Hi all. I've been part of ex-christian.net for awhile, and atheist myself for a little under a year (coming up in May!) I'm the granddaughter of a faith-healing cult leader, and was raised pretty whacky. Home birth, home school, home church, etc. No radio, limited TV, no pop culture. Saw a lot of things no adult should see, much less a child. I'm seeing a therapist who specializes in trauma and cult recovery and she's awesome, so I'm getting better. Until this past year I didn't know I'd been raised in a cult, because we were always told we were christians, read from the same bible, etc. and as we got older attended other non-denominational churches. It's only been very recently that I started to actively question my faith and the reasons behind it. The things that helped me wake up:

1. My son. No way was my little infant child guilty of original sin. Period. I can't express how huge this moment was for me, having always believed *I* was inherently evil. I just couldn't feel the same way about my son.

2. Islam. I was a International Relations major in college (dual with American History) and my focus was Israel/Palestine and larger Middle East. So I made a lot of Muslim female friends and studied the I/P conflict in great detail from both sides. Clearly the I/P clusterf*ck is due to religion (darn Jerusalem), and there's no way I was going to believe the claims of Islam. So then I started to question why I believed the Bible.

3. History. In a 1800-1850s US History class we read about utopian societies and cults. Everyone else in class thought it was weird, but to me it seemed familiar. That's when I started researching my grandmother's name and ministry and realized I'd been brought up in a cult myself.

Those three things all sort of stewed in my head for about 2.5 years of non-church attendance and a bad marriage/divorce. In the end I found a lot of good atheist videos on YouTube (KEEP MAKING THESE) and started reading Dawkins, Hitchens, etc. and just came to the conclusion that god is imaginary. Oh, and the site whywontgodhealamputees.com was really instrumental for me, since I grew up totally believing in faith healing, and this pointed out a lot of stats and studies showing how spectacularly god fails in laboratory settings.

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Cool. I can't imagine you were allowed to trick or treat as a child were you?
on Satan's holiday? Of course not! lol, it's a lot of fun now, doing things like sleeping in on Sundays, going trick or treating, using swear words... All the simple pleasures of life are so much grander. Heck, I didn't hear a radio until 1995.
So... Purely for curiosities sake.... What did your family do on Halloween? Do you turn off the lights and hide or did you answer the door and preach to the children?
Hey, I know you asked Angie this, and I am looking forward to her response... but since I was a JW, I went through the same thing, too. Our family made a big night of it. We turned off all the lights upstairs and covered up anywhere where light from downstairs might get out. Then we got some snacks and spent the night huddled up in the basement watching TV. As if it was a freaking nuclear attack - nope, just a bunch of kids at the door! They'd knock, ring, shout, get discouraged, and finally leave.
We got sent to bed early, and when kids would knock or ring the bell we'd scream at them through our bedroom windows "Go away!" No basements in Florida, and my parent-figures weren't real big on "family time". More like "send the kids to their rooms time".
I was in a xian cult been atheist since Oct 2006. Welcome to the other side I'm so glad you came out of it.

Original Sin doesn't exist, but the concept of Original Sin actually is pretty much the root of all evil. Convincing people that they are inherently evil is, well, inherently evil. Religion has a lot to answer for, but this one is the biggie. It's the foundation of BS that all the other lies of religion are built on.

This is why creationists strive so mightily against evolution. If humans are the product of evolution, then there was no Adam and Eve. If they didn't exist, then there was no Fall, no Original Sin. If there was no Original Sin, then Christ's sacrifice makes no sense, and Christianity collapses in a puff of logic.
"Convincing people that they are inherently evil is, well, inherently evil."

That is a great line.
In my recent poll (check out my A/N blog for the results) more people indicated believing in Original Sin than Literal Creation. Which sort of makes no sense.
That might be a Roman Catholic thing (Original sin but not literal creation), although I'm very out of the loop about what the RC church teaches these days.

Hey Angie,

Thank you for sharing this.  I was wondering if you or anyone reading this has any resources for deprogramming.  Phone counselling would be great.


I was led through a variety of cultish religions and beliefs throughout my life.  Growing up, my family members were extremely Catholic.  My mother also believed in the occult and freaky things like contacting spirits and house hauntings.  As an older child, she told me I was a witch, that our whole family is, and that scared the crap out of me since I'd been raised to fear witches.  Soon I was able to switch my beliefs to follow hers but her beliefs kept changing and she always was gullible to the psychics, healers, and she believed it so strongly that I was indoctrinated, too.  She later went back to Christianity, including the belief of experienceing Divine presense and freaky stuff like that, and I felt it was a betrayal to the other beliefs she'd taught me.  At the same time, my best friend was a born-again evangelical and spent a few years drumming extreme Christian thought in my head. 


I really started to break down mentally.  I couldn't handle having all these beliefs in my head.  As "trusting" and "blind faith" had been such virtues and ideals in my family, I felt I'd become so malleable that I would believe any and every new religion or cult I was introduced to.  I believed there was a Christian god, I believed all the Hindu gods were real, I believed one could meditate and "commune" with Siddhartha, I believed there was a pagan Goddess and God (but I was afraid of them because I thought the rituals were real), I believed all the Greek gods and goddesses used to exist but they'd changed form.  The scariest part was that I believed in "magick" and "Aleister Crowly" and people who tried to teach me how to manipulate energy and make an "energy ball."  I was terrified of black magic and evil spirits.  I was convinced people could read my mind (someone actually did it very accurately when I was young and ever since I had a phobia of so-called mind readers.)


I've had other trauma in my life and have worked with psychologists, but when they'd try to "ground" me during my phobia it didn't work, because in my "reality" the "evil spirits" were still there.  What I needed was convincing that all that scary stuff wasn't real.


Over the past two months I've done a lot of reading and I now consider myself an Atheist, but I still get triggered into being afraid of the "otherworldly."  My therapist specializes in trauma, but not in deprogramming or cults.  I'd love to find someone who could help with this.


After my own cult experience, I did some research into what constituted a cult. I bought three books and read them all. My wife has since gotten rid of them, and I'm having a hard time remembering what they all were, but I do remember this one: Captive Hearts, Captive Minds

I highly recommend it.




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