I recently signed up to volunteer for 'Recovering from Religion.' http://recoveringfromreligion.org/

I had to furnish contact information for two individuals.

My perspective is that religion causes people to suffer in a variety of ways, and I'm trying to reduce that suffering.

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Comment by Andrew Bradford Hoke on August 11, 2014 at 8:14am

Tom it sounds like you really found the right thing. I think it's helpful for people to tell their own stories to someone who will listen without judgment. In fact I think it's helpful for both parties. 

Comment by tom sarbeck on August 10, 2014 at 11:17pm

Andrew, ten years as a volunteer in a conflict resolution program persuaded me that helping others was the best way I could have helped myself.

I learned so much in the training for the work that I right away asked to repeat the training. The coordinator okayed my request and there followed a re-education better than any I could have imagined. I learned how to resolve conflict before it escalated to verbal violence.

Comment by Andrew Bradford Hoke on August 10, 2014 at 9:52pm

Think of the powerful programming we all went through. I have likened this to the installation of malware on your 'wetware.'

Intensive programming from an early age is not undone overnight. I don't feel like I'm 100% free of my programming, but I can in a sense 'see the light at the end of the tunnel.'

I'm really hoping that I'll get approved to help people through Recovering from Religion because it seems like an excellent organization, and what Dr. Ray is doing resonates with me. If not I'll just keep doing what I'm doing.

Comment by Andrew Bradford Hoke on August 10, 2014 at 9:11pm

Wow, thanks for sharing your stories. I seem to keep finding people who felt and still feel real trauma that comes directly from religion.

I consider a Bible to be a book that is not suitable for children - every rotten thing in the world is in that book, isn't it?

I was lucky (by comparison) to be brought up as a Presbyterian. Still, there were the absurdities I was told to repeat. How could I say "I believe" this or that if I didn't believe it? Wasn't I supposed to be true to myself?

Almost all the other families were RC, and I was really surprised to learn about their experiences. Terryfying stories about nuns, physical and psychological abuse and threats of hell - this was elementary school!

I still get the occasional 'pang' that God is watching and I'm hellbound, but then I think through it, I talk myself down and I feel ok again...

Religion causes suffering to my fellow humans, and I'd like to try and reduce that suffering.

Comment by C.J. on August 10, 2014 at 6:07pm

I was raised Roman Catholic.  The church ceremonies did little damage.  From my youngest days I found the rituals unbearably boring, and would simply zone out during the times I was forced to attend mass.  Catholic school was another matter entirely,  I endured 12 years of catholic "education," the first eight years of which was pure hell.   It took me years to purge most of the effects of those toxic experiences from my psyche.  The purge is not yet complete.

Comment by tom sarbeck on August 10, 2014 at 5:01pm

Almost 60 years after quitting Catholicism, I still feel moments of anger about the harm it did.

To 12 years of Irish-dominated Catholic school indoctrination, add the silent obedience my ethnic German parents demanded, and:

1. in my teens I prayed harder but it failed,

2. I briefly envied the "calm" of insanity,

3. in my early 20's I was a serious prude,

3. who needed a trauma to break out.

My 1930s Depression-era sometimes violent parents gave me that trauma. After two years in the Navy and three years in college, my mom told me I was too lazy to get a job. I very angrily threw them and their religion out of my life. One night I reached for the 22 caliber gun I had, and in that moment realized that my life was neither the Church's nor theirs, but mine.

Everything improved. I finished college and after a year in grad school found work I liked that paid me well. I married a woman who also for traumatic reasons wanted no kids. Some more trauma in hardball politics helped me deal with my anger at my dad. When I next spent time with him I briefly considered pounding him into the ground like a nail but realized I no longer needed to.

He had sent five kids to Catholic schools and before he died he knew we had all quit. I guess it was our revenge.

I learned from relatives of his trauma. His sometimes violent parents took him out of school after 6th grade to help them pay to send two sisters to RC high school. I don't know if he would have known the doubt that many in-school teens know. He married in 1928, about when the Church "went to war" against birth control. I was out of school when his twin sister killed herself. True to his ethnic German upbringing, he held everything in.

At 83 I still occasionally feel some anger at everything Catholic.

Comment by Bertold Brautigan on August 10, 2014 at 1:58pm

I usually refer to myself as a "happily retired Catholic," but I do still have anger with religion, and it's a bit difficult sorting out what's personal anger and what's legitimate anger based on general principles considering the history of the church. I don't disagree with Bertrand Russell who called the Catholic Church the most evil organization on the face of the earth. If you can spell inquisition you shouldn't have any trouble at all being repelled by all they stand for and mystified that any decent person would choose to be associated with them even today. Along with their criminal history that would rival the NAZIs, they to this day deluge unsuspecting people with drastic misinformation such as their claim, decried by the WHO, that prophylactics don't stop the AIDS virus and their relentless propagandizing against enjoyment of sex and for increasing the population. I endured eight years of a Catholic education. They had good pedagogy, but their content sucked big time.  I guess I was a bit precocious, because my belief started wavering long about sixth grade and never really bounced back. Luckily my immediate family didn't take it too seriously. I just had one granny who was the stereotyped little old lady more Catholic than the pope, and I was a disappointment to her for not becoming a priest.

Comment by Michael Penn on August 10, 2014 at 12:57pm

That's a good idea. I like to think that I'm also recovering from religion. I do have anger, but my anger is at my parents who got me into religion in the first place. It's hard to be angry with god when you realize that he doesn't exist. (Theists always think you are angry with god.)

What I need to be aware of is that I'm angry with my parents for much more reasons than just religion. My deceased mother lied to me about many things, mostly because she thought I didn't need to know. I never knew my real father, and my step-father had to be pretty much like my mother for them to get along. Some of the family told me some truth as I went along, and I was going to learn much more from my favorite uncle, but he died before my mother did. I think I know more than my step-father on past and origin, but it's too late to learn more now. Almost anyone that would know is dead.

My belief is that my parents were going to "redeem" themselves by getting me into religion and having me be "the preacher." It's true that I have issues with them, but if none of this would have ever happened it's very possible that I would not be atheist today. Even anger has to have an open mind.


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