Share your de-conversion story
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20-03-2016, 07:46 PM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
(20-03-2016 07:01 PM)debna27 Wrote:  I love that this thread is here. It's so interesting seeing all the similarities and differences in people's journeys out of religion/belief and comparing them to mine.

Speaking of which, here is mine (apologies for any long-windedness. I was an English major, verbosity is in my nature):

I grew up thoroughly immersed in right-wing Christianity. My dad in particular was always huge on the external acts involved in religion. When I was born, my family went to a Baptist church, but by the time I was a toddler, my father had moved us to a different church; he was a part of the music team, and was absolutely disgusted when the church purchased a drum set. The worldliness was too much for him, so we moved somewhere more conservative.

That "somewhere" was the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (of which Greg Bahnsen was a minister, although that was before my time; interesting side note: his son was not in the OPC but was a teacher and the head basketball coach at my high school). I was baptized as soon as my parents became official members of the church.

Growing up, I was kept very sheltered from other perspectives. From pre-K through the middle of 7th grade, I was homeschooled by my parents (mainly my mom; dad didn't do much but work, despite his promises to the contrary). I went to church Sunday mornings and evenings and girl's group on Wednesday night (we were called the GEMS - Girls Everywhere Meeting the Savior) where I was taught to pray while kneeling, have good table manners, and utilize various apologetics to "defend the faith", all before I was a communicate member of the church. I thoroughly enjoyed all of this because I was good at it. I've always been naturally submissive and obedient, unlike my rebellious older sister, so I got a lot of praise for this from church leadership. I brought my friends to these meetings as well. I thought I was doing everything right and was sure that God appreciated all my efforts to follow His law.

When I was about 8, my parents separated. I've never heard the full story from both parties as to why this happened. My father remained religious, but did not want to stay married to my mom and did not want to keep me or my sister in his life beyond the financial support that we were lucky enough to get from him. My church however saw his "abandoning of his family" as a hugely sinful decision and excommunicated him shortly thereafter. This was really traumatic for my mom, and led her to an even stronger reliance on her faith to support her, which of course transferred to me as well.

When I was 12, I learned (at a friend's church camp) that two of my other close friends were being abused. I'm not sure exactly why, but this sent me into a spiral of depression that has continued pretty consistently since then. I looked to God for help; I didn't find it, but I assumed that was my own fault. We were Calvinists; the "T" in the Calvinist TULIP mnemonic stands for "Total Depravity", so naturally it must have been me doing something wrong. However, this depression ultimately got so bad that my mom pulled me out of homeschooling and sent me to...the tiny private school in my church! I was happier there (although almost entirely devoid of any scientific knowledge) with the 4 others who were in my grade. After middle school graduation, I was sent to a slightly larger nondenominational Christian high school (graduating class of about 70) where I excelled academically while remaining thoroughly religious; I professed my faith and became a communicate member of my church just after I turned 14, rather later than most of my friends and partially due to peer pressure. I dated one boy at school for a month and a half and broke up with him in part because I thought he was leading me away from God.

I graduated as valedictorian of my class and then went on to attend UCLA. It was there that I learned what evolution actually was, rather than what the church/Bob Jones University Press textbooks presented it as. My mind was blown, not by the content itself, but by the fact that I had been lied to for so long. For the first time, I had substantial doubts about my faith. I was attending a Reformed University Fellowship and decided to go to one of the events they co-sponsored: a discussion between an agnostic (atheist, I'm assuming) and a Christian. The topic was the problem of pain. I was at a crisis point and was desperate for some satisfying answers, as this was one of the problems I had been struggling with.

No satisfying answers emerged. However, I did learn of the existence of the Skeptic's Club on campus. I gradually stopped attending Bible study and church and attended a few skeptic's meetings. I read The God Delusion. I realized I didn't believe the Bible anymore, but I didn't tell anyone else.

The guilt that this realization brought upon me created an intense amount of anxiety. I developed a pretty severe eating disorder. In therapy for this, I realized that I had to be honest with my mother about my lack of faith. After some months of preparation, I brought her into a session and told her the truth. She took it pretty well, but our relationship has never been the same.

That's where I am now. I graduated last year. I'm almost fully recovered from my eating disorder, but still struggling with the last bits of it. The same goes for religion: I'm still dealing with a lot of the vestiges of the indoctrination I experienced growing up, especially when it comes to intimacy and romantic relationships. But I know that I'll never go back to being religious, even though I haven't been excommunicated from my church yet. And for that reason I am very happy; I didn't realize how restricted I was until those restrictions were lifted. I'm so glad I found this community; even when I'm not participating, just reading the posts here and knowing that I am indeed not insane when it comes to these questions is very reassuring.

Thanks guys Smile Sorry for the lengthiness and the sentimentality. Writing is very therapeutic for me, so I'm in a bit of a post-therapy glow. I appreciate your reading this far!

That is quite a story and I am sure it is hard for you to shake all that indoctrination. I am glad you like it here and hope to see a lot more posts from you. Thumbsup

[Image: dobie.png]Science is the process we've designed to be responsible for generating our best guess as to what the fuck is going on. Girly Man
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27-03-2016, 07:36 PM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
(20-03-2016 07:01 PM)debna27 Wrote:  I professed my faith and became a communicate member of my church just after I turned 14, rather later than most of my friends and partially due to peer pressure.

Out of your whole amazing story, this resonated a lot with me, having gone forward for baptism at the age of 16 and been made fun of for waiting so long. I want to share something that hopefully makes you feel better, or did me, from one of the last Sunday School classes of Senior year of high school. The teacher demanded testimonies from each of us on how we came to believe and go forward to be baptized. Almost every person who went forward at a super young age said it was peer pressure...for all people can do to make others feel like crap for waiting until their teens and turn up the pressure on them, most of them still only went up there before, due to peer pressure. As you deal with the aftermath of coming out to your mom and everything, I hope that at least helps you as much as it did me, to realize so many 'good Christians' were faking it.

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02-05-2016, 08:46 PM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
I think that my de-conversion story had some periods of "reconversion". I was raised in the Roman Catholic faith, attended catholic schools until I graduated HS and then went to a Christian college. Needless to say that church and religion were central up until HS was over. While I was in college (20 years ago) I started exploring other faiths and beliefs. I actually started to believe that paganism made the most sense in terms of faith (not the witchy part, but the loving the earth portion) While I was still "soul searching" I stumbled across the Mormon church. (part of it was because of a girl, but looking back now I'm like Facepalm ) I took the missionary discussions, got baptized and then got married two days later. At first the church made sense but once I went through the LDS temple (one and only time) something just didn't feel right anymore. I started researching the history of the church in about 2006/2007 and realized that it was a sham. I decided to start reading the bible and accepted Christianity. Upon moving to Utah, we stayed away from the church for a couple of years which was great, but then my wife had the urge to start going again and also have two of our children baptized. I played along but deep down I still knew it was bullshit. In late 2014 I discovered Bill Maher's movie on amazon and I watched it. This made me start looking at authors like Hitchens and Dawkins as well as Seth Andrews and Matt Dillahunty. Of course my wife found out about this and we got into a pretty heated argument and I told her I would try to accept Mormonism. I just couldn't do it though. I have finally come to the realization that I am an atheist and that I am willing to accept whatever consequences that may come with it. I just cannot lie to myself anymore.
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03-05-2016, 10:41 AM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
I didn't like the taste of the Coolaid at Summer Bible school when I was 12 and I told my parents I preferred not to go to Sunday School. When I heard the story of the crucifixion I thought it was a magic trick and I never got to the point where anyone explained to me what a "god" was so I never de-converted because I never got sucked into it in the first place.
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01-06-2016, 02:07 PM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
Logan's Run changed me. In the story its citizens feared the world outside their dome cities, believing it was in toxic ruin when it was not.

Gods are our outside world and no longer earn my fear.
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09-06-2016, 01:09 PM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
When I was born I did not believe in God. By the age of 4 I had no idea about God. I was taken to Sunday school but no one explained who God was so I still had no idea by the age of about 10 or 11.

By the time I asked my parents to excuse me from going to Sunday school, I still had no idea what a God was and no one ever explained it to me. I am thankful of having intelligent parents who, despite being church elders, never spoke of religion, Jesus or God, at any time during my youth.

I can't say I de-converted.

I can't conceive of how anyone comes to "believe" in God in the first place unless they are completely stupid. Even at an early age, what do these people think? Does someone say to them that some Big Man made everything and they just say, "OK, yes, that makes sense".

I've never figured that out any more than I could have figured out how Santa Claus visited every home in the world, pulled in a sleigh by flying Reindeer and got down chimneys in houses that had no chimneys. I mean, seriously, my parents put presents out under the tree a week before Christmas.

I'd be more interested in how anyone comes to believe in God or any religion in the first place. Being a child doesn't mean, does it, that one is without powers to question how an invisible entity can "make" everything and "be" everywhere.
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10-06-2016, 01:22 AM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
Having been brought up in a "church of england family" with maternal grandparents whe were Welsh chapel paternal grandparents were straight C of E religion was everywhere, school church twice on sunday cubs and boy scouts church parade. It was an indoctrination into the christian family Phaaa. 18 years old and padre meeting befor going to Northern Ireland in 1976 with the British army, lots of stuff about vanquishing foes and serving queen and country God and the country. All good so far,
02.00 Falls road Belfast found a man tied to a beer barell with two holes neatly drilled through his knee caps by a hand drill. Why he was a Protestant walking down a Catholic road. When I asked the Padre why? He couldnt give me a straight answer just bull s**t and the same old mantra. Thou should not kill Blahh Blahh Blahhh, The guy round the barell died three hours later leaving a widow and two sons. that was my moment...

Seeking the answer to one simple question. Was Jesus Christ realy the son of A God, or just a mortal man in the grip of a mental illness?
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14-06-2016, 04:17 PM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
I haven't logged into this site in years. But watching the r/atheism subreddit go to shit over the last year made me come back.

This is a cool thread so I guess I'll start here.

I was raised in the Church of Christ. If you are unfamiliar it is very similar to most Baptists congregations (mostly southern). My mom married into it both times. Her divorce was allowed because her first husband committed adultery (but of course not because he was abusive to us).

I remember having a lot of problems with the CoC as I grew up but I always bottled it because this was "what God wanted." I didn't like that we did not donate to charities or go and help the poor unless they were members of the church. I did not like that we ostracized, shunned, and excommunicated people who didn't live exactly as the elders wanted them to live. I didn't like that women couldn't speak in certain times of worship. I didn't like how we secluded ourselves from the rest of the world when we were supposed to be the light of the world.

But there was one thing that always made me question God, the fact that I was attracted to other men. I was always told it was bad. If two men kissed on TV or in a movie my family would exasperatingly gasp or say something like "EEEEwwwwww." My dad or mom would hear about someone's kid coming out as gay or an atheist and they would proclaim how if their kid ever did that they would be locked up and forced to do nothing but read the bible. So naturally, I became one of those self-loathing gays. I became super homophobic, even to the point that I hated hugging or even touching other men and started looking at women like objects.

Eventually it got to be too much for me. I was constantly fighting myself within my own head. I attempted to take my own life by swallowing the remainder of my dad's Tylenol 3 with codine. But I couldn't go through with it, so after about 30 seconds of downing about 20 pills, I stuck my finger down my throat and proceeded to gag and then vomit out most of the pills. I sat there alone for a long time, eventually getting really drowsy from the pills I didn't manage to remove. Eventually I passed out. When I woke I had this renewed vigor. I wasn't going to fall like that again. So I dedicated the next couple years to bible study. I dropped out of college, dropped my work hours to part time, and then studied. Of course I still managed to do fun activities like video games, but biblical study took most of my time. My goal was to prove that god existed and in doing so, find the strength to fight my own homosexuality.

A couple of years flew by. My will to study slowed. I started going to gay hookup sites (before Grindr and apps). I started to hit a "rut" with purpose in my life because I had not yet proven god. But I had gotten a lot more questions. So I decided to do something else with my life. So I joined the AF (in 2009 when DADT was still active). I was amazed and blown away and the vast differences in people's beliefs. It was the first time I embraced the world outside of the CoC and in doing so a lot of my perceptions changed. Over the next few years my politics and beliefs changed drastically. My cousin who was also in the AF was an outspoken atheist. He and I would have chats and eventually I labeled myself as an agnostic christian (the first step lol).

In 2011 I deployed to Kandahar, Afghanistan. At that time, my cousin discovered Seth's podcast when he did the early episode of religion and atheism in the military. So he sent me the link and I downloaded it (took like 3 hours over there with our shitty internet in the desert) and listened to it at least 4 times over the next week. I then ran through as much of Seth's library as I could. From there I looked up debates by Hitchens (who died right after I discovered him), Harris, and Barker. I found myself agreeing with so much the atheists were saying and astounded by how much the theists were getting destroyed.

Then one shitty day, we were attacked. I won't go into details, but at one point during the aftermath, a fellow airman put down his weapon and crossed his hands to pray. I remember how angry I was at him, because we were still supposed to be on alert and weapons at low ready. During our conversation, he asked if I believed in god and I told him that I didn't think so but was unsure. Later that night, I went to my bunk and popped open facebook to chat with some friends before bed only to see that my notifications had exploded. I had nearly 40 and I never had more than 3 before that point.

As it turns out, my cousin had shared that graphic/meme of a harry potter where Hermoine used burden of proof get out of something with the quote, "Atheism, Hermione gets it." My brother (die hard harry potter fan and CoC christian) was racked with anger over it. The conversation had every rhetorical argument you could think of being thrown at there to include some trolly friends of mine saying how hot emma watson was. I deleted it all, and messaged everyone to stop. Later that week, I got some phone time with my mom and dad and told them to just chill and we would talk it out when I got home.

But I knew. I knew that I didn't believe anymore. So when my parents came home to visit during my R&R, I came out to them as atheist. The year after as Bi (mostly gay, but I still like girls a little and had a few girlfriends afterwards). We are in an awkward place now. My mom and sisters are cool with me and are coming to my super gay wedding next month. My dad and brother and almost all of my dad's family don't speak to me anymore. But life is good for the most part. There was alot of other drama but this was just about the deconversion.

TL;DR: Best way to make an atheist is to read the bible, or whatever Penn Jillette said.

And yet another interesting topic I am not interested in.
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19-06-2016, 07:08 PM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
I have my older step brother, who is no longer walks : ng the living, due to a place called Afganastan, to thank. I remember asking him to explain how my parents thought the world was created. In the preachyest voice he could muster, he said:

"In the beggining, there was nothing. Then God got back from his lunch break. He said " Me damn Me, I put too much disorganized shit here! " So he waved his magic beard, and the tinted window blocking the light was moved. And he said "Damn that's bright, but I guess it'l do."

He did a parodie of the entire Bible basically, and after that I never took religion seriously.

I are teh Kong erve te Mewountarns arve Abesirdieity. Al erve dem degeahns sher bert B-4 may. Ivre yarp yurndarctood zert, garve yarpelf r cerrcay. Translation: I am the Kong of the Mountains of Absurdity. All of the dragons shall bow before me. If you understood this(that^, not this) then give a Sear Key.
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20-06-2016, 07:35 AM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
(14-06-2016 04:17 PM)AmishLatinJew Wrote:  I haven't logged into this site in years. But watching the r/atheism subreddit go to shit over the last year made me come back.

Welcome back.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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