I seem to have a really big problem with religious trigger words.  Especially of the bad variety.  I've been coming on this site for a few months now and it's been really helpful.  I've found a lot of rational arguments so that I am not as terrified as I was before.  But it seems like scary religious words like devil and hell are all over the place.  Anything from listening to music, to watching TV/Film, reading articles/newspapers, going on Facebook, or just simply having everyday conversations with people.


And the kicker is that most of the times these people aren't even referring to the christian devil or the christian concept of hell, they're just words in every day speak.  Now they're allegorical or symbolic or whatever. 


It just really bugs me that I can be doing really well and feeling safe and then I read an article that's not even about religion, but they'll compare someone to the devil and it sets me off again with my terror of the devil.


I've read different website articles and books to get rid of the fear.  What-the-hell-is-hell is a good website to refute the concept of hell even from a christian perspective.  And I've even read a site that says satan was just a tool of god, that god used, there is no evidence in the bible that satan is the devil or the serpent, etc.  also that the name Lucifer wasn't referring to the devil.


I've found good sites that talk about how the concept of hell is BS, that the Hebrew word literally meant the grave Gehenna.


But because devils supposedly "exist" in other religions, not just Christianity, it's so hard for me to deal with this fear of the devil.  If the Christians just incorporated the good vs. evil concept from Zoroastrianism, then how do we know Zoroastrianism is false?


Most religions I've ever read about all have some concept of evil forces, spirits, demons, devils, etc.  It's so hard to let go of that fear that there is something evil in the world that can hurt me and punish me. 


I've stopped believing in the supernatural.  But then why am I still afraid of it?  Why do I still get triggered?  How can I still have the fear when I don't have the faith? 


I think I know the answer, is that these religions are so insidious.  They use fear because it is the most basic primal emotion, because self-preservation is the strongest drive of humans and other animals.  We have an overactive fear, an overactive imagination, we are tormented by the things preached to us as real when we were so little.


But that doesn't help to kick the fear out of my brain.  Leaving religion is like a supernatural horror story.  A psychological thriller.  It's not real, but it seems so real.  I can't stand to watch that stuff, it really validates the fear of the supernatural.


I feel so lost, so helpless, so ashamed of myself for feeling this way, but I need to get better so I have to say it. 


There is no devil. 


There is no hell.  


There is no punishment. 


There is no retribution.


I don't have to believe in it.  It isn't true anyway.  I don't have to have faith.  It isn't true anyway.  I don't need to have fear.  It isn't true anyway.  I'm still a good person. 


Anything in my head is just imagination, fed by religion, occult, spirituality, film, books, TV, and any bad things that have happened in my life.  It's all rolled up into one big thing in my head.  One big fear image.  And when I hear those words, I think of the big fear image.  And it feels threatening.  But I need to know that it's not.  Nothing can harm me.  Nothing supernatural can harm me.  It's made up.  It's make believe.  It's simply not real.


I can convince myself of this.  I know I can do it.  One day I will achieve freedom for real.







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It was hard for me too while I was going through the process of leaving my faith but one day I reached  what I would call the saturation point of the stupidity of the premise of religion and 100's of other illogical aspects of having faith and I never had any kind of problem of fearing hell again and that was 30 years ago.


Even when I went through a mid-life crisis and got really depressed, I had no inclinations whatsoever to doubt that decision I made so long ago to leave the stupidity behind. I have enough to deal with without all that terrible nonsense (religion) making things even harder because you can't see clearly when you allow yourself to be blinded with religious nonsense.

Hi Linda. That's great you were able to leave it all behind :-) I can't wait for my day of freedom. It feels like I achieve the intelligence to dismiss it but then it pops up when I'm emotional and I have to relearn what I just learned. As if I have amnesia, it's so frustrating. I would love to hear how it all got to the saturation point of stupidity for you.
I'm sorry it took me so long to reply. To answer your question as simply as I can, I would say it was not even a conscious decision. I became so inundated with fear and doubts that I think my subconscious just busted out a message to my consciousness "ENOUGH OF THIS BS!" Otherwise, I think I would have lost my mind.   
Yes there are certain trigger words that make me cringe, it is only to be expect after 20 years of psychological, sometimes physical abuse. I don't think you can blame yourself. I still wished I could have done better -be better despite the unfavorable circumstances, with the cards stacked against me, but you just have to let it go at some point - admit you are not invulnerable to extreme levels of stress. We are shaped by our environments, and comparing those with a smooth start to life, with those who suffered through treacherous beginnings is folly.
Hi Will Faithless Sophia. Thank you so much for the support. I'm sorry you suffered through abuse, too. It's true we can't compare ourselves to others. It's so much more freeing to be an atheist and know we didn't cause all the trauma, it wasn't some punishment or retribution. I think the abuse is exactly why I've always felt so "haunted" and having most people around me believe in woo only enforced that I somehow "wanted" or "deserved" what was going on. Good thing for support here!

ty for sharing this.


I just joined this group, but I needed to reply and say thank you.


I am glad I am not the only dealing with this terror. (even though I am not glad you are terrified :) )


My trigger words are "blessing" and "miracle" and yes, devil, too.  I have been replacing them with other words, such as "advantage", "amazement" and "evil".



Hi Jencarlene.  I'm glad it's helpful for you!  I hope you get over your fears quickly, too!
If you've ever suffered from sleep paralysis, then you know how real-seeming the devil can be. Still, evidence is on your side as a non-believer. There is a lack of evidence for any sort of devil (save the one in Tasmania) as much as there is a lack of evidence for a god. Whence does the devil come from? I like the idea that it was conjured up by ancient man to explain illness and the predators who lay in the dark and unknown wilderness. Even as early as colonization in the US, the devil was reputed to be found in the untamed forests. Old Scratch, they'd call him. I think it's that instinctual fear that kept us from stupidly going into the wild at night, way back when, manefesting itself in a humanesque form.

I'm afraid of heights, so I choose to face it head on. Maybe do the same with your fear. Watch horror movies with a devil theme, get it out of your system...
I know what you're going through. I have been going through a similar 'religious trigger' problem myself. I have found that reading "Christian No More - A personal journey of leaving christianity" by Jeffrey Mark to be particularly helpful.

I was just talking to my friend about this the other day. I still fear devils and demons and sometimes hell, although I know its all crap! But the lies of indoctrination run deep and I know it may be a while before I (or any new atheist I suppose) will be able to let it go. Don't feel bad. Things will get better.

Peace & Love,


Chantal, it is going to take a long time to erase the programs in the hard drive.  I still hear that stupid song "Jesus love me" all of the time and it is making me sick.

Yes, the social and emotional part of the brain needs to unlearn all that stuff as well. Dr. Stephen Uhl (former Catholic priest, turned atheist and psychologist) urges us to be patient with people as they unlearn at different rates.

Maybe reclaiming the songs with new words will help!

From The Humanist Hymnal by Jerry Phillips:

Mother loves me, this I know,
For she smiles and tells me so.
When I need someone to care,
I know she is always there.

Yes, Mother loves me.
Yes, Mother loves me.
Yes, Mother loves me,
She smiles and tells me so.

Father loves me, this I know.
For he smiles and tells me so.
In his strong and loving arms,
I'm protected from all harm.

Yes, Father loves me.
Yes, Father loves me.
Yes, Father loves me,
He smiles and tells me so.

(He also has plenty of reworked Christmas carols, including "There Is No Hell" to the tune of The First Noel, and other hymns, including "Amazing Place" to the tune of Amazing Grace.)

Another site: John Perkins' Anthology of Humanist Songs.

And we have a whole new set of words to the Hallelujah Chorus, created this last December by two A|N members.


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