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January 23rd, 2011

By Suzi Q ~

Between this past Christmas and New Years I was physically assaulted by
my own brother, a Christian, for being an atheist. But that is not
where I want to begin my story. I want to go back to my childhood.

My parents divorced when my mother was eight months pregnant with me,
so I laughingly call myself a reverse bastard. But the sad reality is
that my father was an apostolic minister and terrorized my mother,
which is why she left him. I have seen my father exactly five times in
my whole life, and I am now 31 years old. I am the only child that my
parents created together, but have 12 brothers and a sister of which I
am the youngest by almost 10 years. My siblings started having
grandchildren before I ever had my first child. There is quite a
generation gap to say the least. Amongst all those siblings I have
various levels of relationships – two I’ve never met, three deceased,
and two I haven’t seen since I was three years old. Growing up I was
only close to two of my brothers, and only spent any considerable time
under the same roof with one of them. With him I was the closest, and
he was the one who eventually assaulted me.

For the sake of this testimonial I shall call my brother Rick, but that
is not his real name. Rick is nine and a half years older than I am,
and he was my childhood hero. I remember at the age of five I thought I
would grow up to marry him – not understanding at five years old that
siblings don’t marry. I just loved him. Anything he did I wanted to be
a part of. He loved Kiss and the Beatles and Queen – so to this day I
love those bands. When he wanted to start a band of his own I wanted to
play keyboards in his group. When he married and had children I was 11
years old, and his children became my entire world. I wanted to spend
every waking minute with my brother and his babies, that’s where I was
the happiest.

About the time I was 12 my brother started to seriously seek God.
Growing up our mother was very private about her own beliefs, but she
let me go to church with any friends I wanted. It never mattered the
denomination – Catholic, Pentecostal, Assembly of God, whatever – so I
considered myself a general Christian but never gave it serious
consideration. But when Rick started fervently seeking God I followed
along happy to be with him. I have to add that at the age of 13 I was
raped, so I was broken and hurting in my own way. Christianity fed on
that pain and gave me a place to feel safe and loved – and as a bonus I
got to be with my brother the hero.

My brother’s quest for truth led us to the United Pentecostal Church –
hard core fundamentalists. The one thing the fueled my brother’s fervor
with Christianity was the end times, the rapture, the apocalypse,
whatever you want to call it. I remember watching the “Left Behind”
videos with him and having them scare the hell out of me – or scare me
out of hell as it were. From that time on I was the best little
Christian you could imagine. I carried my bible to public school (8th
grade at the time) and wore my ankle length dresses with pride.

Around that time my brother and his family moved away to another state.
I was devastated. So I started spending all my time with the church –
the pastor’s family specifically. They had five children under the age
of eight, and my being 14 made a great babysitter. I spent the night at
their house and I traveled with them to every revival, camp meeting,
youth group and other gathering that came along. I taught Sunday school
and went door-knocking and everything. When they decided to start a
grade school in the church I bid public school adieu and began my high
school education at my church. I practically lived at the church, when
I wasn’t at the church I was at the pastor’s house. The church was my
life – I did absolutely everything the church doctrine said I needed to
in order to be saved. I stopped cutting my hair, I stopped watching TV,
I only wore dresses – I was perfect in every little detail because I
was so happy to belong, to have friends, to be loved, to be saved.

My freshman year went fine, but things started to fall apart in my
sophomore year. I did that one unthinkable thing that you are never,
ever supposed to do as a Christian – I started to ask questions. The
answer I got was, “If you pastor says it over the pulpit then it is
law,” by the pastor’s wife. That didn’t sit well with me, but I let it
go. One day though, I was struggling with something in my life and did
what I was supposed to do – I talked to my pastor about it. And I’ll
never forget him saying to me, “Well you can believe that if you want
but don’t shove it down our (his family’s) throats.” I don’t even
remember what the subject was about anymore, but his reaction stunned
me, shocked me, and hurt me. Two other things happened that made me
lose faith in my pastor and his family. First, I had another brother
that was and still is an atheist that I adore, and I was told to never
see him again unless he was on his death bed and asked for prayer.
Second, I had a friend who was a Wiccan – I was told she was pure evil
and I couldn’t accept that because she was the sweetest and kindest
person I’d ever met.

That was the beginning of the end. I stopped going to school and church
(same thing) and fell into a deep, deep depression. The church had
hammered it into my head so hard that they held the only truth that I
knew for a fact that by not going to church I was going straight to
hell. That led to awful panic attacks. One panic attack lasted two
whole days and the only thing that calmed me down was me making my
mother swear she wouldn’t take the mark of the beast even if it meant
losing her life. She swore me she wouldn’t, but I think it was just to
calm me down since she didn’t believe. The ONLY thing that kept me from
killing myself is the belief that suicide was a one way ticked to hell
– seriously.

For months I didn’t get out of bed, or bathe, or talk to anyone except
my mother. When I did finally pull myself out of it I found myself 17
years old with a 9th grade education. I decided to get my GED, which I
did in the course of one week. Then I wanted to go to college, but with
a 9th grade education the only place that would look at me was
community college. I have to point out that I still considered myself a
Christian at this point – I held my own bible studies and hung out with
a group of Seventh Day Adventists. That is actually where I met my
husband. I was hard core Christian too – I bought a parallel bible that
had the original Greek and Hebrew along with their literal translations
and read the whole thing in my search for truth along with the
Apocrypha and Dead Sea Scrolls. I still believed that the world was
going to end at any moment so we got married soon after I turned 18 -
because I didn't believe I had much time left.

In college I took every course on religion and philosophy that I could
get my hands on. There I discovered Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Hinduism,
Yoga and every other major world religion. I expanded my personal
religious philosophy to include many teachings from all of these
“Wisdom Traditions” as I was taught to call them. Eventually I swung
from Christian all the way to Pagan. I bought all the paraphernalia and
attended rituals. I wore my pentacle with pride. I want to say that I
have met some lovely, lovely people during that time that I will be
friends with forever.

When I graduated college I had Bachelor of Science degrees in both
Mathematics and Psychology. That was 2005.

Let’s turn back to my brother, Rick, who had had an ugly divorce in the
meantime. We had lived apart from when I was a young teenager until
2007, when he moved to my town along with 2 of his 3 teenage children.
I moved here to go to university in 1999, my mother moved here when she
closed her business in 2005, and Rick followed when job opportunities
dried up in the town he lived in. I was still a Pagan at the time he
moved here. Shortly afterward I told him that I wasn’t a Christian and
hoped he was OK with it. He responded rather indifferently, saying
something like – I believe Jesus is the way but it’s your life. And
that is where the conversation ended, he didn’t ask any details.

A few weeks later Rick and I got into a fight about something totally
unrelated to religion. He ended up getting mad at me because I
disagreed with him and ended the fight by yelling, “You need Jesus!”
and slamming a door in my face.

My personal quest for truth continued without Rick’s involvement or
knowledge, though he eventually found out I was a “Pagen” as he spelled
it. I have to say that it was well over a year ago that I found
ExChristian.net and I still thought of myself as a Pagan. But on the
site I found videos and resources that cascaded into more and more and
more info than I imagined. One video series that I found particularly
touching was the one from Evid3nc3 about his process going from
Christian from Atheist – I still watch his new videos as he produces
them. After all that I read and saw I realized that even though I’d
called myself a Pagan for a long time, I really was an atheist all
along – and atheist with a pentacle. I never really believed in the
multitude of gods that pagans invoke. I realized that I loved the
fantasy of it all - The special robes and pretty decorations and oh the
jewelry – it appealed to my fantastical nature.

But the side of me that pursued a degree in Mathematics -- Magna Cum
Laude – knew better. When I really started exploring atheism it was the
only thing that made sense. I want to say that I was torn between
studying Mathematics and Physics, even though Mathematics ultimately
won Theoretical Physics holds a special place in my heart and on my
bookshelf.

So for two years an unsaid agreement existed between me and my brother
– I didn’t mention anything non-Christian and he pretended that the
whole world was Christian. He’d left every church he’d ever gone to
because he found something to disagree with them about in the Bible –
he even got himself ordained online because he couldn’t find a church
who agreed with him. Whenever he tried a new church and inevitably
found something they did wrong and left I had to listen to it. I
listened to him quote Bible verses that “proved” the offending church
wrong and he was right. I listened to him when he would tell me about
the things God had told him – prophesies and promises. And I never said
a word – I smiled and nodded to keep the peace even though I found many
things he said to be offensive. I didn’t even speak up when his 16 year
old daughter told me that I would burn up if I went into the local
Christian bookstore.

I want to make a special point here that when I got rid of all my
bibles and Christian materials I gave them to my brother – that’s
how "unsupportive" I was of his Christianity.

One day things blew up between us. On his Facebook status he wrote:

“If we ever forget that we're one nation under GOD, then we will be a
nation gone under..' -Ronald Reagan, someone should tell this to Obama
that says, "We are no longer a Christian nation. That was only about 25
years ago, people wake up, Jesus is coming!”
I replied by telling him that we are not a Christian nation and
provided the following quotes from the founding fathers:

George Washington "The government of the United States is not in any
sense founded on the Christian Religion”.

Thomas Jefferson ""No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any
religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever." and "Christianity
neither is, nor ever was, a part of the Common Law."

Benjamin Franklin "Lighthouses are more helpful than churches." and "In
the affairs of the world, men are saved, not by faith, but by the lack
of it."

Thomas Paine "All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish,
Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set
up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit."

Abraham Lincoln ""The Bible is not my book, nor Christianity my
profession."
That sparked a fight between us that was ugly, but we ended it in a
fairly civil manner. But the damn had broken. From that point on
whenever I saw him post offensive things – about gays, or atheists, or
whatever – I would comment. Every time it sparked a fight. One time he
even told our mother he was never speaking to me again and that she
should never invite us both to her house at the same time. Then later
he called me and told me that God said he should forgive me.

Things went back to being the way they were before. He spouted off
Christian things all the time and I said nothing – except once when I
said all religions were myths. He got mad at me, and in the end he
asked me, “If you don’t believe in an afterlife why not live for God
just in case?” That isn't a direct quote, but the gist of what he asked
me - twice. I didn’t answer him right away, but thought about it. A few
days later I sent him a link to a video from Edward Current as an
answer to that question – a satirical video where Edward had converted
to ALL religions just in case one of the many gods out there could damn
him to hell. I found the video witty and thought it made the point
perfectly of why I can’t live for god ‘just in case’.

That started a maelstrom. My brother HATES Edward Current with a
passion and refused to watch the video at all. He responded by telling
me, “I honastly believe that you suffer the way you do because you have
rejected Christ. Not that I believe that Jesus has done this to you,
but rather Satan has you bound.”

Mind you I’ve been suffering from terrible back pain since I was a
child from a congenital birth defect – and I've suffered before,
during, and after the time I was a Christian. Hurt beyond words I told
him that any god that would make me suffer like I do for using the free
will he supposedly gave me is beneath my contempt. It degraded even
further from there with him telling me that I was going to Hell and
that it was probably too late for me to be saved, yadda, yadda, yadda.

Bless my tolerant and loving mother. The whole situation hurt her, her
children fighting and hurting, so I agreed to talk face to face with my
brother for her sake. The conversation started out calm and civil. He
said I was militant anti-Christ and I told him the Bible was
historically inaccurate, but it was honestly calm. Up until the point
when he told me how much I’d offended him by calling all religions
myths (which happened WEEKS earlier). I told him that he had said
things I found offensive but I never held onto it or held a grudge over
it. He asked me, most condescendingly, what had he ever said that I
found offensive (from his tone I could tell that he sincerely believed
that he’d never said a single offensive thing in his life and that I
wouldn’t be able to come up with an example).

In response, I started listing off all the times he’d told me about God
speaking to him and all the times he’d walked away from a church
because of a disagreement and needed to tell me all about the bible
verses that backed up his opinion – and I gave specific examples, not
generalizations.

Well, that started him on a tirade of verbal abuse. He started shouting
things at me like, “I don’t like you” “I don’t care about you” “I hate
people like you” “If you weren’t my sister I’d never associate with
you” and other things. Now my 4-year-old son kept trying to get into
the room Rick and I were talking in, so I stood in front of the door to
keep my boy from seeing his uncle yelling at me.

I couldn’t get a word in edgewise while he was yelling – I kept saying,
“Can I say something?” to no avail. At one point I asked Rick, “Where
did this anger come from? What did I say?”
He responded by saying, “That’s it, I’m leaving.”

Since I was in front of the door to the room he grabbed me. In defense
I pushed him off of me and said, “Listen to me.”

He grabbed me again and threw me to the ground hard and said, “No I’m
not,” then stormed out of the room. I mentioned that I’ve had terrible
back problems most of my life – the impact of being thrown to the
ground, over a pile of boxes has caused me terrible pain ever since.

Now Rick hasn’t spoken to me since that night, but he told my husband
that he has nothing to apologize for because he’s done nothing wrong.
He has told our mother that I pushed him first and that I “fell” over
the boxes. The final blow was him writing a blog on his public MySpace
page about being “forced” to end a relationship with a non-Christian
family member. It was full of hell talk and self-righteousness.

I’ve been crushed ever since because my one time hero turned into my
abuser – all over religion. His daughter refuses to speak to me, and
our mother is hurting but sympathetic. I have an appointment to speak
to a psychologist soon to help me deal with the emotional impact of the
situation. The simple fact of the matter is that no one has done more
to turn me away from Christianity than Rick has – I think that is
poetic irony.

Today I am a confident atheist, one not afraid of god or hell. And if I
could say one thing to my brother is that he shouldn’t bother to pray
for me because I’ve committed the unforgivable sin – I DENY THE HOLY
SPIRIT!
By Pam27 ~

I have been coming to this site for about a year now and I decided to
try to write down my de-conversion story. Before I begin, I would like
to express my gratitude to those of you who post stories and comments
here regularly. I look forward to my ex-Christian.net fix almost every
day. Our culture is saturated in the Christian mindset and sometimes I
feel like I’m struggling to keep from being sucked under by quicksand.
This site is a great support for me.

I became a Christian as a teen-ager in the mid-70s during the height of
the Jesus Movement, during a “Jesus Festival.” My life was wrapped up
for years in attending Jesus festivals and Christian rock concerts, as
well as church. I was not raised with any religion and had very little
church experience. Because of that, it all seemed new and exciting to
me.

I married a fellow Christian within a few years of my conversion. We
have two grown children. My husband is still a Christian and I’m not
going to lie and say that it isn’t a source of tension in our
relationship. But we’ve been together for 30 years and we’re both
working very hard to keep our marriage on level ground.

There were many reasons I left. One is that I found that my
non-Christian friends and acquaintances were consistently nicer and
more accepting than my Christian friends. Also, as my children grew
older they asked many questions I couldn’t answer without knowing deep
down that I didn’t really believe anymore in the “right” answers.
Neither of them is Christian, by the way. I became increasingly
uncomfortable with many of the church’s teachings, and the uneasiness I
felt continued to build up over the years. But it still took me 27
years to finally walk away for good.

I have heard others on this site compare their break from belief to a
long and nasty divorce. It was certainly that way for me. I can
remember waking up on Sunday morning determined to go to church and
give it one more try. I would get in the shower and begin to cry and
fall apart. I just knew that I could never go back there, it was over
for me, and I was lost for a long time.

One day I found a copy of Bishop Spong’s book “Jesus for the
Non-Religious” at a yard sale. I bought it and it ended up being one of
the best two dollars I ever spent. As I read it, it was the first time
I realized that maybe I wasn’t alone in having such grave doubts about
Christianity and its teachings. I bought several of the books in the
bibliography and devoured them, and they in turn lead me to other
books. I also eventually stumbled onto this site and a couple of
ex-Christian blogs which I have been following.

When you are involved with a controlling cult, you have been taught
over and over not to trust your own judgment and to hand over all your
thinking to those in authority. It takes a long time to win back your
right to your own mind.

I’m happy to be finally free. It feels good to be able think again.

January 22nd, 2011

Suggested by dealdoctor ~



And this: http://tinyurl.com/497etsl
By Valerie Tarico ~

Last week I posted an article about relentless slurs, becking and other
threats targeting the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, and what
it is like for them to be constantly in the crosshairs.

This letter below, from a soldier, below, is why they keep fighting.
Since my first contact with the MRFF, I have seen close to 100 letters
like this, all carefully redacted. The situations the soldiers face are
equally outrageous – but every one tells a different story in a
different voice, with a different writing style. I really can’t add
anything to their words. This soldier has given permission for his
letter to be made public. (Note: the formatting came through garbled,
and Justin at RockBeyondBelief added paragraphing.)
Before I tell you, Mr. Weinstein and the MRFF of my total outrage at
the U.S. Army for grading me as a “Spiritual Fitness failure”, I will
tell you a few things about myself. My name is (name withheld) and I am
an enlisted soldier with the rank of (rank withheld) in the United
States Army stationed at Ft. (military installation withheld). I am in
my early-to-mid twenties. I have been deployed downrange into Iraq and
Afghanistan 6 times. I will deploy again for my 7th time very soon; to
Afghanistan and more combat. All of my deployments have been very heavy
combat assignments. I have been wounded 4 times including traumatic
brain injury. I have earned the Combat Action Badge, the Bronze Star
and multiple Purple Hearts. I have fought in hand-to hand- combat and
killed and wounded more than a few “enemy combatants.”

M[y] religion? I was born a Methodist and guess I still am one. I’m not
very religious but consider myself to be a Christian. I don’t go to
chapel services that often although I go every now and then. I can’t
stand the chaplains as most of them are trying to always get me and my
friends to “commit to Christ” and be far more religious as well as they
try to get more and more soldiers to get more and more soldiers to be
the same type of “committed Christian”. I cannot count the number of
times that these chaplains and my own chain of command has described
this war we fight as a religious one against the Muslims and their
“false, evil and violent” religion. I am a Christian and therefore
neither an agnostic nor an atheist though many of my fellow soldiers
are such. Now to the point. I, and everyone else who is enlisted in my
company, was ORDERED by my Battalion Commander to take the GAT’s
Spiritual Fitness Test not very long ago. Let me make this CLEAR, we
were all ORDERD to take it.

After we did, our unit’s First Sgt. individually asked us all how we
did on the test. There was NO “anonymity” at all. None of us were ever
told that we did NOT have to take this Spiritual Fitness Test nor that
we did NOT have to tell our FIrst Sgt. what our results were. A bunch
of us “failed” the SFT and when we told that to our First Sgt., per his
disclosure order, he further ordered us to make immediate appointments
with the chaplains so that we would not “kill ourselves on his watch”.
None of us wanted to do it but we were scared. None of us wanted to get
in the shits with our First Sgt. who can and will make life miserable
for anyone who might have said no to him.

They keep saying that this is all to stop us soldiers from killing
ourselves but THIS degrading SFT “failure” only makes it worse. Two of
my battle buddies who I KNOW are thinking of ending it all were a
million times worse off after failing this SFT and being called a
“spiritual failure” and then ordered to go see the chaplains. I felt
like a total coward for not standing up to my First Sgt. but I did what
he told me to do. I was scared to tell him no.

So I went to see the chaplain. When this chaplain told me that I failed
the SFT because it was “Jesus’ way of personally knocking on my door as
an invitation for me to come to Him as a born again ‘REAL’ Christian”
so that I could be saved and not burn forever in Hell for rejecting
him, I thought of 3 things. First, I thought of the fact that I was
already born a Christian and did not need to be born again. Second, I
thought of my battle buddy (name and rank withheld) who took a bullet
for me in his face during the Battle of (name of Iraqi battle withheld)
and that he was the same kind of Christian as me and this chaplain is
telling me that my battle buddy (name and rank withheld) is burning in
hell for all time. Third, I thought how I wanted to blow that fucking
chaplain’s head right off.

I thought how I wanted to blow that fucking chaplain’s head right off.
Thank you, Mr. Weinstein and MRFF for listening and standing up. A
bunch of us saw you on MSNBC. We also read about the enlisted guy at
Ft. Bragg. Please tell Sgt. Griffith at Fort Bragg that he speaks for
many of us who can’t handle the consequences if we spoke out. We have
all read the letter you sent to tell the Army to stop this Spiritual
Fitness Test. It cheered us up alot because that making us take that
test is WRONG and using it to send us to the chaplains against our will
is also WRONG. Please tell your lawyers at that big law firm company
not to forget about those of us who want to speak up and thank them all
but cannot. (Name, rank, combat MOS, military unit, military
installation withheld)
If this makes you as crazy-mad as it makes me, here is what to do:

Call your congressman. Call your senator. Post this to your Facebook!
Chip in to help get legal representation for our soldiers here. Send a
personal letter of support to this soldier or to all of them in this
situation. Send it to mikey at militaryreligiousfreedom dot org. The
Military Religious Freedom Foundation has promised to see that he gets
any letters they receive -- and that a sampling of letters get into the
files for the lawsuit.

January 21st, 2011

[ExChristian.Net] The Curse

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ExChristian, ex-christian, atheist, atheism
By Carl S ~

Most ignorance is willful. Some months ago, the Freethought Today
newspaper published an interview with a former Onion periodical editor,
in which he described true believers as being "incapable of learning."
The sociologist/author Eric Hoffer wrote in his book, "The True
Believer," that, "One is astounded at how much unbelief is necessary to
make belief possible."

My wife is a wonderful, caring person, and is totally indifferent to my
statements of the harmful effects of religion. Her usual response
involves the words, "Not in my church." This is even though her church
includes all of them as of the same faith, in silent and tacit
agreement with the most extreme of others of that faith. But she
refuses to consider this. And there's a whole pattern of denials
supporting the system, which amounts to ignorance is bliss, and the
belief that this is harmless. But, is it really?

Let's think about it. Are individuals or organizations which refuse to
learn actually "incapable of learning?"

There is now over 150 years of evidence to support the fact of
evolution, and, in truth, evolution IS what's happening right now, and
has been since life began. And yet we have creationists. To learn, one
must be open and willing to learn. But what are the first and foremost
lessons learned by believers, if not those of trusting the teachers and
obeying them without question? One is instructed not to trust differing
or opposing viewpoints, and to avoid even being exposed to them, if at
all possible. This is the very opposite of becoming "informed." You
might ask yourself how in the hell are you going to LEARN anything by
that method? When one is given only one side of a story, there is no
way to single out what is true from what is false, or perhaps more
importantly, what is moral and what is not. There is simply
unquestioning loyalty to self-declared authority. What one "learns" is
NOT to learn.

Let's look at some examples of willful not learning. There is now over
150 years of evidence to support the fact of evolution, and, in truth,
evolution IS what's happening right now, and has been since life began.
And yet we have creationists. Homosexuality is as natural as different
human personalities. Still, you'll find those who say it's "unnatural."
You can probably think of many more examples.

Is the opposition to learning harmless? I know men who raise their
children to read, write, hunt, fish, that genocide is acceptable
(remember the great flood?), and that others deserve to be shunned and
tortured because their opinions are different from dad's. These
children are “taught” that the lesson of °the Fall” is, if you don't
obey some "divine" will, you will be punished; and not only you, but
the ones you love. (Interesting isn't it, that this is exactly how
cults control their members?) Is such “teaching” harmless to gays,
nonbelievers, church/state separation, and human political dialogue in
general? And what about clear thinking? One might argue that believers
do not belong on juries since they are, by culture of faith, already
opposed to evidential consideration. Willful ignorance has no place in
a courtroom.

Now, what has been gained through disobedience to this "will of God" as
taught in the bible? We have ended slavery and achieved civil rights,
gay rights, anesthesiology, vaccines, freedom of scientific research in
general, and much, much more. (The tale of the Tower of Babel makes me
laugh. We have breached Space, the abode of the gods!) And, all we have
achieved was by learning, and by accepting, not denying, the results of
that learning.

When I first came across those words, "incapable of learning," I kept
re-reading them, for they impressed me as not just a statement, but a
curse. What a terrible thing, to be incapable of learning! In shunning
true learning, religions remain harmful and destructive, obstructing
moral, social, and scientific progress. For, if what one learns is to
simply obey the authorities of the past, then one is bound to repeat
the mistakes of the past. One has not learned as long as any evidence
to the contrary is ignored, and such a habit makes one incapable of
truly learning.
By Andrew ~

I'm eighteen years old and an atheist of several years, and my
de-conversion was not a painful one or even a particularly
uncomfortable one. Like many former Christians (and current
Christians), I was raised to be a Christian. Being born and raised in
Tennessee, it was never remotely arduous to be a Christian, but living
in a more affluent part of that state meant being exposed to more
ideas; people from all over the country and the world moved there, and
exposure to this blend of ethnicities and ideas accelerated my path to
non-belief along with my own various misgivings of the Church of Christ
(which I still attend) and its nonsensical teachings.

For a long time now I've kept my non-belief from my parents, who are
zealous fundamentalists that hate gays, believe in a young earth, etc.
Ever since I was born, I've had to go to church every Sunday morning
and evening and Wednesday evening without my complaint (which I'll go
into more detail about) and not a hint of wanting to ask for my consent.

Now, I'm out of high school and in a college called Florida College
now. This is the main problem for me right now; just do a quick check
on Wikipedia on 'Church of Christ' and in the introductory paragraphs
you'll see Florida College (located in Tampa) mentioned. As you'll
quickly find out, the “college” is a breeding ground (literally, in
some cases) for would-be preachers, a place where concerned parents can
leave their precious little girls (safe in the knowledge that they
will, ah, “remain pure”), and a dumping ground for the parents of
trouble-making, drug-addled kids. Of course, I'm making sweeping
generalizations, and I'm at the school now due to the fact my parents
want to keep me in a secluded, “spiritual” environment (and where they
can keep a close eye on my grades, due to my barely-above-failing GPA.)

Though I'll likely be out of that hellhole by the end of the semester
and be going to a secular college, I've got a bit of problem: I haven't
been attending church at all, and my parents (still in Tennessee) have
a growing sense of this. I know a moment is coming where I'll have to
let the cat out of the bag, because I just don't want go to church
anymore, because it's becoming tedious to do and it's ultimately
useless. My mother is emotionally brittle and my father can, at the
worst of times, be a passive-aggressive bully; in other words, they've
got good potential to make my life miserable should I reveal my
atheism. I need to stop this coercion once and for all and I'm getting
tired of constantly deceiving them that I'm a Christian, but I'm
financially dependent on them and I can guarantee they'll have a very
violent reaction over my atheism. I'm unsure of how to proceed. Help.

January 20th, 2011

By Anonymous ~

I'm extremely encouraged to find this site, and I'm looking for
advice--I'm like many on this site--raised in an evangelical Christian
family. I attended one of the most conservative Christian colleges in
the country for two years before transferring to a state school, and
admitting to myself that I didn't believe a lot of this anymore.

Image by mfajardo via FlickrI was (and am) determined to go about
spirituality in my own way, and have done quite a bit of recovering
since that time. In the past few years, I've gone through a terribly
painful experience when, upon moving in with my now fiancé, my parents
lashed out (to put it lightly). I have never suffered so much as then.

Any advice on dealing with the guilt/combining my set of beliefs? I am
still dealing from the aftermath of the previous brainwashing, and am
looking to sort things out. I firmly believe that evangelical
Christianity is amoral, and completely misses the more important
teachings of Jesus (i.e. forgiveness, caring for the most pathetic
individuals of the world, etc). I'm trying to figure out what I believe
and what to do. I don't believe in Jesus as a savior, but I respect
some of the aforementioned teachings. I believe in helping the most
helpless. I want to believe in a loving God. I miss praying but feel
like I'm not "allowed" to do it. I fear what comes after death. I don't
feel like I could subscribe to a religion again. I don't know how to
combine these things!

Since the difficult time with my parents, we have greatly improved our
relationship. However, I still struggle at times with feeling guilty
after I interact with them.

I know, without a doubt, the answer would never be returning to the
church I grew up in, but I feel like I need something more than just my
random belief set.

Any advice on dealing with the guilt/combining my set of beliefs?
By Nikki ~

I am a very reluctant atheist. Having been brought up in the church and
primed for becoming a missionary and marrying a nice Christian boy, to
now find myself as both an atheist and a lesbian has been
disconcerting, to say the least.

There were three main things that eventually led to my deconversion.
The first was a love of truth; the second, a deep disgust with
hypocrisy; and the third, my final acceptance of the fact that I am
not, have never been, and never will be straight.

My love of truth paved the way. Many times as I grew up, things would
bother me about what I was being taught. I wondered about the stories
of God ordering genocides in the Bible, or just outright murdering
people himself. I puzzled over discrepancies between the Gospels of
Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. I wondered why, in all my years of being
a Christian, I had never seen even one verifiable miracle. But I simply
chalked it up to my lack of understanding, and went on as before.

Then my hatred of hypocrisy was brought to bear. As I rose in
the "ranks" of church leadership, I became privy to a lot of the things
that were going on behind the scenes. What I saw and heard sickened me
- business fraud, deliberate smear campaigns against church members who
objected to anything, a constant concern with "what the community
thought of us..." It made me very angry. "If the church council members
are so blasted concerned about their precious reputation," I
thought, "why are they acting like such a bunch of jerks?"

Then three events converged on my already-crumbling faith: my church
began to fall apart due to infighting; my health abruptly failed as I
contracted both IBS and a nasty stomach ulcer; and, owing to my growing
weakness, I could no longer deny to myself the fact that I was a
lesbian.

I withdrew completely from other people for months, realizing that I
desperately needed to think, and I needed to do it without having
anyone screaming Scripture in my ears. Having accepted that I was gay,
I could finally admit to myself that I always had been. Was I truly
condemned for thinking that women were beautiful, fascinating
creatures? I dove into the Bible like I never had before. (Which is
saying something, since I'd gone to seminary.) I studied it and studied
it, and let myself actually consider my questions about it seriously.

Finally, I came to the conclusion that the God of the Bible,
independent of any Christian spin doctoring, is a manipulative,
ego-maniacal, bloodthirsty, infantile jerk who delights in giving
arbitrary commands and slaughtering innocents - who then has the
audacity to turn around and claim to be a god of love. The faith I'd
loved all my life was a lie.

And then, just as I'd begun to come to terms with all this and recover
a bit from my physical illnesses, I got the news that my mother - the
cornerstone and bedrock of my family since my father's death - is dying
of cancer.

I am not happy Christ isn't true. I'm not happy about it at all. I'd
give anything to go back to my faith, to be able to pray again and take
comfort in the tenets of Christianity. I'd give anything to still be
sharing my dying mother's faith. I want desperately to be the straight
Christian woman I was "supposed" to be. But that isn't in fact the
truth, and I'm not that person...maybe I never really was.

So now I somehow have to find an entirely new social circle, rebuild
the way I think about the world from the ground up, deal with my
mother's terminal illness, and maybe figure out this whole dating thing
that I should have figured out back in high school instead of
now. *buries face in hands* I think maybe I should invest in some
psychiatric help.

January 19th, 2011

By Sergius ~

Hey people, I wanted to write a full testimony on here for two years,
but I never brought myself to it as an Atheist, probably it was for a
reason. Even now, I am not writing a testimony because things change
and enlighten you all the time, so I choose to ask a quick question
with some information about me in mind. In reality, I always been and
thought of myself as neither Atheist nor Christian, I didn't believe in
most of the Bible and found a lot of it boring, I never practiced or
accepted most of the Christian belief either, but I was a strong
believer since I can remember myself, and kept speaking my mind to God
in order to find solutions, just refresh myself, or share something
important or gather wisdom, to gain new perspectives or self control.

Two years ago I decided to educate myself as much as I could on
religions, atheism and everything surrounding it. That was when I
figured, that I must be an atheist and I was strongly so for those two
years straight, it seemed comfortable mostly, but I had to ignore too
much about my own life and the life of my close Christian people, and
about my past experience with what I associated with God, I always
believed he works in subtle ways.

Furthermore, still quite recently to me, after one big event and change
in my life I cried out to God again something I been suppressing for
these years, and all my pent up negative emotions were cleared
instantly. As if in reality with hand of God. And then a lot of
thoughts came upon me, I started to think really hard about my whole
life, and who I truly was or came to be additionally.

So then, I figured there is a God and I can clearly know about this
from many things and experiences, and since I admired Jesus and his
teachings, plus I inherently lived by the principles of love and self
control, I knew that you can always choose love or good if you will
enough which I found in Christian Deism as well. So I came upon a
thought that Jesus was a man guided by God like many of us are, and
that Jesus didn't believe in Old testament God but rather in the true
God.

I started thinking, that people always twisted the facts or added their
own or destroyed them, hence books like Bible can't be inerrant word of
God, and you have to somehow discern all the information and pieces in
the world to get a picture which has less flaws and is tangible and
comfortable position, one which you have confidence in would never
fail, even when you combine theistic and skeptical views. I just
figured being a Muslim, Christian, Hindu or Atheist etc. Are all
positions of extreme and has their flaws, or something far too absurd,
or even crazy you HAVE to believe, live with, reconcile or conform to
in order to stay as one of these.

Besides it always hurt faithful and close to me people when i talked to
them from atheistic perspective, even when i was being nice or always
tried to void such conversations.

After I've read works of Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine and others I
noticed how my world view fits with them, things like our minds is our
own churches are also what I consider true, and that's why as an
Atheist it is justifiable to think that God is only in our heads. So,
afterwards I came upon this one site, and learned more about Deism and
founding fathers of U.S. ( I knew a lil bit about before but never
deepened into it, however I always thought that the best theistic
position and closest to being true or on the more so right path, was in
fact Deism, You stay rational, you keep your spiritual journey, and you
scrutinize and seek everything to fit into places, and you can do it
all yourself)

This is the site: http://www.christiandeistfellowship.com/

To sum it all up, and get to the main point, after I've read works of
Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine and others I noticed how my world view
fits with them, things like our minds is our own churches are also what
I consider true, and that's why as an Atheist it is justifiable to
think that God is only in our heads. Finally, after I've read this
website and about successful life and family life of the author, I was
pretty convinced that if I had to call myself something it would be
this position. It was everything I came to so far, plus extra from the
experience rich author. And yet of course I see flaws in his thinking
and some conclusions. Point is, as people we all are right and mistaken
at the same time, always...

So what I ask of you is, what are your thoughts, questions (because I
purposely left out all the important information and experiences,
because you can ask them separately yourself) on this post, Deism, and
more importantly Christian Deism and the information on provided
website. Do you find such belief useful? quite reasonable? Conclusions
of it probable and compatible? What flaws does it have? and so on.

As former Christians and even more importantly so Atheists like I have
been and looked up to, I'm sure you will bring some interesting points
which would help us all in our journeys! Thanks in Advance, and
remember when you read my post or see/read other people who choose
belief in God, don't let that very little but nasty feeling spring in
you, its not hate but most of you who have it know what I'm talking
about, because seeing people for what they are is important.
By Kat ~

I am 23 years old and I am not able to be a Christian anymore after
thoroughly investigating and questioning my understanding of it. I was
heavily forced into non-traditional American Catholicism as a child by
my parents (one a Third-Order Carmelite nun) I haven t been a Christian
for years now and I thought I had worked through my feelings about it
but I finished The God Delusion and some other materials on raising
Christian children and I've realized how deeply ingrained it was in my
childhood and how much my religious upbringing affects me in my day to
day life.

I get angry now when I hear old Bible stories that remind me of being
ridiculed as a child for asking questions or when my family attempts to
convince me that the origins of one thing or another are Christian
(Greek, Roman, Gaelic and Egyptian mythology , obviously insane
claims). I have a hard time being civil in discussions with them and I
feel my reactions are becoming overblown and will ultimately undermine
my intent -- trying to help my family especially the younger generation
understand or examine their own doubts and the wealth of evidence
around us regarding blind religious fervor in general.

I have a good support system now but these people weren't indoctrinated
as I was and I wouldn't mind finding out how other people deal with
this sort of thing on a day to day basis. I live in a remote area
without support groups or anything and I'm a mother who works full
time. Any comment would be spectacular.

I used to be able to enjoy art, stories and music regardless of it s
origins but I feel bitter about how I was made to feel 15 years ago and
how I am treated by my family now since rejecting the concepts i was
taught. I don't want to be angry, I want to be able to listen and
respond to discussions in an adult manner and enjoy what I once did now
for the fiction it is or the artistry of it without flashbacks or
stupid psychosomatic responses -- please help...
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