Sent in by Ian
I wish to post my testimony for a few reasons.
For one, I hope that just one person gets a bit of help from this. I've been so encouraged by this site and others like it that I felt moved to help in the only way I know how. Second, I want it known that I am a new person. I'm not the Christian that I once was. I'm not that judgmental, closed-minded conservative that worries about every action and is ruled entirely by guilt and false obligation. Anyway, it turns out that I even like myself.
Who am I? I'm one that was raised in Christianity. I probably have a more extreme background in it than most Christians, I admit. I'm about 32 years old and couldn't understand that somebody on an atheist blog wouldn't know what "equally yoked" meant. I am an atheist/agnostic/oh, I don't know what I am--but I'm entirely comfortable with "I don't know" as my status. What I do know is that Christianity is not true. I regret my trip through Christianity and I wish to apologize to those that I led to it. It is at best a nice tradition and at worst a brainwashing and damaging experience.
Christian readers--I know I've likely angered you or inspired your sense of compassion somehow. That is okay--I'm going to tell you where the point of brainwashing occurred in my life and how the church controlled ME and most of the people that I knew. Does this ring of any truth?
First, the reason for doubt: The further I dug into the bible and Christianity in order to get to know it and in order to be able to argue FOR it in any situation, the less I was able to seriously admit that I believed it. Every hard issue came down to a non argument. I heard "it is a heart issue" and "you have to have faith" way too much. Didn't they keep telling me that God created us to be in the image of God and therefor logical? Why doesn't this make sense then?
Then the inconsistencies began to pop up--when the bible should be theoretical versus true. New Testament vs Old Testament arguments started to become really weak. Why would God have two different rules for us as humans (pre and post Jesus)? How about the flood? Did God not see that all of that coming? If God set the world to be perfect but Adam and Eve screwed it all up, then I guess I'm not worshiping a very powerful god. I could list many more.
From there, I began to study the Bible itself--where it came from, its iterations, how it was selected and translated, torn and broken.
It doesn't look like what it did and when I asked the church elders why this is, they only answered, "yes it is different, and isn't it amazing that through all of that the Bible continues to translate to be perfect? It remains the infallible word of God." They didn't get it at all--and turned me off of Christianity forever.
It flooded in over the next couple of years. An epiphany here, a change in politics there. Soon I was reading things I would never read and saying things I would never say. I voted for a Democrat.
Don't get me wrong--I was and am damaged. I still have a natural reaction to WANT to argue with evolutionists even though I intellectually believe them to be right.. I saw somebody laying hands on another on TV and casting out in Jesus name and it made me weep because it made me realize how off I was and how normal I thought this was. I realized how much pain I actually brought on myself--but more importantly on my family and friends. I saw how I wasted my life and screwed up others'. You know, it took years before I could say "oh my god". I had never uttered those words in 27 or more years.
I became angry at Christians and everything related to them. This had an ill effect in my life and I had a hard time regaining my happiness. My family equated this to having lost my way, and it was spooky how right they were in a sense. I mean--my entire belief system just proved false. It was confusing.
So I stopped. I stopped it all. No praying, no going to church. I began to do what I found fun and fulfilling. I discovered so much about me--I'm not a stuffy jerk. I LIKE being by myself a lot. I enjoy the company of people who's views I disagree with. Diversity is fun and nice and people have a tendency to smile at you if you smile first. Fear of social situations have slowly gone away too! See, it turns out that once you stop fearing god or making a mistake, you stop feeling so much guilt, fear, and worry in every aspect of your life. Oh, don't get me wrong--guilt still rules me sometimes but it is better every day when I realize that I'm the only one keeping track.
It was that level of disconnection from Christianity that allowed me, though, to reach my deconversion moment. It was really set and sealed with one epiphany: I was brainwashed and I was afraid of my own thoughts. I'm serious.
Hear me out. Tell me...how do you control a person's actions most effectively? Well, control their thoughts. The Bible speaks in many places about God reading the thoughts of men. It speaks quite a bit about Jesus "having known the men's
thoughts". I was taught to pray silently. Why? Well, of course God could read my thoughts. Even Jesus said that adultery in your thoughts is just as bad as having committed it.
You don't want a rebellious child? Tell them that Jesus knows what they are THINKING about doing. Maybe you should also give them an example of stoning rebellious children somewhere in the old testament just for fun!!
Tell a child all of this as soon as they are able to understand. Once they accept that God knows their thoughts, try to tell them not to ever ever blaspheme against the holy spirit because it is a such an extremely horrible thing to do. Want to know what they are probably struggling with now? Probably, the poor child is screwing his face up trying to keep bad thoughts from slipping in. It happened to me....
For me, it was a constant struggle to control those thoughts. This continued (albeit with less and less admission) into adulthood! Even, as a child, when people thought I behaved well, Jesus and I knew better because I had already committed so many things in my mind! Better yet--when I inquired about this, I was taught that these were temptations. Those were "fleeting thoughts" that were placed there by Satan or a demon as a temptation to me. If I give into these, I allow them into my life. Now I was doubly scared because no matter how hard I prayed, God never took away these tempting thoughts. I didn't know that everybody was like this because everybody had their own natural, normal, conflicting, and analytical thoughts too. It progressed to sometimes being prayed for. At extreme times (but several nonetheless) somebody would want me to have demons or spirits cast out (further proving the inadequacy because you have to have done something to let that spirit into your life at some point in the first place).
At any rate, I came to know that I was, indeed, brainwashed to not allow my own thoughts to progress past anything that was indoctrinated into me. While I'm sure that those at the local churches (parents included) never intended anybody to be brainwashed--that just doesn't excuse the effects on my life.
Where do I stand now? Well, I can only be sure about today so today I will be happy. It is all fading and the real me has finally emerged. Truth does exist, but not in the form I once thought. It turns out that you just need to BE for it to come to you. Just be calm and know that Jesus Christ is not lord. Just as God changed Saul's name to Paul and Abram to Abraham, I am changing my name in the opposing manner to reflect me--the me that I actually like.
With pride, I introduce myself for the first time:
Online Reading List
- An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish by Bertrand Russell (1943)
- Bible Teaching and Religious Practice by Mark Twain
- God is Imaginary
- Is there an Artificial God? by Douglas Adams (1998)
- Skeptics Annotated Bible
- The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine (1795)
- Which Way? by Robert Ingersoll (1884).
- Why I Am Not A Christian by Bertrand Russell (1927)