The de-conversion journey of a Christian musician

August 15, 2009 at 1:40 am 64 comments

My story isn’t strange—born into a Christian home, raised into a Christian lifestyle and led a faithful Christian life as an adult. I was a missionary for six years, both living overseas and operating from a stateside base from which to travel. I worked as an assistant pastor/worship leader and youth pastor. I had always wanted to be a professional musician and opportunities arose which allowed me to pursue that dream as a member of a Christian band that saw a decent amount of success, both in the Christian music industry and the mainstream industry as well. Funny, at least one other de-convert here actually has one of my albums. Ah, irony.

As a teenager I left my Southern Baptist upbringing to follow a more charismatic faith. Later in life I left the protestant faith altogether and converted to Catholicism, having come to the studied conclusion that it was the most historically accurate iteration of Jesus’ and his disciples’ teachings. Throughout all of my transitions, however, I remained faithful to the core of Christianity. Yet I remember, on a few occasions, allowing doubt to surface.

What about people who are born into other religions? Would God punish them eternally in Hell for being born in a country where the social landscape was dominated by a different (read: false) religion? Regarding creation, I had always leaned towards theistic evolution, which was only inches away from pure evolution. At what point were humans given the “breath of life” and acquired souls? How did that evolve? Or were we plopped fully formed into an already evolving environment?

I asked a friend once ‘how could we know that any of this is real?’ My friend, who was educated in theology and philosophy wisely responded, “We can’t.” It was simply a belief that in the end we chose to believe out of desire and faith. He chose to adhere to the belief that the Christian god exists because otherwise he would fall into despair and debauchery, insisting that morality has always been the property of religion (poppycock!). While this somewhat diminished my perception of my long-time friend my faith and desire persisted. I continued to follow the path of Jesus.

Around this same time I had a child. My wife gave birth to a beautiful baby boy– ten fingers and ten toes and apparently both strong and stubborn since he had the nerve to remove an iv tube that doctors had inserted to get his iron leveled out. He developed normally, despite an early sinus infection, and was a happy, vibrant child. But at around one and a half years we began to notice that things weren’t necessarily as they should be–reduced eye contact, lagging language and lack of response to social cues that most babies his age had long since mastered. A year later, it was confirmed and diagnosed as autism.

I was working at a church at the time and was beginning to ask more questions about the source of their theology which brought up questions regarding theology at large. I started gobbling up every reputable church history book I could get my hands on and the more I read, the more I became convinced that the Catholic church had existed long before it had become the “Roman” Catholic church and that the basic infrastructure was the solid core of early Christianity, adapted from Judaism. Every other type of Christianity had branched off from the Catholic roots to become a diminished and weakened (in my opinion at the time) sect. I set about to quit my job as assistant pastor and worship leader to be confirmed into the Catholic Church.

As one would imagine, this didn’t go over to well with my employers. It was especially so since the Holy Spirit himself had given the pastor a verse-by-verse interpretation (his words, I kid you not) of the entire bible. And to make matters worse the pastor was my wife’s uncle. I was immediately dismissed and completely cut off socially. No one at the church would talk to me save the pastor who antagonized me through vicious hate emails for months on end. He never engaged me in person or even on the phone despite my requests for personal conversation. I was never rude and never made such claims as ‘The Catholic Church is the only true church” or any such nonsense. I tried to stay out of conversations centering on my choice. Nevertheless, my friends dismissed me, even to the point that I was labeled as a demoniac sent to sow dissension among the faithful. Still, I remained a faithful follower of Jesus, convinced that I was doing the right thing.

So I played in my band, which was becoming more and more lucrative as the months progressed. And I went to church. And I prayed for a miracle for my son, who was getting worse. The tantrums were getting more violent. He was becoming self-injurious to the point that we were frightened that any day we would get a call from CPS. I spent hours in prayer. I fasted. We were also going to doctors and trying different treatments and searching for the cure that we were certain God would lead us to. Well, we still haven’t found it. And God never performed the miracle we prayed for and our families prayed for and their churches prayed for. It was at this point that I started to get angry.

I began to challenge God. I cursed at him and I think I even went as far as to spit on a cross hanging on the wall. I wanted some kind of reaction. Any kind of reaction. If God would not heal my son, the way he healed the sons of pleading fathers in the bible, then perhaps he would at least have the decency to respond to a desperate challenge to his authority and existence. If I had the certainty of God’s existence, then I could develop a framework to support the struggles and suffering of my son and myself. I wanted desperately for God to exist. And not only exist, but to be present. To be the God I loved and was taught loved me and had mercy on the needy. But there was nothing. Absolutely nothing. I prayed for a sign. I pleaded to God for reassurance, that somehow he would communicate to me in an unmistakable way his existence and fatherly love for me, my wife and our unfortunate son. Nothing. No warm, spiritual embrace. No rebuke of my outbursts. Nothing.

As an aside, believers commonly state their knowledgeable opinion that atheists really don’t disbelieve—rather, they don’t like the idea of being held accountable to a higher authority so they’re just in rebellion. At least for myself, this could not be further from the truth! I loved God. I desperately wanted God! I wanted to know that my life’s pursuits had not been futile. I wanted to be accountable and know that God was there watching me and protecting me.

Somewhere during this period I began to shed the weight of faith. I’m not sure of the day that I ‘became an atheist’. I was unable to attend church for two reasons. My son was just too loud and distracting to bring into a service and most Catholic churches simply don’t have childcare during the service. Second, I was traveling so much with the band that I was never in a place to attend church. I was usually setting up for the show that evening or traveling to a new city.

This is where most Christians would begin to claim that I was just not strong enough to deal with my adversities. Or God is just trying to teach me something—which would imply of God that he is requiring my son to live in mental and physical torment until I learn some undisclosed lesson. Or my personal favorite, “God gives special children to special parents,” ignorantly implying that God has a cache of severely disabled souls in heaven that he’s waiting to give as children to unsuspecting parents who he deems “special” enough. Perhaps God was mistaken and I’m not as “special” as he thought.

I talked with my brother about the doubts and struggles. He listened and sympathized and we shed tears together. He gave me the only advice he could. He said that I should start going to Mass again and that my faith would return. I really wish it were that easy. I tried so many times, desperately seeking the God I wanted so badly to believe in, kneeling and crying in the chapel before the image of the crucified Jesus. I prayed the prayer of the father with the sick child in Mark, “I believe, help my unbelief”. Needless to say, my unbelief was never ‘helped’ unless it was helped to grow from a lack of response.

I began to wonder if I could still consider myself a Christian. I placed it in God’s hands—needing to believe that when I died if there indeed was a God I would throw myself upon his unfailing mercy because of my weakness and inability to understand what others could. I remember finally concluding that I was no longer a Christian. I was agnostic. Perhaps I was a Universalist. But I no longer believed in the strict limits of Christian salvation.

From there it was a fairly short jump via the already fertile channels of evolution and science to concluding that there is no god at all. And I’m fine with that. I don’t need a ‘first cause’ to believe in so that I can feel significant. I don’t need a creator to give me a divine purpose. I believe I have an earthly purpose and that it is mine to choose. I no longer need the promise of escaping this life to heaven. I believe that we have the opportunity to make our world a better place and that is far more beneficial than chasing after ‘eternal rewards’ in an afterlife while our fellow humans suffer. I believe that humans have inherited and developed the wonderful traits, reason and empathy, and that they are the two most powerful forces in the universe. I believe that with those two superpowers we can overcome all injustice, hatred, poverty and waste; without the guilt, sadness and repression of the doctrine of sin; without the fear of judgment and eternal punishment by a vengeful and jealous god; and (thank you, Douglas Adams) no one would have to get nailed to anything.

- PaleAle

(crossposted from deconversion.org)

Entry filed under: ~Guest. Tags: , , , , , .

Rabbis take to wing and a prayer vs. flu Agnostic, Atheist… or Bullsh*t?

64 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Roy  |  August 15, 2009 at 6:25 am

    PaleAle:

    Thanks for sharing your story. Please hang in there and understand that you are not alone. Others share your problem. Seek them out. I hope that you are able to find the answers you need.

    I’m a Christian, so it’s really unbelievable to me that Christians of all people can be so cruel to their “friends”.

    Your perseverance in seeking the truth is commendable. It is obvious from your story that you are moving in the right direction and that you are moving ever closer. Don’t stop. Keep on seeking.

  • 2. mikespeir  |  August 15, 2009 at 10:06 am

    “As an aside, believers commonly state their knowledgeable opinion that atheists really don’t disbelieve—rather, they don’t like the idea of being held accountable to a higher authority so they’re just in rebellion. At least for myself, this could not be further from the truth! I loved God. I desperately wanted God! I wanted to know that my life’s pursuits had not been futile. I wanted to be accountable and know that God was there watching me and protecting me.”

    For many of us it was that way, but we’ll never get them to believe it. I wouldn’t have when I was Christian.

  • 3. Joshua  |  August 15, 2009 at 11:32 am

    Paleale, I read your entire story with extreme interest. I appreciate it – and one thing that did come to my mind as I read was just how much angst, anger, and frustration came directly from the belief in God and its associated expectations – not directly from the circumstances you were in! In a way, I have discovered that life’s suckiest moments are easier trod alone than with an all-powerful, all-loving sidekick who never does anything.

    God, I wish god had gotten angry at me too. I wished at moments he would strike me dead for my doubts because at least then I would know he was there.

    Life with God is like life with the annoying and creepy friend who sucks the life out of you, blames you for when things go wrong, always accuses you of misinterpreting what he said, and then never helps you because you are not perfect enough already. God, if he exists, is a narcissistic perfectionist.

    Christian ‘trials’ are an illusion and – at least for me – cease to be a trial as soon as one drops a belief in a loving God.

    Bizarre, really – and sick and twisted – to hold that the trial Christian’s must conquer is believing in a loving God who is not acting loving.

    I mean, its just sick! Do parents disappear for days on end, months, years – just so their kids can learn to trust them, and then dispose of the kid if the kid starts to hate them and then claim that the kid “did not pass the test”? How diabolically manipulative and self-serving!

    And, if I can be so bold, how diabolical for believers to hold their brethren to this standard. I know how this feels.

    Thanks for your post.

  • 4. Marie  |  August 15, 2009 at 3:28 pm

    hey PaleAle, thanks for sharing!!

    I am so glad you brought up the desperation some of us went to to connect with God. We just wanted some kind of response/reaction and got nothing – just silence. It’s amazing how quiet “God” is once we stop the christian inner dialogue of “this was a godsighting, this was how Jesus helped me…” It’s like when we stop talking like that to ourselves and really listen in for God to speak, NOTHING HAPPENS.

    I deconverted 3 years ago and never felt so free. You are in great company and I appreciate you sharing your story to help highlight what we truly are as de-converts.

    thanks!
    Marie

    p.s. here’s my de-conversion story posted here last summer:

    http://de-conversion.com/2008/07/27/the-question-of-suffering-and-my-de-conversion/

  • 5. Lucian  |  August 15, 2009 at 4:19 pm

    There’s a reason the book of Job made it into the Bible… and I think that it’s not because of how frequent such exemplary cases are… Your reaction -as sad and disturbing as it might be- is nothing more than the standard, predictable, human response to such impossible, heart-breaking situations. I’m truly grateful for, and deeply moved by, any instance where people are able to find the inner strength to deal with similar, over-powering life-experiences the same way as the biblical character; but I never judge -much less condemn- the ones who don’t: to do so would be truly autistic, in the fullest sense of the word (not being able to put oneself in someone else’s shoes).

    The young woman I love more than life itself (without sadly being loved back by her) is also disabled: she has her cross to bear, and I have mine, and both our sufferings pale in comparison to Yours, or that of Your little child. Not only has she gone through hell, but she did it with a literal smile on her face; many people who endured much less than she did are either sour or bitter, while she’s the sweetest thing I’ve been able to see so far, in my 26 yrs of earthly existence; not only did her infirmity not discourage or otherwise stop her on her way, but gave her the power and ambition to achieve extra-ordinary academical and professional results (unlike me, who am otherwise pretty well-known for my sheer stupidity, unfortunately).

    As for myself, the heart-wrenching pain of losing her cleansed my soul of age-long addictive passions, which I thought I’ll probably never get rid of. — If we, who have suffered so little -compared to the pain You’re going through- and yet have gained so much, even in this earthly life, how much more do You think Your reward will be, in the Kingdom of Heaven? The girl I love will never regain her left arm, nor will Your son ever be cured of his illness, but if You love him with all Your heart, and take good care of him, like a true father would, You will be with him -and God- together in Paradise. (Of course, that’s `easier said than done`).

    For us Christians, the ‘Word’ and the ‘Truth’ are not an abstract set of ideas or propositions, but a Person, and so I thought that if I’ll ever try to give an ‘answer’ (albeit not the `Answer`) to Your particular situation, it will have to be more than mere `words`: it will have to be ‘personal’ and ‘person-related’, preferably from one’s own experience — and I think it’s only fair and civil to do so, due to the full level of personal disclosure of Your own life-experience, which You’ve shared here with us. — Hope all of this helps (a bit, at least).

  • 6. Roy  |  August 15, 2009 at 4:49 pm

    Lucian,

    I’ve not checked out your links, but you certainly don’t come across as stupid. You come across as genuine and caring, so obviously you are doing something right. You helped me.

    I know next to nothing about autism, but here’s hoping that there will be a cure through the “miracle” of modern medicine. Or at least a work-around. Regardless, the child’s humanity is in no way diminished. We all have our illnesses.

    Thanks for your story. Now I’ll check out your links.

    Regards.

  • 7. Joshua  |  August 15, 2009 at 6:42 pm

    Hmmm, Lucian, that post had absolutely nothing to do with you. It explicitly had to do with reading people’s responses to venomfangx on YouTube. Please don’t read things into my posts that are not there. Not only that, my post was somewhat tongue-in-cheek, as you can tell by the reference to my own stupidity.

  • 8. Joshua  |  August 15, 2009 at 6:45 pm

    The comment “You cannot convince the kid who laughs at his every joke that he is not funny.” is partly related to venomfangx, as the poor kid thinks his posts are witty, funny, and creative when they are just downright annoying as all get-out.

    Lucian, I would never indirectly attack you in such an offensive manner. If I have something to say, I will say it directly. Ok?

  • 9. Joshua  |  August 15, 2009 at 7:15 pm

    As for myself, the heart-wrenching pain of losing her cleansed my soul of age-long addictive passions, which I thought I’ll probably never get rid of.

    Lucian, I say this with as much seriousness as I possibly can: the heart-wrenching pain of losing God cleansed my soul of age-long addictive passions, which I thought I’d probably never get rid of.

    The mind reals into despair where no resolution can be found. This is why, I believe, so many of the world’s greatest Christians have deeply struggled with depression: their mind was trying desperately to make a connection between what they saw in reality and what they believed.

    Peace – true peace – is found when the mind sees no contradiction between what it expects and what happens. At least this is what I believe.

    This is only my perspective. Take it for what you will, but Lucian?

    You are not stupid.

  • 10. paleale  |  August 15, 2009 at 7:59 pm

    Thanks you for your warm comments. Even you, Lucian ;-)

  • 11. paleale  |  August 15, 2009 at 8:01 pm

    and thanks for the link, Marie!

  • 12. Roy  |  August 15, 2009 at 8:13 pm

    Joshua,

    Lucian, I say this with as much seriousness as I possibly can: the heart-wrenching pain of losing God cleansed my soul of age-long addictive passions, which I thought I’d probably never get rid of.

    Great analogy!

    And the rest of your comment is great stuff too!

    Have you ever thought of going into the ministry? Seriously.

  • 13. orDover  |  August 16, 2009 at 2:08 pm

    paleale,

    It’s great to finally read your story from beginning to end.

    As an aside, I find it very interesting that you were convinced that the Catholic church was the most like the church of the disciples, because that’s how the Catholic church has always marketed itself. Or at least it’s how it marketed itself after the Protestant Reformation. It’s heavily apparent in their art and architecture, especially during the Baroque era. The redesign of St. Peter’s basilica (with the amazing monuments by Bernini) focused almost exclusively on demonstrating the lineage of the papacy straight from Peter himself. That was how they chose to set themselves apart.

    Another thing: I’ll never understand what protestant evangelicals have against Catholics. It’s truly bizarre.

  • 14. paleale  |  August 16, 2009 at 3:56 pm

    OrDover

    Yeah, I was sold on the history of it. To me it was quite apparent that the Catholic Church was there all along, yet was only known as the “Catholic” church after it’s incorporation into Roman society; the similarities between Christian and Jewish liturgy, apostolic succession, the fact that the founders of Christianity were Jews, etc.

    As far as the protestant animosity is concerned, the circles in which I traveled viewed Catholicism as a cult– not even accepted as Christianity. The presence of icons and the seeming idolatry thereof, the worship of Mary, and the need of a priest for absolution were all cited as reasons that Catholics were all hellbound and were part of the Great Whore of Babylon.

  • 15. orDover  |  August 16, 2009 at 4:59 pm

    Yes, I heard the same “negative” things about Catholicism, but as it is, they still believe that Christ is the son of God and died for the sins of humanity. The rest shouldn’t really matter, if we’re going off of faith and not works here. I’m not exactly sure how Catholics feel about the “personal relationship” issue, or accepting Jesus “into your heart,” but the rite of communion doesn’t seem all that different, looking at it from the outside.

  • 16. paleale  |  August 16, 2009 at 5:02 pm

    The rest shouldn’t really matter

    Key word: shouldn’t

  • 17. the chaplain  |  August 16, 2009 at 8:28 pm

    PaleAle:

    Beautifully written account of a powerful story. As you can tell, your record of your struggle to get a response from God, any response would do, resonated with many of us.

  • 18. LeoPardus  |  August 17, 2009 at 12:12 pm

    Yeah, I was sold on the history of it. To me it was quite apparent that the Catholic Church was there all along, yet was only known as the “Catholic” church after it’s incorporation into Roman society

    Actually the church called itself ‘catholic’ almost from the beginning. You see the term in the Nicene Creed and even earlier. ….. But hey, you missed the whole EOC in your searching anyway, so you’re a hoser. :) interesting that you were convinced that the Catholic church was the most like the church of the disciples, because that’s how the Catholic church has always marketed itself.

    Ditto the EOC. And in all honesty, they have a much better case that the RCC.

    Another thing: I’ll never understand what protestant evangelicals have against Catholics.

    The relationship between Catholic and Protestant started in animosity and it carries through to this day. What amazes me is the tolerance that the C’s have generally developed toward the P’s over the last century.

  • 19. Joe  |  August 17, 2009 at 12:58 pm

    Paleale—

    Thanks for sharing your story. I am so sorry to hear about your son and the grief you went through concerning that—-and also the way that you were treated by your church after you converted to Catcholicism–that is truly unfair.

    This is off subject, but by the photo you are using I take it you are a guitar player. I’m just curious what type of music you play now? Also, have you ever listened to Steve Morse or the Dixie Dregs? I just ask this because I play the guitar myself and really love to listen to guitar players like Steve Morse, Eric Johnson, Joe Satriani, and others. I was just curious as you stated you are a musician. Again, not to completely change subjects—maybe you can tack an answer onto a post dealing more with the subject at hand. All the best to you!

  • 20. Jason  |  August 17, 2009 at 2:38 pm

    Off topic here: where exactly does the conversation take place on this site. Is it all in the comments of these blog posts. I followed the links to the forum but there appears to be only 3 posts in the entire de-conversion stories subject. Yet in user history I see a whole bunch of comments to various posts that aren’t on this blog. Is there some secret handshake I’m missing:)

  • 21. paleale  |  August 17, 2009 at 10:06 pm

    Leo, I knew I could count on you. ;-)

    Joe, thanks for the empathy. And as far as music goes, I’m not playing at this time. I hope to. I have a couple of local acts trying to talk me into it. It takes up a lot of time, though, with rehearsals and driving to gigs and all that so… we’ll see. I know Steve Morse but not the Dixie Dregs. I love E.J. and Satch. I really get into bands like Muse, Radiohead, MGMT, and there’s this guy who calls himself Bleu that you really need to check out. AMAZING song writer, great vocals and musically genius. I want to absorb his power. Like Highlander.

  • 22. Joe  |  August 18, 2009 at 11:10 am

    Paleale—-

    Thanks! I’ll check out Bleu. I love Radiohead also. I hope you get back into playing again. Playing an instrument is very therapeutic–and also loads of fun too! All the best.

  • 23. CheezChoc  |  August 18, 2009 at 4:06 pm

    The Christian church that my brother attends with his family teaches that the Catholic Church is the Whore of Babylon.
    They also spend a lot of time deconstructing Santa Claus.

    Sigh.

  • 24. Lucian  |  August 19, 2009 at 9:08 am

    Josh,

    the two of us might’ve gotten over certain of our passions due to our life-experiences, but it seems like our friend LeoPardus here is still up to some of his old tricks. ;-) Old habits die hard, I guess… (See his last comment on this thread).

  • 25. Joshua  |  August 20, 2009 at 11:24 pm

    Ahh, yes, the old EOC trick.

    My guess would be that LeoPardus would be more subtle if he was up to some trick.

    Haha!

    :D

  • 26. Aussie Ali  |  August 21, 2009 at 12:22 am

    Jason,

    The extra comments you see are comments made on blogs that are found in the Archive section. This is at the top of the screen.

  • 27. SnugglyBuffalo  |  August 21, 2009 at 1:10 pm

    Jason,

    I would say the majority of the conversations here take place in the blog comments, unless you have a specific topic you want to discuss – in which case you’re free to start a thread in the forum.

  • 28. Lucian  |  August 21, 2009 at 5:32 pm

    My guess would be that LeoPardus would be more subtle if he was up to some trick.

    That’s what he thought You’ll think. 8) He’s got some balls to walk on a thin wire like that, but he pulled it out so far without anyone gettin’ [too] suspicious, so why stop now, right? ;-)

  • 29. Joshua  |  August 22, 2009 at 2:30 pm

    Well, I personally wouldn’t have a problem if LeoPardus rejoined the EOC anyway – that’s up to him. At least neither of us is going to hell for being potentially wrong :)

    Right?

  • 30. Dave  |  August 22, 2009 at 2:59 pm

    I’m am not “out” as a post-theist at this time, but I hope to meet more people like you in the DFW area. I am also a musician with a Xn music background. I wish I could figure out who you are from your story. Perhaps we’ll meet up one day.

  • 31. paleale  |  August 22, 2009 at 3:16 pm

    Dave, I’m in the DFW area too. We might even know each other ;-)

    if you join the De-con Community here, friend me and we can discover each others’ super-secret identities.

    Pale Ale

  • 32. amy  |  August 27, 2009 at 8:46 am

    Wow. This story is so my own story, kind of. Without the being raised Christian part, and without the traumatic family event, and without the being rejected by people from my church, which in some ways makes my story a bit more difficult. It should be so easy for me to believe in Christianity. And still, I’m trying so hard.

    These passages really got me:

    I loved God. I desperately wanted God! I wanted to know that my life’s pursuits had not been futile. I wanted to be accountable and know that God was there watching me and protecting me…

    I tried so many times, desperately seeking the God I wanted so badly to believe in, kneeling and crying in the chapel before the image of the crucified Jesus. I prayed the prayer of the father with the sick child in Mark, “I believe, help my unbelief”. Needless to say, my unbelief was never ‘helped’ unless it was helped to grow from a lack of response…

    I wanted some kind of reaction. Any kind of reaction.

    During this past Lent, after years of trying, I decided to “give up God.” And you know what? I was much happier. Not anxious. Not stressed. But somewhere along the line, that nagging feeling, that longing for God appeared again, and here I find myself trying yet one more time to “get it.”

    None of the questions I ask about Christianity seem to have real answers, or at least answers that make sense to me. Yesterday, with my dad sick in the hospital, I began to wonder about intercessory prayer and whether it actually does anything. At 3:30 this morning I woke up and couldn’t get back to sleep (a common theme for me when I’m trying to believe in the Christian faith), so I got up and wrote this post on my blog. And now here I am reading this post, and thinking to myself how odd it is that whenever I read posts here at de-con (I try to stay away when I’m actively pursuing faith), I find myself nodding, and saying, “Yes!” to myself. I feel like I’m not a complete idiot who’s too stupid or too smart or too something to get Christianity.

    And still, it’s difficult to give up trying.

    At any rate, thank you Pale Ale for sharing your experience, and to all the other de-cons here sharing their stories (I submitted mine once to be shared here, but then thought the better of it and asked that it not be published, knowing that I’m not quite ready to give up the fight just yet). It’s nice to be able to come here every once in a while and feel like I’m not completely insane, after all.

  • 33. HeIsSailing  |  August 27, 2009 at 9:29 pm

    Hi Amy.

    I went through everything you are describing. In my waning days of Christianity, I watched a friend of mine die of stomach cancer, soon to leave two young orphans 7000 miles from their home. She knew she was going to die, she just wanted fervent prayer and faith enough for one request from God – that she just stay strong enough so that she could fly home with her children, back to her native country (Philippines) so she could die with her family. The fact that “God” was unwilling or unable to even do that much for her, despite her numerous Christian friends and their prayer vigils, was just one more chink lost in my Christian armor.

    I am about 4 years away from my former Christian faith. I am now far enough from my Faith to confidently assert that Christianity is a fraud. Stay strong Amy. Life gets better.

  • 34. The de-Convert  |  August 27, 2009 at 11:12 pm

    HeIsSailing,

    I am about 4 years away from my former Christian faith.

    wow, time flies, eh?

    Hope all is well.

    Paul

  • 35. LeoPardus  |  August 28, 2009 at 11:41 am

    I am about 4 years away from my former Christian faith. I am now far enough from my Faith to confidently assert that Christianity is a fraud.

    Time does fly indeed.

    I’m almost 3 years away. And like HIS, I now categorically state that BibleGod does not, nor ever did, exist, and Christianity is a fraud. And it IS freeing.

    The Bible got this right, “the truth will set you free”.

  • 36. Roy  |  August 28, 2009 at 7:32 pm

    Have I found a sane interpretation of Christianity?

    http://unity.org/

    I just found this site and thought it was interesting.

  • 37. Quester  |  August 28, 2009 at 9:41 pm

    There are many interpretations of Christianity which are sane. Some might even be considered rational, if ou assume the existence of a god.

  • 38. Ubi Dubium  |  August 28, 2009 at 9:50 pm

    http://unity.org/

    Interesting. Almost Unitarian. Christian teachings, with a strong dose of eastern philosophy. Theistic, without claiming divinity for any humans, and they consider the bible as inspirational rather than infallible.

    It could certainly be a middle ground for those who are fed up with fundamentalism or strict dogma, but are not yet ready to dump theism or “Christianity” entirely. There is one of these just down the block from my daughter’s gymnastics. I hadn’t really known what it was before. Thanks.

  • 39. CheezChoc  |  August 28, 2009 at 10:23 pm

    Sounds good to me, actually.

  • 40. Roy  |  August 29, 2009 at 2:10 am

    Another site I ran across recently that I have found useful:

    http://yhwh.com

    Not promoting, just sharing.

  • 41. John Lambert  |  August 29, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    Your argument is not an old one. Paul the Apostle dealt with the very things that you bring out in your discourse of the events of your life in many of his letters to the different churches. What do you do with Romans chapter 1?One thing that I don’t understand is, how will you excuse the reality of the Holy Spirit making you aware of Christ and who he is; and knowing that you are responsible for the things that you say and how they will affect those that you influence, what will you say to Christ when you stand before him at his judgement seat when he asks you why you turned away others from him?

  • 42. Roy  |  August 29, 2009 at 2:00 pm

    With all due respect, Mr. Lambert, your attempts to induce guilt are unwelcome here.

  • 43. Joshua  |  August 29, 2009 at 3:12 pm

    how will you excuse the reality of the Holy Spirit making you aware of Christ and who he is

    Have you ever heard of confirmation bias, projection, and the placebo effect?

    With due respect, study all three and come back prepared to demonstrate that you, sir, are not subject to all three.

  • 44. Quester  |  August 29, 2009 at 3:38 pm

    what will you say to Christ when you stand before him at his judgement seat when he asks you why you turned away others from him?

    Something along the lines of, “Where the hell were you?”

  • 45. paleale  |  August 29, 2009 at 4:22 pm

    First, I’m going to assume that John meant to say that my argument is not “new” seeing that he presented rebuttals from the apostles.

    Given that assumption, I just love it when someone starts off by saying that the argument is not a new one, as if that somehow makes the argument less valid and makes their own position stronger.

    Yes. It’s an old argument. You know what that says to me John? It says that even when the church was supposedly full of signs and wonders and miracles and everything else, even when the fathers of the faith were walking with their congregations, even when those who had supposedly seen the resurrected Christ were still alive to talk about it–

    People were already calling bullshit.

  • 46. LeoPardus  |  August 29, 2009 at 4:30 pm

    John Lambert:

    What do you do with Romans chapter 1?

    The same thing we all do with any other old book of mythology, or book that claims to be history but is massively contradictory. We read it for education about old cultures and beliefs but that’s it.

    One thing that I don’t understand is, how will you excuse the reality of the Holy Spirit

    You sure don’t understand. Try this. The HS, and the big daddy in the sky are NOT real. There is no “reality of the HS” or of any other version of BibleGod. It’s all a myth. An old story from primitive people.

    It’s a really hard thing to do, but try to think outside of being inside a predominantly Christian culture in the 21st century. There’s a whole world and history full of people who think their deity is THE ONE. They can’t all be right, but they surely could all be wrong.

    what will you say to Christ when you stand before him at his judgement seat when he asks you why you turned away others from him?

    The same thing you’ll say to Ahura Mazd, or Allah, or Zeus. Nothing, ’cause you know they won’t be there. For that matter, none of us will be there. We’ll all be dead. And dead men tell no tales…. nor do they makes excuses or present cases.

  • 47. Roy  |  August 29, 2009 at 5:33 pm

    Mr. Lambert,

    I say this with the kindest of intentions. If you really want to serve your god, then it is up you to do so in a way that is constructive and productive. Please consider your audience before you speak. The tactics you attempted to use in your comment do not work in general and they especially do not work here. Surely you can understand that.

  • 48. HeIsSailing  |  August 30, 2009 at 10:57 am

    Hi Paul. Hi Leopardus.

    I said earlier:

    “I am about 4 years away from my former Christian faith. I am now far enough from my Faith to confidently assert that Christianity is a fraud.”

    Well, I looked at the calendar and did a bit of recomputing, and it is closer to 3 years for me and not 4. I began to seriously question and doubt in the summer of 2006. I started my own blog around November of 2006 – I was still a Christian but had drifted toward Universalism. Paul lured me to start writing for de-conversion.com (then agnosticatheism.wordpress.com) in the spring of 2007 – and by that time I was on the hairy edge between Universalist Christianity and Agnosticism. I wrote here with the intent of asking questions and continuing my ‘Spiritual Journey’. My last original article here that was not a book review was in January 2008. By that time I stopped writing here because I felt like my “Spiritual Crisis” was over, and that I had come to a sort of resolution.

    So in case you are keeping score at home, that makes it between 2 and 3 years for me. Yeah, sure does fly.

  • 49. HeIsSailing  |  August 30, 2009 at 11:02 am

    John Lambert asks:

    what will you say to Christ when you stand before him at his judgement seat when he asks you why you turned away others from him?

    Gee, I don’t know – I never really thought about that. Hmmm… I don’t know. You tell me , what will I say to Christ when I stand before him at his judgement seat?? While you’re at it, can you tell me how many licks it takes to get to the center of a tootsie roll tootsie pop?

    These are very important questions.

  • 50. Joshua  |  August 30, 2009 at 2:59 pm

    Given that assumption, I just love it when someone starts off by saying that the argument is not a new one, as if that somehow makes the argument less valid and makes their own position stronger.

    Agreed, that is the lamest point ever.

    A good argument is a good argument regardless of how old it is.

    Hmmm, let me check my fridge…yeah… nope… umm… nope… no expiration date on the problem of evil.

    Wait? What’s … what’s this… a little note attached to Jesus’ return fruit drink… says something about blah blah all these things will take place in this generation. It’s hard to make out with all the antiquated Greek and no contemporary Greek to English dictionaries.

    Wow. Jesus’ return has mold floating on top of it… and… GASP! Someone has been drinking it! Someone has been drinking this koolaid!

  • 51. LeoPardus  |  September 2, 2009 at 11:07 am

    HIS:

    Started seriously questioning in summer 2006; blogging by 2007; been out about 3 years; still have a believing wife; scientist by training and profession…… your story or mine?

    It’s like we’re living some kind of Star Trek -ish mirror universe lives. :) Lazarus meet Lazarus.
    (Bonus points to classic Trek fans who get that last reference.)

  • 52. Ubi Dubium  |  September 2, 2009 at 4:30 pm

    Oooh – bonus points to me! But which Lazarus are you, the peaceful philosophical one, or the crazy violent one?

  • 53. mary  |  September 13, 2009 at 2:11 am

    Hi Paleale,

    Funny, I probably have one of your CD’s too. Either I haven’t been able to give it up because of some sentimental Jesus connection, or I still like the music and try to ignore the lyrics. LOL I just pulled up Bleu on rhapsody – thanks for the great suggestion.

    I am so sorry about your son…I can’t even imagine the pain of that. I can very much relate to your response and appreciate what you point out about WANTING there to be a God but just not experiencing him. Your post has sparked a lot of thoughts over here, and I think I’ll write my own de-conversion story at some point. I have a feeling it will be tearful, which might be good for me.

    For the most part, losing faith hasn’t been bad. In some ways I am freer than ever. It’s like I have a bigger life at 33 – not a bad deal. The one thing that is killing me really is losing heaven. A friend of mine died recently, and for so many years I truly pictured a place where everything was made right and we could meet each other again in our truest soul-selves. My friend is dead, and I will never see him again. This would not have been such a problem if I hadn’t believed something different, spiritual and magical for so long. The other day I saw someone who looked just like my friend and I started sobbing at the loss…the real loss that will never be made right.

    I don’t care what people say, agnosticism/atheism are not the easy way out of anything. I guess I am still in the painful stage of de-conversion. It’s hard to lose the love of your life. I mean, when I got married, my husband and I made vows to Christ before we vowed to ourselves. This changes everything.

    Funny though, it doesn’t change love. It changes the focus to what we do today in this world…the good that is possible now. That makes life most interesting. :)

  • 54. paleale  |  September 13, 2009 at 11:33 am

    Hi Mary

    Thank you for the kind words. I’m terribly sorry for your loss. How long have you been ‘de-converted’?

  • 55. mary  |  September 13, 2009 at 11:08 pm

    Pale – I’m not even sure how long it’s been. We stopped going to church a couple years ago. Even before then I was picking and choosing what I heard just so I could stay in the building during worship. I felt like I was humoring the people in church by smiling and singing along, though of course I appreciated the morality and the fellowship there.

    Even when we stopped going I still didn’t know I had de-converted. Christianity and morality/spirituality were so connected in my being that I couldn’t cut that cord. I guess it’s been in the past year or so that I have come to terms with the fact that I cannot believe in a personal God, or if there is a personal God, I do not like Him and do not choose to worship him. It is difficult to make such a bold choice as one small human in front of such a big god. But I have seen “his people” begging for mercy and him not stepping in too many times. It does not add up and it all starts to look like a farce after a while.

    I am a little turned off by some of the atheists who seem so proud of their logic. They surprisingly remind me of the Christians I just left. LOL I can’t say that I lost my faith as a result of great studies. To be honest, my eyes just gradually opened. All the verses started sounding redundant and hollow. They claimed to meet needs that they do not meet. Turning to them actually dried up my spirit instead of watering it. I feel like I had more of a spiritual de-conversion instead of the logical one that many people here had, if that makes any sense. Although of course logical was involved. My husband made a logical de-conversion at about the same time I made my spiritual one. Kinda funny huh? He admits his faith was never as much of a part of him as mine was, so it wasn’t as much of a loss to him. He doesn’t miss Jesus. I think I will always miss Jesus. I can see how it would be tempting to turn that loss into anger at the church or some new kind of wisdom, but I don’t really want to go there. I think I’ll just accept that I miss Jesus. :) And eventually maybe I’ll figure out how to “come out.” LOL

  • 56. Jeremy  |  September 15, 2009 at 5:54 pm

    Thanks for your thoughts and testimony. Like you, I have earnestly, and sometimes not so quietly, pleaded with God to reveal himself, and as I’ve written in my own deconversion story and even outright questions his authority in order to try to get something response, but I, like you, got nothing. Good luck with your child and take care.

  • 57. paleale  |  September 15, 2009 at 11:33 pm

    Thanks, Jeremy. Best of luck to you too.

  • 58. The de-Convert  |  September 30, 2009 at 6:02 am

    Blog discussing this and other d-C deconversion stories:

    http://jamesongraber.blogspot.com/2009/09/de-conversion-stories.html

  • 59. Dave Banks  |  December 22, 2009 at 8:13 pm

    I would much rather Jesus be real and be the Savior of the world. To those of you curious about whether something is true or not; consider this. REALITY does not care what you believe. It does not care what countless millions believe or for how long.

    IT DOES MATTER if something is REALLY TRUE or not. My story is sad but true. My twin sister died because of her belief in Christianity’s lessor known teachings. The Bible describes demonic forces and there ability to take hold on people. It also teaches that people are susceptible to control from demons and only God can dispel them.

    You see, our family has a history of schizophrenia; but we did not know it at the time. Because we were all convinced of the existence of the supernatural (such as demons); this lead to my sister becoming involved with pseudo-spiritual activities. I was overseas during most of this, but my family was so faithful in their beliefs that priests and pastors were brought to dispel the demons. This method had absolutely NO affect whatsoever.

    She committed suicide in depression and wrote a note specifically to me stating that God was merciless and had forsaken her. What really happened was far less dramatic. A genetic disease that has been well diagnosed and studied in medical circles inflicted her severely.

    It was worsened through the use of excessive pain relievers and alcohol; as well as psychiatric drugs. We could have done so much more for her if we had not applied DARK AGE MEDICINE to a REAL LIFE PROBLEM. If only we had not applied bedtime stories to our real life; we might still have her with us.

    For my own mental health, I have to just accept that the god she cursed could be no more real than Zeus or Poseidon. This has been an immeasurable help to us. We don’t always overtly admit it, but we know that our deity is just a belief; perhaps nothing more. We don’t know for sure if Jesus is a myth, but we still try to be good people. But from now on, if we have a problem, we will use cold ruthless logic. Reason is a character trait for Christians anyway so we don’t have to be bitter, disobedient, or desperate.

    Not only were there no demons any more than there were flying reign deer or pink unicorns; our religious activities lead to incredible despair and unimaginable sorrow for all of us. This is not to depress you, if you are a Christian; but it is to WARN you. Don’t be like us. DO NOT let Christianity harm the people you love!

    ALWAYS use reason, logic, and science during your lifetime; as well as character and goodness. This is better than any myth. If God is real, He will understand; if He doesn’t, than He is not God. ;o)

  • 60. Eve's Apple  |  December 23, 2009 at 7:24 pm

    Dave–what you said about applying Dark Age medicine to a real life problem, so sad but true. I know at least one person who has lost a family member in much the same way as you describe and for much the same reason. This was not the first tragedy within this family, either. It is so heartbreaking to sit on the sidelines and watch these things unfold and know there is not a damn thing you can do about it.

    Have you read Karen Armstrong’s “The Spiral Staircase?” In it she talks about her convent years and how she started experiencing strange mental sensations that neither she nor the other nuns could explain. This went on for several years and caused all kinds of problems in the convent as everyone thought it was a spiritual issue. No one thought of calling in a doctor. Well, my first reaction when she started describing her experiences was, “Get thee to a neurologist, fast!” Finally about halfway through the book, she does go to a neurologist and the diagnosis was just as I suspected–temporal lobe epilepsy. How did I know this? Because I too have temporal lobe epilepsy. And I too thought it was a spiritual thing–until the day I had, without warning, a grand mal seizure. I was very, very lucky that I was not behind the wheel when it happened. So I know all about Dark Age medicine for real life problems.

    ,I wasn’t raised to think of illness in spiritual terms, so where did I get this notion that what was going on in my head, the hazy dreamy sequences that came on unbidden, were spiritual in nature? Because not long before they started occurring, I had been rather heavily involved in a charismatic prayer group that did believe such things, and even though I was no longer part of that group, their influence still lingered. I did not go to anyone or tell anyone because quite frankly i did not know what to do or who to go to.

    In all my time in that group the possibility that anyone in that group who was experiencing similar problems had a recognized medical condition was something that was never even considered, I never once heard anyone who was seeking prayer being told, “We think you need to see a doctor about this,” Instead there was a lot of talk about “oppression” and “demons”.

    Now I see that Dr. M. Scott Peck, author of “The Road Less Traveled”, is endorsing exorcism and saying the mental health field ought to recognize demon possession as being a legitimate medical health condition (see his “Glimpses of the Devil.” If that doesn’t make your hair stand on end, I don’t know what will.

    I applaud your courage in telling such a painful story, and I hope that the Christians who are reading this will take heed and take a look at some of the more toxic elements of their faith.

  • 61. Dave Banks  |  January 1, 2010 at 5:59 pm

    The results of our sorrowful decision-making was our inability to properly handle a bad situation to the very best of our ability. If we lived in 1600s or something, we would have an excuse. We live in the 21st century and we could have helped my loved one with the use of a neurologist; something that didn’t exist back then.

    In other words, we were paralyzed by a belief that we had some “solution” that we actually did not have. Search: “Atheism: Paradigms” on Youtube for a video that I created.

  • 62. Xtine  |  January 2, 2010 at 12:36 pm

    Coming very late to this story – but still very glad to see it – as a fellow former Xtian musician. I really like the discussion you describe with your friend who believed because he was afraid of his own lusts. I also find it very interesting to see that you went from Southern Baptist to Catholicism. Weren’t you ever taught by the Southern Baptists that Catholics are all going to hell and are pagans? :) No wonder you left the faith! You practically were worshiping Satan anyway :p

    i kid.

  • 63. hypocrite  |  March 20, 2010 at 6:16 pm

    I can identify. But instead I choose to attend church more or less regularly. Maintain the friendships. The important part of church isn’t faith, it is our evolutionary need for community.

    I’ve yet to find a community as generally accepting (as long as you aren’t gay) as the two congregations of which I’ve been a member.

    Well since I realized I didn’t literally believe in what was going on, I sometimes wonder about my kids. But my dad was a pastor and I figured it out. Oddly it was his insistencethat Christianity was a rational religion that ultimitely wore away my faith. So I insist my kids not to to themselves and try to be rational. I figured it out, they can too. And if there comes a time when there is a true secular alternative to organized religion, they are always free to choose it.

    Now that I am among the ranks of hypocrites in church, I truely realize how widespread the practice is. I even know pastors who no longer really believe in god, yet continue to attend for exactly the same reasons I do.

    SHHH.
    I’m a hypocrite

  • 64. TonyR  |  June 4, 2010 at 8:42 pm

    Absolutely one of the best written, most well thought out, most heart wrenching de-conversion stories I have ever read.

    I have never been more proud to be an atheist as you exemplify everything we [atheists] believe this universe to be and offer. With a brother atheist as yourself I feel hope growing stronger and much more positive for a future without the religious bigotry, social intolerance and the perpetuation of hate cloaked in a type of love that only makes sense to the people that allow themselves to be nothing more than robots, serving a mythical deity.

    Welcome to the universe as it really is, brother.

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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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