If your experience has been anything like mine, then having a logical discussion with someone very convinced of their opposing view is a very difficult thing.

It doesn't just happen with religion; it happens with everything. People refuse to see the other side of things and jump to anger very quickly. Opinions are hard to sway, sometimes a person's conviction seems stronger just because they're so loath to admit they could be wrong. Religion is very strong because it is very emotional. Atheism is simply logical. Put them together and you get a bloody lip and a cross in your face.

So for those of you who were once believers- Where was the switching point?

Were you ever on the opposite end of the rope as you are now?
Did you ever fight your battles in the name of the Almighty?
What- or who- changed your mind, and when?
Even if you spent most of your life agnostic, did something make you go off completely?

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Good question Jezzy. Alright ...I was never at the opposite end of the debate. I was raised presbyterian, my parents were some times attracted to the big evangelists of the time and I was some what fascinated by their performances as well.
I always had questions that inevitably led to " God works in mysterious ways", or " Its not meant for us to know." In my early life rocknroll certainly kept me from seriously delving into religion, I loved it so much I didnt want to know that I was damned for that pleasure. Then came sex, and I certainly didnt want to hear how I was damned for that pleasure. When I was maybe twelve the Moral Majority was just coming out in the news. Ronald Reagan whom I loved seemed to be reluctantly tied to Jerry Falwell. This bothered me as I knew this Falwell guy was against me. And I didnt want Reagan to be against me.
As time goes on it was always there in the back of my mind, I believed in freedom of expression, be it with art, music, sex , or literature. The Bible beaters were always vociferously against this, and eventually I realized that I really didnt believe any thing they were saying. But I still didnt KNOW it.
Through all this Star Trek was a constant entertainment. I was attracted as a child to its action, and military decorum, as an adult I was beginning to see that Roddenberry had a vision of the future, just as HG Wells and Jules Verne had many years before. Than I stumbled on this show called Cosmos. It was the key stone, like the clouds parting. Carl Sagan was the perfect conduit of scientific information that I needed right then. Many others have come later, and I consume way more works on scientific discovery then I can possibly retain, but o well Thats it in a large nutshell.
Kind of on that Rocknroll note, our church did a 2-week mission activity where you had to give up something like TV, texting, or music that wasn't church music. It confused the crap out of me because the church doesn't necessary disapprove of those things at all, yet they thought it would be some great spiritual trip to get rid of these... it' was like calling them "bad", but I know they would never do so. One of those continual little messages blinking in my head to remind me it's all a lie.
Where to begin with a bottomless cess-pool ? Just a random one that sprung to mind -

Mormon's secretly baptizing dead Jews from old concentration camp records is close to the top of the list.
I did that once. *shifty eyes*

I have no idea who I baptized though; now it all seems so ridiculous...
Can you explain what kind of perverse reasoning can reconcile this as anything short of repugnant ? I seriously would like to know.
I was 10?

I can't explain it for anyone else, Mormonism is like a disease...
Though you've got to admit, it's better to use old records than grave-robbing equipment. We're only baptizing them in spirit, so in a way I guess it's only repugnant in spirit.

Ah to hell with it. It's sick.
I'm glad I was seen as the heathen kid by the time I was 10, lol.... and 10? I thought they waited till age 12 (it's been a long time since I've been in a "chapel", thank dog!)
I started waning in 7th grade. They tried really hard to keep me in. I'm not sure exactly what age, actually. If it's 12 that scares me though because I probably would have been in 8th grade, which is possible but shameful.
Well i had considered myself to be a christian for a big majority of my life. I went to church with mom and started going to this church on wednsdays with friends. but i never actually listed, go figure. Some of my friends went to another church and asked me to come. I said sure. I went there maybe 5 or six times still not listening. Then i actually started to listen to this man talk. I said to myself " none of this even seems logical." Then i started thinking for myself and realizing that it was just a bunch bull. Shortly after i met my girlfriend, who was an atheist as well, who taught me alot of what i know about philosophy and other religions.

The hardest part came about year and a half later when i told my mom. She refuses to give up on me. she prays for me and all this hub bub. I cant tell her to stop because she will get pissed and threaten to kick me out and i do not have a good enough job to pay for a home my car and everything else. its been pretty tough in the last month or so.
I personally was never really a true believer. Even as a kid I think the term Agnostic was probably the best fit. I was raised in predominantly christian communities although my parents never tried to push their beliefs onto me. My view was typically that any God capable of creating all of existence had to be so vast an complex that such a God would be incapable of relating, interacting or even taking an interest in human beings. We would simply be the equivalent of ants. I figured that if such a God existed our actions wouldn't really be of any interest and just wrote religion off entirely. Even at an early age creationism just seemed absurd. It wasn't until last year that I made the full leap to atheism realising that the label of atheism better suited me. This came after reading the God Delusion. My wife who is a non-church attending christian, disapproves of the shift of belief in me and my parents who these days practice Falun Gong also disapprove. For me the funny part of it all is that the two competing faiths can see the absurdity in each other's faiths but not in their own.
Were you ever on the opposite end of the rope as you are now?

I was raised in an amazingly strict Mormon household. I use to be taught that if I should come into a situation where my belief was challenged I should be prepared to die for it. So I spent a good chunk of my childhood years scared half to death of being killed for "our Heavenly Father." Anyway, at about 8 when I was baptized, I started feeling really special for being part of this "adult" ceremony and started taking this stuff seriously. Between 8-12 I was incredibly devout. I would sing hymns and preach to anyone who said or did something that was "Satanic," my big goal in life was going to BYU, getting married in the Salt Lake Temple and going on a mission.... so yeah, I'd say I was probably on the other end of where I am now.

Did you ever fight your battles in the name of the Almighty?

My mother in law is a born again. We have gone head to head several times. She has told me more times than I can count that everything she does, and every reason she exists is because of Jesus. I never really did that, but I'd do other things that were probably just as annoying. When I was a preteen, I'd anonymously drop Books of Mormon off at inactive/non members houses. Like I said above, I would sing hymns and organize little "teaching" sessions with kids at school at recess.... Nothing as direct as my mother in law who told me that Jesus told her that I should be medicated until I believe in Him, but probably just as passively annoying.

Like I also said above, I was taught at home and in church that I should be prepared to die a martyrs death at any moment if I was so challenged, so I was also incredibly focused on how I would die and when. A lot of my energy and actions when into preparing myself for the moment I would be challenged... so a lot of my activity focused on religion, teaching and scripture reading.

What- or who- changed your mind, and when?

My whole process started around the age of 13. I was in Young Women's and the leader read a talk from the Prophet that said that women were discouraged from going on missions. Going on a mission had been my goal for a LONG time so that pissed me off. When I asked the leader why, she gave me some reason that women are meant to be at home, which made me even more mad. I felt like I was being confined because I wasn't born with the proper plumbing. I started asking questions and thus began getting into lots of trouble at church.

At 15 I started reading books that my parents didn't like. My mother found one of the books I was reading in my night stand and freaked out. She called the bishop and I was forced to have 2 hour long meetings with him twice a week about my spiritual "issues." It was basically a man twice my age having a debate with a young, confused, very scared child. These thoughts I was having were completely foreign to me and absolutely unheard of in my family or any social circle I traveled in. Instead of doing anything that even remotely helped, he would scare me even more. Anyway, the last meeting we had he said something I will never forget:

"Sarah, I wish I met you when I was on my mission. You are a tough nut to crack. You know, even Einstein believed in God." He looked so smug and self satisfied the whole time. I felt like this important, pivotal moment in my life was some stupid game to him. I walked out the door of his office then and never saw him again. That was my moment. The second he said that to me I knew that the whole institution was crap... I never looked back and so my journey really began.

It was an incredibly long process with me, I lost contact with my family for about a year over it. We still struggle with our relationship and as I mentioned above I have almost no relationship at all with my husbands family over my atheism, but it's totally worth it. I removed my records from the church three years ago, which was incredibly symbolic to me and probably one of the decisions in my life I am absolutely most proud of.

Wow.. I went off on a tangent. Sorry!

- Sarah
I was also raised Mormon, but with a very different experience. My parents were pretty lenient. My dad seems to give me the idea he's secretly agnostic and my mom never seemed to like church, even though she went. That always kind of gave me the feeling that church was a chore and nobody likes it... and one of the greatest things I did to kindle my Atheism may have been going to an LDS private school for about 5 years. So by the time I started showing a non-theist point of view, my mom was completely appalled, and I guess it surprised me a little. She still doesn't know the full story.

I've also heard about women and missions; again it was less extreme, but pissed me off all the same. I've always been really defensive when it comes to gender roles and the idea that they separate the "god-given" roles of males and females did not sit well. Remember the theme in young women's? And in the young women's booklet not only are all of the projects freakishly scripture-based, but they have a tendency to be very... childish and female. For example, cooking, family service, sewing, etc. Whereas the young men in my ward are building vehicles. No joke.

Of course, Proposition 8 really helped push me over the edge. Hearing is one thing, but living in the heart of that? Really strengthens the heathenism.

Yup, ranting be fun times.

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