Today I received a message on Facebook from a friend that I knew in YWAM (she's French, so her English isn't perfect):
Girl !!! I've been thinking of you lately? How are you?? I remembered clearly the day in india when we preached and you found the courage to share what happened to you and how God was restoring you. I admired so much what you did that day !!! I've seen on your status that you were not so crazy about all of this anymore. And i wanted to share with you that christians will disappoint you, the church is far for being perfect, and that is why we need a perfect savior, and his grace and mercy. And also some people discribe God unaccurately and tell people He does things that He would never do. He is a loving father and this year I've started to undertand that He can't hurt us and His heart is broken when His loved creation is hurt. Anyway I've had hard times too, probably not as hard as you, but God can do the impossible if we let him do his work in us. Let me give you this piece of his word that has spoken to me so much "the Lord appeared from old to me, saying, yes, i have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with loving-kindness have i drawn you and continued my faithfulness to you" it goes on in jeremiah 31. I hope this will bless you as much as it blessed me. I pray you will rediscover God's love toward his princesses !!! And remember he is a loving father, and when we come back to him he is already waiting arms open wide, tears of joy in his eyes. Never mad or angry. Oh what a beautiful day when he will wipe away our tears ! I hope we can keep in touch via facebook or emails. Thank you for the impact you had on me, i love remembering india !!!
I wrote her back:
Hi Priscille, thanks for writing to me. It's been a long time! I hope that things are going well for you and that you're enjoying life. Are you still working as a nurse? I’m going to college right now and I plan to be a registered nurse when I’m done. I’m in my 2nd year now and I still have about 3 years to go. My classes are challenging, especially the sciences, but I’m enjoying every minute of it and I’m really excited to get out and work someday.
I appreciate your concern about my attitude toward God and religion in general. Please understand that it was not a rash decision on my part, or the result of some sort of misfortune or hurt that I endured. My becoming an atheist was the result of a couple of years of research and struggle to accept things that went completely against what I’d always been taught. In the end, I knew I couldn’t deny the truth. I knew there was no evidence for the God we preached. As I read the Bible, and I mean really read it, I saw that God was really nothing more than an evil dictator. Time and time again in the Old Testament, the reader can see the sorts of things that God is capable of: things like genocide, hate, jealous rage, and many others. I think Richard Dawkins said it best when he described God as, “arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.” The passage in 2 Kings 2:23-24 is only one example of this.
What makes things worse is that religion is responsible for many of the greatest evil acts in history. People are incredibly cruel to each other and use their holy books to justify their actions. The Crusades, conflicts in the Middle East, violence in India, and the current conflicts in Sudan all have a basis in religion. God commands the destruction of nonbelievers—with all the different religions in which he is attributed to saying this, one would think he wants all of humanity dead, although he tried that once (Genesis 6-7).
Now, in the New Testament, God appears to do a complete turnaround almost overnight although he still shows some tendencies toward his violent nature (Acts 5:1-10 is one example). God is suddenly cast in a totally different light, full of love and forgiveness. Yet the Bible claims that he is the same “yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). Either the Bible is wrong, or God is suffering from a severe personality disorder, or there is no god at all and we have simply created him from our own imagination. From the research and readings I have done, I’m inclined to go with the first and third options.
I hope this illustrates a little better why I no longer believe in Christianity or in God. I am still able to lead a full and happy life without God, and I think I am actually happier now than I was when I was a believer, although that may have nothing to do with it. I am the same person you knew in Florida and India, except now I am free of superstition.
If you would like a better picture of the research I did, I would suggest reading the book Misquoting Jesus by Bart D. Ehrman, Letter to a Christian Nation by Sam Harris, and Godless by Dan Barker. I don’t know if all of those books are available in France, but if they are, they are well worth the read. Those are just a few of the books I’ve read over the past 3 or 4 years.
Thanks again for your message. I think of our time in India every day and I always remember it fondly. I still have the scarf you made me too—thanks for sending it to me!
Thoughts? I've never really gone this in-depth before. Since I recently came out to my parents, I feel a little stronger to share my experiences with theists. This part is still relatively new to me. :)