Author Topic: Pentacostal Fundamentalist turned Atheist here  (Read 1712 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Suzy

  • Freshman
  • *
  • Posts: 29
  • Darwins +0/-0
  • Gender: Female
  • WWGHA Member
Pentacostal Fundamentalist turned Atheist here
« on: June 14, 2011, 06:04:25 AM »
I was born in an average Eastern European family pre Iron Curtain. Apart from my paternal grandmother nobody believed in God. That was pretty common in a Socialist country like ours. I wasn't even Christianed as a baby.

However when I was 8 (and the Socialist system was falling down) my parents divorced. Soon after that my father "found God" and joined a fundamentalist Pentacostal Christian church, the kind of "born-again" church that is fairly common in the US, however it was a pretty new phenomenon in our country. (Many still consider these type of churches cults over here.) It was more than 20 years ago and he and his new wife are still devout Christians and attending the same church.

When I was about 12, they took me to the Church and got me convert to Christianity. I did. It was not by force, as a child I believed everything they said. My father was a great authority to me. (In the hindsight: too great, not only about religious matters.) If he said it was the right thing then it was the right thing.

I was raised by my mother (who is agnostic), I visited my father and his wife on the weekends and went to church with them. I missed that he didn't live with us. So I think the fact that I missed my father so much and wanted to do things what were right in his eyes played its part in my conversion to Christianity. But I cannot say I didn't believe in it. I did very, very much. I wanted to do the right thing. My mother wasn't a Christian but she was fairly liberal and let me make my choice and find my way.

However, looking back to this past 20 years, my journey has been a struggle. There were better periods, especially at the beginning, but there were really, really bad periods too. Nobody every really knew about my struggles, because I never told anyone. I felt nobody would understand or care anyway - or if they did, only to criticize me and tell me that I had demons.

The name of this struggle is fear on one side and the feeling of being strongly controlled on the other. I never had fear and a bad conscience before I became a Christian but I had it all the time while I was one! I felt no matter what I did I was never good enough. Even though there were times when I was really devout - I'd even say a fanatic. Actually the more devout I was, the more I struggled inside! Also I had a bad conscience about the fact that I couldn't evangelize. I'm a pretty shy, withdrawn person by nature and it was never my style to impose my ideas on others. So I never got anybody to join the Church. I rarely even tried to. And I had a bad coinscience about that fact because we were told we are here to lead people to God and that as Christians that is our obligation.

Sometimes my inner struggles got as far that I began to feel mentally ill - and as a result sometimes also physically ill. My mother realized something was wrong and she asked me, but I never told her what. I didn't want her to think there was something wrong with my church and religion. There were times when I felt that I was suffocating - almost literally. And I fought with imagined demons. It all because of the fear and constant bad conscience I had!

Also I never really felt home in my church. Never really had friends there. Never really had people whom I felt I had something in common with. I was pretty lonely. I felt the church was trying to "uniformize" people, to make them all behave, dress, think, feel alike. And most of them do. But I felt like a stranger in that environment. I felt like my individualism was under attack. I also felt they wanted to have people under control, tell them what to think and feel about everthing. I couldn't really articulate that then, but I can now.

As a kid I always had a big interest in science (on a kid's level, of course). Astronomy is one of my favourite subjects. But when I started to attend the church that interest kind of got cut off, because of course you were not supposed to get anywhere near sciences which teach that the World is 13.7 billion years old (instead of 6000) or that it started with the Big Bang, or that life on Earth is a result of a long evolution. But a couple of years ago I started to take up astronomy again and started to read a lot of books. And I felt alive again! And I realized that there is something wrong with the Book of Genesis in the Bible. If I'm honest to myself I cannot believe it, when every scientific evidence contradicts it. Cosmology, biology, astronomy, physics - they all come to the same conclusion from different angles and starting points. And, unlike Christianity, they also tell you why. Religion however only expects you to have blind faith on a "just because I say so" basis. Why does God expect it from us? What kind of bad joke would it be from God to give us all the evidence for the Big Bang and evolution - and then punish us for using the brain He gave us and for not ignoring that evidence? If He wants sheeps
who follow Him in blind faith why did He give us brains?

As a believer, of course, I was a supporter of the "science" of creationism. Until I started to read real scientific books and saw the difference between real science and pseudo-science. Creationism is not science. Science needs to be unbiased. You discover the facts and make an unbiased conclusion from them. Creationism works the opposite way: you have a "conclusion" first (that the Bible is right in everything and is to be taken literally) and you try to fit in the facts with them. And if they don't fit, you throw them away and ignore them. That's not science!

Christians tend to think scientists are deliberetaly out to prove that there isn't a God. It it's not true. Scientists are not out to prove there isn't a God (science actually doesn't deal with God). They just respect the facts and make the unavoidable conclusions from them. Many great scientists actually were believers and they had big inner struggles when they discovered facts which contradicted their beliefs (for example Kepler, Darwin). But they respected the facts. I decided to respect the facts as well!

Another thing that put me off is the judgmentalness of Christians. To me that's one of the most disappointing things in Christianity. When I hear Christians talk about how other people will go to Hell. Often I see no love in them, just fear (of Hell) and judgmentalness. And that this is what motivates them, not Love for people or even God. I know because I had that too. And often those people whom they would send to Hell did more good in their lives than many of the so-called Christians.
So am I supposed to believe all that matters is if you believe in the Bible's God, not what you have actually done for people?

Right now I describe myself as agnostic in terms of "a" God, but I'm an atheist regarding the Judeo-Christian God. I won't say there is no God because I don't know. However if there is it's definitely NOT the the Judeo-Christian (or Muslim) God!

Having said that, I don't think I will tell my father that I'm an agnostic/atheist now. My father is ill (waiting for his miracle healing for almost 10 years now....) and I don't want to break his heart. I also won't try to convince them of my beliefs. If they are happy with their faith I let them be happy with it. Who am I
to take away the last straw of hope from my dad? Luckily we don't live together so it doesn't take a lot of pretending. For many years I don't attend church anyway. I slowly drifted away. My father and his wife are putting a lot of pressure on me to go to church though, but I told them I won't.

Ah, this just brought back a memory of a shocking thing that happened between me and my father: Like I said my father is ill for 10 years, which means he cannot get up from his bed and he has a hard time speaking. He can speak but it's hard to understand. But he still evangelises. He writes letters to people he knows and calls them to "come to God". Because I don't attend church, I know, he is also working on a letter to me. He is working on it for a long time. I'm feeling sorry for him, because I know already whatever he writes it won't change anything. But if it makes him feel better and his conscience clear about fulfilling his obligation of "warning" me, then let him write it. But there's nothing new he can tell me about and from the Bible. I have seen it all. So, one day I was working on his computer and I accidentally opened the letter he was writing to me. In it he basically gave me an ultimatim: either I start attending church again or "I don't want to see you again". Wow! That was a chilling moment! I don't think that will be in the final letter that he will send to me (or at least I hope), but it's shocking enough to know that there are at least moments when he is tempted to say this to me! I'm his only child. Is this what religion does to people? I don't think he would ever get as far as really disowning me "for God", but then who knows.....

When I stopped visiting my church and decided not to take religion so seriously (for the sake of my mental health) I started to feel better, more free. But I still considered myself a Christian, only non-deminational. It's only for six months now that I started to articulate and admit to myself that I have lost my faith and I'm an atheist now. When I went through my struggles I did pray a lot to God to free me from them, to help me. I really tried. But I never got a help, never got an answer. It only got better when I started to distance myself from my church and Christianity altogether.

Right now I feel alive! I have no qualms about reading books that I have interest in any more - books that are not welcome by Christianity (books on cosmology, evolution etc.). I feel free to think for myself, make my own conclusions and not let a church tell me what to think or how to feel about everything! And I'm like a child for whom the World has just opened up! I simply stepped out of my bubble and realized there's a lot more to this World than what I saw in the last 20 years. I also feel more tolerant to other people.

In these 20 years Christianity harmed me. How come I got into a worse mental and emotional state while being a Christian than in what I was before? How come that a happy and careless child that I was, became someone with full of fear, guilt, anxiety?
I remember the times when I was so stressed because of it that my stomach was literally aching because of it. I remember when in college I couldn't concentrate in the seminars because of it. I didn't understand it as a Christian but I understand it perfectly now. It's becasue that's the basis of Christianity: to make people feel guilty so that they will feel they are in a need of a saviour.

So when I got back to science it was very liberating because it showed me there is another way. It showed me that the Bible is not above criticism, in fact most of it is simply not true. I have read evolutionist vs. creationist debates and if you read those with an open mind it's painfully obvious which one is supported by facts and which isn't. It was liberating to me because it helped me to get rid of my fear which blocked me from stepping out before.

I'm a so much more happy person now. It's like finally I found myself.

Offline Persephone

  • Postgraduate
  • *****
  • Posts: 798
  • Darwins +7/-0
  • Gender: Female
  • Jamie want big boom.
Re: Pentacostal Fundamentalist turned Atheist here
« Reply #1 on: June 14, 2011, 06:19:14 AM »
Awesome intro, Suzy. It was very inspiring and I enjoyed reading it. Welcome to wwgha!

I could relate to nearly everything you said: one religious parent, one not. Had a mental mind job called fundy Christianity foisted upon you, and it sank its talons so deep that its effects were felt for years. Disgusted with the fearmongering and judgmentalism of Christians--this one is common to people in this forum! Feeling mentally ill because of what religion was doing to you...I could go on, but you get the picture.

(Are you still in eastern Europe? We have members from all over the planet here, which is wonderful.)

I'm a so much more happy person now. It's like finally I found myself.
This is the most shocking thing about becoming an atheist, isn't it? We were brainwashed so deeply into believing that only Pure, Real Joy is found in Christ that to even consider that what we had after religion was real joy felt like blasphemy at first. Reaching that juncture was a real turning point for me, realizing that I had more peace without Christianity than with it.
Sheldon: Ever since you started having regular intercourse your mind has lost its edge. You should reflect on that.
Leonard: Well, Einstein had a busy sex life.
Sheldon: Yes, but he never unified gravity with the other forces. If he hadn't been such a hounddog we'd all have time machines.

Offline Suzy

  • Freshman
  • *
  • Posts: 29
  • Darwins +0/-0
  • Gender: Female
  • WWGHA Member
Re: Pentacostal Fundamentalist turned Atheist here
« Reply #2 on: June 14, 2011, 06:27:26 AM »
Yeah, exactly. I can only laugh at the Christian preconception that atheists are these bitter, unhappy, hopeless people and atheism is a desperate state to be in. It's just the usual Christian fearmongering. In my case it couldn't be further from the truth! I'm a lot happier than I ever was in Christianity! I didn't understand at the time what was my problem with it but I can see it so clearly now! Christianity is oppression - oppression of the mind, the personality. That's what I was protesting against all along, even if not consciously!

Yes, I'm still in Eastern Europe.


Offline velkyn

  • Laureate
  • *********
  • Posts: 15420
  • Darwins +169/-6
  • Gender: Female
  • You're wearing the juice, aren't you?"
Re: Pentacostal Fundamentalist turned Atheist here
« Reply #3 on: June 14, 2011, 09:56:18 AM »
Welcome to the forum!  We have a good time here, even when we disagree  :)

  Could I ask where in eastern Europe?  All my relatives on one side of my family came from Hungary back in the early 1900s.
"There is no use in arguing with a man who can multiply anything by the square root of minus 1" - Pirates of Venus, ERB

http://clubschadenfreude.wordpress.com/

Offline Suzy

  • Freshman
  • *
  • Posts: 29
  • Darwins +0/-0
  • Gender: Female
  • WWGHA Member
Re: Pentacostal Fundamentalist turned Atheist here
« Reply #4 on: June 14, 2011, 10:50:26 AM »
Welcome to the forum!  We have a good time here, even when we disagree  :)

  Could I ask where in eastern Europe?  All my relatives on one side of my family came from Hungary back in the early 1900s.

That's the country, yeah.  ;)

Offline velkyn

  • Laureate
  • *********
  • Posts: 15420
  • Darwins +169/-6
  • Gender: Female
  • You're wearing the juice, aren't you?"
Re: Pentacostal Fundamentalist turned Atheist here
« Reply #5 on: June 14, 2011, 11:25:52 AM »
Cool.  Dudash and Misak were my mom's grandparents surnames.  Of course, I think they were technically married somewhere in what is now Ukraine and probably were technically in Romania at some point too, thanks to the creative borders over there.  ;D
"There is no use in arguing with a man who can multiply anything by the square root of minus 1" - Pirates of Venus, ERB

http://clubschadenfreude.wordpress.com/

Offline Suzy

  • Freshman
  • *
  • Posts: 29
  • Darwins +0/-0
  • Gender: Female
  • WWGHA Member
Re: Pentacostal Fundamentalist turned Atheist here
« Reply #6 on: June 14, 2011, 11:53:01 AM »
Cool.  Dudash and Misak were my mom's grandparents surnames.  Of course, I think they were technically married somewhere in what is now Ukraine and probably were technically in Romania at some point too, thanks to the creative borders over there.  ;D

Yeah, Dudash (we write it "Dud├ís") is a common Hungarian name. There's an old joke here about an old guy who lived in three or four countries, while never ever leaving his village.  ;)

Offline Jezebel

  • Graduate
  • ****
  • Posts: 445
  • Darwins +0/-0
  • Gender: Female
  • WWGHA Member
Re: Pentacostal Fundamentalist turned Atheist here
« Reply #7 on: June 15, 2011, 11:21:48 AM »
I can relate to your experience, too, Suzy-- for a long time I thought I had "demons" and struggled with "them" and didn't tell anybody because I was afraid of their reaction; I couldn't understand why god didn't help me, and I thought it must be because I was just THAT bad. It was terrible, but I don't have to describe it to you, do I? You know exactly how it feels.

Like you, I also came to the conclusion that if god had NOT wanted me to ask questions, he would not have given me a brain. It didn't make any sense otherwise-- like giving a bird wings and then getting mad at it for flying. And we all know where using our brains gets us... here.  ;)

I hope your father doesn't mean it when he writes that ultimatum; I mean, I hope it doesn't show up in the version he actually gives to you, but also it's probably the only thing left he can think of that might get you to "turn back" to god-- whether or not he would actually go through with it, though, is another thing. I think it's a very unfair position to put someone in.

Reading about people's experiences reminds me of my own-- sometimes I forget how really awful it was, and it's important NOT to forget, I think. So thanks for sharing, and welcome.
String1248: "We Christian most certainly can use the bible to prove that what the bible says is true because I know that everything that comes from it is true. Christians confirm scripture with other scripture all the time."

Offline LadyLucy

  • Reader
  • ******
  • Posts: 1408
  • Darwins +1/-0
  • Gender: Female
  • No one leaves the Nightosphere
Re: Pentacostal Fundamentalist turned Atheist here
« Reply #8 on: June 15, 2011, 02:10:09 PM »
Good day, Suzi. And welcome to WWGHA!  :)

I'm glad to hear that you feel liberated and not like a caged bird. I hated feeling guilty. I hated feeling fearful and anxious. The worst part was not knowing what to do about it and how to stop the unknown catalyst to my own self-loathing. I didn't know what was bugging me, but all I knew is what my mom taught me: "Try to pray. It makes it better, because He works in mysterious ways. He'll help you. You no need therapist. You just teenager. God will help you like He helped, and He'll be your best friend forever! He's my best friend, and He always loves me."

Just thinking about what my mom went through is so chilling, especially because I know how much she believes in God. She needed help. And she still does. Whenever something goes wrong or she's depressed, all she does is read her Bible and pray she is no longer miserable. It breaks my heart because she shouldn't be accepting defeat. She needs to talk about what happened to her, not just to me, but she refuses because she says she doesn't have the strength to talk about the horrible things that happened to her.

It's more chilling because every time I look at my mom...I think that would be me if I were so weak. Overly-meak, a nervous wreck, anxious to the core, and depressed on the inside, not wanting to show the world what's really up with her.

You can't help everyone, I guess. I'm still trying to get that through my head. But, at least I started caring about myself for once and decided that enough is enough, and now, I'm at a point where I've never been so happy in my life. Life feels... nice, for once, doesn't it? Oh, I feel like crying; I used to think I would never be happy. I just wish my mom could be genuinely happy, too, and not have to take a deep breath every single time she wakes up to a new day.


Offline Suzy

  • Freshman
  • *
  • Posts: 29
  • Darwins +0/-0
  • Gender: Female
  • WWGHA Member
Re: Pentacostal Fundamentalist turned Atheist here
« Reply #9 on: June 16, 2011, 01:55:59 AM »

Reading about people's experiences reminds me of my own-- sometimes I forget how really awful it was, and it's important NOT to forget, I think. So thanks for sharing, and welcome.

Exactly. I talked to a Christian the other day at my blog. He tried to evangelize but he only reminded me of everything that I hated in it so much: the ignorance, the lies (including lying to yourself), the myths. I would never want to go back to that darkness! I hate it and I'm repulsed by it from the bottom of my heart!

Offline Suzy

  • Freshman
  • *
  • Posts: 29
  • Darwins +0/-0
  • Gender: Female
  • WWGHA Member
Re: Pentacostal Fundamentalist turned Atheist here
« Reply #10 on: June 16, 2011, 02:12:23 AM »
Good day, Suzi. And welcome to WWGHA!  :)

I'm glad to hear that you feel liberated and not like a caged bird. I hated feeling guilty. I hated feeling fearful and anxious. The worst part was not knowing what to do about it and how to stop the unknown catalyst to my own self-loathing. I didn't know what was bugging me

Yeah, this is how I felt too. I know it had something to do with Christianity, but I didn't want to admit it to myself. Or I felt it was my fault. I was like: everybody else looks so happy in the church, how come I'm not? Then I read testimonies on Ex-Christian.net and I realized it's not just me! That other people have the exactly same thoughts and feelings about Christianity than me! This was another liberating moment.


Quote
You can't help everyone, I guess. I'm still trying to get that through my head. But, at least I started caring about myself for once and decided that enough is enough, and now, I'm at a point where I've never been so happy in my life. Life feels... nice, for once, doesn't it? Oh, I feel like crying; I used to think I would never be happy. I just wish my mom could be genuinely happy, too, and not have to take a deep breath every single time she wakes up to a new day.

Same here. I have never been happier with myself. I'm really sorry about your mother!

As for my father, he's a totally brainwashed fundy unfortunately. Like I said he's tied to bed and he won't walk again, so he's only hope is either that God will miraculously heal him or that at least he will have a new life in the afterlife.

I consider religion a drug. Drugs are usually harmful. But when someone is sick a drug can be helpful. That's how I view my father's religious beliefs. For him, perhaps this drug is needed to make through the days, to have some hope. So I won't ruin it. But if he really gives me that ultimatum I won't give in to his blackmail, of course.

« Last Edit: June 16, 2011, 02:14:24 AM by Suzy »

Offline LadyLucy

  • Reader
  • ******
  • Posts: 1408
  • Darwins +1/-0
  • Gender: Female
  • No one leaves the Nightosphere
Re: Pentacostal Fundamentalist turned Atheist here
« Reply #11 on: June 16, 2011, 03:01:37 PM »
Same here. I have never been happier with myself. I'm really sorry about your mother!

My mother is on that drug [religion] and she will never be able to let it go. She's too emotionally attached to it, and it's really her only hope, although I can tell she can't help but ask herself questions going along the lines of: Why does this happen to me? Why am I sad? Why do I feel like I'm not good enough? Why do I have to take these anti-depressants AND anti-anxiety drugs? Why did everything that happened to me before happen to me to begin with?

The only way she got by is the fact she has a family. That already makes her happy, although... She realized later that it is more than just having a family that requires her to be happy. For example, I made her happy simply by listening to her and talking with her, about well, her. She needs to care more about herself. I'm glad that she does genuinely get happy when we talk. Her face just lightens up and it is stress-free! It's something I love to remember.

As for my father, he's a totally brainwashed fundy unfortunately. Like I said he's tied to bed and he won't walk again, so he's only hope is either that God will miraculously heal him or that at least he will have a new life in the afterlife.

I consider religion a drug. Drugs are usually harmful. But when someone is sick a drug can be helpful. That's how I view my father's religious beliefs. For him, perhaps this drug is needed to make through the days, to have some hope. So I won't ruin it. But if he really gives me that ultimatum I won't give in to his blackmail, of course.

In the end, it's that hope that gets them by, and I empathize with people like that, you know? My mom may not be dying, but she feels like she is dying. It's that depression; it just eats her up, even with the meds. The anxiety drugs don't help much either. I don't want her dying feeling like she is unaccomplished, alone, and not worth enough for anyone to listen to her on the inside. She has her husband, which she can completely relate to. But he is not stable either. He is opposite of stable... And he is the primary reason why I couldn't stay with my parents for the rest of my pregnancy while my husband's deployed. I moved to Washington, where I'm at now, only 2-3 weeks of staying there. My dad came home on the last week I was still there, and it completely changed everything.

Needless to say, although my mom and dad have each other, my mom never stood up for me when it came to my dad treating me the way he did. She was just as bad a person as my dad for not being better than that, which makes her a careless parent, when in reality, she really isn't. She does care and she does love me. But she just made excuses for my dad, and still does, for his behavior. Only excuses. And she prays every day for him. [Obviously, that did jack-shit. She still prays anyway. It's that hope and feeling like she accomplished something effect.]

I have a feeling if they were a Muslim family rather than Christian, my dad would definitely be shit-loads worse. He favors my brother over me [male gender being more important to raise, apparently]. I love my brother, and I'm glad my brother can somewhat get along with him [again, my dad being unstable and going from Point A to Point Z], but it made me sad to see as to why he treats him better. I never thought it was about gender, because he still beat him a lot just like he beat me. And, what does my mom do about it? She accepts it.

I guess that's what the old Christian ideals were like. More true to the core. And rather mean. It didn't even require what the Muslim faith does nowdays [an example being covering a woman up]. To my dad, I'm scum, and that's what it feels like, even though my mom said to me for him that "he is so proud of me." I called bull-shit, but she didn't want to talk about it further, just in case she thought about it too much. Being from South America, and Roman Catholicism being a HUGE part of everyone's lives, during my mom's lifetime [and even nowdays there], women come second. There are so many things wrong where she comes from.

It took me too long to realize as to why my parents, and my entire family tree back in Peru, behave and accept this way. My brothers and sister, however, aren't buying it, being exposed to what the USA is like. It's much more secular and nice.


Offline Suzy

  • Freshman
  • *
  • Posts: 29
  • Darwins +0/-0
  • Gender: Female
  • WWGHA Member
Re: Pentacostal Fundamentalist turned Atheist here
« Reply #12 on: June 17, 2011, 02:30:37 AM »
I don't think my dad will ever be able to leave religion.

My relationship with my dad is a bit sad because as a child I was a daddy's girl but now I don't really like to be around him. It's exactly because of what Christianity made of him. Because all he ever likes to talk about is Jesus and sometimes he brings up how I should go to church and he starts to preach about hell and stuff. You know, the usual Christian scare tatics. Of course it doesn't work with me.
At other times he doesn't bring it up and then it's OK. But you never know when he does.
(What if he knew I'm an atheist! He only knows I don't go to church.)
 
Religion made him extremly narrow-minded. He doesn't care about anything else. To his credit, when I'm there and he's not in the mood to preach, he lets the conversation go to other subjects, "worldly matters" but you can feel he doesn't really care. In fact, over the years I realized he doesn't really care about me either and he doesn't know me at all. It started so well when I was a child. Then the divorce, then his conversion to Christianity and we are more like two strangers by now. He's not really a part of my life and I'm not a part of his life. Apart from the occasional courtesy visits when I'm trying hard to avoid any religious talk.
« Last Edit: June 17, 2011, 02:36:53 AM by Suzy »

Online jaimehlers

  • Fellow
  • *******
  • Posts: 4933
  • Darwins +563/-17
  • Gender: Male
  • WWGHA Member
Re: Pentacostal Fundamentalist turned Atheist here
« Reply #13 on: June 18, 2011, 01:22:44 AM »
I feel sorry for the fact that your relationship with your father is basically null.  I have a good relationship with both of my parents, and I cannot imagine what it would be like to not be able to talk with them regularly.  It's interesting to note that religion seldom comes up when I talk with them, and it never comes up in a "conversion" sense.  There are the occasional things we tend to not talk about (my dad doesn't like arguing about politics), but they don't affect the other things we talk about.