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Former faith or religion?

Has anyone here reached their conclusion of questioning/being convinced of the non-existence of a deity or God due to previous experience w/ a cult or religion of some sort? I have experienced all of the above and it ultimately led me down the path of free-thinking, freedom from religion and secular humanism. It took me a really long period of research, life and self-reflection to finally de-program myself, but it was worth it. I am curious as to how many other people who are "good w/o God" took this particular route and which religions they were involved in or acquainted w/? If anyone is interested, mine are discussed in my bio. Thanks!

By LunaMustique3
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0

no, my atheism has nothing to do with my completely positive, if secular, jewish upbringing. it was unrelated to that -- so much so that i still consider myself a jew, even though i am completely atheistic. (that's not actually considered a sin; sin in the christian sense isn't really a jewish thing anyway. faith as christians know it isn't what judaism is about.)

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genessa Level 8 Sep 10, 2018
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I was raised Christian: Methodist. I am so glad I finally woke up and smelled the lies. After hearing about the preists that had people arrested for taking but not child porn I am more than appalled by it.

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I was a JW until almost 40 and it took almost 10 more years to completely shed religiosity. I became agnostic for a while and finally admitted to myself that I was an atheist.

gearl Level 7 Aug 17, 2018
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I was born in to a Jewish family and I am the only member of the family who is an atheist. I still identify as Jewish the was an atheist of German ancestry might identify as German or an an atheist of Italian...... you get the point. It is my cultural heritage, not my religion.

I did not become an atheist due to any particular issues with the religion of Judaism. I simply began to look at things with a skeptical eye and came to the conclusion it is all false.

WV-Mark Level 5 Aug 11, 2018
2

When I was four I took some money out of the collection plate. I didn't view it as stealing, because it didn't belong to anyone. It was money that people were willingly throwing away, and they might not want it but I did.

ldheinz Level 7 Aug 9, 2018
3

Former evangelical here.

Like a lot of deconverts, the proximal motivation for me to start looking at my faith critically was the realization that answered prayer was indistinguishable from random happenstance and creative imagination, that there was no evidence of a benevolent interventionist god. I sort of knew this at some level because I hoarded my poker chips so to speak, and only asked god for Really Important Things. Please spare my wife this suffering, please cure my brother of this bone cancer, things of that nature. I can find my own car keys or ride out this head cold on my own, thanks.

But even when I wasn't a constant pest to god, he couldn't come through in an actual pinch. Especially with the aforementioned two persons who were well-deserving good persons who died nevertheless. Slowly. In searing pain.

That was the start of my doubts, and once you start questioning, the whole thought-structure of religion just disintegrates.

mordant Level 8 Aug 9, 2018

Hey, really sorry all that happened, and for what you've been through. Sometimes life sucks, and you've certainly had more than your share. As well, you've had your faith destroyed, which is another upheaval and takes some readjustment. How are you doing? Is therapy something you'd consider? It would certainly seem warranted. I had a hard time myself when I was disabused of my belief- though nothing like you've been through- and in retrospect probably should have sought some.
Wishing you well.

@wavemechanic Yes, deconversion is a loss, even if in the long view a good loss. That's well in the rear view mirror now, and I've long since remarried after my wife's death. The only thing that's relatively recent is my son's death, and I have considered a head doctor over that one. But I have found the process of grief and loss to be ultimately more decisive and clear when it's not filled with all the useless angsty questions that come from theism. So there's that. Also at my age, and as the youngest of four siblings, I will be burying the other two in the foreseeable future, so it's getting to the point in life where they start dropping like flies and you may as well get accustomed to and accepting of it. Death is part of life whether out of turn or not.

1

Not necessarily a conclusion, but my default position is skeptical. Was never all that religious as a kid and probably regarded as feral, with regard to churches. Attended services from time to time, but never understood the allure. Asked a lot of questions, only to receive unsatisfying answers and read books about the origin of evil, faith, spirituality and all manner of related topics and perhaps the most reliable conclusion I could arrive at was that religion was/is bunk. That's where I'm at now, but that's more of a status than a conclusion.

2

Like DenoPenno, I'm former Church of God, although probably not the same sect. There are multiple flavors of Church of God that are not affiliated with each other.
In my Church of God, people got "saved." Every sermon became louder and more emotional and more threatening (hellfire and damnation) as time went on, until the preacher ended with a "Call" to the alter. Members who were so moved would go to the alter at the front of the church and kneel and scream and cry and profess their new-found dedication to Jesus. To borrow a biblical phrase, there was gnashing of teeth and rending of garments. These people had been "saved," and in one moment the promise of heaven was theirs. This was one frightening spectacle for a kid.
On the one hand, it all seemed so weird and I had seen hypocrisy in the church members. On the other hand, a part of me was questioning why I did not "hear a voice" when all these other people had heard one. What was wrong with me?
A watershed moment for me was when the Sunday School teacher told us "Some people believe that all these different religions are just different paths to the same goal, but here at the Church of God, we know that just isn't so." I realized that he was implying that we are God's chosen people and all others are going to hell. Later I thought... Really? If there is a god, and that god has a chosen people, what are the chances that God's chosen people would be this little band of uneducated hillbillies in New Castle, Indiana?
I became a closet Agnostic and it took me many years to get at least partially out of the closet. At college I took a course in Philosophy of Religion, hoping to shed some rational light on the question. I was disappointed.
Now I'm an atheist who is uncomfortable talking to True Believers. My heroes are Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins. It's been a long and painful journey.

ITComic Level 5 Aug 9, 2018
1

I'm fortunate that I was not brought up in a system like the LDS. Not sure I would have broken out due to sheer guilt.

My dad is a devout follower of the Church of Christ. It's a protestant offshoot that's similar to the rest of them with a few exceptions, like no instruments during worship service. You know, because God couldn't hear your voice over the acoustic guitar.

I stopped going when I was 13 or 14. I realized that everyone who was a deacon or elder there were among the most judgmental people I've ever met. These were local business leaders, community officials, and they were pleasant enough outside church, which was weird, but real dicks about things inside it.

That kind of opened a doorway. When I stopped going I started really examining those beliefs, and it took a few years to finally say that I definitely don't believe, but I got there.

I admire those of you who got out despite being in rougher circumstances. Your mental strength is an asset.

Xuande Level 7 Aug 9, 2018
0

None, really. Mother became a fundigelical early on, yet I was the only one of five kids that never bought into it. I was forced to go to Sunday School until I learned to place the thermometer under warm water to fake sickness. I think my huge interest in science and space made me question things early on, as the Apollo program was going on and we were going to land a man on the MOON!

1

None, really. Mother became a fundigelical early on, yet I was the only one of five kids that never bought into it. I was forced to go to Sunday School until I learned to place the thermometer under warm water to fake sickness. I think my huge interest in science and space made me question things early on, as the Apollo program was going on and we were going to land a man on the MOON!

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That would the case for almost all of us, unless we were born to atheists or agnostics.

godef Level 7 Aug 9, 2018
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Judaism

LeslieV2 Level 5 Aug 9, 2018
3

I'm former Church of God and also AG. I was persuaded to become a minister as a teen and I spent my life in and out of church trying to follow through with that. The guilt was unbearable. Finally I found Jerry DeWitt talking on You Tube and I listened to him tell his story. The scales fell off my eyes. Jerry is indirectly responsible for my de-conversion even though we have never met. He was telling me my story it seemed. Logic and need for evidence took over from there.

For the record, gods are imaginary and I am no more afraid of a god than I am of the Easter Bunny. There is no heaven and hell and I am not afraid of burning in the flames. When I die I am going to be cremated.

0

Religion in my family wasn't very important but I did attend several different churches with friends, mostly southern Baptist. One thing I can say is that I have never genuinely felt the "call to God" or whatever that my religious friends talk about. Having never felt so strongly that God was there, that I was blessed, that I needed to be "saved," etc...I sort of just finally accepted that I couldn't believe in God without that experience.

On the other hand, did my religious friends have the experience because they believe, or do they believe because they had the experience?

I'll bet they had the experience because everyone else did so they imagined they did too. King's new clothes kind of thing. Peer pressure is powerful.

@wavemechanic Whenever I've been at churches where so many people are having "the experience," it always felt like mass hysteria or something.

2

Yes. I commend you for being strong and stepping out against your teachings. I had the same life. Fundamental independent Baptist. It wasn't until 30 that I started seriously asking questions. I'm a late bloomer.

MrChange Level 7 Aug 9, 2018
2

I was brought up Church of England, but on discovering that I had no faith I started looking at other religions and belief systems, I found that none really fitted for me, but some of the concepts made sense: looking after our environment, being responsible; working on self control and growth and trying to have a positive impact where possible.

2

My faith originated in the Islamic tradition while being heavily influenced by western traditions. Once I identified entirely as a Muslim but later in life I changed the label Muslim for atheist. However now not being constricted by proscribing to any institutional religion I find myself to be more comfortable with the label of agnostic.

kmalawan Level 3 Aug 9, 2018
3

A close examination of (and subsequent disagreement with) Catholic theology during my college years was what made me question what I believed and why I believed it. Once that thread was pulled, the fabric of faith unraveled fairly quickly.

resserts Level 8 Aug 9, 2018
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