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By DeanMen ~

I just want to thank you guys who bare your minds and post here regularly. I haven’t visited this site since ’06 and I’ve recently been reading it again. Last week I was reading one of the forums about all the Christianease you never want to hear again, and I was laughing so hard, I was crying & howling. The absurdity of what we came out of is absolutely hilarious (and sometimes heartbreaking). But what we have lost in religion we have managed to gain in humor.

Visiting this site has inspired me to work on finding my voice and write my own extimony. My problem is when I started writing it was like a flood of information. I have so many insane stories. So it will continue to be a work in progress, and hopefully as I gather my thoughts and continue to get clarity I will get to add more here, or maybe even start a blog.

Unlike, the few minutes it took to accept Jesus Christ into my heart as my personal Lord and Savior (the 5 to 6+ times I probably actually did it) – my de-conversion took years. And then more years to process, and more years to get over the anger, to feel safe enough to be honest – with everyone – and that’s where I am at today. I am not ashamed that I do not believe. I am not ashamed that I do not call myself a Christian; faith caused me more harm then good. I don’t care what people think about it anymore, and that includes my family. Pretending like, hey, I’m not really an atheist, is just living in more denial. Denial is how I got into this mess but honesty without shame is how I’m getting out.

I was baptized/labeled a Catholic at 3mos. old. Three years later my Mom got involved in the Charismatic movement & my Dad died. She didn’t leave the Catholic Church until I was about 20-21, so I had this incredibly fucked-up Born Again Christian/ Catholic upbringing. We were like Protestant Catholics, and it sucked beyond belief. And even though everyone around you acts like you are making this “choice” on your own – Christianity was almost everything we talked about in my home and I was forced to participate. I always had my doubts, but was either condescended to, or told by my mother that I was rebellious. Because asking questions people can’t answer is rebellious. At 26, I went to seminary because I thought the Lord gave me a vision to become a college professor. And in those four years, I figured out that the bible as I had been taught was not really the bible. I HAD TO GET A FUCKING MASTERS DEGREE TO FIGURE OUT THAT ALL THIS STUFF WAS CRAP. A lifetime of being told you are shit, and the only thing of value in you is that you have God inside you is a total mind-fuck. It led me to deny my intuition on multiple occasions and follow my mother, who I love and I was supposed to be able to trust, but who in reality is an extremely broken woman who is addicted to religion.

I HAD TO GET A FUCKING MASTERS DEGREE TO FIGURE OUT THAT ALL THIS STUFF WAS CRAP. I was so humiliated when I dropped out of grad school and moved back home with my Mom (I took a year off and finished up as a closeted heretic.) All my life I had serious depression and anxiety. And I took this failure hard, not only did I not have a solid career track – but what I had been taught to believe was my very foundation in life was dead to me. To make it worse, I now felt different than my family, like I was “the other.” Having been a Christian that had always had “one foot in the world” (oh, thank you Lord Santa Christ for that!), I had always been a little bit embarrassed that we were born again Christians. Now that I no longer believed I saw how religious our secular society is, and I was embarrassed for no longer believing! This was actually worse than being a born again Christian.

Instead of having sympathy for me, my mother’s entire attitude was, “Well, I never told you to go there.” My entire experience was my fault, and my failure was a moral failure. This is all true, even though you went and got yourself undereducated and don’t believe. My lack of belief was because of me and my rebellious spirit. It is NOT the BIBLE, God is perfect, it is you. When you think about it, I really am a huge fuckup. I mean evangelical Christians are always getting their panties in a twist about the world and the devil. But I may still be a Christian today if I had stayed in the world. I didn’t lose my faith studying science; I lost it studying the bible the way it’s meant to be studied. I would have had a better chance of retaining my Christianity if I had become a drug addict.

I spent a couple years thinking I could be a “cultural” Christian and just go back to the Catholic Church and be like those people that don’t believe but do it for their family. Then I got married and had my first baby, I brought the baby to mass a couple times. Then I imagined my child coming home from religious ed. with me saying, “Well, Jesus wasn’t really born from a virgin. Well, Jesus may or may not have died on the cross. He probably didn’t rise from the dead.” (This is when I still hoped that some of the biblical account of Jesus was historical and he was just this great teacher. Now I question if he even existed. ) Okay, so I am going to send my kid through religious training, so that he can come home and I can deprogram him and then tell him how the bible was really written? All to respect my family and a broader culture that is mostly unaware and uneducated when it comes to religion. Man, I love my family, but it is not even worth it, on so many levels – on every level.

And now it’s almost 6 years later and I am finally getting to a place of acceptance. I am not as angry as I was before. I was emotionally abused by my mother and mentally abused by the Church. As a child I never even had a chance. What was presented to me as a choice of my own free will was in actuality years and years of mental conditioning, that broke down my ability to participate fully with reality. Instead of “healing” me Christianity played an active role in keeping me depressed. I was traumatized. When I read the articles on this website about Religious Trauma Syndrome, I thought, I dealt with all of those symptoms on my own, with no resources. I wish I had had those articles 10 years ago. And I guess, if am grateful for anything, I am grateful I survived this and that I can see it for what it really – abuse and denial pretending to be truth and love.

It’s not alright that this happened, but I don’t have to live there anymore. I am no longer sorry my children aren’t going to share the same rites of passage of my family and many in my community. It’s hard to break away from the fold and embrace being the other, but I never really fit in anyway. I’d rather be weird and have my children have a sold sense of self esteem and concrete skills to navigate this world, then have them counting on a God that isn’t there. I am not giving them to the Church because I am protecting them from its abuses. I truly wanted to be good. I did not want to throw the baby out with the bathwater. But when I looked for the baby it wasn’t there. It was all bathwater, so I chucked it out.