Leaving Religion – MOVED – www.leavingreligion.com

Finding my own way…

The Guilt… my god… the guilt!

During my high school years, and even early college, I hung on to my religion and church tightly. I did everything they asked of me and more. I was the poster child for what a person should do to gain entry into heaven, and more importantly, gain acceptance by church going peers. I could not be in the building too much, couldn’t be singing loud enough or evangelizing enough. As I went off to college, I found a group very quickly. Then, as years passed and I became more aware of my true feelings, I came to the realization that much, if not all, of my deeds were to keep me going. To not allow one single moment of actual introspection. To not allow myself to think what I really thought. For if I did, even for a second, I would be overcome with so much guilt it would practically suffocate me.

Guilt is perhaps one of the worst feelings I’ve had. I put it right up there with grief, and believe me, I’ve felt both as strongly as a person can feel them. Guilt will ruin your body and your mind faster than any nonsensical diet. It will mess with emotions you never knew you had, and will cling to you like the darkness clings to other side of the moon. It will not let go. It will not stop at anything. It has taken me 13 years to get to where I am, able to think and feel things without feeling paralyzed by guilt. Fear of hell, fear that I will never fit in or be loved. My husband plays a very large part in this recovery, and I owe him my life for it. While I had been letting go of my belief structure years before I met him… it wasn’t until I met someone I trusted deeply, that I was able to let myself truly separate from my religious beliefs completely. Let myself feel the guilt, deal with the guilt and let go of the guilt.

Now, I am not completely cured (I really do compare having this type of guilt to that of being an addict… guilt is addicting and plays a significant role in religion). I may never be completely cured. But, I am now at a place where I recognize it, deal with it head on when it strikes, and I beat it instead of it beating me. It is a great place to be, and I feel lighter than I ever have. It is a strange feeling to just… not… believe. Not… have… guilt… all… the… time. And by strange, I mean great!

May 29, 2009 Posted by | Identity, Leaving Religion | 3 Comments

Abusing Trust

I became part of an interesting comment chain over on The Preacher and the Skeptic. Here is the statement that got my attention:

“…you need to first develop a trusting relationship with them. Then, you need to help them to realize that their world view is really wrong.”

I of course could not stay silent on a comment like that. I came back with a response that basically stated this a reason that I personally left the church and Christianity behind. One of many, of course, but this is a big one.

The fact is, I went on mission trips in high school, I evangelized, I spread the word. You know what… I also did it through gaining trust, and just when I would get that trust… *wham*, I’d knock people over the head with all that was wrong with their life and would tell them that they absolutely needed Jesus to overcome all that ‘wrong’. I would scare them to God, would tell them they were going to hell for eternity if they didn’t change their ways. I’m not proud of this, and wish with everything in my being that I could go back and change it. But I can’t.

It is sickening to me that others would use a persons basic need for something (housing, food, clothing, etc.) to gain their trust and then tell them why their lives are horrible and their views are wrong. I wonder if people from the church would do all of these ‘good works’ if there were no opportunity to spread the ‘good news.’ I wonder.

As I said on the blog comments, I now do good things, because it is the right thing to do. Period.

May 26, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | 1 Comment

Green Day Says NO to Censorship

Thank god that someone (Green Day) is standing up to Walmart and their ridiculous policies against content they don’t like. Many bands re-cut their music for Walmart because they won’t carry music with fowl language or lude content (as defined by Walmart!). Why won’t Walmart carry this?? Because they cater to the ‘family friendly’ crowd, and religious right. They don’t want to lose these customers, so they won’t carry content that is considered objectionable by these groups.

Wonder if they carry the Bible? I bet they do. Wonder if they’ve ever read it and discovered there is content in there that is more lude and crude than many of the CD’s they are banning.

I say, hooray for Green Day! They are #1 on the charts, and I’m sure this ‘negative’ PR didn’t hurt them ONE BIT. I’d also be willing to bet that it DID help other retail and online outlets.

May 24, 2009 Posted by | Religious Right | Leave a comment

Felt Jesus

I loved felt Jesus when I was growing up. I’d go to Sunday school, and the nice lady would put beautiful and clean felt Jesus on the felt board. He looked so nice and innocent… like he just wanted to be my friend. She told us that he loved us and would save us from our sins and give us a personal relationship with God. It all sounded pretty good to me.

I did wonder how I’d become so bad that I needed saving, but figured I’d gotten in trouble with my parents, so maybe that was bad enough. You know, felt Jesus left my world when I got a little older, and with that, he became a lot harder to figure out. He was no longer this nice easy felt piece sitting in front of me. He was now a more imaginary figure and didn’t make so much sense to me. I didn’t know how to talk to him, didn’t know how to hear him, and wasn’t sure what would happen to me if I couldn’t figure these two things out.

I did everything I knew to do to get in touch with Jesus. I read the Bible, went to Bible Study, went to Youth Group, went to Camp, sang songs, made good friends, memorized versus… you name it, I did it. I still wasn’t sure how everyone around me was hearing Jesus, when all I could hear was static. I finally started faking it by diving in as far as I could. Evangelizing, reading devotionals, becoming a Bible Study leader. For a brief time I did think I was finally hearing Jesus tell me what to do. Turns out, it was just my own voice… I believe my sub-conscious got sick of trying to hear Jesus, so it just became Jesus for me.

Finally, I gave up trying to hear Jesus. Then I realized, all that time, all that conviction, all that anger towards the ‘secular world’, all the feelings I’d had… we’re false. We’re just me trying to make it happen. Were just my subconscious and ego getting the best of me. In my mid 20’s, I left it… but it hasn’t been until now… in my mid 30’s that I’ve really let myself let go entirely. Let myself be honest about the fact that I don’t believe in the Christianity I grew up with. That’s not the easiest thing to do… but once I did, I felt lighter. No more fighting that internal battle that would not end.

May 21, 2009 Posted by | Growing Up, Leaving Religion | , , | 4 Comments

When State and Church Collide

I find it extremely funny (and I don’t mean ‘ha ha’ funny) that the Catholic Church, one of the many churches who would love to see a LAW, in our STATE (by state, I mean U.S.), that would make abortion illegal… is now upset by a member of the STATE (i.e. Obama) coming onto their turf to speak. To speak about many things, which included a statement about abortion. A statement that I found to be quite tame, actually.

So, Catholic (and any other) Church… how does it feel when the tables are turned. I like to see that you are for separation of Church and State. Too bad you’re only for it when you feel like the State is trying to over step its bounds.

May 19, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 2 Comments

Digital After Life?

Interesting article today on CNN, that asks the question, “What happens to our digital life when we die?”

Check out the article here.

While our physical life ends when we die, our digital life doesn’t. We leave behind a trail of digital fingerprints, and have accounts that are integrated into a world that stays very much alive. Do you have a plan for your digital afterlife? Is it in your will? Are most if not all of your digital accounts known by one or two people?

Me, personally, I have told my husband my accounts and passwords. I should probably write them down somewhere in case he forgets. I guess if I owned a domain that was worth more than $9.99 I would add it to my will. Other than these two things, I really have no plan for my digital afterlife. Perhaps I should give it more thought!

May 18, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | 1 Comment

Some thoughts around Youth Groups

I will be reading more of Bart Ehrman’s books and enjoyed reading the CNN piece on his latest speaking engagement. Near the bottom of the article are quotes he made about youth groups and the leaders of them. He has this to say, “They’re like cult leaders. They have all the answers.”

I feel the same way. I know people who are Youth Pastors, and what is funny, they act like and seem to be, kids themselves. This seems to be common, and looking back, most of my Youth Group leaders were immature and unable to actually interact like real adults in society. But, they gained an authority over those of us in Youth Group, because they would tell us we needed to confess our sins (i.e. tell them all the juicy gossip in our teenage lives), pray with them and other kids about it… out loud, and that we needed to ask God for forgiveness and that he would show us his will. They would always give their thoughts on it as well… and I even had some leaders who told me that I was absolutely not to do something.

Yes, I stupidly listened… I thought it was a sign from God. All it really was, was a power hungry person who liked to know what other people had going on, telling all of us what to do. In college I worked with a Jr. High group, and the Pastor who had asked people to bring friends so they could be saved… didn’t like the friends people brought. He thought they were from the wrong side of the tracks, were disruptive, and not worth the time. He actively tried to get them to leave the group. He and I had a massive falling out over this, because I pointed out his hypocrisy. It wasn’t too long after this moment in time that I left the church for good.

I had positive moments in my Youth Group, and did make some good friends… but in the end, I’m not a fan of Youth Groups. Especially as an adult… I look at them and wonder how parents are okay leaving their kids with leaders who act like kids themselves, most of the time.

May 18, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | 1 Comment

Marriage in America

I live in a state that has decided to add a constitutional amendment that bans same sex marriages. This same state is, by some, considered one of the more progressive states. This sickens me, especially the way with witch the campaign for the ‘Yes on 8’ was done. A group of people, not even in our state (yes, the Mormon Church) decided that it was worth millions of their dollars to ‘save marriage.’

I was a staunch believer that homosexuality was evil, a sin and would send a person straight to hell. I thought that people involved in a gay relationship couldn’t possibly be happy, and just needed more god and prayer. How wrong was I? So wrong that it embarrasses me when I even admit that I thought this way. I was taught to love the sinner, hate the sin. What does this even mean? It means… I hate everything you do, but I love you. Does. not. compute.

Now, I look at dear friends of mine, in gay relationships, who are so in love and have conquered more than a lot of married couples I know. I look at them and wonder why they can’t get married. Why they can’t have the same rights as every other human out there in the U.S. Why they are practically considered a different species by some. It truly saddens me, and I am still upset about how the vote went down in our state. I still hope that someone will see how unconstitutional this amendment is, and will knock some common sense into people by getting rid of it.

My view on homosexuality was one of the first things that changed in me. It changed before I even realized I was starting my de-conversion process. I had dear friends that had come out to me, and I couldn’t reconcile what I thought was true with the person sitting in front of me who was an amazing, caring and loving person. I knew that my viewpoint was wrong, immediately. It didn’t take much soul searching, it was just clear that I was wrong, and I quickly admitted it.

Anyway, back to where I was going… marriage in America needs to be changed to civil unions on the government side, and religious ceremonies on the personal side. Marriage, in the religious sense, never belonged in the government to begin with. Until the religious right can get their divorce/abusive marriages/unhappy marriages down to zero, I think they need to stay out of other people’s decisions about marriage. Period.

May 15, 2009 Posted by | Politics and Religion, Religious Right | , , | Leave a comment

Go to the Dance!

At least this kid is learning at a young age how to step outside the dogma that is part of the Conservative Christian Church.  This scene reminds me of a situation I went through in college.  I was told by my Christian leaders that I could not, under any circumstane leave the Bible Study I was leading, which also meant I was to stay in the dorm that I was trying to leave.  I was stupid enough to comply against my beter judgement.

I look back on that moment as one of the milestones in my deconversion.  I remember thinking long and hard about why I allowed people to dictate what I could and couldn’t do.  I had already started questioning a lot.  This episode was the icing on the cake, and now, over 15 years later, I look back and wish I had done what this kid did.  Exactly what HE wanted to do despite what others were telling him to do.

May 14, 2009 Posted by | Leaving Religion, Religious Right | , , | Leave a comment

Re-inspired to Write

I know I’ve taken a bit of a hiatus.  I am back, and ready to write more frequently.  I just stumbled upon a blog, Unreasonable Faith, and have enjoyed scratching the surface of it.  The person writing it has a very similar background as mine, and it is a refreshing blog that has well thought out writings.  It’s like reading a copy of ‘Skeptic’ that is solely focused on questioning all that religion has taught him.

One of my favorite posts on the site is about interpretting what a Christian is saying and what an acceptable and unacceptable response is.  I have said, and heard, every single one of these phrases.  One of my favorites is asking people for prayer requests.  Even when I was knee deep in my church going ways, I always viewed this as a strange ritual that I always felt served as the ‘church tabloid’.  I always hated coming up with a prayer request and would usually come up with some mundane request.

I look forward to exploring the path of leaving religion and the church behind.  It’s a path I’ll always be on, and one that still has it’s rocky times (the guilt is something that still creeps up frequently).

I will question, point out things that drive me crazy about the world I left behind, and will explore the real emotion that I and others have about leaving behind something that was such a big part of life at one time.

I hope you will join me for the ride and will interact with I and others who visit.

May 13, 2009 Posted by | Identity, Leaving Religion | , | 1 Comment