How Bush, Julia Sweeney, Penn Jillette and Russ Bellville helped me wake from my coma of Christianity.
Image by Mr. T in DC via FlickrIt’s been six months since I deconverted after being an evangelical, sprit-filled, tongue-talking, bible-believing conservative Christian for 25 years. Since then I have been very happy and even joyful. I have been reading the deconversion stories here and also other atheist articles regularly. Since first finding exChristian.net I wanted to post my story. I have delayed because my life has steadily gotten much better, and I wanted to wait to be sure I was not experiencing a placebo effect. I’ll start at the beginning.
As a child I grew up in a dysfunctional middle-class home. I received frequent beatings from my alcoholic mother and mostly ignored by my alcoholic father (both were Christians). I grew up receiving almost no life lessons from my parents, which made me susceptible to the mind virus of religion. As a direct consequence I hated them and was rebellious. Friends, music and girlfriends were the best and most comforting parts of my life throughout my teenage years.
My father approached me one day when I was 18 and said I had to believe in Jesus or I will go to Hell. I was flabbergasted. At first I was going to tell him he was wrong but before I could I remembered all the Christian propaganda I had seen and heard in my life on TV and in church. I thought there may be something to this so I began researching. I watched every Christian program I could and became convinced that it was true; I would be sent to Hell forever if I didn’t accept Jesus as my personal savior. Yet, when I prayed the sinner’s prayer I felt no different than before. I thought I must not be sincere enough.
After a few months I was watching the 700 Club one night, placed my hands on the TV with the preacher and prayed. I wanted salvation so bad and felt an immediate release of stress and a feeling of comfort, which led be to believe that I was ‘saved’. Not much changed for a year. I didn’t enjoy church or the people. At about 20 I rededicated my life to Jesus and began a 25-year relationship with him and various churches. And I fully committed. According to any standard, I was saved.
Every 4-6 years I would reach a point in my faith where I wondered ever so slightly if this religion/relationship stuff was real. It was like my mind was trying to wake up. Each time I would point to several things which kept me pushing on: 90% or so of the world believes in a god, so there was a god. 80% or so of Americans are Christians and the US is the best country in the history of the world and was founded by Christians, so Christianity was real. And my life experiences, including speaking in tongues told me it was real. How could all this be true and Jesus not be real?
About 5 years ago I developed a physical problem which caused me tremendous angst and stress, which continues to affect me. I believed in healing miracles and prayed to Jesus frequently, sometimes 10 times a day. The result: Nothing. Jesus would not heal me in the slightest. Not even a single day of relief. After praying for a year with no results I began getting frustrated with God and wondering after all I have done for him these past 20 years why he was ignoring me.
In retrospect I was getting depressed about God not even communicating to me via the ‘still small voice’. I really loved God and wanted to do his will but come on, speak to me, I’m your son! My deconversion begins.
Politics was the thing that broke through the eggshell of the faith that surrounded me. I have no desire to change anyone’s political views here. Yet I can’t tell my story without briefly mentioned what happened as it was the catalyst.
My mind raced back over all the ‘spiritual’ experiences and things I had seen and heard since the beginning and realized that all of it was based on a false premise. The god of the bible is not just false but evil. For the past 25 years I have followed politics closely as a conservative Republican (I am not a conservative nor Republican now.) Just before the 2008 elections Bush pushed through TARP. I was livid and in shock. I began to see that he and the Republican leadership were just as corrupt as the Democrat leadership. This changed everything. How could I have been so wrong and so blind all these years?
Soon after the election I heard about the rising violence in Mexico from the drug cartels. As I began to research (10 hours/week for three months) I realized that Prohibition is evil and must end. How could I have been so wrong and so blind all these years?
I started watching Penn and Teller on their Showtime program ‘Bullshit’. I quickly gained a respect for Penn with his usage of reason and logic to debunk various well-entrenched myths. When later I saw some of his videos saying he knew there was no god, it shocked me. How could he be so blind; he’s a very smart guy and a good person to boot? I then watched Sweeney’s monologue ‘Letting Go of God’ a couple times. Wow, what a thought-provoking show.
After 5 years of suffering and God not speaking to me my frustration turned to anger toward God. One night at home by myself I had one too many drinks and I started cursing God like crazy. All that pent up frustration was being released. I used words I haven’t used in decades including the suggestion God and Jesus go have intimate relations with each other. The next morning I was scared. I thought God was going to really hurt my life. Nothing happened of course.
After realizing that nothing in my life changed I began to replace the praises I would say to him throughout each day (ie. in my car, at work, while reading, etc.) with curses. Instead of ‘Praise you O Lord’, it was ‘Fuck off and die you worthless piece of shit.’ For a couple months I did this to try to get any response from God. The result: Nothing.
A couple weeks before my deconversion I went to Russ Belleville’s (from NORML) personal website and was a little surprised that he, who by now I had gained a lot of respect for his ongoing work to end Prohibition and a seemingly all-around good person, said he did not believe there was a god. There are now two people whom I respected saying the same thing. Is there any truth to this?
Then it happened. One evening I was doing some online researching of various issues when I came across actual videos of terrorists beheading their victims and other atrocities. I was horrified and felt sick. Without even realizing it I began to mouth the words ‘There is no god. There is no god.’ A day or two later I began reading atheist positions and they began to make some sense. After being so wrong recently on major issues I decided to actually listen to what they were saying.
Then I viewed a web page listing the numerous errors, inconsistencies and atrocities that are in the Bible commanded by God. After about 30 seconds I gasped. Bam! Ohhhhhh. There really is no god. I sat at my computer in stunned silence. My mind raced back over all the ‘spiritual’ experiences and things I had seen and heard since the beginning and realized that all of it was based on a false premise. The god of the bible is not just false but evil. How in the world did I not recognize the evil things that the bible god instructed his followers to do? It had been staring me in the face this entire time.
During the following week 90% of the stress, angst and frustration of my daily life, which had dogged me for at least a decade, vanished and has never returned. I didn’t really expect anything. It just happened. I also realized that no-one was in my head listening to my thoughts, judging them and convicting me of thought crimes. I am free!
I am happy, more so than at any point in my life. I think I am a better person and more considerate of others. I view my pets in a whole new light. I find myself humming or making up a song as I go about my day. I don’t recall if I ever did that before. Mostly, I have peace.
I now view Christianity historically on par with Judaism and Islam. All are cults which have caused our world so much pain, suffering, torture, murder and grief. Even in America’s recent past Christians used to torture, burn alive and murder people in the name of their god, not unlike Islamic terrorists today.
I have been reading much on evolution and natural selection. It all makes perfect sense now. When I hear Christians attempt to defend their faith and dismiss evolution I cringe. Not one argument holds water. Last year I was saying and even posting the same nonsense. Please believe me Christians, you really do look silly.
At least for the foreseeable future I do not plan to announce to my friends and other people I no longer believe there is a god. Why? ‘Christian Love’. I fully realize the consequences I’d experience the rest of my life. Christians do not love. They love their faith, and will love you if you do too. If I told people that god does not exist a number of things would definitely occur. They would think:
I am living in sin. I was rebelling against God. I may be possessed by a demon. I will not be allowed to speak to anyone’s children without a true Christian present (else I may spill the beans on there being no god). Anytime my name is brought up or thought of – even by my friends – their thoughts would not be positive. Instead, they would feel sadness, bewilderment, even anger. My coworkers and managers would treat me differently as I would become the outcast in our Christian-dominated workforce.
I am 40-something and sad I wasted so much of my life inside the cult of Christianity, not to mention an estimated $50,000 I have thrown away in tithes. Yet I have a lot of hope for my future. I still have another 20-25 years of productive life on Earth. I intend to enjoy it thoroughly. Peace.
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