Openly Atheist

This has been an eventful week.  This past Sunday I called my dad and finally told him outright that I don’t believe in the religion he raised me in.  I told him I don’t believe in God or any of it any more.  He basically told me that he was sorry to hear it, but that he still loves me.  Gotta love him!
A few days ago Ryan Bell over at Life After God asked people to post messages on their social media using #IWantBelieversToKnow.  So I did. I posted #‎IWantBelieversToKnow‬ that the more I studied and prayed about god, and the more I asked him to reveal himself to me, the more questions I had that religious folks couldn’t answer. I seriously tried… For years.”  Now I’m knee deep in a FB conversation between a whole lot of people on both sides of the fence.  It’s very interesting, and no one is being rude.

So yeah.  I’m completely out now.  I am an open atheist.  Hopefully my openness will make it easier for someone else to be open about their lack of belief.

I Outed Myself at Work Today

Today was our first day back after Christmas break.  We had faculty meetings scheduled for the entire day.  Sadly, over the break, one of our students was tragically killed in a home invasion.

To start the faculty meeting, our principal spoke to the tragedy and said that she knows prayer makes a difference.  She asked everyone to join hands and asked one of the teachers to pray.

I stayed in my seat.  I also noticed that a couple of our staff members who are Jehovah’s Witnesses stayed seated as well.  A couple of teachers around me offered me a hand to hold, but I politely declined.  They all moved over away from me toward the circle of hand holding.  One of the teachers turned around and motioned with her head for me to join the circle, and I smiled and shook my head.

After more than 15 minutes of preaching, several prayers, and some possible tongue talking, they all made their ways back to their seats.

At the first break the teacher who motioned me to join the group came over and asked why I didn’t join the prayer: “Don’t you believe in god?”  I smiled and answered that I didn’t.  A couple of other teachers nearby overheard and said they thought I went to (my former) church.  I said that I used to, but not anymore.  They seemed like they thought I was joking with them.  But I reassured them that no, I do not believe in god.  There was a little more discussion about why, but I only had a few minutes before the meeting started back up, so I couldn’t really get into it.  I did say that after studying the scripture more closely I realized what a horrible god the god of the Bible is.  I told them that for him to be worthy of my worship he would have to be as good as I am.  And since I’ve never killed, ordered genocide, or ordered the rape of little girls that I must be better than god.  “It’s in the Bible”, I told them.  Hopefully it will pique their interest and they’ll get in a little study time.

Word was spread to one or two others who informed me that they would be praying for me.  Thanks?  Is that supposed to make me feel better?

Either way, there were a few funny looks and a bit of denial, but nothing bad happened as a result.  Hopefully it will all stay well in the future.

Update

Hey folks,  It’s been a while since I’ve posted.  I’ve been dealing with some personal issues.  A lot has been happening, but I’ve been having trouble with motivation.  That probably has to do with the fact that I have been diagnosed with major depressive disorder.  I think it’s got a lot to do with my religious upbringing, among other things.  I have been on medication for the last month and it seems to be helping.  I finally get to meet with my therapist for the first time tomorrow.  Hopefully she will help me start working on some of my issues.  This is a big step for me.

Among other things going on…

I got to go to the launch party for Ryan Bell’s new initiative, Life After God.  I took my wife (who is still a christian) and she did the most amazing thing.  When Ryan asked for people to give their opinions on what the movement should focus on, she got up in front of a bunch of atheists and said that she thinks there needs to be more support for people coming out of religion who are still married to religious spouses.  That blew me away!  I was really having doubts about our relationship until that moment.  Sure, there are still things we need to work through, but that’s coming along.

Neil Carter of Godless in Dixie was there and he took a few moments to speak with me and my wife.  He is such an amazing person for caring enough to take the time to give us some advice and try to help us out.  I cannot say enough how thankful I am.  He recommended we read the book In Faith and In Doubt together.  We have started reading it and making notes.  Amazing stuff!  I really think this is going to start some conversations that will improve our relationship and help us for the long run.

There were several other people I met who made a tremendous impact on me.  Cass Midgley of the podcast Everyone’s Agnostic spent some time talking with us.  What a great guy.  He offered to have us on the podcast, but I haven’t contacted him as of yet.  I may do that as soon as I am finished writing this post.

We also met one of the guests that Cass had on his show, Hugh Mann.  He has a great story to tell that shows just how difficult it is to be a nonbeliever in the general area I live in.  What a great guy!

Another great thing that happened just this Saturday was a conversation with my little sister.  She is the one who is no longer a oneness pentecostal, but she is still very christian and very conservative.  Recently she asked me how church was and I told her that I hadn’t been going.  Well, this last Saturday while talking to her she asked whether I was an atheist or an agnostic or what.  I came out and told her point blank that I was both.  To my surprise she said she loves me anyway and she doesn’t want this to mess up our relationship.  She also made a comment that makes me think that my dad will be OK with my non-belief as well, but that is another conversation I will have to have later.

The last thing I’d like to mention is that I received David Silverman’s new book, Fighting God: An Atheist Manifesto for a Religious World.  I read it in about two days (in my free time) and I can now say, “I get it!”  I understand why he seems so confrontational.  It’s all about equality.  If you are a closeted atheist, or any stripe of nonbeliever, you should seriously consider reading this book.  He talks about the reasons American Atheists do what they do and how it helps all of us who are nonreligious.  As a result of reading this book, I joined American Atheists, and I have some advocacy plans (tentative) for the Freethinkers Meet-Up group I fellowship with.  I haven’t discussed it with them yet, but I think they will be on board.

That’s what’s been going on with me.  Sorry for taking so long to post.  I think I’m back on the uphill.

Boy Scout Dilemma

So I’m in a quandary…

My youngest son decided a few months ago that he wanted to join the Boy Scouts.  (When I was a kid, I wanted to be a Boy Scout as well.  I actually went to a meeting when I was in sixth grade, but there were only two of us there so the troop never formed.)  We have been trying to get him involved in some kind of activity for a while, so we were kind of excited when he said he wanted to do this.  I took him to the first meeting and it seemed like a good thing.

We went to the second meeting and all was well.  He decided to stick with it, and now he goes every week.  He’s even been on a weekend campout with the troop and had a decent time- minus the flooded tent and a bit of throwing up in the middle of the night.  He’s earned his first merit badge, and seems to be getting along pretty well.  It’s kind of nice that he has something to be involved in that he is excited about and that was his idea.

But a couple of weeks ago, the assistant scout master asked if I was willing to get a little more involved.  Maybe I could be start training to be an assistant scout master or at least a volunteer… Yeah, sure.  I would love to be involved.

Except…

The Boy Scouts require all of their members and volunteers to affirm a belief in god.

That’s not a problem for my son.  He still goes to church with his mom and (I guess) believes in the magic man in the sky.  He knows that I don’t believe all of that.  We’ve even had conversations about what an atheist is and what the difference is between an atheist and someone who just doesn’t go to church.  But that’s not the problem.

To be a scout leader or volunteer, I would have to sign a form professing my belief in a god of some form.  I’m not sure I could do that.  I would love to be involved and go on camping trips with him and maybe even help out in a more formal fashion, but I can’t sign something that isn’t true.

I’ve tried to rationalize this by considering a humanist point of view, (and this is my finagling of the definition) that humans are the “higher power” in the world, and thus “god”.  I’ve even read articles that show that Buddhists and Universalist Unitarians are accepted as scouts even though they don’t necessarily believe in a god, per se.

I don’t know what exactly to do.

Maybe I’m still trying to work out my openness as someone who doesn’t believe in a god to be able to come to a conclusion.

Maybe I’ll have a discussion with the leadership next week and see what their opinion is.

Leaving the Fold, Exercise 5.1

I started reading Leaving the Fold: A Guide for Former Fundamentalists and Others Leaving Their Religion by Dr. Marlene Winell.  I had seen it referenced by several others, but recently I’ve been stressing about some of the feelings I’ve been having as a result of moving on from christianity.  Being one to look for answers, I came across this book again, so I decided to give it a go.

Throughout the book are exercises that the reader can complete in order to clarify his/her thinking on a number of issues that are discussed in the book.  Following is my response to Exercise 5.1.

Take some time to review your own reasons for deciding to leave your religion…

Reason 1: Early on it was cognitive dissonance.  When I left home to join the Army, I realized that many the things my church preached against were not all that bad.  I had my first drink of alcohol and the world didn’t fall apart around me.  I had relationships with women, some sexual, most not, and the world didn’t fall apart around me.  There are other things that continued to give me cognitive dissonance throughout my adult life.  Whenever the church said something and the facts didn’t match up with what they were saying, I kept the faith, but eventually these distinct items piled up so high that I left my original church in a rather heated way.  In the book, Winell related the story of a man who was asking questions of his pastor, and the pastor had no logical response.  The pastor finally told him to face the fact that his asking these sorts of questions were nothing more than sin, effectively cutting him off from further questioning.  This is very similar to how I left my original church.  I started asking questions about the specifics of the oneness pentecostal doctrine that set it apart from the rest of christianity.  I sent a letter to the pastor asking him to clarify or justify some of these specifics according to the bible.  After a series of email exchanges, he finally said the following at the close of his last email:

I will say again: you are making a huge carnal-minded human-will motivated mistake. No Child of God, truly submitted to the will of God, would have taken the steps away from Truth that you have taken. You’ve made decisions that, in time, your family will regret; they could even lose confidence in and respect for you.

Again, cognitive dissonance: My family seems to have more respect and confidence in me than ever before.

Reason 2: Facts and information.  After leaving that church I started trying to find the right version of christianity; you know, the one that is completely in line with the bible, as close to the original church as is modernly possible, and has a direct connection to the original church.  What I discovered was that there are way too many versions of christianity, and all of them differ in meaningful ways, and most of them reject the others because they aren’t teaching the truth.  As this search continued, I found books about the problems with the transmission and writing of the bible, the historicity of the biblical accounts, and the archaeological finds that disprove biblical accounts. These books lead to other books about the problems with christianity itself.  I realized that christianity doesn’t hold up when examined point by point.  After learning all this new information there was no way I could continue to call myself a christian or believe in any of its tenets.  I think it is important to point out that I wouldn’t have gone down this road if it weren’t for my incessant need to be “right”.  All I wanted to do was find the truth.  My main goal was to find the right church so I could be right in god’s eyes.  Now from the other side of this experience, I see the real irony in it all; I was trying to find god, and in the process I lost him.  It’s not that I really believe that I lost him.  The truth is, I don’t see any evidence for the existence of a supernatural being of any type, and especially not the one portrayed in the christian bible.

Reason 3: Christian love.  The more I think about it, the more I realize how truly unhappy I was with the relationships I had with fellow christians.  They were all very flat; they were surface-level relationships with no real substance.  After church, shaking hands with people I remember all the hugs and “I love you, brother”s, but when it came down to it, none of them were really interested in me as a person or my thoughts or feelings.  All they cared about was what I could do for the church.  After leaving both churches, only a small handful of people even checked in on me in a meaningful way.  And the causes they supported weren’t really doing anything good in the world: “Let’s send missionaries to Africa to starving, homeless people, not so we can feed and clothe them, but to convert them to our religion, because their eternal soul is more important than their physical suffering…” Total BS!

There are other things I could write about that caused me to leave, but I think these were the big three.  The cognitive dissonance lead me to try to learn as much as I could, which was the straw that broke the camel’s back.  And all of this was underpinned by a need for deeper, more meaningful relationships with other people, not the flat relationships I had in the church.  It’s a lot easier to see these things looking back.  At the time, I was mostly feeling a great mental and psychological stress and even went into a serious depression for a while.  To this day I still deal with the lingering effects of that depression.  Hopefully reading this book will help me work though these issues and get me on track to get on with life.

That is all.

Sordid Stories From A Former Life

With this whole Kim Davis (the county clerk in Kentucky who refuses to issue marriage licenses despite a supreme court order) situation being in full swing, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to enlighten the viewing public on her version of christianity.  I, myself, was raised in her particular version of christianity, oneness pentecostalism.  When I was old enough to leave home and do things for myself, I became a member at a church which belongs to the same denomination that Kim Davis currently belongs to.  I think I have an understanding of her and her church’s mindset, since I was raised in it and fully bought in to it until my mid thirties.

The following are true occurrences from the United Pentecostal Church (UPC) that I attended, and still have a few contacts with, mostly through my wife, who has occasional friends who still attend there.

The pastor of the church has two daughters, daughter 1 and Carla.  Daughter 1 is married to son in law 1, who is the brother of Patrick.  Patrick used to be married to Carla.  They were married when Carla was still in high school by the pastor’s mother, who was the former pastor of the church.  Her words, upon the announcement of this marriage were, “It’s better to marry than to burn.”

After giving birth to a son and enjoying a few years of wedded bliss, Patrick and Carla divorced and Patrick left the church for a little while to regain his composure, or whatever.  Eventually he returned and got involved once again in the church.  A while later, Patrick married Wendy, who is the daughter of Judy.  Judy is the second cousin or some close relation of the pastor’s mother, so there is a family connection there.  So Patrick and Wendy get married and Wendy gets pregnant.  Shortly after Wendy gets pregnant, she finds out that Patrick was having an affair with a coworker, who ends up pregnant as well.  They get divorced.  So now Patrick has three sons from three different mothers, and two of the sons are within a month or so of each other.

All while this is happening, the pastor’s personal assistant and the official church decorator, Donna, decides to divorce her husband, who is also a faithful member of the church.  I’m not sure of the details, but the rumors are that they hadn’t been happy for years and were waiting for both of their kids to grow up and leave home before they split.

I have no real evidence of this, but it’s my opinion that the pastor and Donna might have been/currently are having an affair.  One night (several years ago) at a youth function in the gym, I was showing a guy from another church around the facility.  He asked to see the sanctuary of the church, so I took him through the back door to the platform.  The pastor was sitting at the piano, playing softly, while Donna was sitting on the piano bench by his side with her stocking feet up on the bench and her arms curled around her legs.  The lights in the sanctuary were low.  As soon as I walked in, I felt like I had invaded a special moment.  I let the guy look around and quickly ushered him out.

Donna was still married to Mark at the time.  It wasn’t until after I left the church that they divorced.  I don’t know the current situation with Donna, except that she is still a very central figure to the happenings at the church.  However, I do know about her husband, Mark.

After the divorce, Mark married Kerri.  Kerri had previously been married to Brian, who has been the bass guitar player for the church since before I was going there.  Brian apparently had some alcoholic issues so he and Kerri divorced, then remarried, then divorced again.  And now Kerri is married to Mark.

Brian, meanwhile married Alisha, who is the brother of one of the former ministers in the church, Chris.  Chris, who had been married to his wife since they were young and in love, recently divorced his wife and went off and married some “tattooed, pierced floozie”, as one of my wife’s friends called her.

Back to Patrick and son in law 1-  Their dad, or step dad, or whatever he is, several years ago indecently exposed himself to some kids and was sent to prison for several years and is now a registered sex offender.  I recently went to a party held at Judy’s house in honor of Wendy’s son.  Patrick and son in law’s dad was there and everyone just treated him like he was part of the family; no worries about the kids or anything whatsoever.

The weirdest part of this whole situation is that ALL of them refuse to find another church.  They all insist on continuing to go faithfully every Sunday and Wednesday to sit near their former spouses, etc. and hear “the word of god” as preached by a pastor who claims that none of the other churches in town have “the truth”.  I recall once in a sermon he said something to the effect of: “If you want to hear preaching that makes you feel good about your sin, go to the church down the street.  But if you want the truth, and to make it to heaven, you have to stay in the boat.”  And by boat, he meant his church.

If this is not the definition of a cult, I don’t know what is!

That is my experience with the kind of church Kim Davis attends.  Now you know what she means when she says that she’s an “apostolic” christian.  I’m not saying this goes on in every UPC/ apostolic church, but if the one I attended is any indication, there’s a good chance that it does.  No wonder Kim Davis has been divorced three times, yet still, in defiance of the supreme court, refuses to issue marriage licenses to those who she disagrees with because her pastor taught her to disagree with them.

Such a strange situation all around.

Shadows of a Former Life

So this crazy woman, Kim Davis, who is the county clerk in Rowan County, Kentucky, the one who is refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples even though the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of our gay brothers’ and sisters’ marriage rights, is a believer in the same faith that I escaped from.

When she first made the news I thought her hair style and manner of dress were a bit peculiar.  After a little research, I have confirmed my suspicions that she does, in fact, attend a UPCI church “whenever the doors are open”.  All of this sounds so familiar-  “we are a peculiar people”, “whenever the doors are open”…

Looking at the situation as it develops, from the original video where she denies a couple their marriage license up to this past week’s happenings, I can say that I am SO FUCKING HAPPY that I am no longer mixed up with that utter bullshit.

That’s it, folks.  Short post.  I just wanted to give you an example of what I once was and no longer am.  In the words of the old spiritual: “I once was blind, but now I see”!

Coming Out of the (Non-belief) Closet to My Younger Sister

When I got home this evening my wife was on the phone with my little sister.  I haven’t talked with her in a few weeks, so I grabbed the phone and we spoke about life and kids and all kinds of typical long-distance sibling stuff.  Somewhere along in the conversation, she asked me about how church was going…

I said that I didn’t know.  She reacted in a questioning manner.  I figured that now is the time, if ever it was.

So I told her that I haven’t been to church in several months.  Then I proceeded to explain why.  I explained that the last six or seven years of my life, since leaving oneness pentecostalism have been a search for “the ultimate truth” of god and which version of christianity is right.  I gave her the whole spiel about 40,000 plus versions of christianity using the same source text, but disagreeing over what true christianity is, so there must be some flaws in the source text.

She asked if I had prayed about all of this, and I told her I had done more than my share of praying.  I also told her that I had read the stories of others who had gone through the same things that I had gone through and prayed, and when they got to that point, that’s when they realized god didn’t answer their prayers.  I went through the whole spiel about 90% of prayers aren’t answered, but christians chalk it up to “god working in mysterious ways”.  She said that he also says “no”.  So I asked her how she knows that he actually says “no”.  An answer from silence isn’t an answer at all…

At some point in the conversation, I actually used the phrase, “when I was a christian…” referring to something about praying.  At that point, I knew for sure that it was all or none.  I basically told her that I didn’t believe any of the christian myth anymore.  I said something to the effect of “40,000 versions of christianity disagree over what true christianity is, even while using the same source text, so there must be something wrong with the source text.  And god doesn’t actually answer prayers, except when it’s coincidental, so either there isn’t a god or he doesn’t really care about us.”

I then said something to the effect of “I know you don’t fully understand this or support this or agree with this decision, but it’s the conclusion I’ve come to.”

What happened next really surprised me.  She actually said that still loved me and didn’t want anything to come between us as brother and sister.  I returned the sentiment.

I am very surprised in one way that she didn’t blow up or go overboard, but in another way I’m not.  Her Facebook persona is a lot more ultra-right wing religious fanatic than she is in real life.  Or maybe she is a lot like me and wants to avoid a confrontation at all costs.  Or maybe (and this is the one I like) she really meant it.

Hopefully it stays this way and she won’t hound me or become negative like so many of the stories I’ve heard from others who have become openly secular with their families.  Obviously this recounting of events is a paraphrase and I’ve left a lot out, but overall, I am more than pleased with how it turned out, considering the horror stories I’ve heard from others about the same situation.  I’ll keep you updated when new things happen in this story.

Hell in a Hand Basket

A little over a week ago, I got an email from my former church; the same church my wife and kids still attend.  Apparently I am still on their email list.  The email was a message from the pastor asking for everyone to attend one consolidated service this past Sunday.  Normally they run two services, but apparently god put it on the pastor’s heart to preach some super-important sermon that required everyone to be in the same room at the same time.  This, of course, piqued my curiosity.

So this past Sunday morning, after the wife and kids headed out, I started working on prepping for the upcoming semester, but at 10:00, I tuned in to the internet broadcast of the sermon.  I wanted to find out what all of the fuss was about.

I had my suspicions about what might be going on.  After I left the church, I had a sit-down with the pastor and explained my atheism to him.  He said we’d meet again and discuss it some more, but we never did.  Shortly after that, my wife mentioned that two of the people in a somewhat leadership position left the church for a more fundamentalist church that ONLY used the King James bible.  Then a couple of weeks ago, my wife mentioned that the head of the deacon board (or whatever they call it) left the church for a “simpler” church.  I can imagine that with the recent onslaught of political pandering from the pastor regarding CUFI, bringing a republican presidential candidate to speak, trying to get everyone in the church on board with defunding Planned Parenthood, and many other situations, people might be getting turned off.  In recent years, the pastor has been ramping up this kind of thing.  I think it is causing people to leave the church for other churches.

So watching the online broadcast of the sermon, it became quickly clear that the pastor’s message was all about America going to hell in a hand basket.  He said that America was on the down slope, and wouldn’t last much longer.  He said everyone in the church had to buckle down and get serious with god or bad things would happen (my paraphrase).

Without any real confirmation, I believe my original assumption about the situation was right.  They are feeling the results of people leaving the church and are trying to reinforce their group identity so that more people won’t quit on them.

When we first started going there, it was a great church.  It was easy to be involved without feeling overwhelmed.  Then over the course of time, it became more and more of a burden.  In addition to that, the pastor kept trying to get the church involved in nation movements and political causes.  The former deacon that I mentioned earlier had a particular fondness for a concept called “simple church” where the church just does the foundational things that a church is supposed to do.  That’s how it was when we started going there.  It was easy and enjoyable to go to church.  But prior to my leaving, it was a hard thing to go and listen to the BS that was being spouted over the pulpit and attend all kinds of activities early every day of the week.

Now before you go and say I quit going to church over this, let me clarify.  If this was why I quit, I would have gone to another church.  My story about why I quit is here.

So this post is probably just me criticizing a particular type of church.  I think there are churches that fill certain needs in people’s lives without overburdening them with the extra junk of church.  From what I can tell about the Unitarian Universalist church, they seem to be this way.  It would be interesting to go check them out sometime.  But many churches, I think, require too much from people and make it seem like they’ll be doomed forever if they don’t do everything the pastor tells them to.  Then when a pastor starts telling the people which candidates to support and what political causes to support, there are those who will be able to think for themselves and disagree.  Too much of this and a church will start to fall apart.

This is what seems to be happening at my former church.

A Worldview that Makes Sense

One of the biggest, most important questions I had during my last several years as a christian was “what if the brand of christianity I’m in is wrong?”  This question haunted me for quite a while, and finding the answer to it (although it wasn’t necessarily the answer I was looking for) was essentially what caused me to leave my faith behind.  I posted recently about the multiple versions of christianity that are vying for acceptance by the masses.  My knowledge of these different traditions and their mutually exclusive (in many cases) paths to heaven was a problem for me.  The search that lead me out of christianity was actually a search for the right version of christianity.

You see, I wanted to be right with god.  I wanted my family and I to be in line with his will.  I wanted to make sure that the way we were worshipping him was the way he intended for us lowly humans to worship him.  My search of over six years lead me and my family out of oneness pentecostalism and into a more mainstream version of pentecostalism.  But my search didn’t end there. I kept looking at other traditions to see if they were more in line with the bible than the others.  I considered methodist, episcopalian, catholicism, orthodox christianity, baptist, and many more.  I compared their beliefs with each other and the bible.  I even studied the evolution of all the different faith groups to see how they each emerged from the previous one to figure out which was the oldest and closest to the source.

A guy we went to church with left the pentecostal church for the new anglican movement because of a massive amount of study he and his brother had undertaken.  His brother and parents actually left pentecostalism around the same time for the orthodox church.  He recommended a book to me called Thirsting For God in a Land of Shallow Wells by Matthew Gallatin.  After reading Matthew’s story of a lifelong dissatisfaction with protestant denominations, I actually started to empathize with him.  His story is similar to mine in that he was also searching for the right version of christianity.  As I read his words, I saw myself in his sentiments about not being satisfied with the biblical-ness of a certain faith tradition, then switching to one that seemed more correct only to find himself in the same situational over again.  That was exactly where I was with my search for the right version of christianity.  As I finished his book, I was almost certain that orthodoxy was probably the most correct version out there.  But I still had questions that remained unanswered.  What about all of the versions of christianity that were earlier than orthodoxy?  I mean, when Constantine took over the church and called the councils that wrote the creeds, he fundamentally changed christianity into something that it wasn’t prior to that point.

It was around this point that I had read some of Bart Ehrman’s books along with several others.  They opened up a new line of reasoning for me: what if all of the versions of christianity out there were wrong.  After following this line of reasoning for a while and reading many more volumes about the various aspects of christianity, I finally had to admit to myself that my original question was the wrong question.  There wasn’t “one right version of christianity”.  The reason that there are so many versions is that they are all based on a book that IS easily interpreted in a myriad of ways .  The reason that they don’t agree is that their source material is inherently flawed.

Now that I’ve left christianity, I don’t have any of the questions floating around in my mind about the differences in the faith traditions.  I don’t worry whether I’m wrong that the Earth is 6,000 years old or several billion.  I don’t worry about whether baptism is properly done by springing or dunking.  I don’t worry about whether the correct mantra to say when baptizing someone is “in jesus’ name” or “father, son, and holy spirit”.  I don’t worry about whether once you’re saved, you’re always saved or if it’s possible to lose your salvation.  I don’t worry about whether women should be ordained as ministers.  I don’t worry about whether this or that is a sin.  And frankly, at this point, I don’t even care.  None of these issues that bothered me for most of my adult life no longer matter in the least to me.

Most importantly, I no longer worry about whether I’m right with god in case he happens to come back tonight.  That always seemed to be my biggest worry.  I remember those thoughts lingering nearly constantly in the back of my mind: “Am I doing everything that god wants me to do?”  “Am I living in his will?”  “Am I living up to his expectations?”  “Will I make it to heaven if I die right now?”  But now- I have mental freedom from that constant anguish of worrying.  It doesn’t bother me in the least any more.

When I was a christian, my worldview was always a question.  I was so unsure of anything.  Now, I see that a life without a mythological god to please is so much more satisfying.  There is no weight to bear as to all of these questions that I had been trying to find the answer to most of my life.  No, it didn’t happen overnight.  No, it didn’t come easily.  I have struggled with some of the bigger questions since I’ve admitted to myself that I no longer believe in a god.  But now, when these questions pop into my mind, I think back to all of the disunity in the christian faiths and quickly recover my sense of reason, and along with it my peace over these questions.

This worldview makes so much more sense.  Science provides answers that are reasonable.  If our understanding changes, so be it.  Our understanding of the universe is constantly becoming more clear, so a change in scientific understanding is always a change for the better.  But you don’t have multiple traditions of science arguing over fifteen different ways to be saved or how to be baptized or whether you can or can’t wear a certain article of clothing.  This is the way it is, so says our observation and testing of the situation.  That makes so much more sense.  That is real answers.

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There’s a scripture where jesus is quoted as saying “come unto me, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light” or some such.  Now that I’m out of it, I realize that the burden christianity places on the minds and lives of its followers is a very heavy burden.  Leaving christianity was a pretty massive burden.  It wasn’t easy or light in the least.  However, once I came to terms with my lack of belief in biblical mythology, that burden is gone.  The “light and easy” burden of christianity is gone as well.  Ain’t no burden here, my friends!  I’m free!