Life After Christian Fundamentalism

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Life After Christian Fundamentalism

Recovering from the side effects of Christian fundamentalism is not easy.

•The ongoing fear of Hell
•Rejection from family members
•Ongoing guilt
•Loss of community

If you can relate, join.
This is not a debate group.

Members: 509
Latest Activity: Jul 14

Welcome to "Life After Christian Fundamentalism."

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This group was born out of my meeting with Nate Phelps during the American Atheist Convention in Atlanta.

My wife Angela and I took Nate and his fiancée Angela out to enjoy the evilness of The Varsity. Almost instantly we hit it off, and felt like we had been friends for years. Not only did we have similar backgrounds, but we all shared the desire to help others who were leaving Christian fundamentalism.

I asked Nate to write about his experiences in Atlanta on my blog Life Without Faith. He graciously accepted and you can read it here.

As support for this group, Nate has graciously allowed Atheist Nexus to post the entire transcript of his Atlanta speech. It is long, emotionally moving, and a must read. Check it out here.

Below is a documentary on Nate's Family entitled, "Fall From Grace." Play All Videos In Order (8)

Here is a recent news story featuring my former church:

Brother Richard

Nate's Website: Nate Phelps
My Personal Website: Life Without Faith

Discussion Forum

Video: "Coming Out" to your Evangelical Family

Started by Richard Haynes. Last reply by Joan Denoo Jun 2, 2013. 8 Replies

UU Church

Started by CD Free. Last reply by Dan Tabor Apr 24, 2013. 4 Replies

Comment Wall

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Comment by Drregaleagle on October 21, 2010 at 5:35pm
I loved The Varsity when I went to see Georgia Tech. That's the place with the really really good service right? I think it's like the fastest fast food restaurant in the US. It's Georgia's In&Out burger.

If you want to read a good Old School Primitive Baptist, read John Leland who fought the "hierarchical structure for everything" that Clifford Gliddon pointed out.
Comment by Clifford Gliddon on October 12, 2010 at 10:39am
Adelita, another form of pressure inherent in the xian religious world-view is the notion of a hierarchical structure for everything, and judgement coming from a perceived failure of people to stay in their place. This a false perception, and one which people use only to validate and maintain whatever power they think they have. It helps me to remember that no one is better or worse than I am in any real sense. Many people have greater or lesser skill than I do at whatever task you might choose. Many people are kinder or less kind than I am. Many are more forgiving or less. Many exhibit more or less fidelity, or are more or less faithful. (You get the idea.) The error is in insisting that these measures represent qualitative judgments about the value of the person, when, in fact, they are measures only of the proficiency of a person regarding these things.

The threat of damnation they hold over your head is also apparently false. They (and other religions) having been making these claims for millennia, and to date there has been exactly ZERO evidence for this happening. The same is true of the paradise thing, so the only option left for the reality-based crowd, of which you are a new and welcome member, is to ignore the whole construct because it is unsupported by evidence, and therefore untenable. Remember, THEY are the ones making the claims, so you are not required to do anything to validate your non-theist view. The burden is on them, and as the saying goes, "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence."to what you

It's just like Susan C says: You do not have to feel any guilt. I am adding the idea that there is no guilt whatsoever attached to being a reasonable and sensible human. Any one who tries to lay their own fear-based guilt complex on you is full of shit, so please try not to take it their nonsense to heart. I know it's difficult sometimes, but know that there are 30 million (that 30+six zeros!) of us in the US who identify as non-theist. And from experience I can tell you that most of the religious people I know are non-theist in their actions, which is to say they do not seem to follow any of the dogma of their professed faith -- they just do what they think they have to do.

I hope things work out for you, and I am happy to converse with you and the others in this group. There is a lot of support out there. Stay groovy.
Comment by Susan C on October 11, 2010 at 2:52pm
Hi Adelita D I read your story with empathy. You don't have to feel guilty to enjoy your life outside of religion...
Here is a link to my story, although not by my parents, I was still a young teenager when I got "Brainwashed" by a group of fundamentalist christians... http://exchristianfundamentalist.blogspot.com/2010/03/my-story.html
Comment by Adelita D on October 6, 2010 at 1:23pm
Thank you for commenting and posting Clifford! I have been going through a rough period in the past couple weeks trying to figure out why I sabotage myself in certain efforts. Why I feel so inferior, unworthy, or stupid--knowing full well I am none of these things, but unable to fight what was indoctrinated... :( I belonged to a religion that didn't believe the normal "all people are born sinners" in fact they won't baptize till 8 or older....because that is when we can tell the difference between right and wrong. How many of us did that just to make our parents happy or proud (I know I did). Granted, I have only been away from a church setting for 18 months, only gotten my family to leave me alone for almost a year--but I guess I thought I would snap out of it faster. Sort of like losing weight--we pick it up over 10 years and want it off in 6 months. It is painful (physical weight AND emotional weight).....and I just can't seem to get past the darkness and the overwhelming sense of loss which is also odd as I was always an outcast within the church (Heaven Forbid a church member actually follow the teachings of Christ! You can't really love everyone and treat your children with kindness and respect they will grow up being bratty and irresponsible, etc...roll eyes here)...and an outcast to my mother and sister. I was always wrong and they could do no wrong. Mom was seen as a saint you couldn't do anything about that she was so selfless and giving to others--but destroyed her family at home with neglect, physical abuse, verbal abuse and fear. The evil feeling in our home was palpable to those who lived there, but anyone from the outside coming in thought we were "close" and "so spiritual". By age 15 I couldn't wait to graduate and be out of that house. At age 17 I moved out but started feeling guilt and thinking I should give them another chance, maybe I was too harsh or maybe I just didn't understand. I have been fighting myself ever since, mostly because I found out they would never change and partly because I wanted a good relationship with a parent that would never happen. To be good or to not go to church because you can't have one without the other and "those Atheists and Agnostics" (said in *that* tone) who are just trying to ruin the world and THE TRUTH! :( *sigh* I never felt I had a place I could go or people I could turn to. I have been reading so many stories similar to mine and wondering how loving parents could do that to their children....I am not sure mine knew how to love...and when they found religion they changed as much as they could about themselves -- obviously they missed the most important things like not beating your children almost to death or ignoring them completely and leaving the 8 year old eldest to stay home and watch over the 4, 3 and 2 year old...and blaming all things the younger ones did on the eldest not "controlling" the younger ones. Dumping on their children responsibilities they are not ready for and punishing them for not succeeding in control they couldn't even accomplish then wondering why that child wants nothing to do with them....sorry, venting now....lol It is just so frustrating and right under the surface right now....Thanks all for listening and for writing in comments, they really do help!
Comment by Paula T. on October 6, 2010 at 12:25pm
I was in somewhat the same situation. I was raised Roman Catholic, but also doubted and questioned from the time I attended a Catholic grade school. I still considered myself a believer when I met my Catholic boyfriend four years ago. After much reading and soul searching (haha), I recently admitted to myself and a number of others about being atheist and my boyfriend now knows about this, too. Thankfully, it has not changed his feelings for me. He is a 'typical' Catholic, no grace before meals, no weekly mass, no reading the bible.......I think it's more the fact that when you are born into a religion, it remains an ascribed status - you identify with it, but you don't know a whole lot about it. My hope is to slowly give him thoughts and ideas that religion is BS, but it has to be done very slowly. The one bit of advice I can give is that if your current boyfriend does not accept your belief system, you will be happier moving on and finding someone who shares your beliefs. Hopefully, your boyfriend will see that you ARE the same person as before! To remain with someone who may try to convert you will only lead to arguments, unhappiness, and feeling unsatisfied. There is no easy answer to this, but know that in time, things will work out. Since giving up all belief in religion, I feel so free and so much happier. That, itself, if a priceless gift. Good luck, Xiuntao :)
Comment by Clifford Gliddon on August 19, 2010 at 7:46pm
I've been somewhat of a lurker in this blog for some time, a lurker because I was never a xian fundamentalist, and I grew up in an atheist family. I have to admire everyones' strength of conscience and commitment. Although I felt the pressure to comply and conform to the culturally-embedded, bible-belt status quo as early as I can remember, it was undoubtedly not much compared to what you all have had to face. I did have most of my relatives from rural Texas, so I have seen that old time religion first hand.

An interesting thing is that as far as I know none of them were haters -- they did not want to kill the poor, or the gays, or blacks or Mexicans, or whatever, or at least they did not say so. We see so much of that vile hatred these days, partly because of the media's interest in stirring up trouble instead of doing actual work.

My reason for posting is really to give a partial answer to Adelita's question about why the xians think they have a corner on the moral market. Part of it is a result of the fear-based structure that the religion has raised from nothing for supposed moral self-examination. In their scheme you can never succeed -- You are always a "worthless sinner." I suspect that the members on this blog understand better than most what it feels like to be (allegedly) condemned to a path that you can never complete on your own. I think this creates a desperation about fear of failure (the consequences are dire), and a continuing sense of "we *must* be doing the right thing (or else), so everybody who does not agree is wrong, sinful, imbued with satan's intentions, etc.

In the real world without gods, we just take our best shot and learn to take responsibility for the results as part of the maturation process, and that in itself is yields a tremendous sense of freedom. We do what we do, and recriminations are a practical concern instead of an eternity (whatever that means) in a hell of something bronze age goatherds thought was scary.

You guys are great. Hope you don't mind my reading and posting.
Comment by Adelita D on August 16, 2010 at 12:48pm
Why is it that the Christian world can not fathom moral atheists? What is it that makes them feel they have the corner on the moral market? Have they actually read what the men in the OT Bible were like? I just don't get it. They say they are moral and the only ones who can be because God told them to be that way....yet they are also the ones who have trouble staying off the temptation bandwagon just like everyone else......
Comment by Xiuntao Kyomoira on August 16, 2010 at 12:36pm
My brother is studying to be a Christian pastor. I tried to tell him about my atheism in a hypothetical manner only to be met with the expected judgmentalness that made me take the red pill and wake up from the "God Matrix." He was shocked when I informed him that Bill Gates, Seth Macfarlane and Brad Pitt are ALL atheists. Yeah, atheists with morals, imagine that!!
Comment by Godless Granny on August 15, 2010 at 9:13pm
The majority of posts I read about former Christians turning atheist are mainly by young adults--either teens or twenty-somethings with occasional married people with young kids. However after a lifetime of fundamentalism, my husband and I left the church when we were in our fifties. We have been non-believers for about 10 years now. Instead of coming out of the closet to our parents, we had to come out of the closet to our grown children. All but one of the kids took it just fine. But our oldest son went to bible college and now works for a fanous Christian evangelist and he is giving us all kinds of hell about it. He called my husband I liars and is telling his kids that we are going to hell, etc. etc. He lives across the country from us and I doubt we will ever see much of him, much less the grandchildren. The last time we visited him all he talked about was the ministry he was involved in---nothing else. I understand why he's upset since we raised him as a Christian and then we left the church after he grew up. It's usually kids who are suppose to change their views not older folks like my husband and myself, but life is all about growing and learning and we just finally grew up and grew out of needing religion. Also my husband was a preacher's kid and although his parents are now dead, his siblings are harassing us trying to get us to come back into the Christian fold. While I am quite happy and content with my non-theist views now, our fundy relatives are truly making it a hell on earth for us.
Comment by Chris Highland on August 1, 2010 at 3:07pm
Some may find my outline "Other Rivers: An Exit Strategy," included in the appendix of my book Life After Faith, helpful for encouraging folks to feel safe leaving their faith traditions (choosing another river) without entirely abandoning (radically inclusive) community--as rare as that is.
 

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