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From Street Preacher to Atheist

By austinrohm ~

This will be my first time posting here. As a matter of fact, this will be my first time in a long time that I will be able to be completely honest with people regarding my true beliefs.

I grew up in a particularly zealous denomination of Christianity known as Independent Fundamental Baptists. This denomination is very black and white in its thinking, and demonizes anyone on the "out" group, and people on the "in" group constantly reinforce just how happy they are to have the TRUTH. As anyone else who is brainwashed into this type of cult-like thinking as a child, I fully believed Christianity and the (King James) Bible with all my heart! I was constantly so happy that I just happened to be born into the one, true religion; and was very happy that I was born to parents who went to the "right" denomination of Christian church.

But I always had a difficult time with how quiet God seemed to be, and a VERY difficult time with a "relationship with God." Why is God so real to everyone else? How come the pastor was always saying things like, "God told me this, and God told me that." He got to have God communicate so clearly to him, but God and the Devil were always just dead silent with me. From the time of my childhood up until my eventual departure from Christianity, I always had a very challenging time with the concept of faith. I was told to "love God more than anyone, even your spouse." It just felt like this relationship with Jesus was simply me performing false emotions every day; I just couldn't muster that level of love for someone I had never seen, heard or touched. It is similar to when your mother had some distant relative on the phone and told you, "Tell Aunt Gertrude you love her!" No. I don't love Aunt Gertrude; I have never met her.

The one day, I heard a message on why God can feel so distant and unreal at times; it was because we were not SHOWING God how much we loved him. The more evangelizing actions we did as a Christian, and the more you took a leap of faith, the more God will become real to you every day. So I decided to take that leap of faith and move from a conservative Christian town in Idaho to Portland, Oregon so I could help with my Father-in-Law's Church.

In Portland I was VERY active in the church. I was the youth group leader, song leader, and was downtown Portland many Saturdays street preaching and trying to convert "the lost" so they wouldn't burn in Hell for ever. Even after all this, God was still dead silent. I spent many days, weeks, and months pouring over Christian apologetics hoping to increase my faith. However, Christian apologetics really shook my faith to its core! I thought to myself, "Is this really the best evidence for Christianity?? Is this really all we have?"

Then around 2 years ago, I decided to preach a message against atheism at my church. I didn't want to straw-man the atheist position, so I watched a few episodes of the Atheist Experience with Matt Dillahunty. I also read up several atheist articles.

As I explored atheism, I felt a huge lump in my throat as the anxiety mounted; why was this all making so much damn sense??. Then I thought about the question I had asked myself whenever I doubted: What reasons can I find to support why Christianity is true? WHY is Christianity true?

I realized then that I should be asking the question: IS Christianity true?But I realized then that I should be asking the question: IS Christianity true? After all, every one else in other religions finds facts which confirm their beliefs, and ignore glaring falsehoods in order to cling to their false religion; it never occurred to them that their religion might actually be false. I realized I was doing the same thing.

After a few months of reading the Bible through a couple times, and honestly asking myself during my research "Is Christianity true?", I came to the unwelcome realization: Christianity is not true. I am an atheist and no longer believe the Bible is God's word. I really, REALLY did not want to be an atheist because all my family, as well as my wife are very fervent Christians.

However, I have a much clearer picture of reality, and am no longer confused about life. As a Christian, I was always wondering how to obtain the ever-elusive "relationship with God." I was always trying to find God's will for my life, and what direction he wanted me to go. I was always trying to sort out the hundreds of different biblical interpretations on the End Times. I was constantly in a state of shame because I knew I wasn't witnessing or reading my Bible enough.

But now, I see that the reason I had such a hard time finding a relationship with God is because there is just no God to have a relationship with! I am no longer trying to find little hints, clues, and "open doors" which would show me what God wanted for my life; I know that I am in control of my own life. I no longer have to reconcile why God would let children die of cancer at the hospital I work at, but miraculously cured the eczema of Betty at church: life happens to all of us, and there is no God or Demons to blame for any of it. Although I wish it wasn't so hard being a closeted atheist (I know for certain my wife will never leave Christianity), it is much more refreshing having a personal relationship with reality, instead of playing pretend with an invisible God.