How can I deal with having to go to church?

sent in by Meranda

The yelling, screaming. The illiterate leaders and pastors. Sexism, elitism, arrogance and pushing people to accept something while saying "it’s a choice". It’s a lie.

I don’t know how much longer I can last. I don’t have a license, no job, so I cant begin to forge a way to independence and I’m 21. I’m going to college, however. I want to invest so much and want to have about 10,000 dollars in the bank by the time I'm ready to graduate (in two years). Anyone know how to do that?


With my mom I can often say no and she doesn’t force me. But my dad is one of those, unapologetically loud, no nonsense Caribbean guys who believe church is the best place you can be. He scares me. Since I was a child, I was always scared of him. As the only child of Caribbean immigrant Pentecostals, what choice did I have?

I said no to my mom on going to church, and then dad came home as my mom was getting ready to leave. He sees her and asks why Im not with her, then practicallly yells " you must always bring that child with you when your going to church". I cant tell you how disrespected I felt. Im 21. But Im a coward. I got scared. Instead of standing up for myself, I punched afew walls in my room and hurredly got ready to leave at 6pm.

I did the childish thing. As I was getting into the car, I threw my purse in and practically slammed the door. I was pissed. I just wanted to stay home. Later, when we arrived in the church parking lot, I walked out of the car while my mom was trying to park and slammed the door. I practically busted down the church door when I opened it. I’m sure anger must have been rife on my face. Yes, this is how much I loathe church. Being an atheist/non-theist in a house of worship makes one nuts.

Later, when I returned home ( 10:30 pm!!!!), my dad and I had a talk. He is a firm believer in God and was shocked that I reacted that way in his words “to go to church, eh?". He says I’m an adult then and that I can do as I want ( however, he still expects my mom to carry "that child to church with her"!?) He also believes that God is supreme, and that bad things happen when we disobey him, so that’s why he encouraged me to go to church because of some recent trauma in my life. He also believes that the Devil punishes people for wrong doing, even if you repent, just like Jesus was tempted in the dessert. The only difference is for the Christian, God makes it a little easier (I guess this is how he explains suffering, he's been through a lot). I wanted to say so bad that it looks like God is doing his job of allowing people to suffer then expecting them to call him a "fair god" after they repent and drone of his goodness.

It gave me a different view. I’m still atheistic/non-theist. However, just to ease his mind, I go to church. I guess he believes I don’t want to go because he doesn’t go ( He still doesn’t seem to realize, or maybe can’t verbalize, that I am an adult with my own reasons independent of his actions for why I do things). I realized by acting the way I did, it only made it somewhat worse for me. Maybe if I had just said OK, got ready, and really fought my temper (which is hard, I tried so hard not to punch that wall), none of that shit would have happened. I will try to be better next time. But my temper is tough.

He's a poor, old man, immigrant who barely knows English and failed in business. He's been in the USA for over 20 years and it is not a successful immigrant story. He hates his marriage but stays because he is "not that kind of guy". He has an older son who never talks to him. The church has practically abandoned him and the world is changing in ways he can’t believe. He wants to leave so bad.

I just need some help. I already brings books, food, my Ipod, etc., in my overstuffed purse to keep me company.

I have anger issues. I don’t know how to solve them. Praying never helped. I wonder, what’s wrong?

I’m studying the “Tao Te Chin” and getting “The Art of War.”


The Nowhereman said...

"the general who wins a battle makes many calculations in his temple ere the battle is fought. The general who loses a battle makes but few calculations beforehand. Thus do many calculations lead to victory, and few calculations to defeat: how much more no calculation at all! It is by attention to this point that I can foresee who is likely to win or lose."
-Sun Tzu, the Art of War

Welcome to Ex-Christians, this is the place to come when you need to vent or get some great support. I'm new here too, but I have found this site to be a great place to work through all the BS that xianity has done to me in the past.

You have a lot of energy in your testimony, it's hard to imagine that your a coward at all. I think you are very brave to reject Christianity and come to this website. That is the first step in a long road to freedom and peace of mind. You have a lot on your shoulders with school, finances, family and church. That is a lot to handle for a student, so my advice to you is to take it one day at a time.

I know how it feels to go to church and not believe anything that's preached. The last time I went, it made me sick to see all these deluded people worshiping an invisible and nonexistent tyrant.

All I can say to you is to never give up the fight to get free. The road to independence is a tough one, but you'll get there. Go to the library and get some books on investing 101. Get your license and start saving up for a car. Think about where you want to be five years from now and start today to plan how you will get there. Read biographies of successful people to find encouragement.

Thanks for sharing your story! You're always welcome here among friends! :)

Kyan said...

Its hard to say if this is a good idea or not (for your particular situation), but if I were you, I would take every opportunity to ask difficult questions openly during church. Questions that make people feel uncomfortable. You can do this without sounding hostile, but innocent. Do that a few times and you mother will be open to making a deal. Tell her, look, I won't go to church, you won't tell dad, and we will both be happy. Who knows, you might open a few minds with your difficult questions too.

You need to get out of the house, move away to college if that's what is going on. Save, save save. Money/income = freedom.

You didn't say where you live, but I'd suggest moving to a major city when you can, maybe that's after school. You clearly have an active mind and there's lots of places you can move where the people aren't so closed-minded. Your anger can be harnessed for creative good and you won't have to be victimized by your own frustration.

The major cities in the US are largely secular. Europe is almost entirely secular at this point.

You are 21, so its time for you to get out of the house and out from under your father's rule. He sees himself as gods little enforcer and that's sad for him, but its time for you to bust out on your own.

Kyan said...

here's a bunch of great questions christians won't have good answers for. Example: Why won't god heal amputees? Does he have something against them? Christians claim if you are faithful enough he can cure your ills but he has never grown back the limb of an amputee. Why?

A book you mind find interesting is called The Meme Machine.

AWLHEART said...

Kyan, unfortunately christians have answers for everything. They make things up. The answer I've been given to "why won't god heal amputees?" is God has special challenges for everyone. Also, I was told that these people are an inspiration to us to show us that we can do anything. blah blah blah

Nina said...

I realize you are still at home and it may be a while until you can be free but hang in there. Just knowing you will not have to be obeying your father for too many more years may be enough to get you through those bad moments.
There is nothing wrong with anger. It can be quite appropriate. You might want to channel it into something creative.
I read that you are doing tai chi of some kind. That will raise your temper threshold and allow you more peace when dealing with others.
You sound mature enough to get through this. It is not always correct to turn your back on those who love you just because they do not agree and won't acknowledge your beliefs. Sometimes they are doing the best they can do. It is not very kind, but they think they are doing the right thing.
Stand up for yourself in a calm manner if you ever get the chance, and do not back down, but stay cool.

Anonymous said...

You're in a tough spot, that's for sure. As long as you are financially dependent on your parents, you will have to do what they insist you do.

You basically have two choices: You can find a job and move out, or you can stay with your parents and grin and bear it until you graduate.

Regardless of what you choose, your education should come first. (I'm a teacher, by the way.) The grades that you are getting in your classes right now will have a big effect on what you do after you graduate. Your grades may follow you for the rest of your life, so study hard.

Don't be in such a hurry to earn so much money so fast. You have your entire life ahead of you to earn money. Again, your grades are most important.

Good luck!

SEO said...

I don’t know if this would help you…but have thought about running away to join the Air Force? I know it might not be what you want to do but it is an option….you’d get paid, have a place to stay, food, and vocational training. Also, active duty members get $4,500 a year for tuition assistance.

Yes, there is a chance of being sent to the desert but if you stay away from jobs dealing with vehicle or helo maintenance or civil engineering you’ll at least won’t be in the thick of things.

If you have a thing for languages, there is linguistics. There is journalism and logistics, too. If you don’t mind flying, a C-17 loadmaster is a tough but rewarding job - it's a good way to see the world. They go everywhere.

It would get you away from home and you will meet so many people from so many different places. (Just stay away from the young male airmen for the first two years).

Lance said...

Hi Meranda,

I understand your anger and frustration. It is funny how this human life forces us into uncomfortable situations so often. I'm 46 and still go to church with my Christian wife. Partly because she wants me to go with her, and partly so I can be there to do damage control with the kids after they try to cram all the weirdness in.

If you want to keep going to church simply to be nice to your mom, or out of fear of your dad, or for whatever reason, there are several things you can do to keep your sanity. Some work better than others.

Here are some things that I've tried.

- In a very nice manner and if it seems an appropriate time, I'll mention to someone at the church that "I'm not a believer." I don't go on the attack with them, but just try to show them that it is possible to be a normal human and not believe that stuff. If they start to probe or push, I'll try to determine if they are a hardcore fundy, or just curious. I brush off the hardcore folks, as I'm tired of beating my head against that wall. But I'll have coffee and a discussion with the open minded ones.

- This one is kind of fun. I take notes on the sermon and find logical inconsistencies, or just general weirdness in it. It is like shooting fish in a barrel.

For instance last week the pastor said something about god teaching him about the sin of self-reliance. (Apparently you are supposed to rely on god.) I almost snorted with laughter at the thought of this leach, that gets his salary from the handouts of his flock, talking about having a problem with too much self-reliance. I felt like yelling get a fucking job buddy.

- Sometimes I'll go to the pastor after the sermon and point out a few issues, or ask some questions that make the logical problems apparent. I'm always nice about it though, since I'm on their turf, and since I seem to get more mileage out of my questions that way.

Basically I think of myself as being on enemy territory, sowing seeds of doubt where I can. There actually is doubt inside the church walls, as many of us here can attest to being those doubting Christians at one point in time. My goal is to quietly search out that doubt and feed it. Hopefully to find some other doubters and help them find their way out.

Inside the church building they get into this group think kind of thing, where doubt and questions are not allowed. There may be some doubters in there that feel trapped, and don't know where to go with their questions. They need people like us in there to stir things up a bit. I honestly feel I am making progress with a few of them.

To be honest there are times I get really pissed off sitting there listening to the bullshit, so the above methods I mention are really a coping mechanism for me to keep peace with my wife and to keep my head from exploding while there. By getting my mind off of myself and thinking of ways to reach the other doubting souls there helps me stay sane, and gives me sort of a purpose for attending.

I don't know if you are ready or willing to do that sort of thing, or if your church is too far out there, but try to look at the other people there and see if you can find someone that can be helped by your reasoned approach to life.

At your age, I'm sure there are others in your peer group that are trying to make sense of it all.

Just my thoughts.

Good luck.

- Lance

Lance said...

Hi again Meranda,

About the money thing, it is pretty simple. You need to increase your income and reduce your outflow.

I did not graduate with $10,000 in the bank, but I did graduate debt free, which was good enough. I cut my class load to the bare minimum and increased my work to almost 30 hours a week. I found a job that had flexible hours - fixing vending machines - so I could work it around my class schedule. It took me an extra year or so to graduate, but for me it was worth it.

I lived in a little cheap ass apartment, or had housemates, to keep the rent down, and went to a low cost state school.

If your parents are paying for your college, then you may have other issues to think about. Are you at an expensive school? Can you work and go to school at the same time?

It is funny that SEO mentions the Air Force, as I did that for four years after I dropped out of college the first time and did not want to go back to living with my parents. I finished college afterwards. The Air Force helped me a little but you may be better off finishing out your two years at home, instead of sacrificing another 4 years of your life. For you I'd recommend against it.

Good luck.


Hellbound Alleee said...

Do you have any reason to believe that you are in danger of physical harm from your father? If you are scared of your father, that is the important issue--not whether or not you go to church.

Your relationship with your parents seems to be the primary problem in your life right now. The ex-christian thing is a part of it.

You need to deal with getting independence from them first. I agree with most everyone here. It takes some of us a little extra time to find that independence. I didn't move away until I was 25.

Maybe the no church step might be easier for you, to cut the ties step by step. I went to church for my mom, but my emotional ties to church were cut long before that. I used my time at church to listen to what they were saying. I mentally took notes, and wrote about what I heard. Back then, there was no interenet. Now, you can blog about it.

So use the time in church constructively. If you fear violence, then go to church while you save up for your own place. Listen, read the bible, get ammunition. The bible is the best source of anti-religious ammunition there is. Then blog about it.

wonderblog said...

What you have to remember...and it takes a big eye opener before you can really see this as the that your parents , as much as you may admire and love them, have no magic numbers...just because they are xtians! It takes some getting used to, this knowledge, but when you finally see it for what it is you will be liberated. Search for your own path where ever it may come from. You have that right. Do not accept as truth everything just because it is foisted upon you. That is what it means to be a thinking human being. I wish you well in coming to terms with the choices you must make. You are lucky to be in the position to see these things as real choices. Many never know this.

vjack said...

You are an adult. If you do not want to attend church, do not do so.

twincats said...

As a veteran of 8 years in the USAF, I will second SEO's advice with two exceptions:

1. I would wait to see if/when the new GI bill gets passed. It would be a much better deal than the post-service education benefits currently in place. Note that this does not include tuition assistance, which is used to take classes while on active duty and is a great deal! (I used to administer the TA program.)

2. The airmen were one of the biggest perks, IMHO!

WhateverLolaWants said...


Hey there! You and I are the exact same age, so your situation kind of spoke to me. I just finished college, and I'm lucky not to have such controlling, scary parents, but I can understand about the need to get out on your own. You don't need that much money to get out- $10,000 would be nice, and it's not a bad goal, but it's not necessary!

Can your friends help you? I recommend getting a license ASAP- it'll help a lot. Having a job and going to school will help you feel more in control of your life. Are you already in school, or are you starting now?

Try to move out ASAP. I'm hoping to get out soon (I lived away for college, and now that I've graduated, I'm not thrilled to be back at my parents' house, even though it has its perks), and I know about saving up, etc. But it's never too early to go apt. hunting with some friends or to seek out a roommate.

Remember, even when being around your parents makes you feel like a child, you ARE an adult. It's a relief, isn't it? I have to remind myself of that frequently; I love my parents, but living with them is tough. You sound like a great person, full of independence and intelligence. Send me a private message through the message board system on here if you want to chat- and good luck! :)

cholebear said...

I think you need to move out as soon as possible. Develop a plan that will be secure enough for you to live on your own, or with a roommate you can trust. Just do not go from this dominating relationship to another one with a guy.

No one should have to live in fear, especially of someone who is supposed to love them. If this were a husband, I think people would respond differently, however you are at an age where you should be extremely happy. You sound miserable.

This is just my advice because I had to use it to leave an abusive spouse years ago. It took me a while, but I found someone I could confide in and set out to secure a job (I was unemployed), an apartment (I had no furniture) and learned the bus schedule (my car was inopperable.) It was the best thing I ever did. I had a bike, my typewriter, a sleeping bag and clothes. But I was free and it was worth more than any other luxury I had. I enrolled in college and never looked back, (well, I had to get those divorce papers signed), but I knew I was never going to let someone control me again.

You should be able to qualify for financial aide once you move out and maybe even get some scholarships. Maybe a college advisor can help you.

Of course, this needs to be your decision. I do not know everything about you. It just seems from what you wrote that you are not all you can be because of your situation. Do not worry about your parents - you cannot help them while in this state. Maybe one day when you have learned who you are you can help your father, but they should not be your 1st concern: You should be and not just for you, but for them.

Good luck.

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