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Letter to a pastor

By Finally Truthful ~

The following is a letter that I finally sent to my last pastor. I wonder if his behavior towards me will change now that he knows the truth.

I feel I need to be honest with you. I don’t know if you know this, but I am an atheist. We have spoken on occasion, and I don’t know if you would continue to do so if you knew I was no longer a believer anymore. I know that is an issue for many Christians.

i'm still writing the letters i'll never send,Image by ashley rose, via Flickr
I didn’t leave religion because of anything that had happened in the church. I had doubts and questions long before that. Although I believe that people who are supposedly ”new creatures in Christ” indwelt with the holy spirit, should be able to treat each other better than they do. Some of the worst behavior I saw was from the “spiritually elite” of the church.

Everyday is a struggle for me. It isn’t like that for everyone. I questioned why a god would bless some lives with good DNA, brains, health and the comfort that comes from those things. It doesn’t seem like good marketing for god to bless some and not others. How was I supposed to sell Jesus when I wasn’t sold myself?

I’ve struggled with depression for as long as I can remember. This struggle has been going on since before I joined the born again religion, during, and since I left. No difference. I remember years ago a woman telling me she was struggling with her depression to such a point that she hospitalized herself. I remember thinking that I should have been hospitalized also, my depression was so great at times. But I wasn’t. It wasn’t “god” that held me up during those times, or my church “family”. No, it was my own inner strength. I did it on my own. I held it together because I had to for the sake of my kids. At the time I was made to feel that I was emotionally and spiritually weak. But what I had was a medical condition. For years I struggled with the idea I was weak and needy. It took leaving the church and religion behind for me to realize that it takes a lot of inner strength to force yourself to get up and continue on each day. I wasn’t weak.

I questioned for years why this god wouldn’t heal me or others struggling with real physical issues. No one that I was in contact with in my twenty years in the church was ever healed of anything. Unless you count being healed by medical help. That is why prayer groups have such a low turnout. Nothing ever happens because there is no god.

Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t stop believing in god because of the bad behavior of people in the church or not being healed. There were too many questions, and no answers.

I remember being in a bible study years ago, and the discussion turned to someone who had left the born again religion. If you are sealed with the holy spirit, how can someone turn away from the one true religion? People were grasping at answers. Finally it came down to the conclusion that this person was either never saved, or had backslidden, and god would bring them back around. Again and again I have seen Christians so bewildered that someone could deny that there is a god, that they resort to that excuse over and over. If being born-again means trying to follow the teachings of a group of people and their beliefs about god and the bible, I did that heart and soul.

After I stopped going to church, I still wanted to believe. Finally I realized that I was doing all the reaching out. It was god’s turn. I prayed, begging god to help me believe that he was real. I prayed that if god was real, and he wanted me in church, he would send someone who would help me with this struggle. I told no one about this prayer. With the thousands of Christians in the area, you would think someone would hear the voice of god. After five years, I decided that either god didn’t want anything to do with me, or there was no god. I came to the conclusion there was no god. It was liberating to say the least. No more having to do mental gymnastics to “keep the faith”.

I don’t know what your beliefs personally are about atheists, but I have heard some horrible comments made. The idea is that we are more evil than the devil himself. I am still the same person I always was, I still struggle, but I hope I am a better person in some ways. I no longer follow the teaching that a person’s sexual orientation makes them a “sinner”. We are who we are. Does depression make you a sinner, does cancer, the color of your hair? That was the only issue that all Christian denominations could agree on. People could be whipped into a frenzy with the talk of homosexuals destroying the family, but very little was said about porn, materialism, or pedophiles. How many families were destroyed because of those things being in the church?

I have always appreciated that you’ve made an effort to approach me and talk, even when no one else from the church seems to remember who I am. That’s why I feel it’s important that you know where I stand on god and religion. Perhaps your friendliness is based on the belief that I’m still a Christian. I guess I just want to know if that’s true or not.