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. :)

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Comment by Glen Barton on January 13, 2010 at 11:05pm
Well done. It is worth, I think, explaining to Christian friends and family that the path out of Christianity is not one taken lightly - and explain your good reasons for doing so. Like your Aunt, your friend's letter comes across as patronising, and i think it's important for such friends to know that they need to respect that you have made your journey out of an intellectual honesty, and to ask you to go back on that is offensive. The danger is that it can be easy to become patronising ourselves given that in order to leave Christianity we have had to think through things that our still Christian friends and family have not. While feeling this patronisation is justified, it perhaps isn't helpful in actually encouraging them to think for themselves. This is something i have to be aware of with my family.

However, I think there also comes a time when you need to be outraged at some of the outrageous things that they will say. I came to this point with my family in response to their continued justification of their homophobia, and the destructive effect5 I could see of that type of attitude on gay friends of mine. When someones chosen ignorance just means they are ignorant, it is ok just to say "thanks, but Ive thought for myself and your arguments hold no water for me", but when chosen ignorance has imoral and destructive consequences, something stronger is required.

Good luck with when you will have these convos with your parents - I'll be interested to read your blogs about that process!!


Comment by Jim DePaulo on January 10, 2010 at 2:44pm
One of my favorite Jefferson quotes fits well.
Shake off all the fears of servile prejudices, under which weak minds are servilely crouched. Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call on her tribunal for every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear. Thomas Jefferson
Comment by ryan cameron on January 9, 2010 at 9:03pm
I like the "love me or go to hell" comment. I'll ask my next christian friend what they would do if I said I "liked them, but wasnt going to make them the center of my life or anything". Would they burn me for that? What would they think of a person that set fire to people who's only crime was indifference to them?

Christians always say that seperation of god=hell, but I think god could have made a more pleasant place for his enemies/strangers/wrong religion types and still been "just", in fact, that would actually make him "just". Hell isnt justice at all. Hitler maybe deserves 400000000 years in hell, but no one human truly deserves eternity there.
Comment by Jim DePaulo on January 9, 2010 at 8:35pm
If she is your friend you owe her an honest response - and I think you gave her that. It will be interesting what her reply is.
Comment by Kristi Leitholt on January 9, 2010 at 6:18pm
Steve: I was just discussing that point recently with a friend. We were talking about something I'd heard one time, comparing God to a loving father who allows his child to learn to ride a bike and lets the child fall, knowing that each time the child will learn from his/her mistakes. I said that God's idea of punishment doesn't fit the crime, and he's more like a parent who will let his kid ride off the edge of a cliff and then sic dogs on the kid's corpse afterward. Most definitely not the loving father figure I'd been taught to revere.
Comment by Chris Highland on January 9, 2010 at 4:07pm
Well written. Along these lines you may find "Shredding and Recycling the Bible" handy. Peace along the way. Good to know other friendships are created by the truth and honesty.
Comment by Michael J. Clarkson, Jr. on January 9, 2010 at 3:26pm
Yup. Having grown up Mormon I have a whole list of them. According to Mormons, the Native Americans are decedents of Hebrews from Jerusalem who sailed across the Pacific around 600 BCE. Their skin is dark because they were descended from the wicked brothers in this family. Just like they believe that all black people are descended from Cain, whose skin was turned black for killing Abel and that made them unworthy to hold the priesthood until 1978, at which point they were no longer held responsible for that one murder. Can anyone say, "overt racism?" But I digress. Many Mormons being "new earth" creationists, 2,600 years was more than enough for the native peoples to spread from a single family into hundreds of genetically separate tribes spreading all over the Americas. According to that theory, Adam and Eve left the garden 6-10,000 years ago. When you ignore the fact that during that time frame the Sumerians and many other cultures had thriving cultural and economic systems it gets easier to believe.
Comment by Kristi Leitholt on January 9, 2010 at 2:34pm
I remember reading about the lack of historical evidence of the Exodus somewhere, and I think it was also mentioned in a Discovery Channel documentary I recently watched. Ehrman comments on much of it as well in his book, which was why I mentioned it. It is amazing to realize how little historical evidence there is to support the biblical narratives, and yet people still believe it. But then again, there's the Mormon church--built completely on non-historical stories of ancient America.
Comment by Michael J. Clarkson, Jr. on January 9, 2010 at 1:57pm
It isn't that God has a personality disorder. He discovers weed somewhere around the book of Matthew...

Sorry, couldn't resist. Thanks for sharing this.

I would also have your friend look at the historical evidence. For instance the first books claiming that Jesus was resurrected were not written until long after anyone who might have been a first hand witness had died. The Hebrew people kept excellent records and you would think a dead guy getting up to walk around would have been something worth noting.

Then there is the historical evidence for the other stories. Moses for instance. You would think if someone came into Egypt and took all of their slaves, they might have noted it somewhere. Not a single glyph. Further, none of the bones found in the mass graves of the slaves in Egypt appear to be Hebrew. There are Hebrew bones found, but these were not slaves. They are buried in the honored graves of the architects.

There is so much more obviously but that is where I might have started.



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