Atheism

Why I Hate Jesus

american jesus 2

I don’t hate the flesh and blood Jesus who walked the dusty roads of Palestine, nor do I hate the Jesus found in the pages of the Bible. These Jesus’s are relics of the past. I’ll leave it to historians to argue and debate whether these Jesus’s were real or fiction. Over the centuries, Christians have created many Jesus’s in their own image.This is the essence of Christianity, an ever-evolving religion bearing little resemblance to what it was even a century ago.

The Jesus I hate is the modern, Western Jesus, the American Jesus, the Jesus who has been a part of my life for almost fifty-eight years. The Jesus’s of bygone eras have no power to harm me, but the modern Jesus, the Jesus of the about three hundred thousand Christian churches that populate every community in America, he has the power to affect my life, hurt my family, and destroy my country.  And I, with a vengeance, hate him.

Over the years, I have had a number of people write me about how the modern Jesus was ruining their marriage. In many instances, the married couple started out in life as believers and somewhere along the road of life one of them stopped believing. Their still-believing spouse can’t or won’t understand why their spouse no longer believes. They make it clear that Jesus is still very important to them and if forced to choose between their spouse and family, they would choose Jesus. Simply put, they love Jesus more than they love their family.

Sadly, these type of marriages usually fail. A husband or a wife simply cannot compete with Jesus. He is the perfect lover and perfect friend, one who is always there for them. This Jesus hears their prayers and answers them. This Jesus is their BFF. This Jesus says to the believer, you must choose, me or them. It is this Jesus I hate.

This Jesus cares nothing for the poor, the hungry, or the sick. This Jesus has no interest in poor immigrants or unwed mothers. This Jesus cares for for Tim Tebow more than he does a starving girl in Ethiopia. He cares more about who wins a Grammy or ACM Award than he does poverty-stricken Africa having food and clean water. It is this Jesus I hate.

This Jesus is on the side of the culture warriors. This Jesus hates homosexuals and demands they be treated as second class citizens. This Jesus, no matter the circumstance, demands that a woman carry her fetus to term. Child of a rapist, afflicted with a serious birth defect, the product of incest or a one night stand, it matters not. This Jesus is pro-life. Yet, this same Jesus supports the incarceration of poor young men of color, often for no other crime than trying to survive. This Jesus is so pro-life he encourages American presidents and politicians to slaughter innocent men, women, and children. This Jesus demands certain criminals be put to death by the state, even though the state has legally murdered innocent people. It is this Jesus I hate.

This Jesus drives fancy cars, has palaces and cathedrals, and followers who spare no expense to make his house the best mansion in town. This Jesus loves Rolex’s, Lear jets, and expensive suits. This Jesus sees the multitude and turns his back on them, only concerned with those who say and believe the right things. It is this Jesus I hate.

This Jesus owns condominiums constructed just for those who believe in him. When they die, he gives them the keys. But, for the rest of humanity, billions of people, this Jesus says no keys for you. I have a special Hitler-like plan for you. To the ovens you go, only unlike the Jews, I plan to give you a special body that allows me to torture you with fire and brimstone forever. It is this Jesus I hate.

It is this Jesus who looks at  Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Atheists, Agnostics, Deists, Universalists, Secularists, Humanists, and Skeptics, and says to them before you were born I made sure you could never be in the group that gets the condominium when they die. This Jesus says, and it is your fault, sinner man. It is this Jesus who made sure billions of people were born into cultures that worshiped other Gods. It is this Jesus, who then says it is their fault they were born at the wrong place, at the wrong time. Too bad, this Jesus says, burn forever in the Lake of Fire. It is this Jesus I hate.

This Jesus divides families, friends, communities, and nations. This Jesus is the means to an end. This Jesus is all about money, power and control. This Jesus subjugates women, tells widows it’s their fault, and ignores the cry of the orphan. Everywhere one looks this Jesus hurts,afflicts, and kills those we love. It is this Jesus I hate. What I can’t understand is why anyone loves this Jesus? Like a clown on a parade route, he throws a few candies towards those who worship him, promising them that a huge pile of candy awaits them when they die. He lets his followers hunger, thirst, and die, yet he tells them it is for their good, that he loves them and has a wonderful plan for their life. This Jesus is all talk, promising the moon and delivering a piece of gravel. Why can’t his followers see this?

Fear me, he tells his followers. I have the keys to life and death. I have the power to make you happy and I have the power to destroy your life. I have the power to take your children, health, and livelihood. I can do these things because I am the biggest, baddest Jesus ever. Fear me and oppress women, immigrants, orphans, homosexuals, and atheists. Refuse my demand and I will rain my judgment down upon your head. But, know that I love you and only want is best for you and yours. It is this Jesus I hate.

Perhaps there is a Jesus somewhere that I could respect, a Jesus who might merit my devotion. For now, all I see is a Jesus who is worthy of derision, mockery, and hate. Yes, hate. It is this Jesus I hate. When the Jesus who genuinely loves humanity and cares for the least of these shows up let me know. In the mean time, I hate Jesus.

Question: Was My Deconversion Gradual or Instantaneous?

atheist dan piraro

Several weeks back, I asked readers to submit questions they would like me to ask. If you would like to ask a question, please leave your question here.

Suzanne asked:

What was the thing or moment where it all started to unravel horribly, the pulling the first thread away moment, when you said ‘screw all of this’ and walked away? Was it one thing or a gradual buildup of stuff?

This is a great question, one that is not easy to answer.

My story drives Evangelicals crazy, especially those who are hardcore, never change their beliefs, fundamentalists. What they see in my story is a lifetime of theological change, and this is a sure sign to them that I never had a surefooted theological foundation. After all, the Bible does say that the double minded man is unstable in all his ways.  In their mind, it’s no wonder I deconverted. Look at my ever-evolving theology.

However, I view my change of beliefs in a different light. For those of us raised in the Evangelical church, we grew up with a borrowed theology. Our theology was that of our parents, pastor, and church. When I enrolled at Midwestern Baptist College, I had a borrowed theology and when I left three years later I still had a borrowed theology. I believed what I had been taught.

Over the course of 25 years in the ministry, I diligently studied the Bible. I read over a thousand theological books and prided myself in working hard to give parishioners with exactly what the Bible taught. Over time, I encountered teachings and beliefs that were new to me, and after thoroughly studying the matter my beliefs either stayed the same or changed. Over  the years, my soteriology and eschatology changed, as did my view on inerrancy the law of God, faith vs works, and Bible translations. These new beliefs led to changes in practice. I like to think that my changing beliefs were simply an intellectual response to new information.

Over this same 25 year period my politics evolved and changed. I entered the ministry as a right-wing Republican culture warrior. I left the ministry as a progressive/liberal Democrat.  It is likely that my changing political beliefs affected how I read and interpreted the Bible.

I left the ministry in 2005 and left Christianity in 2008.  In the three years between these two events, I went back to the Bible and restudied what I believed about God, Jesus, creation, salvation, and the Bible. I read numerous books written by authors like Bart Ehrman, Robert Price, Robert Wright, Jerry Coyne, John Loftus, Rob Bell, Wendell Berry, Thomas Merton, Brian McLaren, John Shelby Spong, Henri Nouwen, Marcus Borg, Elaine Pagels, Hector Avalos, Soren Kierkegaard, John Dominic Crossan, N.T. Wright, Paul Tillich, and a number of other authors. I was doing everything I could to hang on to some sort of faith.

I went through what I call the stages of deconversion: Evangelical Christianity to Liberal/Progressive Christianity to Universalism to Agnosticism to Atheism. This path was painful, arduous, contradictory, and tiring. I spent many a day and night not only reading and studying, but having long discussions with Polly about what I had read. In November of 2008, I concluded, based on my beliefs, that I could no longer honestly call myself a Christian. Since I no longer believed the Bible was an inspired, inerrant, infallible text, nor did I believe that Jesus was God, rose again from the dead or worked miracles, there was no possible way for me to remain a Christian.  At that moment, I went from believer to unbeliever. I call this my born again atheist experience.

Evangelicals will read this post and point out what they see as a fatal flaw in my deconversion; I didn’t read any Evangelical theologians. I didn’t read any of the shallow apologetic works that are bandied about as surefire faith fixers. The reason I didn’t is because I had already read them. I can recite Christian theology, in all its forms, frontwards and backwards. Since there hasn’t been an original thought in Christianity since Moses got off the ark, I had no need of rereading Christian theological books. The few Christian authors I did read, were new authors that I hoped would tell me something I had not heard before.  I read their books in hopes of getting a new perspective on Christianity, hoping that they would knot a rope and throw it to me so I could hang on. In the end, the rope had no knot, and down the slippery slope I slid until I hit bottom.

So, my deconversion took a long time, but there was also a moment in time when I went from believer to nonbeliever.

If I had to point to one thing that most affected my deconversion,  it would be learning that the Bible was not an inspired, infallible, inerrant text. I suspect this is the case for many Evangelicals turned atheist. Bart Ehrman is a good example of this.  The belief that the Bible was a perfect text written by God and absolute truth from the hand of God himself, was the foundation of my system of belief. Remove this foundation and the whole house comes tumbling down.

One unanswered question remains; if I had started out as a progressive/liberal Christian would I have still deconverted? I don’t know. Maybe, maybe not. Since I have a pastor’s heart and I love help people, I might have found a home in progressive/liberal Christianity. This is one of those would of/could of/should of questions. That’s not the path I took, so here I am. Unless a deity of some sort reveals itself to us, I remain a convinced atheist.

Question: Will Christians Praying for Your Demise Have Their Prayers Answered?

imprecatory prayer

Several weeks back, I asked readers to submit questions they would like me to ask. If you would like to ask a question, please leave your question here.

Steve asked:

Yes sir, I have a question!

Do you think the many Christian prayers for your demise will succeed?

Many Christians believe that God should get all the praise for the good things that happen and Satan and sinners should get blamed for the bad things that happen. This fact poses a conundrum for those praying for my demise. If God kills me, this means it was a good thing, right?  But, if God is the giver of life, the fact that I am still alive is also a good thing.  Perhaps God wants me to live so the Holy Spirit can regenerate me, effectually call me, and impart to me his wonderful irresistible grace. Or perhaps I am not one of the elect, not in the Lamb’s Book of Life; then I am an unregenerate, apostate reprobate. If I were God, I would kill someone like me, seeing that I do so much damage to the faith of others.

Some day, I will die. The way I am feeling as I write this post, it could be today. Or tomorrow. Or twenty years from now. Regardless of the date of my demise, there will a Christian somewhere who will see it as proof that their imprecatory prayer worked,;that God whacked me because they asked him to.

Understanding Steven Anderson, Pastor Faithful Word Baptist Church, Tempe, Arizona

pastor steven anderson

Steven Anderson pastors an Faithful Word Baptist Church, an IFB church in Tempe, Arizona. The Anderson’s have added one more child since this photograph was taken.

Steven Anderson is the pastor of Faithful Word Baptist Church, an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church in Tempe, Arizona. Anderson’s bio states:

Pastor Steven Anderson was born and raised in Sacramento, CA. At age 18, he travelled throughout Germany and Eastern Europe for 3 months serving in local independent Baptist churches, studying foreign languages, and getting experience in the ministry. It was on this trip that he met his future wife, Zsuzsanna, while out soul-winning in the streets of Munich, Bavaria. He eventually lead her to the Lord, and they were married shortly thereafter. They have been married for over 13 years, and God has blessed them with 7 beautiful children.

Pastor Anderson started Faithful Word Baptist Church on December 25, 2005. He holds no college degree but has well over 140 chapters of the Bible memorized word-for-word, including approximately half of the New Testament. Today, most Baptist churches are started by Bible colleges. However, the Bible makes it clear that the church is the pillar and ground of the truth, not a school. Faithful Word Baptist Church is a totally independent Baptist church, and Pastor Anderson was sent out by a totally independent Baptist church to start it the old-fashioned way by knocking doors and winning souls to Christ.

God has blessed Faithful Word Baptist Church tremendously. Thousands have been saved, many have been baptized, and many more have learned to win souls both door-to-door and in their daily lives.

Faithful Word Baptist Church is a congregation of a hundred or so members, thirty of which are children They meet in a building located at 2741 W Southern Ave, Suite #14, Tempe, Arizona. As you can tell from this Google Earth graphic:

faithful word baptist church tempe

Faithful Word is located at a busy Tempe intersection. Their building is not some Jim Jones-like compound out in the boonies. They are right smack dab in the middle of Tempe, Arizona, a growing community of 168,000 people.

Anderson is well-known for his YouTube Videos. According to the church’s website, these 1,200 videos/mp3 sermons have been downloaded over 8,000,000 times.  Anderson has put together a video tour of Faithful Word and during the video he explains some of the things that are important to the church. As you will be able to see if you watch the nine minute video, Anderson, is a polite, soft-spoken man. He is a family man who loves Jesus, his wife, children, and Faithful Word Baptist Church.

Video Link

In the video, Anderson shares the things that make Faithful Word different from other churches. Thing like:

  • They only sing old hymns and spiritual songs
  • They only use the 1611 version of the King James Bible
  • They believe in preaching the whole Bible
  • They believe in preaching hard against sin
  • They have family integrated services, no age segregated classes
  • They have a nursery and mother’s room that are used to nurse infants and train children to sit in church (the sermon is piped in and a window allows mothers and children to see the preacher)
  • They  make Bibles, sermon CD’s and videos, available free of charge to anyone who wants them

Faithful Word has a Spanish class for members learning to speak Spanish. Since Arizona has a large Hispanic population, Anderson believes it is important for church members to speak Spanish. By learning Spanish they are better able to evangelize Hispanics.

According to Anderson, outside of the preaching the whole Bible, the most important thing is reaching Arizona with the true gospel. Faithful Word has what Anderson calls a Small Town Soulwinning Map. This map shows all small/rural communities in Arizona, places Anderson has targeted for a blitz-like evangelization effort. Church members spread out all over the the small community and knock on every door, witnessing to all who answer.

Anderson also mentioned the church’s effort to evangelize all of Phoenix. According to him, every day church members knock on doors, witnessing to all who answer. Their goal is to knock on the door of every home in Phoenix. Church members go neighborhood by neighborhood, marking off on a map those areas that have been evangelized. According to Anderson, thousands of people have been saved through the efforts of Faithful Word Baptist Church.

While most IFB pastors are pretribulational and premillennial, Anderson and Faithful Word are posttribulational and prewrath rapture. They believe Christians will go through most of tribulation, only to be raptured out just prior to God’s final judgment and wrath. This belief was made popular in the early 1990’s by Marv Rosenthal. The church offers a video they made, produced by Paul Wittenberger, titled After the Tribulation. They recently released another video titled New World Order: Bible Versions. According to Wittenberger’s  bio page:

Paul Wittenberger is a filmmaker, artist and activist, was born in Michigan but spent his early childhood in the West African nation of Liberia. After returning to the United States and completing his early education, Paul studied film at Full Sail University. His upbringing in West Africa gives Paul a unique perspective, which he brings to his art.

In early 2010 Paul teamed up with producer G. Edward Griffin to make a film that would bring the issue of geothermal engineering, or “chemtrails,” to the forefront. “What in the World are They Spraying?” opened in of October 2010 to great success and controversy. Paul’s second feature length documentary was released in 2012. “The Great Culling: Our Water” exposes how fluoride in our drinking water is neither safe nor effective. It is, in actuality, a toxic byproduct of the phosphate industry called hydrofluorosilic acid.

After “The Great Culling: Our Water,” Paul teamed up with Steven Anderson to Produce three back to back films, “After the Tribulation,” “The Book of Revelation,” and “New World Order Bible Versions.”

Paul currently resides in the Los Angeles, California, area where he continues to make documentaries and educate people on the New World Order deception.

After thoroughly investigating Steven Anderson and Faithful Word Baptist Church, I have concluded that they are a typical IFB pastor and church. There is nothing in their beliefs that can’t be found in other IFB and Evangelical churches. While their eschatology makes them an outlier, every other belief fits well within the IFB/Evangelical box.

What makes Anderson different is that he is willing to say in public what is said behind the closed doors of IFB/Evangelical churches, colleges, conferences, and preacher meetings. He’s not afraid to let the world know what he thinks and believes. As a result, Anderson and Faithful Word were labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center for things Anderson said in a sixty-six minute sermon titled Why I Hate Barack Obama. Anderson had this to say:

Tonight, I want to preach this sermon. And you have probably never heard a sermon like this before. Actually, you probably have if you have been coming to church here for a while. But you know what? Here is my sermon, why I hate Barack Obama. That’s my sermon tonight, because Barack Obama is coming to town tomorrow morning.

Barack Obama is coming to town. And he is going to be here tomorrow morning. Who knew that he was coming to town? I didn’t know. I just found out recently with his health care and everything like this.

And I’m going to tell you something. I hate Barack Obama. You say, well, you just mean you don’t like what he stands for. No, I hate the person. Oh, you mean you just don’t like his policies. No, I hate him…

…You are going to tell me that I’m supposed to pray for the socialist devil, murderer, infanticide who wants to see young children and he wants to see babies killed through abortion and partial-birth (INAUDIBLE) everything? You are going to tell me I am supposed to pray for God to give him a good lunch tomorrow while he’s in Phoenix, Arizona?

No. I am not going to pray for his good. I am going to pray that he dies and goes to hell…

…What goes around comes around. You love violence. You hate that which is right. You love to harm others. You love to hurt or kill the unborn or the innocent or the righteous. He is saying, God is going to bring that upon your own head, because whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

Now, turn back to Psalm 58 and let me ask you this question. Why should Barack Obama melt like a snail? Why should Barack Obama die like the untimely birth of a woman? Why should his children be fatherless and his wife a widow, as we read in this passage?

Well, I will tell you why. Because, since Barack Obama thinks it is OK to use a salty solution, right, to abort the unborn, because that’s how abortions are done, my friend, using salt — and I would like to see Barack Obama melt like a snail tonight…

Here’s what Anderson thinks of homosexuals (sodomites):

The same God who instituted the death penalty for murders is the same god who instituted the death penalty for rapists and for homosexuals, sodomites and queers! That’s what it was instituted for, okay? That’s God, he hasn’t changed. Oh, God doesn’t feel that way in the New Testament … God never “felt” anything about it, he commanded it and said they should be taken out and killed.

You know why God wanted the sodomites in the Old Testament to be killed? You know why every good king of Israel, the Bible says they got rid of the sodomites in the land? You know, the good kings that came after the bad kings who had allowed the sodomites to infest their land, they had infiltrated … King Asa got the sodomites out of the land, Jehoshaphat exterminated the sodomites that were left from the days of his father, Asa. Why? Because the sodomites are infectious, that’s why. Because they’re not reproducers, that goes without saying, they’re recruiters.

How are they multiplying? Do you not see that they’re multiplying? Are you that blind? Have you noticed that there’s more than there were last year and the year before, and the year before that? How are they multiplying? They’re reproducing right? No, here’s a biology lesson: they’re not reproducers, they’re recruiters! And you know who they’re after? Your children. Remember you dropped off your kids last week? That’s who they’re after. You drop them off at some daycare, you drop them off at some school somewhere, you don’t know where they’re at. I’ll tell you where they’re at: they’re being recruited by the sodomites. They’re being molested by the sodomites. I can tell you so many stories about people that I know being molested and recruited by the sodomites.

They recruit through rape. They recruit through molestation. They recruit through violation. They are infecting our society. They are spreading their disease. It’s not a physical disease, it’s a sin disease, it’s a wicked, filthy sin disease and it’s spreading on a rampage. Can’t you see that it’s spreading on a rampage? I mean, can you not see that? Can you not see that it’s just exploding in growth? Why? Because each sodomite recruits far more than one other sodomite because his whole life is about recruiting other sodomites, his whole life is about violating and hurting people and molesting ’em…

… I’m here to preach the Bible. And I’m sick to death — hey, let me tell you something. Our country is run by faggots. You know who wrote this 700-billion-dollar bailout bill? You know who was the man who was the architect of the bailout? His name is Barney Franks, he is a pedophile, he has been arrested for uh, interacting with boys that are in their teenage years when he’s in his 50s, it’s in the news, he’s been arrested for it. He is a pedophile, he is a homosexual, he has stood up in the floor of the sacred halls of justice and said,’I am gay, I am a sodomite.’

That’s Barney Frank, that’s who just sold our country into fascism. That’s who just sold our corporations to the government. That’s who sold out our country, a faggot! And I’m here to tell you something! I’m not going to stand for it, and let a faggot run the church! It’s bad enough that we’ve got a bunch of faggots running the government!

Here’s a video clip of a sermon preached in November 2014 where Anderson says the Bible gives the cure for AIDS:

Video Clip

For you who can’t stomach Anderson’s video, his cure for AIDS is quite simple: kill all of them. No need to spend billions of dollars on AIDS research. Just kill everyone who has AIDS and that will put an end to it. I assume Anderson believes that almost everyone who has AIDS is a homosexual.

Again, I have not read or heard anything from Pastor Steve Anderson and the Faithful Word Baptist Church that I have not heard countless times in IFB/Fundamentalist/Evangelical churches, colleges, conferences, and preacher meetings. Granted, Anderson lacks the smooth-talking, salesman skills of most preachers, but his beliefs can be found preached in thousands of churches. He may use coarse, inflammatory words, but the message is still the same: repent or go to hell. Anderson is no different from culture warriors who think abortion is murder, homosexuality is a sin, and President Obama, atheists, agnostics, humanists, Democrats, liberals, progressives, and socialists are the spawn of Satan.

As I mentioned in a recent post titled Hello Bruce, I’m A Nice Evangelical, no matter how the Evangelical smiles and is kind, decent, and polite, their believes are abhorrent. Millions of “nice” people think homosexuals are perverts. Millions of “nice” people think that atheists are child molesters and servants of Satan. Millions of “nice” people think abortion is murder. Millions of “nice” people think their unbelieving neighbors, friends, spouse, children, and grandchildren will go to hell when they die. Millions of “nice” people believe that God will fit unbelievers after they die with a body that can survive torture in a lake of fire for eternity. Millions of “nice” people think the United States is a Christian nation, that prayer and the ten commandments should be allowed in public schools, that the earth is 6,019 years old, that global warming is a hoax, and sex before marriage is a sin.

Knowing what I know about Evangelicals and their beliefs, I have concluded that Pastor Steven Anderson and Faithful Word Baptist Church is not in any way special. They may not play the nice game like downtown First Baptist Church, but their beliefs are similar. As I have stated many times before, strip the façade from people like Fred Phelps and Westboro Baptist Church, Steven Anderson and Faithful Baptist Church, Bob Gray and Longview Baptist Temple, Jack Hyles and First Baptist Church, Peter Ruckman and Bible Baptist Church, Bob Jones University, Pensacola Christian College, Baptist Bible Fellowship, General Association of Regular Baptist Churches (GARBC), Independent Fundamental Churches of America (IFCA), John MacArthur, Al Mohler, Pat Robertson, James Dobson, Franklin Graham, many Southern Baptist churches, and a plethora of Evangelical parachurch organizations, and you will find that they all have a shared belief. While they may disagree on orthopraxy, eschatology, soteriology, baptism, etc, the beliefs than bind them are far more than the beliefs that separate them.

While Pastor Steven Anderson is roundly criticized and ridiculed by Christian and non-Christian alike, his video and sermons have been downloaded 8,000,000 times. Even if most of the downloads were by people opposed to Anderson, I suspect that many of the downloads were by Christian preachers and church members who agree with him. Like it or not, the Steve Anderson’s of the world are many. And it is for this reason those of us who believe in reason, rationalism, skepticism, humanism, and science must continue pushing back against Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism. We dare not ignore preachers like  Steven Anderson and Ken Ham. They are like a brain cancer that eats away the parts of the brain that help us think and reason. No matter how nice they may be, it is their beliefs that cause untold heartache and damage.

Notes

You can view all of Anderson’s YouTube videos here and here. You can check out his sermon transcripts here.

You can read Anderson’s wife’s blog here. She lists several like-minded churches, Verity Baptist Church, Sacramento, California, Word of Truth Baptist Church, Prescott, Arizona and Steadfast Baptist Church, Fort Worth, Texas. As you will find out from her blog, Zsuzsanna Anderson has the same beliefs as her husband, a man she thinks is the greatest pastor in the world. You will also find that she is a loving mother who thinks she is doing what’s best for family.

Faithful Word Baptist Church had a record attendance of 172 last Sunday, April 5, 2015

faithful word baptist church attendance

Hello Bruce, I’m a Nice Evangelical

hell

Several times a month, I get an email from an Evangelical who wants to let me know that they are not like “other” Evangelicals. They want me to know that there are Evangelicals who are nice, polite, decent, kind, and respectful. That’s great, their mother taught them well. However, I think these “nice” Evangelicals aren’t really as nice as they would have me believe. They desperately want to be viewed in a good light, thinking if I just knew that there are “nice” Evangelicals that I would fall on my knees and call of Jesus to save me.

If I am feeling up to it, I will respond to the “nice” Evangelical’s email with a few questions. Questions like:

  • Do you believe believing in Jesus is the only way for a person to have their sins forgiven?
  • Do you believe there is one true God?
  • Do you believe the Bible is an inspired, inerrant text?
  • Do you believe that a person must be saved/born again/become a follower of Jesus to go to heaven when they die?
  • Do you believe that a person who is not saved/born again/a follower of Jesus goes to hell when they die?

The answers to these questions will quickly reveal that the “nice” Evangelical is no different from Fred Phelps, Pat Robertson, Steven Anderson, Jack Hyles, Jack Schaap, Bob Gray Sr, Bryan Fischer, James Dobson, or Franklin Graham. The “nice” Evangelical and the nasty, hateful Evangelical share the same beliefs. The former comes in a nicer package, but inside the package is the same abhorrent, vile beliefs.

Sometimes, the “nice” Evangelical will be coy about their beliefs. When pressed on the question of God torturing non-Christians in hell/lake of fire for eternity, they often reply that they leave such things up to God. They want me to know that they don’t judge, they just l-o-v-e others. However, if they believe the Bible is the inspired, inerrant Word of God, then they already know what God says on the matter. Non-Christians will go to hell when they die. Atheists, agnostics, secularists, and humanists will go to hell when they die. Most of the readers of this blog will go to hell when they die. Most of my Facebook friends will go to hell when they die. Most of Twitter followers will go to hell when they die. And, to make it quite personal, Bruce and Polly Gerencser and most of their children will go to hell when they die.

The “nice” Evangelical, if they are truly a Bible-believing, Jesus loving Evangelical, is boxed in by their beliefs. There is one God, the Christian God, one way of salvation, Jesus, and hell awaits all of those who reject him. This is why I respect someone like Fred Phelps more than I do the “nice” Evangelical. Someone like Phelps just tells non-Christians how it is. They make no effort to hide their beliefs. Their forwardness allows me to know exactly where  I stand with them. No need for us to play the pretend friend game or make nice with each other.

Sometimes, the “nice” Evangelical will take a psychological approach. They view me as one who has been wounded by the nasty, hateful, judgmental Evangelicals. They read a few of my blog posts and determine that I have been hurt in some way and that this is the reason I am not a Christian. In their mind, they think if they are just really, really, really, nice to me that I will overwhelmed by their niceness and fall in love with Jesus all over again. Since they think Jesus is w-o-n-d-e-r-f-u-l, they can’t imagine someone NOT wanting to become a follower of their Jesus. They see Jesus patiently knocking on the door of my heart, pleading for me to let him in. Isn’t this the same Jesus who says that if I DON’T open the door that he is going to torture me for eternity in a lake that burns with fire and brimstone, a place where the worm dieth not? Isn’t this the same Jesus who will fit me with a special body after death so that no matter how severely he tortures me I can never die?

While there is certainly a truckload of harm and hurt in my Evangelical past, the reason I am not a Christian is because I do not believe the claims of Christianity to be true. I don’t believe the Bible is an inspired, inerrant text. I don’t believe Jesus was God, virgin born, a miracle worker, or resurrected from the dead. I don’t believe God created the world nor do I believe in sin. Simply put, I reject everything one must believe to be a Christian. No matter how “nice” an Evangelical is to me, I do not buy what they are selling. Salvation requires faith, a faith I do not and will not have.

Look, I am glad that many Evangelicals are nice people. I am glad they treat me and others like me with kindness, decency, and respect. Their behavior certainly make the world a better place. I suspect their behavior is a reflection of their training and culture more than it is their beliefs. I am glad someone taught them to be a decent, thoughtful person. I do, however, wish they would stop wasting their time by trying to “nice” me to Jesus. I have no interest and I think their time would be better spent teaching Evangelicals how to behave in public. As blog comments, news articles, blogs, Facebook, Twitter,  and personal emails show, there are a lot of Evangelicals who don’t the first thing about the fruit of the spirit: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. Instead of trying to save people who don’t want to be saved, “nice” Evangelicals should spend their time getting  fellow Evangelicals saved.

The Advocatus Atheist: Seeing the World through the Eyes of an Atheist

advocatus atheist My friend Tristan Vick, is making his latest book, The Advocatus Atheist: Seeing the World through the Eyes of an Atheist, available for FREE, Kindle version only. Tristan is a great guy. Over the years, through every crazy twist and turn of my life, Tristan has been a friend to me. I encourage you to take Tristan up on his FREE Kindle book offer.

You can check out Tristan’s other books here.

Tristan also has a blog, Advocatus Atheist.

Please note that the free book offer is a limited time offer.

Luck, Fate, or Providence?

god is in control

As a Christian, I believed that God was the sovereign ruler of the universe. I believed God held my life in his hands. I believed God controlled every aspect of my life and that life and death were determined by God alone. I believed I wouldn’t die one moment before it was my time to go, that God penciled a death date next to the name of every person ever born. I believed that God had a purpose and plan for my life. I thought this way for almost 50 years.

I have faced numerous circumstances where I could have easily been killed. Accidents, stupid mistakes,exposure to environmental toxins and chemicals,  bad decisions by myself or others, serious sickness, and being at the wrong place at the wrong time…I could have and should have died long before today.

But, here I am, and until 2008 I gave the Christian God all the credit for my continued existence. God wasn’t finished with me, I told myself, wiping my brow after surviving a near brush with death. As disease and pain continued to ravage my body, I lived with the calm assurance that God still had plans for me. In some ways, this is a great way to live. No worries…God’s on the job and nothing will happen unless God wills it.  The Apostle Paul had the same view:

What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:31-39

I willingly subjected myself to a life of poverty because I thought if God wanted me to have more money or a better house and car he would give it to me. When I began to have health problems in the early 1990’s, I saw them as a test from God. God wanted to make me more holy or stronger. God wanted to root out the deep and secret sins that no one but him could see. And no matter how painful the process was, I knew that God loved me and was in charge of everything.

God’s providence, the belief that God knows what’s best for us and doesn’t give us more than we can bear, is actually fatalism. While the Christian convinces themselves that they are a free moral agent, their belief system says differently. Proverbs 16:9 states:

A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps.

Proverbs 20:24 states:

Man’s goings are of the Lord; how can a man then understand his own way?

Consider these verses:

Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases. Psalm 115:3

As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. Genesis 50:20

that bringeth the princes to nothing; he maketh the judges of the earth as vanity. Isaiah 40:23

This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts. Zechariah 4:6

O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you. II Chronicles 20:6

Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O Lord, and thou art exalted as head above all. Both riches and honour come of thee, and thou reignest over all; and in thine hand is power and might; and in thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all. I Chronicles 29:11,12

I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee. Job 42:2

Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure: Isaiah 46:9,10

Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?  Romans 9:21

Who is he that saith, and it cometh to pass, when the Lord commandeth it not? Lamentations 3:37

Whatsoever the Lord pleased, that did he in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places. Psalm 135:6

But he is in one mind, and who can turn him? and what his soul desireth, even that he doeth. Job 23:13

See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand. Deuteronomy 32:39

For the Lord of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it? and his hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back? Isaiah 14:27

The Lord of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand: Isaiah 14:24

And these verses are but a small sampling of the verses that declare that God is the boss. He is in control of everything. Of course, this opens up a huge problem for Christians. If God is in control of everything, if nothing happens that God does not decree, purpose, and plan, what about sin and evil? At this point, most Christians run from their beliefs, denying that God has anything to do with evil and sin. However, the Bible says:

I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things. Isaiah 45:7

That’s right, the Bible says God creates evil.  No matter how a Christian might object, if they believe in a God who is in control, then they must also believe that he is to blame for evil and sin. Dance any theological or philosophical jig one might, there is no escaping God being the creator of evil. But, but, but…no buts. Either God is the CEO of the universe or he is not. Either he is the first cause, the beginning and the end, or he is not. Either is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords or he is not.

Believing this way had a profound effect on my life. Instead of realizing that much of what happens in a person’s life is due to good or bad luck, I saw God behind every action, event, and circumstance. Like King David, I said:

Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee. Psalm 139:11,12

God was omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. For those not schooled in the omn’s, God was all-powerful, all-knowing, and present everywhere.

In 2008, God lost control of my life as I began to reclaim my life and the personal responsibility that came with it. No more trusting God’s providence or letting go and letting God. No more puppet strings or “trusting” God to work out everything in my life according to his purpose and plan. As I began to reorient my life according to fact and reason, I was forced to reinvestigate past claims of miracles, moments when God reached down and supernaturally kept me from harm or death. I concluded that every God sighting in my life but one could be explained through natural means. All the supposed answered prayers were really Bruce or someone other Christian answering the prayer.

None of us know how our life will be beyond the next breath. For all I know, this could be the last blog post I write. The Bible is right when it says:

Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth. Proverbs 27:1

No one knows what tomorrow will be like. We can plan for the future, but we have no promise that things will work out for us. Life is crap shoot. Live to your 50’s and you will realize you are lucky to have made it old age. The best any of us can do is make responsible decisions based on reason and probabilities and hope things work out for us.

Yesterday, Polly and I took a road trip to Ottoville, Fort Jennings, and Delphos. Like most of our trips, I took my camera equipment with me. As we were wandering around Delphos, we stumbled upon a lock from the era of the Miami and Erie canal. Getting down to the lock was a bit treacherous for me. I wanted to get as close as possible, so I gingerly walked down the concrete abutment to the lock. I didn’t fall, slip, or trip. Lucky me, I thought.

After ten minutes or so, I was ready to return to the car. I had two paths I could take. I could retrace my steps or make a big step and little jump to ground level, Polly said she would give me a hand, so I chose the latter. Polly reached down, took my hand, and began to help me up. And then, our world went crazy. Polly couldn’t pull me up completely and I violently fell forward, knocking both of us to the ground. If my weight had been balanced slightly the other way, I would have no doubt went careening down the concrete abutment into the canal. The fall would have likely killed me.

The good news? My cameras escaped damage, though one of them does have a slight scrape. The hood on the lens kept it from being smashed. Polly ended up with bruised knees and I ended up with a twisted ankle and hip and a nasty, bloody contusion on my left leg. It is still oozing slightly today.

I know I was lucky. I should have retraced my steps. This was the safe and prudent choice. However, Polly was standing right there and she said she would help. Why not, right? She helps me out of the recliner and car all the time. What neither of us counted on was how difficult it is to pull up a 350# man. When Polly pulls me out of the car or the recliner I help her. This time? I was dead weight and I almost literally became so.

Lesson learned.

As we were eating lunch today, our daughter with Down Syndrome began choking. Due to her disability, she has a thick tongue and can easily choke. Today was different. For the first time, she couldn’t clear her throat. Polly administered the Heimlich maneuver three times before the food was dislodged. I was one second away from calling 911.

This scary circumstance reminded us that we need to pay careful attention to how our daughter eats her food. I talked to her about chewing her food, taking small bites, and not eating hurriedly. She was scared, we were scared, but we all live to face another day. Our daughter could just as easily died on our living room floor. Living in the rural area we do, sometimes it is impossible to get quick emergency help.  We were lucky, and we know it.

Every brush with death should cause us to reflect on why it happened. Were we culpable? Could we have made a better or different decision? Sometimes, shit happens. A satellite could fall out of the sky and flatten me. I could be on a plane piloted by a man who intends to commit suicide at 25,000 feet.  While others might be culpable for my death, I was just at the wrong place at the wrong time.

Living is dangerous proposition. Smart is the person who understands this and acts accordingly. Thinking that God has the whole world in his hands only leads to delusion and discouragement. God isn’t coming to save the day. Just last week, a German airline pilot flew a plane into the ground killing everyone on board. I am sure, mixed in with the screams, were pleas to God to stop the plane from hitting the ground. Prayer lost out to physics and everyone died.

How about you? How do you live your life? How do you determine risk? Have you every escaped death after making a decision that should have ended your life? If you once believed in the sovereignty of God, how does a world without a God affect your decision-making process? Please share your thoughts in the comment section.

Count the Cost Before You Say I am an Atheist

god made me an atheist

The Bible gives some pretty good advice about counting the cost in Luke 14:28-30:

For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.

Who starts a building project without first counting the cost? The key phrase here is counting the cost. Every choice we make has a consequence. I think a loose definition of Newton’s Law of motion applies here: every action causes a reaction.  Foolish is the person who does not consider the consequences of saying for the first time to family, friends, colleagues, and acquaintances, I AM AN ATHEIST.

When I left Christianity and the ministry, my wife came along with me. Polly was a few steps behind, but close enough that we could hold hands. We spent many hours reading books and having long discussions about the past, the Bible, and Christianity in general. Bart Ehrman was nightly pillow talk for many months. When we finally came to the place where we said to one another “we are no longer Christians”, we knew that telling our family, friends, and acquaintances would cause a huge uproar. What should we do?

Polly decided to take the quiet approach, keeping her thoughts to herself. When asked she would answer and try to explain, but if people didn’t ask she felt no obligation to out herself. She still operates by that principle. There are people she works with who likely think she still goes to church on Sunday and  is a fine Christian woman. Just last week, a woman Polly has worked with for 15 years asked her if she was going to church on Easter. Polly replied, no. Her co-worker then asked, so do you go to church? Polly replied, no. And that was that. I am sure the gossip grapevine is buzzing. Did you know Polly doesn’t go to church? Why her husband is a pastor! And they don’t go to church? Never mind that the woman asking the questions hasn’t been to church in 8 years. She stays home, watches “Christian” TV, and sends money to the TV preachers she likes.

I took the nuclear approach. I wrote an open letter to my friends, family, and former parishioners. This was totally in character for me. I am an all in kind of guy. In Dear Family, Friends and Former Parishioners, I wrote:

I have come to a place in life where I can no longer put off writing this letter. I have dreaded this day because I know what is likely to follow after certain people receive it. I have decided I can’t control how others will react to this letter, so it is far more important to clear the air and make sure everyone knows the facts about Bruce Gerencser.

I won’t bore you with a long, drawn out history of my life. I am sure each of you have an opinion about how I have lived my life and the decisions I have made. I also have an opinion about how I have lived my life and and decisions I have made. I am my own worst critic.

Religion, in particular Baptist Evangelical and Fundamentalist religion, has been the essence of my life, from my youth up. My being is so intertwined with religion that the two are quite inseparable. My life has been shaped and molded by religion and religion touches virtually ever fiber of my being.

I have spent most of my adult life pastoring Churches, preaching, and being involved in religious work to some degree or another. I have pastored thousands of people over the years, preached thousands of sermons, and participated in, and led, thousands of worship services.

To say that the Church was my life would be an understatement.  As I have come to see, the Church was actually my mistress and my adulterous affair with her was at the expense of my wife, children, and my own self-worth.

Today, I am publicly announcing that the affair is over. My wife and children have known for a long time that the affair was over, but now everyone will know.

The Church robbed me of so much of my life and I have no intention of allowing her to have one more moment of my time. Life is too short. I am dying. We all are. I don’t want to waste what is left of my life chasing after things I now see to be vain and empty.

I have always been known as a reader, a student of the Bible. I have read thousands of books in my lifetime and the knowledge gained from my reading and studies have led me to some conclusions about religion, particularly the Fundamentalist, Evangelical religion that played such a prominent part in my life.

I can no longer wholeheartedly embrace the doctrines of the Evangelical, Fundamentalist faith. I do not believe in the inerrancy of Scripture nor do I accept as fact the common Evangelical belief of the inspiration of Scripture.

Coming to this conclusion has forced me to reevaluate many of the doctrines I have held as true over these many years. I have concluded that I have been misinformed, poorly taught, and sometimes lied to. I can no longer accept as true many of the doctrines  I once believed.

I point the finger of blame at no one. I sincerely believed and taught the things that I did and many of the men who taught me were honorable teachers. I don’t blame those who have influenced me over the years, nor do  I blame the authors of the many books I have read. Simply, it is what it is…

The backlash from my letter was immediate and severe. Keep in mind I was not yet an atheist. All I said was that I could no longer embrace the teachings of Christianity. I was agnostic when it came to God question. I still had lots of doubts and questions.

The reaction of my family and Polly’s family was the hardest to bear. For the most part they said nothing. To this day, some family members, including Polly’s parents,  have not said one word to us about our defection from Christianity. It’s like there’s a huge elephant in the room that no one can see but us. Six plus years of silence.

My friends and fellow pastors took to writing me letters, sending me emails, visiting me, preaching about me, and having prayer meetings focused on praying me back into the fold. The level of nastiness and judgmentalism was overwhelming. During this time, a long-time friend and parishioner turned pastor came to see me. I wrote about his visit in A Letter to a Friend. In the letter I wrote:

You got my letter.

I am certain that my letter troubled you and caused you to wonder what in the world was going on with Bruce.

You have been my friend since 1983. When I met you for the first time I was a young man pastoring a new Church in Somerset, Ohio. I remember you and your dear wife vividly because you put a 100.00 bill in the offering plate. Up to that point we had never seen a 100.00 bill in the offering plate.

And so our friendship began. You helped us buy our first Church bus (third picture below). You helped us buy our Church building (second picture below). In later years you gave my wife and I a generous gift to buy a mobile home. It was old, but we were grateful to have our own place to live in. You were a good friend.

Yet, our common bond was the Christianity we both held dear. I doubt you would have done any of the above for the local Methodist minister, whom we both thought was an apostate.

I baptized you and was privileged to be your pastor on and off over my 11 years in Somerset. You left several times because our doctrinal beliefs conflicted, you being an Arminian and I being a Calvinist.

One day you came to place where you believed God was leading you to abandon your life work, farming, and enter the ministry. I was thrilled for you. I also said to myself, “now Bill can really  see what the ministry is all about!”

So you entered the ministry and you are now a pastor of a thriving fundamentalist Church. I am quite glad you found your place in life and are endeavoring to do what you believe is right. Of course, I would think the same of you if you were still farming.

You have often told me that much of what you know about the ministry I taught you. I suppose, to some degree or another, I must take credit for what you have become. (whether I view it as good or bad)

Yesterday, you got into your Lincoln and drove three plus hours to see me. I wish you had called first. I had made up my mind to make up some excuse why I couldn’t see you, but since you came unannounced I had  no other option but to open and the door and warmly welcome you. Just like always…

I have never wanted to hurt you or cause you to lose your faith. I would rather you not know the truth about me than to hurt you in any way.

But your visit forced the issue. I had no choice.

Why did you come to my home? I know you came as my friend, but it seemed by the time our three-hour discussion ended our friendship had died and I was someone you needed to pray for, that I might be saved. After all, in your Arminian theology there can be no question that a person with beliefs such as mine has fallen from grace…

During the first few months after my initial letter, I heard from Laura Hardman, the wife of Evangelist Don Hardman. She bared her fangs and let me know that it was quite evident that I NEVER was a Christian.

About two years after the  Dear  Family, Friends, and Former Parishioners letter I wrote:

Almost two years ago I sent my friends, family and former parishioners a letter concerning my decision to deconvert from Christianity. I wish I could say my letter was well received.  I wish I could say that people told me they supported my decision. I wish I could say I have been treated in a kind and respectful manner.

But I can’t.

A longtime friend of mine, Bill Beard, pastor of Lighthouse Memorial Church, drove over three hours to my home to talk (argue) with me about my deconversion. He and I had been friends for over 25 years.

Laura Hardman, wife of Evangelist Don Hardman, wrote me a scathing letter telling me that I never was a real Christian, I had been friends with the Hardmans for over 20 years.I wrote them back and I have not head from them since.

Friends of mine for over 40 years, missionaries with Child Evangelism Fellowship, wrote to me and told me I was under the influence of Satan. They sent me literature to read. I returned it with a letter of my own. They never wrote back.

I stumbled upon a forum discussion about me. They were discussing what to do about Bruce.

I have received numerous emails from former parishioners telling me of the errors of my ways.  Some of them are deeply troubled about how this could happen.  How could their pastor now be an agnostic who doesn’t believe in the Bible or God?

A few former parishioners took it upon themselves to tell me their conclusions about me. Many of them mentioned my reading habits. They told me I read too many books and they suggested I just read the Bible.

Two former parishioners wrote to tell me that though they disagreed with me, they loved me and were my friend. I really appreciated their love and friendship.

I hear bits and pieces of the gossip about me that is floating around Bryan and Defiance. People questioning whether or not  I was ever a Christian. Some raise issues about my mental stability. One thing they never do? Talk to me personally.

My adult children have to field questions at work about their apostate father. Once again, the questioners never talk to me personally.

It is not much better on the family front.

Silence is how family has decided to deal with me. It’s like I never wrote the letter about deconverting from Christianity. Behind the scenes there is a lot of gossip about me and what to do about the Bruce matter. Last Christmas, the patriarch of the family, a pastor of 40 plus years, was intent on confronting me about my apostasy. I am grateful my mother-in-law quashed his plan to confront me. It would have been ugly.  I mean ugly, ugly.

My wife decided that we could no longer do Christmas at her parent’s home. The stress and undercurrent are such that it is impossible to “enjoy” time with the family during the Christmas holiday. (we do go to visit when the extended family is not there)

I wish I could tell you that I came through all of this unscathed, but I can’t. I decided to seek out a counselor two years ago. I knew I needed to talk to someone about the pain and deep wound I was carrying as a result of my defection from Christianity. I still see a counselor every few weeks. His work with me has been extremely helpful and has enabled me to move forward and away from the past. The scars remain. The viciousness of people who say they are followers of the man who said turn the other cheek and love your enemy has scarred me. Every time a fundamentalist spews his bile on this blog I am reminded of the deep wound I carry. I am also reminded that I am glad to be free from such an ugly, vile, and vicious belief system and way of life.

So how are things now?

Some family members are still silent. Perhaps they will never ask, inquire, or attempt to engage me in a discussion. I think some people are intimidated by me, so they avoid the elephant in the room. Others fear I might cause them to doubt or lose their faith, so they avoid all contact with me. I have come to accept this. I wish they would talk to me, but I know I can’t force the issue and I leave it alone.

All but two of Christian friends have abandoned me. I don’t blame them. I have come to see that our friendship was held together by fidelity to certain beliefs. Remove the beliefs and the friendship dissolves. If I came back to the Christian faith, I would instantly have dozen of friends. I would be lauded as the Preacher reclaimed From the Devil’s Clutches. Hmm…there is money to be made…

If I had to do it all over again would I do it the same way? Would I write THE letter? Probably. My experiences have given me knowledge that is helpful to people who contact me about their own doubts about Christianity. I am often asked, what should I do? Should I tell my spouse?Should I tell my family, friends, or coworkers?

My standard advice is this: Count the cost. Weigh carefully the consequences. Once you utter or write the words I AM AN ATHEIST you are no longer in control of what happens next.  Are you willing to lose your friends, destroy your marriage, or lose your job? Only you can decide what cost you are willing to pay.

I know there is this notion “Dammit I should be able to freely declare what I am” and I agree with the sentiment. We should be able to freely be who and what we are. If we lived on a deserted island I suppose we could do so. However, we are surrounded by people. People we love. People we want and need in our life. Because of this, it behooves (Shout out to the KJV)  us to tread carefully.

I hope some of you will find this post helpful. My deepest desire is to help you on your journey. I am hoping that my walking before you can be of help to you as you decide how best to deal with and embrace your loss of faith.

This blog is here to remind those struggling with leaving Christianity or who have already left Christianity, YOU ARE NOT ALONE.