and near-obsessive behavior that goes on in these churches.

My journey has me on the fringes of what some would call Christianity. I am a transsexual Lesbian. My parents disowned me for 17 years, and I tore my whole family apart. I have a 30 year old son to whom I haven't spoken in about 8 years. He tells the rest of my family to not give out his contact information so I don't try to call him.

So why tell you all this? Because I was so touched when I read this story that I cried. I just want you all to know that I stopped right here (something I don't often do) and prayed for each of you right on the spot. Because I want you to know that I'm not some religious troll zealot trying to force my views on you. I am one of God's flawed, misshapen ones who would probably be burnt at the stake if I went into a Southern Baptist church and told them this story.

Yet here I am, praying for you.

I won't post again, either.

If anyone wants to talk, my email is badrita@gmail.com.

Anonymous said...

I just kind of dropped out without telling any of the pastors. I got a letter from my church telling me that they were taking me off the membership rolls, but nobody had an "excommunication" meeting. That would have felt like a real kick in the gut, even though it shouldn't bother me, really.

I, too, am an "MK" -- missionary kid -- and like Ruth Tucker, I was at Calvin College (I graduated in 2001). My sister is a missionary in Africa. I am so happy my family hasn't given me the cold shoulder. If I had that on top of my deep emotional distress from the Christian doctrines, I don't even want to think about what I would do.

I believed I was a sinner, I believed my sexual feeling was a crime, I believed in divine vengeance. I don't think people like me can ever truly be whole again. :(

RubySera said...

Anonymous Pastor said:

"I struggle to believe that Jesus can change a person, when I treat my wife and children so harshly sometimes....The only hope for me, and the only hope for any of you, is to run to Jesus for refuge."

NO! Absolutely not! You need to find out what is triggering you to respond harshly. Then you need to learn how to fix yourself so you don't respond harshly. You can ask Jesus to help you find the problem and you can thank Jesus for helping you solve it. But YOU, Sir, need to get in there and get your hands dirty. Sitting around hoping and praying--it's sickening that anyone preaching the Word believes that way. PLEASE! for your own sake and that of your wife and children and parishioners, learn how to fix yourself--with Jesus' help if you wish.

Cousin Ricky said...

badrita wrote: “... I struggle with my faith, and I joke that my prayer to God is, 'Dear Lord, save me from your followers!'

“I think there is a big, giant difference between the Christianity preached by uber-fundy seminaries and mega-churches, and the actual words of Christ as recorded in the Bible, and I can see how many, many people get fed up with the hypocrisy and near-obsessive behavior that goes on in these churches.”


I sense a misunderstanding here. We aren’t here because we’re fed up with certain Christians. Although it’s true that some of us have had bad experiences with Christianity, that is beside the point. We’re here because we’ve become convinced that Christianity (including the Bible) is a fairy tale.

badrita wrote: “Yet here I am, praying for you.”

Traditional Christianity teaches that God, in his infinite love, will torture us in hell forever, so it’s understandable why you’d do that. You don’t want us to burn. While i appreciate the thought, i figured you’d want to know the chances of your prayer being answered. See, as Gabe demonstrated, hell does not scare us because we don’t think there’s any such thing. Probably most of us don’t think that there’s any god to hear your prayer anyway, so your god’s first task will be to stop behaving as if he doesn’t exist.

R.S. Martin said...

Gabe, I see Madame M has invited you to join us on the forums. Your story is also posted here:

http://www.ex-christian.net/index.php?showtopic=20652&st=0&#entry332301

A few of us responded. We are hoping you sign up but you can read without signing up. We're worried about what happens next. We're used to having people coming in all broken and bleeding after being thrown out of the death cult. On the forums you can post your own rants and replies as you feel. Or not.

The invitation is extended to you or anyone else in need of a place of refuge. Whether or when you come is up to you. Christians are strictly monitored as to what they can say where.

R.S. Martin said...

I don't understand this blogger system. Rubysera and rsmartin are the same person. Don't know how I will show up this time. I thought I was posting the same as I did the first time.

I see the address I posted did not show up right, either, nor does it work. You'll have to go into the Forums button at the top of the page. Gabe, your post is in the section for "Testimonies of Former Christians."

AtheistToothFairy said...

Cousin Ricky wrote:
....so your god’s first task will be to stop behaving as if he doesn’t exist

Ricky,

I love the way you put that!

Perhaps god is really just a misbehaving child, one that is still hiding under his bed.

It reminds me of a very old star trek episode, where the crew was up against a powerful alien being, who turned out to be a child.

ATF (who thinks the child idea would also explain his temper tantrums to)

Steven Bently said...

Hi Gabe, very interesting and at the same time it's also very sad to think and know there exists grown adults acting so immature and foolish over a pile of garbage written down by a bunch of uneducated and superstitious sheep herders.

I would like to take this time and thank god for sending us a virgin birth saviour, I mean, where would so many of us be right now if god had not decided to kill himself...er I mean, a part of himself..er I mean his only begotton son.

We all know Mary was a virgin because she said she was and this is the proof that it's all the truth.

Thank god that he finally decided to send us a savior, otherwise most of us would be staring at the gates of hell right now.

Now I just wonder where all the people who where born before Jesus was cruscified, are right now?

Oh yeah, burning in hell right now.

I will continue to fast for you Gabe, so instead of T-bone steak tonight, I'm having cracker and peanut butter, with this I can make you feel guilty because I am suffering for your soul right now, and when god plays all this back on his instant video tape recorder, in about 100 Billion years from now, I can remind him about my suffering for your soul.

What a crock ass bunch of bull shit we've let take over this country. Well I rather say that the white colonists brought that shit ass garbage over here with them, but that makes people mad, but it's damn true.

Welcome to sanity Gabe, don't let those idiots pull that guilt trip shit on you, they should be all locked up in a mental instution.

That religion BS is their truth, but it's not truth, it's deception and all lies and total minipulation, that's why it was invented, to decieve and to minipulate people, it doesen't work on any other living creatures on earth, they are not that gullible.

Astreja said...

Nightmare: "I know I'm gonna get shit (due to the atheist and materialist majority on this board) but that's ok - I firmly acknowledge the possibility that my own beliefs are merely delusional."

That is a truly refreshing point of view. Thank you.

"Anyway, in regards to "This will include handing you over to Satan for the destruction of your flesh." - well, that certainly sounds like a curse (in the magical sense of the term) to me. Myself, if someone told me the I'd view it as tantamount to a declaration of war."

And this is an excellent summary of why so many of us here get so upset with the more aggressive evangelicals who post here. Putting aside for a moment the question of whether one's beliefs are true or false... When those beliefs are presented in a hostile fashion, a threat (implicit or explicit) is felt at a visceral level and triggers a fight-or-flight response.

Vicky said...

Yeah and that's the reason most animals don't want anything to do with humans, they don't like to be seen associating with creatures dumber than them.

AtheistToothFairy said...

Madame M wrote:
Actually the belief is to turn the person over to satan on earth, so that satan and demons can torment the person until they cry "mercy" and go back to the faith, thus "saving them from hell"
-----
Madame,

Upon my first reading of this concept, I nodded my head in agreement.
However, when I re-read this again, something didn't seem quite right here.
I shall explain.

Assuming there is a god and satan (yeah, big assumption I know), and there is some kind of battle going on to win souls for each side, then I see a problem with this 'cry mercy' idea.

Why would any xtian church believe that if they turn a 'soul' over to the devil, that this person's life would get so miserable that they would come crawling back?

If satan is looking to deceive all humans, in the interest of increasing his hell population, then wouldn't the devil make the ex-xtian's life 'on earth' better than he had it while being a xtian.

I realize that movies are fiction, but how many movies are based on a theme where someone sells their soul to the devil to obtain some earthly reward.

Also, how often do we hear that us ex-xtians are being deceived by satan and yet our lives were not made miserable when we left the 'fold'.

So where do these churches get this idea that satan will make an ex-xtians life miserable, enough to force them back into the church.
If that concept were valid, then satan would actually be helping god to keep his sheep, rather than pulling folks over to his own side.

Can anyone explain why xtians would believe such a thing?


ATF (who thinks the rules of the game must change, while the game is still in progress)

God's Heavenly Staff said...

We are deeply saddened that you have chosen to leave the christian faith.

Before you cancel your membership with us, please give us a detailed message about why you have chosen to cancel your "Christian Membership".

PLEASE CLICK HERE TO:

-----------------
CHANGE YOUR MIND
-----------------
(or)
-----------------------
CANCEL YOUR MEMBERSHIP
-----------------------

If you still choose to cancel, your christian membership will be canceled immediately!

Thanks,

The Heavenly Staff at God's Kingdom.

God's Heavenly Staff said...

We are deeply saddened that you have chosen to leave the christian faith.

Before you cancel your membership with us, please give us a detailed message about why you have chosen to cancel your "Christian Membership".

PLEASE CLICK HERE TO:

-----------------
CHANGE YOUR MIND
-----------------
(or)
-----------------------
CANCEL YOUR MEMBERSHIP
-----------------------

If you still choose to cancel, your christian membership will be canceled immediately!

Thanks,

The Heavenly Staff at God's Kingdom.

kb9aln said...

Hi Gabe,

I found your story through the Debunking Christianity Blog. I wish you well on your journey. As satisfying as it is to hold a belief system based on reality, it is a big shock to the system to make such a radical change in thought.

Deconversion is not without effort and a bit of anguish. Not anguish inflicted by some supernatural know-it-all, but by ourselves. It is very difficult to leave the warm and fuzzy confines of our own upbringing and indoctrination. Once you do, you wonder what made you stay for so long.

One part of your story that really alarmed me was the response of Brandon and his admonishment that he and others would be "handing you over to Satan for the destruction of your flesh". He then went on to make a biblical citation.

I dropped my jaw after reading that and giving thought to its implications. I am well familiar with the horrid tone of some parts of the bible. However, the letter from Brandon states that God will, in effect, send you off to be tortured at the hands of his greatest adversary in an effort to get you to love him and commit to him.

Leaving aside the preposterous nature of a supreme being that cannot render his adversaries ineffective, one has to immediately suspect an all-loving and all-powerful god who is willing to torture "his children" who were made in his image the moment that they have doubts about his nature. This is truly amazing to me.

In any event, enjoy your ride and I wish you personal peace.

anominous said...

Not only do I believe in God, hell and judgment day, but I also believe my beloved cat had a soul and is now up there hanging out, living the good life. But sometimes I do worry. God only knows who he's up there nuzzling on, but knowing God, my dearly beloved is probably being fostered by a rednecked ex cat hater.

I don't think cats are still allowed to spray up there in heaven. Beloved had a nasty habit of this down here on earth while he was still a flawed creature, but I have no doubt that God snatched the urge right from my newly perfected puss just as he was sailing through the pearly gates.

And on a different note - to the trans lesbian Christian: you sound exactly like the kind of interesting person I'd love to hang out with and I hope one day to meet a friend like you.

eel_shepherd said...

Gabe, in the topic post, wrote to Brandon:
"...But you are guilty of having already made up your mind, because you claim that I may not be open to the truth, proving that your presupposition is that your beliefs are correct and mine are false..."

Bingo.

In a (semi-)separate matter AtheistToothFairy wrote:
"...I sometimes have wondered if I went back a couple decades in time and then found my younger xtian self, could I convince that younger 'me' (with what I know today about god and the bible), that I was being misguided..."

I think the answer to this question/speculation is Yes. The later "you" would be able to say to the earlier "you": "Just be quiet for a few minutes, and I'll try to predict your state of mind, and your current answers to the `Cadillac' Xtian-doubt questions." You could then show that your aim was dead on, and not something that addresses the weaker cases against Xtianity. The only risk the later "you" would run is that the earlier version of you would bring up a primitive, pristine, motivation towards Xtian faith that you had coated over with intellectual mother-of-pearl in the course of living.

Former Southern Baptist Christian said...

From Gabe's post:

"1 Cor 5:5 "you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.

As you know Gabe, this means that the Lord himself will sit in judgment with us as a body and deliver you over to demonic torment in an attempt to force you into repentance. Whatever we bind on earth the Lord Jesus will bind in heaven. I don't want you to be demoniacally tormented the rest of your life. I fear for your soul the rest of your days on earth and for the eternal flames that await you on the day of judgment if you do not repent. Gabe think about these issues seriously...demonic torment....eternal fire."

A prime example of typical christian brainwashing, and manipulation. Plus I noticed the part where they tried to make him feel bad when that pastor wrote that all these little kids were praying that Gabe would come back to God.

Everything I have read is exactly the way I got treated by some of these good ol' boy christians.

1) They get concerned, and tell you how much they love you.

2) They want you to meet with them, and discuss any doubts that you might have.

3) When you start challenging their faith and belief system, by presenting evidence that the bible isn't true, christians start getting frustrated. That's when they try to rely on typical scare tactics by speaking scripture and threatening people by hell.

When I read the desperation in the letters from Gabe's former pastor and christian associates, I actually do believe that those same people are scared. However, I don't think their fear has everything to do with Gabe leaving the faith. I think these same "Men of God" are scared because they are starting to have doubts, and the cannot come up with a good way of defending what they believe.

I seriously do believe that there are many christians out there who will never admit that they do not really believe in that the bible and christian faith is truth. Most of them do not want to admit it even to themselves, because they fear hell.

Most christians IMO, do not love God, they only serve him out of fear of hell only. It's like the abused woman who does everything she can to please her husband. She bends over backwards to please him, however deep down inside she hates her abusive husband. I think it is the same way with most christians. They only obey their God out of fear of damnation and hell. There is no true and unconditional love with most christians. It's only because they don't want to burn in hell.

When I see and hear other christians who I once respected, admired, and looked up to as strong leaders in my church talk their "Holier Than Thou Crap", I no longer view them as strong leaders of God. I now see them as weak minded piss ants.

Gabe, do not allow some christian bully to manipulate you with the threats of hell. Stand up to these bullies. You may not agree with my methods Gabe, however if my former christian associates and friends started harassing me, and told me that they would not leave me alone, I would simply get a restraining order against every single one of them.

How I long to see Anti-Christian Organizations like "The ACLU" push to finally have laws in this country where pastors and other christians cannot bully others, and make threats such as "The threat of hell and damnation" or "We will not leave you alone until we get you back into the flock" against people who choose to be "Free Thinkers".

People should not have to put up with crap like that, however coming from a similar background, I understand why they do it. Christian Brainwashing is very dangerous and can be very destructive.

Congratulations on finding your way out of the Christian Cult Gabe. Don't let the christian bastards get you down.

To the Anonymous Defeated Christian said...

MISERABLE, BEATEN DOWN, AND DISTURBED ANONYMOUS CHRISTIAN SAID:
"I have my own struggle to believe. I know a lot of things intellectually about the Christian faith, but I am troubled by how little it has changed me. I struggle to keep believing that Jesus is more to be desired than porn--when it has such a pull on my heart. I struggle to believe that Jesus can change a person, when I treat my wife and children so harshly sometimes. I struggle to believe that God has any good plan for me, when I've faced so many failures and disappointments. In the end. "I" am a desparate sinner."

Anonymous Christian,

How sad to see you beaten down and miserable. You are obviously scared to death to leave your cult behind, because you might just burn for eternity might you? Of course that is what you have been taught to believe.

How sad for you. Thanks for reminding me why I no longer desire to follow the greedy, and egotistical supernatural alien known as God.

I would be curious to know why you think any of us would even desire to return to the faith after hearing you pour out your misery on this site dear anonymous. You just basically shot down your own faith, by telling us how enslaved and miserable you are. I find no crediblity with the christian faith, especially after reading your post, along with what all you had to say about your own miserable walk in regards to christianity.

If that is your way of winning souls for christ, then you need to get out of the fishing business right now.

You just did me and everyone else on this site a favor Anonymous Christian. You just gave affirmation about how bad christianity sucks, and how unfair Jesus/God really is.

HERE IS WHAT ANONYMOUS CHRISTIAN WAS REALLY SAYING OR WHAT HE REALLY MEANT BY HIS WORDS:
"I still choose to believe in Jesus, because I don't want to go to hell, however I think God is a major selfish and manipulative asshole, and christianity SUCKS"!!!!


MISERABLE ANONYMOUS CHRISTIAN SAID:
"I struggle to keep believing that Jesus is more to be desired than porn--when it has such a pull on my heart."

I understand that you are married, however I am not, so I can't relate to you about being married and addicted to porn at the same time, however I would much rather view some good looking naked women on TV than some ugly bearded man named, "Jesus" any day of the week.

Why in the hell would any guy desire Jesus over a woman? I thought Jesus was against that kind of thing.

Here is what you need to do Anonymous Christian. You just need to tell Jesus to fuck off and that you are tired of his lies and his bullshit like I did many years ago. Then separate yourself from all of the other bible beaters.

It's hard at first, however you'll feel better in the long run once you take the bull by the horn and take charge of your own life again instead of relying on some ancient and mythical lie.

Nothing will change for you if you decide to continue to fight the good fight for Christ (Which you seem to be losing btw). You will continue to stay defeated, and miserable if you continue to suck up to God.

Give it up dude. Jesus ain't gonna do shit for you, or anything to make things better for you. Stop running around in circles chasing after this stupid God.

To The Anonymous Defeated Christian said...

Sorry to sound so rude Anonymous Christian.

Your post kind of angered me, because it reminds me of how miserable I was as a christian. It reminded me of a very dark period in my life back when I was a christian. I lost some of the best years of my life believing in the christian lie, and not knowing how to think for myself. I lost some good years indeed.

I use to hear all of those goodie, goodie, two shoe christians who would get up and give their testimony about how God had done this for them, and how God had done that for them, while I sat out there in the congregation wanting to throw up. I just wanted to stand up in the middle of church service, and tell those same people to shut their pie hole.

I couldn't understand how someone (God) who was supposed to be "No Respecter of Persons" could bless those people so much, yet he was not willing to do a lot of the same things for me by blessing me.

It seems God does have his favorites. It seems some people are so blessed that they even shit gold.

The only way I ever achieved anything in life was when I did things myself. God never did shit for me, nor does he get credit for anything that I accomplish.

Too many people give this God to much credit. More than he deserves if any.

.:webmaster:. said...

ATF:

The turning people over to Satan routine was invented by Paul. It was his way of dealing with those who were not cow-towing to his domineering, cultic leadership: I Cor 5:5

Paul Hater said...

Speaking of Paul.

Anyone ever notice how christians like to quote "What Paul Said".

However, these same christians claim that we are not supposed to listen to what man says, and we are only supposed to listen to the words of Jesus.

Of course they claim that "Paul" speaks for God.

Madame M said...

So where do these churches get this idea that satan will make an ex-xtians life miserable, enough to force them back into the church.
If that concept were valid, then satan would actually be helping god to keep his sheep, rather than pulling folks over to his own side.


AthiestToothFairy,
If Christians thought through their beliefs at that deep a level, they wouldn't be christians. Logic isn't the point of the story, fear is. I heard this concept preached before and it was usually encased in a story about someone who left and ended up in tragic circumstances. Most very fundy christians believe that outside christian walls, the world is a nightmare full of nothing but evil, base, disgusting human beings who do vile things. For a view into the mind on this read chick tracts.
-------------------------

RubySera,

it seems you have a blogger account and if you don't want it to show up when you post, go under the comment screen, click on nickname and type in what you want.

Anonymous said...

"I don't think people like me can ever truly be whole again." said one comment. While the persom may have had specific things in mind, it works as a general comment for any one who was a christian or raised in a christian society and rejects the beleifs. But it need not be true. If you are feeling sad or bad or incomplete or unsettled, you just need to take a practical look at what needs the religion served you. For many, church was their social thing, so to be dropped by Christian friends is lonely. So one must then actively seek out other social groups based on other interests. Don't just sit about missing people, join clubs or volunteer and meet people! Another thing that people who were religious miss is that sense of awe about seeing something wonderful and being thankful that God made that. to me, studying about that thing and realizing the complexity of nature feeds that in the same way and each learning leads to new questions, each nature observation leads to things i want to get back out and look at again for more detail. Ceremony and routine are benefits of a religious lifestyle, and again, joining some regular volunteer group or some interest group like walking or hiking or biking can meet that or just taking a walk yourself on a certain day at a certain time, or getting a list of all the nature areas around you and making it a goal to visit every one, or every museum, or even go to a library. Often, people feel they were making a contribution or doing good via their religion, so again, volunteering for a natural area or something that benefits people can fill that need. In short, the religion and the people served needs and to just stop often leaves those needs unfilled. It is not the religion you are missing, but those aspects, so identify the need and find other ways to fill it. Get out there and explore all the possibilities people and the natural world have to offer. You are free now to grow and become a full complete person without the false beleif system so find your way without it. That success is the best 'revenge'!

I would like your thoughts on this said...

I've read discussions on here about going to a "Unitarian Church" which does not limit itself to one narrow minded belief. No matter what you believe, I've heard that all people are accepted and not alienated.

Plus I've heard that it is a good way of having a social network of friends again. Friends who are open minded that is.

What is everyone's thoughts on the "Unitarian Church"?

whateverlolawants said...

"i would like your thoughts on this",

Eh, the Unitarian Universalist church is great for some folks. I wouldn't go to one, though, b/c it still seems to embrace supernaturalism. I'm sure not every congregation is like that, but overall, while I admire its ecumenicalism and tolerance, I think it seems a bit silly and, like I said, supernatural. But then again, I'm not too big on the supernatural, so that's just my opinion. As far as the social benefits of a church, that's a good point. I once considered going to a UU church if I ever have kids, so they'll have the benefits of a church. But I think such things can be found outside of churches... it's just a lot harder. I'd love to have a Freethought Church in my area, like the one here:
http://www.churchoffreethought.org/

whateverlolawants said...

Wow... thank you for posting that. The pastors' desperation and anger shows in their use of sophistry and threats. (I can't believe that garbage about the kids praying, and it was amazingly rude how one accused you of being on drugs. They used your past against you- some friends.)

Good for you for turning away, hard though I imagine it was. It's amazing how leaving Xianity can change ones whole worldview, making it hard to talk to Xians on a "real" level. They seem so caught up in dogma and a false worldview.

Oh, and John thinks that Indiana is a safe place for those plagued by sin? Ha! Not while my friends and I live here, mwahahaha! ;)

i would like your thoughts on this said...

Hi Whateverwants,

I happen to be agnostic, so I'm not too bothered about some talk of "A Supernatural". I just don't like talk about "The personal Christian God" which is a complete lie, along with all of the other narrow minded beliefs. Plus I live an alternative (GLBT) lifestyle.

So I wonder if a UU might be a good place for someone who is Agnostic like myself.

freethinker05 said...

If they had one close to where I live, then I'd probably go. Roger....A/A

Nightmare said...

Astreja wrote:
That is a truly refreshing point of view. Thank you.

No prob. While I've seen some things that keep a belief in supernaturalism (generally speaking - to put it simply I'm a pagan, kinda) alive in me, I can't replicate them in order to provide acceptable proof. Therefore, I must acknowledge the possibility I am deluding myself - which is ok IMO, since I don't push my beliefs on others or do anything to harm myself or others (intellectually or otherwise).

In actuality, I wouldn't have half as much of a problem with Christianity (and Islam) as I do if they would simply adopt a similar "live and let live" mentality. But we know that ain't gonna happen.

When those beliefs are presented in a hostile fashion, a threat (implicit or explicit) is felt at a visceral level and triggers a fight-or-flight response.

Indeed, especially for those of us who were once xians (and moreso evangelicals) - it plays on those last lingering bits of programing, which is why (for me) it provokes "fight" over "flight".

Gabe said...

Wow!! I sent ths in a few days ago, and then drove out of town for the weekend to visit my brother. I had no idea that I would find it posted on the front page, much less with over 70 comments!

I want to thank all of you taken time to post a response, whether Christian or non-Christian. It is so interesting to read all of your comments. It has been nearly two years since my deconversion, and I can honestly say that I am doing better than I have ever done in my life. It feels so great to think for myself, as well as to know that I can make great things happen for myself, rather than taking the passive route of "waiting on the Lord." Fundamentalism destroyed my personal ambition for six years of my life, because I thought that God wanted his ministers to be "poor for the sake of Christ." The ole deconverson derailed my ministerial pursuits, but after "leaving the fold" I got out into the world and put my finance degree to use, and now I am an accountant at a large biotech company in South Carolina. I'm dating a beautiful, wonderful woman whom I love with all my heart, and I look forward to marrying her in the near future. I would probably still be single if I were still a Christian today, because fundamentalism has a way of molding men into passive whimps. And I know that I am simply a better person all around than I was as a Christian. Christianity severely damaged my relationships with friends, family, and even random strangers. I can now freely enjoy interacting with anyone, without worrying about having to "guard myself against temptation," or trying to "win the lost to Christ."

I still get calls from some of my old seminary friends, but it has reached a point where I'd rather not even pick up the phone. All of my questions fly completely over their heads, as they assume that I have simply "given heed to doctrines of demons." Nevermind that fact that they continually fail to give a sufficient answer to my objections to the Christian faith. Their insincerity is so obvious that it is nearly impossible to enjoy even speaking to them. They always begin the conversation with the usual small talk, "How are you doing?" "How's work?" "Are you dating anyone?" But the truth is they could care less about how I am doing in my "worldly affairs." They are simply waiting to turn the conversation towards my "apostacy." They could give a damn if everything is well with my life. In their minds the only thing that matters is whether or not I have returned to the faith. No I haven't, and I never will.
My mind simply cannot buy into Chrisian fundamentalism. In fact I tried to "give it another shot" about a year ago. But that only lasted about a month, because my mind was repulsed every time I heard a pastor stand behind the pulpit and spout out the usual Christian dogma.

I once preached and taught that true joy and happiness could not be found outside of a relationship with Christ. How wrong I was! The so-called "peace that passes all understanding" is a complete sham. I feel like I have truly awakened from a deep sleep, and I have never been more happy in my life.

Thank you all again, and happy holidays.

Chad said...

Gabe said:
"It feels so great to think for myself, as well as to know that I can make great things happen for myself, rather than taking the passive route of "waiting on the Lord."

Congratulations Gabe! I know exactly what you mean. I got told to "Wait on the Lord" several times by my former christian associates, only to never hear anything from the lord. Year after year passed, and my life was going no place. Everyone else seemed to be moving on with their lives, however my life was going no where period, yet all I kept on hearing was, "Stay in the word, pray, and wait on the lord". Still nothing happened, and I felt miserable. My life was falling apart waiting on the lord. Nothing got better waiting on him, because he never would give me a sign or anything.

Yes, christianity destroyed all of my ambition also, because I had been taught to follow God's will and forsake my own which resulted in no productivity in my life what so ever.

Gabe Said:
"I would probably still be single if I were still a Christian today, because fundamentalism has a way of molding men into passive whimps."

That's one of the biggest reasons why I am still single today, because several christians kept on telling me to "Learn how to be content with Jesus and Jesus alone". Which never happened btw. Oh, and not to mention these same christians who were telling me that were married. So it seems they were not willing to wait on the lord themselves, and Jesus alone was not enough even though they kept telling me that he was.

I will admit that today I am still single, and have not dated in years, however that is only because I have not made myself available to anyone in quiet sometime. I am right now working on improving my own life, and getting back on my feet again before I start dating again. I do give some credit to the last girl who I was involved with. She was an "Non-believer", and she told me this one key statement that really helped me to open up my mind, "There is more to life than God and religion".

She was right. Even though her and I broke up and have not talked in a very long time, she had a lot to do with why I left christianity in the first place. It's been suggested by some of my former christian associates that God didn't want her in my life because we were unequally yoked, and she was a bad influence on me, so God got rid of her by not allowing us to have a successful relationship.

Well, it seems God was too late getting rid of my ex, because I am never returning to the fold ever again. So much for God's so called perfect timing eh? As for my former christian associates, I do not talk to them anymore, nor do I desire to do so.

However, as good as it feels to once again think for myself also, I must admit that due to the damage that was done to my life because of christianity, I am still recovering from all of the fundamental brainwashing that was done to me, plus my family are extreme conservative christians and being around them at times does not help. I have had to limit contact with my family just so I can clear my mind and think for myself for a change. However, I am sure things for me will get better as time goes on. I am still on the path to recovery from all of the bad christian programming that was put into my head for years.

Gabe said:
"They could give a damn if everything is well with my life. In their minds the only thing that matters is whether or not I have returned to the faith. No I haven't, and I never will."

Good for you Gabe! You are right, these christians really don't give a damn about your personal success. Of course they will tell you that they care, however it's all about their agenda. These same christians would much rather see you lose everything that you have worked so hard to gain, and to see you crawl around seeking out the invisible myth called "Jesus", just so it will reinforce their beliefs.

It's like a former christian friend of mine told me sometime back when I had told him that I was starting to see some success in my life again. He told me that "my success does not matter, that I needed to give it all up for the truth and follow Christ". Which is pure bullshit.

Christians cannot stand it anytime someone who has left the fold starts having great success in their life like you have been doing. You know why they feel that way Gabe? It's because it threatens their belief system, and it shoots down that old theory that, "It is not possible to be happy without Christ". Your success scares the hell out of these christians Gabe. It threatens their belief system, and it brings out their own personal doubts and insecurities.

Congratulations Gabe, you have basically kicked their spiritual crutch out from underneath them, and they are angered by it. Your success is showing them the "REAL" truth about what happens when you take control of your life again.

It's sad however that these same christians would probably much rather see you lose everything, because it would give them confidence in their faulty biblical lie.

Success is revenge Gabe, and it sounds like you are getting revenge, even though it was not your intention to do so. People like you are proving that it is possible to be happy outside of the "Jesus belief". I am happy for you. I am very encouraged by your update, and your success.

Keep it up Gabe!

xrayman said...

Gabe said,

"only thing that matters is whether or not I have returned to the faith. No I haven't, and I never will."

NO I HAVEN'T AND I NEVER WILL !!!!

That is the hardest concept for the Christian to grasp. Once you learn too much information, there is absolutely no going back, ever. Once Humpty Dumpty falls off the wall, there ain't no putting him back
together.

If I had a dime for every well meaning Chirstian who stated that they will be praying for me, and that eventually God will reveal himself to me and I will come back to belief. Maybe if I had a head injury and a severe case of amnesia and forgot all I have learned in the last two years refuting religion, I could believe again, but that would be the only way short of God actually revealing himself to me. And I really mean revealing himself. A real turn of good luck in a seemingly hopeless situation, or warm flow of emotion does not qualify.

Anonymous said...

Do you think that [...], Al Mohler, or Bill Dembski would hold to a faith that was not intellectually viable?


That's exactly what kept me a Christian for a long time. The thought that all those smart-looking people couldn't possibly have fallen for a fad. But they have, and so have others before them, and that's what's perpetuating the lie generation after generation.

Unfortunately, we are trusting the ethos of the preachers too much, and, because of that, we are not doing our own research.

When is the vicious cycle going to be broken? When?

Andrew said...

Gabe has something in common with DAN BARKER, whom he mentioned, and JOHN LOFTUS, whose site he posted this on.

All of them PREACHED after they no longer believed.

They were willing to lie.

They thus have no credibility. Who knows how much of this story is true?

No one. And we never will.

The game is over before it begins.

Gabe said...

Andrew said,

"Gabe has something in common with DAN BARKER, whom he mentioned, and JOHN LOFTUS, whose site he posted this on.

All of them PREACHED after they no longer believed.

They were willing to lie.

They thus have no credibility. Who knows how much of this story is true?"

Wow Andrew, you sure presume to be able to read minds. Yes I preached after I no longer believed, ONE TIME! Have you thought that maybe it was the fact that I was in the very early stages of my deconversion? How about the fact that at the time I would have said that "I didn't know if still believed," rather than saying, "I no longer believed?" Or could it have been that it was the annual Homecoming service at my grandmother's church, and it would have screwed them up royaly to try to find a last minute replacement?

Of course you had no idea of these circumstances. That's why you should not assume someone's motives. Its an important lesson to learn. Try it sometime, it will greatly benefit you in building personal relationships.

Gypsy said...

"All of them PREACHED after they no longer believed.

They were willing to lie.


They thus have no credibility. Who knows how much of this story is true?

No one. And we never will.

The game is over before it begins."

If a person is being truly honest, open-minded and introspective then they must admit that this is an unfair statement.

By this logic, every single Christian who's struggling and searching for a deeper understanding, myself included, is a made great big liar each time we question or disbelieve our faith - yet continue share that faith. There are varying degrees of disbelief and then there's specific malice, intention to deceive.

When Christians make statements like the one you made, we in fact become liars.

gypsy, aka an ominous

Can't spell Christ Without Shit said...

Pay no attention to Andrew. He's just another arrogant "Know It All" Christian who is losing the battle against reality.

He's another one of these christian cult members, who would like to think that "It's not possible to be happy without Christ", and knowing that your story may be real scares the hell out of people like him.

So therefore, he hopes that your story is not true, because he can't deal with real life outside of his christian bubble.

AtheistToothFairy said...

Gabe wrote:
Wow Andrew, you sure presume to be able to read minds
------
Gabe,

I for one, NEVER doubted your story was true. I saw nothing in your testimony to indicate it was a piece of fiction.....Unlike that darn bible fiction book which has plenty to point at, to show it's fictional.

I can't imagine why andrew here would believe that himself, so he's just being a troll again.

I would also venture to say that many priest/preachers have lost their faith in god but continue to pretend they haven't, mostly because it's the only occupation they know.
Of course andrew here would never believe such a thing possible, as that would give him cause to fear his own faith was being challenged, as CSCWS indicated already.

So even if you didn't have excellent reasons for preaching while doubting your beliefs, the fact of the matter is that you did the right thing and left the fold, rather than becoming a hypocritical preacher, just to collect a paycheck.

Andrew.......TAKE A HIKE BUDDY. Your "two cents" of accusations are made of counterfeit money. Go try and spend it elsewhere. Thanks.


ATF (Who has seen that fundies are inherently prone to LIE for their god and are the last people who should be making such accusations about others

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this, Gabe. It sounds as if this was almost as difficult as cancelling one's AOL membership.

Pyre said...

Gabe: Others have already commended you -- in which I concur -- for your intellectual honesty in following the truth (however uncomfortable) as best you can, and for your personal honesty in telling your former co-religionists about your change in beliefs.

More to the point of relationships with actual people than with ideas, I ache for your loss of the friendships.

For a while, it seems, you had a warm and loving community in those people. How wonderful. How fortunate.

And then -- *because* you were honest with them, and openly explained why you'd left the fold -- their treatment of you completely reversed.

This was not symmetrical behavior: you had not, for instance, made threats or spewed hatred against them before they turned against you.

They could have parted with you in friendship. They could have said, "We'll honor your request to remove your membership in the church, but we'll continue to pray for you and wish you well on your journeys in life, wherever you go." That would not only have been a decent and caring reply, it would have left open the chance of reconciliation, or at least salvaged some mutual respect from the wreckage.

But no, they turned to treating you hatefully, the loving face growing a fanged scowl.

I'm so sorry for your loss. Not loss of faith or loss of membership, but loss of the feeling that those people truly loved you or ever had. That must be heartbreaking.

May you have better luck in friends and comrades henceforth. May you find people who will care about you, as you care about them, with complete disregard to any differences in abstract belief, counting solely on your mutual decent behavior as human beings.

And may the pain of this episode fade with time and prolonged happiness.

Pyre said...

Gabe, I should clarify that I'm not singling out any belief system as "The Right One", and commending you for joining it. Your honesty in the matter is what I commended.

I would stand by all my prior comment no matter whether you were converting from Southern Baptist to Presbyterian or other Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Wiccan, atheist, whatever -- or to Southern Baptist from one of the others.

Being treated so hatefully, "shunned" with such venom, by the people you left behind, in response to your heartfelt honesty, would still have been just as painful, and just as wrong.

What people believe about a next world, an afterlife, or deities, doesn't matter to me so much as how they behave toward other people in this world.

Treating people decently is a good thing in my view, whatever the religion is of the person who behaves that way.

Cruelty, even short of blowing up buildings with people in them -- be it for the glory of God, Allah, or the People's Revolution -- strikes me as the opposite.

If people believe they have to either be viciously cruel toward other human beings or else their deity will send them to Hell, well, I can respect that belief -- as long as they're willing to go to Hell rather than behave that way.

A young friend of mine, introduced to me by Mr. Mark Twain, was faced with exactly that choice. Huck was told by all the authorities, and believed absolutely, that he would go to Hell if he ever helped a slave (like his friend Jim) to escape slavery. After painful consideration, he decided: "Then I'll go to Hell."

Your former associates were no doubt presented (in their belief) with the same dilemma: turn against a friend, or go to Hell.

Pity they didn't have the courage to make the same decision.

the_ignored said...

from madame m:

Actually the belief is to turn the person over to satan on earth, so that satan and demons can torment the person until they cry "mercy" and go back to the faith, thus "saving them from hell". Doesn't make it any more loving though. It is a deplorable belief one way or the other, that leads believers to rejoice when one who leaves the fold is stricken with disease, loss of loved ones, financial woes...etc because they feel these tribulations are going to bring them so far to the bottom that they scramble back to christianity in desperation.


That's kind of like what is portrayed in this tract, only it's an unbeliever they pray for, and god does the bad shit to him without them specifically asking him to. Nevertheless, the inteded effect is the same as what you guys mentioned.

Sad, one would think that it would be a rarity that such kind of thinking would exist.

Anonymous said...

Man. The arrogance of those responses is sickening.

Suggestion: one of those who responded to you made some very personal allegations about you. They have, first of all NO RIGHT to make those comments to anyone but you and certainly not in a public forum. That is Libel and it is actionable. Disgusting. Such stupid attempts at coercion.

Good for you for getting away from such a scary and coercive environment.

As for the 'sin' comment, discount that please. What one person sees as sinful is considered to be adulation by others. "Sin" is completely subjective and says more about the person 'casting the first stone" than it does about the receiving party. See Ted Haggard (and hundreds of others) for more on this subject.

Have you yet read The God Delusion? If not, get yourself a nice cuppa and a comfortable chair - you're going to be in it for a while.

Courage.
WriterWriter
www.stupid-files.blogspot.com
Read my post The Saddest Thing....

Cousin Ricky said...

That tract, as tracts almost always do, commits 2 blatant fallacies:

1. Begging the question. It is assumed that God exists and that the Buybull is true. This may good enough for intimidating people who already believe on some level, but it doesn’t work on non-believers.

2. It’s FICTION, people! Just because Jack Chick makes up a story doesn’t mean that the story has anything to do with real life. Do preachers think this type of story telling is convincing? Or (i’m afraid) do preachers find that it does convince the credulous flock?

Anonymous said...

Gabe,
My leaving the Christian church was precipitated by an act of sin with one of the girls in our congregation (I was 19, she was 18.)

I was already having serious doubts about my faith, and I had already entered college, where I was exposed to critical thinking, so it was merely a matter of time before the break occurred. After our sinful act, she went to the youth pastor's wife overcome with guilt.

A few days later, I got a call from our youth pastor counselling me on the situation. Actually, he was not too harsh, considering the circumstances. He encouraged me to confess my sin and repent, which I did, and we prayed together over the phone. He did require that she and I hold a three month moratorium on our relationship - I guess it was sort of a penance/cooling off thing.

Anyway, during that time, I quit going to church - our heinous behavior had become the gossip of the youth department (it was a big church), and I, consequently, simply felt awkward going back there. She found another boyfriend at the church real fast, got married, and wound up living in Denver with her husband and six kids. I am happy for her.

Meanwhile, I became an atheist, stuck with university and got three degrees.
Now, I'm married with two kids of my own. I'm a teacher and I enjoy the academic life immensely. I have a wonderful life with my wife and kids - and God is nowhere in the equation. You can do it too!

P.S. I fared much better than a couple of gays at our church. They were effectively "excommunicated". Our youth pastor went before the congregation and proclaimed that we were no longer to have anything to do with Mr. so-and-so , and Mr. so-and-so because they were in sin and would not repent. What a shock!

Jonathan H said...

In my Junior year as a chemistry undergrad I also 'de-converted.' I'd had questions on and off for close to 10 years trying to understand why I never heard from God for all the time I spent looking for him.
Being brought up in a ultra-strick-uber-conservative cult/homeschooling program didn't help either. Lots of brainwashing went on..

But sitting in biology classes learning about the mounds of evidence that there was for evolution. As compared to what I'd been 'told' was truth without evidence... Was a real eye opener.

Add in the hard moral questions that agnostic friends were posing to me at the same time. And one night in church (of all places) I realized I didn't believe in God because he wasn't there.

The after-effects have been amazing. I actually like people now, in more than just "oh he's a friend", I care about the suffering that people I've never met experience.

When I 'came out' to my family they asked why I'd never told them about my questions. How do you tell them 'well, I knew the answers you'd give me and they weren't intellectually honest enough for what I needed' without totally offending them. It has been more my change in personality (optimism instead of pessimism, joy instead of anger, etc etc) that has helped them to be at least accepting of who I have become.

Gabe, good on you for not shutting the questions up and working through them. Its quite awesome to hear what you've been able to do with your life now that you've realized 'ambition' once again.

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