9/18/2012 | Share this article: View CommentsBy HardToBe ~
This is an exercise for me. I have read countless of testimonies and going through my journey of leaving Christianity has been extremely therapeutic. I'm sorry that this will be long. All these little moments led me on my journey of leaving Christianity. Hopefully someone else can find something in my story that rings true for them. Thanks to those who run this site.
This story begins like most. I was born to Christian parents. My father was a Baptist and my mother was a Catholic. They decided to raise me in a non-denominational home. I read bible stories with my parents every night. My heroes soon became men and women like Moses, Esther, Joseph, Noah, Joshua, Mary, David, Solomon, Paul and Job. The top of that list was Jesus. He was an amazing man who died, so that I could live forever with God. It made sense and I had incredible faith in this.
I went to a Christian elementary school. I got good grades, but always excelled in Bible class. I knew as a child that this was the most important subject. Knowing God and developing a personal relationship with him by studying his word was priority number 1. I went to church with my family. When I entered into middle school the church my parents took us to went through a split and we joined a new church. I also began attending a new school. I did not make many friends at my new school, but I made a bunch at our new church in the youth group. My parents later told me that they were not that impressed with the church at first but they kept going because I was making friends in the youth group. I loved the youth group I was learning how to play guitar and they allowed me to play in the worship band. I really felt like I had a home. I also began to make friends at school. I made one friend that radically changed my life to this day. He gave me a CD called Punk-O-Rama 3 to borrow.
This $4 compilation changed my whole life. The energy of the songs really spoke to me as a pre-teen. I took that CD my friend gave and bought the CDs of the bands that were on it. I did not like what some of the lyrics were, but I was addicted to the energy of these songs. I was interested in finding bands like this that praised Christ. I did. I found a band called Five Iron Frenzy. FIF was different from other Christian bands that I had found. They were banned at my local Christian book store because of songs like "Anthem" and "Go And Get Your Riot Gear". I found their CDs anyways. I also got a 45 from this small record label called Asian Man Records. It came with a mail order catalog. I looked through it and saw that they also had compilations. I found one at my local music shop. I fell in love with these bands as well. I would read the liner notes and see the bands that they thanked and find more bands. This habit continues today as an adult.
Back to church. I was in an great youth group and I was really happy. I was also doing well in school. Some of my friends in middle school started experimenting with pot and stayed clear from it. I was getting into a band called Minor Threat. I was drawn into straight edge as a way of life. It was a cool way to tell my peers I did not want to smoke or drink. I was on a plan to enter into the Christian high school with all my friends, but then something happened.
A few parents found out that my mother was a Catholic. This one mother told her in front of me that she was going to hell for being a Catholic. To this day that moment sickens me. My mother and father decided to pull me out of that school and go somewhere else. They sent me to a Catholic high school. Again I was the new kid and had no friends. I would spend many nights praying to make some friends at my new school. Luckily I had my youth group. I poured all my energy into it. I worked at a soup kitchen every week feeding homeless people. I began leading worship in my youth group and even working at the church. Some of us guys decided to make our own movies. This turned into a passion of mine and I realized that I wanted to make movies. I was fully immersed. I decided to go to an art school and study filmmaking in college. Before I went to school I went on a mission trip to Africa.
I went to a country called Swaziland. We talked about regular sex education, but we also talked about abstinence. Everyone laughed at us and I felt like we were hitting a brick wall. I just thought that they needed to become a Christian and then they would get it. I came home and started college. I still worked at the church doing worship, but I started to make videos for them. It was a great side gig. I never lost interest though in music and was playing in a hardcore punk band. I was meeting new people in other bands. Most of them were not Christian and some were very outspoken against it. I decided to be Christ like and lead by example. I was inclusive of everyone at a show. I did not party with everyone but I hung out and did not judge them. Then another big change happened, my art school dropped the film program.
I was scrambling to find a new school. I figured out what I needed to transfer to a state school and I enrolled into a community college. I had to take a science class. I took astronomy. My lab partner was a girl named Kate. We became friends and realized that we were both transferring to the same school. I moved to San Francisco. She and I stayed friends.
At this time I was really into a band called Bomb The Music Industry. At the time Jeff was recording everything on his own in his apartment. I had quit my band to go to school and began to do the same. I fell in love with his record Goodbye Cool World. He had one line that said straight edge was a cult, but the bar scene was not any better. That really made sense to me. I mean even Jesus drank wine. I went on a date with a girl to get some sushi and I had my first beer at the age of 21. I did not become a hedonistic Satan-worshiping fornicator. I dated a few girls in San Francisco, but nothing serious. Kate and I were still friends but I did not think she liked me. One night we got a pizza and things started happening. I was still reading my bible everyday and feeling guilty about what I had done. I felt like I had failed god and myself by giving into temptation. There was something different about this girl though. She was not religious. She did not grow up in a religious home. I then decided that I should save her. This is where it got really twisted. I tried to justify my sin as an attempt to save Kate for god. Looking back now I was a complete idiot. I decided to give her a bible and write in my favorite stories for her. I gave it to her and she looked at me dumbfounded. I told her that this book meant a lot to me and it would mean a lot if she checked it out. She took the bible and told me that it was really offensive to her for me to say that she needed this book to live a better life. She said that she loved her life without religion and told me that she respected my beliefs and that I should respect hers.
I poured myself into my bible again and read it from cover to cover. I became even more frustrated with it. Looking back I was a totally different person. I poured myself into my bible again and read it from cover to cover. I became even more frustrated with it. I decided to make a list on my wall. One list said “God is real.” The other one said “God is not real.” I wrote down all my pros, cons and issues with the bible. I had hundreds. I had 2 major ones. I could not believe that an all loving god could send people to hell for eternity. I also could not believe that I could enjoy heaven knowing people were being tortured for eternity in hell. I decided to reread it. Then I bought a new record.
Pedro the Lion was one of my favorite Christian bands when I was a teen. Bazan’s lyrics were so raw and unfiltered. I felt he was saying all the things that were on my heart. As I was unknowingly going through my deconversion, I bought David Bazan’s solo record “Curse Your Branches.” I was not aware of his deconversion at the time. I heard the song “Hard to Be” and I began to weep. I broke down and let out every frustration I had with Christianity. I put that song on repeat and just let go. I listened to the rest of the record and said aloud to myself. I am not a Christian.
I have not told my family. I am telling my patient girlfriend of 4 years tonight. I have kept my deconversion to myself for about a year and a half. I am still working through it. I will say that it has been the most liberating experience of my life. Everyday has great meaning now. I see how religion has crippled my life and the world around me. I hope to become brave enough to tell my family. I hope to help someone down the road through this hard journey. It was not easy to lose my faith. It is not easy for anyone. I did not want to lose it, but I am better off without it.
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