Both Sides of the Fence

By Joe E. Holman

Having spent roughly nine years of my life as a Christian minister for the protestant fundamentalist sect known as the Church of Christ, I am more than moved to tell my story and assist in the efforts of this fine blog to dispel my former religion, along with it’s many delusions and vices that plague our world.

The freethought movement is growing all over our planet. The clarion sound of liberty’s ring is being heard in places where only savagery abounded years before. Education levels are rising. Cultures are getting smarter and beginning to trust that their minds are good for more than memorizing vulgar prayers and sputtering out chants of flattery to vengeful sky spirits. Despite the best efforts of the religious right, a number of nations of the world are adopting that glorious Ionian spirit of tolerance and the freedom to express new ideas and knowledge.

Little by little, the cobwebs of Christianity are being cleared away and centuries old philosophical junk is being tossed into the dumpster of antiquity where it belongs. The dust, which is the fear, guilt, and oppression of the Christian Cult, is continually being cleansed away, revealing a bright and shiny new surface beneath with each passing century. With Christianity out of the way, Man steps up to the platform boldly to speak and declare his chosen new destiny. He now has nothing to fear, nothing to hold back his progress anymore. The tormenting demons are gone forever.

Many people, wielding many different talents and abilities, make for a lot to offer the freethought movement. My small contribution here stems from having been a minister, educated and trained as a Christian professional, to answer the deep and heart-rending questions of life. Having left the ministry behind, I resolved to take with me what little wisdom I could. The change from minister to atheist was a difficult one indeed, but it made me who I am today, the result being I can now see the world from both sides of the fence - without those disabling and crippling mental defense mechanisms which annoyingly pop up in the mind, subverting objectivity.

I have always said that it is starkly amazing what a na├»ve, willing mind will believe in, but what is even more amazing is when the individual looks back on his/her life and asks that ever-perplexing question which seems to have no answer, the one that I now ask about my previous adoption of Christianity, “How did I ever come to believe in that?”


Joe's Website:


Edited by John:
Be sure to read Joe's deconversion story: FROM GOSPEL PREACHER TO GOOD ATHEIST


Anonymous said...

How sad, Joe. How very sad.

Greg said...

It's like this. God wants strong people to fight the good fight. You and your buddies want to cry(poor me, what about me). Go ahead kiss ass with the others who think the monkey man produced this . sssshhh I thought I heard a BIG BANG! Obviously you lack courage, just like judas. Yeah I said it, the fence is this , Christian or coward. Don't cuddle with sin.

Ebonmuse said...

Well said, Mr. Holman! Speaking for myself, I'm glad to be on the same side as you. And not incidentally, I'm also glad not to be on the same side as the previous posters in this thread, both of whom demonstrate quite well how fundamentalist religion degrades human empathy.

exbeliever said...


Welcome aboard. I look forward to your thoughts and comments.


Why not wait until Joe actually presents an argument and then you can explain why they are or are not valid? It seems a more noble pursuit than empty platitudes aimed at someone's experiences that are not subject to debate.

Lya Kahlo said...

Gotta love it when xians remind us why it's so much better on this side of the fence. Let them have their childish delusions, I like being an adult.

As a former xian myself, congrats on growing up!

John W. Loftus said...

This from Joe's deconversion story:

I tried to resign from the ministry quietly, but the ministers I trusted in made that
impossible. September 28, 2003 was the date of my resignation....After I resigned, I was put on more prayer lists than I could imagine -- a lot of
good they did! I got my share of emotional phone calls from ministers, friends,
and members of the churches I preached at before, pleading me to "hold on",
telling me I was too good a minister to leave the fold. Generally, I got the usual
thoughts from people who didn't understand my outlook and made every effort to
blame my change on all the wrong reasons: "You were never really converted."
"You were pushed into preaching too soon." "You just had too strict a church and
their interpretation ruined you to real moderate Christianity." "You were just
frustrated by the brethren." "You are just going through a phase, a sort of midlife
crisis." But when I defended my decision to leave, I quickly became the flaming
heretic without hope of saving: "You are evil!!" "Do you worship the devil now,
Joe?" "Joe, you have no morality!" "Will you beat me and take my wallet now that
you're an atheist, Joe?" They called me not knowing what they were in for. It was
almost funny to listen as they got upset and tried to get off the phone as quickly
as possible! At least several preachers and long-time church friends, forbade me
to contact them ever again, and most of them haven't reached out since, except
for one, maybe.

Of course Joe, Christians continue to do this with us and this Blog here. But so long as we formerly agreed with them we were wonderful people. We haven't changed who we are just because we changed our beliefs. But most Christians won't allow themselves to see it this way.

Welcome aboard Joe!

lizzi said...

Hello Joe.

For some years ago I studied christianity for som years, and I experienced to loose faith in God, and I had it hard for some times. Than I asked the same question as you: How do I ever come to believe in that? The answer was that I felt a lonelyness in my life, and God came and filt it.


Stardust said...

"The answer was that I felt a lonelyness in my life, and God came and filt it."

Isn't this the same thing as an only child who is lonely and creates an imaginary friend in her/his mind to fill the void?

Anonymous said...

"The freethought movement is growing all over our planet."

...this is a great example of pure religious dogma!

Stardust said...

Anonymous ~
Freethinker: : one that forms opinions on the basis of reason independently of authority; especially : one who doubts or denies religious dogma

Matthew said...


I am very pleased to have you aboard! I'd love to have discussions of your skepticism sometime! I find it amazing and awesome that another minister has left the faith! And what's more, you left the Restorationist Cult! I hope you plan to contribute to this blog. I'd love to get to know you more and count you among my colleagues along with John Loftus, ExBeliever, and others!



Josh ( said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Craig said...

Well well well, what have I stumbled onto !? "Welcome aboard Joe?" To what guys? I was an athiest once until God proved me wrong about that. I tried to prove Him wrong but He just kept loving me, as He does you guys, and then, remarkably, He set about forging a real and incredibly meaningful relationship with me. (to my utter amazement). Is this imaginery? Absolutely not. Am I fanciful or reaching out for false hope? Absolutely not. Have I got some incurable fear of hell that keeps me from not believing in God? No, what drives my faith is that each day I discover incredible things about His love for others and His "unfathomable nature". Actually God tells us very very clearly that His nature is actually "fathomable" if we are brave enough to venture out and discover it. The issue of suffering and evil is something I've looked at logically from both sides of the coin. The reality is we live in both a cruel and unforgiving world and we live in an awe inspiring and incredibly beautiful world. My glass isn't half empty so I will always polarise to the latter, however we must never deny the former as it is in this world that if you have a heart to do so, we can affect the most change for the better. You see, whilst we are debating the existence of God and the problem of evil people are starving and people need your help and need to see a practical extension of God's love, in whatever form. (incidently, anyone is capable of doing that, whether 'thiest' or athiest, whatever they may be.) ie: I don't think God pays too much attention to titles such as these, He just loves His people and has layed down His life for them and desperately wants them to 'go and do good, stop arguing and go make a difference!' I said a brief farewell today to some friends who were off to a remote village in The Sudan (a war torn country if there ever was one, with human suffering beyond imagination). The reason for 12 people to spend alot of money each as well as their personal time is becuase they simply want to help create some quality of life to a remote village without easily accessible water and without any real solid building structure. So these people are going there to partner with this particular tribe to build a multipurpose building that will be used for their primary needs. These being education, hospilisation and general health management and worship. Yes, these remote villagers fully believe in the God of the Bible. (and please don't assume they are primitive or uneducated to believe such a thing. This would demean them, they are valueable and terrific people). A well will be dug in time and a rain water tank will be installed alongside this multipurpose building. This village is living in abject poverty and they are deeply moved that a small group of people would be brave enough to come across from Australia and risk life and limb to help these forgoten ones(they have to be on the look out constantly for local bandits, etc). But such is the love of some people for others they have never met that they would in fact do this. Are they 'bleeding hearts' hopelessly misguided? No, they are highly intelligent loving people who know what they want in life. They want to share their resources and skills with ones far less fortunate. They want to share the love of Christ in a most practical way, even if they never spoke a word about Him. Note: They are NOT going there to preach in any way, but to love others unconditionally (and to work incredibly hard to meet a 10 day dealine to get all of this done!).
So why the arguements guys?? God’s really not that interested in your arguments, He’s interested in your hearts. Let's all get a life and go make a difference!