5:4 Stories of De-Conversion

History of the Church

Curtis - Oklahoma

I can't say that I was raised "in the church", but I do remember going. When I was in Elementary school, I can remember going to a Presbyterian church until about fifth grade. We moved, and while we tried a few churches, my parents never found one that they liked and we stopped going all together. We were not overly religious, and rarely talked about God or Jesus in our home. I visited more churches on and off until I graduated high School, usually as the invited guest of a friend trying to get my family to start going to their church. Part of me feels that youth groups are little more than recruiting tools to bring families into a particular church.

Fast forward about thirteen years or so, I'm married (justice of the peace) and have two sons. We get involved in a church in the community where we live and "drank the kool-aide" as they say. Our lives revolved around the church, a Christian Reformed church, and we really were happy. Looking back, I think it was more being involved in the community rather than a spiritual feeling that made us happy. Like when I was young, we moved, and never found that same happiness in any other church. 1999 would be the last time I was a regular church member.

When I was young, being a Christian only meant that we had to go to church on Sunday and youth group on Wednesday night. I knew right from wrong and did right because I feared the wrath of mom, not wrath of God. As I got older, I felt that claiming to be a Christian put a label on me, which then established expectations. When others professed to be Christians, I had expectations of them. I think these expectation started my de-conversion because most of the time, the Christians I knew fell WELL short of my expectations.

There were many years between the first feelings of "something's not right" until I walked away all together. Reading the bible for myself opened my eyes to all the problems in this so called perfect word of God. The story of Genesis that doesn't merge with science, the number of different religions, even within Christianity, means all but one are wrong, at best. The puzzle pieces were starting to not fit anymore.

I remember one conversation with a high school friend who was a devout Christian. We talked about the Bible. I asked him how he could trust a book that had been rewritten and retranslated so many times. I asked him "How do you know that someone didn't make a mistake?" He claimed "God wouldn't let that happen?" I responded with "Have you noticed everything else He lets happen?" He replied "Yes, but this is His word." I knew where I was headed; I had been planning this conversation for some time. I asked "So, God made sure that that the writers, re-writers, and translators all wrote exactly what we wanted written?" "That's what I believe." He said. Then I launched my bomb. "So you're telling me that God removed the free will of those men so that they couldn't make a mistake writing a book." Blank stare. I continued "Then why couldn't he remove the free will of say, Hitler? Or any of the other tyrants who have slaughtered His people throughout history?" That pretty much ended the discussion.

The final straw was shortly after a severe storm. The storm had spawned several tornadoes and there was wide spread damage. The news was interviewing a couple whose home was still standing, while the home a few hundred yards away was nowhere to be found. The lady said "We prayed and prayed and Jesus saved us." The first thought that popped into my head was, "If that's true, your prayers killed your neighbor." Driving to work the next day, I passed a mega-church and the steeple was bent. At that point I came to the conclusion that religion was a farce. In the years since then, I have taken two Christian religion classes as part of getting my history degree. Maybe it was a last ditch effort to salvage some faith. It only confirmed my decision. The history of the Christian church is full of reasons to not trust the professed beliefs. That was enough for me.

I think religion is about control. Even as far back as Constantine's conversion, the church attempted to control the people and enforce its will. My feelings on others are, "If it makes you happy, good for you." I won't try to tell someone that their beliefs are wrong. Beliefs are like opinions, everyone has them, and they are very personal. If someone asks my opinion, I'll give it to them, but If they want to believe in a absent father figure, or believe that talking to that figure will somehow make their life better, who am I to say it's wrong. I think they are nuts, but it's not my place to say.

Since that decision, I feel happier. My wife and I have never been closer and our 15 year marriage is better than it's ever been. Yes, she has followed along the same path, but for different reasons. I feel more in control of my own life. I am responsible for my decisions, and I have what I have because of the choices I have made in my life. Not because God favored me and granted any prayers. I take credit for my decisions, responsibility for my failings. I don't blame God, or credit Him. It's my life and I'm leading it the way I want to.

Thank you for reading my story.