Back in 2006, when I was just coming to terms with my lack of belief in religion or a deity, one blogger in particular was a true inspiration and encouragement to me. gasmonso of ReligiousFreaks.com lent me his ear on more than one occasion when I was struggling with issues, and provided humorous and enlightening reading material to boot. In early 2007, after reading my post "Me at 17", gasmonso offered to post a Q&A concerning my beliefs and my experience as a former evangelical on his site. I was quite excited, and accepted the task. Several individuals on his site submitted questions, out of which 15 were chosen and answered by me.

ReligiousFreaks.com has fallen a bit by the wayside in the world of blogging; the last post there was in January 2009. Not wanting to lose that Q&A session that was so much fun and really meant a lot to me, I've decided to copy it here to my blog, if only for reference as safekeeping. Keep in mind that some of my answers now would be a little different, as I've grown and learned a lot since then.

Without further ado, I give you "Just Ask deletedSoul".

There's a growing trend young adults becoming active recruiters. The use of peer pressure and training has lead to the so-called para-ministers mostly working their way into social circles in schools and such. I’d go so far as to say a lot of these people are also quite skilled at dealing with arguments against creationism. I feel it's just sophisticated brainwashing but I'm sure you have a interesting angle on it. - So what's your opinion of young evangelicals today? -Revlic
Their faith is as fickle as any other popular trend that they decide to adopt. It wasn’t all that long ago that I was among the ranks of the young people who were determined to change the world. For the most part, this fervor only lasts until the music is over and the exciting frenzy of charismatic camps, services and “revivals” has faded away. The frantic "I've got to save everyone!" mindset usually goes by the wayside once the person is away from those who encourage him to be that way. For those who try to stand out and be different, it doesn't seem to be so much to be a good "Witness", but rather for the attention it garners. Those who are persecuted for their faith get a boost in self-esteem, as well as near martyr status among their Christian peers. As long as the hype and attention is there, they will continue to follow the teachings of the Christian community - and it becomes much more likely that they will carry these ideas into adulthood. That is why you see more and more charismatic churches, camps, concerts and revivals popping up. They want to keep them excited so they will stay hooked. –deletedSoul

How would you categorize and/or describe your current view of religion? Non-evangelical Christian? Agnostic? Atheist? Pastafarian? Other? -Sidfaiwu
I would say that I fall into the Agnostic category. I feel that the question of "is there a god" cannot be proven one way or the other. I am leaning a bit to the Pastafarian side, however. :) –deletedSoul

Is your family aware of your choice to reject their beliefs? If so, how did they react when they found out and how do they treat you now? -Sidfaiwu
My family is aware that I no longer attend church, and that I have questioned a lot of the beliefs I once held dear. If they were to ask me point-blank how I felt about being a Christian, I would explain my views, but I chose not to broach the subject until I feel that the timing is right. –deletedSoul

Do you go through a period of deep resentment for being lied to? I know I did, and still do from time to time. -Sidfaiwu
I honestly do not feel that I was knowingly lied to. I do, however, feel anger at my own delusion and apparently inability to see through the fallacies of that belief system. I really have no right to be angry with anyone but myself. –deletedSoul

What does it mean for someone to be an "evangelical" in your mind? -Scott
For me, it was a belief that the Bible (preferably KJV) is the infallible word of God. That being "worldly" is unacceptable, and the more faithful you are, the more in tune with God you are. Evangelicals do not follow doctrine for the sake of tradition or social standing. They choose this way of life because they truly believe that it is the only way to avoid the fires of hell. –deletedSoul

If you feel, as Sid said, that you've been lied to, what was the lie? -Scott
I do not feel that it is a lie so much as a willing delusion. When you are in that lifestyle, it truly feels that there is no other lifestyle that could ever be acceptable. Regardless if you were raised to believe it (which is brainwashing, in my opinion), you feel that you made the choice of your own free will. As an Evangelical, it's not an option; it's the only option. –deletedSoul

You say that you'd never be part of a church again. Do you mean any church, just a Christian church, or that particular sub set of Christianity? -Scott
I truly do not see the logic in spending hours out of my week in a building dedicated to something I no longer believe. I wouldn't mind being a part of a group that focuses on furthering education, tolerance and helping others. However, as long as there are hidden agendas (Let's get 'em saved, then we can help 'em!), I keep my distance and help people the way I choose to. –deletedSoul

When you were still, how do I say this, "under the influence" of faith, what was your opinion of those who didn't believe? I oftentimes wonder just what most evangelicals actually think. I find it tough to believe that most of them are as radical as the loudest few are, and so I wonder. -Snurp
It's a mixture of feelings really. On one hand, I usually kept my distance from nonbelievers unless I was delivering "the good news" to them. It's almost as if I was afraid they would be a negative influence on me, or maybe a little "sin" would rub off. I would usually pray for those who I know did not believe, and felt remorse if someone died without "Jesus in their heart". –deletedSoul



How did others you knew react to nonbelievers/those of other faith/those "not faithful enough"? Did it seem like some of them really weren't that fanatic about it? -Snurp
Most of them felt the same way I did about nonbelievers, as if their presence was somehow toxic, and yet presented an opportunity for conversion. Of course, the exception was anyone who was an outspoken opponent of Christianity or its values. In those cases, they may well have been the devil himself, as much as they were feared and loathed. –deletedSoul

Did it seem like for many it was just being pushed along and a fear of alienation, or something else? Or is it really that involving? From what I've seen, much of it these days is about creating a virtually intoxicating experience and then trying to affect people's opinions under this kind of state. -Snurp
It's really that involving. You get caught up in a whirlwind of fervor, and want nothing more than to be the apple of God's eye. You hit the nail on the head. It is definitely intoxicating, exciting and frightening all at the same time. –deletedSoul

As a former Christian, I think you can well understand the difficulties in reconciling the idea [delusion] that a loved-one is "doomed to hell" "” it is because of this, I've continued to lead my aunts/uncles and cousins to think that I'm still Christian for over a decade. I still have difficulty with this because it's intellectually dishonest for me, but as one who used to be part of the "dark side", and you know as well as I do that this allows me to avoid a lot of unnecessary pain and hassle on both sides. - What do you think of this policy? -rob
I well know how saddening it is for a Christian to feel that their loved one is going to hell. It certainly varies from family to family, but if your family is anything like mine, it would cause too much pain for it to be worth the clearing of your conscience. –deletedSoul



What have you done in your life, and your move out of your church to deal with family and friends who care and love you? -rob
My family is aware that I no longer attend church, and that I have questioned a lot of the beliefs I once held dear. If they were to ask me point-blank how I felt about being a Christian, I would explain my views, but I chose not to broach the subject until I feel that the timing is right. I'm not sure if the timing will ever be right, but it's not something I am in a rush to deal with. I do not see my family often, so that makes it easier for it to be a non-issue. –deletedSoul

What did your husband do for you to support you on your journey from Evangelical to where you are now? -DeusExMichael
He simply asked me "Why". When we would discuss my faith and doctrine, he asked me why I believed that, and refuted all the canned answers and cliches I threw at him. At first I was angry, but slowly, I started to step back and take a long, hard look at my faith. Strangely enough, I think he has more religious faith than me nowadays. –deletedSoul

Do you remember if there was a specific argument or moment that made you change your mind about religion? -vk0
There wasn't a specific time and place that I can remember suddenly changing my mind. It was a slow (and often painful) process. As I often say, no one has the corner on truth, so there is still a lot for me to learn about the world that I never allowed myself to learn before, simply because I feared the wrath of God. –deletedSoul

Why do you think you shouldn't tell religious people they are/might be wrong? -Alcari
I remember my mindset as a Christian. Until someone is ready to accept questions about their faith, you might as well be talking to a brick wall. It's not my job to convince anyone that what they believe is wrong. I don't mind debating with someone on even ground, or putting my thoughts and ideas out there, but I did enough proselytizing as a Christian to last a lifetime. I do, however, wish I could go to each of those people I tried to convert and tell them I was wrong, and apologize to them. –deletedSoul

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