Will I Always Be Atheist?

So my question to you is, Will you always be a Christian? Or will you finally start thinking for yourself and not let some multi-millionaire pastor tell you what the bible says and what you should do with your life? When are you going to live for yourself and not this modern conception of “giving it all to god”?

Seth emails me the other day (hey seth!) and says, “You’ll come back full circle. You’ll be a Christian again.”

It wasn’t an asshole thing to say. Seth is a nice guy. Since then, we’ve talked and caught up and it’s great to hear how well he’s doing with life.

It’s something I thought about before, actually–this whole, “Will I always be atheist?” I mean, I swung all the way toward fundamentalist Christian extremes (living in a fringe group for years, on a compound with dozens of other “church members” and “disciples”) and now I’m on the non-believer extremity. Who’s to say I won’t swing back again?

Sometimes I questioned my ability to swing all the way over the “other side” so easily–except that it wasn’t easy and it took many years. And I think being atheist is closer to who I always was. I always questioned the bible and what I was taught in church (and everywhere else). It’s just that when you move to an isolated location and aren’t allowed outside media, friends, family, etc. it’s easier for you to get brainwashed into thinking that this fringe belief system is the right and correct path to an elite version of Christianity.

In all honesty, it’s destructive and fills you with guilt and all things unpleasant. As Christopher Hitchens would say, “Religion is evil.” He might even say a group like this is maniacal.

So my question to you is, Will you always be a Christian? Or will you finally start thinking for yourself and not let some multi-millionaire pastor tell you what the bible says and what you should do with your life? When are you going to live for yourself and not this modern conception of “giving it all to god”?

I’m Not a Christian Anymore

In August, 2010, Anne Rice came out and said, “I quit being a Christian. I’m out. In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-science. I refurse to be anti-life. In the name of Christ, I quit Christianity and being a Christian. Amen.”

I couldn’t have agreed more with her decision. For quite a few years, I’ve spent time deconstructing my own faith and came up with a very similar conclusion.

I can no longer call myself a Christian.

Ironically, I think this is a very “Christ-like” decision, since I don’t think modern Christianity represents Christ and the teachings of modern preachers seem to me very unintellectual, simple, and money and power hungry. I think if “Christ came back” he’d say WTF?!

But, I don’t blame the state of the Church on preachers themselves. I think each individual who accepts the teachings of pastors also has some part in the state of the church. Accepting the state of the church as anti-gay, anti-science, anti-feminist is something I did for years. I became a reverend in that state. I didn’t question the under educated pastors who were passing on terminology and ideas that hadn’t been well-thought out or deconstructed. They hadn’t been doubted by them, or criticized. They just slopped it into my bowl and I drank from it.

I resigned from being a reverend in 2003. I still continued to do ministry until 2005, and there I started attending college. A secular college. The deconstruction of my faith came during my college years, but not necessarily because of them. Immediately after leaving my cult, the slop just tasted terrible. I started recognizing that most of it was b.s. and I’d questioned it BEFORE Master’s Commission, and needed to revert back to that time before I entered into a mind-control environment. It was hard to get in touch with who I was before Master’s and the ministry, but I did it. I found a girl who was guilt-free, lacked a constant condemnation, and thought a lot about everything. That girl was normal (for the most part), listened to secular music, watched Rated R movies, and read all kinds of different books. I resumed my life there.

I’m not a Christian anymore. I didn’t lose my faith. I decided to get rid of it.

My faith was cumbersome to my personal growth, to my well-being as a human being, and to my desire to be a compassionate person who loved the world as it is.

I was wrapped up in fundamentalism for years. Someone said:

“Fundamentalism is a form of organised anger in reaction to the unsettling consequences of rapid social and religious change.”

I don’t believe fundamentalism is representative of all Christianity or all Christians, but what I believe doesn’t coincide with either belief system.

What I believe now is that there is no heaven or hell. Those are scare tactics taught to us by pastors around the world to pressure us into a relationship with God. Sometimes this is for their own “number game.” Sometimes it’s so that they can say their church is growing and the Holy Spirit is moving. Sometimes it’s for the perpetuation of something they learned was “right” and just kept doing without questioning whether it was right or godly or not.

I believe the Bible is not inerrant. It’s complicated. It’s a historical document, filled with interesting stories and myths. Did God create Eve out of Adam’s rib? Probably not. In fact, that’s the exact type of thing I’m talking about. That myth perpetuates the idea that Eve is less than Adam. She also tempted Adam and caused them to get kicked out of the Garden. Those early Genesis teachings are anti-women and reinstate patriarchal power structures that are harmful to male and female alike.

The Bible is also filled with the promotion of slavery, more oppressive language toward women, gays, and it can be a dangerous tool in the hands of fundamentalist Christians inciting violence and war rhetoric (the “army of the Lord” fighting against the “ungodly”).

I don’t believe America is or should be a Christian nation. First, there are a lot of Christians who disagree on things such as abortion, gun control, the environment, etc. I believe the United States is a nation of Jews, Muslims, and multiple other religions, ideologies, and beliefs. America also contains a group of citizens who are anti-theist, atheist who are not “heathens” or “evil” or even wrong. They’re human beings. They’re not going to die and call out to God on their death bed. They’re satisfied with their lives.

I respect science and scientists. I believe evolution is more plausible than any of the other theories of why we exist today. I think it’s necessary to learn and educate ourselves about how we’ve evolved as a biological being and anthropologically.

I believe that women are not sub-human to men. We don’t need to submit. We are not superior, but equal to men. I disagree with men and women who oppress women using the Bible, political and cultural ideologies, etc. This use of the Bible to promote the “gentle-spirited” woman is harmful for women; it doesn’t consider us individuals capable of being wild; and it’s oppressive to men, promoting the idea of a “manly man” as the only ideal of a godly man. These teachings (explicit and implied) harm people’s confidence in themselves, pervert individual traits, and control sex and gender roles.

On that note, I’m strongly against patriarchal religion. I don’t believe that God or gods are a Father. I don’t think God is a Him, and this language and idea oppresses women and men.

I share all of this with you because I’m ready to come out as Anne Rice did. I’m tired of putting on pretenses that I am someone I’m not. I’m proud of how I’ve evolved into the woman I am today, the relationships I have with people who support me (and a pretty awesome family who loves me through all of this) and like me for who I am rather than what I believe or don’t believe. I’m also really excited about drafting the plans to my own life, following some and discarding others based on what I think is right, not what someone tells me is right (or God’s voice). My life has become a journey filled with heartache, and pain, growth and critical thinking, and embracing the wild and exciting part of myself.

I’m happy with my quirkiness, my ability to make people laugh, and the unique way I form a thought, feel things deeply, and care about people.

I like me.

Now, for blogging sake, these opinions don’t mean this is a non-Christian blog or that non-Christians aren’t welcome. To the contrary, actually. I was a Christian, and who I was then formed part of my history.  I understand that Christianity is very important to most of my readers and I hope to provide resources and educational materials for those who desire to grow as Christians after exiting a cultish or destructive group. However, those who are non-religious or atheist are welcome and I will provide resources for growth likewise.

Lastly, in the style of Reddit, please feel free to ASK ME ANYTHING.

Comments may be moderated if the comment policy is not followed.

 

Social Networking Sites: Ex-Christian and Atheist

Lately, I’ve been connecting to some interesting people on Twitter. Many atheists and skeptics love me on Twitter! I don’t know quite why, but I love them back. They’re smart, funny, and they respond back to me a lot. They’re not like some of my Christian “stalker” readers (by stalkers I mean people from the cult who read this and just judge–I’m not referring to quiet readers who aren’t ready to dialogue yet. You guys are my favorites, too! And trust me, good things are coming our way soon.). They love talking, debating and linking stuff–so I’m a fan of atheists. They blog about EVERYTHING!

They’re also smarter than me. They can out-debate me on anything, they know history, cultural facts, and…SCIENCE. Uh-oh. (To quote Nacho Libre, “We didn’t win because you believe in science!”) I always have loved science. Particularly epidemiology.

On a serious note, there are a great deal of awesome people out there to get to know (of all religions and backgrounds). Some of the blogs I like best are Godless Girl: www.godlessgirl.com; Thinking Mom: http://searchingtraveler.wordpress.com/ ; and The Friendly Atheist: www.friendlyatheist.com. Have you discovered www.ex-christian.net yet? You don’t have to be an Ex-Christian to go to the forum and discuss. In fact, you don’t have to be a skeptic, atheist or ex-christian to visit and learn from any of these blogs.

I hope you enjoy my referrals and if you find any other sites or links that have helped you, please let me know! Or, if you’d like me to blog about any specific subject, or would like more info on anything on this site, please drop me an email at mycultlife At gmail Dot com.

Feminism is Changing

During my college years (which are almost over!), I met a variety of feminist men and women. Coming from a religious background, I never thought I’d meet a man who was feminist. The men in my religious community were loyal to patriarchy and the strictly traditional gender roles. As my life outside of religion began evolving, I began meeting new types of people. I was surprised to meet men who weren’t macho or the supposed leaders of everything they did.

My dating life improved tremendously as I started meeting men who were feminist. It became sort of an unwritten requirement for dating: feminist, atheist and not macho.

The more feminist a guy was the more often he may have deviated from traditional masculinity–at least in a few distinct ways. I’ve dated men who were nervous about approaching women, men who liked sewing and cleaning, and men who ranted about equality for women as much as I did. In meeting these men who weren’t hyper-masculine, I’d finally reached a point where I was truly happy with the types of people I was dating. In part, that was because I’d begun to find myself outside of religious definitions and was becoming happier as a result. But that wasn’t the only reason. I’d grown up knowing one type of man, the hyper masculine, adventurous man; yet, I knew I didn’t want to settle down with that type of man. I’d finally begun meeting men who I could see myself with for life, rather than men who would fit the “role” of what I should look for in a husband–a provider, a protector, etc.

So those men who love to cook and clean and sew need our support as much as women who despise cooking and cleaning and sewing and feel oppressed by such duties and resent them. The world around us tells males they should be interested in certain activities and not interested in others that are “girly.” And they get attacked for diverting from hyper masculine activities.

Feminism is changing; maybe just in my eyes and maybe because I was confined to patriarchy for years and missed some of the major changes that occurred while I was “gone.” Regardless, this isn’t your mother’s feminism. This is your feminism and your boyfriend’s feminism. And as much as feminism still does and should fight the oppression of females, it fights the oppressive gender roles for women and men.

Did I Give Up on My Faith? by RevOxley

Every reader is welcome here regardless of religious preferences or beliefs. As you know, we represent a group (primarily) made up of former Christian ministers, but many of us have walked away from some of our former beliefs. Some of us are not Christians. Some of us are still Christians, but disillusioned. Some are not religious at all. Through some of my friends on Twitter, I found @RevOxley through a blogroll (perhaps on www.godlessgirl.com ?). I found his bio intriguing: Atheist Ex-Christian blogging about my life: http://ragingrev.com and checked it out.

There, I found the post I’m about to share with you. It hit home for me. Most of what he writes about is similar to what I’ve gone through. He tells about a pastor using him in a sermon (been there, done that) and his response to that pastor (which is incredibly well-written and thoughtful). The post I’m going to share with you (with his permission) can be found in full at Did I Give Up on My Faith and has been slightly edited for this audience.

Now, for a proper introduction to @RevOxley:

I am a 24 year old ex-christian that once had a major vision for a life in the ministry.  I am a former fundamentalist, charismatic, Christian apologist and minister that is fortunate to have escaped the world of faith before I was too much older. I enjoy religious, philosophical, and scientific discussion with people from all backgrounds and applying critical thinking to areas devoid of it.

***

Did I Give Up on My Faith? by RevOxley

I found out yesterday that a local pastor used me in an illustration recently in one of his sermons. This was brought about because the pastor had seen a conversation or two that I had been in with a friend of mine that attends his church – now, the pastor did keep me personally anonymous but I wanted to hear this for myself.

When I listened to this I expected to become angry and to write a letter or  blog calling this guy out, this didn’t actually happen though. What I felt, as I heard my story story simplified and the death of my god minimized into a decision to “Just give up” a flood of memories hit me as I remembered the great pain I felt for those years as my faith slowly died. All day I sat there reliving much of that pain – as if this wound from over 4 years ago now had been reopened. Just as one might still feel the sting of losing a parent or loved one years after the fact, there are times that are increasingly rare that I remember this long struggle.

Please understand that I don’t share this in order to cause havoc in this man’s life. He meant no harm and we have emailed each other now a few times and I found him to be both gracious and very apologetic….I think he understands my point of view at this time. I would like to share with you both his sermon and my response to him because I feel that it illustrates quite well that for an ex-christian this is rarely something taken lightly and one should never assume that this is the case.

The portion of his sermon where he talks about me starts at around the 20 minute mark – the full MP3 audio can be downloaded Here.

Below is my response.
Dr. D,

“Johnny” (name changed by MCL) provided me with the sermon from August 8th that you gave regarding a Warrior Mentality and Persevering Till The End – in it, at around the 21 minute mark you made a mention of Johnny’s atheist friend – that friend being me.

I don’t know precisely what conversation it was that you followed that helped you come to some of the conclusions that you did…but as I listened to this sermon a flood of memories engulfed me as I pondered the most difficult time of my life.

Words often fail to express what those two years were like, when god was fading away – when I was losing my grasp of a worldview that I was absolutely sure of. I’m going to do my best to explain it though. I’m going to try to avoid tears the best I can in doing so.

Part of your premise was that for many believers turned otherwise the point in which they “quit” is a result of bad life circumstances, or an idea that when the going gets tough we simply bail out. This premise seems unreal to me, as I observe this country and this community I see people clinging to their faith or searching harder to find one during times such as these – the worst that have occurred according to quite a few generations. Tough times, it seems, is a catalyst for people to become MORE devoted to their faith – I don’t know that I was any different than the majority of believers in that way. My trials put me on my face, bowing before what I knew to be the almighty – weeping for his guidance.

No, tough times had little to do with the final destruction of my deep faith. Mine was ultimately rent asunder by nothing more than a desire to know god better, to feel closer to him, and a willingness to accept whatever purging was necessary to get there. If you will, imagine Isaiah 6 and desiring nothing greater than to be within the perfect and whole will of god. My every thought and action was intended to be a devotion to him…I just wanted to be in the Throne Room. – I’d bet that you can’t name one person in your congregation more willing to die to self than I was.

It was that greatest desire to know god intimately that allowed me to doubt the beliefs I had previously established. From that point on those glorious yet painful doubts were able to redefine everything about my world.

For two years I wished I had left well enough alone and been satisfied with the faith I had. For two years I felt the agony of darkness and emptiness fight with the god I once knew. For two years my heart was crushed by the weight of the burden of watching the only Father I had ever known die excruciatingly by my own hand. For two years I grasped at the remnants of my faith with no idea that I could ever live a life without my god. I don’t like to claim that I’ve felt a pain that is particularly worse than anyone else ever has, but I find it hard to imagine any pain greater than that which I felt during these long two years.

Much like you might hurt when you lose a family member and you go through the stages of grief, so did I. I denied the reality of what I was experiencing, made excuses for it, called it a trial and convinced myself that I would come out of it eventually with the closeness that I had originally desired. I felt all the pain and guilt that comes with death and leaving behind a ministry and I blamed myself for everything that had occurred. In my anger I bargained for a change in this reality and although it did take two years I eventually worked through it, found peace outside of god, found happiness again.

I did not endure those years because I quit.

I endured them because I couldn’t let myself quit. Your sermon made it sound so simple, so easy, and I can’t dare sit back and let that idea be promoted. That simplification of what I experienced hurt me far more than I thought it would. I wouldn’t want anyone to be fooled into thinking that this road is either a choice or an easy one. This is the last thing I ever wanted – but now I can’t go back. I cannot believe. I don’t want to believe anymore but more than that I am simply unable to and when I wanted to I couldn’t. Please, don’t dare make it sound like I took the easy way out. The easy way out would have been a bullet through the temple…and I weighed that option more often than not.

You can’t know this unless you’ve been there, so I forgive you for your lack of understanding and for making this sound easy – trivial even. If you would like to use any portion of this message to make an illustration I ask that you do so with kindness, and if you have further questions about a falling away – especially my own, I ask that you ask me rather than make assumptions – I promise to be honest in my answers.

Thank you,

Matt Oxley

Any comments are appreciated.

Edit: After posting this the pastor asked that I post his response as well, so here it is:

Thank you for your note. I had no idea that “Johnny” had provided you with the message. And I apologize for any offense that this may have caused.

I assure you that I have studied this experience from many hours of my own personal pain…I was fired from my church in 2000. I had discovered that one of my leaders was having an affair. I went  thru the biblical procedure of dealing with this but in the end, the church asked me to leave and they kept him.  I had done the right thing and had used the right procedure. But I had gotten the shaft.

I thought that I would just put out the resumes and a church would pick me up.  It did not happen…No church called…In one week, I sent out 256 resumes and not one responded…I went 8 years with no income…I even went to Kroger and took a sign off of the window that was advertising for workers. I took the sign to the manager and asked for a job…he said that I had too much education.  I did get some parttime work at Lowe’s making minimum wage.

Matt, I have no desire to have a running battle with you. I apologize for using an illustration that I should have gotten your permission. Please accept my apology and I hope that some of my people have not been a problem to you. That will not happen again…and no one knows your name…at least not from me.

I don’t share these kind of sermons out of a heart that has never experienced pain.  This was an awful period in our life.  My guts were hanging out most of the time.  Everything I believed in and preached was challenged and shakened.  I considered suicide.  I considered walking away. I even told God the same thing that Jeremiah the prophet said, “I am not going to say one more thing about You.”  But in the end, I made a decision to hang with God and He brought me through.

I am not sure where your journey will take you.  It is certainly not my intention to create any more pain or discomfort for you.  I would love to one day sit and share war stories.  But I assure you there will be no more references to you even in an unnamed version.

Sincerely,

B.D. (name edited by MCL)

Why Did I Lose My Religion?

I’ve been struggling with finding a definitive answer to this question for the past year. I assumed that saying I wasn’t a Christian anymore would simply suffice and people would understand, but I must remember that no one has walked this journey except me.

I have no desire to be ones guru or priest so I shy away from this question for fear people will try to emulate me.

A deeper-seated fear though is the fear that all my former “disciples” feel I’ve betrayed them and turned my back on them. Maybe they feel I’ve lied to them.

I suppose what the real problem is is that I’m ridden with anxiety about what others will do with the information. What getting out of religion taught me was that people can be so cruel and harmful with things that are dear to you. It’s best to be very protective of valuable things, trust few and love deeply only when someone has earned it.

I don’t owe anyone an explanation, but I’d like to be able to articulate one at least for myself. As much as I admire and like some very prominent atheists and skepticts, theirs answers don’t show the complexities I feel. They don’t express the great dilemmas I still experience. If an answer is too easy, its not right for me, I’ve learned. Journeys of faith or anti-faith are complex and arduous; winding around personal feelings and musings. The questions, my religious studies professor used to say, are more important than the answers. This is enough for me. May it be enough for you also.

Some Thoughts About Atheists + Christian Friendships

unnamedOh the places this blog has gone. I can’t even begin to tell you (and I won’t bore you with a long list of that shit). But suffice it to say I’ve been busy and euphoric and all of that in the past few months. I know I’ve written a lot about my anxiety and not wanting to be so public, but for now (and probably because so many of you have awesomely supported me in that), I’m better. I’m even posting a self-love selfie to prove that I’m feeling much better and okay with people seeing me/talking to me/etc. I’ve explained this before, but after starting this blog I went into a very dark place and those who weren’t entirely supportive only threw me into a darker place. Coming out against Master’s Commission isolated me even more; so few people from that group would publicly support my efforts and private support only goes so far when it’s you against the world. I got into a big fight with my family over the things I post on this blog: namely being so atheist and so feminist and outspoken about both. It was a really challenging time for all of us and we’re in a much stronger place now (our family has always been very tight) but it hurt all of us. So I took a break from all things politics and I started reevaluating my message and presentation. If being so outspoken and angry about religion was hurting my relationship with my family (and many close friends), maybe there was a way I could still stay close to those I cared about and still be authentic about my anger. After all, my anger is important. Being radical or offensive isn’t.

With anything, there’s always ways to be better so I took that whole situation with my family to reflect on what I really felt was important to say and how to maintain my message without sanitizing it. One thing my brother (who I’m very close to) pointed out was that I was lumping every single Christian in with Master’s Commission. As I thought about it, a professor I had pointed that out years ago. Without knowing it, I was doing that. I definitely didn’t feel like I was doing that, but I looked back at a lot of things I’d said and that was true. In a world with so many good Christians, it was important that I start considering my choice of words more carefully. I also needed to start thinking about how I talk about other religious beliefs. I’m a major fan of some other religions, but I’m not sure that sentiment comes out in things I posted.

friendship editMy beliefs are what they are. Most of all, I think most atheists want to be accepted for our beliefs and not criticized for them. Last night I was talking to someone who is a Christian (maybe even a fundamentalist) and he started asking me why I was an atheist. He and I are in a good place and it’s an important point in my healing to note that I’ve reached out to a Christian as a friend and feel comfortable talking with him about faith. So I answered him and then told him that I don’t believe in a male God (the Christian God). He asked about a female god and I said no. The way I phrased it was passive (like I do–and need to fix) and was “I’m not sure there are female gods either.” So of course he thought he “got” me and said, “Oh you’re ‘not sure’? So you’re not as staunch of an atheist as you think?” (or something along those lines). That was a bit offensive. There should be no “getting someone” or “catching” them when you’re talking about faith openly; especially with those who are different faiths/non-faiths. There should be an appreciation or respect for the person (maybe not the beliefs) and an ability to overlook some things in order to have a strong friendship. That’s what I’ve aimed for in friendships I care about that I nearly lost from being so outspoken about my criticisms of religion. Mind you, I believe much of Christian ideology is abusive and harmful and many ministers and Christians twist it to be even worse, and I think Christians should be able to look past my opinions and still be my friend, but the truth is, that’s not always the case. With most people, I don’t care to remain that close to them, but with a few of my college friends who have grown MORE religious over the past few years, I do care. I want to remain friends and if that means we’re not Facebook friends that’s fine. Or if that means I simply limit my posts to my fan page, or don’t argue under their threads about Jesus, great. Whatever. I’ll take one for the team.

In all this, of course, I feel like it needs to be mutual. Otherwise, I don’t think that’s a fair compromise.

What Feminists/Cult Survivors/Atheists Hear Daily On the Internet

Almost always, the trolls we (feminists, former Christians, agnostic/atheist/spiritualists) get online are all the same with the same argument:
a) You are militant, angry, and bitter. I dismiss your argument.
b) If your husband/boyfriend/brother were a better man you would not be feminist.
c) You hate men.
d) Stop complaining because you are hurting The Church or you were hurt by The Church.
e) You all think alike. You aren’t open to new opinions.
f) I’m not comfortable here.

LITERALLY, we hear this every day. We’re over it. Like FMH says, if you don’t like this blog (or feminists, former Christians, atheists) get your own blog and talk about whatever the fuck you want, including but not limited to: why you hate this blog. No one cares. I’ve heard it all before.

(Adapted from the Feminist Mormon Housewives.)

Labels are for Soup Cans

My friend Ashley (props to her for the blog title and other phrases) suggested a book to me called Same Sex in the City. My lovely Kindle Fire picked up the sample, I read it, and then I freaked the fuck out.

I’m a lesbian who likes men.

 

My friend Ashley (props to her for the blog title and other phrases) suggested a book to me called Same Sex in the City. My lovely Kindle Fire picked up the sample, I read it, and then I freaked the fuck out.

I identified with everything the authors said. By all estimates, I was a lesbian. Terrified, I closed that book and decided to work on myself one thing at a time. And that one thing would not include my sexuality…for a long time.

I mean, I’ve got other things to “work on” and discover. Don’t we all?

The sad thing is, I’m all enlightened and shit. It’s 2012. I’ve been blogging since 2010 and all of a sudden I’m scared of my sexuality? Yep. I still am. I’ve made major progress–coming out as non-Christian, then as atheist, then as a feminist. I suppose that’s all good.

After my last bf (boyfriend) and I broke up, and after I incessantly talked about dating women during our relationship, I was immediately happy. My first thought, “Now I can finally date a woman!” Then I spent an entire weekend with my family to “recover” and realized that they’d never accept me. They still insult me for voting for the n-word Obama.

Tied into the “Am I a lesbian?” panic is my difficulty getting along with men. My childhood was riddled with a physically abusive stepfather who beat the sh*t out of my mom when I was fifteen and then manipulated her into staying around for 27 years. I haven’t been normal since. Around thirteen, pre-beating, I became a feminist. It was fueled out of rebellion against my dad’s sexist, machismo ways I’m sure, but also by my desire to help others. (See also: Major Childhood Issues). But at fifteen, my dad was in Alcholics Anonymous and Spousal Abuse classes where he’d gotten “saved” and “given his life to the Lord.” So, he obviously had to sit me down one night and ask me if I’d been saved.

Long story short, I was saved, became a reverend, joined a cult, etc. The story in it’s entirety is in my website, which is currently down from being hacked. More on that later.

Being saved and having an abusive father definitely played into my fear of sexuality. For example, as a Christian, being gay is something that can rub off on you. It’s a choice. It’s a sin. It’s also something that qualifies you to be called a pervert. Being a pedofile priest does not qualify you, though, because they’re doing the Lord’s work.

My father is a tea-partier, Rush Limbaugh loving fundamentalist. To say we’ve clashed in the past few years is an understatement. I do try to keep the peace, though, and I’ve found that in doing so, I’ve been forced to lead a double life. Or chosen. Either way, I’ve started running away from family conflict and in an effort to keep the peace and not make the wife-beater’s temper flare, I just keep my mouth shut.

There are few benefits to keeping your mouth shut.

In the past few weeks, things in my family have drastically changed. My parents have split up and divorce papers have been filed. While each one of us have struggled with the difficulty of this, I think we’ve realized it’s best. It’s also radically shifted something for me: I’ve become a bit more liberated. No more walking around on egg shells, wondering when I’m going to get yelled at or picked on. No more Are-you-a-dyke? talks. No more cycles of violence.

At least that’s how it feels. It feels like a big burden has been lifted through this divorce, and although I’ve come to love my father as a complex human with a good side and a bad side, I’m happy my mom won’t be treated as sub-human anymore and I won’t be treated as a threat for standing up for her.

 

 

The other benefits to watching a terrible marriage end is a huge reality check. Marriage isn’t for everyone and preventative measures should be taken to protect your assets, your individuality, and your well-being before entering a marriage (if you choose to do so). I’ve spent the several years following my exit from a cult wishing I was married with kids, not because I wanted that, but because I’d been brainwashed by the Church that a woman’s place was in her husbands home.

I’m becoming excited for my new-found liberty. My life is fulfilling and so is my job. I think I’d like kids, my own or maybe to be a stepmom, but I’m sure as hell not in a rush. I think I’m actually pretty damn content for the first time in my life. Not perfect–far from it. Fuck, I have so many issues I need a personal assistant to keep up with them. But I’m finally getting over that goddamn pressure to get married in order to “be complete.” And I can thank my parents divorce for that.

As for my sexuality…this discussion is to be continued. If you’ve had your own coming out confusion and experience, leave me a comment or Facebook me.

 

Q & A: Why Did You Lose Your Faith

The past few days have brought on a surge of new inquiries about why I lost my faith in God. Some people wonder How could you love Jesus so passionately and with such zeal and not love him today? Some people call me to tell me they’re praying for me, or if I have a bad day or go through a surge of anger, they pray for me.

To be fair, I always prayed for people. But by always I mean a span in my life that lasted about 10 years or less. From age 15, when a very catastrophic family event occurred, to 25 when another catastrophic even occurred, I prayed. I believed. I loved God.

I really did love God and now I truly do not believe he exists. I am what’s called an antitheist which is actually one step further than atheism, if you will. Christopher Hitchens wrote, “I’m not even an atheist so much as I am an antitheist; I not only maintain that all religions are versions of the same untruth, but I hold that the influence of churches, and the effect of religious belief, is positively harmful.” This is closer to what I believe than atheism. Religious belief and churches are harmful.

In case you’re not following, theism is the belief that at least one god exists. I find that idea not just unrealistic, but dangerous. I think it’s wrong.

Yes, I think I was wrong for 10 years. But religion is a very powerful force. There’s the pull of group thinking, peer pressure, societal pressures and essentially the false confidence in “knowing the truth.” It’s very appealing.

Atheism was not appealing to me. For years I assumed atheists were hateful and doomed. Then, I started thinking for myself (That’s not an insult. There’s no other way to say it.), discarded all my Jesus beliefs and attempted to reevaluate them one by one.

I asked myself questions:

  1. Where did I first hear this belief? Was I born thinking this way?
  2. What did my first experiences in church influence me to think and do?
  3. How did my desire for a “perfect family life” (my childhood was very dysfunctional) make religion appealing?
  4. At age 15, when first entering church, I doubted the Bible. Where did I lose my ability to doubt? Who influenced me to do so?

These questions were some of the beginnings of what you see now. But that’s been several years, and many other questions have followed.

If I ask you to question and doubt and you’re still very religious, it falls on deaf ears. To doubt, as I was taught at 15, means you do not have faith.

But is that so? Perhaps that’s not true with liberal or progressive Christians, but in fundamentalist or evangelical circles, it’s true.

So, if I wanted to doubt, how could I claim to be a Christian? I couldn’t.

Many people I know have a LOT of questions for me. I’d like to give you the opportunity to ask me anything about why I lost my faith.

Put your questions in the comments or you can email me at mycultlife@gmail.com.