Was anyone here raised evangelical or equivalent?
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25-01-2017, 06:31 PM (This post was last modified: 26-01-2017 05:13 PM by mordant.)
RE: Was anyone here raised evangelical or equivalent?
(25-01-2017 10:42 AM)ShadowProject Wrote:  how did you break free if you grew up like this??
In a phrase: cognitive dissonance.

I was a fundamentalist from three months before my sixth birthday, my father was a Sunday School superintendent, and I attended Bible Institute right out of high school. After that I was communications director and organist for my church, and then ...

... and then everything turned to shit. I married a Nice Christian Girl™ at age 19. She developed mental illness, as many people do in their 20s, and ended up with the wonderful dual diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia AND borderline personality disorder. We had two children together. I toughed it out, honoring the Divorce Taboo, and committing all the heartache and abuse to my god, but one night I woke up to find my wife standing over my bed in a trance-like state with a butcher knife, and I said, fuck it ... things like that can be very clarifying.

So that one ended in divorce, with my wife in the nuthatch to this day. Not exactly the approved fundamentalist story arc.

I remarried then to a woman who ended up with a baroque, rare, painful disease that killed her over a period of 13 years. This despite her extended family being a regular nest of "prayer warriors". Somewhere about two thirds of the way through that debacle it came to me, belatedly, that it was all bullshit all the time.

After I lost my 2nd wife in that way, (and my oldest brother at about the same time, an elder in his fundamentalist church, succumbed to aggressive cancer), I embarked on a few months of intensive ... shall we say, philosophical contemplation. I quickly realized that all religions suffer from the same basic problem -- the failed epistemology of religious faith.

The suffering in this for me, was that religious faith failed to either explain my existence, or to predict outcomes. In fact, it made things FAR worse, by taking grief and loss and adding useless "why" questions: why me, why her, why now, why is god punishing / testing me / her / us, etc. Also, and this was a biggie, "answered prayer" was never distinguishable from random happenstance.

Basically my existence was no longer tenable under these circumstances so I ejected all the bullshit. I have never regretted this. Yes there was some adjustment involved, some habits to unlearn, and so forth. But it's been a dozen years since I identified as atheist and a good 20 years since I began distancing myself from my faith of origin and it has been all good. In all honesty my life was no different after I left the faith, but it was no longer at odds with what I believe. And that has made all the difference for me.
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25-01-2017, 06:51 PM
RE: Was anyone here raised evangelical or equivalent?
Thanks for sharing your stories. It must have been painful to leave something that was so all-encompassing. You are very brave. Leaving what you've always known is never easy.

I do hope they discover some form of education outside out their brainwashing.

"If you don't have a seat at the table, you're probably on the menu."

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25-01-2017, 07:05 PM
RE: Was anyone here raised evangelical or equivalent?
I grew up in a small Catholic town in the middle of a very Catholic area. It still seems to have been more cultural than anything else.

A friend, a good friend, from about 6th grade moved away after college and is now an evangelical who belongs to a mega-church in the Phoenix area. We reconnected a few years back but he is so over the top that we have drifted apart again. I cannot imagine what, with our shared background, drew him into becoming a self-professed Evangelical.

The most I was able to get out of him was that after being in a bad accident he took a long look at his life and lifestyle and became a 'seeker'...and he ended up as a really pushy evangelical Christian.

See here they are the bruises some were self-inflicted and some showed up along the way. - JF

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25-01-2017, 08:21 PM
RE: Was anyone here raised evangelical or equivalent?
(25-01-2017 06:51 PM)ShadowProject Wrote:  Thanks for sharing your stories. It must have been painful to leave something that was so all-encompassing. You are very brave. Leaving what you've always known is never easy.

I do hope they discover some form of education outside out their brainwashing.
It is often a VERY brave thing don't get me wrong, but I don't personally take credit for bravery. I just couldn't take the cognitive dissonance anymore. Also, my 2nd wife, the one who died, while she was a believer, was unperturbed by my change of heart; my fundamentalist relatives lived far away and asked few questions and seldom visited; and because of my wife's illness and my role as sole caregiver, we drifted away from church before I made the break. And all this happened well into my adult life, not when I was young, insecure and vulnerable. In other words, I had it relatively easy.
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25-01-2017, 09:54 PM
RE: Was anyone here raised evangelical or equivalent?
Raised hardline Southern Baptist.

For me it was cognitive dissonance. I grew up with no cable TV, just a VCR plugged into our set so my folks could keep "the influences of The World™ and/or Satan" off its screen. But that meant I read a lot. A whole lot. Eventually, there was too much conflict between what I learned on those pages and what I was being taught from the Bible, such that even while at my most "on fire for Jesus" phase in my teen years, I was able to spot the flaws in the anti-evolution and anti-astrophysics arguments being presented from our pulpit.

It was also that I learned a lot about other religions, for the purpose of debunking them as a Christian apologist. Once I realized that some of my own faith's teachings were demonstrably incorrect, I applied the same analysis to my own faith that I had been applying to the other religions I was being taught about and, in the words of Douglas Adams: "God promptly disappeared in a puff of logic."

The best thing you can do for those kids, I think, is to make sure the family is not entirely able to isolate them from outside influences. Birthday parties are a great place to deliver presents which the mom can only refuse to them if she takes it away after the party-- activity books on science that come with microscopes, or a LEGO-esque circuit set for instance. Both of those are priced under $40, and are well worth the investment.

Science kits may not work if they're not bright minded. So find out what they're into, and do your best to encourage discovery of whatever it is they're into without being "preachy". If they like video games, get them signed up for Khan Academy's online programming class. [Edit to add: Here is a good guide for some of the difficulties with that, and offering some solutions.] Or teach them about circuits. Whatever works.

Then, if their mom objects to gifts they've already been given in front of others, she becomes the badguy... and her influence over them diminishes.

"Theology made no provision for evolution. The biblical authors had missed the most important revelation of all! Could it be that they were not really privy to the thoughts of God?" - E. O. Wilson
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26-01-2017, 06:54 AM
RE: Was anyone here raised evangelical or equivalent?
Sometimes being raised by wolves really is a viable alternative.


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27-01-2017, 03:19 PM
RE: Was anyone here raised evangelical or equivalent?
I was raised in an American Baptist church; the differences from the Southern Baptists mainly being some AB churches allowed female pastors, and we split over the whole slavery issue around the time of the Civil War. SBC felt slavery was divinely ordained, ABC felt otherwise.

I accepted Jesus at a young age, but was too shy/thought I had waited too long to go forward for baptism, and wouldn't until I was 16 or so. What Julep said about Christians being a big reason to dislike Christianity, or at least our shared Baptist experiences, really never helped my faith. Never felt "on fire" enough. And honestly...I still don't. Having to interact with people, in an academic setting the other day when we discussed cults, who were boasting in a classroom, about being willing to beat the atheism out of their hypothetical child if need be, really shook me. As a result of that, I endured a lot from the other people in my Sunday School classes and youth group. Got condescended to by the 'teachers' for asking questions, was told to 'shut up and believe' verbatim once from one, got called all sorts of names by other kids (heretic, Satanist, anti-Christ, etc.), especially during our "Religions To Beware Of" class, where I tried to play Devil's Advocate (inadvisable in an echo chamber). And then when I went forward for baptism, suddenly everyone who had ever tried to torment me was all buddy-buddy and "oh I'm so glad you finally saw the Truth" etc. It disgusted me, but wasn't enough to make me leave. It also disgusted me that I was told, along with a few others, that we couldn't be baptized until the next business quarter, because they wanted to maximize baptisms on display for people to see.

Really in the end it was a combination of factors, some of which may end up applicable to your friend and her children, but maybe not. Since all but one were rather external. We had Kent Hovind there (pre-tax imprisonment). We had a woman who literally wanted to burn a copy of Harry Potter donated to the church rummage sale. My Baptist church was also being torn apart my worship wars between the Contemporary and Traditional services; and both sides were getting rather toxic in their dealings with one another. The people who tended to go to the Traditional service treated anyone under 35 like shit for being young, and therefore automatically being on the Other Side, as it were. The Contemporary worship band were assholes: once kicking my mother out of a prayer chapel to put up fingerfoods and telling her, "some of us have actual important things to do here", unlike prayer apparently. They also tended to store their equipment in the prayer chapel, so people couldn't use it, rather than have to take it up and down a flight of stairs. Around the same time, mom was asked to serve on a youth pastor search committee...this again hearkens back to Julep's point about seeing the inside workings of places. Mom soon learned she was there as the token dissenting voice, that they had already picked out a church member's son, and were going through the motions with other candidates. One candidate, they opposed, for being thirty and single, and therefore gay, and to quote one member, "We can't let a gay near the children!" That same candidate wouldn't get the job, but would marry one of my cousins. Mom still won't serve on anything related to church governance at her Methodist church she joined about 9 years ago, because she's afraid of seeing its flaws like she did with our Baptist church.

Plus there was the the "evil liberal atheist college professors will try to make you forsake Christ" lecture for all the Seniors one Sunday. Well, I took dual credit college courses my senior year and my first math class was with a local minister who was an adjunct; he would bounce sermon ideas off of us. Biology adjunct? Used a textbook with half a dozen Creation stories in it so she could maximize Creationism and hardly talk about evolution. In fact, the first time I met someone who fit the "liberal atheist professor" stereotype somewhat, because he wasn't out to make people lose faith, was when I started working in academia and he thanked me for showing him where he could get the Satanist coloring book for download, just so he could put a copy on his desk to troll one of our Mormon coworkers...oh yes, one of my profs in undergrad, whom I later worked with, was the Bishop of his Mormon Ward for a few years.

Then there was the Purge. The church constitution for our church had a stipulation that the assistant pastor could not become senior pastor. After the senior pastor left, the assistant kept trying to have it change, and kept being voted down. He eventually made a concerted effort to drive out people who didn't support him, even sending letters to folks telling them they were being removed from the membership rolls for not being there enough and such. At around this point, my mother left, sickened by it all. And my aunt left. And I was starting to investigate Catholicism (and eventually left for the Catholic Church) after trying out a few Pentecostal and non-denom churches as I searched for something I thought was closer to what was described in the Bible and had an actual history to draw on. Eventually assistant pastor ascended, having driven enough members away to have a quorum at a church business meeting, and getting the 150 year old church constitution changed. He's sense been promoted in his statewide Baptist convention, to oversee a number of churches. Even after I left, he did a number of awful things, like firing a 94 year old retiree who was managing the church library and stocking it out of his own social security check because "no one reads any more" and turning it into office space. Or refereeing a high school football game instead of coming to my other cousin's wedding rehearsal, for which he was co-officiant.

That place had a ton of other lovely examples of "Christians" who made horrible decisions or hurt others. One guy I grew up with, ended up touring with one of the more popular Christian bands in America as part of their support staff. He left and came home, committed some big fraud stuff and passed some bad checks, and ended up going to prison for it. Another guy, one of many who defriended me on Facebook and hasn't spoken to me since I became Catholic, was going to go to seminary and become a youth minister...he was arrested for sexually soliciting underage girls on the internet. Almost all of the people I knew in youth group who got married have since divorced, but will still rail against homosexuality as an abomination, but their multiple divorces are fine apparently. Some went off to help found a non-denom semi-mega church, which has its own issues ranging from virulent anti-Catholicism to kicking out a faithful couple with kids (who had gone there since it was founded more or less) for getting married when marriage equality came to my home state, to being grade A jerks in general.

Actually to be totally honest, I loathe fundamentalist or Evangelical churches in general these days and hate to go in them unless I have to for a wedding or a funeral service. If I have to go in one, I start to sweat, breathe faster, get irrationally nervous, heart starts to beat faster, etc. Like the last time I went to one of my mother's Christmas cantatas at her Methodist church, I spent the whole time reminding myself it was fine, these weren't the sort of people I had bad experiences with, and so on, and to keep calm.

TL;DR: Christians are angry, judgmental, clique-ish, backstabbing assholes, at times, and are among one of the most likely things to drive someone away.

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27-01-2017, 07:55 PM (This post was last modified: 27-01-2017 08:05 PM by RocketSurgeon76.)
RE: Was anyone here raised evangelical or equivalent?
Wow. My churches were, generally, pretty good ones full of really good and decent people. I'm sorry to hear you had such bad experiences. I'm pretty disdainful of the social agenda of Southern Baptists, but to their credit they have strongly rejected their racist roots and now campaign pretty hardcore against racism. Other bigotries, based on the Bible, notsomuch. [Edit to Add: since their support of slavery was based on Biblical literalism, and they somehow learned to completely reverse their position after it became utterly untenable, socially, I suspect we'll see them be totally okay with gays in another 50 years or so, finally catching up with everyone else. Christianity has a long history of modifying itself to fit the culture, after complaining about it for as long as they can, so they don't lose converts.]

They were certainly willing to pass on the cult-message about "the atheist scientist/professor conspiracy" and such, and to totally misrepresent atheism, and of course to discourage genuinely independent thinking... but on the whole, I'd say that almost none of the shenanigans you described in your church went on in any of mine (we moved a fair amount, because my dad was an engineer who kept getting sent to oversee projects at new plants, every few years). My parents were pretty careful to only choose churches led by people they felt had genuine integrity. Even when I openly questioned, as I too enjoyed playing "Devil's advocate", and was told to "just believe", no one really treated me badly for it. The real harms came in the home, where my parents' application of the hardline fundamentalist, anti-World, beliefs shaped the environment they tried to preserve as an insular "bubble". Books became my escape from that, though I didn't realize it at the time.

I went to Cook Baptist Church in Ruston, LA, for my final three years of high school, and our pastor was a military Chaplain (a Major) in the local National Guard unit, and had previously been active Army. Up until I decided to leave the faith, at which point he was condescending to me-- too young to understand, he claimed, rather than honestly refuting or really answering any of my questions, despite my literally genius IQ and Academy appointment, and the fact that I had been held up for those previous three years as the most promising Christian apologist in my youth group-- and we had some fairly severe words.

"Theology made no provision for evolution. The biblical authors had missed the most important revelation of all! Could it be that they were not really privy to the thoughts of God?" - E. O. Wilson
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12-02-2017, 10:51 AM
RE: Was anyone here raised evangelical or equivalent?
I'm going to an evangelical university right now to finish off my BA

I'm homophobic in the same way that I'm arachnophobic. I'm not scared of gay people but I'm going to scream if I find one in my bath.

I'm. Also homophobic in the same way I'm arachnophobic. I'm scared of spiders but I'd still fuck'em.
- my friend Marc
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13-02-2017, 07:14 AM
RE: Was anyone here raised evangelical or equivalent?
(12-02-2017 10:51 AM)TarzanSmith Wrote:  I'm going to an evangelical university right now to finish off my BA

You should transfer to a real university. Drinking Beverage

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