3/23/2013 | Share this article: View CommentsBy Seth ~
I feel as if I should post my deconversion story, for others to read, and for me to simply recall why I left religion, and how far I have come.
A little background information; I am a teenager, and I still currently live a very strong religious household. My Father is a Baptist preacher, and my Mother and older Sister are gospel singers, and my Sister is practically a celebrity among the Baptist churches of North Carolina. I was a firm believer up until about a year and a half ago. I was the essence of the stereotypical Christian. Gays were bad, God was real, science was irrelevant, and Atheists were in denial...and now that I look back, I am embarrassed to even think that my mind was that far warped.
My deconversion is a slightly odd story. I used to be into a Military Simulation sport, and had a YouTube channel dedicated to it. This brought me a number of Internet friends who I would join Skype calls with on Summer nights. One of these friends, from Canada, was an Atheist. He started presenting questions to me that I had never given much consideration to. I have always been a person to accept things the way they are, and that means I had to accept that I didn't have an answer to his questions. This led me to studying both sides of these questions, and as much as I hated admitting it at the time, the Christian Apologetics weren't cutting it. Where most Christians would at this point ignore the facts and just have faith, my naturally questioning mind led me into studying deeper arguments, deeper Biblical fallacies, and eventually, Science. My rejection of the Bible was no over-night thing. I held on to my god in fear of what would happen if I was wrong. I don't know if I had just read one-too-many contradictions, or one-too-many stories of genocide in the name of god, or one-too-many talking animals, but I eventually crossed that "line" and let go. I have been a better man since. I still had not come to accept the FACT of evolution, nor did I care much for science...the only thing needed to disprove Christianity to me, was the Bible. Since the day I said "I am an Atheist", I have only come to think of the Bible as more and more ridiculous every day. The hurdle that I had to get over was breaking away from all I was ever taught (private schools, church since birth, etc.)
Now that I was an Atheist, I still did not want my family to know. My Father knew, because I had asked him many questions during my studying and deconversion, but other than him, nobody knew. Things were great. I had no worries that everything I do is being watched, my dead loved ones are not burning in a pit, and best of all, since nobody knew I was an Atheist, I didn't have to face the discrimination and hate...YET. Every man has a day when he is confronted about who he is, and what he believes. Many lie in fear of persecution, and many stand strong and proud. This day came in an argument about gay marriage with my parents. I was stating that just as the law can't dictate your religion, your religion can't dictate the law. My mother then asked me a question I didn't want to answer. "So you don't believe the Bible, God, or anything?", she asked. I was hesitant, but I am not ashamed of who I am, and I never will be, so I proudly stated "No. I don't believe in God, or the Bible." I have absolutely no regrets with this answer, but it opened the floodgates for a world of hurt. Firewalls were put on the computers to block any website containing anti-religious material, the internet was cut off every day until they got home from work, I was accused of being demon-possessed, I (as always) am forced to go to church and will not have that choice until I leave this house, but the worst of all was having an enmity in my family. Here is this great Christian family, and then there was me. I was never abandoned by anyone, but this to me was as close as I have ever been to the feeling.
They discouraged me from telling people the truth about who I really was, they tried to sweep it under the rug that their son is a hell-bound Atheist, and I was told every day how I was ripping the family apart and that I was going to hell. I generally like to take my feelings out with aggression, taking a drive, or music, but some of these times I have to admit I broke down and cried. My "friends" were walking away, I couldn't be around my family without an argument starting, I was literally ridiculed by my own parents, and my best friend that I have know since I was 6 and I would soon split apart. But this was just the tip of the iceberg...
Being the voice of reason is no walk-in-the-park. Relationships WILL be destroyed, you WILL be alone...About 9 months or so into my Atheism, things had calmed down between me and my family to where arguments are only occasional, and we can now to things together every now-and-then. My former friends were still gone, but I wasn't to worried about them at this point. I received a Facebook message from a Youth Pastor of a Church that I attended elementary school at. I hadn't seen these people in seven years, so maybe now would be a good time to re-acquaint them. I decided, since church is mandatory anyway, to drop by. I became a regular for Wednesday night teen services. All went well, for now. I heard of this trip to Atlanta, GA that the teens were going on. It was an open-invite, so I went to try and meet some of the teens that didn't previously know me from school. This is where word got out that I was an Atheist. A few guys were having a debate on interpretation on the van I was riding...me being the argument-inducing person I am, I jumped in on it. A total of 3 people knew I was an Atheist at this point, but the very next day, people that were nowhere near us came up to me asking me if I was in fact, an Atheist. From this point on that church has accused me of being demon possessed, a drug abuser, alcoholic, and even went as far as to say I was doing nothing but trying to have sex with all the girls in the church...all because I was now that "evil" guy! As soon as one rumor would die another would take it's place. The youth pastor started calling parents of the Youth Group to WARN them about me. Because of this, all the friends I had just made were no longer allowed to even contact me. Saying my name would get them grounded. Being seen with me would make them an outcast. And I won't lie, I wore it like a badge of honor. I take great pride in that these people were so afraid of me, that I was of that kind of superiority, that they would do anything to get rid of me. Eventually I was told to leave the church, which I gladly did. I still kept a few of my friends that I still hang out with regularly, and despite all of the efforts of the church, we are tightly-knit, and we cannot be split.
I left the church, and quickly found a new one. Two of my friends from the previous church left. We all three visited another church one Wednesday night, and wow, the people were very friendly! Second week comes along, same deal, very friendly folks, definitely tolerable! Third week comes along, and this times something is different. I am being watched. A leader out of random brings up Apologetics classes that the church provides, and then I found out that they know I came from the previous church. I knew exactly what had happened. I look further into it, and I found that the previous youth pastor called the new one, told him every possible lie, and now the reputation from the old church, has new followed me into the new one. I lost the two friends I originally came to this church with because of it, and then I was told to leave. Again, I wore it like a badge of honor. I am here for a mere three weeks, nobody knows my name yet, and I still posed that big of a threat to your god? Well thank you!
By this point of writing I am growing cold to the feeling people have towards me. I don't care what they think, and the rumors go in one ear and right out the other.
Being the voice of reason is no walk-in-the-park. Relationships WILL be destroyed, you WILL be alone, people WILL hate you....but to me, I would rather be secure and happy with myself than have the whole world be happy with a blindly-following, gullible, illogical, unreasonable, and unstable me. Was it hard? You bet. It still is. Is it worth it? Oh yes. I can look back and say "I didn't back down under all they put me through. They threw all they had at me, and I wasn't shaken a bit. I know how to lead and think for myself, while they can only follow their pastor. I stood with science and facts, and while that would never admit it, we win, every time."
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