Reconciling the reality of my experiences with church teachings on life
My de-conversion came about as a result of trying to reconcile the reality of my experiences with what I had been taught by the church about life. In reading others’ stories I see a lot of common threads. So I know that I am not alone in that my slide into nonbelief started with “being hurt”. I used to think that if the church (of whatever creed) would listen to those of us who had suffered as a result of trying to live its teachings, that maybe a lot of de-conversions could have been prevented. I no longer believe this.
Basically, I was brought up Catholic, the conservative kind. On the way I detoured into a Jesus People group, the Charismatic Movement, and a couple of others before I finally gave up on organized religion.
Ok, so why did I leave? Well, it is a long story. I have a condition called Asperger’s Syndrome. Some of you may be familiar with it, some of you may not. It is a form of autism. Except that when I was growing up they did not call it that. We Asperger’s people can be very intelligent but we suffer from social deficits. I did not realize that I was different until I started school. That’s when the persecution began (and I do not use the term lightly). Here is my view on school prayer: I went to a Catholic school where they went to Mass daily and I went to a secular public school where God was mentioned not at all, and I was treated equally badly in both. Not one adult in authority ever stood up and put a stop to what was going on. In fact I had one teacher who joined in the persecution and actually encouraged the class to pick on me. It was well known that this was her practice, to single out one student for such treatment and it is my understanding that she sent at least one student to the State Hospital by her actions. This happened BEFORE I entered her class, so obviously nothing was done to remove this seriously disturbed woman. As far I know she continued to teach for years.
While all this was going on I was learning about someone named Jesus who went out of his way to befriend society’s rejects. That Jesus I didn’t have much trouble with–at first. It was only natural that I would turn to religion for answers–why is this happening to me over and over.
Then came adolescence and puberty. I was hit with a double whammy. Sex was holy, sacred, saved for marriage; it was also sinful (to the point of being mortally so). Now not only could I go to hell for my own thoughts and actions (yes, even thinking about it was bad), I, because I was a woman, was now a source of temptation to men and could lead them into damnation as well. Well, I bought into the whole chastity thing hook line and sinker. I wanted to be good. I wanted to be pure. But the problem is God gave me size DD breasts. So now on top of the Asperger’s and its associated problems, I had sexual abuse to deal with. And it was my fault!
About that time I ran into a group of Jesus People who offered what looked to be a safe haven. So, instead of facing my problems I retreated into a cocoon of Bible studies and prayer meetings. Let me tell you it is so easy to surrender your thinking to a group. If it hadn’t been for outside intervention I don’t know where I would be today. The Jesus People were very nice people and probably very sincere, but they were not what this troubled adolescent needed. It did not bother them in the least that I was not acquiring critical social skills but instead retreating further and further from reality.
However, through all that time, a portion of my mind remained free. Little by little, I started realizing that the road that I was on was not working. I started reading, started searching. Jesus talked about a house built on sand not being able to stand, so I decided to start digging around the foundations called Christianity to see if indeed it was built on rock as was claimed. I wanted to find out the truth, not just what I had been told. I read the classic Christian authors, Lewis, et. al. I also read books written from “the other side’s” viewpoint. And I started studying the sciences, psychology, biology, evolution, etc. And what I was reading was making sense. It was from my SECULAR reading that I learned that the problem that had plagued me all my life was called Asperger’s. And with every new discovery, little by little the religious foundation weakened. I found I could no longer wholeheartedly believe in the God I had been taught to believe in. That is why I call myself Eve’s Apple, because I have bit into it and I cannot go back.
- Eve’s Apple (guest contributor)