Leaving Religion – MOVED – www.leavingreligion.com

Finding my own way…

Stock Market Dip – Sign From God?

The dip today on Wall Street was -777… I bet there are some people who think this is a sign from God.  I wonder what the sign is… that Wall Street is evil and needs to be put into place… that too many Christians were getting greedy… that our Government is godless.  Really… the possibilities are endless.

What do you think the sign is?

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September 30, 2008 Posted by | Politics and Religion | , | Leave a comment

Praying For Politics

I keep getting messages from people to pray for our presidential candidates. To pray that the right guy gets elected. To pray that whoever it is that God wants, be chosen by the voters.

These are the same people who send out e-mail telling me to vote for Mccain because Obama is horrible for the country and will continue us on the path towards being a godless nation.

Guess god has already told them who he wants. They are so lucky.

September 27, 2008 Posted by | Politics and Religion, Religious Right | , | Leave a comment

Office Politics – A lot Like Church Politics

The more I think about how I learned to navigate office politics, the more I go back to my experience at church.

If you want to learn how to navigate Shark filled waters, how to get your way seen by Execs, how to get ahead on the ladder and how to convince people they should agree with you… look now further than your local church for the best lessons out there.

Honestly, I’ve never seen as much clawing, backstabbing, behind the back talking and ‘do anything to get ahead’ actions as I’ve seen in the church. People think corporate America is the worst… I’d argue that churches are worse… much worse.

Curious what your thoughts are.

September 23, 2008 Posted by | Politics and Religion | , | 1 Comment

Socializing

Something that I knew I would miss about going to church was the social aspect.  I grew up in it, I had friends in it and I really considered it my second home.  Once I left it, I did lose friends.  I would say most of them were lost becuase we didn’t have church in common.  Once that commonality is lost, there doesn’t seem to be a reason to hang out, because of course, there is nothing to talk about if it’s not about church or how God is working in our lives.  I came to accept this… as friends come and go for many reasons.

In all honesty… I’ve never found a group that was as tight as the one I had at the church.  One that pulled you in tightly because of one thing, a belief.  One that held on so tight that they would make you feel that no decision could be made without them right there, praying, listening or questioning.  One that eventually held me so tight, they caused me to flee through the cracks.

I always felt so fake at church.  Like I had to be happy all of the time, accept everyone, and take everyone into my circle.  I never understood why people around me trusted people just because they said they were a Christian.  I could never do that… I tried… thought that if I faked it enough I’d like everyone and want everyone to be my friend.  But, I never got that feeling, no matter how much I prayed for it to happen.

Yes, my social life is much different now, but I would argue that it is much more real now.  I hang out with people because I truly like them, not because of some belief.  I do things with people I really truly enjoy being with.  It’s different, but it’s good!

September 17, 2008 Posted by | Identity, Leaving Religion | | Leave a comment

Forefathers and Their Religion

With the election upon us in only a couple of months, many Christians are beginning to pull out quotes and writings that prove that our forefathers were staunch Christians and founded this country on Christian principles that they expected everyone to follow. While this serves their message very well, it is just not true. Very simply, yes, some of our forefathers were Christians, others were part of deism (believed in one spiritual being), and some historians believe that others were atheists.

From The Library of Congress (Faith of our Forefathers):

Deism made its appearance in the 18th century. It was a religious movement, promoted by certain English and continental thinkers, that attracted a following in Europe toward the end of the 17th century and gained a small but influential number of adherents in America in the late 18th century. Deism rejected the orthodox Christian view of Christ, often viewing him as nothing more that a “sublime” teacher of morality.

Deism and some strains of “liberal religion,” which stressed morality and questioned the divinity of Christ, found advocates among upper class Americans, conspicuous among whom were Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Ben Franklin, but supporters of these views were never more than “a minority within a minority” and were submerged by evangelicalism in the 19th century.

A reference to what Benjamin Franklin (who is mis-represented by Christians, a lot) believed is pulled from here:

Mr. Butler, Dean of the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences at Yale University, is the author of Awash in a Sea of Faith: Christianizing the American People (Harvard University Press, 1990). This interview was conducted by HNN editor Rick Shenkman for The Learning Channel series, “Myth America,” which aired several years ago…[Interviewer:] Let’s go through some of [the Founding Fathers]… Benjamin Franklin?

[Jon Butler:] Benjamin Franklin was even less religious than Washington and Jefferson. Franklin was an egotist. Franklin was someone who believed far more in himself than he could possibly have believed have believed in the divinity of Christ, which he didn’t. He believed in such things as the transmigration of souls. That is that human, that humans came into being in another existence and he may have had occult beliefs. He was a Mason who was deeply interested in Masonic secrets and there are some signs that Franklin believed in the mysteries of Occultism though he never really wrote much about it and never really said much about it. Franklin is another writer whom you can read all you want to read in the many published volumes of Franklin’s writings and read very little about religion.

…The principal Founding Fathers–Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Franklin–were in fact deeply suspicious of a European pattern of governmental involvement in religion. They were deeply concerned about an involvement in religion because they saw government as corrupting religion. Ministers who were paid by the state and paid by the government didn’t pay any attention to their parishes. They didn’t care about their parishioners. They could have, they sold their parishes. They sold their jobs and brought in a hireling to do it and they wandered off to live somewhere else and they didn’t need to pay attention to their parishioners because the parishioners weren’t paying them. The state was paying them.

The above also references some other forefathers.  I have read in other places that Benjamin Franklin and other forefathers (like Thomas Jefferson) thought that the Christian Bible provided a good moral compass, which is why they thought it was good for the country, but that they didn’t necessarily believe in Jesus as a Deity.

I know that I will continue to get e-mails from people who think that the entire Constitution and country is built on a foundation of strong Christian faith, but that is just not the case.  It is not to say that there was not a respect of the religion, and some of the good items that come out of it, but they were not staunch believers either.

The quote from George Washington that I now see floating around is:

“The blessed Religion revealed in the word of God will remain an eternal and awful monument to prove that the best Institution may be abused by human depravity; and that they may even, in some instances be made subservient to the vilest purposes.  Should, hereafter, those incited by the lust of power and prompted by the Supineness or venality of their Constituents, overleap the known barriers of this Constitution and violate the unalienable rights of humanity: it will only serve to shew, that no compact among men (however provident in its construction and sacred in its ratification) can be pronounced everlasting an inviolable, and if I may so express myself, that no Wall of words, that no mound of parchm[en]t can be so formed as to stand against the sweeping torrent of boundless ambition on the side, aided by the sapping current of corrupted morals on the other.”

If you read here you will see that this was in a draft of his inagural address, which he ultimately cut out.  Also pointed out on the site above, is that this was the only reference he made of the Bible in any kind of public way.

My ultimate point here is this… I was raised, as were many others, to believe that the forefathers were practically as important as Jesus himself.  That they represented strong Christians who wanted this country to run completely on Christian ideals.  As I grew up, got an education and started to peel myself away from the Christian Church, I began realizing that this was just a bunch of nonsense.  Yes, some had strong Christian faith, yes, many thought the morals spelled out in the religion were good… but, no, not all of them wanted a country that ran on the principles of the Christain Bible through and through.

There is a reason that religion (any religion), for the most part, is actually left out of the Constitution.  Besides saying they could make no laws concerning religion, nor could they prohibit the free exercise of religion (notice they don’t call out WHICH religion), they really don’t mention it much.  They didn’t feel it belonged in there, so much so that they actually got much heat from people to put something in there.

Curious how you feel about this topic.

September 14, 2008 Posted by | Leaving Religion, Politics and Religion | , , , | 6 Comments

How To Handle Reconnecting

With the advent of Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace and other online networking devices we are able to find and be found by people from our past. Overall this is great, but it can become awkward when people from my past are still on the church path that I left years ago.

There doesn’t seem to be a good way to bring it up. People generally respond with a non response, which is fine. Some ask what I believe now, and when I say nothing in paticular they don’t usually know what to say. Usually this is when I hear about everything God is doing in their life and how blessed they are. They usually throw in something that is negative or bad in their life that God is really working on.

For some reason a lot of Christians think there must be negatives around them for God to help them. I used to be like this too. I would consider it a test from God. Something He was teaching me. Now I just see this as one more way to justify the bad things that happen. It’s never allowed to be coincidence. I’m much happier now… Now that I no longer cling to the negative in my life as something that is coming from some guy in the sky that is just there to test me.

Anyway, back to the original topic. How do you explain your change in belief when an old friend comes back in contact (who still believes)?

September 11, 2008 Posted by | Identity, Leaving Religion | , | Leave a comment

Is this a video for a Church…

Or just a bad movie about the fact that Alaska becomes very dark in the winter?

I couldn’t resist sharing on this ordinary Tuesday.

September 9, 2008 Posted by | Fun | | Leave a comment

More Thoughts About Religion and Politics

So, in my earlier post I wrote a teaser about the separation of church and state. This is one thought that is part of an overarching thought, which is this:

I think that the men who wrote and signed the constitution not only knew a lot about what they wanted, but they knew even more about what they didn’t want. They had separated themselves from the oppression they were under in Britain, they knew that they DID NOT want religion to be tied to politics and were smart enough to write a constitution that gave everyone the right to be who they are.

For some reason, the Christian community has forgotten a few key elements of the constitution:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. – First Amendment

I don’t understand what is so hard to understand here. In fact, our constitution is amazingly easy to understand. I think it’s funny that the Christian community clings so dearly to the founding fathers of this country as some staunch Christians who wanted this country to run on this religion. The fact is, they were so done with Government having a say in everything they did, including religion, they purposely wrote that religion is a freedom that Government should have no say in.

I think the blog, Accidental Historian really hits the nail on the head today with the following statement :

That’s why they want to write the Bible in to the Constitution. It’s why they want to re-make the image of the Founding Fathers in to the self-image of the fundamentalist Christian. At it’s core, according to the unspoken reasoning of the modern American fundamentalist church, the Constitution written by and for the people cannot and should not work.

Something I’ve always struggled with, even when I was heavily involved with the church, is this strong tie the churches seem to want with politics.  The Christian church will vote for someone just because they are Christian, because God is on their side.  The recent video floating around of Sarah Palin speaking at a Church just proves my point.  The Sr. Pastor says he prayed for her when she was running for Mayor and knew that God had big plans for her.  When she became Governor, they said that he had been prophetic back then.  This is just such craziness, I don’t even know where to start.  This is about as prophetic as me telling someone they will go on to do great things, and then when they work hard and make their way in the world I am told I’m a prophet.  Just ridiculous.

September 9, 2008 Posted by | Politics and Religion, Religious Right | , , | Leave a comment

Separation of Church and State?

Will write more about this thought when I’m at a computer. I’m thinking that the religious right, who say they love the constitution of the U.S. have missed the point entirely. I think the guys who wrote that the church and state should be separate knew a thing or two about what happens when they are too closely joined.

September 8, 2008 Posted by | Politics and Religion, Religious Right | , , | Leave a comment

What Am i?

When I was a Christian I had a clear identity that was tied to a group. One that I held onto very tightly. It was easy in some ways because saying “I’m a Christian” generally gave a starting place.

Now when people ask about beliefs or philosophies I don’t have a solid answer. For years after deciding to leave Christianity behind I did nothing in terms of soul searching or philosophizing. I just wanted to be, wanted my Sundays back. Ahhhh, Sundays are my favorite day now.

Recently I started looking more closely at philosophies and beliefs and still have no real ‘spirirual’ identity. I love science and believe it shows us how amazing the world is. But I also believe the world is made up of more than that. Whether it’s an energy we all share and can tap into or is something inside our own being that can bring us ultimate comfort and peace. Or maybe even a mixture of both of these ideas. So, I’m reading, listening and learning all sorts of things.

The one constant in what I am starting to believe is that it is up to me. I have the power to make my life better and to give something to the world to make it a better place. I also know that whatever I come to believe, it will not be built up on a foundation of not being good enough. I’ve had enough of that and the guilt that comes with it for a lifetime.

September 5, 2008 Posted by | Identity, Leaving Religion | , | Leave a comment