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Deconversion wasn't a Decision - It was an Inevitability

By Katie ~

It’s a bit difficult to pull up the relevant details of my deconversion from the recesses of my mind, but there is far less pressure laying it out before fellow nonbelievers rather than believers who are intent on sniffing out the places I went “wrong.” That being said, I guess I’ll start with my background.

visionsImage by AlicePopkorn via Flickr
I was raised by Reformed Baptist parents. My father has a PhD in Theology and was the pastor of my church for the first eleven years of my life. He only stopped preaching when we moved closer to my mom’s family, and he found a much more profitable job as a software engineer. Fortunately, my father is a jack of many trades. Not all pastors are so lucky. I always trusted that everything I was taught as truth in church actually was true, and I don’t remember second-guessing or questioning any of it when I was younger. In high school, I was honestly pretty bored with the Bible. I insisted that I was a believer, but I rarely read my Bible or prayed, though I did attend church every week. It wasn’t part of my local Christian youth culture to be doing those things, so I rarely felt convicted about it. My mom would always tell me to read my Bible and pray whenever I came across more trying spells, but I only made half-hearted attempts.

By the time I went to public university, I had been exposed to the mega-church scene and decided they were full of hypocrites, a judgment affected by my Reformed upraising. I figured most Christians at college would be part of this movement, and I did not want to associate with them. The first semester of college, I found myself becoming increasingly depressed and ultimately came to “realize” it was because I was disobeying God. I thought that I really needed fellowship. So, I became involved at the Baptist center on campus and subsequently led multiple Bible studies there and also became president of a separate Bible study club that I had been attending since I first got to college (even in my resistant first semester). This was as “on fire for God” as I got, though my experience as a Christian was rarely an emotional one. I was raised in a pretty stiff religious environment, after all.

I believed I was growing in my faith, but even so, doubt started to creep up the summer after my sophomore year. This sent me into all sorts of existential turmoil my whole first semester of junior year. I managed to get by academically, but I came out scarred from that experience and even had to step down from leading a Bible study halfway through the semester. I’ve always been insistent on being honest about my experiences, so I never put up a front with my fellow Christians. I managed to repress my doubts by second semester and went on like “normal.”

I didn’t want to quit believing. It was not my choice.I yearned for Truth, but every time I earnestly sought after it, I always got wrapped up in theological questions that couldn’t be answered. By the second semester of my senior year, I sunk pretty deeply into self-loathing depression. It took every bit of energy I could muster just to walk to classes and not cry during them. My doubt felt like it was eating away at my soul. Of course at the time, I thought it was Satan attacking me. Prayers seemed to bounce of the walls. My Bible seemed old and clichĂ©. All of my closest friends were Christians and had no idea what to do with me.

I finally convinced myself it’d all be better after graduation. I had decided it was the academic atmosphere of college that was causing all of my doubts, and once I left that environment my faith would grow stronger again.

When that didn’t happen, I finally took charge and let myself tackle the major presuppositions and questions in Christianity that I kept shying away from before. I charged at them just a few months ago, and when I conceded to the failure of Christianity I finally admitted to myself that I am no longer a Christian.

I didn’t want to quit believing. It was not my choice. I’ve disappointed my family and my friends, but at this point I couldn’t believe again even if I tried. I am sad religion has to cause such division when it’s under the illusion that it’s working toward peace.