“I can’t pretend to believe in something I don’t…I cannot get behind some supreme being who weighs in on the Tony Awards while a million people get wacked with Machetes. I don’t believe a billion Indians are going to Hell. I don’t think we get cancer to learn life lessons and I don’t believe people die young because God needs another angel. “
Rachael Slick is a non-Christian daughter of a Christian apologist. Her Christian upbringing was really full on, much more so than mine was. In her guest post on the Friendly Atheist she describes how it felt when her relationship with God ended:
“I still remember sitting there in my dorm room bunk bed, staring at the cheap plywood desk, and feeling something horrible shift inside me, a vast chasm opening up beneath my identity, and I could only sit there and watch it fall away into darkness. The Bible is not infallible, logic whispered from the depths, and I had no defense against it. If it’s not infallible, you’ve been basing your life’s beliefs on the oral traditions of a Middle Eastern tribe. The Bible lied to you.
Everything I was, everything I knew, the structure of my reality, my society, and my sense of self suddenly crumbled away, and I was left naked.
I was no longer a Christian. That thought was a punch to the gut, a wave of nausea and terror. Who was I, now, when all this had gone away? What did I know? What did I have to cling to? Where was my comfort? I didn’t know it, but I was free.”
This is how it feels to become a non-Christian. It’s not fun. It’s not that we’ve “lost our faith” or given up on God” or “taken the easy route” or “given in to temptation”. Becoming a non-Christian hurts like hell. It’s terrifying. My Christian friends thought I was giving into my selfish desires, that I became an atheist so I could get away with sin. In fact, becoming an atheist was about letting go of my desires. I desired to believe in a loving God. I wanted there to be someone ensuring that “all things to work together for good to those who love God (Romans 8:23).” I wanted my sins to be atoned for. I wanted to praise Him in heaven for eternity. But no matter how badly I wanted to believe it, I had to stop lying to myself. God was not love. God did not love me. Jesus was not my best friend. None of it was not real. I had to accept that He was gone and learn to live without Him. At this time I did not know how wonderful living without him would turn out to be.
You talk about atheists being angry and arrogant, I think that’s because a lot of us are hurt. We’re trying to live by integrity, but you make us feel like we’re alone and like we’re failures. You say that this is a choice and that we’ll be punished accordingly. We have to stay strong when our families makes it clear that you are not one of them. We have to take responsibility for our actions, no forgiveness. I have to face everyday without knowing there’s someone ensuring I will be okay at the end. Don’t you dare tell me I’ve “taken the easy way out.” After living your life with God for so many years, it’s incredibly hard to let it go. It’s embedded in every part of you. Losing that rips you apart, but lying to yourself is worse. I may not have the comfort or the joy of being in love with Jesus. The life I live might be harder, but I am free and nothing can beat that.
To all the people in the same place as I was a few years ago, please read this before go clear your internet history incase your parents see that you’ve been on an atheist blog. One day you won’t have to wait for everyone to go to bed before you can read your Richard Dawkins. One day you’ll be able to change your Facebook religious views to “atheist”. One day you will come out and you’ll inspire others to do the same. Know that you are not alone, and that it gets better. Don’t give up on pursuing the truth. It’s messy and it hurts. But it is worth it.
Look what happened in my home state today:
Kids from a local Christian school protesting against a bill that increases rights to abortion. Kids. School children. Protesting abortion. Please tell me this is a joke.
These are primary school kids. They probably don’t even know where babies come from yet!! How on earth could they possibly understand an issue as complex and sensitive as abortion??
It seems pretty clear that these kids are being exploited by their parents and their school. If my own experience of a Christian school is anything to go by, they wouldn’t have heard the other side of the abortion argument. They won’t have had the chance to develop an informed opinion on the subject. They’re children for goodness sake!! My own experience of abortion education in a Christian school went something like this: ABORTION IS WRONG. ABORTION IS MURDER. NO OTHER VIEW IS ACCEPTABLE. It would be very difficult for a primary school child to resist the comprehensive brainwashing Christian schools put them through on this topic.This is something that makes me very sad and I hope they are able to think about this issue more critically in the future.
I’ve been told that the kids weren’t forced to participate, but honestly, what nine year old is going to stand against their teachers, school, parents and peers? What nine year old is going to disagree with them on an issue they’re so passionate about? What nine year old is going to opt to stay in class when they could be outside with their friends at Parliament House? And if a child did do this, imagine the social exclusion they would experience from then on. Children should be playing and frolicking and learning! Not participating in complex moral and political debate. Also, the fact that these kids are at a private Christian school suggests that they’ve probably had a reasonably financially secure upbringing and a mum and dad there to look after them. They would not know much at all about the plight of the pregnant, income-less, single teenage girl (for example) and yet they feel that they can tell her what to do with her own body and her own future. It’s just not right, and it’s not their fault.
However, I do recognise that children have a right to protest and participate in democracy, but surely it’s not right for them to get involved in an issue like this. At least not until they have had a well rounded sex education.
Schools are meant to be about helping kids to think critically and independently. They should be about showing them different view points and letting them evaluate them. They should not be about this. Not at all.
When I was little I used to sing:
“Life without Jesus is like a donut, is like a donut, is like a donut,
life without Jesus is like a donut, cause there’s a hole in the middle of your heart.”
I now have a life without Jesus. I guess it is sort of like a donut because it’s pretty sweet. But I ain’t got no hole in my heart.
This song is really just another example of Christians painting non-Christianity as empty and awful. I’ve talked about this before. Here and here. Feeding children songs like this teaches them that they do not want to ever lose Jesus. It scares them out of thinking critically.
Honestly, I think my heart was emptier when I did believe in Christianity. The constant guilt, the knowledge that I belonged to Him; I felt loved, but I felt so out of control. I felt like I could do nothing without Him, that I was nothing without Him. I felt like I was trying to keep up with God, trying to serve Him and be more like Him, but I could never keep up. It was like He kept leaving me behind, abandoning me.
Obviously this was all in my head, because God doesn’t exist. I think I was afraid of the truth, but I felt like I couldn’t escape. I didn’t want to become like a donut. Then I realised that I had no choice. The doubts were growing whether I liked it or not. In the end, I did not become a donut, my heart became more complete than ever.
Another song I used to sing went like this:
“I’m too young to march in the infantry, ride in the cavalry, shoot the artillery
I’m too young to ride over land and sea,
But I’m in the Lord’s Army! YES SIR.”
This song also is troubling. Given the fact that we live in an age of religious extremism, the military analogy is extremely inappropriate. Even grown-up Christian organisations do this: The Army of God church, the Salvation Army… why the violent imagery? These militarily named organisations often do great charity work, I certainly support that, but these war words make me very nervous and uncomfortable. Imagine if there was a mosque in your street called The Army of Allah. I would be freaking out. Why is it okay for Christians to do it?
Songs are great tools for teaching (or brainwashing) children, so be very careful that what you teach is true.