I’m Coming OUT!

Today was Spirit Day in memory of several gay students who committed suicide from homophobic abuse they experienced.

What’s great is that there has been a rally of support for gays and lesbians all over the place by people today wearing purple to show their love and respect for them. Things will get better. One day, we will live in a world where it won’t matter what your sexuality is. There won’t be someone telling you you’re a sinner or a “fag” or a queer. There’s hope for humanity.

In the same spirit, I’m coming OUT today.

I’m not coming out in the, “I’m a lesbian” kind of way. I’m not a lesbian. I’m straight. I’m a straight woman who has a lot of gay and lesbian friends, and supports their right to fall in love, get married, hold hands, kiss, have sex, etc. without enduring intolerance or judgment.

I also have a lot of gay and lesbian friends who love God, who love Jesus and don’t have a place in the Church. But more on that later…

Back to me coming OUT:

I’m pretty sure a lot of people already know this, but I’m not a Christian Fundamentalist anymore. I once was. I sort of fell into it as a teenager and young adult. I walked away from it around the age 24.

Now it’s time to come out and be proud.

I’m standing with Anne Rice and those others who just can’t side with a religion (in this blog, Christianity, but any religion or group) that calls itself loving, but is hateful and judgmental. I can’t stand with a belief system that denies science, evolution, and the promotion of contraceptives, when I so believe in all those things–not because they are trends but because I have worked hard to find answers of my own. I can’t be feminist, intellectually evolving, and growing and listen to those who will call me wrong for thinking the way I do, simply because I’m using my own God-given brain. My brain isn’t smaller because it’s in a female body. I can be a woman and teach, preach, run a church, business, corporation, country as well as a man. It’s not a sin “equal to pedophilia” to ordain a woman as priest (to quote the Pope). I’m not anti-Christian, baby-hating, or a child-killer because I believe in abortion as a woman’s right to choose. I’m not even anti-Christian because I believe in all of the above.

I’m simply responding finding that after years of being a “Christian,” there isn’t a place for me after I changed.

The woman I am today isn’t welcome in the church I once attended because the church I once attended didn’t allow me to think for myself.

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”?

Christian Fundamentalism


During my first few years of undergraduate education, I decided to minor in Religious Studies. The majority of this decision came from my desire to reconcile my religious past as a reverend into my current questions surrounding that time of my life. So much of how people treated me after I left the church I’d worked for for years was not Christlike, and I wanted to better learn of the history of Christianity so as to properly senthesize what happened to me.

In 2005, I enrolled in a general education class that fulfilled a requirement to graduate. My professor was new to Bakersfield, and had formerly lived in San Francisco and attended Harvard for his Ph.D. He was far more liberal than most people in Bakersfield and was an avid supporter of gay rights. He taught us not to believe what he believed, but to be good students, to work hard, and to be open minded beyond what we may have been raised to believe. It was in this environment that I flourished and grew. My religious experiences with Christianity began to make sense for the first time since I left the cult, and I began to learn the history of Chrisitianity (both good and bad).

One class session, we watched the movie Saved with Mandy Moore. The way the “Christians” treated those who were outsiders in high school made me feel very similar to how the “Christians” I had worked with for several years were currently treating me. I started tearing up in my desk, so thankful that the lights were out and that people were focused on taking notes, and not on me.

When I left the class, I couldn’t help but break down and cry. I was in the hallway, sitting on a wooden bench when Dr. Campagna-Pinto, my professor, walked up to me to ask me if I was okay. I told him briefly about my experience with the fundamentalist cult I was part of and how several years of my life history seemed to be negated now. I explained to him how painful it was to lose hundreds of friends and what I considered “family.”

From that day on, Dr. Campagna-Pinto would meet me in the hallway when I’d be sitting on a wooden bench with tears in my eyes. He’d take the time to listen to me, and he’d take the time to explain that not all Christians are like the ones I’d had the experience of meeting. He’d also tell me that Christianity had a rich history, contrary to what the fundamentalists believed and taught.

As I learned more about Christianity in his classes over the years, I understood that Christian fundamentalism was truly very different than the historical, scholarly perspective of Christianity. Christianity was a religion that had a history of good and bad, but I was able to see the good in Christians for the first time in years.

I walked away from my classes seeing religion in a different light. I had a greater understanding of humanity in general, and a greater appreciation for religious communities worldwide. I sought to better myself by being open minded, which was difficult after being a close-minded Christian fundamentalist for years. I attempted to consider life as a journey on a path that I pave myself, rather than a road that’s already been carved out before me. And I tried (and still try) to earnestly see the good in humanity, and have hope that human beings can and will do the right thing–even when things in our future and history look bleak.

I continue to be gracious with myself, because the harder I am on myself, the more I fall back into fundamentalist thinking and guilt. I also continue to study and seek knowledge from a variety of secular sources, because I trust my own judgement and trust that my heart and mind are good things, rather than evil things.

My journey is only just beginning and like the Chinese proverb says, “The journey is the reward.”

Enjoy the journey and enjoy the questions.

The Word “Offended”

I’ve been told I’m “hurt and offended” so many times since I started this blog.

I can’t even explain to you how “over” those words I am.

First of all, there’s nothing wrong with being hurt. Remember the first time your son or daughter came home from school and said to you, “Bobby pushed me down on the playground,” or “Susie made fun of the ribbon you made me?” You were offended, right? And your little daughter or son was hurt after falling on the playground. Maybe even bleeding.

Spiritual abuse causes wounds. They might be bruises, cuts, or deep oozing gashes. But, they’re still wounds. And wounds hurt.

Second of all, there’s this thing–this sickness—that’s only in the Christian community that takes a line like, “You’re hurt and offended. You need to get over it and move on. Stop dwelling on the past,” and makes it a curse; a condescending line to tell you they’re sick and tired of listening to you (or in fact, that they dismissed you after just a few seconds of listening), and that you’re a bad person.

In reality, the bad person isn’t YOU.

If you’re hurt, most likely, someone caused you deep pain, lied to you, and betrayed your trust. The human-to-human bond is broken, bruised or injured.

If you’re offended, it’s most likely that someone was out of line in the way they treated you. Perhaps they belittled you, bullied you, etc.

In most cases, the pastor or someone in direct authority has used their power to throw their weight around, figuratively slapping around a few people. They don’t give a damn who they hurt or how badly they hurt them. They won’t care unless that person starts detracting from their power and money (perhaps by detracting their followers).

I was sixteen years old when I was taught to look down upon those who were offended in church. My pastor taught me that. I believe he was wrong.

I also think grief comes and goes in waves. It may wreck your life for years, or altogether. Pain is sometimes so unbearable for people that they’re not able to move on from it. For someone in power to purposefully cause you pain and maliciously belittle you is wrong.

 

Questions:

Have you ever been dismissed by someone by being called “offended?”

Do you think being hurt and offended can be constructive for someone?

What would Anne Rice do?

Original article found here, written by Carolyn Kellogg: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/jacketcopy/2010/08/what-would-anne-rice-do.html

Anne Rice, the author of “Interview With the Vampire” and its sequels, has decided that her Christian faith no longer fits with the Christian church. She announced this very personal decision on Facebook on Wednesday, generating more than 2,000 comments on two posts that went up within five minutes of each other.

In the first, she wrote: “Today I quit being a Christian. I’m out. I remain committed to Christ as always but not to being ‘Christian’ or to being part of Christianity. It’s simply impossible for me to ‘belong’ to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. For ten years, I’ve tried. I’ve failed. I’m an outsider. My conscience will allow nothing else.”

“I quit being a Christian,” she continued. “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-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life. In the name of Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen.”

In addition to the attention it drew on Facebook, Rice’s declaration was circulated widely on the Internet and by the mainstream media; even the Associated Press picked it up. She may have created more of a media splash with her departing-the-church announcement than she did when she showed up at a booksigning in a coffin.

Rice’s Christianity seemed an awkward worldview for an author who so thoroughly imagined evil vampires — sexy evil vampires, even.

In 2008, Rice sought to illuminate her journey in faith with the memoir “Called Out of Darkness: A Spiritual Confession.” She had an inner voice, she wrote, that said, “Write for God. Write for Him. Write only for Him.” Her recent books include “Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt” (2005), “Christ the Lord: The Road to Cana ” (2008) and “Angel Time” (2009).

Yet despite this focus on Christ and angels, Rice, who was brought up Catholic, said in her memoir that the church’s laws caused her pain. “How was I to become a card-carrying member of a church that condemned my gay son?”

If I were more of a religious scholar, I could find a church for Rice that is dedicated to Christ and not anti-gay or anti-feminist or anti-birth-control or anti-Democrat or anti-secular-humanist. I’m sure people who know more about this than I do have tried to help Rice find her way to a church that might fit her beliefs.

What I do know is that, sometimes, causing a stir can help spark interest in an author’s work. So in case you’re curious, Anne Rice’s next angel book, “Of Love and Evil,” is due on shelves in November.

— Carolyn Kellogg
twitter.com/paperhaus

Agree to Disagree?

Should we agree to disagree with those who use the Bible to support bigotry and anti-gay speech?

a couple, arguing

A Twitter friend wrote a really great post about wanting to stop “agreeing to disagree” with bigoted Christians. Personally, I have rarely “agreed to disagree”, but Crystal writes:

The truth is that I’ve grown very weary of the “agree to disagree” policy that is so often applied to issues surrounding same-sex relationships. The phrase “agree-to-disagree” implies that both positions (for and against) have merit– but in the case of civil rights, I don’t believe that’s possible. I simply do not believe that a person’s right to oppress is as valid as the rights of those experiencing the oppression. And I think we become complicit in oppression when we buy into the myth of the oppressor’s rights.

Christianity is a privileged class in this country, and at many times throughout history (including today) its religious leaders have been guilty of oppressing people whose humanity (as found in their religion or lack thereof, gender, race, ethnicity, nationality, etc.) they haven’t understood. This has happened in nearly every generation in which Christianity has existed– and in every case, there has always been some faction of people who said, “Those who wish to use scripture to marginalize others are entitled to their opinion.”

I can’t say that anymore. Even if it’s popular. Even if it’s politically correct. Even if it’s touted as the “peaceful” thing to do.

Those who use scripture to belittle, marginalize or discriminate against other people are NOT entitled to do so. There is no merit in a position that minimizes a person’s worth based on his or her sexual orientation– even if he or she believes God has given him or her the divine right to carry out such discrimination. “Agreeing to disagree” is not the helpful or peaceful thing to do in a situation where oppression is the problem. The helpful and peaceful thing to do is to call oppression what it is: Bigotry. Socially violent. Absolutely and totally wrong.

I rarely comment on blogs (although I’m finding myself enjoying it lately!), but apparently I really liked Crystal’s post because I wrote a novel. Yes, a massive response. Here it is, but for those of you who hate reading novels, here’s the run down–

1. People actually are allowed to use the Bible to endorse bigotry because the Bible encourages bigotry, racism, and violence. 

2. I outline what I think is the history of modern fundamentalist Christianity, including the idea that many preachers act more like Puritans than Jesus. 

3. I have decided to agree to disagree, actually, and find that being diplomatic suites me just fine, particularly with friends and family who I love and want to remain close to. This comes after being SO outspoken that I have lost many, many friends and some family members to arguments. I’ve decided to learn how to communicate my points more peacefully. 

Now for my actual novel:

Really great points you’ve made, Crystal.

These two in particular:
“Those who use scripture to belittle, marginalize or discriminate against other people are NOT entitled to do so.”
and
“The helpful and peaceful thing to do is to call oppression what it is: Bigotry. Socially violent. Absolutely and totally wrong.”

When you point out to those people that they are bigots, then the tables get turned and they claim they are being oppressed or attacked. Why? Because what they regurgitated from some backwards preacher (not original thought) has just got them handed the bigot card and they know it’s an ugly label and they know they are one for holding those opinions. Yet, it’s popular with the televangelists or the Mark Driscoll’s of the world so it MUST be okay. Everyone’s doing it, right? The irony in their claim that they’re being oppressed is just so funny. The other day someone claimed that I was oppressing them by taking away their FREEDOM to have a different opinion. I said no, “You’re still free to have that opinion, but I’m free to say that opinion is stupid or bigoted.”

The other thing is, “those who use scripture to belittle….are NOT entitled to do so…”. This gets me twisted up some. See, at one point I thought fundamentalists were reading the Bible wrong. That’s why they were so hateful, right? (And by them, I mean formerly me, since I was one.) It starts getting really complicated here. Yes, there are wonderfully progressive Christians and ministers who are intelligent, thoughtful, kind people I respect and love having in my life. It’s interesting though, that they are NOT considered Christians among fundamentalists. Perhaps this is why modern fundamentalists teach their members to “go deeper” and be “pure” and “sacrifice” because they can then claim superiority and isn’t that what we see so much of in modern fundamentalism? Superiority. The “we are elite Christians and no one has us beat on our devotion to God.” I know. I was in an elite training program for young, Christian adults for most of my twenties (as you know). But because of my background as a LITERAL Bible reader, not a progressive one, I have a hard time saying the Bible isn’t oppressive and these people don’t have the right to use scripture to belittle, because if you do read the Bible literally and at face value, you have the right to use scripture to be VIOLENT, insane, murderous even. And that is where things get complicated-because although the Bible is in many ways violent and perhaps one of the more violent texts, people SHOULD know better. They should know right from wrong simply because society (not necessarily religion) has permanently branded that concept in us, but they do what I did–they lay down their right to think for themselves. They ignore their conscious. They begin to accept the ‘group think’ and popular arguments without analyzing them or debating them, and that’s partly because the modern evangelical church is set up to be hierarchical (and you could argue this for every major religion), and even further, we have a deeply rooted authoritarian culture in modern Christianity. God is an angry Father and so is your pastor, type of thing. In my experience, and from observation for the past three years, many of the fundamentalist churches nationwide have more similarity than difference. Their core values are all rooted on similar ideologies that are not necessarily UNIVERSAL to Christianity, but they are common in US evangelical ‘theology’. Terms like shepherding, discipleship, accountability, purity, manliness, gentle spirit, servant, etc. all stem from this ‘theology’ and it all comes from somewhere. Historically speaking, I think it comes from the Puritans but has gone through micro-evolution over the years with prominent Christians like Smith Wigglesworth, Oswald Chambers, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Pat Robertson, Bill Gothard, the whole TBN crowd, dozens of “prophets”, Billy Graham, David Wilkerson, James Dobson, etc. (obviously, there are plenty of influences in the early 1900′s and even 1800′s that I can’t name off the top of my head at the moment). Evangelical preachers have plagiarized these men’s sermons for decades and decades, sometimes adding to it, other times taking away, but essentially leaving the core values and ideology in tact. It’s no surprise that there’s a lack of diverse thought within US Christian culture (at least the most outspoken culture, ahem, fundamentalist), then. But further to that, there’s a hostility toward original thought and a fear of taking away their faith, because the minute you use logic and reason or call them a bigot, it calls into question their faith and beliefs and makes them question whether their is a God. (got to stop the rant for now…)

On a personal note, I’ve tried to become more diplomatic and less argumentative because I wasn’t getting anywhere with some people. So, I think it’s important to point out that as much as I hate to admit it, you win more bees with honey. (I truly hate to say that, but I’ve learned the hard way.) I also feel like people know who I am and what I believe, and it’s a lot like being a Christian. I wasn’t the type to shove Jesus down someone’s throat, but if they wanted to know, they would ask. I’m still outspoken, but I don’t expect anyone to change. I just want to point out facts.

When it comes to, say, my family, we have to agree to disagree but not because I think their point is valid. It’s because I respect them as my family members and love them. I know that they are smart people and are very informed, though they disagree me on with major social justice issues.

 

Grief and Other Hideous Effects

Every morning I go to the French doors at the back of my house and I look upon the wide expanse of desert that surrounds me. I look down at the patio, and I don’t see Ella so my gaze runs out to the East, where my mom and I set a cat trap with salmon. I lost my cat two weeks ago, and although I know her likely destiny was prey to a California desert predator, I keep looking for her to show up.

Grief does funny things to people. It’s an emotion that I didn’t clearly recognize I was going through the years after leaving the cult I was involved in. Some people said they thought I felt rejected and that was why I became depressed. Of course there was rejection upon leaving.  Upon disagreeing with the senior pastor, he cut me off from communication (like he’d done to so many others in his past). Why?  He became disappointed in me because I was unwilling to come back to Louisiana and I was unwilling to live my life according to his rules. Fragments of conversation trickle down the chain of command there in Louisiana, where eavesdroppers at household conversations and bystanders at after-church discussions mix truth with lies with assumptions about why people leave the church. Eventually, the game of telephone dilutes any truth of why anyone left and people are left to their own assumptions mixed with he-said, she-said which is never generous to the person who leaves the “place of blessing” or “out of the anointing” or “House of God.” Negative assumptions breed rejection, and what I felt was rejection from people I’d grown close to for much of the history of my young adult life.

More powerfully than rejection, though, was the grief I experienced from an amalgamation of losing my friends, people I considered close (like family), and discarding and deconstructing the teachings I now disagreed with.

During a journey of grieving and depression, I allowed myself to be expressive, angry, searching and honest.

I began to grieve and mourn the loss of people I’d considered friends for many years of my life, and I began to grieve the loss of what I thought was my “faith” and what turned out to be a need for people’s approval. As I began to intersect the faith I’d been taught in the cult with the faith I’d felt in my heart was right my entire life, I began to see a great chasm that needed to be reconciled. So, I set out to find my own truth—the things I believed about love, people, dreams—without placing pressure on myself to meet someone else’s approval.

I felt that to become a blank slate was something that would help me ascertain what my own beliefs were, as opposed to what I was taught in the cult.

I deconstructed the idea of Christianity completely.

I took it all apart, piece-by-piece and was left with a sort of artists table with a clean canvas and materials to construct with. I had paints of all colors and tones, magazine cut-outs, fragments of books I’d read, pictures I’d seen, people I’d known, and experiences I’d had. With a clean slate in front of me, I took my old materials and examined them. I turned them to the right and the left and looked at them from the back, and the front with a critical eye. I read from experts in the field of religion, feminism, humanitarianism, literature. I compared them with human beings in history and the present time who were models of exceptional citizenship, who treated people fairly and respectfully.

Many of my old materials needed to be discarded. They came from a long line of historical violence, a present day close-minded manner and an anti-intellectual path that I no longer wanted to walk on.

As I felt more liberated, I acted more liberated.

The years of grief were mixed with years of feeling buoyant, vibrant.

There were years I’d sit at a writing desk and feel like a dried out old pen, because I was worried what the people from my past would think. How would they judge me? What gossip sessions would occur because of what I was about to write? What prayers of concern would go up to God from them on behalf of my soul, because I was now changed from the Lisa they knew? I had no voice to speak—only fear, yet I had words that were jamming up in my head and twisting like pretzels to get out. When I would begin to write, the nightmares would come. The mornings I’d wake up with fear that they were real. I was back there. The women were coming for me—ensuring I didn’t escape.

Grief isn’t something you navigate out of like short river boat ride. Grief is complex and misunderstood: the outer shell of humans experiencing it often not showing signs and other times causing people to fall apart, lose their ability to reason and calculate and concentrate.

Grief can also be like a painting:

grey,

black and hazy,

with a few strokes

of white

and blue

lighting up

the picture.

“Grief, when it comes, is nothing we expect it to

be…Grief is different.

Grief has no difference.

Grief comes in waves, paroxysms, sudden

apprehensions that weaken the knees

and blind the eyes and obliterate the dailiness of life.”

Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking

Why Do We Make Excuses?

Today I’m thinking deeply about why people make excuses for predatory pastors, violent books of faith, and church institutions that have a very dirty past (and present). I’ve done the same thing, so this question is more curious than accusatory.

Past the “why” is that they ARE making these excuses and maybe (or maybe not) it points to a much larger thing. What compels us to do this? As with all things, there no one universal answer. If church provides a need for community, then is that what they are protecting-their sense of community and the provision against loneliness? If church has become a person’s “family”, are they protecting the dark secrets of their own “family” as much as their own reputation?

Weigh in with your thoughts.

Spanking for Jesus: Really?!

You've got to be cruel to be kind...

A reader linked me to one of the most disturbing articles I’ve read in awhile (and trust me, I’ve read quite a few disturbing articles on Christian fundamentalism and the abuse that’s hidden beneath the surface). It’s called Spanking for Jesus: Inside the Unholy World of ‘Christian Domestic Discipline’ and it was recently published in the Daily Beast.

Christian Domestic Discipline (CDD) is essentially a small (4,000 members) online fringe group of Christian men who practice spanking their wives if they get out of hand, or roll their eyes. In other words, Biblically justified domestic violence.

I grew up in a home where domestic violence was norm for many arguments and from a child’s perspective, it’s one of the most frightening and disturbing things a kid can witness. Domestic violence can escalate, especially in homes where alcohol is also abused or where weapons are kept. When two people are involved in an abusive relationship, anything can become a weapon.

According to the Beast, “…there are posts that are just plain disturbing: ‘My wife cries and writhes and begs me to stop during spankings, should I?'”

This should really be a no-brainer, but Christian teachings can reinforce this behavior even more. When I was a teen, I went to my pastor’s wife to ask her what a woman should do if she’s being abused by her husband. I pointed out the verse that said a wife should submit to her husband and brought up my complaints, ‘There’s no way God would ask someone to submit to an abusive husband, right?’ My pastor’s wife’s answer was disturbing: ‘She should really look into her heart and ask herself whether she’s serving and submitting her husband. What’s wrong with her attitude to cause him to react that way?’ My faith started crumbling then and there and to this day, that conversation is a cornerstone to why I’ve lost my faith in Christianity.

Women easily can justify domestic violence when it means preserving their livelihood and family, especially when they’ve been taught that divorce is sin and a threat to society:

Vera (not her real name), argues that abuse is all about intent. “He never punishes me when he’s angry,” she says of her partner. “He doesn’t yell. The worst thing I can do is disappoint him and I do that when I act on one of my character defects.” And do men have any of these defects? Who is there to correct them? “He’s not perfect,” Vera says, “but it’s not my role to point that out. He self corrects.” And as for what a man gets out of it, besides a woman who obeys his every command, Vera says her partner is satisfied by her growth. “He enjoys seeing the person he owns, his property, become the thing God wants her to be. It might sound weird, but that works for me.”

You be the judge. What do you think?

(h/t to Greg G. for the link to this article)

Read more: Battered into Submission: The Tragedy of Wife Abuse in the Christian Home

Why I Don’t Believe in Sin

If you read here often, you know Anne Rice is one of my favorite women. She recently posted this question to her Facebook fans:

What do you think about the word, sin? I think it’s a bad word, a confusing word. It doesn’t help us to meet the challenges we face. What do you think? Do you believe in “sin?” What is it? Can you define it for me and others?

My reply was quite simple: “I don’t believe in sin. I think what people really mean when they talk about sin is becoming a better person. Growing and working on yourself is something we should all aspire to do, but to call our shortcomings “sin” is damaging. Some of the “sin” I used to think I had in the past was actually my personality and some of it was depression.”

Quite simply, the idea of sin is made up by preachers and people who want to perpetuate religion. Is the idea of sin really necessary as a driving force to be a better person? Is guilt necessary to cause us to “confess” our shortcomings? I don’t think so. Before you disagree and point out the Boston bombers or some other example, of course, I agree with you: there are people who do bad things, who hurt other people, etc. But the complexity surrounding these people is much greater than just “He’s a monster,” or “She’s evil.” Rarely is there a moment where things are so simple.

All dark deeds aside, many of us have had religious-induced guilt pounded into our psyche for far too long. So much that we find it easy to “admit we’re a sinner” and ask for forgiveness. Look, I’m fine asking someone for forgiveness that I’ve hurt, but I don’t believe that I should admit I’m a sinner. I’m not a sinner. I’m a good person, but I have emotions. I get angry, sad, glad, upset, depressed, and on occasion  I have a moment of rage. I think that makes me human, not a sinner.

If you want to sell the “sinner” path, great. I hope someone buys your bullshit. As for me, I’ll be over here in “enjoying life” land.

Interested in hearing more of why I left Christianity? Read this piece of work (I say that sarcastically) by John Piper talking about sin: http://www.worldmag.com/2013/04/we_re_all_broken_what_then What complete and total bullshit. I can’t be a part of a religion that teaches this nonsense.

[Thanks to my friend Suzi for the John Piper article link.]