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Topic: Wow - a brand new forum! Ok, so what is your 'deconversion' story?

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Subject: Wow - a brand new forum! Ok, so what is your 'deconversion' story?
Date Posted: 2/4/2009 3:46 PM ET
Member Since: 6/8/2005
Posts: 708
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Not to leave out those who just grew up without religion, of course...

I will post mine in a bit, but I am long-winded and just wanted to get something up here quickly...the forum looks so barren with no topics!

 --------------------------------

Ok, adding my story....

I was raised Lutheran (LCMS), and believed it all wholeheartedly from as early as I can remember. Lutherans are a kinda nerdy denomination, always ready to turn to the text of scripture and discuss it, possibly even bringing the original Hebrew/Greek into it if it's listed in someone's Bible's footnotes. Their interpretation is always the right one, and there's an unspoken air of intellectual superiority over other denominations who "have it wrong"...i.e., "those silly Presbyterians, they think the bread/wine at communion is just a representation of Christ's body and blood..."

Basically, they are always up for debate, and believe anyone can be convinced of the right point of view if you can just properly explain the Lutheran interpretation to them.

Anyway, I was 20 years old and certain that I was "called" to be a minister. I was planning to go to seminary after finishing my undergrad. It was from within this lovingly arrogant mindset that I set out to learn all I could about the arguments against God, so that I could refute them properly and become a great witness to atheists. The atheist part was mostly inspired by my best friend/awesome roommate, who was an atheist, though thankfully I wasn't obnoxious enough to tell her my plans. I wanted to wait until I "knew my stuff" a little better before bringing up religion with her.

I started devouring Christian apologetic works and atheist writings alike, and quickly ran into problems. I could easily spot the flaws in the Christian arguments (like C.S. Lewis' Lord/Liar/Lunatic argument won't convince anyone who doesn't already believe that the Bible is true). And the atheists' arguments were actually sound...the only way out of the classic Problem of Evil is to be emotionally comfortable with a God who doesn't care about human suffering enough to change it.

Anyway...I kept researching, and started digging into questions of hell, free will, and original sin. I ended up realizing that if you looked at Christianity from "outside the box" - that is, not already assuming that it's true - it was entirely indefensible. I actually admitted out loud, to myself and to my fiance, that I was starting to think there was no God.

Then my brain decided to run away from the question entirely for about six months...cognitive dissonance is a frightening thing, especially to someone whose future career plans hang in the balance. It was also the mental freak-out of someone whose entire world had rested on the idea of Christianity being true. I had to stop and think, "Wait a minute, how does the world WORK, exactly, if God isn't real?" Ultimately I decided it was better to keep reading and draw whatever conclusions I would, rather than risk de-converting in seminary school (or after ordination!) when I would be that much more committed to a career based on Christianity.

I revisited the hell/free will/original sin trifecta, and pretty quickly realized that I was now clearly outside mainstream Christianity, because I couldn't reconcile "God is Love" (1 John 4: 7-8) with the idea of Hell. I just could not worship a God who would allow anyone to undergo infinite punishment for finite sins. This led to a quick "But what about Jesus?" moment, and I realized that no hell meant that there was no point to Jesus' sacrifice. And...that was the end of my Christianity.

From there I pretty much went straight into agnostic atheism, with just a brief stop in Deism Land. I had trouble accepting the idea that no benevolent supernatural force was responsible for bringing me and my fiance (now-husband) together. Because we did meet in pretty "one-shot-in-a-lifetime" circumstances and ordinarily we lived far apart, and we are such a great match. But I realized that any personally-involved deity would run into the classic "problem of evil", just maybe without hell involved, and eventually I was OK with the idea that I just got really, really lucky to be in the right place at the right time when DH and I first met.

From first setting out on my "convert atheist roommate" quest until my total de-conversion took about 18 months - 2 years.

Today, I am a strong atheist with respect to the Christian God, as I believe that the Bible describes him as internally contradictory. I assert that he does not exist in the same manner as square circles don't exist. Same goes for gods like Zeus and Pele who were once used to describe natural phenomena that we now understand

I am a weak atheist (just lacking belief, not asserting nonexistence) in regard to most other deities that I haven't studied closely, and in regard to most hypothetical deities as well. I think weak atheism is a more logically defensible position than agnosticism most of the time. Agnosticism asserts that we cannot know. I take the position of, "You're right, we don't know absolutely, for anyone/everyone's definition of a god, that none of these exist. But does it really matter?" I also think it's disingenuous for me to ID as agnostic when, with respect to the deity of choice for 95% of the people I end up discussing religion with, I am a strong/explicit atheist.

Speaking of discussion...I actually find it easier to discuss religion with practicing Christians than those of other beliefs, simply because I am intimately familiar with what their beliefs ARE, and we don't have to start off with 20 minutes of "Please define your god for me". Of course, this assumes that they are open to discussion and not simply trying to beat me over the head with scripture verses like "the fool says in his heart, 'There is no God.'" That's usually my family's tactic. That, or reading aloud jokes like "The Atheist & the Bear" at family gatherings. Oi.



Last Edited on: 2/4/09 4:18 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 2/4/2009 5:05 PM ET
Member Since: 6/19/2007
Posts: 5,931
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No big deconversion for me.  I was raised Congregationalist but my parents were raised Catholic.  I was always one of those annoying kids who was always asking why, and in churchschool I never got an answer.  I watched my mom go through continuous cycles of falling in and out of love with the church.  I started thinking that there weren't actually fairies in my backyard maybe there also wasn't an all powerful invisible friend watching over me or anyone.  Sort of like realizing that there wasn't a Santa Claus, one day I found out and it was a bit startling, but the world kept spinning and sun continued to rise in the east. 

When I was 10 my little brother had cancer and my mother got really religious.  I guess it helped her through, and for that I'm glad, but she scared the living crap out of me and my brother & sister a couple times.  And I began to notice that while our church was praying for my brother and many others, some people just got better, like my brother, and some people didn't.  I don't think I ever really believed in a religion, outside of just accepting what my parents told me. 

And now that I at least try to think for myself I don't think any of the organized religions are true.  As far as I can tell, there may or may not be a god, I've never seen any evidence to convince me either way, and so I think it would be foolish to make a blanket statement like "There is no god" or "There is definitely a god and Jesus is His son".  But I don't worry about it, because if there is a god that I have to face when I die, I'll be able to tell that god that I lived my life as best I could, never tried to harm anyone else, and tried to have some kind of positive influence on the world.  And if that's not good enough because I didn't sit in church at 9:30am every Sunday or pray 5 times a day facing Mecca, then that god is probably not a "loving" god, and I'd probably be screwed anyway.

ETA: I actually do still go to church, with my mom for moral support, since she'd the only one left in my family thats not an atheist.  She knows that I don't believe in it, but I go for the sake of companionship. 

Also I'm so glad to see this board is finally here!



Last Edited on: 2/4/09 5:07 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 2/4/2009 7:34 PM ET
Member Since: 4/20/2006
Posts: 5,716
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Woo-hoo!  It's here, it's here!

No big conversion for me either, just a realization that it was okay and NORMAL to not believe in a deity.  During childhood, I was always just told "Of course there's a God, and a heaven" and so on, when I asked about it.  It just never made sense to me.  By high school I felt hugely out of place because I did not believe, and after I married and had a child, I felt like as a responsible adult, I should make the effort to believe.  A year of church cured me of that.

The more I started reading atheist and agnostic literature, educating myself further on science, psychology, and philosophy, the more I felt like I fit in with the world.  I'm still not in the majority of the belief system, but there are a heck of a lot of people who think basically like I do.  I really needed that to stand up for myself and get people to stop bullying me around regarding their religious ideologies.  I see my children struggling with the same questions, and I answer them as honestly as I can.....I tell them what I believe, what others believe, what has been proven, and what hasn't.  There are some things I don't know and will never know, and I tell them that as well.  My oldest son does not believe in a supernatural deity, and has been treated really badly by his peers just for saying he doesn't go to church.  It breaks my heart to see him discriminated against like that, and I wish he didn't have to learn the unfortunate politics of life so early on.  The one thing he will have that I never felt like I had was the freedom and support to believe whatever he wants to believe, and to know that it's okay, even if that means one day he chooses organized religion.  I just want him to make that choice on his own, not because he was made to feel like less of a person for not going along with the crowd.

Date Posted: 2/8/2009 1:53 PM ET
Member Since: 6/23/2007
Posts: 7
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Well I was raised pretty much atheist, religion just wasn't talked about in our home growing up. My wife is spiritual and that's fine with me but I just don't really feel the need for any type of organized religion.

I agree Amanda I worry about my kids being discriminated against and always tell them to believe what they feel inside. If they want to go to church (of any denomination) that's fine but I also answer their questions about what I believe (or don't) honestly.

Date Posted: 2/8/2009 7:49 PM ET
Member Since: 11/28/2006
Posts: 2,087
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Wow Kevin - I'm jealous of your upbringing - raised with no religion.  OK - I swore I was done posting in these forums after the latest issues that took place.  But what the hell.

I was raised in the Baptist church - if the church door was open my mom saw to it that my butt was on the seat.  My mom was and is a Southern Baptist and my dad was a Quaker (he died a few years ago).  Anyway, my dad went to his church and, unfortunately, mom took me with her.  Well, when I was little I didn't know any other way of life.  I remember being upset when all the other kids (even if they went to church on Sunday morning) didn't have to go on Sunday night.  They got to watch The Wonderful World of Disney and Bonanza.  But not me, oh no, I had to go to church. I hated Sunday becuse there was only a short span of time in the afternoon when I wasn't in church, and there certainly wasn't any sleeping late allowed on Sunday morning. 

I didn't know any other way of life but as I grew older, I remember that I would pay no attention in church and day-dream my way through it.  I never questioned that there was a God because deep down I was afraid that I would go to hell.  I thought there must be something wrong with me that I just wasn't a devout person like I should be.  I remember my mother telling me on more than one occasion, "You've got the old devil in you."  What a nice thing for one's mother to say.  When I started dating in high school she was very rough on me and accused me of all sorts of horrible behavior.  Finally, my dad had to step in and tell her to lay off of me because I was a good person and she should trust me and if she kept up the behavior I would be sure to leave home at the first opportunity.  My dad was a wonderful, kind, gentle person and I often wondered why in the world he married my mother.  But that's another story.

Anyway, I got married at age 20 (far too young and my dad tried to talk me out of it but all my friends were getting married).  So from that day on - I never attended church and was so happy about it.  However, it wasn't until many years later that I finally was willing to admit to myself that I'm an unbeliever.  There could be a god but I see no evidence for it.  It was a hard thing - admitting it to myself.  I think there are many people in this country who feel the same way.  They don't believe but they feel society pressure to believe or they were raised to be religious or they just don't want to be "different." 

Just as a side, when I finally got up the courage to divorce my first husband, after 20 years of marriage, you can't believe how my mother treated me.  Yep- just like before.  Only worse this time.  To be blunt, she treated my like a street-walking whore and it was all my fault that I had walked on my marriage.  No matter that my husband was a total jerk and abuser - I still should have stayed.  It came from her strict Baptist beliefs.  My dad told her that if he were me and she behaved as she did - he would walk out and never speak to her again.   But I didn't and I still see my mother because, well, she's my mother and I promised my dad that I would take care of her if she needed me when he died. 

So that's my story.  Well, part of my story anyway!

I'm very glad to see this forum.  Hopefully we can get some humanist, freethought discussions going.

 

Date Posted: 2/9/2009 1:36 AM ET
Member Since: 1/20/2009
Posts: 2,680
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There's a forum for this? Cool. I haven't been a member here for very long, so I just discovered this particular board.

 (Edited to remove passage that was too personal)

When I got older and started to become more aware of the world, and capable of researching and thinking for myself, I just became more and more certain that organized religion was not something I believe in. I mean, the Ancient Greeks believed in their Gods too, but what do you think would happen if someone went around swearing that Zeus, Hera, and all the rest were real? They'd be locked up. I sort of view today's organized religions as something of a modernized version of that archaic belief system.

Am I prepared to flat out say that there absolutely is not a God, or some form of higher power? No. But I am prepared to say that all of today's organized religions have it wrong, and therefore are useless to me. After all, if you think about it logically, virtually all of the organized religions say that if you aren't of their faith, you go to hell. Based on the assumption that nobody is faithful to more than one religion (and certainly not to all of them), that means that (if they're right) everybody is going to hell, no matter what faith they are. Which means that I certainly have nothing to lose by forgoing any system of religion, and instead focusing on living a good and fulfilling life. In addition to that, they also virtually all proclaim God to be good and loving. If they're right, then I have to think that he'd care more about how I lived my life than if I believed in him or not. And if they're wrong, well then, we're all screwed anyway. So, once again, I have nothing to lose. I see no reason to put up with the hipocrisy that is organized religion.

So, what am I? I don't know. I'm not prepared to declare myself as a total atheist, because I'm not going to pretend that I have all the knowledge necessary to fully explain every event and occurrence in the history of the entire universe, and therefore I cannot fully write off the idea that there might possibly be some form of higher power. But, that being said, I certainly will never be a member of any organized religion. So, that's my story and my belief system, make of it what you will.

To anyone who has been discriminated against, or had children discriminated against, because of your (or their) beliefs: I'm very sorry that that has happened. Unfortunately, that's a sign of just how bad our 'land of the free' is in some areas. Yeah, you can have freedom to believe what you wish, so long as you agree with the majority. Fortunately, that has never been a problem for me up here where I live in Alaska. Maybe I've just been lucky, but religion has never been a huge issue (except for with the door-to-door bible-thumpers, but nobody likes them) in everyday life here, outside of the church. So, staying out of the occasional religious event I come across (community prayer at town events, for instance) is easy, and has not yet been met with any hostility towards me. Knock on wood.



Last Edited on: 7/5/13 2:49 AM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 2/9/2009 11:29 PM ET
Member Since: 3/6/2006
Posts: 3,070
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Gasp, wow!  Just saw this forum existed!!!!!  Yay!

Date Posted: 2/10/2009 2:35 PM ET
Member Since: 9/17/2007
Posts: 1,129
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<<So, what am I? I don't know. I'm not prepared to declare myself as a total atheist, because I'm not going to pretend that I have all the knowledge necessary to fully explain every event and occurrence in the history of the entire universe, and therefore I cannot fully write off the idea that there might possibly be some form of higher power.>>

I think this sums it up for me pretty well. LOL!

I have a hard time believing something that hasn't been 100% proven. You can tell me that the Bible (or other religious books) have been passed down throughout history, but unless I can go back in time and see who wrote this book, I have a hard time taking what is in that book as fact. How do I know that Joe Blow wasn't bored one day, so he sat down and wrote the Bible?

I find it amazing that so many people can follow something that isn't 100% proven. My mother-in-law is die hard catholic. She once told me that Christianity is the ONLY true religion. This really got me to thinking. I mean, who's to say that those who believe in Buddah are wrong for believing in him? How do you know for certain that the history of your religion is 100% true and everyone else's is false?

The hypocracy of many religions bothers me as well. They preach tolerance and love, yet discriminate against many types of lifestyles. How can a religion preach love thy neighbor, yet shun their neighbor because they are homosexual? Pick one. If you preach love all, then ALL means ALL.

(edited for typos because my keyboard has a mind of its own today)



Last Edited on: 2/10/09 2:36 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Kat (polbio) -
Date Posted: 2/11/2009 4:55 PM ET
Member Since: 10/10/2008
Posts: 3,067
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Hi all.

I was raised with a mother who believed in a God, but felt she didnt have a right to choose religion for her children. So every couple of years she would switch our church. We attended pretty much all the christian denominations and  went to a non-denominational church camp and a Baptist bible school. She encouraged us to visit our friends churches and I use to take the kids I babysat to their catholic mass when I was a teenager. So by the time I was 13, I had had a lot of contradictions just within the christian faiths. They all claimed the same belief's but had different severeties of rules.

When I was 13, I was a junior councelor at summer camp and our summer assignment was to read the bible, all of it. Well, at that time, I was very into religion, and my avid reader mind took over.  By the tme I was into the New Testament, I was so confused by all the contradictions, that I couldnt understand how anyone could take this book literally. At thirteen, I had figured out what most christian adults dont, the bible is a bunch of stories meant to teach morals and values, with some history thrown in.

When I came back from camp, the woman I babysat for talked with me about my questions.  She introduced me to Blue Birds by David Frasure and to Richard Bach.  I began researching my belief's. When I was assigned writing projects in school, I would use topics like Reincarnation and World Religions, just so I could research.

When I had kids, my husband and I agreed that one religion would not be singled out above others. Like my mother, I believe religion is a personal choice, and should not be indoctrinated into young children. My mother in law however does not understand. She pushed for my daughters to go to sunday school. I wouldnt allow it until I knew they were old enough to know the difference between stories and truth. My oldest asked me when she was 8 if she could go to Sunday School. We let her. She went every week for 3 years. When she was 11, she said she didnt want to go anymore and I let her stop. I teach my kids about religions from all over the world. They know stories from the bible and stories from Buddist and Hindu faiths, along with other religious tales. When the girls have questions about what is the truth in religion, I let them know that nobody knows the answer. Many people believe they do, but no one really knows. It is all conjecture past down through the centuries. As for thier belief's I let them talk it out and think for themselves.

My husband and I differ in our belief's of whether there is a god or not, and if there is a god what his role is in our world. But it doesnt matter, we both respect eachothers beliefs and have some great conversations about it.

Of my mother's seven children, 2 are methodist, 1 is episcople, 1 is Budist, 2 are agnostic, and I am a Naturalistic Pantheist ( I view what people call God, is nature).

 



Last Edited on: 2/11/09 4:58 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Kat (polbio) -
Date Posted: 2/11/2009 5:18 PM ET
Member Since: 10/10/2008
Posts: 3,067
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I see some of you saying the same things. That it took a while to be able to declare athiesm or some other non-christian religion. It is mainly because of the way people look at you and some of the stupid things people will say to you when you do say it. Most of the time when I say "I am not a christian" they take it to mean that I havent "found" Jesus yet. I mostly hear, "I will pray for you".

It took me until I was 30 (I am 34) to be comfortable saying to people, especially religious people that I was not christian. I have had all kinds of reactions. My friends, dont care, even though most of my friends are die hard christians. We have a couple of non-denominational "cult" churches in our area. My one friend belongs to one. THey dont believe in dinosaurs or that we walked on the moon. Her and I have some good friendly "debates". She will sit and listen to my theories and I will listen to hers. She  has stopped trying to convert me after I took my girls to her church and almost RAN out the back door when in the middle of the sermon the pastor said "And ladies I want to remind you all to be thankful for the men in your life, because we all know without those men, women would hurt themselves".  There are a lot of other stories from her church that I politely listen to but inside it scares me to death. Oh well, to each his own.

Anyway, my point was that I know it is difficult to get people to understand that you have different views. Most religious people, regardless of thier faith, feel they have the right answers. Which to me makes me say, well if the HIndu are right, and the Buddist are right, and the Muslim are right, and the Christians, etc etc etc. Than how are you suppose to know which one really is. The truth is, most religions are very similar. They all teach ethics and moral, relavent to the culture it was created in.  They all believe in some sort of "god", an almighty being as an answer to nature. Look at the Ancient religions,  a god of thunder, a sun god, a war god, a love god, etc.  In religions like Christianity, they took everything and attributed it to one god, instead of many.

To me, the thing that bothers me about religions, is that if they are so right, why are people allowed to alter them to fit societies needs. If Christianity is the one true answer, why did it ever branch off. I understand Martin Luther wanted to break free from the corruption of the catholic church, but then it broke off again and again and each branch feels they are the one true answer. That only tells me that none are completely true.

Date Posted: 2/11/2009 10:37 PM ET
Member Since: 1/13/2005
Posts: 2,317
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I went to catholic school from preschool through high school.  I do not remember an age at which I believed, but I do remember feeling that there must be something wrong with me because obviously everyone else did.  I was a reasonably smart kid, and learned to parrot what I needed to parrot, but it just never stuck.

After the catholic preschool / daycare closed, my mother sent me to an Assembly of God after school program ffrom the ages of about 8 to about 11 -- not a smart choice for a catholic school child who had to wear uniforms every day.  The people who ran the daycare were happy to take my parents' money, but were terrified of me and my [alleged] faith.  I was routinely told I was going to hell -- quite graphically, with imitation screaming and everything -- for my supposed beliefs.  I was called a papist whore, made to stand on the nursery van to be singled out for my papist beliefs, and just generally harrassed and humiliated by the people who ran the daycare.  It was sort of their afternoon entertainment for the kiddies, who knew they could harrass me with impunity.  I just sort of figured this was what bad little catholic girls had to deal with-- it was mid-rural 1970s Oklahoma, so I probably wasn't far off. 

I never believed the Assembly of God whackos, either, but I started finding them truly laughable after their pastor told them that Jesus was coming in X number of months, and managed, through tithing etc. to get himself a whole slew of nice toys -- a boat, a new set of furniture etc... and was able to do it TWICE!!   After Jesus didn't come the first time, they did it all AGAIN less than a year later -- who says you can't fool the same crowd twice?!   After that, I began to be fairly outspoken in responding to their nastiness, and as an adult, I realize that I was probably a lot closer than I knew to really getting physically hurt by those people.  I think they were working themselves up to something really nasty when my tenure there ended.

By the end of high school, I realized that perhaps my lack of faith did not indicate a problem with me .... .  I continued to talk the talk -- it was the only way to get through and out, though I did pitch a royal fit over being confirmed, and refused to do it.  After high school, I never entered a church of any stripe for anything other than a wedding or a funeral (not mine in either case).  These days, I've found that I like a lot of Buddhist philosophy, it seems to be the antithesis of blind faith, and one is free to take or leave whatever bits do or do not make sense. 

Date Posted: 3/1/2009 10:55 PM ET
Member Since: 6/17/2007
Posts: 1,347
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I just noticed this forum! And I am so glad it is here!!

My mother's family is Jewish, and while she believes in god she does not practice any religion. My step-father and his family are very christian, my grandmother was the type to give us bibles for Christmas. Thankfully neither one of them felt we needed to go to church or pray over dinner. I can remember not believing in god as far back as third grade. Looking back, I just now realized that it was around the same time my mother told me there was no Santa Claus, Easter bunny, etc. Even though I didn't believe in god, in high school I became friends with a guy and his family, who were very religious, they seemed so happy that I wanted to join them. I started going to church with them on Sundays and even went through the classes to join the church. Even though I had so much fun in the commodery of the church, I just didn't feel it and noone could answer my questions. So after "graduating" into the church, I stopped going.

I met my husband the summer after high school, at the time he was on the fence. So being the arguementive person that I am, I asked him the questions that religion has never been able to answer for me. It didn't take him long to join the dark side... kidding. This brings me ten years later, we are now married with two children, living in a very small, God fearing town. While my husband and I are very sure of our beliefs, I worry how to explain to my children without having them outcasts at school.

I find as I get older, I have less patience for the blind faith religions. I guess I just get tired of people trying to convence me that I'm wrong, I never try to convence them that they are sheep. ;)

M.E. (ryenke) -
Date Posted: 3/6/2009 12:40 AM ET
Member Since: 1/6/2009
Posts: 625
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Just for a taste of the opposite - we grew up in a big city  - did not attend church of any kind (parents both raised as Catholics, neither have gone into a church except for weddings/funerals in decades).  But we did attend both the YMCA and the JCC for childrens activities.  So I had a peculiar taste of Jewish and Christian touches, but nothing else. Eventually the Catholics had their chance, as I went to a Jesuit high school, but I was pretty well set in my ways by then.

What ways?  Well, take a dash of the Jewish and Christian stories for children, add a whole lot of logic from the Jesuits, a wide eyed wonder at the Force (yes, I was just the right age to be forever marked by Star Wars), a love of Greek and Roman mythology, a natural skeptical tendency, and parents who did not believe they had any stake in whatever personal beliefs I might develop...

To me, to have been raised with religion is an idea I can't quite comprehend.  Oh, I KNOW it is probably the American 'norm' but it is about as foriegn to my experience as growing up in Japan would be.

 

 



Last Edited on: 3/6/09 12:40 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 3/30/2009 1:26 AM ET
Member Since: 3/5/2009
Posts: 11
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My parents had very good intentions; they planned to expose me equally to Catholicism and the Southern Baptist church, then let me decide which to follow when i was old enough to form an opinion.  However, when my parents announced that they would be sharing both of their faiths with me, the local priest literally said "I'm sorry, if that's the case, your child is not welcome here."  I think i was three years old, but i remember it very clearly.  My dad never went to either church after that, and any questions i had for him were answered with logic, followed by the stipulation: "but you can believe what you want."  My mother, on the other hand, went ahead and raised me Baptist.

Baptist dogma suited me thoughout childhood; during my teen years i researched other religions and found a lot that i liked philosophically about each.  Eventually i married a Druid with Pagan leanings, and started to explore spirituality in a much less fearful manner than i was raised with.  I considered myself Pagan, then Wiccan briefly, then general Pagan again, and seem to have finally settled on Agnostic.  I still have some Pagan leanings, but that's more in looking at things a certain way than it is faith or religion of any kind.

Date Posted: 3/30/2009 4:08 PM ET
Member Since: 8/28/2006
Posts: 462
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I was raised Catholic, Irish style..but I was always questioning everything (doubting thomas anyone?), and always getting into trouble for it...Finally I had enough and refused to get confirmed or go back to church.  There was, of course, a huge fight...and I thought I was going to be disowned by my family (wouldn't be the first time someone was disowned by the family)...Years later, I had a daughter and refused to take her to church...and as I was divorcing my ex (when she was 4) I had most of my family and the ex's trying to tell me I had to take her to church so I could show the court that I was providing 'spiritual and moral education' for my daughter...I scoffed (of course) and said I had no need to take her to church to teach her how to be a good caring person...I was told the court could take her away..At which I scoffed again with a 'let 'em try'...and wouldn't ya know it religion never came up in the court room.  Huh.  I managed to refrain from telling everyone I told you so...and now most people leave me alone.

I never had an epiphany, I just new there was something wrong with what the church taught compared to what the church and the hard-core believers did...and don't even get me started on all the nonsense in that book....I used to call it a fairy-tale when I was younger...still do...

 

My daughter is very outspoken towards people who bad mouth what we believe or refuse to believe...she will sass the hell out of anyone who disrespects me behind my back for not raising her up to be a good little christian girl...She likes to learn different things and is very into the mythology from different cultures...(she's 9, in 4th grade, but works at a 7-8th grade level)....she gets downright cranky if she feels someone is infringing on her rights...lol...and she does know what the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are and what some of the rights are that are protected by them...She knows that certain things are not allowed to be taught at school, and has been instructed on what to do if a teacher starts teaching about jesus and the cross again..lol

She also stands up to her father and step-mother when it comes to churchy stuff...she'll go and behave, obviously she can't stay home by herself yet...but she won't be forced to participate in things that make her uncomfortable...she gets a bit cranky about that as well...I explained to her that she ahs to go if they are going..but that doesn't mean she has to participate..she can bring a book and sit there quietly and respectfully...If she is on her best behavior, and she is being respectful she should have no problems...so far her father hasn't been giving her too much trouble...I have no doubts that she will set him straight if he does..lol

I do, of course, stick up for her when needed and back her up...but I try to guide her on how to deal with these things herself first, and come to me for help if she needs it..and she knows I'll take care of it.....It is good to see her becoming so self-assured and confident of herself...so many of us raised in a very religious environment did not have that...ya know..if you were a girl..shut up, head down, do as I say, agree with everything...

Date Posted: 4/2/2009 9:07 AM ET
Member Since: 1/21/2009
Posts: 18
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I was raised Jewish (or as my mother once said, I was "told" I was Jewish).  We never really went to synagogue when I was growing up except for what I like to call "the big 3" - bar/bat mitzvahs, weddings and funerals.  I tried going to synagogue when I was in college, but made the mistake of going to a Conservative synagogue for Yom Kippur services after not having been to services for much of anything else for years.  Talk about overwhelming.  Since I never really had the strong religious foundation, I never really had a strong belief in God.  I've become very interested in Wicca, but my husband doesn't understand the appeal of it for me (he was raised Southern Baptist, but is now an atheist - a very long story).  My daughter, on the other hand, discovered Christianity a couple of years ago while dating somebody in high school who went to church regularly.  She was worried at first that we would have a problem with it, but we told her that her religion was her decision.  I have actually been to church with her a few times, but they know that I am not interested in joining the church and they are very OK with that.  When she went away to college, she found a church near campus that is the same denomination and she loves it (which makes me very happy that she has found what she was looking for).

Date Posted: 4/6/2009 12:38 AM ET
Member Since: 10/23/2007
Posts: 47
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The Big Deconversion Story"...oooohh!   Here goes... Born and brought up in the Bible Belt, both sides of my family were  United Methodist.          I was taken to Sunday School and church nearly every week..Vacation Bible School in the summer...Church Camp when i was a older..at  all ofthese I was considered a "problem"for asking questions for which the teachers had no good answers.   By the time i was 14  i'd had it ,and declared myself an atheist, to my mother's   rage and dismay.

  I chose to go to a small college affiliated with the ARP Church (it had the best history dept.in the state) enduring  the requirement to take 2 semesters of Bible since they were taught from an historical/literary perspective.  I actually managed to amuse myself in those classes (being the devil's advocate is fun) and the information has been useful for arguing door-to-door missionaries into the ground!

  I mellowed to agnosticism by  my 20's,   tried to get them to put heathen as the 'religious preference'  when i joined the military (still not an option),  but basically i just shrugged off fhe whole subject  for a couple of decades while coping with "real Life".  Reading continued to be my greatest pleasure and solace.  Whenever possible, i would hit the library to study a subject in as much depth as i could....archeology, cultural and genetic anthropology, mythology, phiiosophy, more and more history, anything that caught my interest.

  Behind all this were the feelings I'd  had since childhood  - a   connection with nature (watching the moon and stars, listening to the wind in the trees, and tending to animals always made more sense and provided more satisfaction than sitting in church); recurring and pre-scient dreams; experiences that showed me  more than is dreamt of in philosophy.  So when the "Pagan Revival" came to my attention in the  '90's i started researching with more than intellectual interest. 

Now,when i'm asked for a "religious preference" i use Neo-Pagan.   It's an umbrella big enough to cover those of us whose beliefs are very indivdual, who would rather remain solitary than join any organization,   it''s clearer and more honest than ticking "no rel pref" on a form,  and it usually stops prosetylizers in their tracks  (hee-hee).

Anissa (WVgrrl) - ,
Date Posted: 4/8/2009 3:56 PM ET
Member Since: 1/16/2009
Posts: 432
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Another "Wow, very excited to find this forum" from me.

I don't have any exciting deconversion story. My family was not at all religious when I was growing up. My mom sent us to a VBS day program for one week each summer, but I think that was just to get us out of her hair for a few days.  People who know me would probably be shocked to find out I loved VBS. We got to read stories, which was awesome. But I never attached any concept of faith or absolute fact to them. They fell into the same category as Narnia or Alice in Wonderland. Teachers at VBS also thought you were awesome if you could stand up and recite scripture to the group. I could memorize things like nobody's business back then, so lots of kudos for me from the grownups. And at age 8, any place with cookies couldn't be that bad.

I would identify myself as a humanist atheist, and I'm lucky that I have a close circle of friends with similar leanings. My husband falls more into the hopeful agnostic category, which is okay with me. He wants to believe that there is something bigger out there and that there is a soul that carries on in some form after physical death. I argue the point that since there is no afterlife, it makes the here-and-now all the more important. We have agreed to disagree. There have been a few struggles in dealing with his family. My FIL's family are Jehovah's Witnesses (although FIL left the church as a teen), and I suspect they see me as a minion of the devil and way to uppity for a woman. They came by our house proselytizing once but have never been back (hmm, can you guess why?). A relationship with my SIL has been a struggle. She once told me that my husband and I were having trouble conceiving because we "didn't have Jesus" in our lives. Thankfully he promptly told her to leave our house. On lots of other occasions she has told me she would pray for me. I have to bite my tongue to tell her that she shouldn't bother.

For the most part I keep my beliefs to myself. I'm certainly not embarrassed about being an atheist, and if someone asks what I believe then I have no problem telling them. But in general I try to avoid wasting energy on such discussions with people who will never change their minds no matter what logic they are presented with. 

 

Date Posted: 4/9/2009 2:18 AM ET
Member Since: 1/16/2009
Posts: 112
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I think I've always been a doubter.  I attended a Catholic School my first year (1st grade) because my father felt it was the best academic choice, not because of the religion.  His religion came mostly out of a beer bottle.  The only religious teaching I recall from that year was some movie about girls in Spain who got a free tour of Hell, and the fact that we were required to attend Mass every morning before class.  I did have a rosary and used it at night becasue I knew that Sister Mary Gerard would know if I didn't.  She scared the crap out of me!  The second year and thereafter was secualr schools. 

I remember being unhappy when the zelots in Congress added "Under God" to the Pledge when I was in 4th.

In High School I begain to really worry about God and what was right.  Spent a lot of sleepless nights where I climbed out my bedroom window and walked all night seeking answers.  Some of my friends were LDS, and I found myself going to their "classes" and agreeing with what they were saying.  We even set a baptism date!   The night before the baptism I got cold feet and called my LDS recruiter.  He advised me to pray all night for answers.  I did so and he wasn't really understanding when I called him in the morning and told him God didn't want me to do it. 

Don't know exactly what happened, but I reached an agreement with God (or maybe myself) that night that if he didn't bother me, I wouldn't bother him.  So now I don't know if there is or isn't, but I do know that the mainstream christians have not got it right, and am amazed that they can't see the incredible contradictions in their dogmas, and the incredible hypocricy in therir actions. 

When in the Military my Sargent came around to ask my religion for my dogtag.  I told him "Agnostic" - had to spell it out for him.  He looked at me suspiciously and said "Is that a real religion?"  I smiled and said "Sure is, Sarge".  Don't know what they would have done had I been killed.  Hard to hold the correct services, for sure.  Still have one of the dogtags.

Meanwhile, I haven't had any religious yearnings for 45 years, so I guess my agreement is still holding up.  

Dave

 



Last Edited on: 4/9/09 2:35 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Subject: Wow - a brand new forum! Ok, so what is your 'deconversion' story?
Date Posted: 6/14/2009 3:48 PM ET
Member Since: 10/19/2008
Posts: 10
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No deconversion for me here. As I have posted on another subject within this forum, I went to a christian church when I was young but never really grasped the religion. Even in the late 70's, the "Moonies" tried to convert (brainwash) me. After hanging out with them for a week, they found out I was not programable and kicked me out.  lololol!   A favorite quote of mine reads as thus:  "Re-examine all you have been told - dismiss what insults your soul." - Walt Whitman

Date Posted: 7/5/2009 1:35 AM ET
Member Since: 4/8/2007
Posts: 21,071
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i grew up in a baptist home ...my mom is a serious baptist... my dad was a catholic....  when i was living in yemen i had to convert to islam to become a resident married to a yemeni...... i have been wiccan for the last 24 years or so

Date Posted: 9/8/2009 4:57 PM ET
Member Since: 3/6/2006
Posts: 1,065
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I was raised Catholic . At an early age I could see the falsehood of  someone having to church to be " good  ".My grandfather never went   and I knew he was just as good as the rest of them. Then my mother got sick and I prayed  a lot for her. She died and I felt as if God was not there for me and started to disbelieve.   later my mother-in-law was healed by a healer. Then I started reading books on healers psychics etc. That lead me to belief  in the eastern philosophy of reincarnation. Having many lives to perfect ones soul.

Date Posted: 10/6/2009 2:30 PM ET
Member Since: 7/16/2009
Posts: 63
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I was raised w/o a strong religious background.  My mother and father were both Catholic, but never went to church.  My parents divorced and my father moved down south and married a southern baptist that insisted I go to church with her every Sunday.  I always had this feeling that God was not real, but was afraid to express my feelings out of fear of being ridiculed.  A few years ago I met this wonderful lady who quickly became my best friend.  She made me realize that it was ok to not believe in God.  It has been an enormous relief.  However, I am still facing challenges because my husband's family would disown me if they knew how I really feel about God.  I try to teach my children that they have a choice of religion or not believing in God, but again, that is hard living in the south where preaching the word of God is prevalent.

I have several Christian friends.  Some are totally ok with my beliefs, where some were completely shocked and basically told me I was going to hell.  Some even quit speaking to me altogether.

My family, the few I still am in contact with, are ok with me being an Atheist.  My mother is one as well and my father is deceased.  I have one sister who is still unsure of how she feels about God, 2 that are southern baptists, and one who is an Atheist as well.  I am not sure how my 2 brothers feel.  My husband is agnostic.

Amy
Date Posted: 10/6/2009 6:19 PM ET
Member Since: 3/11/2008
Posts: 1,716
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Edited by Amy



Last Edited on: 8/19/10 4:05 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Subject:
Date Posted: 10/6/2009 7:45 PM ET
Member Since: 7/16/2009
Posts: 63
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Amy, I am a closet Atheist with my husband's family.  It is difficult to say the least.  I find myself gritting my teeth and biting my tongue when I am around them.  Not only are they strong southern baptists, they are also super conservative republicans whereas I am a liberal democrat.  Thankfully, I do not have to fake it with my family.  I also find myself biting my tongue with friends and strangers.  I am afraid if they knew the truth, they would hate me.

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