Not long ago I received the following email from Ed Owens, who lives in Missouri and attends a Church of Christ there with his wife, who still believes. Here’s what he said:
He's reading this. Any encouragement or helpful advice would be appreciated.
I'm a 50 year old man from Missouri who preached for almost 30 years for the Church of Christ. Several months ago I read Joe Holman’s article at minister turns atheist and began my study of why he would do such a thing. I am now convinced by my own studies of the absurdity of the book called the Bible. My family on both sides are all members of the church and are now giving me pure hell about it. I'm seeing a psychologist at the request of all the family. They seem to think she will reconvert me, I guess. That's their knee-jerk response; I must be coo coo or something like that.In another email he added:
I was raised in a Church of Christ family and was baptized at the age of 19 by my sibling brother who is an Evangelist for the Church of Christ. We are the one cup one loaf no Sunday School group. My wife also has the same roots in the Church and still does. My brother and I married sisters. He got the younger and I got the older. He is eight years older than me. My wife is seven years and a few months older than I am. She was married before to the same guy twice while away from the church. When she returned and confessed her unfaithfulness to the church and asked God's forgiveness she was reinstated as a member in good standing.I told him that until he put his foot down they wouldn’t leave him alone, so he composed the following letter and read it after last Wednesday's services:
I began preaching in 1978 at the tender age of 20 and gave it all fervor and conviction that I could muster. My Dad was a preacher for the CofC and an Elder for many years so you could say I was following in his steps as was two of my siblings besides me.
I came across Joe Holman's article on the internet entitled “minister turns atheist” and I couldn't help but wonder what would posses someone who was once a minister to turn to atheism. To make a long story short I studied his arguments and many other atheist arguments and found the Scriptures severely lacking in credibility and accuracy. I've been in touch with Joe and have corresponded quite often in the past few months.
I left the church and had it announced last Wednesday evening of my intentions. It came as quite a shock to some but not to all. My poor wife came unhinged when she began to discover my intentions. She has settled down somewhat in the past week. I told her I would attend with her on Sundays if she wanted and of course she does. How long that will last I have no idea. It is very difficult to set through a service and listen to a message that is full of error and conjecture and not be tempted to jump up and declare, "It is a bunch of hooey!" You know what hooey is, don't you? I thought so. DUNG! MANURE! KA-KA!
When the de-conversion started I was devastated!!! I felt like I had been lied to all my life. I was raised to believe the scriptures were without error and had no contradictions whatsoever. When I took the blinders off and began to see the multitude of errors and contradictions I became angry and tried to point them out to my Evangelist brother, who by the way had been my mentor all my life, and how he might see the truth of all this. You can imagine the result. He began to tell me how deluded I was and not to read that junk, as he called it, it would just confuse me and warp my mind. I tried time after time to illustrate the errors to him but he would not hear of it. He and I no longer speak to each other. He's refused to answer my email because he can't control the situation by his overpowering personality and make me shut up!
I've tried subtly to show others the errors and to no avail. I've even been told to quit trying to proselyte members. Any advice you can give me I sure would appreciate it!!! My wife belittles me at every turn claiming that I'm headed for Hell if I don't change and repent. My brother likewise gives me fits. He is an Evangelist for the church and at one time my dearest and closest friend, past tense!
It has come to my attention that some folks believe I have lost my mind. I believe the term was mentally ill. Let me assure you each and everyone that is not the case.Then the shit hit the fan. Here’s what he wrote me last night afterwards:
I stand before you this evening to set the record straight. I AM NOT MENTALLY ILL.
I am quite sane, I assure you. If this does not persuade you then you may call my analyst, who I have been seeing at the request of family and friends, and will verify what I have just said. I have given written legal permission to divulge my mental state.
People sincerely disagree on a host of issues, from who should be the next President, to which diet is best for losing weight. No one ever thinks to say that people who disagree about such issues is mentally ill. So why should that be the case here? Many of us have decided to walk away from the Christian faith, including former Church of Christ preachers Farrell Till, Joe Holman and John W. Loftus. I no longer believe for the same reasons you don't accept Islam or Mormonism, and no one considers those who don't believe them to be mentally ill for doing so.
Now, that having been said, I wish to make some things crystal clear so that not a single person misunderstands why I am up here.
1. I am no longer a member of the church.
2. I do NOT need reconverting PLEASE RESIST THE TEMPTATION TO TRY!
3. I will not debate, verbally converse, or argue with ANYONE on the issues surrounding my decision to leave the church.
4. If you feel so disposed to chastise me, I reserve the right to respond in kind. When you do, realize that you are only reinforcing my decision by not showing that you care for me as a person.
5. I still love each and every one of you irregardless of your feelings toward me. I really do.
6. I may attend services from time to time out of respect, but I will be attending less and less, since it would be no different for you if you were asked to attend a Jewish service, which you don't believe. I admire your convictions even if I do not share in them.
7. I have been accused of trying to de-convert members with emails. I submit material for consideration by email and when I am told to stop, I DO!
In conclusion, I understand your concern for my spiritual well being. You have voiced it and I have heard. Now, please stop. I am assuming full responsibility for my own actions from this point forward.
You will not appreciate my decision I am sure, but you are going to have to learn to accept it because I am confident upon the ground I stand.
I read the letter to the congregation after services had concluded and it was instant fireworks! My brother had to put in his two cents worth.Why in the hell do Christians have to make it so hard on us when we no longer believe? I’m proud of Ed. He did what was necessary and right. He's one of our unsung heroes. And I’m also proud of his wife for loving Ed enough to leave that church over it.
He claimed the analyst was my own decision, which was a lie, and then shouted that I was dis-fellowshipped. I thought that was really strange since I had just announced my own leaving of the faith. I asked if I was banned from the church assemblies and he said no, there was no need for me to attend ‘cause I would just be a hypocrite by doing so. I should have called him on the carpet right in front of everyone about not following scriptural process of dis-fellowship, but I didn't, I just walked out.
I know I did the right thing but now my wife has no intention of attending that congregation any longer. She says she will attend where my daughter goes.
Thanks again for your support.
He's reading this. Any encouragement or helpful advice would be appreciated.