My descent into freethought

Sent in by Jackie

I have been visiting this website for about 2 years now and have made a few comments. I appreciate everyone's honesty here -- even when it's brutal. You guys have helped my husband and I become confident in who we are and what we don't believe. It's good to know that we aren't alone out there.

I figured it's about time to put my anti-testimony and a couple of rants. So, here goes...

I grew up in a spiritual didn't-really-know-what-we-believed atmosphere. In other words, we had no idea what being a Christian really was and didn't care. But we called ourselves Christians because... still don't know why. We started going to church when I was 17. At that time I was starting to dabble with smoking pot and having sex so my mom thought it would be good for me. It made me feel guilty enough that my senior year in high school I was a super holy-roller. I also became introduced to Master's Commission and felt that was what God wanted me to do. For those of you who don't know, Master's Commission is a 9 month discipleship program where you don't work, date, go to school, etc. You learn scripture and become completely brainwashed into their way of thinking and living. It was a good excuse at the time to not go to college. When I look back at the two years I spent in that program, I get ticked that I didn't go to college instead. This group is a cult stemming from the Assembly of God cult. They recruit kids just out of high school and make it seem appealing with music, and theater-type productions. Oh, and the travel... you get to go all over the country spreading the lies.

I did my first year of that program in Phoenix and my second year in Springfield, MO., where I now live. (I'm from Oklahoma) I didn't know what to do with myself afterwards so I got a job and spent a lot of time at the church. I was so used to the non-stop ministry that I all I did in my spare time was church. I couldn't move back home because now my parents where a hindrance for what God was calling me to, which I still didn't really know what that was. But I felt that I was to stay in Springfield.

Three years later Tommy and I started dating. We had been friends for 2 years before. We had something in common (well, a lot, but this was big). We both saw that most Christians were total hypocrites and didn't really know what they believed. We were going to change that.

We got married 9 months later. He was going to an Assembly of God bible college. I was working, waiting for God to open that door to his will. Tommy was going to be a pastor. Maybe start as a youth pastor.

One day he came home and told me something that neither one of us had ever heard and had a hard time believing. His theology pastor told the class about how the word "virgin" in the Virgin Mary was added about 200 years after the book itself was written. This started our descent into freethinking.

We both decided to research everything we believed. We both came up empty handed when it came to proving our faith. I had always been intrigued as to why atheists knew more about my faith than my fellow followers did. I was going to change that.
We went down the progressive Christian path following the teachings of Rob Bell and Brian McLaren. We soon found the folly in that. You either are a bible-believing Christian or not. You either believe all of it or you don't.

We realized that every Christian we knew pretty much made up his or her religion. They cherry pick what they want to believe and throw out things like following the Sabbath or giving all of their possessions to the poor to follow Christ.

Finally, after all the research and all the bullshit we endured my husband looked at me and said "you know... I don't think I'm a Christian any more."
What a relief for me because I was starting to think that I didn't have reason to believe anymore. I prayed and prayed for a sign... got nothing. I pondered the very existence of religion, Christ, free-will, etc. I came to terms with the fact that there is no such thing as free-will in the realm of Christendom. There is no proof that Jesus walked the face of Earth or any of the events in the Bible even happened and religion came about by the ancient people in an attempt to explain the world around them.

Walking away was easy. Then there are friends and family. That's a whole other story which I will not go into now.

It's been 2 years and I have never been happier. I feel like I am a better person now. I am aware of the world around me. Instead of being heaven-bound now I'm planet conscience. I care more about the earth than I did before. I am a more honest person. I have nothing to hide or hide behind. Most of all I feel comfortable in my own skin and appreciate myself for who I am.

P.S. If there is anyone out there that was in Master's Commission I would really like to connect.


speck said...

I don't know why, but I've enjoyed reading your story more than any other... I can't explain it, but as I read your testimony I felt a lightness and emotional rush of happiness.

Thanks a gazillion and praise be to the un-holy spirit!!!!

Rich said...

When I argue with parents who defend indoctrinating their vulnerable children with religion I always tell them that there are costs to leaving a religion in case the child later decides to walk. Your reference to talking to your family about your apostasy is testimony that what I am saying is right. I often find such expressions in these exchristian narratives.

Was the conversation you finally had ok or did it go badly?

Jackie said...

My parents took it fine. My dad, i'm sure, is a closet agnostic. My mom has been through a lot w/ hypocrisy and church so she could understand but still declared she was a christian. she's more of a new ager to me.
My husbands parents are nutty nut jobs. They disowned all their children before we even made that step. They big time fundies who evolved from catholicism to assembly of godism. My husband figures if they didn't disown us, it would have happened anyway because they couldn't handle having a blasphemer as a son.
I think it's been mainly co-workers and friends. They don't get us and quite frankly, after our de-conversion most of them proved that they were never our friends to begin with.

Unknown said...

We seem to have a lot in common you and I. Never went to masters commission.Almost though. Yippee for high school sweet hearts.

Good luck on your journey. I admire anyone who can break away from the AG cult.

resonate11 said...

"It's been 2 years and I have never been happier. I feel like I am a better person now. I am aware of the world around me. Instead of being heaven-bound now I'm planet conscience. I care more about the earth than I did before. I am a more honest person. I have nothing to hide or hide behind. Most of all I feel comfortable in my own skin and appreciate myself for who I am."

I love this!

Bill B said...

Hey Jackie,

Delightful little story. You failed to really mention what you now believe. You stated that you are obviously not a Christian, but are you now an atheist? I think that is really cool when husbands and wives emerge from the chains of religion together.

(The mystery continues as to why my name showed up again this time)

ryan said...

Nice going Jackie. I think exchristian ought to be an international organization. However, freethinkers, by our very nature, find it hard to come together in groups. Christians do it as easily as shitting.

A few random are familiar with the usual xristian response about how you didn't hear the right stuff; you mistook church for jesus; it's not a religion it's a relationship. But I have yet to be told where the cut-off point is--I have yet to be told where relationship ends and religion begins. I far as I am concerned, the new testament authors were church preachers, their books were sermons, and all that they said was religion. Are they seriously telling me that the church canonized 27 more books so we would have a "relationship"?

No, of course not. As the centuries passed, and after all those councils met, a religion had taken shape. You mentioned the "virgin" mary. All this theological crap was debated and then voted on.

The problem was that the church came up with pseudo-intellectual jargon like "incarnation" justification"; sanctification"; "atonement"; "election" "hypostatic union"; "paraclete"; "trinity", and all the garbled nonsense that has been perpetuated for 2000 years. And you can send people to bible school and seminary, and teach them to parrot this shit in latin and greek, and what still comes out is shit like the master's commission.

Religion has never let go of the jewgod. I don't care if we read acquinas or josh mcdowell; I dont care if we weep great big tears about our walk with jesus, behind all that is the angry jewgod, waiting for your damned soul, and that is what is going to bite your ass every time. And that is why we are here.

Lots of the best, my dear. And by the way: people in your situation sometimes do a stretch in the military. I am no fan of the armed services, but nevertheless it is a way to get free and strike out on your own. And the GI Bill doesn't hurt.

THE ACE said...

Jackie: That was a very fascinating
post. Being raised a fundamentalist
Baptist, I'd never heard of the
Master's Commission, but its one
of the most scary things I've ever
seen posted here. To think kids can
be removed from the mainstream of, dating,
spend months being brainwashed with sick, archaic beliefs is disturbing. (And I hope the Baptists don't find out about it
because they'll probably want something just like it!)

I'm so glad you and your husband
found your way to freedom. I don't remember if you said you have children. How do you plan to protect them from the views of
people like your in-laws?

ExFundie said...

Just a shot in the dark, but... Did you ever go to Woodforest Baptist Church in Texas? I knew a Jackie that went to Master's Commission from there.

Jackie said...

exfundie- never been to Texas and never been a baptist. Sorry!

Jackie said...

Ace- we do have a 2 year old son. We aren't to worried right now b/c they don't speak to us. If that relationship is ever restored there will be ground rules. NO Religion. If my son were to come home crying that we are all going to hell, that would be the last time he would get to be with grandma and grandpa alone.
I think our biggest obstacle will be when he goes to school and gets invited to sleep overs and church activities. Then we'll have to have the talk. And no we do not endorse Santa or the tooth fairy. Maybe atheist tooth fairy but not the sissy one. :P

resonate11 said...

I apologize for high jacking this thread, but I am interested in finding out if exfundie visited the Houston Church of Freethought.

Exfundie, if you don't mind, e-mail me--resonate11atcomcastdotnet--or post a report on this forum.

If anyone has visited the Dallas/Fort Worth Church of Freethought, I would be interested in your thoughts.

resonate11 said...

"NO Religion. If my son were to come home crying that we are all going to hell, that would be the last time he would get to be with grandma and grandpa alone."


You might want to check out Dale McGowan's Parenting Beyond Belief. It is full of excellent advice and support for naturalist parents.

One of his ground rules is no hell threats. But he wants his children to be exposed to religion so they can learn to think about it critically. He actually invited his mother-in-law to talk about her religious beliefs with his children.

The talk he gives on the podcast at this url:
is fabulous. If nothing else, listen to his introductory story about his young daughter's take on religion. Th podcast is at the bottom of the page and is audio only. It is not the video at the top of the page. Just click on the section titled "Parenting Beyond Belief".

Jackie said...

We have both read it. Its a great book. I hope they come out with some kids' books. know of any?

eel_shepherd said...

Hi Jackie,
I also really liked your testimonial, but even more I liked your first reply to Rich. The stuff people say off the cuff counts for way more than the stuff they've composed, just like action photographs are so much better than posed photos. Your comment, "...My dad, I'm sure, is a closet atheist..." made me smile.

I come from a background and a society where it's easy to be a non-Xtian; there are zero consequences or repercussions involved. But I know it's not that way in the heartland of the U.S. Finding the inner wherewithal to "come out" is a different matter when you know that some people will be dropping out of your life and that you may have to get tough with some of the ones who don't drop out of your life.

Slightly off-topic now, you mentioned that Xtians cherry-pick their own version of Xtianity. I always think of these types as the same sort of people who get spray paint cans and mark up the walls with the "colours" of their gang, marking out turf like so many Bloods and Crips. The heck with 'em. Tribalism is for the small-minded.

Unknown said...

Wonderful post...One little "quibble" though...

Why do you refer to it as a "descent" into freethought? Is that from your own perspective or from the imagined perspective of others?

I would call it more of an ascent wouldn't you? Descent implies lowering oneself, and I would say that learning to think for yourself is raising yourself up! :)

It's great that you and your husband were able to leave religion together. I'm sure I'd have a hard time if my husband were religious (he was actually the one always a step or two ahead of me in thinking that the Catholic Church and pretty much religion in general are full of crap).

Best wishes to you on your continuing journey :)

Mark said...

Great story and thank you for sharing. I have been working on my own "deconversion" for about 3 - 6 months now, but have only started to face reality for about 1 week. That basically means I told my wife and she told her brother (AOG minister) and Dad. I have not spoken to them. I won't tell the whole story, but you can read it on under "A Former Assemblies of God Pastor Questions His Faith... ". It is on the main page right now, as it was posted fairly recently.

Anway, having been saved in the AOG and an ordained full-time minister for 9 years, I can relate to your story. I am still very early in the process, and am entirely on my own with it except for these blogs...kinda sad, huh?

I am familiar with Masters commission, as there is one at our church. I won't mention the name or location right now, but it it is one of the bigger ones. I am not overly familiar with their practices, but I do know it is an intense "discipleship" program. It is in some ways a replacement for bible college, and an answer to the criticism that bible college is just too much head knowledge and not practics. I don't know that I disagree with the concept, except that I believe they use a lot of "brainwashing" type techniques rather than solid biblical teaching. That always bothered me.

I feel for you, but personally am very glad you were able to put your minds to this and come out together on what you felt was right. You saved yourself a lot of heartache, and I congratulate you. I wish I was smarter and it didn't take me so long to figure it out.

In regards to your statement

“It's been 2 years and I have never been happier. I feel like I am a better person now. I am aware of the world around me. Instead of being heaven-bound now I'm planet conscience. I care more about the earth than I did before. I am a more honest person. I have nothing to hide or hide behind. Most of all I feel comfortable in my own skin and appreciate myself for who I am.”

Thank you so much for that! I am feeling incredibly guilty in that I actually feel a HUGE sense of happiness and release. Shouldn’t I be depressed? Shouldn’t I be in despair? (Truth is, I contemplated suicide very recently, and credit much of my fundamentalist teaching for helping bring me there). I’ve been “out” for about a week now, so I’m just a baby and really wondering how this will all play out. It’s great to hear you are still happy with your decision and life is going on. I am still struggling with “where do I go from here”? but I’m an impatient person so I’m sure it will come with time. Anyway, best wishes to you and thanks for your very encouraging story. Being former AOG, it really rang home for me.

Jackie said...

I thought my thread was done. It's nice to see another response.

I'm glad I could be of inspiration to you. Isn't it funny how we always thought "know Jesus, Know peace. No Jesus, No peace"? I guess we have all broken the mold. There is so much peace in being yourself and feeling comfortable in your own skin. I found out who my true friends were. I know the people that are close to me now are my true friends. The ones that left me in the dirt when I left the church and "came out of the closet" I could care less about. If people truly love you and care about you they will stand my your side no matter what your spiritual beliefs might be.

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