A Closeted Ex-Christian

By Sherman ~

Wow. I’m new to this site and after reading many testimonials, I decided to submit one myself. It’s amazing (and sad) to read about different experiences people had with religion. I had a lot of manipulation and betrayal in my religious past, but was fortunate to have not suffered the various forms of abuse that many went through. My heart goes out to you.

I was raised in part of the Bible belt and got “saved” when I was 12 during a YMCA summer camp. My immediate family was not very religious. We attended church maybe once a month. Growing up where I did, I didn’t know anyone who was not a Christian. I was in and out of church through high school and college. After college, I met a girl, got married, and wound up going to Bible college and decided I wanted to be in full time ministry.

About a year after graduation we moved to another city in the Bible belt where we thought God had led us to go. We worked with one church for a while, then helped start another church. All along, very zealous about God and all that. I was on staff (unpaid position) as associate and youth pastor. The whole time, we were being manipulated. You don’t always see it at the time, but it eventually becomes clear. After doing this for a while, our views about the institution of church began to change and we thought it was time to move on. We talked to the pastor and his wife about this, who were good friends of ours and they had said the same. They lost their minds! They called us traitors and unfaithful and how could we do this to them… etc. Of course, we were still welcome to attend church… and tithe. Ugh. But after being talked about from the pulpit several times, by our good, close friends, we decided to get the hell out of there. We pretty much lost all of our “friends” at that church. They were forbidden to spend time with us as we might contaminate others.

This is kind of where I started on a separate path from my wife. With more free time by not spending so much time at church, I began to read more. I came across “Living Buddha, Living Christ” and was intrigued. That was kind of the beginning of the end of Christianity for me. I read more of Thich Nhat Hanh’s writings as well as E Tolle, Alan Watts, and many other non-sectarian Buddhist and Taoist authors. At some point, early on in all this, I decided to do an in-depth study of the Bible, its history, and the history of the church. I had read the Bible many times and knew what I was taught about it and the church. Well, with me being unplugged from the Matrix (church), I could see a little more clearly. And wow! Did I see clearly. I spent about 2 years doing this study and the more I studied, the less I believed what I used to believe. It was kind of gradual, but I remember thinking at some point, I just don’t believe any of this shit anymore. Isn’t that interesting? Before I read any literature specific to atheism or agnosticism, the thing that made me lose my faith was an in-depth study of the Bible.

I don’t know that I’m an absolute atheist, but I definitely don’t believe in the Christian God that I grew up with.I don’t know that I’m an absolute atheist, but I definitely don’t believe in the Christian God that I grew up with. Nor do I believe in hell, or heaven for that matter. I still enjoy secular Buddhism and Taoism. My wife continues to have her Christian beliefs and even started attending church again. Which is great. She is happy, and I’m happy. It’s still true that almost everyone I know is a Christian. For various reasons, I’ve talked about where I am now to only 3 or 4 people. Most of my close friends can tell that things have changed with me, and some may even suspect that I’m an agnostic or atheist. But I haven’t come out and made it widely known. For now, I remain a closeted ex-Christian.

I think it’s interesting that the churches we went to told us how horrible life would be if we ever walked away from God and His church. HIS church! LOL That’s a good one. We would careen into a life of sin and miserableness… and all that. It’s actually been the opposite. I feel that my life is much better since I left Christianity and the church behind. I don’t have nearly as much fear in my life. I came out of a long depression. I’m less worried and I handle that stresses of life better than I ever did back in those days. I never felt abused, and didn’t leave out of hurt or anything like that. Only recently have I noticed anger towards the church in general and the things that people are told and the manipulation that takes place. There is a billboard with an ad for the last church we were at that’s right next to where I look. I see it coming and going. And almost without fail, I give it the finger, every day. LOL!

Looking back, I can see that there was much control and manipulation. And when it became clear that we weren’t going to be controlled anymore, we got to see who people really were. That hurt. But we continue to move on. And it makes me appreciate the few real friends that I do have. I’m not sure how to end this, but for those of you who read it, thanks for taking the time.

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