ex-pastor, ex-wife, ex-christian

I was a pastor’s wife. I lived a Christian life. I did the Christian things. I believed the Christian doctrine. I did it all. I believed it all. Now I am not a pastor’s wife. I do not lead a Christian life. I do not believe the Christian doctrine. This is my journey.

The first time I was saved was when I was 11. I visited my friend and she had a book called Danny Orlis and Linda’s New Mother. I started reading it while I was spending the night and she said I could take it home with me. The first time I read it I was rather huffy about it and declared to myself that I was Catholic and didn’t need to be “saved” like they were talking about. The second time I read it I decided I had better say the sinner’s prayer in the back of the book, just in case it was right.

When I was in high school I was very involved in the Youth Group at church. We played our guitars and sang for the Saturday and Sunday Mass. This was when the Catholic Charismatic movement was very much in the vogue and all of us in the youth group got born again and baptized in the Spirit.

From there it was one step further into “real” Christianity when I became born again, again, left behind Catholicism, and got involved in Calvary Chapel with Chuck Smith in Costa Mesa. It was the time of Jesus Freaks, Maranantha Music and real Bible Study. I realized how much I had been missing at the Catholic Church and delved in full force.

When I was 20 I got married and we moved to Oregon and found ourselves at a Foursquare Church. During the time we were there my husband “got the call” to go into the ministry and thus began the highly emotionally charged game "Figuring Out God's Will." He felt God calling him; he prayed about it, he sought counsel with the pastor of our own church.

Then he asked me what I thought because God could give me insight, too. What can a wife say in that situation? He already told me he felt God calling him; that God was telling him to uproot and go. Could I go against God? Could I say God was telling me something different? Could I say I didn't hear God at all?

Will it never end, I asked myself; the constant fight to know God's will? Why does He make it so hard? Why does everything have to be such a guessing game? Why is it set up so that we must second guess every decision? Why is every decision we make colored by what we felt God was saying before and did we get it right the first time or did we miss it altogether? Were we being punished for making a mistake? Why? It isn’t our fault God doesn't speak out loud and clear. It's not our fault He makes us put together a puzzle with half of the pieces missing.

But then maybe pastoring a church would be the answer. Surely if pastoring a church wasn't God's will, what was? Surely if God wanted us in the ministry, he would provide, right? In the end, we moved.

I was ready to go to Eugene if that's what the Lord wanted. Sometimes I got the impression that our pastor and the district pastor didn't think it was that good of an idea. But no matter, if it was God's will for us to go, then go we would. We would show them.

I loved being in Eugene. The church was big and vibrant. The people were so nice. Ministries Institute was hard work and fun. We were treated special because we were in Ministries Institute. We weren't outsiders for long; we were brought in with a welcoming arm.

My time in Eugene was well spent. I got the opportunity to learn and to teach. I took every opportunity to better myself. Because I was a wife I got to go to classes for free.

Those days in Eugene were some of the best days I had. God was a very strong presence in my life. Being a saved, born again Christian was my life. I went to church Sunday morning, Sunday evening and Wednesday nights. I went on retreats and getaways to learn more and to get spiritually revived. I went to the Ladies' Bible Study, I studied the bible on my own every day, I set yearly goals to read it all the way through, I prayed every day. I lived it all, I believed it all. We were there for a little over two years. Then we graduated. We were pastors and on our way to change the world.

We were in our first church a few months where my husband had the dual role of children's pastor and janitor. We were back in our original church where he first got the call to go into ministry. We were back with people who loved us. We were back with our friends. But he wanted more: more pastor, less janitor.

We traded places with the pastor in Joseph, Oregon. We took over his church of about 60 people. We were there nine months. The mill in town closed down and it looked like we were going to lose quite a few members. Lenny didn't even try to get a second job so we could stay there. He listened to the people who said get out of there, you will never make it, the people who were losing their jobs and who were disheartened and moving back to the populous side of Oregon.

And now, like I said, here we were in Hermiston. Here where God called us. After we left Joseph, Oregon we moved into the little house next to the VFW Hall in the city next to Hermiston. The district pastor wanted us to be a part of his church for awhile and start off small in Hermiston with a Bible Study. We did as he asked and we couldn’t complain. After all he got us free housing. All we had to do was clean the VFW Hall after every event. The pastors there had a decent sized church and we were glad to be a part of it.

We found a few families that were interested in starting a church. A couple had been in contact with the pastors to see about starting a church in Hermiston. One couple made contact with a few other interested families and we were on our way with the Bible Study. We met at their house until we were big enough to start the church.

I wish my husband had learned how to be a self-starter, how to be self-employed, how to build a business. Then we would have had better luck with the churches we pastored. That's something they didn't teach us in the Institute. They taught us that if God wanted your church to grow it would. And of course God wanted all of his churches to grow. But if yours wasn't growing...that must be God's will, too, or maybe, you weren't in God's will.

But only the pastors of big churches got any accolades. Only the pastors of the big churches got asked to speak at retreats and trainings. Only the pastors of big churches were asked their opinion of anything. Why? Because, if their churches were big, God must really like them. And if God liked them, so did the church leadership.

The truth is, as I have come to find out, pastors who build big churches are skilled in business building, they are skilled in marketing, and they are skilled in running big businesses. It is not God, it is their hard work. It is not God, it is their skill. It is not God; it is being in the right place at the right time. It is not God; it is their sweat equity and time. A "successful" pastor would be a success at any business he put his hand to.

It's no fun pastoring a small church; there is so much tension and pressure to grow up. When one family misses a service it could mean 25% of your congregation is gone.

It’s a lot of hard work to build a church. My husband worked full time at the furniture store delivering furniture. This cut into his time that he could have used to grow the church. There wasn’t much we could do about that. We had to eat and the church wasn’t big enough to support us. Some of our church members had told him he should just trust the Lord and devote himself to the church. Maybe they were right. It's hard to give 100% to the church if you are working. Some people thought he should just quit and let the church support him, give it the real test so to speak. It certainly would have been a time for growth for us and the church. Or maybe it would have been our demise.

It seemed my husband was never satisfied for long. Here we'd been in Hermiston for barely three years and he was ready to move on. Three years is barely enough time to get a business, any business, going and he was ready to move on to something else: something with less work, something with less personal responsibility.

I had too many responsibilities to just pick up and move on. I was committed to home schooling my kids and their friends. I was on the Aglow Board, I was the leader of out home school support group, and I was teaching a finance class for the kids at church. I certainly didn't feel like it was time to go.

Except for the church itself, my husband didn't have any commitments except that he was the token male on the Aglow Board and his answer to that was, “Oh well." I hated to think of letting people down. As much as I would have liked to be in a big church with our friend, I knew it would never happen. It was too good to be true. We certainly hadn't proved ourselves.

Besides, Hermiston was supposed to be where God for sure called us. Hermiston was where we would start our own church and do it our way and we wouldn't inherit anybody else's problems. Hermiston was where we would finally make it big having the support of the district and the division leaders. Here would be utopia. But here was my husband looking for a way out, again.

He was always looking for something better, always had an excuse to quit, always looking for the perfect job, unwilling to make things work where he was, unwilling to make the effort to excel, the grass was always greener somewhere else.

I had many questions about how involved God was in his job decisions.

He chose to be laid off at Rockwell instead of working swing shift because he heard God, he said. After much "prayer" (which I came to understand later, was figuring out what you wanted to do and coming up with enough compelling evidence to support your convictions to go for what was the easiest way out) he said God wanted him to refuse the offer. God didn't want him to tie up his evenings and keep him away from his ministry. His "ministry" was our youth group which consisted of our friends that we hung out with on a regular basis. We held a bible study and a prayer meeting with them that we were the leaders of, but it was nothing formal. Mostly we hung out and did things together, it was our group. That was the first time God told him to change jobs.

He got hired on at Intel as soon as we moved to Oregon. Praise the Lord, he provided a job right away. The plant wasn't even opened yet, so everyone was starting at the beginning as far as the training went. Lenny thought he got hired on as the Lead Man, that's what he had heard. But when they actually started the shifts, someone else was placed in that position. When he questioned it, he was told no promise was made to him. He had been told that they would consider him, but it was up to the shift supervisor as to who would be placed in that position. He quit over that, with no other job lined up. He quit even though it was God who gave him that job.

At Ricoh he said he was fired because the boss didn't like his drug-free attitude.

At the mobile home lot things didn't pan out for him. He couldn't make a sale and the one he did make fell through. He decided that sales weren’t for him.

He started looking for a mill job. In his mind a mill job would be the perfect job. He got hired and a few months later he got laid off.

When God gave him the truck washing job, he was so thankful. This job must really be the one from God because he was finally working for a Christian. All he did was complain the whole time.

Then there was the insurance job. He had decided to become an insurance agent to support us while he was in school and while his ministry got started. He had gotten his license before we left the Portland area and started up when we got to Eugene. This job was supposed to be the answer to all of our problems. But, no, it was too hard. He couldn't fit in school and work.

He got off to a slow start. A career like that takes self-discipline and courage to build. It is hard work to start any business and this one never got off the ground. It wasn't his fault though - the company he worked for wasn't supportive, they didn't help him, everybody else had it better, he didn't have the time to do all the work required, etc. Soon all our hopes of making a good living were dashed as we had to resort to food stamps and government cheese to survive. He finally got a "real job" working as a custodian for a cleaning company.

I was beginning to realize that the real answer to all of our problems would be for my husband to find a job and stick to it no matter what. And then somewhere between the truck washing job and the insurance job, he felt the call to go into ministry, to become a pastor. And I already told you how that went.

After we left Hermiston we became associate pastors at a church in the Seattle area. The pastor there was physically sick and played on it as well as spiritually abusive and very manipulative. I could write a book (and will, one of these days) on the whole experience, but it was because of this situation that I started the questioning process.

I still remember how I went through different levels of "coming out." It started because I went to counseling, and even though my counselor was a Christian, he taught me to question and to look at things in different ways.

I'm sure that's when it started, because up until then I believed, lock, stock and barrel. It was the questioning, the learning to think for myself, the introduction to NLP, the seeing I had control over my life.

Then it was Spong, starting with "Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism." That was an eye opener. I could still believe without taking everything so literally. Reading Spong was like a breath of fresh air.

I remember telling my friend (also a pastor’s wife at the time) to read this book. Her husband saw it and demanded that she take it back to the store and to tell them she didn’t know what she was getting. She didn’t…she just hid it from him.

Then it was Scott Peck, he wasn’t a Christian (then) and yet what he said rang so true. When I saw him in person he said, “Sometimes divorce is the answer.” I felt like I’d been given the OK to consider it. My marriage and my religion were so tied up in each other, if it was okay to think that, then it was okay to think other thoughts outside the box.

When I finally made that break, the divorce, I never looked back. I never regretted my decision. I still don’t.

I still went to church after the divorce, but not to any fundamentalist bullshit church. I went to my friends’ (from NLP) church. They were real people. The church was small and unobtrusive, real people offering real solutions.

Then I discovered self-help beyond Christianity. Brian Tracy, he taught me to think for myself to an even further degree. He taught me that I am responsible for everything. He taught me about taking control of my life, not giving it away to someone or something else.

Peter McWilliams with Life 101 and Do It. Those books helped me along too. He said it didn’t matter what higher being we believed in, these books still worked, they still held truth. I am rereading Life 101 at the moment. It is still good.

Then I read The History of God and in doing so I discovered the history of man-made religion and I became disgruntled, felt like I had been sold a bill of goods. It was all man-made, a way to keep control over the masses, to lock people into a way of thinking to make their job easier. If you teach people how to think you can make them give you money.

There were many others along the way and they all helped to break me free of religion in a box.

I am no longer a religious person. I am a free thinker. I don’t believe in a fundamental Christianity, I don’t believe the Jesus-God connection, I don’t believe the Bible to be true – in fact, I believe it to be a bunch of stories, compiled over the ages and bound into one book. I find it contradictory and a weapon that can be used to make any point or prove any side.

I don’t like reading the bible or hearing it quoted from. It makes me cringe when I hear scriptures, I’ve heard them misused and abused so much. I can’t hear the beauty behind them. I can’t see the lesson, I can’t hear beyond the abuse. I don’t want to hear the old fables. It makes me feel sorry for those who believe it and stupid for having believed it. How could I have been so caught up in it all?

I can’t yet see Jesus apart from the bible banging religion. Maybe taken apart from all that there are good lessons and examples.

I don’t believe that God talks to man or tells him what to do. I don’t believe God listens to our prayers or has any connection with our day-to-day lives. I don’t believe in miracles, I don’t believe God has a purpose for my life, I don’t believe God comes down and rearranges things for us, I don’t believe God saves some people (from catastrophes and from hell) and not others, I don’t believe God can read my thoughts or direct my path.

I don’t believe in anything like that anymore – heaven or hell, spirits, eternal life. It was a slow and painstaking, gradual process. A lot of thought and reading went into each departure. It wasn’t a blind, unthinking decision.

I don’t want anything to do with Christianity. I am not a Christian, not even an “American Christian.” I live my life as an atheist.

It seems like once I started questioning, and I questioned the church, religion, my beliefs all at the same time, I couldn't stop. One question led to another, one doubt expressed led to many more, one belief shattered rocked the foundation and more came tumbling down, one "rule" found to be untrue gave way to more.

It was like I had a blanket, what I thought was a beautiful blanket, wrapped around me, protecting me from the elements. One day I noticed a loose thread and I picked and pulled at it and the blanket started unraveling. I tried to put it back, to weave it back in, but I couldn't leave it alone. I picked at it and worked at it and asked other people if they saw it and pretty soon, bit-by-bit, the blanket got smaller.

That's OK, I said, I still have this much left. So I cut off all the loose yarn and tucked in the loose end. But pretty soon the loose end worked itself out and started bugging me so I began the process again, pulling and unraveling until I got out the pieces that no longer worked for me. I cut off the excess and tucked in the loose ends for safekeeping.

Now my blanket was really small. I kept a hold of it like that for a while, but every time I'd take it out to use it that thread seemed to work itself out again. One day I couldn't stand it so I picked and pulled again, until the whole thing came apart.

I cut off a little thread and rolled it into a little ball. I kept it in my pocket for remembrance mostly. It couldn't be called a blanket anymore. It wasn’t worth anything, it couldn't be made into anything, it was just there. If anybody asked I could say I have a little bit of it left, the starting piece of yarn, the foundation. But really, it was just a piece of yarn, unraveled, no meaning.

I was afraid of what people will say if I threw it all away. I was afraid to admit to myself that I wanted to throw it all away. I called it god but with little letters. I didn't use it for anything; I never took it out of my pocket. If somebody questioned me I said I've still got it. I chose to hang on to that part for awhile. I chose to believe in god for a little longer. But certainly not the GOD of before, the GOD of rules and regulations, the nosy one, the all involved one, the one who makes men weak.

I chose to believe in a force outside of myself that kept things in motion from afar, one who set up the rules of the universe and lets us play them out. But then I saw that yarn hanging out of my pocket and I pulled out the last bit.

It is a wonderful place to be, free from the guilt and burdens of Christianity. I live my life fully and without question, enjoying the process of becoming who I am.

82 comments:

Mattie said...

Good to see a female contributer.

Religion is an oppressive and abusive tool against women, I look forward to reading more of your perspectives.

Jimmy Li said...

YOU lost your faith by reading Armstrong's HIstory of GOD???
LOL

daniellemunn said...

Theresa,

I am in tears after reading your story. You are so strong and I have always admired you, but even more so after hearing your story.

You are such a smart woman and your thirst for knowledge and answers is nothing short of amazing. You daily insprire me, thank you for sharing.

John W. Loftus said...

I hadn't ever seen the connection that a wife has with her husband's choices so vivid before. Many women are too dependent on their husbands, and for most of them it's because the husband is the so-called head of the house. What a husband does or doesn't do affects the wife tremendously.

I am so happy for you to have broken free from both him and your former beliefs. And I am very happy to have you share your story and to be here at DC!

John W. Loftus said...

jimmy li, how can you reduce Theresa's whole story down to reading just one book? It's never just about one book! YOU are the one for which it's appropriate to LOL!

I take it you are a Christian. Tell me what convinced you to initially believe in Christianity so that I can laugh at those reasons!

Albert said...

I can't help but wonder, if Theresa's husband had his "act together" with regards to his various employment opportunities, whether this story would have played out differently. If she wishes to respond, I would like to give my thanks.

s burgener said...

Thanks for sharing your story. One item struck me very strongly while reading your story. It is nearly impossible (or actually impossible) to determine the will of a god who does not exist. It is painfully clear in retrospect. I am so glad that you are free from such useless second guessing to make the decisions which you know to be in your best interest

Joe E. Holman said...

Theresa, glad you made it out!

More and more people are seeing it all the time, though in different ways, prompted by different life events.

But the main thing is, the lie that a god is leading people to do what they themselves want to do is becoming seen is insane as it is.

We can only take responsibility for our own destinies. That you have done, brilliantly!

(JH)

Christian said...

Theresa,

I am glad to hear your story, and I do hope that the pain that you have been through will stop and you can head on to a better life.

While I can't say that I am a pure atheist, I am pretty close. Much more of a watchmaker type god is acceptable/provable to me.

But, irregardless of my clinging to something of a cosmic justice, life is really what we make of it. So, I commend you on your choices and wish you a happier life than you had in the past.

As a lurker here, and reading some of the in-DUH-viduals who come here to post who are of the fundamentalist/calvinist/whatever crap makes you comfortable staying a "true xtain"/"true cretin", I will say to ignore them. They generally prey on others based on a very common issue that all of humanity needs, and that is the need to belong to a community.

The problem with organized religion is that they use that community to exclude others, without realizing that humanity is the only community. Religion is truly secondary. Religion is the excuse to exclude others, when we should be honestly helping each other as members of the human race.

Religion appears to be (even though I am not a PhD, nor a theologian) a remnant of our tribal past, an ability for us to group together to be strong, against a group who is not "us". The real problem is, that understanding all that we do today, there really is no "us vs. them". There is no Christian vs. Muslim vs. Jew vs. Hindu vs. Buddhist. There are only people who wish the human race to continue, and those who do not.

Christian
(yes, that is my real first name)

Omega Man said...

To the atheist I can only say, the fit survive, the weak perish.

That is the best atheism has to offer. And in the end, its the end.

Anonymous said...

Theresa, that was so well written, and so honest. If God exists (I used to be agnostic but am now a Christian) he definitely wants us to think for ourselves, and it sounds like that this is what you have done. If God is reduced to a crutch, it's no longer God -- far better to throw the crutch away. Thanks again for your honesty.

Regards, GakuseiDon

Anonymous said...

Theresa, you have made a decision in your life which is part of your whole journal to the discovery of God. You, and you alone will have to reconcile with God in the end.

I was an educated wannabe believer that we were reduced to "nothingness" in life. But as you progress in this universe, you will find that "nothing" there is "something" behind in its existence. Keep searching.

Drunken Tune said...

Anony, Omega Man,

Leave Theresa alone, guys. She just poured out her heart! She doesn't believe, and after hearing her story, it's obvious she'll never believe again.

Theresa,

That was perhaps the most personal post yet at DC. Very powerful. I can't wait to read more.

Matt Nowack said...

I have been an atheist for as long as I can rememeber. I met a beautiful woman, both inside and out, and for her, for awhile, I convinced myself to be a Christian. I remember praying with her and going to church with her, but in the end all of it made me feel dirty. I had to let her go to rediscover my truth, atheism is that truth.

All we can do is live a life worth living, for me that is atheism, and I'm glad that you found this path too. It is a scary path to begin on, letting go of all those nicities that Christianity gives you, but once you've walked it you feel so free.

I can not imagine being anything but Atheist, I've tried and failed. Be truthful to yourself because in the end, that is the end, and it is all that matters.

Theresa Frasch said...

I would like to thank you all for commenting and for the support and encouragement. I am in the process of moving (one week from yesterday) so I have been rather wrapped up in packing and everything else that goes along with that. Otherwise I would have been more timely in commenting.

Mattie - thank you. I notice that most contributers are male. I wonder if that is because women are more deeply entrenched in the illusion and the "family" aspect of church. Most churches have more committed men than women.I don't really know...just kind of thinking out loud.

Jimmy Li - A lot of books contributed to my eventual departure, History of God because I saw how religion had evolved and it wasn't the One Unchanging Truth. I am a huge reader (over 70 books so far this year)and back in the day I read book after book trying to better myself as a Christian woman, wife and mother. No matter that I followed all of the instructions I always had the feeling that I fell short.

Danielle - you are always one of my biggest supporters! Even though you are a believer and I am not, we still see eye to eye on so many things and it doesn't get in the way of our friendship. BTW...John (my ex didn't like waht I had to say so much, but then that's what he gets for reading my blog!)

John Loftus - I am glad to be here! I have been a reader for awhile and it is nice to be in your (DC)company. In a way I was my own person as a part of the ministry (i.e. I wasn't your typical pastor's wife) and yet the final say was always "the man." Looking back on those years I feel especially sorry for Ted Haggard's wife right now. Put on a happy face.

Albert - There were so many things that led to my eventual coming out. I picked that one thing to point out because it still intrigues me how people seek and feel they know the will of God, when in reality it is usually a battle between what they know is right and what they want to do, in varying degrees. Me ex reads my blog religiously. He wasn't very happy that I mentioned that at all. He replied on my blog - well, how many jobs have you had in the last 10 years? I've had a few because the company I was advancing in went out of business and I tried a few things. But - I didn't pray about whether I should stay or leave, I didn't say God told me to leave or stay. I did what I did because I examined the options and did what I thought was right for me and my family. (I deleted his comments - I think I have him blocked now. He used to comment under a pseudonym but I figured it out. Why should it surprise me? He used to read my journals when we were married.)

s burgener - I think I have it down, figuring out the will of God is coming up with reasons, scripture and pastorly advice to do exactly what it is you want to do. Thus, no guilt. And if it turns out bad, it wasn't your fault.

Joe Holman - I agree, especially in light of fundamentalists of any religion and how they regard what they think God told them as a license to kill, maim, and destroy.

Dear (yes, that is my real name) Christian - I have found a way out of the pain and that was leaving the church. The pastor we were under was so manipulative and abusive and his wife...well, you know how an abuse child often becomes a bully? That was her. She kowtowed to her husband but was a bitch to the rest of us. Anyway, leaving that church was a "blessing" and hen leaving my ex's new church was also a "blessing." Can you imagine that? The Pastor's wife did not go to her husband's services?! More on that later.

Omega man - I am satisfied with that. That is why I live for the moment and enjoy life in the here and now!

GakuseiDon - I'd be interested in hearing your story!

Anonymous and GakuseiDon - Drunken Tune is right! I will never go back. I search continuously, that is a part of who I am! And that is how I got to be where I am!

Matt - I am reminded of Ted Haggard by your comment. He felt dirty because he can't accept homosexuality as a natural occurrence. He had to label it as defiled and a horrible part of himself that must be buried. When I was a Christian I "struggled" with masturbation. When I did it I thought it was a SIN. The more I tried to stop, the more I prayed, the more I asked for God's intervention, the worse it seemed to become. It is no longer an issue because it is no longer an issue. I love that about being an atheist!

Anonymous said...

I don't want to sound pompus, but how could you turn you back on Christ after He gave his life on the cross so you could live? You slap him in the face, just like a dog going after his own vomit. You go back to the world which only can take your life. You say you reject Christ, He never rejected you. How could you do that to someone who loves you so much? I'm praying for you that God will open your heart to the truth and you will go back to your husband. In Jesus name, a brother in Christ, Patrick

John W. Loftus said...

Patrick, how could you turn your back on Santa Claus after all he has done for you. By no longer believing in him you slap him in the face just like a dog going after his own vomit.....

JustinOther said...

You beat me to it John...

Anonymous said...

Nice story. Thank you for sharing it.

Anonymous said...

John, I turned my back on Santa Claus only to find something better - Jesus! I don't really think we can really be trusted with Santa - we would probably manipulate him and shape him according to our demands - a marketing tool or something like that - errr, guess that's already happened - sorry Santa!

Anonymous said...

BTW, I had to be healed of pride before I recognized that the reference to dog vomit as a means of describing man's way is not intended as an insult but rather as an honest and accurate analogy of the comparison between what we package and label as "love" and what God's definition and expression of love is. I understand that from a perspective of pride, that these words can seem offensive.

Theresa Frasch said...

You guys are so funny...and I wasn't even going to be so gracious to reply to Patrick's comment.

Dave Armstrong said...

Hi Theresa and all,

I have resonded to your (her) story on my blog:

http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2006/11/response-to-deconversion-story-of.html

You or anyone else is welcome, as always, to come comment if you like. You will be treated courteously and charitably (I have a great bunch of people on my blog; I'm very proud of how they conduct themselves).

I didn't mock or make personal comments about Theresa. I simply critiqued the reasoning in her story. But look, on the other hand, how John Loftus, responded to a Christian, above:

"I take it you are a Christian. Tell me what convinced you to initially believe in Christianity so that I can laugh at those reasons!"

http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/#c116318889475423431

How marvelously tolerant and open-minded, huh? Even before John hears the reasons a Christian might give, he knows he will be laughing at them. I didn't know clairvoyance and mind-reading was part of the atheist creed.

To the contrary, I am simply agnostic about Theresa's possible (as yet unknown) reasons for her odyssey. I claimed that there were no compelling or persuasive ones to speak of in her deconversion story, in my opinion, but I didn't deny that there may be some that she offers elsewhere.

How different from the mentality of, "well, whatever the dumb Christian has, they are (must be; cannot help but being) laughable, before I even see them."

Which attitude is more tolerant and respectful, folks? You decide. And I think tolerance and common courtesy and granting a rudimentary benefit of the doubt is a value that all people can share, regardless of belief system.

Dave Armstrong
http://socrates58.blogspot.com/

John W. Loftus said...

Dave, I was responding to the hard hearted comment of jimmy li. If someone comes here to make a mockery of someone's personal story, be forewarned, I will mock them right back, whether it's Jimmy or Patrick.

But I am dead serious. Tell me the initial reasons you had for adopting Christianity, Dave. Go ahead. What were they? Then you can later tell me why you switched to Catholicism, but only after telling me your initial reasons for adopting Christianity in the first place.

Anonymous said...

Hello Theresa---

A very interesting and thorough account of your alleged deconversion. However, since you were obviously never a believer in the first place, it is merely interesting from the point of view of what the Bible itself says about self-deception and the unconverted. It's also clear that your problem is not so much with Christianity as with hypocrites, since despite your life you seem to know virtually nothing about Christianity itself. Of course, it's only natural that you should find it hard to respect those who profess the faith, but do not reflect that profession in their lives; but their hypocrisy is quite irrelevant to the truth of the Bible.

Your comment, "Reading Spong was like a breath of fresh air", is very telling. Any properly educated Christian would immediately recognize Spong as a humanist and a non-believer. Any properly educated Christian is properly trained in thinking, which you obviously never were. An educated Christian understands epistemology and metaphysics, and why the Bible is crucial to a coherent, knowledge-affirming worldview. He understands hermeneutics, systematic theology and so on; and could easily and thoroughly refute Spong on any point, with little preparation or need for research.

So the fact that you found Spong, by your own admission, "a breath of fresh air" indicates that you were never educated in the faith (although you may think you were, of course); nor did you hold to the faith (though you may think you did, of course). Otherwise you would immediately have recognized the flagrant error of his thinking, and would indeed have returned his book in disgust. Humanistic thinking is only akin to fresh air to those who are perishing: those still unconverted and lovers of man and sin, rather than God. To those who love Christ, who is life, and who love all his precepts, which are light, Spong's writing is the foul and odious fetor from the darkness of the grave.

You make some issue of how you discovered to "think for yourself", and so on. Again, all this merely indicates that you were trapped in an anti-intellectual, cultural-Christian social environment, rather than in a Bible-believing and -teaching church (which is all born out by the ample testimony you give regarding the humanistic way in which these churches were run, with lip-service paid to the Bible. I found the parts about "knowing God's will" to be particularly comical and indicative of complete unbelief and incomprehension of biblical teaching).

You also said:

It was all man-made, a way to keep control over the masses, to lock people into a way of thinking to make their job easier. If you teach people how to think you can make them give you money.

This comment particularly amused me due to its ironic juxtaposition with your pushing 'Life 101' and other "self-help" books. I gather that you have yet to reach the level of ability in your newfound critical thinking where you can apply your normal standard of criticism to your own situation. Allow me to point out, then, that you are patently giving people money in exchange for their teaching you how to think. And yet you say, "I am a free thinker." The comical nature of this statement, so often proudly made by non-Christians, never fails to strike me on all manner of levels. Every time I see it my faith in Scripture is bolstered, because it is so typical of humanistic thought, and so entirely and obviously foolish.

Incidentally, what GakuseiDon wrote above is as false as your previous profession of faith. Prefacing his sentence in which he declares his faith, with the words "If God exists", is example enough of his unbelief; his ridiculous statement that God "definitely wants us to think for ourselves", as if this excuses atheism, is merely further proof. God commands us to worship and obey him. The only way in which thinking for oneself is permissible and right is when such thinking is not sinful (remembering that anything that does not proceed from faith is sin).

Regards,
Bnonn

Anonymous said...

i'm sort of nervous to comment, because i am a christian, but here it goes...and my reasons may be laughable, but they're my reasons nonetheless.

theresa, thanks for the story. it sounds like you're on an awesome journey now based on honesty and courage as opposed to the fear that so many cower under in the name of god or jesus or buddha or joseph smith or whoever. i also have to give you props for your attitude. it really sounds like you're honestly processing life and philosophy rather than simply reacting to the betrayal you've experienced.

thanks again for being so honest and open.

Lenny said...

Can't we all just get along?

Dave Armstrong said...

On my blog, when John Loftus commented back to me, he added these little tidbits:

"You have once again shown yourself to be so biased toward people who disagree with you that I would wonder if you can be trusted at all."

"I have not found you to be respectful of people who disagree with you and/or who tell their deconversion stories."

I replied:

My point still stands. No matter how idiotic some Christian may act (whether this person did or not; perhaps he did), you ought to rise above it and provide a better example of discourse, not lower yourself to petty comments of the same nature. Even given your mocking intent, it is still impossible to know whether this guy's reasoning is good or bad before you even hear it. THAT was MY point.

Or is that unacceptable in your version of atheist ethics? Are you back to a "tooth for a tooth" - something that Christianity advanced upon 2000 years ago?

As for your swipes at me; I had the decency to apologize for language in my analysis of your deconversion that may have been misunderstood, and thought to be an insult. You never acknowledged that, though I posted it on your blog. Is that your brand of atheist ethics, too?: ignoring people's apologies and sincere attempts at rectifying hurt feelings and perceived slights?

Instead, you keep up the stream of insults. I'm a "joke"; an "arrogant idiot," and now, indeed, maybe I can't "be trusted at all."

You prove my point spectacularly; thanks. You are no model of sublime atheist ethics in dealing with non-atheists, at least not insofar as you make comments like this one.

I know how you have acted towards me, and how you were so hyper-sensitive you couldn't stand a little ole critique of your deconversion.

But I see other atheists who do far better in this regard of how they approach Christians (such as Jim Lazarus). I've known many before that, and have had lengthy dialogues with them.

You claim you were so "disappointed" in me. That works both ways. I had hopes that you could rise above nonsense like this, too, when I read some of your comments about how discourse should proceed on your blog. Too bad. But others on your own blog do far better, and until you cease this hostile attitude towards me, I will continue to interact with them, as long as they desire to, rather than you, because I don't have time for insults and pettiness and thin skins. Life is too short.

Anonymous said...

Justin, that is a very strange thing for a Christian to say. In what way is Theresa's journey "awesome"? Is it not true that, while whoever finds God finds life and obtains his favor, he who fails to find God injures himself, and all who hate him love death (Pr 8:35-36)? Is it not true that there is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death? (14:12).

In what way is Theresa's journey based on honesty and courage? Is it not true that non-Christians, by their unrighteousness, suppress the truth? For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they know God, they do not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but have become futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts are darkened. Claiming to be wise, they have become fools (Rom 1:18-22).

As regards the fear of God, is it also not true that the fear of the LORD is a fountain of life (14:27) and the beginning of wisdom (9:10)?

If all this is true, as you must surely affirm if you are a Christian, then how can you thank Theresa for her honesty and openess, expressing enthusiasm and encouragement for her thinking? How can you do this when you know that everything you are saying is false?

Anonymous said...

bnonn, i think that the choice between thinking for oneself and obedience is a fallacy known as a "false dilemma." obedience and disobedience are both examples of thinking for oneself, assuming you haven't taken our free will away.

it sounds like you sort of missed the point of theresa's story, and maybe the bible too, but i've been wrong many times before.

Dave Armstrong said...

As for my reasons for becoming an evangelical Christian initially (in 1977), they were not all that profound: it was a response to an extreme case of depression (never repeated and atypical of me: almost an existential crisis), being impressed by the person of Jesus (particularly in watching Jesus of Nazareth), some influence of biblical prophecy stuff, seeing my brother transformed from a troubled druggie after his conversion, responses to powerful preaching, and intuitively knowing that Christian ethics were lofty and sublime (which could be worked up into some sort of "moral argument" but I didn't do that at the time).

I don't claim that any of this could stand up to philosophical scrutiny. So if you want to do that, feel free, but it won't accomplish much because I don't claim much for it.

I developed my reasons for being a Christian much more so after I became a serious Christian. In a nutshell, it is (much like atheists' frequently stated reasons) a convergence or accumulation of many different sorts of evidences and arguments, taken together, like strands of a rope that become strong together.

I couldn't hope to summarize all that briefly, or even at length, but as I am an apologist with lots of published writings, anyone can peruse those to ascertain what my overall apologetic is.

My conversion to Catholicism (1990) was considerably more sophisticated. I have written seveal papers on that, which can be found here:

http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2006/11/conversion-converts-catholic-index.html

Most of the reasoning there, however, would be relevant only to those who already accept Christianity. They aren't the reasons to be any kind of Christian, but for being a Catholic, which is an "in-house" fight.

My reasons for being a Christian, period, or a theist (whatever), were already long since established in the course of my earlier apologetic work.

Anonymous said...

Justin, free will is not a biblical concept; it is a humanistic notion in complete contradiction to biblical teaching.

Regards,
Bnonn

Lenny said...

I have found this very interesting and have wondered how being married to me has caused a decoversion. I do read her blog as do my children. A good parent keeps up on what even adult children are being exposed to.

As was mentioned I did have several jobs in my youth. Late teens and early 20's Although in the last 12 years (her 40’s) she has had as many jobs. Her reason for the multiple jobs because are better because she is an atheist. Her reasons are more valid then mine because I am a Christian . I have found this to be classic of atheists.

In the early days of our marriage she did go to "Bible" school with me. They did a Taylor/Johnson temperament test on all of us. She was so off the scale in the categories of punitive and judgmental they had an emergency counseling session for her. She has always been judge and jury. She has always looked for an audience. Trust me guys she is loving all this attention. It was never about loving and serving people as is evident by her anti-testimony. Who’s church was bigger, who was being asked to be the guest speaker, we are going to show them. I was never about the marketing of God as she so plainly stated. I was just there to love and serve people. That wasn’t good enough for her. Even our marriage counselor told her that the things she blamed me of she was actually doing herself. Please consider the source on this one. I tire of people who continually play the victim. So if this is all about character assassination let’s look at the shooter. Her sister asked her, “When Lenny is gone who are you going to blame everything on?” I think the answer is God.

Anonymous said...

if freewill is anti-bible, then shouldn't all democratic societies be dead?
i guess why there's an increasing number of atheists is because of the oppresive nature of christianity, how christians all love to point everything to life that happened to God.
Theresa, good thing you've seen the other side of the fence. welcome to being an atheist.
i'm not an atheist, but being a Buddhist makes me close to be one.

Ghost said...

You say:
"I chose to believe in god for a little longer. But certainly not the GOD of before, the GOD of rules and regulations, the nosy one, the all involved one, the one who makes men weak."

I also don't believe in a God of rules and regulations, who is nosy or makes men weak. I believe in a God of mercy and grace who is intimately interested in my life good and bad, and who ultimately makes me strong.

You also say:
"It is a wonderful place to be, free from the guilt and burdens of Christianity. I live my life fully and without question, enjoying the process of becoming who I am."
I am also in a wonderful place where I am free from guilt and burdens. I live life fully and really enjoy the man that God is making me.
I wonder that you must have met a differnt God than the God of the bible. It deeply saddens me that you felt so impoverished by your experience of what you think Christianity is. I wonder if you will ever be healed enough to see things with a true God perspective. I pray that you one day do.

John W. Loftus said...

Dave Armstrong, let's let others decide for themselves at this point okay? I'm willing to do so. How about you? Stick to the issues from now on.

John W. Loftus said...

Oh, and one more thing Dave. You never did a hatchet job of Jim Lazarus' deconversion story, did you, and were later forced to apologize for it? No wonder you get along with him. It's not surprise to me. We would've gotten along too, had you not done so. And apologizing for something you did does nothing to change the facts of what you did. I do not have to forgive you. Don't demand that I do. Just be kind. That's all.

Anonymous said...

if freewill is anti-bible, then shouldn't all democratic societies be dead?
Could you rephrase the question so as to show your reasoning? It currently makes as much sense to me as asking, "If tomatoes are fruit, then shouldn't all vegetable gardens be dead?"

Dave Armstrong said...

Hi John,

Oh, and one more thing Dave. You never did a hatchet job of Jim Lazarus' deconversion story, did you,

I never did on yours, either. This is a point of dispute. No one has ever shown that I did. All you have done is whine and squeal like a stuck pig. You never give any reasons for why my reasoning was a "hatchet job." You simply assume it and keep insulting. That's circular reasoning in my book, if one can even call it "reasoning" at all.

And I believe that Jim would respond with a rational reply, from all I have seen of his writing. He would do that because he recognizes serious Christian analyses and doesn't immediately dismiss them out of hand simply because they are Christian, or make it "personal", as if it has to be that.

and were later forced to apologize for it?

I wasn't forced to do anything. RubySera made a critique with certain claims. I examined what she was saying, like I always do with any critique of my work, and decided that perhaps a few phrases of mine could have left a wrong impression; they might explain how you reacted as you did.

But you refused to acknowledge it. And besides, wrong impressions do not prove malicious intent. I utterly deny that. The critique was not personal at all. Even some of your fellow atheists recognized that, and stated as much here. You simply couldn't handle a critique. Period.

No wonder you get along with him. It's not surprise to me.

I don't get along or not get along. I barely know the guy. I've simply noted that he is eminently fair in his dealings with Christians. He doesn't think we're all idiots and imbeciles like so many of you here do. When you start out assuming your opponent is an idiot and a fool and a brainless manipulated infantile robot, is it any surprise that many attempted interactions go flat?

I've had many dialogues with atheists who were completely cordial and fun to talk to (and one of them I consider the best challenge and best-argued presentation of any of my dialogues: over 360 total). We had no clash at all. They're on my website. So I don't have a jaded view of all atheists. I know full well that they don't all react like you have.

We'll see if Theresa thinks I am this mean beast and altogether insensitive, unsavory character, who wants to savage people personally. If she does, I'll ask her to provide reasons why she thinks this, from my paper. Then maybe she'll show me something (unlike you) if she feels that way.

Just calling names doesn't accomplish beans, except to show me that you are incapable of rational, objective dialogue. If that is the impression you wish to leave, feel free. No skin off my back. There are plenty of atheists who are willing to sensibly dialogue, minus the nonsense.

We would've gotten along too, had you not done so.

Done what? Dared to disagree with your reasoning? What a horrible crime! What is this, the Inquisition?

And apologizing for something you did does nothing to change the facts of what you did.

No; you don't get it. Apologizing for unfortunate language that may have been misunderstood is not remotely the same as saying I did a hatchet job or attacked you personally. At best, I merely used a few words that were insufficiently clear as to my intent and purpose. What else is new? Anyone who writes a lot will do that often. Big wow.

I do not have to forgive you. Don't demand that I do.

Then stop complaining about a pseudo-issue that has nothing behind it. Or else work up the gumption to rationally reply to me, rather than simply bitching and name-calling.

Just be kind. That's all.

I think I am, but not everyone thinks so (again, completely predictable in a field where one defends one view and critiques another). If I expected everyone to be perfectly happy with critiques of mine I would have gotten out of this business many years ago. People generally don't like being critiqued. They can't handle it. They have to take it personally. Many people equate their ideas with themselves, so they think a critique is necessarily a personal attack. And if you say that wasn't the intent at all they won't believe you. What can I do about that? Nothing.

But I can show as an apologist that the reasons you gave in THAT paper form no rationale whatsoever for rejecting Christianity.

I do see your point, however, that you were directly responding to what you perceived as mocking, by mocking back. In some cases, that is permissible, I suppose (sarcasm has its proper place), but I think it is better to use reason, rather than a tit-for-tat approach like that.

I know what you think of Christian reasoning, however, and that you actually believe something like that across the board. E.g., your silly remark daring people to read your book, and that anyonie who does is destined to have their faith slowly poisoned.

This is sheer intellectual arrogance. I would never dream of saying something that silly about any of my own writings. The very extremity of the sentiment makes a rational person, I think, immediately suspicious of your argument not being as strong as you make out, since you would simply rely on the arguments themselves, rather than extravagant claims.

You don't increase the power of an argument by bragging about it and engaging in chest-puffing histrionics with potential readers. I've rarely seen a sillier remark from an author about his book.

John W. Loftus said...

Dave, you distort and misrepresent things way too often for me to take you seriously, and that's what bothers you about me. Let our readers decide for themselves. I happen to think they can.

seekingtruth said...

democracy is about free-will, no? or at least some part of it IS about free-will. so if free-will is contradicting christian teachings, so is democracy, no? of course, you can always quote the bible and rebutt me. i guess that's what Theresa meant when she said, "I don’t like reading the bible or hearing it quoted from. It makes me cringe when I hear scriptures, I’ve heard them misused and abused so much."
Probably they were not as often misquoted, but definitely they're being interpreted in the way the person who quoted wanted them to be. But whether the quotes meant really that, we don't know.
That's what put me off this religion.
PS: See my comment in John's entry on why he's debunking chrisitianty part 1. I would appreciate if someone can answer my questions. No quotes/scriptures please.

Anonymous said...

As professing believers, when we remain unhealed, or in a state of attack, we are acting in disbelief of God's will. Having said that, deliverance is a practice of growing into heavenly habits so there is grace for that sort of suffering. I'm learning that whatever heartfelt habits I develope here will travel with me beyond my physical death (whether it be belief or nonbelief). God's love is unchanging even when we don't understand or accept that or misinterpret that. I'm learning that I want to practice being in heaven - I want to feel like its my home - I don't want to avoid it. Now I have no doubt that civil and lively discussions amongst loving people will definitely be in heaven, but debating God's existence will definitely not be a practice in the hereafter. So, I ask you to consider the practices we embrace -If God extends love, we can reject it because it doesn't fit our expectation or demands but we ought to practice the habit of loving and enjoying one another's company - that is done best when we realize and respect that the person who is our enemy is loved by someone who is bigger and kinder than us. Accusing one another of ulterior motives is really provoking - even Jesus said to do what the Pharisees said, but not what they did (in other words, we can get good advice from bad teachers). thanks.

Dave Armstrong said...

John wrote:

Dave, you distort and misrepresent things way too often for me to take you seriously,. . .

Yet you continue (for some inexplicable "reason") to want to "dialogue" with me. Why, pray tell? Why waste time with a "joke" and one not even to be taken "seriously"? I seek out the most informed dialogue partners, not the least. Why would I want to dialogue with an atheist whom I think is a "joke" and an "arrogant idiot" (your terms for me)?

That's not dialogue; it's a farce. And I don't waste my valuable time playing games with people I think are a "joke." It's like a reverse golden rule: "don't do unto others what you don't think they should do unto others." It's like a boxing match with a two-year-old. What's the point? If I'm gonna box, I don't want to do it with a totally inept partner. I want competition and challenge!

Dialogue (at least how I define it, and I beleve, Socrates and Plato, as well) can only occur with mutual respect and open-mindedness. Hostility such as you have shown literally makes it impossible. That is my approach, and I studiously avoid situations where dialogue is poisoned and sabotaged from the outset.

So you can keep goading and baiting, but it ain't gonna work with me. I'll dialogue with others here, and observers can decide from those encounters whether I am as you claim, or something different from that.

Anonymous said...

Seekingtruth: democracy is not a biblical concept either. It, too, is humanistic, originating in pagan Greek society. Israel was a theocracy under God, with human stewards acting as his liaisons (until they insisted on a human king like other nations, at which time it became more of a monarchy). In the new earth, God will once again rule in a theocratic sort of society, though one unmarred by sin and therefore not really comparable. I'm not sure why you are even posing the question regarding democracy; perhaps you are falsely equating "the American way" with "the Christian way".

anomalous4 said...

Lenny said:

"I have found this very interesting and have wondered how being married to me has caused a deco[n]version."

Gaak. Lenny, you're completely, alarmingly clueless. This Baptist preacher's kid can identify 100% with Theresa's struggles as a member of a clergy family.

The amazing thing to me is that more clergy families don't go down in flames. It can be a real can of worms. Even if you're not the one who "answered the call," you're in the fishbowl all the time.

You're expected to be "gooder" than everyone else and set a "proper example."

You can't really be yourself. You're expected to rubber-stamp everything your spouse/parent says and does. You're expected to be even-tempered, outgoing, pleasant, and even syrupy-sweet.

You can't think about things honestly. You can't ask questions or show even the slightest doubt. You're expected to know all the "right" answers in Sunday school.

You have to put up with the fact that your clergy spouse/parent seems to be spending so much time and energy on his/her "church family" that he/she has little or nothing left over for his/her family at home.

You're the one people call on to do the jobs no one else wants, like serving on committees, but when those committees meet, you can't speak up.

If both you and your spouse are clergy and serve in the same church, a lot of this goes double. You have to present a united front of complete agreement to your church and the world even if you're fighting like dogs and cats behind the scenes.

You don't have much (if any) chance to blow off steam. You can't express sadness or depression. You can't show the slightest sign that there's any trouble or even disagreement within the family. Any trouble gets swept under the rug until the rug gets so lumpy that someone is sure to trip over it.

In your case, both of your going through multiple jobs in a desperate attempt to make a living piled the stress of financial insecurity - one of the most common reasons why marriages fall apart - on top of everything else.

Sometimes all that piled-up stress really is enough to make a person lose his/her religion. I've known quite a few people who have had that happen. But even if you don't lose your religion in the process, you can end up with dysfunctionalities that can rip your family apart and even rip one or more members of the family apart.

I've suffered from depression since I was 8. I spent so many years suppressing even the slightest sign of anger that even at age 50+, I can't express it. Most of the time I can't even get angry.

Like Theresa, I've gravitated to Karen Armstrong, John Shelby Spong, and other liberal writers on religion. I find their realism refreshing, encouraging, and even inspiring. I've "lost my religion" several times, but unlike her, somehow I keep coming back to faith, even though I don't consider myself a believer in any ordinary sense of the word. I stopped wondering why years ago. I've simply accepted that it's where I'm comfortable and at peace with myself.

"Can't we all just get along?"

Hah. You're so bleeping naïve. Get real. Get a life. Get a mind and start thinking about things. Grow up and get over your ex. She has her own life, and a lot of anger that she's facing head-on, which I suspect is far more than you can say.

"A good parent keeps up on what even adult children are being exposed to.."

Once again, get real, get a life, etc. Accept in your mind (once you get one) that your "adult children" are adults, and you no longer have any control over them or any right to spy on them or mess around in their affairs. I was scared of my parents until I was 40. Don't give your kids reason to be.

Just 2 brass farthings' worth from someone who's been there, done that, got the T-shirt, etc.

Lenny said...

Again a victim's mentality. Get over it!!!!!

Anonymous said...

bnonn: America is not the only democratic country around. so are you saying true christians should not believe in democracy, since it represents free will? i brought the topic of free will up someone commented about it here.
and i guess why some deconverted because they find the very nature of christianity oppressive, and quoting YOU, "God commands us to worship and obey him." Christians may not think this is oppressive, as oppressiveness is, quoting you again, "humanistic". Are we not humans? Is it that wrong to be humanistic?

Anonymous said...

Christians should submit to God, and to the authorities which God has raised up (Rom 13:1). That does not mean that democracy is inherently Christian, or inherently worthy of praise. Like any political system, including a Christian monarchy, it will be subject to sin and will eventually degenerate.

That being so, your question still seems pretty irrelevant, even if our lack of free will somehow preluded us from moral responsibiliy toward one another and God (which it doesn't, since there are God-given laws that we must follow). Even if Christians should not "believe in democracy" in the sense of affirming it as biblical, so what? Christians living in democratic societies are still to be subject to the rulers which God has instituted; just as Christians in communist societies are; or in despotic societies, or any other kind of society.

Regarding oppressiveness; of course you find the idea of obeying and worshiping God oppressive. This is the essence of man-exalting, God-denying thinking. And yes, of course it's wrong to be humanistic. In fact, it is the very essence of sin.

Beans said...

Bnonn,
first you give the 'no True Scotsman' criticism of Theresa- because she was not born Evangelical, she was not a Christian, and not educated in her faith (despite her claim she read the Bible all the way through multiple times, did Bible studies, etc- if that is not knowing your religion, what is?), and she 'did not really believe' despite her claims to the contrary. So please come up with a better argument.
Second, you say free will is against the bible. Doesn't that negate the entire concept of sin, one of the cornerstones of Christianity? If we have no free will (therefore God makes us do what we do) then why is there sin at all? Why did Eve and Adam eat the apple?

Anonymous said...

Hi Beans---

Regarding Theresa's unbelief, I did not criticize her for not being born an evangelical. I was born into a Romanist family, became and atheist, and was then converted to Christ at the age of 21. However, I do indeed maintain that she did not understand or believe the Bible, because if she had she would never have fallen away. It's not that my argument needs to be better; it's that you need to understand it. I would therefore refer you to the recent article I wrote On "Deconversion".

Regarding the second question you have, I would refer you to my article on the problem of evil. I notice that this supposed "problem" is mentioned here and elsewhere quite a bit, as if it has no obvious answer. It does. Responsibility is predicated upon God's decree to judge mankind (Rom 9:19-21); not freedom.

Regards,
Bnonn

Matthew said...

Theresa,

I am so pleased to hear from you! I love hearing from women who have left the fold. I love hearing from atheist women! I hope you find a community here and elsewhere such as the Internet Infidels Discussion Forum. I applaud your bravery and honesty!

I have personally devoted my life to helping others leave the fold if they're open to it and educating people about the origins, context, and evolution of the Bible.

Welcome!

Matthew

Matthew said...

Jimmy Li says: "YOU lost your faith by reading Armstrong's HIstory of GOD???
LOL"

This is so typical of Christian fundamentalists of which I assume that Jimmy is. Self-righteous mockery! Just typical. Of course what Jimmy fails to realize is that this one just one of many books she read and it wasn't the decisive factor in her deconversion. I don't agree with everything Armstrong writes but even some of the authors whom I strongy disagree with have some good points and interesting arguments every now and then.

Matthew

Matthew said...

Patrick pompously writes "I don't want to sound pompus, but how could you turn you back on Christ after He gave his life on the cross so you could live? You slap him in the face, just like a dog going after his own vomit. You go back to the world which only can take your life. You say you reject Christ, He never rejected you. How could you do that to someone who loves you so much? I'm praying for you that God will open your heart to the truth and you will go back to your husband. In Jesus name, a brother in Christ, Patrick"

Patrick, you may not want to sound pompous but your post sounds pretty judgemental. Even though John adequately responded to you, what would you say to Mormons or Jehovah's Witnesses who say this to former members? Theresa didn't slap your god across the face or insult him- she cannot insult or hurt a god that she doesn't believes exist.

How can you be so judgemental like this? What does it even matter to you? If you had said any of this to me, I would've told you to take this and blow it out your nose, pal.

I have a suggestion. You believe that your god still loves Theresa, John, others, and me? Why doesn't your god then grow some balls and tell me to my face? Why does he need you to try and shame Theresa (and others as well?) back into the fold? What can he tell me and others using you that he cannot tell me to my face? In other words: why is your god such a coward?

Your post here is not an attempt to reason with Theresa. It's an attempt to shame her. It's an attempt to shame her into reconverting. As for praying for her- why don't you just pray for yourself? Pray to your god that he can make you less judgemental and pray that he will heal many of your fellow Christians of this incessant need to behave like assholes, both to fellow believers and skeptics?

Matthew

Dress Left said...

Theresa,

Fundamentalists believe humans are divine, but cursed with animalistic tendencies that must constantly be repressed.

Humanists believe humans are animals, but blessed with divine tendencies that must constantly be encouraged.

Welcome to the light.

Zac Taylor said...

Hi Theresa,
Welcome! Great to read such a story of courage.

And Dress Left - that's a great way to compare Fundamentalists and Humanists. I like that a lot.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Dress Left, that just makes sense! So if I am basically an animal who needs constant encouragement from others and I don't get that (are you guys available?), then I can act like an animal until someone appeases me and I get my demands met (perhaps burnt offerings???). Oh, that's those pagan gods...hmmm...back to the drawing board.

anomalous4 said...

Lenny said...

"Again a victim's mentality. Get over it!!!!!"

Considering the fact that you're the one doing the whining, who's got the victim mentality here?

You asked what I considered to be a legitimate question, what was it about your married life that caused Theresa to leave and take an entirely different life path. I did my best to lay it all out for you, out of my real life story and the life stories of dozens of people I've known. Just the straight dope, no exaggeration (as I'm sure a number of other people here could tell you).

If you choose to stay in your comfy cave and refuse to accept the facts, and to react with ad hominem nonsense, that's your decision. But it does no one any good (least of all you yourself).

'Nuff said. I refuse to get drawn any further into a battle of wits with an unarmed man.

Will someone please pass the fire extinguisher?

es said...

Theresa, congratulations on your deconversion. I deconverted last year and I still cannot understand how I believed.

BTW, I hope you have a restraining order on your stalker ex husband.

Anonymous said...

Hi Theresa,

I'm a Pastor. (Thought I'd get that out of the way up front.) I've pastored those small churches that you talk about. As you know there is waaaay more to the story, the unrealistic expectations, the jobs left undone because "Pastor will do it", the infringement of the ministry "mistress" upon family time.

As a result, I'm not leaving my faith, but I may be leaving the pastorate....because I love my wife more than I love the church.

I'm thinking of leaving because I want a "life" with her. I love her too much to see her sad from giving her very best and getting nothing....not even a "thank you" in return.

She has lived in my shadow for too long, and before she wilts and dies, I will take a job, and enjoy a life with the woman God gave me to love.

Thats my view.

Blessings, (Name Withheld) Duh, wonder why?

Anonymous said...

Hello. I just wanted to say I can relate to Theresa's story as I read a lot of the same books as she did which rescued me from the hell of fundamentalism. Thank you for sharing your story!
Too all the fundies trying to intimidate her, why don't you try reading Spongee with an open mind and an open bible? I remember reading his book and thinking...If some guy today was standing in the city prophesying doom while eating sandwhiches made from human excrement, we would say he was CRAZY! Yet we are supposed to accept this same crazy behavior comes from a man of God because the bible says so? Then I thought, why would God do that to one of his servants? EEEEWWWWWWWW! It has been twelve years or so since I read the book and I no longer even have a bible, but if God has such little regard for his servants that made it in the bible what makes you think he would treat you any better?
Just my two cents...

Anonymous said...

I read your comment for the first time tonight and I can understand your grief, pain and misery (been there, done that. I am a former pastor) but I feel sorry for you.

It is true there are some fundamentalists who have destroyed the true image of God with their actions, but to leave the God of the Bible altogether is bad.

Many of the truths in the Bible will have an eternal effect on you whether you believe them or not. I hope that some day you will come out of this mindset and find the true God for who He is.

Here is one of my favorite quotes:

"There is a God we want, and there is a God who is and they are not the same God. The turning point of our lives is when we stop seeking the God we want and start seeking the God who is." - - Patrick Morley

May you experience that turning point in your life today.

Glenn Dixon said...

Theresa,

Thanks for your post! Great read. I was a bit uncomfortable as your portrayal of Lenny reminded me of someone -- me! That's what religion will do to a man who isn't Type A but is trying to be self-employed or 'in the ministry.' I have been SO productive since deconverting! I even have a plan of attack for an actual career. Oh, and I uninstalled my video games too - that helped. LOL

Keep up the good work. Ignore the exes and the Calvinists. :o)

Anonymous said...

Hey Theresa

That was well written and from the soul... I hope one day you will be able to seperate the religion of man and find God... Let me say thank you for writing your blog... it did open my eyes and made me more aware of how my descions might affect my wife and her view of God. I am a pastor, born again, Spirit filled ( you know )and I am sorry for the way you were treated... even if you hever return to a church organization I trust you will find healing in your life... I pray all the best for you ... God has quite a challenge in reaching you .. buts He is up to it...

Pastor Rod Chaulk

Anonymous said...

God will find you again - and you Him - in his pefect way - and perfect time - His love, unlike ours, never fails.

Anonymous said...

It sounds like your eyes/were on those around you, husband included and not on Jesus Christ. I don't mean to try to sum up your life in one sentence. But, I didn't read that you took time and fasted and prayed on your own. It seems that you went along with what was going on without questioning. Spiritually, men and women are equal in God's eyes, though they have different roles. Christians believe in the Priesthood of all believers, so a layperson has just as much access to God as a minister and so does a minister's wife. We all have different gifts and callings. There was much wisdom in your husband asking you to pray and seek God's will for your family. If you carefully study the teachings of Jesus Christ, you will find true love and true freedom. You will find nothing that is repulsive or restrictive. Have you studied Christ's teachings? How can you not love someone as full of love as Christ is. As a Christian, I cannot piggy back on another's faith and must not take anyone's word if it does not line up with scripture. I wonder if you have ever asked yourself if this is what you did.

Stephen W. Smith said...
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Stephen W. Smith said...
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Stephen W. Smith said...
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Stephen W. Smith said...

Thanks for your story. It's good to hear how you've made the transition to a world without Jesus and are surviving nicely.

We have some stuff in common. I used to attend concerts in the old circus tent at Calvary Chapel, and later in their new building. I also lived in Oregon, for over 24 years. I spent some time in a very large Foursquare church in the Portland area, so we probably know some of the same people. I've gone camping at Wallowa Lake and up on the rim of Hell's Canyon (beautful!) and I might go live in Enterprise or Joseph if I could only figure out how to make a living!

I'm offended that Christians come onto this site and feel the need to try and bring you (and others) back to the fold, or question that your former faith was ever real. I think they are motivated by fear.

I'm the son of a pastor's wife, the brother of a pastor's wife and the ex-husband of a pastor's wife (guess that made me a pastor, eh?), so I know a LOT about your struggles during that period of your life.

I'm new to DC and soon I'll be posting my story, 'Son of a Preacher.' I hope you'll read it.

(I've made some deletions above. I'm still getting used to using this blog site and my computer doesn't spell very well!).

Theresa Frasch said...

I will...I am looking forward to it.

Anonymous said...

I am wandering the Internet tonight after seeing The Invisible Children Movie.(very powerful) Somehow (I'll say it was God) I stumbled upon your blog searching under the Invisible Children and Foursquare Churches in Oregon.(?!?) I am a Christian, highly educated, professional woman (M.D.) who was raised Catholic and now is happily part of the "family " at a Foursquare Church. In my medical career, I have had the privilege of seeing many miracles that were completely inexplicable in any scientific context (including in my own body). Over the past four years, I have been suffering with an unusual neuromuscular illness that has forced me to quit my practice recently. Unlike you, when things are difficult and I am in my wheelchair, I am MORE convinced that I am being carried by a very intimate God who knows what is happening and cares deeply. I may not like what is happening to me, but I do trust that there is a plan. The very fact that my body does not work right all the time, makes me even more aware of how INCREDIBLE a human body is in the first place! When you look at Mt Rushmore, you would never make the assumption that wind and water and time created that masterpiece, so how could anyone imagine that someting as intricate, complicated and magnificent as a human body happened by time and chance and random mutations???
I am very sorry that your experience with the body of Christ and "the church" was so poor. That, however, in no way negates the reality of God - It is my personal belief that we spend too much time trying to figure out the "will of God" with some magical formula, when He has created us to be just who we are. If we would only be our truest selves we would be in His Will. ....... and we would be happy.......

P.S. No matter what you think of what I wrote, please do watch the documentary about The Invisible Children. Whether we are believers or not, we must unite as human beings to help one another.

Anonymous said...

Theresa,

I read your sad story, and not only is it pathetic, but where it has taken you is even more pathetic. Yes religion for religion's sake can be manipulative and not operating in God' Will, but that doesn't mean there isn't really a God, or that the Bible is NOT his word to humanity about how to live, etc.

How do I know this you might ask? It’s because "God has spoken to me several times", and Theresa not just in that small quiet voice, or through his word, but in a Full Fledged Vision where he appeared and spoke as Jesus Christ.

Remember 1st Corinthians 12, and the Gifts of the Holy Spirit? Well I have been given the Gift or Discernment & Prophesy to some extent.

I believe not just because "I was brain washed to think so", but because I have experienced the "Manifest Presence of God" where he appeared in front of me and spoke. God is very real, and by the way "He can read your thoughts" because on several of these experiences he know what I was thinking answered me before I could ask the question I was thinking of. 

Just because your husband let you down, or the church let you down, or you let yourself down, does not mean the God is not real.

Open your eyes and heart and you will really find him.

AJC

eugelim said...
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ima said...

I have recently been through a divorce. I was married for 20 years to a Lutheran pastor. We had no children.

What follows is a summary through my eyes. There was no abuse, no infidelity. I wanted to talk, she chose not to.


Due to a job change which required relocation, she had to resign from her church. The destination was well populated with churches of the same synod so there didn't look to be any problem with her receiving a call to a new church.



She did not contact the local synod. After a time, she announced (not discussed) that she wanted to get her PhD at a university across the country from where we were living.



I agreed to support her in this and said that when she was done, I would be happy to follow her career wherever it took her as she had done following mine.



She moved one summer, I drove out with her and helped get her settled into student housing. I had tried to talk with her about the finances but she didn't respond. We had a normal set of household bills and there wasn't enough disposable income to support a second household plus the costs of coursed and books. I suggested that she manage that through student loans and, when she graduated, we would work our two jobs to pay it off and then I would move to her new location. Her PhD would be our retirement fund.



I made extra payments on the new car she left with so I could pay it off sooner and then sent that money to her for her expenses.



After two years, she announced that she felt free living on her own and wanted a divorce. She said I had been an oppressive presence in her life.



After months of talking and hoping she would change her mind, we talked about the division of property. I agreed to an even split of 401K, home equity, and furniture. The only thing she would not discuss was alimony.



To shorten the story, the alimony was very expensive. So, I have ended up paying for both her Master's degree and her PhD, the retirement was gone. I admit I have trouble reconciling why I have to pay her support for chosing to leave. All of the women I have talked to about this don't understand why either.



I have tried to return to church after all of this. I can generally stay through the liturgy but, when the sermon starts, I can find no trust in what the pastor is saying and I walk out.



It is during the sermon that the feelings of betrayal of trust and thoughts of what humans have done to destroy God. My marriage. Muslim vs. Christian. Catholic priests violating trust. People twisting God to their own benefit. Twisting God to their own gratification.



God and I still get along. It is the people who talk about God and their interrpretation of what God said that I distrust.

Well, that is my story.

Rickyant1237 said...

In all these responces will it be a coincidence you read mine? I'm am sorry the misunderstanding of marriage and who is in charge lead you to the frustration that (i believe)caused you to lose your faith. I won't explain in Scripture that will make you sick...just leave at that. I hope the best for you but please ask yourself...true peace or are you trying to make yourself believe that?

byron said...

A lot of censorship and bias is built into this site. This is not true open debating, but rather immature diatribing.

If you want to grow up and debate issues on their own merit without inflecting childish emotions, bias and censorship (what are we in communist country here ?)

Anyways because of these reasons there is no true credibility to a lot of the dialog on this site.


And wait, you employ "bully" tactics by blindly agreeing with others or ganging up mafia style, as this is a sign of insecurity in one's own opinions.

Grow up people

Jesus is the Creator of the universe !

musemguyjdm said...

What wonderful irony. After reading Carl Sagan and getting no real soild answers from assorted cosmologists I now servea risen saviour

Steve said...

It realy sounds like your faith wasnt based on truth, but based on "mans" distortion of the truth. Ive seen it hundreds of times, Its been preached God said this, God said that, But realy it was "man" distorting the truth so it would say what he wanted it to say. I am fighting with a church now that is doing just that. What a mess it is, anyway, Even the athest here have it right, it is about Love and making your own choises and taking responcability for your choises.
I am a christian/Shaman that believes in using herbal remidies for healing, I have been told I was full of demonice spirits, cursed at, laughed at, and more by so called Bible thumping christians. That is why I teach that Satan sets in the front pews of the Churchs. Because if he is real, That is where you will find him. Amen.
Please dont think that ALL christians are the same, There are mostly Bad ownes out there that are out for the financual gain called "tithings" Others want power and glory of being a leader of something and none of this is of the God I pray to
anyway, I would like to converce with you.
e-mail me if you would like
sdperk@gmail.com

Zambodi said...

Hi, Theresa:

As a former atheist I'm saddened by the stories and the elaborate attempts to lambaste one another here at this site. I still remember the ideas and notions I had about free thinking, and thankfully now, I live more free that ever before. Ironically, I choose to submit and serve someone else; a king, whom you may have heard before, and whom I happen to know exists, not only because I've physically experienced Him, but also because I cannot prove that He doesn't exist. Nor can anyone else, regardless of their attempts to prove otherwise.
You know as well as I do, that it's never been about free thinking, it's always been about free and selfish choices. That's what we do as humans. Hope for the best, expect the worst, and still whine about it when we don't get what we want. Somehow every choice we make is about us, and how it can benefit us. Just as you did, I quickly realized that sitting in a church pew, listening to a sermon, praying to a God you hope exists, and doing your best to convince yourself that He does, will most likely never get you an experience with the one true God. Instead, it takes humility, one act of true free will, to be granted a moment with Him. But that moment is all that it takes to change a life. For years I proclaimed that the Bible was written by drug induced freaks, and in a single moment of divine revelation, I realized that what I had been seeing and living was the biggest lie of all, and what I'd been speaking against all this time was actually the truth. I now see and interact with a world that you don't, and you won't. It's a supernatural world where good and evil battle it out daily, and I'd say most Christians try to ignore it if at all possible. But all weirdness aside, I'm still human, and I still mess up, offend people, act like an idiot, sin and fail to be all great and holy and stuff... but no matter what, I will never again be so prideful as to think that "I'm it, and there is nothing more", nor will I sit in a pew and accept a dogma religion as the answer for me, and I don't expect anybody else to either.
The ultimate act of free will is to decide to accept, love, and serve a stranger that asking: "will you love me?, will you trust me?, will you follow me?". As an educated person and a natural leader, I found this repulsive at one time to do. God gave us all that same free will, and just like you, I chose to use it for myself. Why wouldn't I? I was self made, intelligent, good looking ;-) I didn't need a man-made god to control me. Obviously those guys who died as martyrs, were doing for a lie, so that man and woman could be controlled by "the man". Obviously.
Bottom line, everyone can justify why they believe the way they do biblically, scientifically, philosophically.. you name it. But I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that there is a God, and I hope many of you can let go of your pride just long enough to simply do as I did. "Okay God.. if you exist, show me, 'cause I'm willing to find out."
By the way, I have learned something from your post. I will strive to make sure my marriage and ministry is built on teamwork, as well as love and trust.

I look forward to all the responses of encouragement and love ;-)

Sincerely,

Zambodi

Anonymous said...

Her story is sad, and her rejection of God is even more sad. She is blaming God for the stupidity those who "claim" to know and love Him. Having coverted to atheism, she has now removed any basis for criticism. If there is no God then religion is the product of evolutionary process, and must be accepted as that which is "natural." The woman is going to die someday and then lapse into non-existence, so she ought to just get on with enjoying the few years she has left on planet earth.

God hasn't been dismantled, despite what hypocrisy and false light this woman has been exposed to. He's still there, waiting for this woman to come to her senses and worship Him in spirit and in truth, not according to the dictates of empty, man-made religion.

Amy said...

Theresa, thanks for posting your story and do not listen to the Christians who are trying to condescend to you. I've also heard these "arguments" from people who've heard my story as well, and what they don't realize that whatever they say doesn't matter to me, because I do not believe in a creator of any kind. So they can condescend, judge, scorn, and insult me all they want (all these negative insults being veiled as trying to "help" mind-you) to try and "sway" me back into "faith" but they are really just wasting their breath. Christians, us Atheists couldn't really give a flying crap about what you think. To us, you're just another human being and your judgment of us means nothing. Your condescension and insults only service to make you look more foolish. And for the love of nature, please don't tell me you'll pray for me, because again, it means nothing to me. If you WANT to pray for me specifically, I guess knock yourself out but I don't really care, and you're wasting your breath telling me that you'll be doing so because again, it doesn't matter to me (or other non-xtians) and really it just makes you look like a pompous and obnoxious, judgmental, condescending person.

justnoel said...

I have sat here behind my computer and read her story and most of the comments and one thing caught my attention. You can deny god but you cant deny the Lord Jesus History not the bible proves he was. now i know that the Jesus some church preach is not the Jesus of the bible. The Jesus I serve doesnt leave me second guessing He Gave me brains and I use them, and Jesus through the power of the holy spirit guides me.
And as thomas said He jesus is my Lord and my God. I am not here to convince you one way or the other but this one thing i wish is that you would come to know Him as the Christ of Calvary the living God.
for I doubt that Theressa ever knew him as such.
Yours in christ Jesus.
Justnoel