Share your de-conversion story
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30-10-2013, 03:46 PM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
I grew up in a Catholic family. Went to CCD and all that stuff. I wasn't raised in a very religious family though. Everyone believed in God and all that, but I didn't come from a Bible thumping family. We basically only went to mass on holidays or special occasions (like funerals or a family member or friend having their baby baptized).
I starting having doubts about religion when I was around 18. I have always been an avid reader, and I was starting to learn all of the history that you don't learn about the church in school - the countless millions slaughtered in the name of God, the torture tactics used by the church to get people to give up their beliefs and become Christians, etc. I also started reading the Bible and realized all the immoral, messed up crap that's in there. Most Christians have never read more than a few pages of the Bible, and basically turn a blind eye to any kind of evil that the Bible endorses. The saying that "The only people that have read the Bible from cover to cover are atheists" has a lot of truth to it.

Then I started to pay close attention to the people around me, especially the ones that were very religious. I realized that religion was something that made them careless when it came to bad things happening to people of other faiths. The "That happened to those people because they aren't Christians and God was punishing them" attitude that they were always spouting disgusted me. I also looked at people like the Dalai Lama, who preached love and compassion and tolerance towards our fellow man, and even stated himself that religion is not needed, and that it is compassion for others that we cannot live without. Yet, here is a man who talks about how we should all treat each other with compassion and you have Christians calling him evil - or at the very least doomed to end up in hell - simply because he was not a Christian. It made me want to throw up. Christians would also say these things when a natural disaster happened, like the tsunami that hit Indonesia, saying "See! That happened to those people because they aren't Christians! They're heathens and God is punishing them!" I thought to myself "How could somebody be so heartless that they could look at something that killed hundreds of thousands of people - hundreds of thousands of CHILDREN - and use it as an opportunity to further their own religious agenda, having no sympathy whatsoever for the victims?" The total lack of sympathy by these Christians made me very angry. There was also the fact that even though Christianity was the biggest religion in the world, with around one-third of the world's population, this also meant that two-thirds of the world's population was not Christian. In other words, some people are more special in the eyes of God. They are brought up in the "right" religion and all others were brought up in the wrong religion. I didn't like that idea at all, and it only caused me to be more turned off by the church.

The greed of the church was another thing that turned me away from religion, and though people like to pick on the Catholic church, ALL sects are guilty of it. I remember going to a service at a Baptist church and the first thing they did was pass around envelopes to collect money, and the whole sermon the preacher gave was about "Get out there and make that money!"

There was also the fact that the Catholic Church had turned a blind eye to the sexual abuse of children for so long, and did everything they could to cover it up. That angered me to no end. I have worked with kids 12 months a year for 13 years now, and I think that sexually abusing children is pretty much the worst crime that a person can commit. The fact that the church would turn a blind eye to such a thing made me so infuriated.

Then you have the church telling you that your religion is not to be questioned. You are supposed to believe what you are told to believe and shut the hell up. I thought "Why would anything that is true not be allowed to be questioned? If it was true, wouldn't it be able to stand up to any kind of questioning?" All this proved to me was that religion was bullshit, and the only way to keep people believing in bullshit was to keep them from questioning it. The religious leaders knew that their religious crap would lose all of its credibility if it were questioned. I realized that religion is merely a business that relies on the ignorance of people to keep it going. I gave up on religion and haven't looked back since.
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14-11-2013, 10:43 AM (This post was last modified: 14-11-2013 11:10 AM by Skeptic Gamer.)
RE: Share your de-conversion story
This might seem odd, but I spent every Sunday in church and Sunday school, and was really never a believer. I was always a doubter. I challenged God. I challenged him to bring our dog back to life on two different dogs. He failed that test to the tune of two dead dogs that died painful, unnecessary deaths.

My Dad took us to church every Sunday, picking up Grandma on the way (his mother), and that was our Sunday. He seemed to do it more for tradition. We lived in a small farming community in rural Minnesota, and our church was small and our grandfather was one of the builders of it.

But my Mom didn't go to church except on holidays, my Dad sang barely audibly along with the hymns, and neither of my parents were involved in the Sunday school--which meant my brother and I (and one other kid who was rarely there) were the only kids who didn't have parents or relatives involved in "teaching" Sunday school. So it was screw around time for us. Regularly changing the words of Sunday school songs, constant jokes, and such.

Church was boring and Sunday school sucked, no matter how many songs we could change to "Jesus hates us this we know, for the dictionary tells us so." We weren't particularly creative in our lyrical edits. I was more interested in science and dinosaurs. We grew up watching Star Wars and Star Trek and loads of other science fiction.

Science looked like it could do anything, and that was fascinating.
Mom didn't go to church, so obviously it wasn't mandatory.
Once video games came into the picture (purchased with my own saved allowance), who could give a crap about some crusty old church anymore?

On top of this, I tested Santa myself--waited up for the old duffer in a clever hiding place. Well past 1:00am, and the stockings weren't filled, I had my proof--he wasn't real. Not long after, I came to the conclusion that religion was no different than Santa--it was a make-believe tool used to keep kids in line (which I now view as a grossly obsolete tool), and that it was something to outgrow. And I outgrew church when I was very young.

Still, I had to sit through Catechism classes when I was a teenager, which were largely a waste of time. I remember screwing around more than "learning" anything. Our pastor made us take a test to "graduate" confirmation. All but one of the 11 kids in that class cheated on the test to get out. Ironically, putting all of us in different rooms "so we wouldn't cheat" only aided the cheating. Then we could hear him coming. I had to say a Bible verse for the "graduation ceremony." I picked the shortest one I could find which meant nothing to me. I was forced to be a liar and to put up a ruse to get out of this crap.

When all done with this shit, I launched a therapeutic assault on my personal Bible. I threw it against walls and floors, tore out the pages, ripped off the cover, and tossed it in the trash to be burned (at this point, my parents were separated, but my mom was renting a farm house and we still burned our trash in burn barrels). I destroyed the shit out of that Bible having never had much of any faith at all. Funny, I don't think about this often.

I generally forget that I did this, but yeah, I totally did it. I let years of pent-up rage tear their way through a Bible as if it was some kind of symbol of pent-up aggression formed from years of wasted Sunday hours. I'm not sure if it was that I didn't believe as much as if I just plain hated God and anything pertaining to the very idea of him.

I can't think of a time when I decided that I was completely atheist, since I can't think of a time when I truly believed without totally doubting or even challenging. But it wasn't until I sat bored in an airport in Germany waiting 14 hours for us to be able to finally fly back to the United States from Kuwait that I joined Facebook--and it was after that I started to discover all the extra available resources to atheists. During the deployment, I learned about Dawkins and watched Penn & Teller: Bullshit--even ordered three seasons of it from Amazon to be shipped to the sandbox.

But even then, when I stepped into a more public display of atheism, I have long had moments of anti-religious sentiment. To impress a girl at my first college (yes, I'm embarrassed by this) I attended a Bible study she usually sat through--while wearing a Slayer T-Shirt. I walked away enraged at the closed-minded rhetoric. I met my first Creationists as was aghast at their thick-headed, brain-dead nonsense. I conflicted strongly with a teacher at the college who held his own Bible studies every week (he was also a very strong advocate for Apple computers, so he was really part of two religions, yuk yuk).

I had discovered George Carlin in my teen years, I loved the Discovery Channel, and back then, that meant something for the scientifically minded.

I could just never find it in me to believe in bullshit. I was not always rational, and I did believe in various supernatural stuff like sasquatch and UFO's and such, but even then, it had to be at least somewhat scientifically feasible for me to hold that belief. Alien visitors is technically possible, sasquatch references a potential provable lifeform if it could be found.

Gradually, on those UFO and Sasquatch and Shroud of Turin shows and such, I came to know Joe Nickell and Michael Shermer, and they have been heroes ever since. And now I'm much more rational, much more skeptical, and much prouder to hold the candle of atheism until such time as such a label is no longer necessary.

Furthermore, I had always questioned Christian ideologies. Why does Jesus dying save me from sins? Doesn't that mean sinning is okay? People called it the greatest story ever told, and I never got that. Hadn't they seen Star Wars? What about Star Trek II? That's a way better story. It had fucking starships in it and a great soundtrack. Spock's sacrifice was way more meaningful. No kidding. What about Willow? Willow was a better movie than anything about Jesus. It had Val Kilmer ride a dragon. How did all the animals fit on the ark? When there was a television "documentary" about the possibility that Noah's Ark was on Mount Ararat, I was very curious, but I believed that as much as I did the alien autopsy show. By the time Fox aired the "we didn't land on the moon show," I was starkly more skeptical, and downright angry at that show for what I called blatant stupidity.

We didn't have a "hellfire" church, just a boring one. Our Sunday school taught the same crap every week and every year, and it never made much sense to me. We celebrated Jesus being born in December and dying in April or March. Nobody ever explained that he grew up to his thirties in that time. I thought for a long time that he somehow grew up in 3 months and was then killed. Jesus was a Mayfly apparently. I also thought people killed in movies died for real and that blue Kryptonite would turn me into an insect (thanks, Mom), until I saw a movie wherein they were making a movie and they filmed a shootout, and I finally understood how easily so many things could be faked. I wasn't good at rationale thought as a kid, but I was still constantly trying.

In a much more simple view, I never saw church or religion as something that was cool. It was something that was forced on kids that kids are supposed to rebel against. Its not hip, its not cool, its the opposite of the things I thought were cool--video games and violent movies, rock and roll (when I was really young) and Heavy Metal, science and science fiction. Stuff that I thought was cool was completely the opposite of religion.

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17-11-2013, 05:49 AM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
I grew up in a functionally atheist household. My mother was high-anglican from family, but never made any mention of it in life. My dad is a hard athiest. I rebelled, ha ha , at 18 and became a charismatic fundamentalist. I really did think that the idea of a God made sense and had all manner of 'supernatural' experiences that convinced me I was 'having a relationship with Jesus'.

My entire life from that point was wrapped up in what God wanted for me, which led me to have lots of children, be subservient to my husband and all men in the church, and basically follow a ‘biblical patriarchy’ path, following something called ‘Vision Forum’. I was squashed into a small cage and for a time believed that I was in ‘God’s will’ so just got on with it. But over time, things started to wrankle. I began to question my ‘place’, and subsequently the God who had put me there.

Gradually I began to question the reality of a god in the first place and this has led me to a new and scary place. I’ve walked away from much of fundamentalism, particularly the patriarchy, but I’m still mired in much of Christianity, in terms of my social circle, none of whom understand any of this.

I still struggle with the idea that god is angry with me, but I’m coming to the place where I’m quite excited by the idea of a world without god – living for now rather than some ephemeral ‘eternity’. I’m not there yet, but I’m learning.
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17-11-2013, 08:13 PM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
Brand newbie here!

I am a pastor's kid who grew up in church all my life. I'll say I spent the first 29 years of my life going to church.

I always had trouble with christianity and could never bring myself to be "on fire' for the lord like my older brother (who is now a minister) and younger sister. I always had questions but was too afraid to ask them.

The ball got rolling when I was about 16. I was sitting in church listening to the tower of Babel story for the umpteenth time when something switched. I asked my self, if the tower was physical and heaven is spiritual, why the hell did god freak out?

That one question led to thousands more. I went from christian to "christian agnostic" to agnostic to atheist in a matter of 15 years. I finally came out of the closet about a year ago. Best. Decision. Ever.
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25-11-2013, 10:42 AM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
I can remember the exact question that triggered my path. I was working labor at a construction company and a guy asked me "what if Jesus was a mere man". I had always found "something's not quite right", but wanted to believe. It wasn't a sudden "I am an atheist". It still took another decade from going from Catholic, to "I don't know", to "Unlikely" to "atheist".

It was an atheist nurse's opinion printed in Associated Press, that went nationwide, after 9/11 asking "Where are atheists in this national mourning process". I had lived in the same town as Falwell, but other than sending the local paper my opinions, I never got online to seek out other atheists. Reading that Nurse's opinion inspired me to get online and meet other atheists.

I haven't looked back since. I am also impressed with the explosion of atheist voices since 01.

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25-11-2013, 11:04 AM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
My deconversion story isn't very interesting. I learned about skepticism and critical thinking while I was taking my A-levels and decided to evaluate my religious beliefs using their methodology. It didn't take long for me to realize that there was no evidence to support the things I thought were true and so I discarded my beliefs in the tried and tested way of German efficiency.

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26-11-2013, 05:17 PM
Wink RE: Share your de-conversion story
In the Beginning...
...or, well, my beginning, I was born. My mother and father gave me and my sister a great childhood. They divorced when I was a young age but I don’t think it was out of the norm for my generation. My mother was and still is a deeply religious christian and my father a quiet agnostic atheist. Mom is an honest hard working woman, I respect her for the sacrifices she made so we could have the life we did. She taught me compassion and that a good work ethic was a prime virtue. My mom took me to a non-denominational church (I still do not know what that means Huh ) my whole life and I was even in training to become an ordained minister myself at one point.

I had asked normal questions that children ask like “If god made everything, then where did god come from?”. I was quickly encouraged not to ask paradoxical questions. In a social structure based on firm faith in inerrant scripture an unanswerable question raises doubt. I was trained to ignore anything that might cause doubt in those scriptures regardless of validity. Any science that reached my mind had already been accounted for by bending scripture to fit their findings, the more vague the better. The Big Bang was foretold by the bible in genesis 1: 3, “And god said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light.” so there you have it god was trying to tell us way before the CMBR (Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation) was ever discovered.

I also inherited a prejudice for anyone who did not support my beliefs, even those who believed in parallel tangent religions one ritual removed from my own. But above all I was to hate atheists, or at the very least pity them, so much so that my mother bought bibles for me to give my father for christmas gifts in hopes that he might get saved so we could “see him in heaven.” I cannot adequately express the shame I feel thinking about how disrespectfully I treated my fathers beliefs or how very loved I feel thinking about how kind he treated me even while I symbolically belittled his intelligence. My father never pressured me with his beliefs and I can only recall once, in my whole life, that he ever raised his voice. Whether it was to avoid a confrontation with my outspoken, religious mother or because he truly believed I needed to think things through for myself I deeply respect my dad for that lesson now.

I grew up a little and met the woman of my dreams. After almost two years of dating I asked Her to marry me. We talked very little about religious beliefs as I was jaded by the evils I saw committed in gods name and lost my zeal, however this was fine she didn't believe either I recall Her saying, “Fuck fucking Jesus in his fucking ass” a line that made me laugh as I felt the blasphemous sting from my childhood. My future father in law is a starry eyed, new Christian with all the religious fervor of a crusader brewing inside him. He pushed, rather hard and often, for her to get saved. I could relate, I had been like that once myself.

When we got down to planning the wedding my fiance had wanted to use the same pastor that had married her father to his second wife. A gesture I didn't personally like but I felt I could do for the sake of making my future Wife happy. I could do anything for Her.

The pastor to marry us began with counseling sessions to see if we were ready, as if he had any say in it. But having grown up in that world I knew exactly what he was looking for and I regurgitated it to make Her happy. I cringed when he regaled us with his mastery of creationist science, if that’s what you call it, each word out of his mouth betrayed his lack of understanding of the sciences that he had claimed as proof of his point, even though nobody had argued with him to begin with. I found myself thinking “did I sound that ridiculous when I defended my beliefs?”.

I have recently been studying of astrophysics, chemistry, and molecular biology as a result of my current job. I work in a factory that allows headphones while working, and I had listened to audio-books by Stephen Hawking, Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, and Carl Sagan. They taught me that some of the mystical unknown that had been formerly attributed to god was, in fact, the result of natural processes completely understandable by human reason. Of course not everything, but if christianity had been mistaken about those things I had to find for myself how much further the inaccuracies or misconceptions went.

At this point I still took the apologist stand and reasoned that god works in mysterious ways just slightly less mysterious to me than to this reverend. As the wedding drew near my fiance decided to become a christian, whether it was the result of pressure from her father who she looks up to, pressure to become the same as I was at the time, pressure from the minister who would not perform the ceremony unless she converted, or from genuine conviction I was not sure. But at that moment I felt uneasy, I started to see the church and her father as preying on her innocence and exploiting her situation. Worst of all I saw myself as leading her to the slaughter. With my wife crying from the emotional roller coaster that a heavy handed preacher had broken her down with right before offering the caring, outstretched hand of Jesus to comfort her I saw with a clear mind what what going on. After the ritual was complete the preacher said, “Aren’t you glad that you have a more beautiful christian bride now?” I was shocked, disillusioned, and struck speechless I only tried to comfort her I could not respond. I had let these people break her down and then give her false hope so brilliantly bedazzled with mystic wish fulfilling promises that the cold sobering realization I was just unfolding in my mind couldn't possibly be more appealing to her. It was at this very moment I truly lost my faith.

I didn't know how deep the rabbit hole went, I started reading anything I could find on the subject. I started with Thomas Paine, Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and many more. I averaged a book a day for several weeks. I jumped from Christian to Deist to Pantheist then settled on Agnostic. But that was just a bit of cowardice, I was trying to avoid the big bad “A” word. To stop believing in god was one thing but to become an Atheist was unforgivable. I now feel disenchanted but rational, no longer subject to the panic highs and lows of heaven and hell but the calm plateau of reality. It has already caused me trouble at work as the token nut-job tosses pamphlets and DVDs describing how Darwin "had it all wrong". I am trying to educate myself on how to talk to these people because an appeal to reason is lost on him. I expect more conflict to come and am ready to defend my stand to any rational, honest contender.

I cannot praise my Wife enough, while this shift is taking place She has been by my side every step even though She doesn't quite see it as I do. We communicate about our relationship and I have full confidence in its foundation. I fear, however, the reactions of my mother who I consider letting go to the grave still thinking I am a christian for fear of breaking her heart, and for the fundamentalist father-in-law who I can only imagine will see me as a threat to his daughters eternal soul which is worthy of some barbaric, biblically prescribed death. From here I will go peacefully seeking truth and beauty, trying to better myself, and trying to better my fellow human beings because I now know this life is all we have, we are lucky to have it, and we should cherish every bit of it.

I am an Atheist.

It is better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring. - Carl Sagan
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28-11-2013, 03:38 PM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
I'm a husband and a father of three. I married in the church (Reformed) and had my kids baptized. I was really hardcore deep into theology and apologetics. I even had (and still have a youtube channel dedicated to Christian hymns). I even wanted at one point to homeschool my kids but due to financial issues could not. Due to a period of unstability in my marriage and my obsesion with christianity I ended in the hospital twice due to religious delusions (persecutory and delusions of grandeur). I was diagnosed with organic psychosis and have to take antipsychotic meds for 5 years. This all happened almost 2 years ago. After all this I lost my job (was demoted) due to depression and poor performance and hit a low point, it was then that i started to give atheism a look. I flirted with atheism for a while, even though I was still attending church yet no longer catechising my kids as I was supposed to. I came out to my wife in a visit from one of the elders in regards to our church attendance. When I told them I was seriously considering whether better explanations of the new testament were mental health related (was Jesus deluded? did Paul have psychosis?) but I was met with condescention and claims that I was trying to "make sense" of my psychosis.

Things have gotten much better with my wife, she has never been very devout anyways. She had issues with my extreme relisiosity before but after I came out as an atheist she thought I had become a different person, but pledged to stay with me because she thought I was still traumatized from my psychotic episode.

“The reason people use a crucifix against vampires is because vampires are allergic to bullshit.” ― Richard Pryor
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29-11-2013, 10:56 PM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
(29-11-2013 11:37 PM)TExPC Wrote:  When my mother died (I was 16), I found some Pentecostal friends who got me into going to their church mostly because of the good music (I'm a musician). I got so into the UPC organization, I was on track to become a minister.

That for me was the thing that had me going to church. I played guitar and the pastor wanted me in the worship team (I was 16). It was a charismatic church so I was always skeptic about the whole thing, but somewhere in the middle I started learning about Reformed Theology and found something more mentally stimulating. It was this that kept me in the church for much longer and deeper involved in it. It has been hard to deconstruct all the arguments but I couldnt feel freer.
Cheers

“The reason people use a crucifix against vampires is because vampires are allergic to bullshit.” ― Richard Pryor
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29-11-2013, 11:37 PM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
After reading some of these, I realize the one thing I had going for me, getting out of the United Pentecostal Church. I got myself into it.

My parents were, at one time, a part of a very strict Baptist church. My older brothers (I was born WAY late) tell horror stories of being forced to go, and how strict it was. But by the time I was born, my mom was sick a lot, and they just didn't really find the time to go. It helped that my dad owned his own business and worked M-Saturday, so Sunday was the only day he could get all the yardwork done.

When my mother died (I was 16), I found some Pentecostal friends who got me into going to their church mostly because of the good music (I'm a musician). I got so into the UPC organization, I was on track to become a minister. However, attending the Bible College, I studied the bible so intensely, I realized how silly it all was. It, of course, started with specific doctrines. The ones of dress and conduct mostly. But from there I was able to reason that if those were nonsense, and they came straight from a fundamentalist interpretation of the bible, then maybe the whole thing was nonsense.

Had either Baptist theology or Pentecostalism been drilled into me as a kid, It might've been harder to snap out of it.
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