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Four Major Reasons People Leave Christianity and Become Atheists

bible made me an atheist

According to Wintery Knight, an Evangelical blogger and apologist, there are four major reasons people leave Christianity and become atheists:

They want to do something immoral with impunity. This type of person wants to do something immoral that is forbidden by Christianity, like pre-marital sex or getting drunk in clubs with friends. They dump Christianity in order to have freedom to seek happiness in this life.

They want to make decisions based on their emotions, rather than wisdom. This type of person thinks that God’s job is to save them when they act irresponsibly. When God disappoints them by not make their recklessness “work out”, they leave the faith.

They want to be loved by people, not by God. This type of person thinks that Christianity is a tool that they can use to become popular. When they first try to articulate the gospel in public, they find that people don’t like them as much, and they feel bad about offending people with exclusive truth claims that they cannot back up using logic and evidence. So, they water down Christianity to get along with non-Christians. Finally, they jettison Christianity completely. This happens to a lot of young Christians the moment they hit college/university.

They don’t want to learn to defend their faith. This type of person is asked questions by skeptics that they cannot answer. Usually, this happens when people go to university after growing up in the shelter of the Church. The questions and peer pressure make them feel stupid. Rather than investigate Christianity to see if it’s true, they drop it, so they can be thought of as part of the “smart” crowd.

Sigh (please see Why I Use the Word “Sigh”).

Let’s see, I have been married for forty-three years and I’ve never fucked anyone but my wife. I have no “secret” desires to sin. In fact, I suspect my godless life is quite Christian. Outside of my use of swear words, my TV viewing habits, and my love of whiskey, I am as moral and ethical as any Christian (not a very high standard, to be sure). Does Wintery Knight really want to get in a dick measuring contest to see who is more moral and ethical? (Please see the Black Collar Crime Series.) Wintery Knight thinks that Evangelicals-turned-atheists wanted to fuck with impunity (remember, it’s always about sex for Evangelicals) and that’s why they deconverted. Is that how it was for you? We can only wish, right? 🙂

Wintery Knight says Evangelicals-turned-atheists made decisions based on emotion, and when these decisions didn’t work out, they blamed God and deconverted. Was that the case for any of you? And let me be clear, all decisions are emotion-based. Humans are emotional creatures. “Wisdom” is a word used by Evangelicals to describe “thinking as God thinks” or “making decisions according to the Bible.” Atheists understand that we make the choices we do because we want to. Sometimes these decisions work out, sometimes they don’t. That’s life. I am almost sixty-five years old. I have made thousands of decisions in my lifetime. Good, bad, and indifferent. Unlike my wife, Polly, I have little problem making decisions. I spent most of my life working management-level jobs. Decision-making was expected of me. I have made some colossal mistakes over the years. Just ask Polly. 🙂 At no time as a Christian did I ever blame God when things didn’t turn out as I expected. (I asked WHERE was God in the post Dear Jesus, but I never blamed God for anything. I was a Calvinist, after all. Everything in my life was decreed by God, including my deconversion.) 🙂

Wintery Knight thinks Evangelicals-turned-atheists viewed Christianity as a way to become popular. Really? I mean, really? Does this remotely resemble your experience? Wintery Knight goes on to apply the slippery slope argument to Evangelicals-turned-atheists. We tried “to articulate the gospel in public,” found out [unsaved] people didn’t like us as much [duh, who likes someone who (unsolicited) interjects religion and politics in social settings?], and felt bad about offending people. So, we watered down Christianity to get along with unbelievers, and finally we “jettison [ed] Christianity completely.” I don’t know of one Evangelical-turned-atheist who would say Wintery Knight’s claim is true.

And finally, Wintery Knight says that Evangelicals-turned-atheists didn’t want to learn how to defend the faith; that they felt stupid when asked questions by unbelievers; so they deconverted so they could be considered part of the “smart crowd.”

Evidently, Wintery Knight hasn’t talked to many, if any, Evangelicals-turned-atheists. Most of the former Christians who read this blog are actually quite conversant in all things Christianity. They read and studied the Bible for years. In my case, I read the Bible from cover to cover numerous times. I spent thousands and thousands of hours reading and studying the Bible — roughly twenty hours a week. All told, I preached 4,000 sermons. I can safely say that I know the Bible inside and out. And I can say the same for the ex-Evangelical pastors, evangelists, missionaries, youth directors, worship leaders, college professors, and deacons, to name a few, who frequent this site. We left Christianity with full knowledge and eyes wide open.

Go read the full text of Wintery Knight’s screed on his site. His attempt to take down Dan Barker, a former Evangelical pastor and co-president of the Freedom of Religion Foundation, is a hoot.

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Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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16 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Neil Rickert

    Your cartoon explains it better than did WK. To be fair, thought, the hypocrisy of Christians also gave me a push.

    If WK actually had enough faith to follow the teachings of Jesus — the “love your neighbor” and the “turn the other cheek” parts, for example, then he would not have made those false accusations of atheists.

  2. Avatar
    BJW

    Honestly? I came to the conclusion that Christians weren’t really about the love of God, but making people restrict their behavior for no good reason. We had a bad, bad experience with church many years ago, and we could have so easily been caught…if Christians were really about unconditional love. When I figured out that my gay relative had true love for their spouse, I saw where kindness and love were coming from…and it wasn’t from fundamental Christians. Well, if there are (almost) no Christians with Christ’s love, then what was the point? Most of the loud Christians who come here are either smug and self-righteous, or crazy and spewing threats of hell. I don’t see the love of god in ANY OF THESE PEOPLE, ANYWHERE.

  3. Avatar
    GeoffT

    I’d readily turn to Christianity if it had any intellectual appeal. The reality is it doesn’t. If Wintery Knight (seriously?) were to engage Dan Barker in debate he’d be destroyed, so he’s forced to write articles that appeal only to his, very limited, fanbase.

  4. Avatar
    clubschadenfreude

    WK is one of the dullest knives in a box of dull knives. He’s a great example of the failed apologist who finds he must lie to try to convince people he is right, and thus demonstrates he has no more interest in what his god supposedly commands than I do.

  5. Avatar
    Jaqen H'ghar

    4 reasons people remain in religions:
    1. fear ______ (pick their poison)
    2. fear ______ (pick their poison)
    3. fear ______ (pick their poison)
    4. fear ______ (pick their poison)

    Bonus.
    5. They are not given the capacity to apostate. Their spirit is willing, but their flesh is weak.

  6. Avatar
    aylogogo77

    “They feel bad about offending people with exclusive truth claims that they cannot back up using logic and evidence.”
    Nah! You don’t offend me with your truth-claims that you can’t back up with logic and evidence. I just laugh at you. Or I would, if you weren’t simultaneously trying to take away my bodily autonomy as a woman.

  7. Avatar
    sjl1701

    Wintery Knight is just a typical relight wing blogger. His piece on Dan Barker show no depth, no understanding and shallow analysis. I doubt this dude is aware of much less read any of Dan’s book. And WK, Dan is a co-president of FFRF, he is not a founder. Guys like this who obsess about what the rest of us do in bed are the ones with issues.

  8. Avatar
    Troy

    Before “Wintery KNIGHT” engages in “combat”, he should apply a bit of Sun Tzu, and “know your enemy” FIRST.

    • Christianity allows one to act with impunity, you confess the sin on Sunday, and next Friday night it is off to the races again.
    • “decisions based on their emotion”? What is the emotional payoff for dismissing the heavenly genie and afterlife fantasy?
    • “loved by people, not by God” Another absurdity, atheists have always been generally unpopular with the religious majority. Madelyn Murry O’Hare wasn’t the “most hated woman in America” for nothing.
    • “learn to defend their faith”, this one make me laugh, by this he means stick your fingers in your ears sing “Mary had a little lamb” and succumb to the bliss of ignorance.

    • Avatar
      Astreja

      “What is the emotional payoff for dismissing the heavenly genie and afterlife fantasy?” If anything, acceptance of a heavenly genie is heavily driven by emotion – fear of death, guilt and shame deliberately instilled in followers, the emotional rush from a religious experience, love-bombing of would-be converts…

  9. Avatar
    Steve Ruis

    I wonder why people who, in all likelihood have never met an atheist, tell us what our motivations are.

    I do remember when I stopped believing (or pretending to believe). I was 13 and I was furious because “they lied to me.” That’s all I can remember. None of this evangelical claptrap was involved. It was a reaction to being lied to about something I thought was important.

    • Avatar
      Astreja

      I think they lie about our motivations to hide the fact that we have lots of excellent reasons for not believing, and to make us look like hedonistic creeps.

      They might want to read that “Thou shalt not bear false witness” commandment a few times, till they clue in to the fact that lying about other people isn’t okay with their imaginary sky daddy.

  10. Avatar
    Hugh D. Young

    I don’t entirely know what I am as far as a specific label of ‘belief’ is concerned anymore, as I’ve had some ‘personal stuff’ happen since I last posted here. I can tell you that I just got done with some rather heated discussions on FaceBook, where all of the religious whackjobs, with their tyrannical bully ‘god’ in tow are condemning Naomi Judd to hell as it’s now come out, courtesy of her daughter Ashley, that she did in fact take her own life. I’m sure as fuck not ever going back to any form of organized/ institutionalized religion….that much is for DAMN sure!!!-

  11. Avatar
    MJ Lisbeth

    I am starting to think that the definition of “gaslighting “ is “the Evangelical practice of imputing immoral and nefarious behaviors, motives and ideas to atheists, agnostics, secular humanists, Unitarians and others who do not accept their claims and beliefs.”

    The funny thing is that WK actually isn’t very good at it .

  12. Avatar
    S.D. Edmister

    Not an atheist, but I can give it a shot. These are four concise counterpoints to WK from my own perspective.

    “They want to do something immoral with impunity.” Some of the most immoral people I knew were Christians, or at least the kind that profess for clout’s sake. They could do whatever they wanted because they were saved and believed they could get their slates clean with one little apology. One of the reasons my family and I left was because we were seen as immoral for being a blended family. I didn’t know loving someone who got out of an abusive relationship was immoral, as well as being a father figure to a child whose father didn’t step up to the challenge. If anything, my current faith compels me to be more upstanding than I was as a Christian. I can now voice my distaste for questionable things that as a Christian I would have been forced to support.
    “They want to make decisions based on their emotions, rather than their wisdom.” As Bruce pointed out, we are emotional by nature, and this goes into how we value our reasoned decisions. Logos and pathos might not be the same, but they do play tennis. My time as a Christian was somewhat hollow and fraught with anxiety about hellfire and following the right denomination. I also realized that the Augustinian original sin doctrine, along with taking Paul’s writings seriously, is bananas on the mildest terms. I followed my logic, and it took me out of Christianity.
    “They want to be loved by people, not by God.” Three things up with this one. First, Christianity is literally the biggest religion in the world. The Vatican is not a shack by any stretch. Second, I am very hesitant about people finding out I’m not a Christian anymore. That is because I fear rejection from people close to me. I’m playing it safe for now. Last thing: I hardly felt loved by God as a Christian. I felt He had a chart of “days this chump hasn’t screwed up” for me, and it was constantly resetting because I did one thing wrong. The rhetoric behind “Sinners at the Hands of an Angry God” was very present during my Christian school days, and it left an impact on my self-esteem and self-perception.
    “They don’t want to defend the faith.” Pee-yew, that’s a putrid claim! I studied hard to be a good apologetic, but I ended up being a mouthpiece for other people. Like Bruce, I took Bible studying seriously, and that was when I started having serious questions. I asked hard questions and got lackluster answers that were (shock!) based more on emotion than reason. How could I defend something I frequently questioned? Why would I follow something that made me more confused and uncertain as I studied it more?

    Sorry for rambling, but this one got my gears turning for a while.

    SDE

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Bruce Gerencser