sent in by Shannon
Thankfully my parents were not and are not Christians. (The same cannot be said for the rest of my family.) In a misguided attempt to provide me with a better education than public schools purportedly provide, I was sent to private Christian (Episcopal, and later, Assembly of God) schools from grades 1-9. At these fine instutions of learning, I was taught to quote Bible verses, sing hymns, and all about how God created the earth and so on and so forth. By the time I reached the 9th grade, I had witnessed a string of hypocrasies which "tested my faith". The devout English and Science teacher ran away together during the summer between 8th and 9th grade; the Science teacher leaving her husband and 3 children behind. How do you explain that? I was also confused by my best friend's father, a pillar of the community and fine Christian church leader, who commited countless adulteries against his faithful wife. Our new, young pastor "shacked up" with his girlfriend and shocked the congregation when he was caught sharing a room with her on a trip... afterwards he resigned his post. The church-goers who regularly abused alcohol and drugs and then attended church every Sunday morning. The general mean-spiritedness of members of the congregation; the venom with which others were spoken of behind their back if they were believed to have committed the slightest transgression. The list goes on and on....
Once I began high school at a public school in the 10th grade, I was seriously beginning to question my faith. I could not reconcile all these activities with this religion. I thought we were supposed to be good, with our actions serving as a witness to others? At the same time, I was plagued with guilt that I should question anything, as I knew I should just have faith in God, and not look at the actions of man, who is weak.
I made some friends and started attending a Methodist church, where I joined the youth group and became actively involved. Don't get me wrong, that was a great experience as I made a lot of friends and it generally kept me out of trouble in high school. I never took a drink of alcohol until college and no drugs until I was 25 (and then, pot only). The youth leader was a former hellion and drug addict who had been "converted" when he met his Christian wife (how that match worked I'll never know.) This made him fairly open-minded nonetheless, with at least a dim memory of experiences outside the hazy realm of Christianity. Our youth group had quite a few serious discussions, and we weren't even discouraged from questioning our faith. When someone once asked, "what if we are wrong?" his answer was "If we're wrong, then when we die, nothing will happen. BUT, if we're right and we don't accept Jesus as our savior, then we'll go to hell. I prefer to play it safe." To me, that said the only reason he chose his faith is out of fear of hell - he is willing to accept that ideology just to save himself from eternal damnation, even though he acknowledges that he may not be right.
After graduation, I attended college and one of my first classes was Sociology. During this class, we explored the different religions that have existed in the world, and it was very clear that the professor felt all religions had been made up by man to satisfy various needs - usually to control people by telling them "Do this because God said so" or "Don't do that or you will go to hell". I was amazed as that was literally the first time in my life I had ever heard such a thing - religion was made up by man??? That was an Ah-ha moment for me if there ever was one. At that moment I allowed myself to consider the possibility, for the first time, that maybe Christianity wasn't right. For a while, I couldn't get enough, and began studying various religions and the history of religions. At that time I still believed there was a God, but I no longer believed in Christianity, and was beginning to be opposed to all organized religion. The more I studied, the more I had a growing realization that God could not be merciful if one religion is "right" - then all the other millions/billions of people who believe something else are going to hell. After this I declared myself agnostic and ceased to give much thoughts to matters of religion or God.
Now, 7 years out of college, and I have noticed myself becoming increasingly annoyed by all the religious/Christian ideas that surround me. The silly and unwanted prayer/angel/Jesus emails forwarded to me by friends, family, and co-workers. What I used to ignore, I now abhor. I am not sure what brought about the change, other than it seems like there is more and more Christian thoughts getting introduced into our government and our laws, with many of our leaders touting these same ideals. I once again turned to books and the internet to educate myself about the fallacies of the Bible, Christianity, and the existence of God. I now consider myself an atheist, and I cannot help but marvel at the fundamental Christians who actually believe all the insanity and fairy tales. I am very frustrated at all the minds that are wasted whenever otherwise intelligent people subscribe to this nonsense. All I can do is educate myself and encourage other people to do the same, as I cannot force my world view on them anymore than they force theirs on me.
I am much happier since my de-conversion, now that I no longer have the threat of hell-fire looming in the background anytime I have a bad thought, curse when I stub my toe, or drink a beer. There are no longer specters and devils creeping in the closet and under the bed, waiting to claim my soul, or at the very least, possess my body. I no longer have to rationalize the hypocrisy of humans and the church, the hatred, intolerance, and bloodshed, or the inequal treatment and even outright discrimination against women. I no longer have to believe in the ludricrous and unsubstantiated fables in the Bible that so many others take as the literal truth.
I am finally FREE!
How old were you when you became a christian? 6
How old were you when you ceased being a christian? 19
What churches or organizations or labels have applied to you? Methodist, Assembly of God, Presbyterian, Episcopalian
What labels, if any, would you apply to yourself now? Atheist
Why did you become a christian? Raised, schooled, surrounded, and immersed in it
Why did you de-convert? Saw the blatant hiprocrasies occurring on a regular basis, starting investigating the facts