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u/[deleted] · 3 pointsr/exchristian

Let me first say this: you are an amazing and incredibly courageous woman! There are two things I have found to be the most important in life. A life without them is one stripped of its humanity and flavor. Indeed, people have died for them, fought for them and spent countless lifetimes seeking them;and rightly so for they are freedom and truth. I left my religion because I would not be a slave to any man, clergy or capricious deity. I left because I would not rest my entire existence on an iron age book that was obviously a lie. I valued my freedom and my quest for truth more than the love that my family had for me, more than my friends and my security. For finding the strength, the courage and above all the love of humanity to do the same...I want you to know that you deserve respect.

I can definitely sympathize with the non-christian culture problem. Think about it this way: you are on a great adventure. For the first time in your life, you have been given the chance to discover what it truly means to be YOU (free of cavemen superstitions and guilt of being human). As hardcore Christians we were taught that everything about us is just that-christian. That is not true! We still have our own personal preferences, personalities and tastes. The mistake that people make is to assume that, because they are no longer Christians, they are sorority material and going clubbing every weekend is their cup of tea. So be yourself, surround yourself with people who will love you for it and most importantly: don't be afraid to tell your story. Stories are the foundation of identity and having one is essential to being human. The next time you are completely lost in a conversation, don't be scared to say why. Doing so will not only help the other person connect with you on a deeper level, it will also help you gain more self acceptance. Sure, maybe the sexy quarterback won't want you anymore. But do you really want people in your life who would turn their backs on you, if only they knew ye? Don't worry about it too much though. In time, you will be surprised by how much of a non-christian you have become.

Your mother may no longer be with you but she lives on through your memories and her legacy to the family she cherished and to the world she lived in. I think it is more respectful and humane to celebrate who she was and what she accomplished than to constantly spend that time feeding the false hope of seeing her again. I am sorry if I sound too rude but I could not find a better way to say it. When all the chips are down, your family may no longer want you. I can feel the pain that brings as I write this. However, its would be their loss and not yours. You can surround your life with people who love you and support you despite not being blood relatives-isn't that what family is all about? And should you feel so inclined, you can make your own family and have children that you will "love no matter what (parenting 101)".

Lastly, you do not need to worry about burning in hell, trust me. Better still, don't trust me and pick up three books I strongly recommend: [Godless] ( ,[Letter to a christian nation] ( and [God is not great] ( . Before you do that ask yourself: if you went to heaven, would you trust yourself to have a good time knowing that good people are being tortured FOREVER? Why? Because they didn't believe in a god that did everything he could to hide from us. Or maybe they mistakenly believed in the wrong one?

As for my story. Well, I was raised in a christian fundamentalist cult. Being LGBT certainly didn't help and all in all, it would probably make you cry. You don't need to cry right now, you need to be happy because from now on you will forever be free of the superstitions of ancient cavemen (85% of the world still isn't). You are free to own your own mind, your body and your soul -just kidding, nobody has one-you are truly free (pause a moment and realize what that means) and the prototype for the next step in the evolution of the homo sapiens mindset. I am sure there are far more cheerful stories here on Reddit.

u/zeroJive · 5 pointsr/exchristian

I went through almost the exact same thing. After leaving our main church, my wife and I stopped going all together. Several years later, after we moved because of jobs, we started going again. Needless to say, that didn't last long.

My wife and I both come from very strong Christian backgrounds; my wife's father was a Southern-Baptist minister for decades, and my dad went to Dallas Theological Seminary and taught church classes most of his life. So let's just say that leaving wasn't an easy thing.

However, my own search led me to realize the truth. Since my wife and I are very close, I talked with her about these things but was very careful about what I said. I'm still careful. I approach the discussions from the standpoint of "searching for answers" rather than declaring that I've already decided.

My mantra over the last few years has been "If it were possible to know the truth, and one of the possibilities was that God didn't exist, would you really want to know?" Well, my answer is yes. I don't want to be a blind-follower Christian. If God is real, then I want to know for sure!

I recommend approaching it like that. It let's your spouse see that you are truly searching for answers. The truth is all we really want, and we can't use a 3000 year-old book to do it. We need real answers, not mythology.

Be sure to talk about it a lot, and be open minded to your spouse's point of view. Let them know you still care for them deeply.

This sub-reddit has been so helpful and caring, so good job starting here. Also grab some books or find some web-sites that discus these things. Here are a few I recommend:


u/distantocean · 4 pointsr/exchristian

You might want to check out Khan Academy, which provides entirely free online courses on a huge range of subjects.

On evolution, Stated Clearly is an outstanding series of videos that break it down very simply and straightforwardly (and they're made by an ex-Christian whose education about evolution was part of his reason for leaving the religion). If you're interested in a book, the best I've seen -- and in fact maybe the best popular science book I've ever read -- is Why Evolution is True by Jerry Coyne. It would certainly be enough to help you decide if you'd like to read more.

If you're interested in neuroscience and the brain you might want to read How the Mind Works by Steven Pinker or The Tell-Tale Brain by V. S. Ramachandran, both of which are wide-ranging and accessibly written.

Finally, you can just search for "best science books" (or similar phrases) -- you'll find plenty of lists out there of the best books of all time, the past year, the past decade and so on. You can't go wrong just reading the top few, or if there's an area you find yourself more drawn to you can focus on that.

Above all, focus on the positive and enjoy the process of learning about these things, because it's an absolutely fascinating world out there. Have fun!

u/TheyUsedDarkForces · 2 pointsr/exchristian

I went through the same sort of thing as you. All I can really say is to keep pursuing the facts and the evidence. People will try to discourage you for one reason or another, but don't let them. If the Christian god exists, you've done nothing wrong by asking questions because he values the truth.

Since you mentioned your friends and family being YECs, I strongly recommend reading the Talk Origins archive if you haven't seen it yet. It has a great list of Creationist claims and the evidence against them. If you're interested in learning more about Evolution, I'd also recommend The Greatest Show on Earth by Richard Dawkins. It's the book that made me start questioning Christianity and to this day it remains one of my favourites.

u/drinkmorecoffee · 7 pointsr/exchristian

If by 'lacking' you mean 'nonexistent', then yes.

I went to public school but with heavy influence from my folks and church, all of whom seem to be involved in some sort of Fundamentalism competition. I learned exactly as much as I had to in order to pass the test, but I was always convinced it was a lie because scientists are all "out to get" Christianity.

I'm still wrapping my head around just how unhealthy this worldview can be.

I'll echo /u/Cognizant_Psyche - kudos on taking that first step and deciding to get smart on this topic.

I talked to my church pastor, who passed me off to his wife (who has apologetics degrees out the ass). She recommended The Language of God, a tactic which soundly backfired on her. That book was fantastic. It explains evolution from a DNA perspective but then tries to tell me I can still believe in God if I want to. For me, from such a fundamentalist, literalist background, the bible had to be true word-for-word, yet this book flew in the face of the entire Genesis account of creation. If that wasn't real, how could I trust any of the rest?

Once I was 'cleared' to learn about Evolution, I grabbed Dawkins' The God Delusion. I watched the Ham-Nye debate. I grabbed Who Wrote The New Testament, and Misquoting Jesus. That pretty much did it for me.

u/LukeTheApostate · 2 pointsr/exchristian

Holy shit. I'm so sorry you had to go through that. You are a good person and didn't deserve any of that.

I'll echo what's been mentioned in some other responses; therapy would probably be really helpful for you. Not because you're "broken," because you're not, but because you've been traumatized, badly, by terrible people. Therapy will help you understand why their manipulation and lies have worked in the past, and will give you the tools to start disassembling the influence they had on you and start assembling your own life. It'll equip you with skills to begin healing the damage you never deserved to suffer.

Fancy-pants therapists cost a lot of money, but social workers can often connect you to a therapist who's willing to work cheap or free, or do some therapy work with you themselves. In the meantime if you can scrape up about $25 I suggest you get a copy of Mind Over Mood (or hit the local library and start working through their copy), which is a book that teaches the tools a good therapist would. Leaving The Fold is another book that will help you inventory what you've been through and what the road map of issues to deal with will look like.

It will be daunting. You got thrown in a pit and then had garbage dumped on you, which wasn't fair, and now you have to be the one to dig yourself out of the pit, which isn't fair either. But you can do it. It's not easy or fast, but it's doable. The biggest challenge you're probably going to face, I think, is a voice in your head that tells you to quit or not start because you don't need or deserve to heal. That what you deserve is to suffer, not smile.

So what I'd like to suggest is that you say, out loud, "I deserve to heal." It will be hard to do. And if you're anything like I was, you won't believe it the first time you say it. That's fine. Just say it. And tomorrow, say it again. Replace your old habit of praying with just saying "I deserve to heal." Say it before meals, say it when you go to bed, say it when you sort of instinctively clutch for God. "I deserve to heal." It will help remind you that you want to heal and that you don't want to quit.

I hope your life gets better. I think you're a good person and deserve to be happy. I know you're capable of amazing things, including healing from what you experienced. I believe in you.

u/jmynatt · 2 pointsr/exchristian

Thanks for the feedback and thoughtful reply! "Condemns most" refers to several indications that the (currently) 2/3rds of the world that does not believe in Jesus will be lost.


I do think it's a position reasonably supported by the text. Not that I agree -- I find it morally reprehensible that any "good pagans" and/or the vast billions raised without much exposure to Christianity would be lost due to being born in the wrong place/time. William Lane Craig, a leading apologist, has written a thoroughly repulsive response on the topic: God already knew they'd be lost, so he put them in those places -- and, he says, for all we know, the ratio of saved-to-lost is is perfectly optimal. Ugh!


To your point, I'd have a hard time agreeing that Mk 9:40 and Lk 9:50 "whoever is not against us is for us" indicates Jesus believed people could be saved without him. For starters, he contradicts this in Mt 12:30 and Lk 11:23 "Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters." In context though, both seem to refer to doing miraculous works (casting out demons) and aren't discussing how to be saved at all.


In addition, there are ample NT verses saying Jesus saw himself as the only way to be saved:

  • Jn 3:18 and Mk 16:16 "whoever believes in Him will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned"
  • Jn 14:4 "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
  • Jn 3:36 "whoever does not obey Him does not have life; the wrath of God remains on him"
  • Mt 7:21-23 "And they will say 'Lord, did we not do many mighty works in your name?' And I will declare 'Depart from me; I never knew you, you workers of lawlessness'"
  • Mt 7:13-14 "the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. The gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few."
  • Acts 4:12 "there is salvation in no one else; there is no other name given among men by which we must be saved"
  • Jn 17:3 "and this is eternal life: that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent"
  • Rm 3:22-23 "The righteousness of God is through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. There is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus"


    Many contradictory religions claim exclusivity. If Christianity let go of the idea of needing Jesus to be saved, it's a slippery slope to not needing him for anything -- just be a decent person and live your life. But in holding onto the need for Jesus, it ran headlong into another huge problem: if it's all about "accepting God's free gift of love", then a serial rapist can accept Jesus and be fully saved on death row, while a lifelong moral non-theist will go to hell for not accepting the gift. This completely devalues any of our actions and puts all the emphasis on "believing on bad evidence" instead of what you actually do with your life.


    It's all a moot point, however -- as it's likely "Jesus", if he existed, never said most of the things attributed to him, and some epistles attributed to Paul were written pseudonymously also. The whole idea of a "final judgment" wasn't from the Old Testament (which focused largely on earthly kings and national victories); rather, it was borrowed from Zoroastrianism eschatology during Babylonian/Persian captivity, which is around the time the Jews rewrote their national history to better fit their unfortunate circumstances, leading to inclusion in Jewish inter-testamental scripture such as the Book of Enoch, which was accepted as scripture for hundreds of years and was quoted by and influenced the thinking of New Testament writers who were making all this stuff up at the time.


    So, yeah -- who cares what Jesus said anyway, it's a lousy plan that wasn't even original! :-)
u/JesusHMontgomery · 6 pointsr/exchristian

So, first, and I realize this isn't exactly comforting, but there will be a freak out time no matter what. There will be some time where you feel like the world is ending, and no matter what you do, it will still feel that way. It was that way for me (though we aren't the same, so maybe your experience will differ): every night, up late, praying and sweating and crying. Is there someone in the real world you can talk to? Having a meat body to grab onto for comfort is huge. Also, I wish I'd known about Reddit (not sure if it existed yet) when I went through my biz. This subreddit would have been amazing.

Ironically, part of what pushed me out of Christianity was learning more about it: being really on fire for it. When you learn church history from the church, it's very skewed and specialized, but when you step out of that and examine it from an objective historical point of view, things get crazy. And more calming.

In case you missed it elsewhere in this thread, John Shelby Spong was very comforting for me.

I think A History of God gets mentioned on this sub at least once a day. It's not an easy read, but immensely illuminating as it shows that, essentially, the guy we call god with a capital G is really just a lesser Canaanite deity worshiped by an insane shepherd. But because of Abraham's weird life, all of western history plays out.

It's been awhile since I read Jesus Interrupted, but if I remember correctly, it's about how what the historical Jesus probably said (because we can't possibly know) has been manipulated by history to satisfy different political goals.

Zealot tries to recreate to the best of the author's ability Jesus' world, the philosophies he grew up with, and the philosophies he most likely would have taught. Some parts of this read like an amazing novel, and it has some crazy historical stuff. It really blew my mind.

I read Pagan Christianity right at the start of my dark night. I've mentioned it before, and it confirmed a lot of my suspicions about Christianity actually being fancied up paganism (Zealot discusses that a little as well). It's written from very much a contemporary Christian perspective, so it has some errors that drive me nuts: i.e. Jesus almost certainly wouldn't have ever meant he and god were literally the same, because no half-serious Jewish person of any era would assert that.

It's stupid late where I am (and my toddler already makes sure I'm constantly sleep deprived), so the last thing I'll leave you with:

When I was going through my "dark night of the soul," I still considered myself Christian afterward for quite awhile. It's just that the kind of Christian I felt I had become was so radically different from what I had been that it warranted night sweats and crying. Since then, each progressive deconversion has been less and less painful by magnitudes. But while I was going through it, I kept thinking about a quote in some book I'd read about how, "God made you with the brain you have, the talents you have, the interests you have, and the curiosity you have: pursue that and glorify god." I reasoned (and I feel this is pretty solid) that if god were real, he'd have to be so outside our everyday experience that no one is getting it right; because if he weren't that alien to us, if he was even slightly comprehensible, he couldn't be god. And if god were real, he'd (it?) know how incomprehensible he is, and unless he were insane or evil, he couldn't possibly be just in punishing us for doing whatever we thought was best and in good conscience. The process was still painful, but it definitely made me feel better about ripping off that hairy band-aid.

If you don't already, I'd recommend writing as you go through all this. If you can stomach it, put it some place public, like a blog, so people can bear witness.

Dammit. I said I was going to bed 20 minutes ago.

Sorry-but-not-sorry for the wall of text.

u/President_Martini · 7 pointsr/exchristian

The actual purpose of the tree of life, the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and humans in the garden of Eden.

  1. The snake is just a snake. It's never mentioned that it was Satan, anywhere in the Bible. Theologians went through some great lengths to conclude that The Lucifer and King of Babylon passages in the Bible were talking about Satan. The idea is terribly convoluted and a lot of the details (armor of jewels, admired and respected in the garden of Eden and so on) are ignored.

  2. The reason humans were made. We were to tend to the garden. Nothing else. It's says it directly in Genesis 2. There's plenty of mythology from that era that describes the creation of life out of mud (golems). It's a great part of ancient Jewish mythology and that region in general.

  3. Genesis specifically says that the tree of life is used to make sure that the animals and man live forever. It's a fountain of youth. Plenty of myth surrounding items that do just this.

  4. Genesis also says that the forbidden tree is the food for the gods, in this case, the god in Genesis 2 (different from the god in Genesis 1). It is meant for the superior beings. The creators.

    Put all these things together, and what you have is a classic myth with your typical "servant takes from the master and gets into deep shit" plot.

    So Yaweh creates a garden. Calls it Eden. It's not the world, because Genesis 2 tells us exactly what land on earth it covered, which was somewhere around where Iraq currently is. He makes man, specifically so that he can tend to his brand new garden that he's making. Then he starts churning all these animals out from the ground, and Adam is naming them as they come out from the mud. Yaweh then realizes that Adam needs a helper, so he makes him one.

    Then the part that we all were frequently reminded about happens (snake, tree, Eve, Adam, fig tree loincloths, etc.) but here is the best part:

    Gen 2: 22 And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” 23 So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. 24 After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side[e] of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.

    Two things here: First, the snake wasn't lying. Adam and Eve did become like gods. Second, the fruit on the tree of life sustains the gods, as is indicative by the very words of Yaweh himself.

    So a quick summary of the whole second and third chapter: Yaweh made a garden for himself to hang out. The tree of life kept his minion gardeners (man and woman) alive for as long as he wanted to maintain his weekend getaway, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil was Yaweh's tree to eat from. It wasn't put there to give us some freedom of choice as we so frequently hear about. So the minions decide to eat what the gods eat and they are kicked out, doomed to fade into nothing. To turn into the dust they once were (or I guess specifically what Adam was. It never really tells what happens to Even except for wanting to have a man and having painful births). Also notice that there's no mention of hell. The story was written long before hell was even a concept in early Jewish beliefs. The only people that actually lived forever where those that were taken up by Yaweh in a chariot to chill with him. The rest of us just stop existing.

    This, and the rise of dualism during the Babylonian Exile are my two favorite things to discuss with Christians, if I ever have the chance. I also find the Documentary Hypothesis to be extremely fascinating. I recommend checking out Who Wrote the Bible if you get a chance. It actually makes the Bible fascinating, for a change.
u/Sahqon · 2 pointsr/exchristian

There's many many contradictions in the Bible, for example right away there's the start of Genesis, two different creation accounts, two different flood accounts, if you read the NT side by side, it agrees on almost nothing about Jesus' life or death. These are just off the top of my head, but you can go through (probably) all of it here.

You might want to hop over to /r/AcademicBiblical, or specifically, their wiki for some interesting in-depth questions and answers. You can also ask them about stuff that's not clear to you, just keep it non-religion, they deal with history of and texts about religion, not beliefs and feelings. They are good for when you don't believe something was translated correctly or stuff like that though.

If you want books, The Bible Unearthed will tear the whole OT pretty much to pieces. For NT, read something from Bart Ehrman, and the Jesus Wars, which is shamelessly entertaining Game of Thrones style description on how people decided what the Bible will be like. Ikr, I wasn't expecting it to be entertaining either.

That's likely not your problem though. The Demon Haunted World suggested below will definitely help with vague bad feelings of "what if", also good for when you watched a particularly disturbing horror movie and are now carrying a gun and holy water everywhere. It's in big part about UFOs though, lol.

You might want to read up on other religions, current or dead ones, or cults and the like. It helps put Christianity into perspective, when you see that while it's huge today, people are/were just as convinced about other ones, to the point where they sacrificed their own children (Abraham, anyone?) to gods. I mean, stuff like this.

But first and foremost, find a therapist. If you have some mental health issues, even if you find definite proof of Christianity being false, you'll just find something else to stress about.

>And from our perspective, fear should never be a part of love but maybe in God’s fucked up world somehow it is.

That's how I started my own deconversion, when reading the Bible for the first time for Confirmation. By the time I got to the church, I was pretty much a Satanist, still believing God existed, but also that he was evil, and so we should join the other side for some chance of defeating him. Took me a few years to realize the whole thing was just mythology with a compelling story but no better proof of being true than Harry Potter. I never was so anxious about it though.

u/doomsdaydvice · 14 pointsr/exchristian

I've heard really good things about the book Pure, by Linda Kay Klein (here's the Amazon link). If money is a concern, see if your local library has it.

I 100% feel for you, I was raised with the same purity beliefs. To this day it impacts my (married) sex life, but I'm actively working through it with a professional. Highly suggest that or a therapist when you're in the financial position. Until then, there are lots of great books and so many other women who can offer you moral support. You're not alone, you're not broken, you can heal and have a healthy, happy sex life! Check out on instagram, she's the sex educator I'm working with, and she has several highlights about purity culture and recovery from it. Education and community will get you a long way until you can work with a sex-positive therapist.

u/ToxicWildhog · 2 pointsr/exchristian

the guilt kept me from going all the way with her. (I was probably better off NOT being in a relationship with her, for unrelated reasons.) But right now, I THINK that I feel comfortable with my sexuality at this point, still a virgin though. I hope this helps... remember, sex is natural, christianity and the guilt/shame is not. Christianity taught me to NEVER give into my emotions, but I have learned that the EXACT opposite is the healthy choice, when you remember that the rational thing is to not let guilt control you, THEN you should think about your desires are, if you still do not want to go all the way that's perfectly okay. It could just be a kiss and a cuddle, or just nothing at all... simply being together. I recommend checking out

haven't gotten around to reading it yet but it's been widely recommended to me too when it comes to sex and religion.

u/The_Mighty_Atom · 2 pointsr/exchristian

>>Finally! do you have any good book recommendations? Again, thanks!

Ooh goody, I always love it when people ask for book recommendations. :)

Here's just the tip of the iceberg:

u/HaiKarate · 3 pointsr/exchristian

I definitely recommend that you start reading /r/exmormon/ if you aren't already. And here is the recommended reading list for that sub.

I also recommend the following:

  • God is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens; especially the Audible version, which is read by the author and he has a great reading voice.
  • Jesus, Interrupted by Bart Ehrman; really anything by Dr. Ehrman is great, but this one is a good place to start. He also has an interesting back story that he shares in just about every book.
  • The Bible Unearthed by Israel Finkelstein. Finkelstein is one of the top archaeologists living in Israel today, and what he has to say casts a lot of doubt on some of the most important Bible stories. (There's a 90 minute video here, if you would prefer)
  • A History of God by Karen Armstrong. Where did the idea of the Jewish deity come from, and how did it develop? (There's a 15 minute summary video here if you prefer)

    Should be plenty to get you started. :)
u/spiritualdissonance · 1 pointr/exchristian

After reading some of your comments below, my initial response was going to be to come back when you have an open mind. I don't think you'll get anything out of your pursuit until you do. But then I remembered myself in a similar mindset several years ago. If you'd really like to challenge your faith and develop a more rounded perspective here are some of the things I did that finally opened my eyes and helped me break free from the oppression of religion;

  • Read a book like The God Delusion. I read this when I considered myself a Christian. I only made it half way though because I thought it was full of presumptive anti-Christian propaganda. And I honestly still don't have a great opinion of the book, but it got some gears turning for me and challenged me to examine my beliefs honestly.
  • Read Rob Bell's series, What is the Bible?. Again, the quality of the content may be questionable, but it gets some gears turning in a good way.
  • Expose yourself to diversity. Meet, and get to know friends from other cultures. Christian friends are fine. Be vulnerable with them and open to their perspectives. I don't think mainstream Christianity can survive honest confrontation with other branches of Christianity. Yes, they mostly all believe Jesus was God and died for our sins, but beyond that the vary widely in their application.
  • Stop making excuses for God. Be honest with yourself and ask if you've ever had an experience that you can prove was an interaction with God. Christianity is a religion that claims God wants a relationship with individuals, so you should have had direct tangible experience of that somewhere in your life.
  • Read The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine. This one is fairly solid, and a very harsh critic of Christianity. If you do none of the other things on this list, read this. It's free online too.

    Good luck.
u/FeChaff · 2 pointsr/exchristian

Since you know about Richard Carrier I would assume you already have read some of the well known Anti-religionists like Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens, Dennet, Stenger, etc. If you are talking about secular biblical scholarship and historical analysis there isn't anyone who keeps me interested as much as Carrier, but I haven't read much in that subject. Some others include Robert Price and Bart Erhman.

There are several good essay compilations by John Loftus which are more generally directed at Christianity. They include essays by Carrier and Robert Price and a number of other secular thinkers. The Christian Delusion I think is the first in that series. Hitchens's The Portable Atheist is another good collection which includes older writing aimed at all religion. Bertrand Russell is a great, too.

u/plaitedlight · 9 pointsr/exchristian

It seems likely that the original authors were recording the existing mythos of their people, and the myths were used in their society like myths are used in every society: to explain and give meaning to a world they didn't understand, to provide a cohesive narrative for the group, to pass along and reinforce values. I have found learning just a little about the common mythologies of the world extremely interesting and helpful in putting the bible into correct perspective. Like, how many times a flood myth pops up and the different interactions between the diving and humanity in those stories.

You might enjoy Bart Ehrman's writing on the new testament and Jesus as he explores the story of Jesus, who wrote, changed and codified it and why, and how it became a religion.

Jesus Before the Gospels: How the Earliest Christians Remembered, Changed, and Invented Their Stories of the Savior

Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why

Forged: Writing in the Name of God--Why the Bible's Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are

u/ReasonsToDoubt · 1 pointr/exchristian

If the historical Jesus is what they're after, Robert Price might be a good place to start. He has a podcast called "Bible Geek," and it shouldn't be too hard to find some of his debates on Youtube (which at least will give both sides; whether or not they're equally matched is up to the viewer I suppose). He gives a lot of fantastic counterpoints to the most common apologetic arguments on the authenticity of the gospels, and has a very good grasp of the subject (at least from what I, a non-expert, can tell).

On the same subject, I have heard great things about Richard Carrier's book "On the Historicity of Jesus", which is next on my list of books to read. Hope these help!

u/WhiteTigerZimri · 4 pointsr/exchristian

I think it's normal to struggle with guilt when leaving religion because conservative Christianity controls people through guilt and shame, primarily. It takes time to really deconstruct fully and let go of the guilty feelings. However, if the guilt doesn't go away, I'd definitely recommend finding a good secular therapist who can help you work through it.

It takes time to get past the corrosive guilt, but I have found that therapy, reading relevant books/articles and practices like EFT tapping have helped me work through it and process my fears/anxieties. When I first deconstructed the feeling of guilt and condemnation was quite strong, but I found with time its power has dramatically diminished.

Reading books like "Leaving the Fold" by Marlene Winell really helped me. There are also some great Facebook groups like Exvangelical and Living Life Unfundamentalist where you can find likeminded people. Exvangelical tends to be good for people who lean more agnostic/atheist, while LLU tends to have more progressive Christians and people into spirituality.

u/RantnThrow · 6 pointsr/exchristian

Really enjoying the book Leaving the Fold right now. It helps realize more clearly the negative impact religion may have had on you and helps normalize what you are feeling. There are also optional exercises at the end of each chapter to process the material.

Then there is the Recovering from Religion website with articles for different topics. A live chat as well with someone who can help point you to resources & see if there is a anonymous support group in your area.

u/city-runner · 2 pointsr/exchristian

LeAgente answered things better than I could. Also I was thinking of checking out these books that relate to your first question:

Why Darwin matters: the case against intelligent design

why evolution is true

I haven't read them, but took note to maybe read them (probably through this subreddit I heard of one). It seems like they're geared towards people who were raised without much education on evolution or from YEC backgrounds. Reviews said they laid things out well. You may be interested.

Also...if anyone has read these...what'd you think? Any other recommendations?

u/teatiller · 3 pointsr/exchristian

>The one area of my life I cant seem to break free from the grip of evangelical ideology is sex and relationships....

I agree with others, you might best want to talk to a therapist about these issues.

I also recommend this book Sex & God: How Religion Distorts Sexuality , it explains how religion controls people by controlling their sex drive to follow the religion (using shame and guilt). Might help explain why you feel the way you do.

The author also has a podcast called "Secular Sexuality with Dr. Darrel Ray", that is worth checking out, it deals with topics about sex after leaving religion.

u/tsvk · 9 pointsr/exchristian

Some books that have been often mentioned as good introductory texts about evolution for the layman:

Why Evolution Is True by Jerry Coyne

The Greatest Show on Earth by Richard Dawkins

Your Inner Fish by Neil Shubin

Websites with general information: (old site:

The folks at /r/evolution might be interested in giving their view, too if you have any specific questions.

You could also look into the biology curriculum of your college and check out the introductory biology courses you will soon be taking, and buy in advance the textbook(s) that deal with evolution.

u/MiscSher · 2 pointsr/exchristian

There's one called Leaving the Fold that I haven't read yet but am interested in reading myself. Looks to have good reviews and seems appropriate for my own situation, may also be helpful for yours.

Edit: formatting

u/FunkyFortuneNone · 3 pointsr/exchristian

I highly recommend Misquoting Jesus by Bart Ehrman.

Ehrman is a legitimate academic focused on the New Testament. Misquoting Jesus (and his other books) are great if you find yourself asking questions like this.

u/thebedivere · 2 pointsr/exchristian

I think it's up to people what type of commitment they want out of a relationship. I think that everyone should decide what they want, without relying on social norms to define their relationship.

The book Sex and God is a good read on the subject of sexualtiy and religion:

The author also has some good talks on YouTube:

u/EllieMental · 1 pointr/exchristian

That "double think" may never completely go away for me. I've made peace with it, though, by trying to understand the psychology behind it.

All of the books recommended so far are a great place to start. A book that made a big impact on me was Bart Erhman's Misquoting Jesus. I was always taught that the bible was infallible, so reading about how it was actually written helped peel away some of that double think for me.

u/Bujutsu · 6 pointsr/exchristian

Nicely done, and certainly true.

You could also show an inverted curve on the secondary y-axis that illustrates the former believer's interest in engaging in rational debates with believers. The curve peaks out until finally dropping down again as the former believer realizes that believers are self-delusional (using Dawkins' phrase), and attempts at rational discussion are more akin to pigeon chess (where the bird just shits all over the board).

u/jamille4 · 3 pointsr/exchristian

The Demon-Haunted World by Carl Sagan. Also, learn about other religions and their histories (not the most comprehensive, but you could start here). History of early Christianity was enlightening for me, as well.

u/spaceghoti · 3 pointsr/exchristian

What resources I recommend depends a great deal on what questions they have. For general resources I recommend the Youtube series Why I Am No Longer A Christian by Evid3nc3. For skepticism I recommend Carl Sagan's The Demon-Haunted World: Science As A Candle In The Dark.

u/vadarama · 3 pointsr/exchristian

Two experts come to mind:

Dr. Marlene Winell specializes in what she calls Religious Trauma Syndrome and wrote the book Leaving the Fold about recovering psychologically from fundamentalism. I also like her articles on the website Journey Free.

Dr. Valerie Tarico is great, too. Loved her book Trusting Doubt: A Former Evangelical Looks at Old Beliefs in a New Light.

Both are former evangelicals but get pretty deep into analyzing the effects of their learned patterns; their work is well-researched and insightful, perhaps more on the social sciences side than what you were asking for.

u/Cognizant_Psyche · 1 pointr/exchristian

The obligatory two books are Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion and Christopher Hitchens' God is not Great (How Religion Poisons Everything). Both are fantastic, Dawkins tends to focus more on Christianity and Hitchens is more widespread showing how dangerous it is across the board with many diverse examples.

For a broader sense start reading up on Philosophy and other religions, you will find that Christianity is nothing special and is quite weak in some areas. Familiarize yourself with the fallacies that are common in religious explanations as well. This way when the indoctrination starts to creep up you can look at the reasons you believed and see through them for what they are. Such engrained behaviors can be hard to shake, especially when guilt is involved as religion is a master craft at guilt manipulation. Once you see through the magic trick it looses it's power.

Another great book is The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins, it shows how evolution works from a genetic level. I know you said you accept evolution and that is great, this will give you a more in depth look into the mechanics of the process and how we are no different than any other life form aside from our development tree. Its easy to read and understand, in fact this book really helped me break away from some of the mentalities of religion since it shows how humans really arent anything special and are very young.

Another author is Sam Harris, he has a lot of books that can help a deconvert find meaning in things they once valued without the need for religion, on subjects like morality, free will, spirituality, and other aspects.

Here is Hitchens' book on youtube read by the man himself:

God is not Great

u/godmakesmesad · 2 pointsr/exchristian

Thank you. I feel for that professor too.

Hopefully some scientists are studying this. I want to reread that Carl Sagan book

I believe it's worsening too, and have seen a change in my life time. The anti-science affected me negatively while in my brain the writings of Carl Sagan were buried, and maybe helped me out later. There's a lot of people who have given up reading and thinking and religion tells people to let others do their thinking.

Thank you for admitting that about the libertarian party. Corporate money is buying off our government. Government power can be misused, that much is sure from the other end.

Yes a lot is fake in TV shows, reality TV etc. I have the kind of mind where I notice too. I think many have improved in their understanding in how cognitive dissonance works, and are using it to many people's detriment. We are in the days where things have moved far beyond propaganda and into controlling and using biases. I think of how my own mind was manipulated in religion and elsewhere.

u/MegaTrain · 2 pointsr/exchristian

His latest book on this topic and its predecessor did go through peer review, at least according to Carrier:

> My new book, On the Historicity of Jesus, has passed peer review and is now under contract to be published by a major academic press specializing in biblical studies: Sheffield-Phoenix, the publishing house of the University of Sheffield (UK). I sought four peer review reports from major professors of New Testament or Early Christianity, and two have returned their reports, approving with revisions, and those revisions have been made. Since two peers is the standard number for academic publications, we can proceed. Two others missed the assigned deadline, but I’m still hoping to get their reports and I’ll do my best to meet any revisions they require as well.

I don't know how to verify or check that, but that's what he's claimed. And obviously, just having a paper peer-reviewed doesn't mean it will see wide acceptance in the scholarly world.

He also recently re-printed some of his earlier scholarly peer-reviewed papers in a paperback anthology. This work includes unrelated historical papers, plus his recently published papers on "Thallus and the Darkness at Christ's Death" and an exhaustive examination of the Josephus "mention" of Jesus. These papers were all printed in peer-reviewed academic journals, and he relies on the results of several of them in his book.

u/CommissarPenguin · 11 pointsr/exchristian

>And apparently she thinks that science doesn't back up what Paleontologists have found so far. It's just amazing to me that people are so willing to listen so someone who doesn't even study this shit. Does anyone have any sources I can check out that can point me in the right direction on what's correct and what's not? I'm in the dark and have never looked into evolution or anything like it.

Read this book. This book is written perfectly for laymen and normal people, explains it all very well. Evolution isn't a "theory." Its a verified fact.

As to the rest of the lunacy, you'll need to list it out a bit more. I take it you're still living with them? Be careful how much you argue with them about it. But don't let creationist baloney hold you back in your scientific education. I never pursued biology and a potential career as a doctor partly because the church told me it was all lies. I'm still mad about that.

u/devianaut · 1 pointr/exchristian

my advice is to buy your mother-in-law one or all of these books:

• jason rosenhouse's among the creationists

• richard dawkin's the greatest show on earth

• jerry a. coyne's why evolution is true

• bill nye's undeniable: evolution and the science of creation

edit: a word.

u/haroldhelicopter · 5 pointsr/exchristian

If you are interested in a arcaological perspective on where Judah/Israel really came from etc, I cannot recommend "The Bible Unearthed" enough! Its a a real eye opener and a fascinating read on some real history.

u/remembertosmilebot · 1 pointr/exchristian

Did you know Amazon will donate a portion of every purchase if you shop by going to instead? Over $50,000,000 has been raised for charity - all you need to do is change the URL!

Here are your smile-ified links:

The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark

Why Evolution Is True

The Skeptic's Annotated Bible

Why There Is No God

Jesus, Interrupted

The God Argument

Deconverted: A Journey from Religion to Reason


^^i'm ^^a ^^friendly bot

u/septemfoliate · 2 pointsr/exchristian

If you like the linked article, consider this book which I have found extremely helpful.

u/bjlmag · 5 pointsr/exchristian

You can visit the [Secular Therapy Project] ( for potential help. The book ["Leaving the Fold"] ( could also be helpful for you.

u/lady_wildcat · 10 pointsr/exchristian

I've become rather obsessed with deconversion narratives recently

Why I became an Atheist

Deconverted FYI I recommend the audiobook


Farewell to God

u/Subtile · 2 pointsr/exchristian

Just butting in here to recommend On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt

Carrier has stated he was firmly in the historical Jesus camp until he was introduced to Earl Doherty's hypothesis in The Jesus Puzzle.

I would also highly Highly recommend reading some criticisms of the myth theory, just to sharpen and refine your thoughts on the subject. Start here with reddit's (or rather /r/badhistory 's) own Tim O'Neill:

u/kent_eh · 2 pointsr/exchristian

In teh same vein is Jerry DeWitt's Hope after Faith.

He's another former preacher who came to the eventual realization that he couldn't believe any more.

Or for that matter, Seth Andrews' Deconverted. He was a well respected religious broadcaster until he wasn't.

All of those stories describe the author's journey from "true believer" to "how could I have ever beielved that". All went through a long time of trying as hard as they could to hold onto their faith, but in the end they found that they couldn't honestly do that.

u/sharplikeginsu · 1 pointr/exchristian

I enjoyed the book much more than the show (which was also good.)

u/peto0427 · 1 pointr/exchristian

I would recommend Nailed by David Fitzgerald, Proving History by Dr. Richard Carrier, and On the Historicity of Jesus, also by Dr. Carrier

And I’ve perused Nailed, and have read both of the books I recommended by Dr. Carrier

u/ChatGarou · 4 pointsr/exchristian

There are psychologists who specialize in religious trauma.
I can't afford therapy, but I've found this book quite helpful- Leaving the Fold

u/deirdredurandal · 3 pointsr/exchristian

This is a better investment than the lot of them, from an honest learning perspective, even if you don't agree with the conclusion. Ehrman is a seriously flawed source where, while you're still going to get exposed to some objectively true information that will be new to you, the logical fallacies and assumptions can do as much harm to developing a realistic understanding of the subject matter as it can be of benefit.

u/xb10h4z4rd · 19 pointsr/exchristian

>Any books you can recommend covering this?

[a history of god] (

>Old Testament actually referred to other Gods actually being thought to exist. Do they not read it?

i've been apollogetizied on those already, they are either not real gods but metaphors for worldly things or it was taken out of context /s

u/WildPhilosophy · 9 pointsr/exchristian

Short answer: if you can control someone's access to sex, you can control everything about them.

Long answer: Read "Sex and God" by Darrel Ray

u/onemoremillionaire · 5 pointsr/exchristian

>Why the hell is there a tree with sin fruit.

Lol. Good question.

[Hope this helps] (

I've met Seth and at one time he was a Christian DJ on a major christian radio station In Oklahoma. His book should help you out. His web site is also a good place to visit.

u/awkward_armadillo · 3 pointsr/exchristian

There are a ton. To name just a few:

  • The flood killed every baby alive
  • The firstborn of Egypt (Exodus 12:29)
  • Orders the ripping of babies from the wombs of Samarian women (Hosea 13:16)
  • Commands the killing of nursing babies (1 Samuel 15:3)

    Dan Barker wrote a book titled God: The Most Unpleasant Character in All Fiction that lists entire chapters of god either doing or commanding ludicrous things. Not really a good book for reading, but a great book for reference.
u/skeletorhaha · 2 pointsr/exchristian

I don't have panic attacks and anxiety now, but I did when I was losing my faith. I coped by talking with an old youth group pal who was also losing his faith, lurking on atheist / ex-Christian forums, and going through a book called Leaving the Fold, all of which really helped me.

u/remnant_phoenix · 4 pointsr/exchristian

Yeah, I see this a lot.

I myself was over-my-head-deep into the whole purity culture movement of the late-90s/early-00s. So was my wife.

I lost my virginity when I was 17 (with a long-term monogamous partner that I had every commitment in my mind to marrying). And then even after the relationship turned into a complete dysfunctional mess, one of the reasons I stayed--enduring emotional and psychological abuse--was because I'd rationalized that what we did was okay as long as we eventually got married, so I HAD marry her or what we did would be REALLY wrong (wrong in spirit) instead of just "technically" wrong (wrong according to church doctrine). Luckily I got out of that relationship without a marriage or a unexpected pregnancy happening (which, despite my general rejection of the word, is a damn miracle given how stupid and careless we often were about birth control), but I would spend YEARS after the fact seeing myself as used garbage who deserved the abuse I suffered, believing that it was a form of divine punishment I brought on myself by not staying on the straight and narrow. I didn't really get peace about that relationship or about the choices I made back then until after I'd spent years in non-religious-based psychological therapy. I fully moved on and forgave myself and the girl in question just last year. I'm 34 now, so, yeah... 16 years of emotional baggage there.

My wife was a virgin when we met and super committed to abstinence until marriage. She was--her own words--"afraid of sex" and even after we got married and became sexually active she would have strange moments, like feeling weird that she wasn't a virgin anymore, even though we were married. The psychological burden of it all weighed on her until she spent time in non-religious-therapy for a while; eventually she was able to own her her 30s. There's a powerful book that she recommends for people who suffer this way, especially women (because that's the perspective it's told from). It's called "Pure: Inside the Evangelical Movement that Shamed a Generation of Young Women and How I Broke Free" by Linda Kay Klein.

If there's one piece of advice based on our stories: talk to a non-religious therapist. A lot of the things you say speak to evidence of a degree of psychological trauma, which my therapist says is sadly too common among sensitive-minded personalities who grow up in strict and repressive fear-based religious teachings (even if the parents aren't trying to; it can be simply built into the religion and the manner in which it is received by the sensitive mind).

Good luck, and feel free to DM me if you want to continue the conversation or ask any specific questions.

u/Jim-Jones · 0 pointsr/exchristian

> First of all, it is a Bible study for men.

I know from that - that it is not. Real bible study is a book like Who Wrote the Bible?

It isn't listening to some con man who claims magic powers to interpret it in a way that suits his prejudices.

u/pianomancuber · 6 pointsr/exchristian

The Dead Sea Scrolls actually show that early Christians were very un-methodical in translation accuracy. I can pull sources when I get home, but the dead sea scrolls were in fact being produced by scribes in the process of copying and intentionally altering the text. Also they are just one of many hundreds of documents we've discovered. Even if they were somehow 100% like our modern Torah, the other hundreds which contain deliberate and huge negligent modifications show that in most cases they were not concerned with preserving the text's accuracy.

Early Christians commonly altered text on purpose, to support their own agendas. I really recommend you read some literary criticism of the Bible, like that of Ehrman. Certainly the vast majority of changes were of no theological significance--spelling errors, missed lines, etc--even though sometimes those innocent changes caused later scribes to misunderstand the text and then modify it even more in effort to "fix" it.

As just one example off the top of my google, John 8:3-11 is entirely a fabrication added by older scribes.

u/Doraemonlam · 1 pointr/exchristian

never heard of something like this being compiled before. but, may be u can give this a try:

This book summarizes horrible stories in OT with some level of indexing. it might help.

u/mrembo · 4 pointsr/exchristian

I just echo what etherias said 100%. Also, a great book that addresses a lot of that is The Demon Haunted World by Carl Sagan. It gets into that kind of superstitious stuff, conspiracy theories, etc. Not that they'd read it, most likely, but it'd probably resonate a lot with you!

u/Pharticus78 · 15 pointsr/exchristian

I read,”Why Evolution Is True “ by Jerry Coyne.

It’s an easy read and lays out an argument that I can’t find flaw with.

Only the most obtuse could peruse this scientific aggregate and still try to deny the age of the earth and evolution.

u/Strid3r21 · 3 pointsr/exchristian

I'd highly recommend [Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible] (

u/cspayton · 2 pointsr/exchristian

Thanks for responding!

I think that there are a few books which have influenced me greatly, but I have a much more expansive list of books I want to read than ones I have already consumed.

To start, you should try the greats:

u/kohalu · 4 pointsr/exchristian

Link to the book for the lazy.

u/ErrantThought · 1 pointr/exchristian

I highly recommend Linda Kay Klein’s book
Pure: Inside the Evangelical Movement That Shamed a Generation of Young Women and How I Broke Free. In the book, the author interviews a bunch of women about their experiences in the Christian purity culture and how that culture affected them after they left it. Your story sounds a lot like some of the things I read in that book.

u/lineolation · 14 pointsr/exchristian

As a victim of spiritual abuse, I have found this book valuable.

u/sciencepoetryreality · 1 pointr/exchristian

I went to Alpha when I was still a Christian, but when doubts were starting to form. They invite you in by sharing a meal together, watching Gumbel's presentation, and having discussion. The video segments are made up of the same old arguments stating that people are basically bad and need to be made right by the blood of Jesus. It's an effective tool on those who aren't able to or aren't trained in logical/cognitive fallacies.

> I've tried to respectfully challenge her on a couple of things, but she feels that I'm attacking her new found faith.

IMO this is a red flag. Being defensive usually doesn't allow for an open mind. Be wary.

> Are there any good books which help explain non-literalist Christian beliefs to someone who came from a literalist background?

I wouldn't keep pointing in the direction of belief, but rather point in the direction of truth (Plus, we were taught to hate Rob Bell in church):

u/doosjoos · 7 pointsr/exchristian

Maybe you could try showing that the Bible really isn't a reliable document in the first place. I'm currently reading Bart Ehrman's Misquoting Jesus which is opening my eyes to the problems with the accuracy of the text in the New Testament.

For example, the story of the woman caught in adultery in John 8 is not found in early manuscripts of John and was most likely added at a later date. If your family believes in the inerrancy of the Bible, it makes it hard to explain why something added by a scribe later should be counted as scripture. And if part of it has a dubious textual past, it calls into question the rest of it.

u/RainTea · 1 pointr/exchristian

I'm currently reading A History of God, by Karen Armstrong. Saw it mentioned in Evid3nc3's YouTube series, of course. It explains the old Canaanite pantheon, how Yahweh started being exulted above the other members during times of war and struggle, how the texts were altered and added to, etc. It also touches upon how other religions were developing at the time; Buddhism, etc.

u/queener_beaner · 10 pointsr/exchristian

Same girl, same. I remember writing letters to my “future husband” when I was 13 about how I was saving myself for him and I was to remain pure and blah blah blah. Didn’t have my first relationship until about 27 and I was royally a messed up mess with intimacy.

Anyways, there’s this book I’ve been meaning to read about a girl who grew up in the purity movement. Pure: Inside the Evangelical Movement That Shamed a Generation of Young Women and How I Broke Free

u/Alethia_Elric · 2 pointsr/exchristian

Instead of spending time and energy that I don't really have to answer what I could fill a book with, I'll drop some relevant quotes from Dr. Marlene Winell's book "Leaving the Fold", which I highly encourage you to read. Warning, I'm about to drop a lot of text to read. Read it in chunks if you have to. But if you really do want to understand, please read it all, even if you have to take breaks.

Disclaimer: the author uses the terms Christianity, conservative Christianity, and fundamentalism interchangeably even though she is aware that they are not synonyms. I have only selected quotes that are generally true of almost all branches of Western Christianity (Eastern Orthodoxy is a whole different animal). I have editorialised all instances to read "Christianity" for readabilities sake.

>In Christianity you are told you are unacceptable. You are judged with regard to your relationship to God. Thus you can only be loved positionally, not essentially. And, contrary to any assumed ideal of Christian love, you cannot love others for their essence either. This is the horrible cost of the doctrine of original sin. Recovering from this unloving assumption is perhaps the core task when you leave the fold. It is also a discovery of great joy—to permit unconditional love for yourself and others.


>Another devastating assumption of Christianity is that you are helpless and hopeless without the salvation formula. Within that belief system, the only capabilities you could hope to have have been outside of yourself. All the strength, wisdom, and love considered worth anything were to be channeled through you from God. Consequently, you may now feel like an empty shell, without any core, and you may still have a residual tendency to look outside yourself for security and satisfaction.


>The notion of personal responsibility in Christianity is a curious one. You are responsible for your sins, but you cannot take credit for the good things that you do. Any good that you do must be attributed to God working through you. Yet you must try to be Christ-like. When you fail, it is your fault for not “letting the power of God work in you.” This is an effective double bind of responsibility without ability.


>Christians are also made to feel guilty when they focus on their own priorities. It is seen as wrong and sinful to be aware of your feelings, honor your intuitions, or seek to meet you needs. You should be above this kind of selfishness and consider God first and then the group. But, since people naturally have needs and feelings, sincere Christians who want to avoid guilt must, in essence, annihilate themselves. This makes for more cooperative adherents.


>The pattern of indulgence and then remorse illustrated by [the Christian] compares to the behavior of an alcoholic or otherwise addicted individual. The religious addict is attached to the benefits of religion—the sense of righteousness, the social approval, and the emotional comfort—and yet is tempted to explore the forbidden. Because of pressure to stay on the straight and narrow path, decisions to deviate are made impulsively. Then the fear of consequences sets in and the cycle continues with shame and confession. The individual is thus trying to live two lives, engaging in the psychological pattern of “splitting.” Physical symptoms such as backaches, headaches, and sleeplessness can result.


>However, the adult child of the religious addict lives in this world and he sees another way to live, while at work and on television, in books and magazines or from friends. Occasionally he tries to live in both worlds, enjoying the worldliness of work and friendships, but also returning to the “righteousness” of home. This conflict leads to confusion, self-loathing and an eventual loss of control. Isolation, physical and mental breakdowns, drug abuse, eating disorders, sexual acting-out and violent outbursts of anger could arise—always followed by guilt, shame, and fear of God’s Judgment.


>The key is that you are considered fundamentally wrong and inept, beginning with the doctrine of original sin. Everything about you is flawed, and you desperately need to be salvaged by God. The damage to self is more than hurt self-esteem. Your confidence in your own judgment is destroyed. As an empty shell, you are then open and vulnerable to indoctrination because you cannot trust your own thinking. Your thoughts are inadequate, your feelings are irrelevant or misleading, and your basic drives are selfish and destructive. You cannot challenge the religious system because your critical abilities are discredited and your intuitions rendered worthless. Illustrating the dependence that is fostered, Jerry Falwell (1982) said, “Start your day off by ridding yourself of self-reliance.”


>Once you are a believer and no longer have your own mind to rely on, it becomes possible to accept everything you are taught. You can accommodate incredible problems in the religion because you need to avoid cognitive dissonance, as discussed earlier. The stretching of credulity in fundamentalist Christianity is a frequent occurrence. Followers are expected to believe contradictory, nonsensical, and offensive “true stories” in the Bible and church teachings. This serves to strengthen blind adherence because your intuitive reactions have been annihilated.


>These expectations for personal change and meaningful community are critical for many. Thus when they are not fulfilled, or not satisfied completely, doubt sets in about the system. This issue is far from straight forward, however. Because the individual self is so denigrated in Christian doctrine, failure to experience the benefits of Christian living is usually blamed on the individual. “You weren’t doing something right. You need to pray more,” they say. “Seek the Lord, He is teaching you something. Humble yourself.” This causes sincere believers to keep trying for many years, frustrated but self-blaming. Since many other Christians maintain a positive façade, it can seem as though others are succeeding. Believers go through tortuous cycles of guilt and repentance, trying to get it right. Church attendance and Bible reading can become compulsive as an effort to fend off doubt. Moments of joy and happiness do occur, but you wonder why good feelings cannot be sustained. Many a Bible study is about how to live a more “victorious life.”


>It [Christianity] also made me less able to love people, rather than more. I was supposed to be full of this love from God, which would make it easier to see people for what they really were, but I didn’t find that to be the case. I was so full of moral distinctions, and I was so anxious to say what I thought was true and to set myself apart and to say I’m a Christian and I think this and that and this is why. I found myself increasingly moralistic and harsh. I found it harder and harder to be friendly, and I became more and more socially isolated, which was just the opposite from what I had imagined.

I know that's a lot to read, but I hope you seriously read over these quotes. They're just a tip of the iceberg for me, and I could say quite a lot in my own words if I had the time or desire.