It is difficult sometimes for me since I am an atheist and my wife is a devout evangelical Christian. We met 7 years ago Sunday, and she asked me when we first met if I was “saved.” I told her I had been, thinking I was. As it turns out I wasn’t. What happened was one day I went to church with a friend of mine’s mom. At the time I was pretty much homeless and her and her husband were letting me stay with them temporarily. I went to church with my friend’s mom, and at the end of the service the preacher asked if there was “anyone here who has not accepted Jesus as their personal lord and savior.” I raised my hand, not realizing that I would be asked to come down and ask Jesus to be my lord and savior in front of the whole church! Well, out of fear I did, thinking I had no choice. Later when I met my wife and she asked me if I was saved I told her yes because I thought I had been saved since I had went through the ritual of it, not knowing that what she considered saved was “accepting Jesus into your heart.” Now I realize that I should have clarified things when I first met my wife, but that’s in the past and I can’t change that now. Thus, when we got married I agreed to go to church with her and I have.

Eventually, out of fear again and pressure from my wife I got baptized. Being the coward that I am sometimes, in order to get baptized I got high on dextromethorphan, the drug that is in Robitussin. My wife didn’t know this, but eventually I told her. So to counter the intoxicated blasphemous baptism, I got baptized again sober. I got saved again, but this time also I feel it was out of ritual. The pastor asked everyone to come down and recite a prayer and I did, and then got baptized. I went to church and studied my Bible and became to believe, if not on just a superstitious level. But in time I heard a sermon over gematria, which is just numerology and superstition. So what little faith I had began to crumble at that point.

I quit going to church, but a couple of years later, after a separation from my wife, and after telling her I am an atheist, I went back to church. This was about four months ago. Since then I read a book, a couple of books that is, by Dr. Bart D. Ehrman. He is an evangelical preacher Biblical scholar turned atheist. He explains how the Bible is not “the inerrant word of God,” but a human book with human errors. The Bible comes from an oral tradition and wasn’t even written down until 30-40 years after Jesus, and the Gospels weren’t even written by the authors attached to the books (the disciples Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). Biblical scholars know this, most of whom are Christian; and the preachers learn this in seminary school, but the evangelical Christian preachers like the one’s at the church my wife and I attend know this, though they don't "believe it.". So I took it upon myself to email the pastor and his brother who also preaches and tell them that they are incorrect in telling people the Bible is the inerrant word of God, that it has errors, and that they should know this. Also I told them that their telling my wife this was causing her and I problems. I feel my wife is coming around, but there is probably no hope for the pastors. I have received a response and anticipate that I will talk to them about this in person soon. I wonder what they think knowing now that they have an atheist in their church.

Anyway, that’s my story for now, will update you as things develop. 

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Comment by Laila on July 15, 2017 at 8:52pm

Richard, thanks for sharing your story.   I have recently become an Atheist after being religious and or what I called 'spiritual' for a large part of my adult life.  When I was in my 20's and 30's I tried so hard to accept the lies of religion as truth. A part of mind just could never completely accept all of the "tall tales" and contradictions of the Bible and other 'holy books' as the truth.  No matter how hard I tried. I really tried.  I went from church to church hoping to find answers and to find 'God' never quite realizing that what I was searching for never even existed.  The only thing I found was constant judgment, self righteousness, narrow mindedness, and lots of 'ism's'. Meaning classism, racism, sexism, etc...    I never even realized that religion gave me a lot of fear about death. Since I have become an atheist I hardly even think about death anymore.  I sleep better at night. I am much more concerned about enjoying every moment that I have right now and being a good person and giving back to my community.  I feel free from the burden of feeling like I have to attend church services.  I am so happy to be living my life the way I want to live it. Freeing my mind from religion freed me in so many other ways too, but it was a long process.  I was told to believe in a book that was a complete lie from the time I was a child.  It feels like waking up from a prolonged nightmare.  It was tough to overcome years of being brainwashed.  I believe there is hope for anyone who has the courage to ask questions and do some research. Good luck to you and your wife.  

Comment by Joan Denoo on June 3, 2017 at 2:17pm

Randy, thanks for telling your story. I am amazed you could do all those activities with the religious community and not believe in their values. I, too, was very active in religious things and bought the stories, even the apologetics. It was in my late 30s that I began to question the validity of what they taught and I learned. I was a good teacher and organizer and had many benefits for my efforts in our religious communities. Forty-three years ago, on July 1, I ran from my husband, my family, my church community, and created a mentally healthy home for my three children. OH! I am so glad I did!

Comment by Gwen on June 2, 2017 at 1:58pm
That makes me realize how lucky I have been by never getting sucked into this typ of mess.
Comment by Michael Penn on June 2, 2017 at 6:29am

Being an atheist isn't so bad. It's that A word that gets all the heat. People will go out of their way to tell you that "you are not an atheist." Apparently they know this because their holy book tells them everyone believes in god. Yes, the book and people that cherry pick it have it all figured out.

Best of luck with this. Let us know what happens.

Comment by Randall Smith on June 1, 2017 at 6:41am

Been there. Done that. With 4 kids in tow, I regularly went to church with my wife. I sang in the choir, even led it. Taught Sunday School, etc. All this time, I was a nonbeliever, but I put on a great mask. After my wife got suspicious, the word got out. In her eyes, I became the "Anti-Christ". This was 30 years ago, and I remain a happily divorced atheist. Hang in there, Richard!

Comment by Gary S on May 30, 2017 at 10:01pm

Richard, I got my first college degree at a xian U and while there I took 5 of the religion class. I then spent 4 years teaching, mathematics, and 3 of them were at a xian school. While doing that I was also working on a masters and because of my love of learning wound up with another Bachelors. That second degree, Computer Science, was at a public university and while doing that I asked professors things outside of class and the expanded on some of the ethics they taught in class despite them being nonbelievers.

It also took my third time of reading the Bible from beginning to end to start my questioning. I read many things while doing that. Including, my xian college notes.

Much of my learning and observation has shown me that the atheist community has much more ethical individuals than the christian one.

Comment by Richard M. Thomas on May 30, 2017 at 7:49pm

Again, thank you,  I am new to Atheist Nexus. I signed up several months ago but didn't have anything to say. I am in one of my more productive modes right now the past couple of weeks. But things don't get too unbearable anymore. Just everyday existence. And boredom. And loss of interest, loss of motivation some slight depression, enough to slow you down, but other than that things are fine. I hope to someday graduate from college and get back into the world, but I don't think that's really going to happen, but there is hope. I attended college for 10 years but did not get my degree due to my disability, whatever it is?! I owe some old bills that they won't let me have my transcripts and I could finish school with this I have found out. But I have lost trust with my family over the years, abusing drugs and not being responsible with money. I like the positive energy here. I was lost but now am found, I guess you could say. 

Comment by Joan Denoo on May 30, 2017 at 7:32pm

Richard, I am very sorry to learn that you have mental challenges. Becoming an advocate for others who face similar tasks makes very good sense to me. You may find your bond with your wife can grow and mature if you both can be honest. Yes, reaching out to others helps to clarify ideas and actions. I wish you the very best with your physical, mental and emotional challenges. Your conscience, self-respect, and compassion seem to be very much intact. 

I look forward to reading more of your posts. 

Comment by Richard M. Thomas on May 30, 2017 at 7:20pm

Thank you so much, I don't know where to start or what to say except that I know now it is important to be honest with yourself. You can't go around and become a Christian, or an an atheist, I sure what happens except in my case. I don't have any children, and my wife and I are both mentally ill. That fact has been the hardest for me to absorb. But I am working through that and have applied to volunteer as an ombudsman for Residential Care Facilities, that's the modern day equivalent of a sanitarium. My wife and I escaped those places and are going back to advocate for those are still there. Mental illness is the common bond my wife and I share. This complicates matters but we have an understanding. And that's what I think matters. I'm hoping we'll make it through this, either way I'll be okay because I have reached out to the world again 

Comment by Joan Denoo on May 30, 2017 at 7:00pm

Sounds familiar! Get saved; feel lost; get saved again, feel lost again. Take actions prescribed by someone else, parents, loved ones, strangers on the street and guaranteed feeling lost.  

I finally figured out that there is no savior, I am not a sinner, there is no heaven or hell, there is no grace and no redemption. It is all a big fabrication that gets passed from person to another, much as the flu or AIDS. 

You are created because a sperm passed through the barrier of the ovum and became fertile. Cell divisions began, slowly at first and then by exponential rate. You were born, one of billions and billions of mammals that have lived and are living. You will die and that will be the end of you being you. You will survive in memories of others, but your flesh and bones return to elements of nature and that is it. 

You are able to love other elements to the degree that you love you. No one else can do the work for you, your happiness and health depend to a profound extent on how much you love you. Loving yourself opens potential to love other people and other things. It isn't the other way around.  You surely have known someone who was much loved but he or she did not love him or herself. By the same token, you probably know people who loved others because they love themselves. 

Marriage is not an institution that commits you for life. You marry at one time for one reason and for whatever reason; one or the other of you grow away from the other. You have the freedom to have a change of feeling and go your separate ways. 

If you have children together, you have an obligation to the children to be available for them. Children are not like Buicks and Fords, you can't pass ownership of one child to any other. Children are part of you and they need to know with full confidence that you will be there for them and you will be willing to go through their growing to adulthood. Children are a pain in the neck sometimes, but you participate in creating a child and you had better be willing to care for him or her through to adulthood. 

Love isn't selfish or domineering, and it is freeing and empowering. Taking care of yourself, physically and mentally results in caring for others, for natural things, and for the Earth. Caring results in realizing that thoughts, words, and deeds matter. None of this has anything to do with atheism; all that atheism means is you lack a belief in supernatural powers. There is no god who loves you; you love you; there is no savior to rescue you, you take care of yourself; there is no heaven to reward you or hell to punish you, there is your conscience, your self-respect, and compassion. 



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