Guest Posts

The Long and the Short of Not Coming Out

atheist closet

A guest post by Grammar Gramma

The long

Recently my husband and I attended his high school reunion. It was held at a ranch in central Texas and was a weekend-long event. My husband and I were raised in small west Texas towns which are heavily protestant and quite conservative.

There were some 30 attendees, about half of whom were the original classmates. We began to get the idea that we were in a strongly Christian home when we noted several bibles, many more Christian-oriented books, and numerous placards with biblical sayings. When it was time for dinner, the host called us all in to pray before dinner. I lingered out on the porch, hoping to sit it out, but beckoned me, repeating “come on in – we’re going to pray.” He read a bible verse from his mobile phone, then offered up a prayer. This occurred before every meal. For the other meals, I “disappeared” at prayer time.

Our hosts are Church of Christ, and probably some of the others are as well. Some, at least, are Baptist (probably Southern Baptist). Evangelical? I don’t know, but likely. I also do not know what affiliation the others are. One woman told my husband and me that her life is much better now that she has discovered there is no hell, but we were interrupted before we could get any further in that conversation. Later, I heard her professing something about being a Christian. I wanted to get back to her about how not believing in hell is the beginning of a slippery slope at the bottom of which is non-belief in a god, but the opportunity never arose again. I wasn’t completely sure I wanted it to.

During our discussions with several people, they talked mentioned how blessed they are, and I am under the impression we were the only non-believers there. We did not spill the beans, but just listened.

There was no alcohol served at the house – no beer, no wine, no hard liquor. There was no cursing. I suspect that some of the people live that way. There are others who, although they probably are Christians, engage in at least a bit of cursing. One of them is a Vietnam vet who has various ailments which he attributes to his service, but he cannot get the VA to agree with him. I imagine he knows how to cuss up a blue streak. Others probably live the way they did this weekend.

There was a huge amount of white privilege at the reunion, although I suspect at least some of them were not conscious of it. We didn’t comment on it. There was a bumper sticker on a side table which said “Guns Kill People like Spoons Made Rosie O’Donnell Fat.” It took me several readings of that to realize that is it NOT an anti-gun sentiment!

The last morning, the hostess and I were talking about Facebook and she tried to friend me, but on her little phone I couldn’t determine which icon was mine – I change my photo often and couldn’t find mine among the choices. So she told me her FB name and suggested I friend her – hers is unique. After we got home, I pondered long and hard about whether to let her see my FB page, which is full of pro-choice and atheist posts. I wasn’t sure I wanted to let her know that we (my husband is strongly skeptical about the existence of any gods) have “strayed from the fold.” I am quite sure that if these people knew of our lack of faith, they would have spent the entire weekend trying to save us. We left with our secret intact, unwilling to come out to those people with whom my husband had grown up.

The Short

Today, I decided not to come out to a young lady today, a lady whom I will never see again. A kid was standing alongside the road today in front of a church waving a sign that said “Free Car Wash.” I opted in. After I surrendered my car for a brief, exterior-only cleaning, I was approached by a college student. I started to give her some money, but she declined. She said they are washing cars for Jesus, and will not accept a tip or donation. She asked if I go to church around here and I told her “no” and left it at that. She did not probe further. We chit-chatted about her small home town in Arkansas, her mission trip here, and her college experience. Then my car was clean. We shook hands and I left.

I wonder why I was unwilling to even mention that I am an atheist, let alone challenge her lightly on her beliefs. After all, I will never see this woman again, nor she me. I wish now that I had risked asking her why her god doesn’t heal amputees. I’m trying, more and more, to come out as an atheist, but it is hard to do in person. I have been out on Facebook for seven or eight years, and to my family for longer than that. I don’t know why I find it so difficult to come out to strangers.

Religion, Shame, and the Loss of Identity

guest-post

Guest post by Melody

Psychology has always interested me. What makes people tick? That particular question, I find very intriguing. Therefore, I sometimes like reading articles or books about psychology and human behavior. During my de-conversion journey, one book stood out, and it is that book, along with two others that I would like to discuss (only in part) as they relate to the theme of religion and shame. The book is called: Healing the Shame that Binds You, by John Bradshaw. The other two books are 1984 by George Orwell and The True Believer by Eric Hoffer. (That last one I saw mentioned on Bruce’s blog once in the comments. Thanks for bringing it to my attention, as it’s a great read!)

The interesting thing is that, although they’re totally different books, part of what each discusses does overlap — when it comes to religion (or ideology) and shame, that is. There can be thousands of reasons why people believe, but one of them can be to dispel shame. Or to put it another way, to not have to be a person yourself, but to lose yourself and your identity in/to a higher cause, a loftier goal or purpose. I first encountered this idea in Bradshaw’s book and found it very interesting. I felt as if I recognized myself, my father, and so many others in it:

“There is a religious script, which contains the standards of holiness and righteous behavior. These standards dictate how to talk, how to dress, walk and behave in almost every situation. (…) In such a script one is taught how to act loving and righteous. It’s actually more important to act loving and righteous than to be loving and righteous. The feeling of righteousness and acting sanctimoniously are wonderful ways to mood alter toxic shame. They are often ways to interpersonally transfer one’s shame to others.” (Bradshaw 66)

You don’t have to think for yourself because God and the Bible and the church will give you all the rules you need. You don’t have to be a genuine person that way, which means you also cannot fail or be rejected as an actual person. Rejection can be about your faith, for instance, which will only confirm that you walk the right and narrow path.

On the one hand, this script felt really good for me. Bradshaw even calls it religious addiction. It was a sort of guideline in knowing how to live and behave and a also way to be safe, but on the other hand, it felt like I couldn’t be a real person as there was not much space for individuality.

Although he himself is a believer, Bradshaw criticizes religion severely. According to him, original sin, hell and a punitive God are recipes for disaster. One can’t win with original sin, and man is seen as “totally flawed and defective. Of himself he can only sin. Man is shame-based to the core.” (Bradshaw 65) “There is nothing man can do that is of any value. Of himself, man is a worm. Only when God works through him does man become restored to dignity. But it’s never anything that man does of himself.” (Bradshaw 65)

The same idea becomes visible in 1984: “You will be hollow. We shall squeeze you empty, and then we shall fill you with ourselves.” (Orwell 269) In a true totalitarian system with God, or Big Brother, watching over you, you cannot be an individual. You have to be similar to everyone else, and in being so, you find that your identity merges with the ideas of religion or your environment or choice. In 1984 people dress the same, think the same, act the same. There is no shame because there is no individual identity. There is also no autonomy or responsibility because there is no individual identity. The Party carries all that for you.

Winston’s (the main character) shame is in having his own thoughts and feelings; he cannot adapt and follow the rules completely. He follows the rules but it ultimately proves to be impossible because even his thoughts are not his own. He cannot help but rebel and think logically from time to time. “That the choice for mankind lay between freedom and happiness, and that, for the great bulk of mankind, happiness was better,” he realizes too late. (Orwell 275) Complete surrender is the ultimate goal of his torturer, who sees himself as a priest of sorts: “It is intolerable to us that an erroneous thought should exist anywhere in the world.” (Orwell 267) Individual voices are not appreciated: God’s, or the Party’s, or the ideology’s voice has to be the one and only voice that is heard.

In The True Believer various religions and ideologies are discussed, such as Christianity, Islam, Communism and Nazism. The book is about the similarities between them, not in substance or teachings, but in the process/formation of the movements, in their recruitment and how/why they grow. Why do people join these mass movements? What kinds of people join? What does a true believer look like (psychologically)?

Some themes that I’ve already mentioned recur here, such as the loss of responsibilities.

Freedom aggravates at least as much as it alleviates frustration. Freedom of choice places the whole blame of failure on the shoulders of the individual. (…) Unless a man has the talents to make something of himself, freedom is an irksome burden (…) We join a mass movement to escape individual responsibility, or in the words of the ardent young Nazi, ‘to be free from freedom.’ It was not sheer hypocrisy when the rank-and-file Nazis declared themselves not guilty of all the enormities they had committed. They considered themselves cheated and maligned when made to shoulder responsibility for obeying orders. Had they not joined the Nazi movement in order to be free from responsibility? (Hoffer 31)

It is not hard to compare this line of thinking to Christians defending hell or their opposition to, say, same-sex-marriage. These are not their own opinions, after all — it is God’s will. They don’t choose these (harsh) positions themselves, they merely follow God’s lead. They are not responsible, God is.

Related to this, and to shame, is the following: “Faith in a holy cause is to a considerable extent a substitute for the lost faith in ourselves.” (Hoffer 14) ”The less justified a man is in claiming excellence for his own self, the more ready he is to claim all excellence for his nation, his religion, his race or his holy cause.” (Hoffer 14) And this is exactly how the Party members in 1984 behave: they may be nothing (special) themselves but their country and Party are everything, are the Answer, much as Jesus or other religious leaders are the Answer.

Another interesting characteristic of true believers, according to Hoffer, is their hope. True bitter people don’t hope for a better world (any more) but believers do. They may not have necessarily have hope in themselves but they do believe in the hope that their belief, ideology or leader brings. “One of the most potent attractions of a mass movement is its offering of a substitute for individual hope.” (Hoffer 15)

“Mass movements are usually accused of doping their followers with hope of the future while cheating them of the enjoyment of the present. Yet to the frustrated the present is irremediably spoiled.” (Hoffer 15) Whether that hope is a heaven promised by priests and pastors or is an ideological utopia of sorts promised by politicians, it is still to come. It is about the future, not the present. It doesn’t matter that it isn’t here yet: that way the promises can remain promising.

I found it very interesting how three such different books still dealt with similar themes and ideas and how they complemented each other. There is so much to unpack when you leave a religion and begin to see the world and the people in it in a different light, that it is very helpful to encounter new ideas and ways of thinking.

I think my conclusion is that, although religion and ideology can play a huge role in one’s life, we are still people, first and foremost. We are unique human beings who may have ideas in common with lots of other people (and there is nothing wrong with that) but who don’t need to become the embodiment of those ideas. Or as Jesus would say: “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27)

Religion and ideology can serve us as ideas, as a way to talk about important issues, but that’s it. They are meant to serve us, not we to serve them. They can be tools or destinations, but when they become an identity, especially a core identity, they can hide and diminish our own unique voices.

It’s good to have glasses with which to view the world, but it is also advisable to change to a different pair every once in a while and see the world in a whole new light.

Thanks for reading and thanks to Bruce for posting this post!

Books mentioned in this post:

1984 by George Orwell

The True Believer by Eric Hoffer

Healing the Shame that Binds You by John Bradshaw

So Much Good Has Been Done in the Name of Religion

goodness religion

A guest post by A.

But so much good has been done in the name of religion too.

This is one of the arguments I would quite happily never hear again for the rest of my days. It’s the apparent riposte of choice whenever someone has the temerity to draw attention to the downright formidable list of sins attributable to religions or religious institutions. Beginning from A for Appalling Atrocity, one could easily go through the alphabet many times over in an attempt to produce even a marginally comprehensive report of these misdeeds. Alas, the effort would most likely be come to nothing, for the inevitable reply would merely be “yes, it is true, all that took place, but it also inspired so much good“.

At the risk of appearing forward, I must state this is without a doubt one of the most vacuous and insipid arguments I have ever encountered. Any truth there is to it, is a truth of the most trivial and banal kind, so much so that it bears great resemblance to the infamous claim by McDonald’s that their food is nutritious, since it contains nutrients. Yes, one can say people have been inspired to do good because of their religion, but has that good truly amounted to more in the grand scheme of things, than those vaunted McDonald’s nutrients? Do the few, aged onion slices really make up for the throat-clogging fat and the pink slime? In short, does it, and has it ever, made up for all the misery, suffering and all-round horribleness which can unquestionably be laid at religion’s doorstep? Do good intentions really cancel out abhorrent outcomes? And if McD’s doesn’t get away with appealing to all the good nutrients contained in their products, why should religion be allowed to use this frankly rather outrageous claim to get a free pass?

You know, the fascists did a lot of good things too. They reduced unemployment, they made the infrastructure work, they restored order in society. I’m sure some Stalinists were very kind and loving to their families. The inquisitors and puritans who made it their life mission to hunt down, torture and kill heretics, no doubt had the very best intentions with regard to the future and well-being of all humankind. Many paedophile priests or ministers were reported to be well-liked and appreciated shepherds to their flocks, doing many a good deed and performing many a needed service. An inordinate proportion of men who abuse their partners are known to be very charming and impressionable with everyone else, and such good, dependable men too. Yet, do we excuse these people for the less than stellar aspects of their behaviour, based on “all the good” they have done? No, no, no, no, and all too often yes, respectively. Religion however, does get to hold this permanent get-out-of-jail-free trump card. Why?

Why are Magdalene laundries and Irish reform schools ignored? What about the Catholic Church actively shielding paedophiles? Or lying to poor people in Africa about the efficacy of condoms in prevention of AIDS? The US government at the behest of religious elements instituting a global gag rule on the topic of abortion among all NGO’s receiving their funding? The evangelicals fomenting war(s) in the Middle East in the hopes of bringing about WWIII, the Armageddon and the second coming of Christ? The incalculable and frankly philistine destruction of culture and artifacts perpetrated by missionaries? The active pursuit to keep women forever as not even second class citizens? Denial of Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) and the abject refusal to do anything about it, as it can’t  possibly be true, because “God alone is in control of the planet”? Or is this all too abstract perhaps? What about refusing sick people life-saving medical procedures because they would amount to “playing God”? Bullying individual members to give up their autonomy, belongings and anything else the holy people deem offensive to the divinity? Forcing families to completely cut off apostates or those designated as such, at the threat of eternal damnation? Actually physically harming individuals, who dare to step out of line too much? Female genital mutilation (FGM), suttee, honour killings, witch hunts? I could go on, for pages on end. And do not for a moment think this doesn’t happen any more, or that it doesn’t happen in our beloved civilized west. I will be more than happy to point to actual cases. Note, that I have purposefully selected mostly modern examples here. The sheer carnage is by no means limited to history books, I assure you.

Yet all the above is conveniently swept aside with a few small words, “but a lot of good too”. What that amounts to is a brazen claim that all the above and then some doesn’t really matter. It isn’t really that important at all, as it is generously counterweighted by soup kitchens, second hand shops, schools, orphanages, etc. Incidentally, that all too often means soup kitchens where a captive audience is proselytised to, or schools where children are mentally and physically abused. But look at all the good that has been done! Surely that means all the less savoury aspects are worth it in the end? Yes, I am sure that’s an inordinate comfort to those on the receiving end of those less savoury aspects. I ask you, what other institution in the history of humankind, would get such a leeway?

The fascists are rightly denounced today, despite their purportedly accurate train schedules. Sincere belief in the goodness of one’s actions excuses few people, and gratifyingly often a few good qualities aren’t enough to rescue people who are harmful to others from social opprobrium. We are willing to do this, but religion still gets to appeal to its shiny side and wash away all its sins. So what’s the difference?

Perhaps a hint to a possible answer is in the fact, that other people who frequently escape consequences for their behaviour are those in power. Husbands supported by patriarchal structures, sports heroes supported by adoring fans, billionaires supported by their buddies in business, politicians supported by party machines and so on. They couldn’t possibly be held responsible for what they’ve done; after all, they are otherwise so good (or rich, successful, handsome, etc.)! Those in power do not want the proles to get all uppity and attempt to apply the same rules to them as are applied to the proles. Those without power adore and idolise those in power, declaring that their heroes can’t be all bad and should therefore have their transgressions excused. Possibly also hoping against all good sense that the world is just and therefore those people would never get that far, or the institutions would never have survived this long, were their existence not, in the end, mostly a good thing for the rest of the world.

It is well known that history is written by the winners. It would seem to me, that not only has religion been one of the great winners over time, but that it still is writing the history today.

Freedom of Speech is a Two-Way Street

free speech

Guest post by Ian

Glenn Beck and the Dixie Chicks have something in common, though neither wants to admit it.

In 2003, Natalie Maines, the lead singer of the Dixie Chicks, said that she was “ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas.” This was said in London, during a concert. Word of this quickly made its way back to the United States and many radio stations pulled The Dixie Chicks from their play lists. Irate people threw away or burned their Dixie Chicks albums.

Maines’ statement resulted in a struggle for the Dixie Chicks, particularly in the country music world, where they were boycotted for several years. They made a video documentary which followed them for three years after the infamous London concert. In the documentary, Maines watched a video of President Bush, in which he said, ”They shouldn’t have their feelings hurt just because some people don’t want to buy their records when they speak out. You know, freedom is a two-way street.” Maines then says, “You’re a dumb fuck.”

Video Link

Last week, Glenn Beck had a guest on his radio show, Brad Thor, and they were talking about a Donald Trump presidency. Here is the transcript; it is long, to provide context.

THOR: BS, BS. Trump does not compromise. Trump has the ability to hire and fire people, to hire contractors, to fire contractors. People who work for Trump can work for him or stop working for him. If he gets into the White House, we have to deal with him.

And I’ll tell you, one of the best examples I have seen of who Trump really is – I have been mistakenly comparing him to a potential Mussolini. And about a week ago, Foreign Affairs did an amazing article about the Caudillos, the strong men of Latin America. And that is who Trump is. He is a Chavez. He is a Peron.

That is the type of guy he is and I guarantee you, Glenn, that during his presidency, during his reign if you will – he is going to petition the American people to allow a temporary suspension of the Constitution so he can help America get back on its feet again.

He is a danger to America and I got to ask you a question and this is serious and this could ring down incredible heat on me because I’m about to suggest something very bad. It is a hypothetical I am going to ask as a thriller writer.

With the feckless, spineless Congress we have, who will stand in the way of Donald Trump overstepping his constitutional authority as President? If Congress won’t remove him from office, what patriot will step up and do that if, if, he oversteps his mandate as president, his constitutional-granted authority, I should say, as president.

If he oversteps that, how do we get him out of office? And I don’t think there is a legal means available. I think it will be a terrible, terrible position the American people will be in to get Trump out of office because you won’t be able to do it through Congress.

BECK: I would agree with you on that and I don’t think you actually have the voices we’ve been talking about and we’ve been talking about this off-air for a while. I think the voices like ours go away. I don’t think we are allowed – especially if things, and I believe the economy is going to go to crap, even if Jesus was in office. It’s going to naturally reset. It has to.

SiriusXM decided to pull Glenn Beck’s program for the rest of the week and were reviewing his future with the company, saying, “…comments recently made by a guest on the independently produced Glenn Beck Program, in our judgement, may be reasonably construed by some to have been advocating harm against an individual currently running for office, which we cannot and will not condone.”  Beck is being classy and calling Matt Drudge, who broke the story, a “despicable lying scumbag.”  Now, Beck’s spokespeople are crying foul and saying they are being bullied.

So all of that to say this: both made statements that were considered outrageous. The companies who sell their voices had to make a decision. The decision came down to how much risk were these companies willing to take. Obviously, not much. For The Dixie Chicks, people on the left complained that this was a clear violation of their First Amendment rights. For the people on the Beck right (because the Beck right is different from the normal right, or the Palin right or the Cruz right), they are saying that things were taken out of context and everyone but them is a shill for Obama.

I say to them, grow up. This has nothing to do with protected speech, being persecuted or loving President Obama. This had to do with money. Period. The First Amendment stops the government from telling you what to say, not whether private companies can hire and fire you, based on what you say. Both were able to exercise their First Amendment rights and say what they wanted. The Dixie Chicks, or at least Natalie Maines, never had to apologize for what she said and she isn’t in jail. Beck isn’t being carted away by a shadowy government agency for agreeing with Brad Thor. (Thor is backtracking on his statement, too. He said he was talking about a “hypothetical America under a dictator” and not referring to an assassination.)

Glenn Beck has had many years to say whatever he wanted. He makes outrageous claims and has guests who do the same. Now, he is going to pay the price, just like the Dixie Chicks did. They have been allowed to say whatever they want. They just need to remember that other people can say what they want, too. And, people with speak with their wallets as well as their mouths. As George Bush said, “You know, freedom is a two-way street.”

I Am God and I Love You So Much

i am god

I regularly correspond with a handful of Evangelical pastors, missionaries, and evangelists who are having doubts about their faith. While some of them have deconverted — albeit secretly — others are caught in no-man’s land — the space between belief and unbelief. As any of these doubters will tell you, I make no effort to convert them to atheism. I am far more concerned with helping them work through their doubts, fears, and questions. Most of all, I want to provide them a safe place to honestly and openly say what’s on their minds.  They know that I once was where they are now. They also know that whatever they tell me will be kept in the strictest of confidence.

Earlier today, a man who, up until recently, spent most of his adult life holding revival meetings in Independent Fundamentalist Baptist churches, sent me a text about God and his love for us. I asked him if I could share his text with you, and he said yes.

I Am God and I Love You So Much

I am God. God is love. I love you so much.

I love you so much that I set you up to fail.

I love you so much that I taught a snake how to talk, tempt and deceive.

I love you so much that I created most of you knowing you’d reject me.

I love you so much that I made infinite torture the price of your finite rejection.

I love you so much that I’ll give all who reject me a special body that will never die and never stop feeling ultimate pain.

I love you so much that I’ve made sexuality one of your most intense desires but one of your most forbidden actions.

I love you so much that I’ll let some of you be rich, powerful and comfortable while most will be poor, miserable and weak.

I love you so much that I’ll make my forgiveness and salvation one of the most obscure, secluded, exclusive, elusive, difficult, ancient, senseless, illogical and bizarre, argued, debated, opinionated, sadistic, divisive, repulsive, reject-able, laughable, unverifiable, irrational, emotional, and psychological things ever conceived.

I love you so much that I’ll hurt you if you doubt me.

I love you so much that I’ll hurt you if you trust me.

I love you so much that I’ll hurt you if you stray from me.

I love you so much that I’ll hurt you if you are closer to me than to anyone.

I love you so much that I’ll hurt you if you don’t serve me.

I love you so much that I’ll hurt you if you serve me faithfully.

I love you so much that I’ll make your suffering for ignoring me very real in this life.

I love you so much that I’ll make your rewards for walking with me only real in the next life.

I love you so much that I’ll kill your loved ones, destroy your life, ravage your body and make your best friends think it’s your fault, just to teach the devil a lesson.

I love you so much that I’ll make everything you need to know about me and my love available to you in an ancient, translated, revised, edited, copied, argued, debated, contradictory, violent, terrifying, depressing, ambiguous, bizarre, embarrassing book written by dozens of disagreeing men, spanning thousands of years.

I love you so much.

God is love.

I am God.

The Final Judgment

guest-post

Guest post by Melody

Heaven and hell are big in Evangelical Christianity. One might say larger than life even. As a believer I was told over and over again that I did not have to fear hell. Jesus had saved us all. He had saved me and I was bought and paid for forever. Despite officially being part of a more Arminian background, predestination did figure in our beliefs as well. From our side (humans) we had free will and a choice, but from God’s side it was still predestination. I tried to understand this conundrum but failed to. Since I knew quite a few people in high school who were Calvinists, I figured we actually were quite Arminian, despite these caveats. The Calvinists I knew were not able to decide for themselves: they had to be elected by God and even then they were put through serious tests of faith to determine their worthiness and the truth of their claim.

As I was quite convinced I would go to heaven, I did not fear hell for myself. For other people, however, I did. What I did fear for myself was Judgement Day. It scared the living daylights out of me. The idea of standing before God’s throne and have every sin you’ve ever committed read out, or shown, before you; it was an unbearable thought. In our specific explanation of the Bible, there would be two moments of judgement: Christ’s judgement and God’s judgement. After the Rapture, we Christians would be judged by Christ. This was not to determine if we’d go to heaven or not, however, it was about the number of cities we would reign, based on The Parable of the Ten Minas. We’d be judged for our fruits: for the outcome of our Christian lives. Only after the End Times and perhaps even after the Thousand years of Christ’s reign would the ultimate Final Judgement take place: God’s judgement. This was the moment where it would be determined who went to heaven or to hell. Since we would already be living with Jesus for a long time by then, it would not be clear what the outcome would be for us. We would still have to be judged though, just like everybody else, which was only fair.

For true Christians these two moments were not meant to hurt or humiliate us, instead they were meant to increase our love for Christ even more. If we were faced with all our sins, including the long-forgotten ones, we would understand even better and deeper the love and work of Christ for us. Despite being told this positive spin on the judgement, seeing it as an evaluation rather than as a trial, I couldn’t shake my fear of it. I did not want to be confronted with all my failings and sins. I didn’t care if the one who defended me would also be the one judging me, i.e. Jesus. It was scary and something I feared immensely. I looked forward to being in heaven and living with Christ but this moment would inevitably come as well. What would I see? What sins would be shown? Would other people get to see all my sins too? Would they hate me or mock me for it? The answer to that last one would be no, since heaven is all about happiness and no-one would be bullied there.

Still, the Bible wasn’t all that clear on the specifics so my imagination had room to run wild. Judgement Day featured in my fears both for others and myself. Whatever attempts were made to sugarcoat the whole thing, in the end it was all about sin and heaven and hell. It was about the failure of the human race, about Adam’s fall and, in particular, about all my wrong-doings. I couldn’t lighten up about it. Looking back that makes perfect sense. If you take your religion very seriously, you won’t be able to lighten up about it. If sin features so heavily in your beliefs, judgement over sin will too.

Sometimes I was a little angry at God/Jesus over this. We were saved for ever and ever, but we would still be judged over our past mistakes. Did that mean that we even were fully forgiven? Shouldn’t forgiveness mean that you don’t mention it again? That the burden is completely lifted? Of course, it didn’t mean that and I was wrong to ask. We were not going to hell and we should be (and would have to be) eternally grateful for it. The short, small pain of going through a divine judgement should not have to faze us. However, it did faze me enormously and didn’t help my trust in God either. My questions and longing to understand were met time and time again with even more questions and non-answers. Paradoxes and doublethink are a huge part of Evangelical Christianity and I did not fare well with them. When claims about the One Actual Truth are made, they do not serve any clear purpose and shouldn’t play a role. If the truth is clear and self-evident, it should be just that.

What kind of teachings did you learn about the Judgement? Were there two or one of them and did they intersect with apocalyptic teachings as well?

Thanks for reading and thanks to Bruce for posting this post!

The Man Who Said “Sex” in Sunday School

sex

Guest post by Ian

From about age 10 to 17, my family attended Bible Baptist Church. This was the first Fundamentalist, King James-only Baptist church we attended. Up until then, the church we attended had northern roots, so things were quiet, except for the occasional “Amen.” The men in this church were people who shouted “Amen,” “Right on,” and “Preach it.” One man was very loud in his yelling — his name was Jeff.

Jeff was the ultimate manly man among a church full of manly men. Most of the men had military service under their belts and were hunters/fishers. Jeff didn’t have military service, but he was a hunter/fisher and a fire fighter. Jeff played hockey and basketball. There was no option for Jeff except complete victory and domination. There was only one man more macho than Jeff, but he’s not part of this story.

So, Jeff was actually a pretty good guy, on the outside. He was generous and always willing to lend a hand on his days off. When we had summer Bible camps, Jeff would always be there as a counselor/chaperone. I admired Jeff, but my dad couldn’t stand him. Dad wasn’t a competitive person and he found Jeff to be slightly annoying and pretentious. But Jeff was a brother in Christ, so Dad treated him accordingly.

Jeff took over Sunday School for a while. It was just 4 of us teenage boys at the time. He got very serious and spoke to us bluntly about living for Jesus and the perils of adultery and fornication. I clearly remember him talking about how the girls who gave sex away freely were the last ones married. Real men wanted someone who was a virgin and would only want one partner for the rest of their life. This was a shock, because Jeff said the word “sex.” But, I believed what he said, since Jeff was a stud and he had a dutiful wife, big house and a lot of money. Comparing Jeff to my dad (which, I’m ashamed to say, I did), there was no doubt who the real winner was. Looking back, I realize my dad could have torn Jeff in half without breaking a sweat and could have made way more money; but Dad was concerned about living for Jesus at any cost.

So, these words of Jeff’s rang in my head for years, until I was about 19. I was taking my EMT class and I heard about a firefighter and a paramedic having an affair. Imagine my great surprise when I found out it was Jeff. The very same Jeff who explained that a real man only needed one woman, and one who was a virgin at that. I wasn’t quite devastated, but I was puzzled. Why? How?

Now I’m a little wiser and a lot older. I understand how these things work. I do shift work and spend 12 hours at a time with my shift. I see how a relationship could develop. I also know that taking a professional relationship to a personal one is something that can happen easily and must be guarded against. It takes two to have a relationship, so the blame lies equally on Jeff and the other lady. I don’t know what was going on at their house, although I did hear a few things that made it seem as if everything wasn’t tranquil. In the end, though, Jeff screwed around on his wife, breaking a vow and commitment to be faithful. Period.

So, the moral of this story is……All men and women are human and anyone can fall. Even the man who said “sex” in a Sunday School class.

Behind Closed Doors

guest-post

Guest post by Dude Behind the Curtain

(Note: Dude is still a Christian, but he is distancing himself from the institutional church.) Dude has just started a blog. Please check it out and leave a comment if you are so inclined.

I didn’t grow up in church. In fact, for my childhood and most of my adult life I never crossed the threshold of any house of worship. I would be in my late 30s before Christianity came into my life. Often the peculiarities of “church life” confused and frustrated me. I didn’t know the song lyrics, how to navigate through a Bible or understand all the rituals and regalia of Christian culture. However overwhelmed I was by day-to-day life as a man in the pew, nothing prepared me for taking the step from the pew to behind the pulpit. Once I accepted the mantle of ministry and leadership, a whole new underbelly of church revealed itself to me, and reviled me at the same time.

I have many stories, many experiences, many heartaches and heart breaks and an ample supply of disillusionment and discontent with the status quo of what passes as church today. But I must start somewhere. I’ll begin with my first true position in church leadership.

As a fairly novice Christian I became an ordained deacon. I was a wide-eyed, bushy-tailed, newly minted zealous Christian crusader looking to serve and follow my Lord and Savior any way I could. I already had time behind me as a Sunday School teacher for children and youth and experience with our Men’s Ministry. I felt privileged and honored when asked to accept the position of deacon in my church. I had no idea that the true definition of deacon meant “Pastor’s Yes-Man” or “Pastor’s Whipping Boy” or “Pastor’s Lackey” or some other derivative thereof. I’m sure you get the idea.

This particular incident occurred after I’d been in my position for quite a few months. All of my fellow deacons were older than me, many of them in their 50s and 60s with me in my mid-30s. All of them had spent most of their lives in church, whereas I was still learning the ropes. Our church had been experiencing some strife and unrest. Our pastor had called a special Monday night meeting of all the deacons. We all wondered what it would be about — the most common guess or fear was he might be resigning.

A nasty cold had me in it’s merciless grasp as I headed out on a dark, chilly, damp evening. I wanted to be home in bed under a warm blanket instead of braving the elements for a mysterious meeting with the pastor. As we all gathered around a table, wondering about the purpose of our meeting, the pastor explained why he had called the meeting.

A particular church member and her family had become a thorn in his side. He named them, defamed their character, and accused them of being behind the problems the church was facing. I expected one of my more experienced fellow deacons to reprimand him for his negative rant. Instead, they joined in. They talked about all the problems the person and their family had caused in church and in other churches. Viciously and methodically the woman who played the organ every Sunday morning, the woman who was mother of a foreign missionary, the woman who was the wife of a teacher and active member of the men’s ministry was voraciously vilified.

I felt my heart pounding and my head thudding and could not bring myself to say anything. I wanted to shout at them to stop. I loved this woman and her family. She had been one of the first people in the church to befriend me and my family. And now because she dared to question some of the leadership decisions of the pastor she had become persona non grata.

I walked away with regret that night. I regretted witnessing such behavior from men I had grown to respect and admire. I regretted not opening my mouth and saying something. I felt sicker as I drove home. A few days later I told one of my friends and fellow deacons, “I thought that meeting was wrong. I wanted to say something, but all of you are older and have more experience than me.” He said, “You should have spoken up. We respect you and your opinion.”

I cannot turn the clock back and interject my feelings. Not long after, the woman and her family left the church. She was the first of several to do so. Eventually, I had to walk away from that particular church as well as I saw continued acts of spiritual abuse occurring — especially from the pastor.

I learned a hard lesson. Despite the smiles from the pulpit, or the handshakes at the sanctuary door, or the laughter around a fellowship meal, it’s an extremely different story behind closed doors at church. It was my first such experience, but would be far from my last.

Guest Post: Why I love Christians but Hate Christianity

guest-post

A guest post by Anonymous

As a good evangelical, I never believed in purgatory; that is until this year when I decided that I was already living there. I don’t mean in a religious sense, but rather in the sense that I am in neither one place nor the other.

For reasons I will come to, I have all but lost my faith. But, since I have a lovely wife and good friends who are Christians, I will never really be able to walk away.

I have read a few blogs written by former Christians. Nearly all of them are written by American ex-Christians. I am from the UK, and I believe that there are a number of cultural differences between churches in the UK and America. There are many flavours of Christianity, so I can’t really generalise, but what I do know is that my experience differs from that of many of people who have lost their faith. In America, it is more culturally acceptable to be an evangelical Christian — especially in the Bible belt where being a good citizen requires regular church attendance and voting Republican. My experiences in the UK, however, have been different. We don’t have a religious right, and evangelical Christians are quite rare. I didn’t knowingly meet an evangelical (Reformed) Christian until I was nineteen! In the UK, evangelicals stand out from the crowd and are a bit weird. When I first accepted the doctrine of eternal punishment in hell I was nineteen. I remember thinking, at the time, I have become a religious extremist. No one at my high school, not even the school chaplain, believed in hell!

I became an evangelical at university, having been a liberal Anglican throughout my teens. That was ten years ago.  It was meeting Christians my own age who were practicing what they preached that made me take notice. Many people lose their faith and look back and criticize, very rightly, the churches they were part of. But I can honestly say that my experiences with Christians have only been positive. I love the churches I have been part of. They are full of loving, kind, generous, and self-sacrificing people. Of course, they have faults, but doesn’t everyone? I think that the best apologetic for Christianity is the church. ‘If you want your friends to know Jesus, get them to come to a church BBQ and they will see from the way Christians live and act towards each other that they have something special!’  I haven’t become disillusioned with the church — I still love the church. So what went wrong?

When I started attending an evangelical church — the church was Anglican but agreed wholeheartedly with the Westminster confession — at university I was amazed by how seriously they took the Bible. I liked the fact that they taught each passage in context, teaching congregants what the Biblical text meant for first century readers before explaining how it was applicable for us today. I liked that they used reason to understand what the Bible meant. All their beliefs were backed up by God’s word. They didn’t take a rigid, literal view, allowing texts such as Genesis or apocalyptic texts to speak, in context, for themselves. This church did not approve of visions and promptings from God. I had attended other churches in my teens where they believed God was supposed to speak to us while we closed our eyes. This church taught me that God speaks clearly to us through the Bible.

It was this supposedly solid biblical foundation that led to my undoing. My respect for the Bible led me to read it very closely and carefully. As I continued to read, I began questioning reformed interpretations of Paul’s writings.  For those interested, look up James Dunn or N.T. Wright and the New Perspective on Paul. My questions didn’t make me doubt God or the Bible — only certain reformed interpretations.

This year I began to look closely at textual contradictions and passages that didn’t make sense. How did Judas die? How do you explain that Matthew seemed to think that Jesus would come back soon after AD 70? How do you explain that key doctrines developed over time?

I also began to hate — and I mean really hate — the idea of hell. I can accept that I am not perfect and that a perfect God would be right to punish evil. But, to punish someone for ever and ever and ever in a special resurrected body that has been given to them for that very purpose is sick!  If the Bible clearly taught this from beginning to end I might accept it even if I didn’t like it. But, from my studies of the Bible, I can say for certain that hell is not taught in the Pentateuch. The idea of hell evolved over time and is only found in the books written after the Jewish exile. God doesn’t speak clearly in the Bible. It is a wonderful mix of different and contradictory voices — voices of men, not God.

Upon hearing of my doubts, Evangelicals tell me I just need to believeHave faith. It doesn’t matter about the details. But this is not what they taught me! I was taught to do detailed exegesis, working out what the text means. That is the evangelical way, is it not?  I have done the exegesis and I now agree with scholars like Bart Ehrman, Geza Vermes and Christine Hayes when say the text is not historically reliable. Evangelical hypocrisy is revealed when people closely study the bible and conclude the bible has contradictions. Such people are told: you are being too intellectual! You are sitting in judgement over God’s word. Isn’t that what Evangelical pastors do every Sunday? Every time you decide what you think the text is saying you are sitting in judgement of it!

So where does this leave me? I both love and hate Christianity and the Bible. I love Christians and I love the Bible as a rich literary text that gives us an insight into the development of the thoughts that have shaped western civilisation.  But, at the same time I hate Christianity and the Bible. I hate the fact that because I disagree with the notion that the Bible is true that people will tell me that I am rebelling against God. I hate that people believe that hell is real and dedicate their lives to warning people about this. I hate that because of what the New Testament says my close friends and family will from now on regard me as being under the power of Satan. I hate that my wife will be devastated that I am ‘damned’ and disappointed that I won’t be able to be the spiritual head of our home. It is for these reasons I haven’t completely come out. The weird thing is that in the UK the vast majority of people think Christianity is mumbo jumbo. I just happen to be very close to people who make up the small minority that think the Bible is true. My change of heart will deeply affect my relationships with those I am closest to.

And I hate that despite all the evidence I will always have a nagging doubt that I might be wrong. And that on the last day I will have some explaining to do. For these reasons I think the rest of my life will be pretty miserable. Thanks Jesus.

Intelligent Design’s Missing Link: The Naughty Little Secret of Creation Science

guest-post

Guest post by Dane Fletcher (pseudonym)

Christians play the theory of intelligent design like a philosophical checkmate. It’s chronic actually. Like chest-thumping silverbacks theistic ideologues in my corner of the cosmos swear that “design science” steals the origins debate.

I’ve been a committed, evangelical believer for over forty years. (I’m no outsider just hurling rhetorical stones.) The last ten years I’ve been a full-time pastor. And in that time I’ve found that us fundamentalist types worship our theological certainties nearly as much as we do our God.

And when we’re not worshiping them we’re wielding them like some kind of sacred bludgeon — but I digress.

I’ve seen it! (And done it.)

Christian Pep Rallies

On any given Sunday evangelical leaders will trot out their design science experts to cacophonous “Amen!” choruses. I’ve witnessed the committed masses nearly swoon over Ben Stein’s Expelled. Bring in apologist hero de jour, Michael Behe, and you’ll pack the place.

It’s preaching to the choir at best.

Believers already buy into the arguments; they’re sold. Further, in my experience these events have little to do with education or with understanding the relevant arguments.

They’re about confirmation. They’re about reinforcing what the conservative, evangelical faithful already believe.

They’re Christian pep rallies more than they are honest, scientific inquiries. I’m not mocking. I sympathize with the creationist mindset that undergirds the fundamentalist’s faith.

In fact, I know it very well.

Everywhere I Looked

As an evangelical believer I saw God — everywhere. (My version of God, of course.) Every time I felt small under a starry sky I just “knew” God was there. Every time I trembled at the majesty of a lightning flash; every time I stood silenced by a roaring ocean; every time I cradled an infant or marveled at a sunset—everywhere I looked — I saw convincing evidence for God…for my God.

I suspect I’m not alone.

Even the garden-variety Christian snobbishly contends that her 21st century, fundamentalist, evangelical, contemporary-pop, western, Judeo-Christian version of the creator is the only game in town.

Even more, she’s certain that just about everything she sees proves it. It’s a lesson in confirmation bias for sure. (But that’s a post for another day.)

Here’s the problem: every religion that boasts a creation story believes the same thing! Every sycophant that stumps for a creator — any creator — is certain the existence of the universe proves her highly specialized version of God.

Everyone observes the same universe, but…

Christians think, “Jesus did it!”

Jews believe, “Jehovah did it!”

Muslims insist, “It was Allah!”

And on, and on, and on…

Which Creator?

Same universe, same evidence — opposing creators. Every believer interprets the evidence through the tinged-with-bias lens of their peculiar religion. As such, we see what we want to see. We see what we expect to see.

We see our rendition of a creator.

And why not? I mean, what gives Christian fundies the keys to the kingdom? If Christians can claim the cosmos as proof — why can’t the competition? In the end, however, every religion has as much proof that their specific god(s) created everything as do aliens from another galaxy.

None.

The universe bears no particular authorial stamp. But that doesn’t stop the faithful. They’ll argue their pet theory as if the Almighty himself signed the cosmos like some celestial da Vinci signing the Mona Lisa.

For many of the faithful, this is a new thought. (And it’s a risky thought.) If the seeming design of the cosmos isn’t proof of any specific deity the entire Intelligent Design argument is moot…at least as it relates to validating any specific god(s).

The Missing Link

So, what’s the naughty little secret? What’s intelligent design’s missing link? It’s simply this: Whatever intelligent design may prove — it does not prove enough.

Believers image that it does — but it doesn’t.

It’s smoke and mirrors for sure. Maybe those in the know we’re hoping nobody would notice that their precious intelligent design argument is a few bricks shy of a full load.

Some Christians are so certain that the intricacy of the universe validates their version of God that even suggesting otherwise is like denying gravity.

But here’s the thing…even if it’s true, even if we concede that the existence of the universe sufficiently validates the notion of intelligent design, what does it prove? (It could be used to prove a lot, I suppose.) What it does not prove, however, is that the God of Christianity is the designer.

To get from proving intelligent design to proving the specific identity of the designer(s) the believer must supply several missing links. Proving intelligent design just does not prove evangelicalism’s (or any other isms for that matter) version of God.

When I first admitted this it was a game-changer.

I had to confess that many of the proofs I used to validate my faith were no proof at all. And as far as specific religions go… the design argument equally validates every one of them that claims a creator.
It devastated me when I realized that I could no longer count on the universe to validate my faith. With all of its intricacy, beauty and wonder, I had to admit that I could not consistently and honestly claim the cosmos as proof of my God.

I realized that I had one set of rules with which I judged my faith and a different, stricter set with which I judged all others. How could I consistently claim the cosmos as my God’s handiwork when I had no more evidence of the fact than anyone else?

I couldn’t.

These days, I’m learning to write my “beliefs” in pencil rather than etching them in stone. Have your own experience or opinion? — please, share it.  Give someone else the opportunity to think a new thought!

Thanks for reading!

Guest Post: Looking Carefully at the Claims of Christianity

man with one eye

Guest post by Neil. You can read Neil’s writing at Rejecting Jesus.

I didn’t reject my faith so that I could wallow in sin (though I do like a good wallow now and then). I didn’t turn away from Christianity as an act of rebellion against God, nor did I give it up so I could set myself up as Lord of my own life (though why that would be a bad thing, I’m not sure).

Christians like to tell me that these are the reasons I became apostate, but of course they’re not. Rather, I’d become aware that there’s no such thing as ‘sin’. Sin is a peculiarly religious invention with no traction in the real world; there’s only human behavior. I had reached a point where I understood there was no God, certainly not the Christian version and it follows you can’t rebel against something that doesn’t exist, nor, indeed, can you set yourself up as it.

Instead, I’d taken a long hard look at the claims of Christianity and in particular what the Bible had to say about Jesus. I asked myself:

  • whether human beings can return from the dead (no), can be born of virgins (no), can walk on water (no).
  • whether Jesus’ claims – that he would be back within his disciples’ lifetime to establish the Kingdom of God on Earth; that he would appear to them in the sky with the heavenly host; that he would bring about God’s judgement, again during his own generation – actually happened. (Evidently they didn’t.)
  • whether his promises were true – that whatever believers ask of God will happen; that his followers would do even greater miracles than Jesus himself; that they would be as one. (Another resounding ‘no’.)
  • whether I as a Christian, and whether any other believers anywhere, actually did as Jesus commanded. Did we sell all we had to give to the poor? Love our enemies? Turn the other cheek? Go the extra mile? Give to all who asked? Heal the sick? Forgive repeatedly?

Some might have done so, but by and large, no, we didn’t. We couldn’t even manage not to judge in case we were judged in return. No-one I knew or heard preach or even read about did any of the things Jesus commanded.

I could only conclude that this was because a) Jesus’ expectations were far too demanding and b) Christians don’t believe in him anyway. They may think they do – they like what he appears to say about marriage when they’re up for a little gay-bashing – but really they’re only interested in Paul’s ‘Christ’. Christ, the mythologized version of Jesus, gives them a buzz and – extra bonus – doesn’t expect too much of them. They can even carry on with the gay-bashing if they want. But Jesus? Him they don’t want to know – he’s too demanding, too extreme, too dead.

Every time, then, Jesus came up lacking: his promises were hollow, his prophecies unfulfilled, his morality impossible and his miracles and resurrection more than unlikely. Reason, experience and evidence told me that Jesus as we have him in the gospels is nothing more than the creation of a credulous age; his alter-ego, ‘the Christ’, even more so. Once I realized this – once I had this revelation, my very own deconversion experience – I was free. Free to live my life, to think for myself and be who I am. I recommend it to you; let the self-evident truth that faith is nothing more than self-delusion set you free too.

An Open Letter to Pastor Tom Hauser, Global River Church

open letter

Guest Post by Calulu

Tom Hauser is the pastor of  Global River Church in Wilmington, North Carolina.  Global River is affiliated with Bill Johnson and Bethel Redding. I have written previously about Bethel Redding in a post titled Bethel Redding: A Dangerous Evangelical Cult.

Dear Tom,

I know there’s no way you would remember me. I’m just some random woman at one of the churches in Virginia that held a deliverance ministry weekend taught by you and the members of your church many years ago. I’m the one who our overbearing pastor’s wife forced to make all those fancy half round flags for your church as a gift from our church. I’m still several hundred dollars out-of-pocket for the materials, and  I’m still annoyed at that even if you had nothing to do with it.

You and your church pushed the deliverance ministry that your church did, telling tales of people set free from all sorts of weird demonic infestations. Your goal was to get people to sign up to come to your church — Vineyard, in Wilmington, North Carolina.

During that weekend I had the chance to speak to you several times. I found that I liked you. Maybe it was the fact that you walked away from a high dollar career to preach, I don’t know. You are personable.

But, I know you don’t have a clue about the damage you and your fellow church members do. I suspect, seeing that the name of your church and the deliverance ministry has been changed more than once, that you have some small inkling that others think it sucks. Did you guys get sued by those you victimized while pretending they are demon-addled and need an exorcism? Something obviously happened.

For my husband and I, the damage was limited. We just lost some time, hotel and gas money, and spending time with our family for Thanksgiving. I feel pretty certain that your deliverance ministry likely did lots of damage, wreaked havoc, and destroyed marriages and few families. Let me explain why I think your deliverance ministry — that you now call a ‘prayer ministry’ at your renamed church, Global River Church — is a bad thing.

You preyed on my husband who was going through a long, horrible depression. Thanks to competent doctors, medical tests and therapy,  we know his entire problem was that he had cancerous tumors on his parathyroid glands. He wasn’t under spiritual oppression, nor did he lack faith. He wasn’t filled with demons and in need of deliverance ministry. He was sick. With cancer that would have killed him if we hadn’t tossed aside the compete and utter bullshit that the church was saying and sought legitimate medical treatment.

Jim told me a few days before Thanksgiving in November of 2005 that he had scheduled a weekend deliverance that weekend, that you had arranged for a team of deliverance-ministry trained staff to remove our evil spirits and cleanse us. This meant that we had to abandon our children to others for the holiday,  make the long drive from Northern Virginia to Wilmington North Carolina, and stay at a local hotel for several nights while the deliverance was going on.

I remember how angry I was, because even while at that time I was still a hard-core believer, I didn’t believe in what you guys did or your claims of demonic infestation. I was angry at the ruined holiday, angry I could not be with my kids, and angry that you insisted that I take part in the deliverance ministry too. Jim was told that you wouldn’t  help one spouse without de-demonizing the other.  I wanted no part of it.

One of my clearest memories of that weekend was waking up at 3 am on the Saturday morning before the first sessions. I felt fearful and angry, and l was suffering from extreme pain in my right arm due to an injury I was waiting to have surgery on. I sat in that ocean front hotel room, contemplating the Atlantic ocean in the moonlight while listening to praise music on my iPod, waiting for opioid pain medication to kick in. I wondered what the day would bring.

What the day brought was us being met at your church by the deliverance team. Jim and I were separated, and the sessions started. I wasn’t in Jim’s session so I can only imagine what happened. For mine, I was confronted quite starkly over things the two ‘counselors’ had received from God during their prayer time that week. The information that the women claimed to have heard from the Lord was  wrong on so many things. They told me I was having an affair with someone named ‘Walt’, which made me laugh because, at the time, the only Walt’s I had heard of were Walt Whitman and Jim Walter Homes — a dead man and a corporation. No, I was not and have never had an affair.

I was also told that my husband was having an affair — again not true. I don’t know much, but I know that about him. He’s not the type, and he didn’t have enough downtime with his commute into DC on public transportation to have an affair.

Imagine how such false revelations might have affected a married couple having problems? We both were told this and neither of us believed it about the other person. If someone in a shaky relationship was told an outrageous lie like that,  it would have blown apart their marriage. Somehow, I don’t think any of this is something Jesus would approve of.

The personal details and ‘problems’ listed on both of our prayer sheets were beyond wrong, right down to the smallest details. For example, Jim was told he loves ‘Star Wars’ and fishing, both of which he hates. I was also told Jim had a ‘demon of rage’ in him that would physically kill me if they didn’t  exorcise it from him.

The women attempting to ‘deliver’ me gave up after about two and a half hours, realizing that I was highly skeptical, thought their words of knowledge were ridiculous, and I was not cooperating like they wanted. I was told by the staff to go back to the hotel and wait for a phone call to come back and pick up my husband. He was held and brainwashed a total of nine hours. Ten years later, he still hasn’t told me what happened during his session. I do know that when I picked him up he clung to me and would not let go for many days (either holding my hand or hugging me).

We went home; it was anti-climatic by that point. We spoke very little about what had happened and things continued as normal until the point Jim was diagnosed with  parathyroid cancer and had the first of several surgeries.

I get it. You somehow think you are ‘helping’ people by doing this type of prayer and deliverance ministry. But you’re not. You are, at best, confusing people, and at worst blowing up homes and families and/or causing people with serious medical conditions to die because they believe their conditions are demonic. You take advantage of desperate people.

Calulu