5:4 Stories of De-Conversion

Breaing out from the cycle

Brianna - Tulsa, Oklahoma

I'm from Tulsa, Oklahoma. I'm 29, married with two beautiful daughters. I am the second person in my family to go to college, and I'm almost finished with my 4-year degree.

Your life as a Christian:
I was raised by a strict Southern Baptist family. I was taught (and I believed) that having a personal relationship with Jesus was the only way to save my soul. I was taught to live for the afterlife, and spread Jesus's teachings to others in order to "earn stars in my heavenly crown." My parents told me that thunder was just god bowling, and rain was just god's tears. I knew very little about the way things really worked. Homosexuals and atheists were evil. Anyone who believed different than I did was wrong. In my teen years, I clung to these beliefs because the church offered me social refuge. I was poor, nerdy, and a shabby dresser. I have the gift of singing and the church made me feel welcomed. My family never taught me the value of getting an education because none of them had more than a high school degree. They expected me to serve in the church or through song.

What Jesus and being a Christian meant to you:
Being a Christian meant following the teachings of the Bible, and regular prayer to facilitate a relationship with Jesus. I was a model Christian. I rarely did anything wrong, and when I did, I repented and prayed like a good little sinner. Impure thoughts crossed my mind a lot, and the guilt I felt was unbearable. I cried constantly over it. Many days the guilt of the smallest "sins" drove me to fasting and hours of prayer.

I witnessed to others about my faith, and I attended church at least 3 times a week, often more. I served in the church as often as I could. I felt I was earning my place in heaven, but I was always scared of death and sin. I always felt trapped, and no matter how hard I tried, I never fully felt like I had a "relationship" with a mystical being. I began to feel like a failure at Christianity, and a failure to my family. Again, the guilt gained power over my life.

Why you left Christianity behind:
My fear of death led me to do research. As I grew into adulthood, I realized that the Bible has many contradictions. I began to travel for a job I had. I became friends with people who were different than me. I met gay people that I cared for. I met atheists and agnostics that were living full and happy lives. It was fascinating to me. Over a period of about 8 years, I began to research Christianity. I read a lot about death. I started college when I was 25 and took humanities courses. I learned that the part of the world where a person lives is what likely determines what they believe to be true about the world. I learned that religion, and especially Christianity, was the source of much of the world's conflict and despair. One day I found a YouTube video explaining why atheists are happy. It suddenly hit me that I was an atheist. In that instant, I felt more free than I have in my entire life.

How your life has changed since you de-converted from Christianity:
I have become much more open-minded. I would go so far as to say I was a racist when I was a Christian. Now that part of me has fallen away and I see humans for what they are - equal animals on this planet. I have become fascinated with science and evolution and am now working toward becoming a middle school science teacher. I no longer waste my time sitting in church, but spend it with my husband and children at home, having valuable family time and making precious memories. I live life for the now, instead of longing for the promise of perfection after death. I feel liberated. I feel free. I am no longer scared of death because I no longer fear judgement upon death. That feeling is probably the best part of my de-conversion. I now thank humans for what they do, instead of a god. I put my "faith" in humanity.

What your views are towards Jesus & Christianity now:
I have some anger and hostility toward Christianity because of what I know I missed out on as a child. I have anger toward politicians that insist on forcing their beliefs upon others instead of allowing people to make choices for themselves. I'm frustrated about living in Oklahoma, a place where there is a church on every block. The people I grew up with do not understand my change of mind. They think I'm lost, evil, and even satanic. Now I do my best to live a good life so I can show others that being good doesn't require belief in a god.

Are you grateful that you de-converted? Why?
I'm so grateful that I had the good sense to breakout of the cycle of religion in my family. I feel less fearful and more free, and I have found a new passion in the study of natural sciences. I am raising my kids as freethinkers, and I know this is best for their developing minds. I know my children may have a tough time growing up in such a conservative part of the country, but I know their lives will be richer and more rewarding for it.

Now I do good deeds simply for the sake of doing good for my fellow humans. I act in a way that I would want others to treat me, not because I fear judgement, but because treating people with respect is the right thing to do.