"You can't leave Christianity - if you think you can, you were never a believer in the first place." That was the comment made by a family member as we were watching CNN's interview with Ann Rice which had "Ann Rice leaves Christianity" printed across the bottom of the screen.

Of course I did not bite and begin this debate with him, because he does not know that I myself, once a very strong believer, have left Christianity. But, I did sit and listen to him chatter on about this story. He made some comments that are so typical of close minded Christians. Don't get me wrong, I love this person dearly, but sometimes his refusal to consider anything but his existing system of beliefs gets to be frustrating!

So, according to him a "true" believer could never leave the faith. Well, I was raised Christian, and for whatever reason, maybe it was my questioning mentality or my demand to understand things fully, I have, over time, left religion all together. I studied many religions in college, and all at once it dawned on me that of all the religions in this world how could I be sure that I was lucky enough to be born into the correct religion (not to mention the "correct" denomination of that religion). So I studied them - all. I found the similarities striking. They all had a creation myth to explain how we got here, they all have a moral code to live by, and they all explain what happens to us when we die. I began to understand that religion was just a way to deal with all of the unknowns that many humans can't seem to wrap their minds around. I guess it should not surprise me that the grasp on those beliefs is strong for those who can't fathom the truth.

I am a teacher and this year I will be teaching social studies (ancient civilizations) and part of the curriculum deals with different religions and their beliefs. This same family member was in my classroom the other day ranting and raving that I would have to teach other "false" religions in my class. I wanted to say, "They are all false!" but of course I restrained myself. I am hoping to show my students the truth about religions without crossing the line. That's a thin line, though - I will have to be very careful. My goal is to simply tell the truth about each religion. Hopefully the silliness of it all will sink in to the kids. They will have to make the connections for themselves - which may take time, but hopefully it will happen.

Speaking of my school, and walking a thin line, I wanted to share something else that happened (this is why I say the line is thin by the way) My principal had us all gathered in the lunchroom for breakfast and asked us to bow our heads and join her in prayer. She went on with this prayer and ended in in the name of Jesus and all (which I am sure the Muslims and Jews in the group were none to pleased with). Later that week she addressed the faculty going on about how she was a Christian and how she was sure that there was a god watching out for her and so on and so on. She then said that if she offended any of us by praying that we should write her a letter ( anonymous of course ) explaining our concern and she would never pray publicly at the school again. (I am still writing on that letter!) She then said that she would of course continue to pray to herself, and would be sure to pray for any of us who had problems with the praying.

Oh FSM! I am so stuck in the bible belt.

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Comment by Loren Miller on August 11, 2010 at 9:06pm
The only thing "true" about a True Believer is their truly CLUELESSNESS. A True Believer is someone who can't be bothered with actually LOOKING at what they believe. They can't take the time or the effort to examine the bases for what or why they believe or to thoroughly examine the source text. Their intellect has not been in any real or significant way exercised.

They have, mostly, been LAZY ... which is something which can be said about ANYONE who believes, in the final analysis.
Comment by Prog Rock Girl on August 11, 2010 at 8:59pm
Yeah, I think a lot of religions say that--an ex-religionist was never for real, and of course the person who does it in a different way is not a real [insert religion]. This also happens in other subcultures, too! But I do think that when atheists say there is no such thing as an ex-atheist, they are doing the same thing.
Comment by Scott Popejoy on August 11, 2010 at 8:46pm
Well you sure have your work cut out for you, at home and in the classroom, but it looks like you have a priceless oportunity to promote objective, open-minded discussion among tomorrows minds! The parents may not like it, but there is nothing illegal about objective discussion of cultures and religions, and the parents aren't your concern anyway. Their children will soon enter universities with "secular" teachings. They will have to question their faith soon, and they will have been prepared because of you!
Comment by feralboy12 on August 10, 2010 at 8:02pm
Assume the family member is correct, and leaving the faith means you were never a True Believer. So what? Belief in nonsense is not a virtue.
Religions may start out as honest (if misguided) attempts to deal with the unknown, but they also come laden with rules for living. If the explanations for unknown things are based in superstition (by which I mean "made up"), then rules for living also based on superstition are also made up, which relegates them to the status of arbitrary controls on behavior. And that results in tribal taboos, artifacts of one's culture, being elevated to the status of laws that apply to others outside that culture. And nobody likes that. Which results in discord.
The great weakness of religion is a complete inabiltiy to test competing claims.
Comment by Against All Fanatics on August 10, 2010 at 11:40am
The concept that you can't leave Christianity is of course totally absurd. It would mean that no one can ever change his or her mind about anything, which means that we are not human beings but automatons, in which case belief is irrelevant anyway. However, you can probably not expect much logic from someone who believes in Christianity or any other religion.
Comment by Rich Lane on August 8, 2010 at 9:53pm
I'm in a similar situation at school myself this year. I've taught British Literature for years and years, and a HUGE chunk of the earliest stuff is almost straight from the pulpit. I never minded before because for the longest time I held deistic beliefs, and I missed out on teaching Donne, Milton, and the rest for the last two years as I had different duties during those units. This year, I'm still trying to figure out a way that I can teach them that won't conflict with my own beliefs but won't bring a flurry of parents into the office complaining.



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