I was brought up in a strict christian household. In hind-sight I don't think it was a good thing to be told that if I don't believe I'll burn in an eternal pit of fire from as young as I can remember.  Please share your experience with religion and explain why it was bad, or maybe not that bad, and what pushed you to stop believing in it.

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I thought religion had been bad for me until I read your post.  How awful.  Glad you made it here.

Yes, welcome to a group who is horrified by all that. I can particularly relate to this one: "Thinking that anybody I did not tell about Jesus would burn in hell and that their blood would drip from my hands on judgement day was traumatic." And some of the child abuse. Welcome. It's over. Congratulations for breaking the cycle of craziness and oppression.

Overall, it definitely harmed me. I was brought up in a group that made you believe that the end of the world would come any day; therefor nothing else but doing the Lord's work was of any real value.  I developed the attitude that if things got tough and you didn't like it just drop it, it wasn't that important anyway.  I therefor had a lot of different jobs because anyway, we were "strangers and pilgrims", with no continuing city; moved all over the country.  If it didn't work, I left and came home.  I never believed I would be at the stage of life I am now because Christ should have come, so preparing for the future (except for Christ's return) wasn't important.  I remember hearing a sermon by one of our more prominent and loved elders say "Don't bother going to college, there isn't time."  I looked up to him enormously; I being a man in my early twenties, and felt guilty after a number of years later I did go to college.  His words were spoken in the mid to late 1980s.

I still have a hard time holding a job but am feeling better about my situation.

What a waste.  Like somebody else said it's the time lost that was one of the most harmful things done, as well as my above stated attitude.

My brother told me I left for sex (I'm not married), because according to him that's the only reason you could leave "the truth", as it is characterized in my former denomination.  To him and others who feel similar there is no other valid reason than that.  Pitiful.  What was funny was that it was five years after I left that I finally began having sex again; I had had more sex in the church (mostly with women who were also in it), than I had after I left.  I also dabbled with bisexuality during my 'religious' years and have not since leaving.  Again, I felt enourmously guilty about all of that.  Now I am just trying to find a nice girl that I feel attracted to and settle down with her. 

There really is a lot of anxiety that is laid on religious people that doens't need to be there.  I do accept that there are good things that is taught by religion: ethics, values, love, but the other stuff is just destructive as far as human development.

Yep. Detachment from the real world. Guilt over nothing. *shakes head* What a waste is was, for me too.

Does religion do any harm. I don't think it is religion itself that is harmful, but our interpretation of it. The Bible in both Old and New Testament teach love for god and our fellowman. Yet, both the Hebrews and later the Christians, turned their faith into a blood bath, killing anyone who disagreed with 'their god.' The Bible is a mixture of positive and negative views on faith, and that is where the bible becomes dangerous. The Quaran is pretty much the same. It teaches a merciful and forgiving god, but only when we submit to Allah. Otherwise, we could end up on the chopping block. In the Gita Arjuna is told by Krishna that killing people in war is okay because we are all immortal anyway, so death is only on the physical level. You are only helping them get to the otherside quicker. So comforting.

 

Add to this the relgious groups that embrace 'divine healing' over medical science. How many have died because they did not go to a doctor, passed up a blood transfusion, or something similar. And don't forget those who handle poisonness snakes in their worship service due to an interpretation of Mark 16. Could god possibly have inspired revelation like this which is wide open for interpretations that are dangerous and border on insanity? One has to wonder.

Wow, this is a great discussion.  Glad to see so many stories.  Especially good to hear that people are finding ways to recover from the programming and abuse.  I have a request.  I am writing my next book Sex and God: How Religion Distorts Sexuality.  As I did in The God Virus, I would like to to include some real stories from people.  I am looking for stories of how religion impacted your sexuality or sex life. The submissions will be anonymous and may be edited for clarity, but will be otherwise unchanged.  If you would like to submit a story, please do so.  It should be 750 words or less.  If you go long, we can edit it down so don't get hung up on the word count.  Please let me know if you want to submit a story and when you might have it ready.  I can use your real name if you want, but would need to get written permission from you. Even if you don't have a story, you may know someone that does.  Please pass this along. Thanks for any help.

Dr. Darrel Ray, author of The God Virus: How Religion Infects Our Live and Culture

Darrel, I'd like to submit a story, I sent you a friend request so that we can exchange information.

The following is a Copy of a Letter I wrote several years ago to a Religious Cult and IF required I can state who? -

It is amazing and more than sheer co-incidence the incident that transpired the following day after writing to you (previously), the purpose in writing being of course in part; drawing to your attention the dire and resultant consequences of falsely preaching that "all our sins are forgiven".

I would like to share with you what transpired that following day: -

I was in need of several more A4 sized Clip Folders for safely storing my documents. I took a chance and called into a local Community Store and enquired if they may have any?

Yes! they just happened to have a boxful that had been around a long while and they were anxious to get rid of them.

Some were used and some were new and they were priced at a bargain to take them away quickly. I knew that some would be of no use however it was a bargain.

As I sat at home sorting the good from the bad, I came across one that had scribbling over it. It had apparently belonged to a year 8 female student whose name is still on the old folder.

I also looked inside and there were a couple of scribblings on the inside covers, the back one immediately caught my attention.

Why? because it reflected exactly one of the main points I had discussed in my letter to you and that was again: - the dire and resultant negative consequences of falsely preaching that "all our sins are forgiven".

The scribble is self explanatory: -

SEX IS WRONG

SEX IS A SIN

SINS ARE FORGIVEN

SO SEX IS IN!

 

I rest my case.

I am still in the 'Anger' phase of getting over my religious/bullshit childhood experiences, so please excuse me LOL   My mom was a Mormon convert and my Dad was a nonactive Quaker turned Mormon, so there was a lot of crazy information tossed around my house...to add to that was my mothers love of the 'mystical' and  'supernatural' coupled with her spastical (I may have made that word up?, but it works perfectly for what I'm going for) nature to voice her opinion that any and all wiccan/witchcraft was spun straight from Hell. 

The fact that they were not super active in the church helped because even as a young child I was curious that if they believed this stuff, why weren't they living it...right?  Then as I got older I was into all the 'mystical', 'supernatural' and of course 'wiccan/witchcraft' mainly because it was "fun" and not 'ordinary' ... it allowed my to feel rebelious within the o.k's of my Mother. She would tell fantastic tales about past lives and these past lives being the reasons for any fear or likes that I may have had as a child.  (If anyone has seen that movie 'Big Fish', she was like the Dad w/his stories.)  The problem was...I believed her...  I mean, she was my MOTHER why would anything she said be a blatent lie? So the "bad witches, "MUFON" (the alien activist group which she was a member of LOL), my "Special Aunt" who had powers, the ghosts that may want to talk to us that needed our help, all my past lives...I believed all this and it was my truth.

Then when I realized that she was completly OFF HER ROCKER, I mean Certifiable!  I felt like the biggest  ASS for ever thinking any of it was the truth.  I felt so hurt that she would shove all this crap at me my whole life.

But it was after all those feelings, I came across the one single peice of knowledge I could have ever hoped for...  and it was the fact that SHE  actually *believes* it all. Every word she has ever told me, she stands by it with all of her being.  This is what makes me diferent. This is what makes me know that at the end of the day, I am right, and she is wrong.  What she did was wrong and I firmly believe that. 

But I don't have to believe it! Yeah Baby!!!

So yes, Religion has done me mental harm -if that counts, but I am recovering

My Husband and I don't do anything religious in our house, we tell the truth and look things up together as a family to find out "why" when we don't know what to tell our kids :)        ...breakin' the cycle, and lovin' it!

David, I'm writing an essay on precisely this topic. Here’s the first paragraph just to pique your interest.

The Bible and Koran encourage and condone the worst aspects of human behavior: war, slavery, necrophilia, cruelty to animals, anthropocentrism, suicide, starvation, racism, xenophobia, blind faith, sexism, homophobia, nepotism, denial of reality, self flagellation, dichotomous thinking, torture, human sacrifice, symbolic cannibalism, and other insults to reason. The result has been to distort and pervert the worldview of all who cherish these religious beliefs and have faith in the dictates and promises of professional clerics.

I’ll bet haven’t considered many of the evils in Pandora’s Box. Read on….
I think in the sense of what others who practice in the name of their religion- harm has been done in the world, yes. Realizing the stance of atheism has helped to mitigate some of the personal harm others have brought to my life however. I am able to see that their issues are outside of me, and irrelevant to my process.

Clarence, nice to hear from you after all these months.  I'm back at the keyboard again.  Check out my latest on Racism.  In the above essay, I bet I mention evils of religion few people have ever thought of.  I'm going to splice it all together and make a book out of it.  Guaranteed to blow a lot of minds. 

I didn't get the flouride connection but that's okay.  I streched the logic as far as it'll go. 

Hit above where it says "read on" and we can discuss each evil in Pandora's Box. 

Rich

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