Alex, yes you have been brainwashed, yes it is "a bit scary to look this stuff in the face".
YOU, however, are a thinker, thus you have arrived here. I am also a person who had found it frightening, so I get it.
Hi Winthorpe - I grew up in a cult as well (Home in Zion). It gets easier to face in time. I spent the first several months after realizing my brainwashing stoned out of my mind, so I think you're doing great :p
I was raised in a Southern Baptist fundie family. I was the family 'scape goat' and while everyone around me could do no wrong, it seemed that I could never do anything right. I remember that I used to pray to god every night to help me be the kind of person my family wanted (from about 4 until I was 7) and god never listened to me, so I assumed that god too must think I was the worst person on the face of the earth.
When I was in my mid 20's I moved a couple of counties away from my family, which allowed me to meet people who helped me to break out of the mold that my family had put me in. I think being referred to as 'innocent' was what first got me to thinking, wondering what else my family had lied to me about. Suddenly, I wasn't so evil... suddenly I was a 'good' person... then suddenly I started learning about different religions, beliefs and traditions... suddenly (I'm not sure when exactly) I was an atheist.
I do remember the first time that I said out loud that I did not believe in Jesus, or god... I felt startled that this came from my mouth... then I felt a sense of relief and freedom that I had never felt before.
My name's Kitty. I was born into a Fundamentalist Baptist family. My dad's parents were fundamentalists and so were my parents. We attended a Baptist church in Ohio and learned all about hell fire and brimstone, and occasionally of the love of God. I went to bible school in the local Lutheran church, which was a bit more liberal, and I liked their rituals and music better. At the Lutheran church, there was a young man who molested me (he was 18, I was 10 or 11). I thought it was OK because many of the people in our Baptist church were older men with younger wives (women who could bear them many children). I didn't like it when other, older men molested me, though, but I thought I had to because I'd been taught in no uncertain terms that men were in charge of women and they know best.
Then I learned about fornication being a sin and felt really guilty and dirty. After all, it was MY fault, due to Eve's influence, the fall of humans etc. I had somehow tempted them, simply by being a female. I was so ashamed, and I felt wicked and repented a lot.
Later on, there were Baptist Bible camp days and youth groups, with the word of God beat into us, basically.
They'd have big bonfires of rock and roll records at the youth group outings. I wouldn't participate in them because I didn't like the pollution aspect. But of course our youth pastor would just tell us that this earth would soon pass away anyhow and Jesus would bring us a new heaven and a new earth. I didn't believe it was OK to pollute like that though, and my parents just told me not to be such a liberal.
By my early teens I was a hot little number, and liked to make out with the boys, and sometimes the girls in the back seat. Usually we were two couples. I remember feeling things were getting a little too heavy once, so I sat up and called out the name of Jesus. Out loud. (pastor had said if we find ourselves tempted, call upon Jesus and the temptation will disappear). HA! The temptation disappeared alright! My girlfriend still brings it up!~ Everybody in that car was pissed off at me that night!
My parents were heavy handed with discipline. They believed "he that spareth the rod hateth his son... if you beat him, he will not surely die." So, I guess they figured it's in the Bible, so do it.
Instead of making me honor them, I hated them for it.
So I rebelled and if I got in trouble I'd run away instead of going home to face the music.
At age 14 I ran and when caught later by the cops, I was taken to the detention home. Actually, it was weird. Even though I was locked in a cage, I was freer there than at home. I could talk about what was on my mind, and not have to censor myself.
Soon, a woman from United Way told my folks about a program at Akron General Medical Center for troubled people like myself.
Soon, I was in the psych ward, with the psychiatrists telling my parents they could change my way of thinking and make me more compliant. So I was locked up with adults, put on heavy medication that made me walk and talk funny, and given shock treatments. Guess what? Adult men on medication had sex with me, a teen on medication in the hospital. I had 10 or 11 shock treatments and then my dad's insurance ran out. So I was sent to a Fundamentalist Baptist home for troubled girls in Louisiana called New Bethany Home for Girls. I was still coming off the drugs, and was supposed to take some pills to prevent bad things from happening while my body detoxed. BUT since God heals, the pills were thrown away and I ended up in a hospital after convulsing from going cold turkey.
This place was nuts. But being straight from the hospital with my mind all wangled up, I was ripe for indoctrination. Nothing much was different, just stricter. And man the prejudice that was spewed from that pulpit. (Noah's son, Ham?, who looked upon Noah when passed out drunk had his seed cursed and so there began the black race). There was much physical abuse; the place was eventually raided and shut down decades later.
I came back home never wearing pants and generally pissing off my parents by being so devout.
I was sent to a baptist school and so the dogma continued.
Eventually I met and married a man who believed in the patriarchal family structure and we married and had a couple kids. He cheated on me a lot, and I felt it was my fault for not satisfying him.
We eventually divorced. Since he moved in with his mother, they got custody of my babies, since I was only one woman and they were a whole family.
I felt betrayed by God, whom I knew I had honored because I wouldn't even bring up my husband's infidelity in court, knowing it would not be pleasing to God. Also I felt betrayed because my pastor lied in court (good man of God, that) and when I asked him why, he said that I belonged to my ex and had no business on my own.
Soon I read the Bible on my own without study guides. What a horrible book. What a nasty rotten god.
Got into paganism for a while, and am still considered a witch if you count the herbals. I like the rituals, as there's a lot of symbolism.
The best church for me was the Unitarian Universalist Church, because you can be pagan, christian, or atheist, and even we had transgenders in key leadership roles... I liked it because my kids learned about a broad religious spectrum, and there was a lot of political and humanitarian work done.
However, my kids did not want to go anymore, so we quit. I wouldn't force them.
Always have taken my rest in nature, and so the American Indian stories made sense to me.
Since I saw What The Bleep Do We Know, I figured a god is more a cosmic connection... a quantum connection, if anything at all.
But I truly think there is no deity. Nope. We are all connected alright, because we're made of the same stardust. I am so grateful for Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion. This book helped me immensely.
Now, I trust in logic, science and nature.
It's much happier here. And Truth? It does NOT betray!
•The ongoing fear of Hell
•Rejection from family members
•Loss of community
Thanks for this group. I can honestly say that I'm free from feelings of guilt. As an ex-Jehovah's Witness, I'm also free from fear of destruction in Armageddon(Witnesses don't believe in Hell as a place of fiery torment). But the rejection from family and the complete loss of the community that was my life for more than thirty years affects me everyday. I have no regrets, but it hasn't been easy.
After 30-years of Christianity--I am now 35--and questioning the tenants of that faith for the past seven years, and a rough past 6-9 months of personal introspection, I am ever-so-happy to learn that I'm not alone in this quest for truth, and indeed that the truth is so much better than the lies I had once believed!
Anyway, today is my day to declare myself as an Atheist!
I can remember being 26 years old and knowing that if I were to ever function normally in society. I needed professional help. I eventually hooked up with a Psychiatric institute run by a psychiatrist and his psychologist wife. My family was extremely dysfunctional and the reasons for my behavior and responses in society were quite clearly explained to me. One of the things they said that had enhanced my quick recovery was not only that I was bright, but that I was extremely honest and never hesitated to tell them the exact truth. Eventually ( in 5 months) they cured me completely and I started getting laid on a regular basis, invited to parties and became adept at talking to large crowds. (I never could quite manifest a pastrami on rye from thin air but I was quite good at getting cabs when I needed one) (and I DON'T get lost)
The clincher to all this treatment and psychodrama 3 times a week was, and I want everyone to note this quietly; I was told that if I EVER again talked to or visited my family, called them, wrote them, read about them or discussed them with mutual friends: then the deal was off and I would revert back to who I was before therapy. They were right. I followed their advice to the letter. Now, 42 years later I have relented and occasionally talk to a sister that was born after I left home forever. Even so, I still stutter and gag when I do so and she had NOTHING to do with my upbringing. Disowning your family is really not impossible or something "I could never do"...you don't choose your family but you CAN choose one hell of a lot of people that are better than your family...you can bet on that.
I am an entirely different person than those in my family now...I became a chatter box, extended my education, became an owner of businesses, was very successful and am happily retired on my own land in a house I built myself. I traveled the world, was a skydiver for years, worked on merchant ships plying the 7 seas, worked at a huge variety of jobs actually, have had various adventures, experiences to fill a lifetime, have done all the things other men wish and dream of doing and have done everything I ever wanted to do. I have had many girlfriends and live-with female companions, got out of an ill considered marriage after one year and did so unscathed, and generally am happy with my current associations and old friends. Life is good...don't let family interfere with attaining a complete, happy fulfilling life. They aren't worth it.
Hi all! My name is Libby & I am a recovering baptist. =) I am so excited to find this 'support group'! About me... My dad is a pastor of a very extreme form of a baptist church - I mean, no drinking, no smoking, no pants on women, no movies, or you will burn in hell crazy stuff. I went to a christian school and then to a bible college of the same stripe. I met my husband there & we've been married now for 7 years. My husband, having been 'called to preach', graduated and became a pastor himself. A little over a year ago, he came to the conclusion that all was not what it seemed & decided to investigate & see for himself if what he's been taught and believed all his life were indeed, the truth. Then he shared with me his doubts and his findings & it wasn't long before I joined him in the atheistic view. Of course it wasn't as simple as that. There were many hurdles to cross and many questions to answer, but in the end, it was inevitable that the god of the bible, in fact, all gods, are highly unlikely.
Our parents didn't find out about our de-conversion until a few months ago & it's been pretty dramatic all around. His mom is slowly coming to an understanding, we believe, but my parents are pretty adamant that we are wrong & rebellious, and going to send our children(we have 2 kids, ages 4 & 3) to hell. Oh, and we are also the only children & our kids are the only grandchildren(yay!), so it's been quite stressful...
This journey has caused us to pretty much lose everything and everyone we've known and loved all our lives. It was very sad and depressing at first, to be forsaken by pretty much everybody and admitting that the one 'being' whom you thought would never leave me...doesn't exist. But now both my husband and I are very happy to be free. We can now enjoy life without trying to impress the man in the sky, without worrying about the souls of men heading to hell, and without feeling guilty for not living up to a ridiculous standard.
I am really looking forward to getting to know other like-minded people on this site! Thank you to the founders of Atheist Nexus for this opportunity! =)