Share your de-conversion story
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21-06-2013, 08:52 PM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
I have a de-conversion I would like to share. However, since the de-conversion isn't into full atheism, I hope it's not too inappropriate for me to post here.
This just seems like a great thread.

I was raised in a Neo-Pentecostal environment from childhood into adolescence. I was indoctrinated into believing various things about God.
Things I were taught were quite bizarre. Some examples are: Your words have massive power and can bring good or bad things your way. God was a seriously mysterious being that did strange things. If we were to question these things, we needed to repent of sinning against God for not having faith in what God does.
Angels were taught to also be mysterious beings that would fly around me and every other "believer", protecting us from evil.
I actually believed most of these things for a good while. As a child, I did not question any of it.
It wasn't until I was in my teenage years that I started to find some issues with what I was being taught.
I eventually brought my questions to the elders of the church and utterly serious about getting an answer.
However, the answers I received from the elders were all seriously empty of any explanation.
Answers like "Stop studying those books and just have faith in Him" and "Questioning God and anything in the Bible is a sin that should be repented of".
I quickly realized that I was living a lie for many years.
I then joined the Navy and began my own research. I studied Science, Religion, Human Behavior, Psychology, Mathematics, Theology and others.
I found that life was a lot more complicated than I had imagined. The age of the earth was already established pretty well with hard evidence and that religion is basically an invention of man.
I did become a sort of atheist at that time, but didn't really go by that label. I just really didn't go by any label, including Christian.

That could have been my complete de-conversion story, but it's been years since then, and many things have changed.
I learned a lot more and conversed with many people that were very similar to me. However, most of these people had made the decision that no gods exist and that material things were all that exist (or Naturalism).
I was almost completely convinced of that myself until I actually measured their best arguments and evidence against that of the possibility of something other than nature existing.
I learned a lot concerning the nature of evidence and how it can be pulled or manipulated in one direction or the other with the help of unhealthy bias.
I would study court cases like the West Memphis 3 that involved biased jury's and Judges that would refuse appeal to cases regarding circumstantial evidence that was later turned over based on that evidence because of it's convincing nature.
I never saw the logic in limiting myself to empirical evidence while circumstantial evidence holds just as much validity.
I was compelled the opposite way and have since been a Theist. I don't claim any religion, however, and still do not go to any church of any kind.
A lot of people (particularly atheists) have said that I fall into the category of Deist. However, Deism has never accurately portrayed my understanding of the evidence concerning the nature of what this god being would have to be like in order for the puzzle pieces to make sense.

Anyways, that's sort of my de-conversion, conversion-ish story xD

Later!

“What you believe to be true will control you, whether it’s true or not.”

—Jeremy LaBorde
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21-06-2013, 09:00 PM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
well, that is certainly interesting. still trying to wrap my brain around it. Consider


eta: biased circumstantial evidence in favor of a deity???


"Life is a daring adventure or it is nothing"--Helen Keller
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22-06-2013, 05:38 AM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
I like read all these stories.
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23-06-2013, 06:44 AM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
My deconversion was very gradual. I was born into a catholic household but to free thinking parents (I know it's weird, huh?). I remember my dad didn't even want to be catholic, and we had to pray for him at the end of our daily bible story readings. Of course those bible story readings were confined to the sanitized stories for public consumption. Pretty soon dad joined the chorus, and I went on with the family for a few years, until I went into a pilot science high school. Science took over my life. I guess religion got pushed back after that and the slow process began.

Then my deconversion got a jolt. In college I became politically aware, and I suddenly saw that the religious hierarchy in my country was actively interfering and hindering our progress as a nation. I quickly thought back to the lessons of my childhood, and I retained enough of my belief to question what I saw. It was then I studied the religion me and my family adopted. And I saw that as much as I thought to blame the men of the catholic hierarchy, I realized instead that it was the dogma and underlying belief that is the root of their corruption.

It was then that my deconversion was completed. I now fight in what ways I can against the corruption of our catholic hierarchy, who are still dipping their paws into our lives and suffocating us with their hypocrisy. It has strained my marriage and cost me some friends, but I feel that I have to spare my son from the influence of these power hungry, hypocritical, and corrupt peddlers of poisonous delusion.


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23-06-2013, 08:00 AM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
(21-06-2013 08:52 PM)ideasonscribe Wrote:  I never saw the logic in limiting myself to empirical evidence while circumstantial evidence holds just as much validity.

No, it doesn't. Where did you get that idea?

Quote:I was compelled the opposite way and have since been a Theist. I don't claim any religion, however, and still do not go to any church of any kind.
A lot of people (particularly atheists) have said that I fall into the category of Deist. However, Deism has never accurately portrayed my understanding of the evidence concerning the nature of what this god being would have to be like in order for the puzzle pieces to make sense.

What evidence? There is no evidence for any gods.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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23-06-2013, 11:15 AM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
My path was meandering. I went to church some as a child with my grandmother and friends, stopped as a teenager and young adult, went back off and on during adulthood, began reading Hitchens, Dawkins and co last year and finally got off the fence snd decided that I'm not just an agnostic but an atheist.

Godless in the Magnolia State
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23-06-2013, 03:03 PM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
My de-conversion story started twenty years ago when I was working for a corporation. I heard about the book by Stephen Covey called the Seven habits of highly effective people from a colleage and picke it up to read. Turns out that there is not a drop of Religion in it even though Covey was a Mormon.

Anyways, inplementing and integating those habits into my life brought about a paradigm shift of a lifetime (thats what it was supposed to do). The truth to everything became crystal clear. The bible, the song lyrics to 60's and 70's rock bands, art, literature and even some corporate commercial slogans. It was very powerful. It was a happy and time of my life and an experience that I would love to share but find impossible to. For it is a personal thing we are all to experience.

A short year later I was watching a program on Public television called Joseph Campbell and the power of myth which validated my entire experience and added more insight into this big world of ours. I would highly reccomend it especially the segment the message of the myth.

I am 20 years older now and at 53 and am surrounded by Religous Zealots in my family. It is sad to see so many out there who can't think for themselves and center their life around their religion. What a waste.

For Me, I am the own God of my life!

Peace
~Chris
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25-06-2013, 10:49 AM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
(23-06-2013 11:15 AM)cjs Wrote:  My path was meandering. I went to church some as a child with my grandmother and friends, stopped as a teenager and young adult, went back off and on during adulthood, began reading Hitchens, Dawkins and co last year and finally got off the fence snd decided that I'm not just an agnostic but an atheist.

Religious teachings can be difficult to shake. Just think as a child you were taught all those things. So it does take awhile. Kind of like weaning off an addiction. But you are relatively young to have reached this milestone. I was a fence sitter for way longer than you. But luckily you helped me go over the fence and I really do appreciate it.

Diety Free in Dixieland
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27-06-2013, 11:00 AM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
Cradle Catholic. Dad raised partial Byzantine Rite and Roman Catholic. Mom converted to Catholicism from The Church of The Nazarene...to marry my Dad...and her family gave her the cold shoulder for a while. But they (my parents) left their small Ohio river valley town to go to other parts of the world courtesy of the U.S. Air Force; subsequently, we five kids never did know our grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins very well. We saw them once or twice a year, tops.

As for me...well, altar boy a couple of years, choir member for most of my Catholic life. In the choir during college; lived in a Newman Center rectory for 5 years during college. That was a trip. Some of my female college peers thought I was studying to be a priest. Not a chance.

After college, joined and then led a guitar-Mass choir for nine years. That took dedication. I thought I was setting an example, something for people to admire and emulate. Something for me to use as leverage to be a cock-sucking arrogant prick Catholic. Yeah, something like that...

I guess I should say that I was a believer. I tried, I really did. I didn't buy any of the Old Testament mythology, although I never researched it. I believed in God and His Son, Jesus Christ...but I always had questions...like, why did my Mom have to suffer and die from a brain tumour? She was a wonderful mother, wife, teacher, always held to her faith. Why? Why didn't God cure her? I remember during the time she was comatose after her diagnosis. The physicians really couldn't do anything for her except try to keep her comfortable, so we brought her home so that she could die in her own place. I fully expected...I FULLY EXPECTED...that she would wake up, rub her eyes, look around the room and ask innocently "why is everybody crying?", and be totally disease-free. Didn't happen. She died in her sleep, with me sleeping on the floor next to her gurney.

That didn't shake my faith, though. I admonished my siblings for their lack of faith in the Lord. They had stopped going to church years ago...as soon as they moved out of our parents house. I had the audacity to chide them for not being "strong like me" in their faith.

They put up with it.

In 2009, I was doing some self-education on climate change. I am a scientist by education, training and profession...yet I realized much to my shame that I knew next to nothing about climate change. I understood the basic chemistry and physics, but I had bought into the mantra that my President, GW Bush, had paraded around: it's a fad, it's junk science.

No, it's not.

As I began to read books, scientific journals, blogs, newspaper accounts, it dawned on me that I also didn't know what the religious entities around the planet had to say about climate change. After all, it *is* God's Creation. Shouldn't they have something to say?

So, off I went, spelunking on the Internet, looking at the Vatican's position statement on climate change, the evangelical Christian websites, etc. I discovered that the Vatican did, indeed, have something to say. It was a bit wishy-washy and weak, but it did accept that we should "care for God's Creation". The evangelicals, too, had something to say. In fact, I discovered that the evangelicals couldn't agree on which way the fucking wind blows; two sides emerged. One said "yes, we agree with the Catholics"; the other side, who I discovered became the "Dominionists", believed in a literal interpretation of the Bible, quoting Genesis "And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth." Genesis 1:28. Further, they claimed that it was okay to use up all the resources of the planet, to trash it, because Revelation said Jesus would return (Revelation 19) and "make a new planet".

Holy Fucking Fuck! Really? They Really Believe This?

That didn't shake my faith.

I went back to the Vatican website a month or so later. They had changed their position statement somewhat; they made it a bit stronger, but it was still weak, especially in support of the science.

However, whilst perusing the Vatican website, I happened to notice a link to an article about child sex abuse. I followed it. Right Down The Fucking Rabbit Hole.

Hadn't expected to do this. Not at fifty years old, firm in my faith, happy in my service to the Lord. I was a Catholic, one of God's Chosen People, the One True Faith, the One True Church. But for some unexplainable reason, I followed that link.

Off we go!!!! That link took me to other links; websites, blogs, newspaper and magazine articles, books, documentaries, ad infinitum. I discovered that my perception of the child sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church was wrong, way wrong, way, way, way wrong. I had thought that it "was just a few bad priests, they're probably homosexuals, and the Church is handling it". Wrong.

It is thousands of predator clergy. Literally tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of victims. Planet-wide, "from Ireland to Australia", as Christopher Hitchens said. And it's not just the crimes. It's the coverup. By the leadership. All the way to the top.

That Shook My Faith. More precisely, it destroyed it. Utterly and with extreme prejudice.

I found, after months of research, meditation, study, reading, listening, arguing, contemplating, that two things emerged. Two thoughts, really.
1) How could I reconcile my involvement with an institution whose members are allowed to rape and torture children?
2) How could I reconcile my involvement with an institution whose leadership not only had knowledge aforethought of said crimes, but actively engaged in its coverup?

Now, I have friends who are Catholic. Good friends. Close friends. They don't want to talk about it. "Can we talk about this some other time, like, when we're not drinking?", one devout Catholic friend exclaimed. Other Catholic friends argued briefly with me via Facebook and e-mail; they defended the Church. In the face of overwhelming evidence, they defended it. One of them defended one of her friends, a music minister at various parishes in the area, who was convicted of child molestation and is now serving 25 years in a federal prison. A Catholic music minister. I played music with him a couple of times. When he was caught, he phoned his friend and local pastor, a Catholic priest, and had him go over to his apartment and try to delete all the kiddie porn on his computer. The priest was caught, too.

Son of A Bitch!

Okay, that little episode sent me screaming away from Catholicism. Fair enough. But then I began to question God. His Existence. How he could allow these crimes to occur? I discovered Richard Dawkins. Christopher Hitchens. Sam Harris. Dan Barker. John Lofton. Jerry Coyne. Daniel Dannett. I rediscovered my scientific curiosity with the Universe. With our planet. With us as a species. We're apes! All life on this planet is related. All of it. No evidence to support the existence of Moses. The Exodus. No Adam. No Eve. No Original Sin.

No Jesus. No, rilly. No Jesus. No historians or scholars in the 1st Century CE wrote anything about him. No miracles. No birth. No ministry. No trial, no crucifixion. Not one word.

The earliest writings we have about Christ are allegedly from Saul of Tarsus (Paul), an epileptic stutterer who claims he saw Christ in a series of visions. Paul's letters are famously the building blocks of Christianity. Yet he wrote nothing of Jesus' birth, early life, ministry. He wrote only of three things: Jesus death, his rising, and his eventual return. Paul doesn't believe that Jesus was ever a human being. He's not even aware of the idea. And he's the link between the time-frame given for the life of Jesus and the appearance of the first Gospel account of that life.

I didn't know this. Why didn't I know this? I had already discovered that my chosen faith, Catholicism, had been lying to us about the child sex abuse. Had they been lying about these facts, too? Yes. They had. The Shroud of Turin? Fraud. The Testimonium Flavianum? Forged. The Jesus Story? Faked. Transubstantiation? C'mon!

In July 2010 I attended a 4th of July family gathering. One evening, my next oldest sister and I had some time alone to chat. She said two of the most profound things I have ever heard. We were talking about how we had been raised as children, the CCD classes, never missing Mass, getting into trouble when we were teens if we missed. She looked at me and said, "I have always felt cheated that we never knew there were alternatives to Catholicism. We were never allowed to even know that there were other paths. It was Catholicism, and that was it." Later in that same conversation, she said: "Bobby, we were brainwashed". Boom! It was like a lightning bolt into my brain! That was my "A-Ha!" moment. That was the key that unlocked my anger and frustration! Simple words from my next of kin. I finally was able to focus on my anger, begin the process of disassembling it, studying it, releasing it. Finally!

I discarded my Catholic faith officially in July 2010. I stopped attending Mass. In August 2010 I stopped my tithe, thus ending my relationship with the Roman Catholic Church. I called my home parish and had my name removed from their directory. The Church still claims me as one of the Faithful; I haven't yet been excommunicated or de-baptized, but I'll eventually get around to that.

I ended my religious beliefs sometime later in 2010. I decided in Nov. 2010 to call my siblings and tell each of them what I had decided. I found out that 3 of my 4 siblings were decades ahead of me! They had arrived at my decision years ago, and were patiently waiting for me to wake the fuck up! Their paths were different than mine, but we had all arrived at the same destination, nonetheless. I've had...or rather, been given...the opportunity to discuss at length my exit from religion with each of my siblings. Wonderful and frank discussions. Quite moving. I've discovered that they knew early on in their lives that religion was BS, but they kept quiet, went along to get along. As soon as they were out of the house, they made their decisions for themselves. No more religion. Sleeping in on Sundays. No more Holy Days of Obligation. The only real difference between me and my siblings is that they will go to Mass whenever my parents come to visit, or when they visit my parents. I broke the mold on that one. I am the only one to stand up to my dear old Dad and say "No". I made it clear to him that it is not a personal attack against him. My reasons for discarding my faith are clear, and they are valid. I will *never* step inside of a church again, except for weddings and funerals. My next oldest sister, the one who helped me realize why I was so angry, has lately been more forthcoming to my parents about her non-belief. She has told them that she doesn't go to church where she lives. She only goes when they visit, and she only goes because she wants them to be happy.

I had to ask myself a lot of questions in the last 4 years. Questions for which I was unprepared. Questions against which I found I had all the wrong answers. The harm done by religion to us as a species is quite profound. The recent shenanigans by the Religious Right in regards to equal rights, same-sex marriage, contraception, stem cell research, have further stunted our growth as sentient beings. Yes, religion does some good, but the cost of that "good" is and has been staggeringly high. We can ill afford to continue to pay that price. The Abrahamic religions all have an apocalyptic perspective on our existence. Radical elements of those faiths cannot wait for death; they celebrate it, they long for it as a lover longs for his/her mate. We would be wise to discard our superstitious nature, discard it as one discards a bad habit like smoking. Go cold turkey.

We'll never be free from religion, we must accept that fact. But we can work to limit the harm it does. There are two things that have been found to help to cure religion: education, and the Internet. If it weren't for the existence of the Internet, I would not have had the opportunity to research the way I did. This is one of the key reasons the "nones" are growing in our society. Better than 20% of our population in the U.S. are marking their census forms as "not affiliated with any religious beliefs", and our numbers are growing rapidly. A smaller number of us are atheists. Nevertheless, many have seen that there is no reason to hold to the faith of their parents generation. They've reasoned it out; no more superstition. No more fear of non-existent beings threatening you with non-existent eternal torment.

My family has not disowned me. My Dad and my oldest sister are still believers and they regularly attend Mass. I've had a few brief discussions with each of them, but those discussions were early on in the timeline of my exit from religion. I was so angry at that time that I could not concentrate on my argument. I welcome the opportunity to have those discussions now, at the present and in the future, now that I have had time to study, to digest, to come to grips.

To be a Christian these days is to bask in a shallow pond of ignorance. Catholics, like many Christians, don't read their Holy Books. Catholics, especially, don't know scripture. They are brainwashed into believing that they don't need to know scripture. "Leave that to the professionals", Julia Sweeney says in "Letting Go of God", "we'll tell you what you need to know". So my sister and my Dad DON'T KNOW THAT THE BIBLE SPECIFICALLY STATES THAT HOMOSEXUALITY IS A SIN PUNISHABLE BY DEATH. They don't know it! When confronted with that fact, they go silent. Literally. No more words come out of their mouths. They cling to the fable of "gentle Jesus meek and mild coming with a New Covenant", even though Jesus has some pretty divisive things to say about that: "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’

"Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me." -MATTHEW 10:34-38.

I don't know if my parents will ever understand. The indoctrination that they received as children, reinforced all their lives by our society and by what they've been told are historical facts...like "God was on our side and was the reason that we won WWI and WWII last Century"...I don't know. That's tough to overcome, especially when one considers the facts that the United States became, after 1945, the world's only superpower, no competition for manufacturing or industry for decades, no competition for the resources of the planet, a population statistically lopsided in favour of Christianity, and a self-important perspective that the U.S. has been "Divinely Ordained to Lead The World Until Jesus Returns"...I don't know.

I'm doing what I can.
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27-06-2013, 05:31 PM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
(27-06-2013 11:00 AM)sTv0 Wrote:  Cradle Catholic. Dad raised partial Byzantine Rite and Roman Catholic. Mom converted to Catholicism from The Church of The Nazarene...to marry my Dad...and her family gave her the cold shoulder for a while. But they (my parents) left their small Ohio river valley town to go to other parts of the world courtesy of the U.S. Air Force; subsequently, we five kids never did know our grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins very well. We saw them once or twice a year, tops.

As for me...well, altar boy a couple of years, choir member for most of my Catholic life. In the choir during college; lived in a Newman Center rectory for 5 years during college. That was a trip. Some of my female college peers thought I was studying to be a priest. Not a chance.

After college, joined and then led a guitar-Mass choir for nine years. That took dedication. I thought I was setting an example, something for people to admire and emulate. Something for me to use as leverage to be a cock-sucking arrogant prick Catholic. Yeah, something like that...

I guess I should say that I was a believer. I tried, I really did. I didn't buy any of the Old Testament mythology, although I never researched it. I believed in God and His Son, Jesus Christ...but I always had questions...like, why did my Mom have to suffer and die from a brain tumour? She was a wonderful mother, wife, teacher, always held to her faith. Why? Why didn't God cure her? I remember during the time she was comatose after her diagnosis. The physicians really couldn't do anything for her except try to keep her comfortable, so we brought her home so that she could die in her own place. I fully expected...I FULLY EXPECTED...that she would wake up, rub her eyes, look around the room and ask innocently "why is everybody crying?", and be totally disease-free. Didn't happen. She died in her sleep, with me sleeping on the floor next to her gurney.

That didn't shake my faith, though. I admonished my siblings for their lack of faith in the Lord. They had stopped going to church years ago...as soon as they moved out of our parents house. I had the audacity to chide them for not being "strong like me" in their faith.

They put up with it.

In 2009, I was doing some self-education on climate change. I am a scientist by education, training and profession...yet I realized much to my shame that I knew next to nothing about climate change. I understood the basic chemistry and physics, but I had bought into the mantra that my President, GW Bush, had paraded around: it's a fad, it's junk science.

No, it's not.

As I began to read books, scientific journals, blogs, newspaper accounts, it dawned on me that I also didn't know what the religious entities around the planet had to say about climate change. After all, it *is* God's Creation. Shouldn't they have something to say?

So, off I went, spelunking on the Internet, looking at the Vatican's position statement on climate change, the evangelical Christian websites, etc. I discovered that the Vatican did, indeed, have something to say. It was a bit wishy-washy and weak, but it did accept that we should "care for God's Creation". The evangelicals, too, had something to say. In fact, I discovered that the evangelicals couldn't agree on which way the fucking wind blows; two sides emerged. One said "yes, we agree with the Catholics"; the other side, who I discovered became the "Dominionists", believed in a literal interpretation of the Bible, quoting Genesis "And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth." Genesis 1:28. Further, they claimed that it was okay to use up all the resources of the planet, to trash it, because Revelation said Jesus would return (Revelation 19) and "make a new planet".

Holy Fucking Fuck! Really? They Really Believe This?

That didn't shake my faith.

I went back to the Vatican website a month or so later. They had changed their position statement somewhat; they made it a bit stronger, but it was still weak, especially in support of the science.

However, whilst perusing the Vatican website, I happened to notice a link to an article about child sex abuse. I followed it. Right Down The Fucking Rabbit Hole.

Hadn't expected to do this. Not at fifty years old, firm in my faith, happy in my service to the Lord. I was a Catholic, one of God's Chosen People, the One True Faith, the One True Church. But for some unexplainable reason, I followed that link.

Off we go!!!! That link took me to other links; websites, blogs, newspaper and magazine articles, books, documentaries, ad infinitum. I discovered that my perception of the child sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church was wrong, way wrong, way, way, way wrong. I had thought that it "was just a few bad priests, they're probably homosexuals, and the Church is handling it". Wrong.

It is thousands of predator clergy. Literally tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of victims. Planet-wide, "from Ireland to Australia", as Christopher Hitchens said. And it's not just the crimes. It's the coverup. By the leadership. All the way to the top.

That Shook My Faith. More precisely, it destroyed it. Utterly and with extreme prejudice.

I found, after months of research, meditation, study, reading, listening, arguing, contemplating, that two things emerged. Two thoughts, really.
1) How could I reconcile my involvement with an institution whose members are allowed to rape and torture children?
2) How could I reconcile my involvement with an institution whose leadership not only had knowledge aforethought of said crimes, but actively engaged in its coverup?

Now, I have friends who are Catholic. Good friends. Close friends. They don't want to talk about it. "Can we talk about this some other time, like, when we're not drinking?", one devout Catholic friend exclaimed. Other Catholic friends argued briefly with me via Facebook and e-mail; they defended the Church. In the face of overwhelming evidence, they defended it. One of them defended one of her friends, a music minister at various parishes in the area, who was convicted of child molestation and is now serving 25 years in a federal prison. A Catholic music minister. I played music with him a couple of times. When he was caught, he phoned his friend and local pastor, a Catholic priest, and had him go over to his apartment and try to delete all the kiddie porn on his computer. The priest was caught, too.

Son of A Bitch!

Okay, that little episode sent me screaming away from Catholicism. Fair enough. But then I began to question God. His Existence. How he could allow these crimes to occur? I discovered Richard Dawkins. Christopher Hitchens. Sam Harris. Dan Barker. John Lofton. Jerry Coyne. Daniel Dannett. I rediscovered my scientific curiosity with the Universe. With our planet. With us as a species. We're apes! All life on this planet is related. All of it. No evidence to support the existence of Moses. The Exodus. No Adam. No Eve. No Original Sin.

No Jesus. No, rilly. No Jesus. No historians or scholars in the 1st Century CE wrote anything about him. No miracles. No birth. No ministry. No trial, no crucifixion. Not one word.

The earliest writings we have about Christ are allegedly from Saul of Tarsus (Paul), an epileptic stutterer who claims he saw Christ in a series of visions. Paul's letters are famously the building blocks of Christianity. Yet he wrote nothing of Jesus' birth, early life, ministry. He wrote only of three things: Jesus death, his rising, and his eventual return. Paul doesn't believe that Jesus was ever a human being. He's not even aware of the idea. And he's the link between the time-frame given for the life of Jesus and the appearance of the first Gospel account of that life.

I didn't know this. Why didn't I know this? I had already discovered that my chosen faith, Catholicism, had been lying to us about the child sex abuse. Had they been lying about these facts, too? Yes. They had. The Shroud of Turin? Fraud. The Testimonium Flavianum? Forged. The Jesus Story? Faked. Transubstantiation? C'mon!

In July 2010 I attended a 4th of July family gathering. One evening, my next oldest sister and I had some time alone to chat. She said two of the most profound things I have ever heard. We were talking about how we had been raised as children, the CCD classes, never missing Mass, getting into trouble when we were teens if we missed. She looked at me and said, "I have always felt cheated that we never knew there were alternatives to Catholicism. We were never allowed to even know that there were other paths. It was Catholicism, and that was it." Later in that same conversation, she said: "Bobby, we were brainwashed". Boom! It was like a lightning bolt into my brain! That was my "A-Ha!" moment. That was the key that unlocked my anger and frustration! Simple words from my next of kin. I finally was able to focus on my anger, begin the process of disassembling it, studying it, releasing it. Finally!

I discarded my Catholic faith officially in July 2010. I stopped attending Mass. In August 2010 I stopped my tithe, thus ending my relationship with the Roman Catholic Church. I called my home parish and had my name removed from their directory. The Church still claims me as one of the Faithful; I haven't yet been excommunicated or de-baptized, but I'll eventually get around to that.

I ended my religious beliefs sometime later in 2010. I decided in Nov. 2010 to call my siblings and tell each of them what I had decided. I found out that 3 of my 4 siblings were decades ahead of me! They had arrived at my decision years ago, and were patiently waiting for me to wake the fuck up! Their paths were different than mine, but we had all arrived at the same destination, nonetheless. I've had...or rather, been given...the opportunity to discuss at length my exit from religion with each of my siblings. Wonderful and frank discussions. Quite moving. I've discovered that they knew early on in their lives that religion was BS, but they kept quiet, went along to get along. As soon as they were out of the house, they made their decisions for themselves. No more religion. Sleeping in on Sundays. No more Holy Days of Obligation. The only real difference between me and my siblings is that they will go to Mass whenever my parents come to visit, or when they visit my parents. I broke the mold on that one. I am the only one to stand up to my dear old Dad and say "No". I made it clear to him that it is not a personal attack against him. My reasons for discarding my faith are clear, and they are valid. I will *never* step inside of a church again, except for weddings and funerals. My next oldest sister, the one who helped me realize why I was so angry, has lately been more forthcoming to my parents about her non-belief. She has told them that she doesn't go to church where she lives. She only goes when they visit, and she only goes because she wants them to be happy.

I had to ask myself a lot of questions in the last 4 years. Questions for which I was unprepared. Questions against which I found I had all the wrong answers. The harm done by religion to us as a species is quite profound. The recent shenanigans by the Religious Right in regards to equal rights, same-sex marriage, contraception, stem cell research, have further stunted our growth as sentient beings. Yes, religion does some good, but the cost of that "good" is and has been staggeringly high. We can ill afford to continue to pay that price. The Abrahamic religions all have an apocalyptic perspective on our existence. Radical elements of those faiths cannot wait for death; they celebrate it, they long for it as a lover longs for his/her mate. We would be wise to discard our superstitious nature, discard it as one discards a bad habit like smoking. Go cold turkey.

We'll never be free from religion, we must accept that fact. But we can work to limit the harm it does. There are two things that have been found to help to cure religion: education, and the Internet. If it weren't for the existence of the Internet, I would not have had the opportunity to research the way I did. This is one of the key reasons the "nones" are growing in our society. Better than 20% of our population in the U.S. are marking their census forms as "not affiliated with any religious beliefs", and our numbers are growing rapidly. A smaller number of us are atheists. Nevertheless, many have seen that there is no reason to hold to the faith of their parents generation. They've reasoned it out; no more superstition. No more fear of non-existent beings threatening you with non-existent eternal torment.

My family has not disowned me. My Dad and my oldest sister are still believers and they regularly attend Mass. I've had a few brief discussions with each of them, but those discussions were early on in the timeline of my exit from religion. I was so angry at that time that I could not concentrate on my argument. I welcome the opportunity to have those discussions now, at the present and in the future, now that I have had time to study, to digest, to come to grips.

To be a Christian these days is to bask in a shallow pond of ignorance. Catholics, like many Christians, don't read their Holy Books. Catholics, especially, don't know scripture. They are brainwashed into believing that they don't need to know scripture. "Leave that to the professionals", Julia Sweeney says in "Letting Go of God", "we'll tell you what you need to know". So my sister and my Dad DON'T KNOW THAT THE BIBLE SPECIFICALLY STATES THAT HOMOSEXUALITY IS A SIN PUNISHABLE BY DEATH. They don't know it! When confronted with that fact, they go silent. Literally. No more words come out of their mouths. They cling to the fable of "gentle Jesus meek and mild coming with a New Covenant", even though Jesus has some pretty divisive things to say about that: "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’

"Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me." -MATTHEW 10:34-38.

I don't know if my parents will ever understand. The indoctrination that they received as children, reinforced all their lives by our society and by what they've been told are historical facts...like "God was on our side and was the reason that we won WWI and WWII last Century"...I don't know. That's tough to overcome, especially when one considers the facts that the United States became, after 1945, the world's only superpower, no competition for manufacturing or industry for decades, no competition for the resources of the planet, a population statistically lopsided in favour of Christianity, and a self-important perspective that the U.S. has been "Divinely Ordained to Lead The World Until Jesus Returns"...I don't know.

I'm doing what I can.

This story moved me. It is very heartfelt and poignant. Congratulations to you and thank you for sharing this.

Don't worry, what your doing is plenty and significant.

This is one of those times that I regret that you can only like a post once. Smile


If you don't want a sarcastic answer, don't ask stupid questions. Drinking Beverage
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