The book that made me doubt my Christian faith

June 23, 2007 at 5:41 pm 30 comments

Many doubting Christians and apostate former Christians seem to enjoy the recent publications of anti-Christian polemics. Most of us are by now aware of the storm of debate caused by books from the likes of Daniel Dennett, Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens. I have not read any of these books. My tastes tend toward older, academic, lesser known books that I can check out free from the library or find in dusty corners of a used book store. And most of my Christian doubt was fueled by some very unlikely sources.

Let The Trumpet Sound - A Life of Martin Luther KingMy slide away from Christianity began in large part to this seemingly innocent book, Let the Trumpet Sound – A Life of Martin Luther King, by Stephen Oates. I have always had questions and doubts about my faith, as most honest Christians do, but this book forced me to confront those doubts head-on, to take them from under the rug, and to seriously re-evaluate my beliefs in Christianity.

Early last year, I was convicted by my ignorance of some practical aspects of the world around me. I am educated, yet I knew next to nothing about the civil rights movement of the 50s and 60s. So I picked up this 500 page biography of Martin Luther King, published in 1982. I was immediately struck by the very recent history of this country, the history we have all heard a little about, but I think may not have studied in much detail. Black Americans were treated like animals in the Southern US as recently as the 1960s, and this book makes that point clear. King was a brilliant young minister from Atlanta who held his first pastoral duties in Birmingham, Alabama. Holding a PhD in systematic theology, King was highly academic, and initially approached his sermons in an intellectual manner. But the racism and segregation of Birmingham could not be long ignored by Rev. King. It seems he really struggled to keep is church and ideology focused on Jesus, heaven, salvation of souls and the afterlife. But he was forced to concede that a church which does no good for humanity while on this earth is not a church at all. He went full throttle into social activism and civil rights and never looked back.

King’s life and activism is too full to summarize beyond this point. Pick up the book at the library, and read it for yourself.

At about the time I read this book, I was content with my Christian beliefs, and holding small group Bible studies in my home. I had good Christian friends who attended. We shared life experiences together, talked and prayed about showing Christian love to the world, then .. talked and prayed about it some more. I went to a Baptist church which focused its energies on strengthening families and relationships. But I was a little unsettled. It all seemed too secure and comfortable. Rallying our small group to go give aid to the elderly, or visit the retirement home (one of my favorite things to do) became a real chore. We would plan, organize and plan and plan until we had planned things to death, and never do much of anything. And I am not trashing my old church-goers, because I was just as guilty of apathy as anyone in our group. I had the best of intentions, but in the end it cost too much time. Time is a precious resource, and in many ways more difficult to give than money.

Reading about MLK was seriously convicting to my Christian faith on that basis. This was a man who gave up everything for what he believed, even to the point of neglecting his family (which I could never do – nor intend to do). My brand of Christianity seemed tepid and too easy. King, and many others gave their lives to make the world aware of the injustices of the world, and to protest for change. King was a huge admirer and follower of Mahatma Gandhi, who lived as Christ-like a life as anyone who ever walked the face of the earth. But Gandhi was most definitely not filled with the Holy Spirit, according to my long held beliefs. So, I wondered, just how is Christ working in my life to make the world better? No, I am not talking about being another MLK – that is just silly. Just doing my share to help the desperately poor who live just across the border from me, to help the handicapped children ministry, or visit the elderly and sick? Is the Holy Spirit really empowering me or any of my other Christian friends with the Fruits of the Spirit any more than my good and respectable, but non-believing neighbors?

It seemed like a simple question but it was unsolvable to me. Christians are capable of great charity, but no more, it seemed, than any other charitable heathen. It certainly was not evident in my life, even though I had a heart for giving. A Christian friend even suggested to me that people cannot truly love unless the Holy Spirit resides in them. Absurd statements like these from my fellow Christians did not help the situation any.

In 1963, MLK was arrested (again) for peacefully protesting segregation in Birmingham, Alabama. While he was in jail, eight white pastors from around the state wrote the local newspaper, and editorialized against King’s activism. They figured he should be a good preacher, stay behind the pulpit, and keep his nose out of trouble. In response, King wrote what came to be known as “Letter from Birmingham Jail” on scraps of paper, and smuggled out by his lawyer bit by bit while he was in solitary confinement. This section from Letter from Birmingham Jail will stay with me always:

There was a time when the church was very powerful in the time when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Whenever the early Christians entered a town, the people in power became disturbed and immediately sought to convict the Christians for being “disturbers of the peace” and “outside agitators”‘ But the Christians pressed on, in the conviction that they were “a colony of heaven,” called to obey God rather than man. Small in number, they were big in commitment. They were too God intoxicated to be “astronomically intimidated.” By their effort and example they brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide and gladiatorial contests.

Things are different now. So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an archdefender of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church’s silent and often even vocal sanction of things as they are.

But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If today’s church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century. Every day I meet young people whose disappointment with the church has turned into outright disgust.

Wow. An irrelevant social club. That hurt. I read this powerful letter as though it were written directly to my Baptist Church, to my friends and to myself. It really stung. I even brought it to my small group and read the above passage to my friends before Bible Study. I wanted to motivate them into some kind of conviction of our condition, but it was met by my Spirit Empowered friends with general apathy. After this passage from Letter from Birmingham Jail was received with a few condescending nods of agreement, we again fell into our routine, and read a couple of verses from the end of James about loving and praying for the sick among us.

After that, I could no longer go back to my old Baptist church. I viewed my brand of Christianity to be empty, nearly vacuous, and not doing myself nor anyone else much good. The Holy Spirit, I felt, was not empowering me nor anyone else to do anything, despite my prayerful and devotional lifestyle. I came to realize that if I wanted to do good for my neighbors, I needed to just stop praying, reading Bible passages and being a pious piss-ant and JUST DO IT. Funny thing is, my wife agreed with me without even reading the book. Some of us have natural insights that others do not.

That was the crack in the door, and I could not go back from there. I felt if there was something missing from my Christian faith, I had better do a little reading, contemplating, praying, and get to the bottom of it. The faith story goes on from there, and it continues to unwind to this day. It has evolved to the point that … well, it has evolved to the point that I am now writing articles on a blogsite named ‘agnostic atheism’. But that was the beginning. I used to think that is a strange way to begin questioning my own beliefs, but now I don’t think so. I think everyone who seriously contemplates their faith, no matter what the outcome, is fueled by an unlikely catalyst

As a loving and charitable old friend of mine once said, “I would love to be a nun, if it were not for all that religion and belief in God that comes with it”.

- HeIsSailing

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I can finally die in peace Are we ready to take on the responsibility we once gave to God?

30 Comments Add your own

  • 1. PB and J  |  June 23, 2007 at 7:09 pm

    heissailing

    i have felt the same way reading various books of men like ghandhi or mlk. i have been very encouraged by ghandhi’s example even though he was not a christian. thus, i can understand why you would question the power of the HS in your own life and the lives of many others, especially in the american church. i may not agree with you, but i think you raise a very, very important question.

    if Christ is really Lord, and He has promised His HS, then why are we still failing? did i get your bottomline question right?

    anyway, i think that there a lot more at stake than a calvinistic approach to the HS. you see, a calvinist might say that the HS WILL change us if we are “saved”. on the other hand, an arminian might say, we WILL change if we are filled with the HS. but i think that both sides are exactly accurate.

    for instance, paul (most known for being wrongly interpreted as advocating “grace” without “works” in evangelical circles) says “work out your salvation with fear and tremble”. so he does say that it isnt the HS, but us who are to blaim for not bearing fruit, right?! however, that is only half of the message. paul concludes, “for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose.” paul doesnt pick sides. he says we must work to bear fruit, but God works in us to bear fruit. how can they both be right?

    well, i think part of this coworking is a little mysterious, but i dont think this is a sufficient answer in and of itself. lets look a little at the issue. suppose that there is truth in the message of Christ, and we are filled with the HS when we accept Christ as Lord, then how come we dont change? maybe part of it is because we resist the HS’s work. you see, if we arent doing our part of the cowork, then the HS will be guiding us to no avail. but accepting the HS’s guidance in our lives isnt easy. we wont be able to figure out how to listen over night. this is why paul prefaces the work with “fear and trembling”. because i takes a lotta work on our part.

    i know from my own life, that i spent years being self-righteous and even wearing a facade of righteousness, but inside i was filled with all kinds of horrible things. i didnt even realize it myself, until i got married. then i began to see myself coming out when i was upset with my wife or when you was hurtful to me. i realized that i was merely hiding my anger, but in the process, i was resisting the change the HS can bring. i am by no means perfectly changed in regards to anger, but i can promise you that as i realized that anger (in most cases) is sinful and repented and asked the Lord to change that area of my heart because i couldnt, i did begin to change. so was it me? or was it the HS? i couldnt tell you who did what, but i can tell you that i believe it took (and will continue to take) both of us.

    i am not writing this to shove anything in your face. i think i understand your questions and your doubts. i appreciate your honesty to address these. i hope that my story has been a little bit helpful.

    best wishes
    peter

  • 2. PB and J  |  June 23, 2007 at 7:10 pm

    ps sorry for such a long comment

  • 3. pastorofdisaster  |  June 23, 2007 at 7:15 pm

    I really appreciated this post. It made me think of all those people like Ghandi, Schweitzer and King that have changed forever how I think about my own faith. It sounds like it made you want to be a more active and caring human. That can never be wrong.

  • 4. AlexD  |  June 23, 2007 at 8:22 pm

    I have been trying to tell people for years that Dr. King used a religion that was not based around Christianity to bring about change. Because he knew that Christianity was a religion of servitude and docility. A religion that promised some of its followers, that if they behaved while enslaved (for 400 years) Heaven awaited them, all the while absolving the enslavers of brutality and cruelty.This religious conditioning continues everyday as church after church springs up with self-proclaimed (well dress and salaried) spiritual leaders who under the guise of the 501-C3 build themselves Heaven on earth as the needy starve around them. I applaud your blog keep writing.
    Alex D

  • 5. Karen  |  June 23, 2007 at 10:25 pm

    Wow – talk about an unlikely path! Thanks so much for sharing. I’m very interested in what sparks believers to begin the evaluation process that leads to (at least some degree of) deconversion. I find that the stories are all over the place, but at the heart of each is a strong desire for honesty and objectivity.

    Like you, I wasn’t well-educated about the civil rights movement until about 10 or 15 years ago when I happened to catch the “Eyes on the Prize” series on PBS. Absolutely fascinating multipart documentary on the entire civil rights movement that was a total eye-opener for me.

    Thanks for sharing your story!

  • 6. Caleb  |  June 23, 2007 at 10:41 pm

    that was a very good, thought-provoking read

    thankyou

  • 7. Jacqueline  |  June 24, 2007 at 9:49 am

    Christianity likes to “brand” certain aspects like charity, compassion and love for neighbour, but by no means does it have the market share. In reading your post, I kept thinking of one of my patients (I am a Hospice Chaplain.) who is an Atheist. He told me a story recently about giving to a local Christian charity and the driver asked him about his religion. He told the guy, “I am an Atheist.” The driver could not believe it! “You mean you gave all this stuff away, and you don’t even believe in God?” My patient said, “Yes, but I do believe that there are people who need it and you all will get it to them.”

    I told my patient what an amazing teacher he is…

    For me, I still find meaning in following a path of radical inclusion with Jesus as my example, even as I reject Christianity, per se. I also see this path as unique to me, but not necessarily unique from the many paths of inclusion called by other names, including the one of my patient.

  • 8. Tand00ri^Salmon  |  June 24, 2007 at 11:36 am

    Christianity is not about how much suffering you have to do that makes you go heaven or makes you a better christian .

    No amount of works could get the Lord to love you more HeIsSailing. Love and forgiveness it’s a give NOT to be earned. I think you guys has viewed Christianity the wrong way . that’s why in my opinion a lot of church is not growing.

    HeIsSailing, I’m not here to debate , I do not know you neither do you know me , but 2 things can never be denied. THe amount of LIVES Bible has change, NOT through theories and works but through a living and fulfilling TWO WAY relationship with our Lord and Saviour

  • 9. Karen  |  June 24, 2007 at 12:44 pm

    For another version of what leads someone to question their faith, see this blog post recomended at Friendly Atheist.

  • 10. Karen  |  June 24, 2007 at 12:59 pm

    but 2 things can never be denied. THe amount of LIVES Bible has change, NOT through theories and works but through a living and fulfilling TWO WAY relationship with our Lord and Saviour

    People’s lives get changed through all sorts of relationships and influences. Yes, religion (all sorts of religion, not just Christianity) is responsible for conversions and for lives that are “saved” – this is why we hear so many dramatic testimonies from new believers.

    But other things also influence people – friendships, romantic relationships, education, exposure to different ways of thinking, even – gasp – atheism! Check out this blog post:

    http://www.joshuamcharles.com/blog/?p=830

    Anecdotes are not useful when it comes to distinguishing the validity of any particular faith-based belief. You can use anecdotes to “prove” the truth of all sorts of religions, but since they don’t agree, that doesn’t get you anywhere.

  • 11. loolt  |  June 24, 2007 at 5:09 pm

    Even though not a Christian I found this post very thought-provoking. In the larger context of religion, it is true just because one is Christian, Muslim, or Jewish (these 3 religions have quite a bit in common) does not guarantee that one is charitable or what have you. The question is then WHY ascribe to a religion if you will accomplish the same as an aethiest/agnostic? I find that one follows a religion because one is (more or less, there are no absolutes when it comes to people) believe that the religion is correct. It thus becomes a duty to live your life according to that religion, one then has an extra motivation for external acts of goodness. i.e. even when the world seems like a miserable selfish place we still help our neighbour or people less fortunate than ourselves because we ‘have’ to, and we have that religion to remind us of it.

    It seems that you have left your Christian faith not due to fundamental issues with the religion but due to what you percieved was un-Christian behaviour of your group. Does this mean though that you no longer believe in the teachings of the bible? Just wondering..

  • 12. tribalchurch  |  June 24, 2007 at 8:53 pm

    King was so amazing. Some have a view of him, as if the churches just embraced him, but the letter’s always a clear reminder, that wasn’t the case.

    There’s always great resistence when our freedoms expand to a wider group. It was wonderful to read how King’s words are still stretching you in rich ways. Thanks.

  • 13. mahud  |  June 24, 2007 at 10:05 pm

    Great article :D

    I often think of Gandhi as a good example of a non-Christian who had, the ‘fruits of the Spirit’, in abundance, yet according to a literal reading of Paul, where he contrasts the fruits of the Holy Spirit with the Fruits of the sinful nature/flesh, he doesn’t really leave any room for true love for anyone outside the magic circle of Christianity.

    It could be that I’m missing something, but It was one of the major reasons why I started to move away from treating the Biblical Texts as infallible.

    This kind of thinking really does cause Christians to perceive those outside their magic circle as only possessing a fake kind of love and goodness, which can create a really warped view of how we perceive the rest of humanity.

    My Grandmother (my Stepmum’s mum) was a devout Muslim, and you just knew she was a woman full of true love and compassion. You could see her truth and beauty in her glowing eyes.

    I fully agree with Karen, where she says…

    People’s lives get changed through all sorts of relationships and influences…

    But other things also influence people – friendships, romantic relationships, education, exposure to different ways of thinking, even – gasp – atheism!

    Unless the ‘Holy Spirit’ is a universal phenomenon, something we are all born with, regardless of religious or non-religious beliefs, then it just doesn’t make much sense to me.

    I did have a positive transformative encounter via Christianity, and I don’t regret the last ten years I spent (backsliding here and there along the way), as a follower of Christ. But this life-changing transformative power, what ever it might be, is there for for all humanity.

  • 14. HeIsSailing  |  June 24, 2007 at 10:19 pm

    PBJ asks:
    “if Christ is really Lord, and He has promised His HS, then why are we still failing? did i get your bottomline question right?”

    Close, but not quite. The question is more, Why are Christians and heathens succeeding and failing at about the same rates? That was the question that really prompted me to investigate my faith further. It seemed no more empowering than any other convicting faith, not to mention other factors that held no religious beliefs at all.

    I understand what you are saying, concerning Phillipians 2:12 – and I never expected the Holy Spirit to do all the work in sanctification while I lounged back sipping pina coladas. The pragmatist in me knew that doing good takes work on my part. But it seemed that approach just left The Holy Spirit as a fifth wheel. If so many are leading exemplary lives without the Christian version of the Holy Spirit, and if leading the Christian ethic required work on our part, just what is the Holy Spirit supposed to be doing? As far as I could tell nothing, except as an item which took credit for our actions without empowering us for anything practical.

    By the way, make your comments as long as you want. You should see some the whoppers on this site.

    &&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&

    PastorOfDisaster, caleb, and Tribal Church,
    I am glad you appreciated the article. I figure I can only do well by reading the writings of those whom I admire and who can influence me for the better. I recently read Schweitzer’s ‘Our of my Life and Thought’, and he has since become a hero of mine. Funny, but I was specifically advised to avoid his writings by an old Calvary Chapel pastor of mine. There is a whole wide world of great influence out there, and I am having fun exploring them.

  • 15. HeIsSailing  |  June 24, 2007 at 10:21 pm

    Karen sez:
    “Wow – talk about an unlikely path! Thanks so much for sharing. I’m very interested in what sparks believers to begin the evaluation process that leads to (at least some degree of) deconversion.”

    When I was a Christian, I used to enjoy conversion testamonies. Heck, I still enjoy them. It is interesting to know the thoughts and actions of people when they make a radical change in their lives. I figure the same goes for those of us who have gone through ‘de-conversion’, or those who have gone from conservative to a more liberal form of Christianity. Those kinds of testamonies are very interesting to me (paging all aA contributors here!! ;o)

    &&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&

    Jacqueline sez:
    “For me, I still find meaning in following a path of radical inclusion with Jesus as my example, even as I reject Christianity, per se.”

    Very similar to Albert Schweitzer’s path, although I believe he always considered himself a Christian, you never would have known it from some of his writings. I find that a wonderful example to follow.

    “He told me a story recently about giving to a local Christian charity and the driver asked him about his religion. He told the guy, “I am an Atheist.” The driver could not believe it! “

    Yeah, it is amazing that many people view atheists as having no incentive to do charitable deeds without Divine accountability. There are both stars and skunks in this world, and they can be Christians and non-Christians alike.

    &&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&

    Salmon sez:
    “No amount of works could get the Lord to love you more HeIsSailing. Love and forgiveness it’s a give NOT to be earned.”

    I understand that Salmon, but that is not my motivation anymore. That is a common misconception that I find Christians make about ex-Christians. I am not looking to earn my way to heaven or work hard enough to be granted God’s grace. I think it is important to live the ideal of Jesus *without* any motivation other than it is just the right thing to do.

  • 16. HeIsSailing  |  June 24, 2007 at 10:25 pm

    Loolt asks:
    “It seems that you have left your Christian faith not due to fundamental issues with the religion but due to what you percieved was un-Christian behaviour of your group. Does this mean though that you no longer believe in the teachings of the bible? Just wondering..”

    Well, I did not tell the whole story. This article was not why I left the faith, but describing one reason why I began to at least doubt. I eventually left the Christian faith for a number of reasons, but the behavior of my fellow Christians ultimately had little to do with it. I think there is a lot of great stuff in the Bible. Model and exemplary stuff. I still think Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount is one of the peak discourses in all history. I think it is a model that we should all strive for even though it is wholly impossible as described by Jesus. But that is the point of it, isn’t it? With that said, there is a lot of really terrible stuff in the Bible that I was forced to harmonize with a loving God back when I was a Fundamentalist. I don’t see the need to do that anymore.

    I am exploring the wisdom from many different sources. If I find good stuff in the Bible, I can embrace it without being a Christian. Same thing with the Buddhist scriptures or anything else. When I was a Fundamentalist, I was told that Salad Bar Christianity was evil – that I could not pick and choose what I liked from the Bible and leave out the rest. And I thought that for many years. Obviously, I think that is wrong thinking now.

    &&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&

    Mahud sez:
    “often think of Gandhi as a good example of a non-Christian who had, the ‘fruits of the Spirit’, in abundance, yet according to a literal reading of Paul, where he contrasts the fruits of the Holy Spirit with the Fruits of the sinful nature/flesh, he doesn’t really leave any room for true love for anyone outside the magic circle of Christianity.”

    Yes, that is exactly my point in this article! I cannot imagine any of my Christian friends, and I sure cannot imagine myself living the Christ-like life of Gandhi. Yet, driven to its ultimate conclusion, I think that is the self-sacrificing Spirit-Filled Christian life Paul is preaching to his followers. And I see no Supernatural “dunamis” empowering any Christian above the norm. That is where my questioning began.

  • 17. PB and J  |  June 25, 2007 at 3:10 pm

    heissailing

    thanks for the clarification. that makes a lotta sense to me. i think it is a natural question to ask why both the good and bad succeed at equal rates in this life. solomon asks the same thing in ecclesiastes. he really delves into this question pretty deeply, and his conclusion is “fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.”

    i think that solomon caught on to something that we will never have the answers to now. that is that God is in control, and His ways are mysterious to some extent. i dont mean to just push the tough question aside, because it is very important. but ultimately, i do believe that God has a better perspective of how everything works together. and i believe His promise that in the grand scheme “all things work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose”.

    although i believe there are many logical reasons to believe in God, there are also logical reasons (like yours) not to. and in this, then, i believe. let me say that again, i believe. you see, i think that some things do require a blind faith. should all faith be blind? definitely not. and too often christians give that stupid response, “just believe”. but in this specific instance, all i have is hope. that is what truly gives faith, “being certain of what i hope for”.

    i know this may sound like a cop out, but it is what i believe. i believe in a God who loves me, a God who loves every man. and that we are responsible to love Him. without loving Him, i dont believe that all things work together. but in the eternal scheme, i believe that all things will work for my good, though it seem otherwise today.

    shalom
    peter

  • 18. Kim  |  June 27, 2007 at 11:56 am

    I just want to leave a few comments. The Bible says that in the last days there will be a falling away or apostasy. This apostasy will come from the church itself. Believers leaving their faith behind. The church is in dire condition. The mega-churches are mere intertainment sessions. There is no longer any repentence of sin spoken about. Many are being seduced by one-world religion theories that speak of combining all religions. This will leave out Jesus Christ as the savior of the world. This will omit his purpose for dying on the cross.

    Those who leave the church, (and yes it is empty and lacking the Holy Spirit, is has been so defiled) are merely fulfulling the prophesies of the Bible. God will spit out those who are lukewarm and say he never knew you, when He returns.

    This hurts my heart and i pray for those who have lost their way.

  • 19. G-man  |  June 30, 2007 at 7:58 pm

    I’m glad I stumbled across this page. I was a Christian until around last January (so, about 6 months ago), and this site really resonates with my own experiences. I’ve started my own blog to write about my perspective on life, and I’m now motivated to describe my own transition to atheism.

    This was a great read. I’m going to link to this blog and check back in whenever I get a chance.

  • 20. G-man  |  June 30, 2007 at 8:00 pm

    PS, I still haven’t read any books about atheism specifically either. Harris and Dawkins are on my list, but I’m in no real hurry to read them.

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  • 22. LeoPardus  |  April 17, 2008 at 6:01 pm

    Interesting that you were so ignorant of the way blacks were treated and of the civil rights era.

    For my part, until I was 12, I thought that all the issues with blacks were settled once the Civil War was over. I’d been raised with friends who were white, black, hispanic, whatever. I thought no more of their skin color than I did of hair color.

    It was not until I was 12 and learned a bit about the civil rights movement that I realized what had been going on in my own lifetime. Initially I had a hard time believing it. The clincher for me was my own mother telling me how she nearly got in trouble for offering her bus seat to an elderly, black woman. Mom said the whole bus crowd looked ready to lynch her and the old, black woman just said, “You just sit down hon, so’s we don’t both get in trouble.”

    I never made a connection between my faith and MLK though. ‘Tis a good point though. Most people’s faith makes no difference in them. Christian or not, they remain arseholes or sweethearts, bigoted or kindly, etc.

  • 23. Mark Jones  |  August 9, 2008 at 1:24 pm

    I just noticed your page when I was preparing for a sermon tomorrow. I am a Christian Priest, and don’t like to give the people the usual narrow-minded, judgmental rubbish from the pulpit. The readings tomorrow are essentially about lack of faith or doubt. Jesus says “you of little faith” in the Gospel reading.
    I can say that the great Martin Luther King Jnr. is one of my all time favourite people, and I think he was a thoughtful and visionary leader, when the USA was generally a terrible place with shocking human rights.
    The thing is that he was right, the Church had failed to speak out, it was the lap-dog of the racists, and that isn’t the place expected it to be. I would have left the church too if it wouldn’t speak out on such fundamental issues. The problem with the article is that FAITH is different to RELIGION, the ‘family values’ ‘conservative evangelical’ crowd are doing nothing for the pure message of forbearance and tolerance that Christ brought, they are an ugly relative of real thoughtful Christianity.
    Find a church that will protest, find a church that will care, and find a church that will uphold the weak and the powerless – if you can’t find one, start one! Keep your faith – Dump the religion.

  • 24. AL  |  August 23, 2008 at 3:20 pm

    You spent quite a bit of time criticizing Christianity and what the church is not doing, but did you ever take iniative and go out and do some of the things that were on your heart to do? Perhaps you were in charge of that Bible Study to show them a different way. Sounds like your turning away was running away. You have allowed people’s representation of God to altar your faith. Humans have been doing horrible things for centuries, do we turn away from people because of it? Sounds like you want to blame God for what you didn’t accomplish. Stop making excuses.

  • 25. HeIsSailing  |  August 23, 2008 at 10:28 pm

    did you ever take iniative and go out and do some of the things that were on your heart to do?

    Yes. I still do.

    Perhaps you were in charge of that Bible Study to show them a different way.

    Well, I certainly tried. But at the time, I was very confused about what to think. I disbanded the group, not because I stopped being a Christian, but because I felt ill-qualified to lead the group when I could not see what good it was doing anybody. My group wanted to watch and discuss Rick Warren ’40 weeks of community’ videos. I wanted to meet to go to the local nursing home. There was a definite conflict of interests, so I disbanded the group.

    Sounds like your turning away was running away.

    I don’t think so. I did not turn away from Christianity based on anything in this article. This article describes what initially got the ball rolling to me eventually leaving Christianity. But after I disbanded the group I did not run away from God. I initially ran toward God, my Bible and prayer.

    You have allowed people’s representation of God to altar your faith. Humans have been doing horrible things for centuries, do we turn away from people because of it?

    I do avoid people when they do horrible things. So do you.

    As for the rest of your comment – well, you just have no idea what you are talking about. If you really want to know why I left Christianity, you can ask and we can discuss it. I don’t mind. But I respond better to curious questions than bold assertions about my motives.

  • 26. Tim  |  December 13, 2011 at 8:36 am

    What if the Christians are right?

  • 27. Ubi Dubium  |  December 14, 2011 at 12:23 am

    What if the Ancient Egyptians were right? You’re going to feel pretty silly when it’s time to weigh your heart against the feather of truth, and you didn’t spend any time learning The Book of the Dead

  • 28. Shaun  |  September 26, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    I just wanted to know whether these acts of charity were done by personal judgement or by the will of God (by that I don’t mean that He tells you by some miracle, but simply through knowing the will of God). Because you can be the most giving person and have the label ‘CHRISTIAN’ tattooed on your forehead but that doesn’t mean your doing anything of worth. I could spend my whole life giving, but whats the point of giving to those who aim to enrich themselves ? Feed the pigs all you have and you will have nothing left. You may find that you will run out of spiritual energy( just talking about love and compassion etc) before you run out of material wealth. I’ve been down the road where you simply try to love, it doesn’t work unfortunately. I do however not say that we should give, just merely choose wisely to whom we give to. Don’t depart from God so hastily, fight and argue with Him. Hes more real than what we want him to be…

  • 29. LeoPardus  |  September 26, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    Shaun,
    “I just wanted to know whether these acts of charity were done by personal judgement or by the will of God”
    OK, I can answer that. The former, since there is no God. Simple enough eh? Sheesh! Did you not know where you were?

  • 30. Shaun  |  October 9, 2012 at 5:22 am

    I know exactly where I am. You answered my question. Thank you for that.

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Attention Christian Readers

Just in case you were wondering who we are and why we de-converted.

de-conversion wager

Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God reviewing your life, you will be judged on your actions and not just on your ability to blindly believe in creeds- when there is a significant lack of evidence on how to define God or if he/she even exists.

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