Losing My Religion

How cliche is that title? I had to, there was no helping it.

I might break this into several posts because there is a lot to it. I will try and be succinct though, and not waffle on.

There were several… parts if you will, to my loss of faith in the Judeo Christian God and Faith. It began over 2 years ago. I had managed to hold onto my faith in God through an abusive marriage, through being abandoned, through separation and finally divorce. Through eating disorders and trauma and bla bla bla. I would have to say, however, that those things were the catalyst to what became my journey away from Christianity and God.

Previous to my marriage falling apart and all the aforementioned crap happening, I was a born again Christian attending an evangelical pentecostal church. I went every single sunday, helped with admin and helped start their very successful youth group. I was considered a woman of God/a woman after Gods own heart/a woman with a heart for Gods causes – the poor, orphaned, widowed, destitute, etc. Basically I am an activist to my core and always have been. I was quiet about my faith but served diligently from the time I got saved til my marriage fell apart which happened at the same time I questioned the direction of the church and it’s new found connections to a movement I disliked immensely – Willow Creek.

After the majority of the dust had settled from my separation, I came up for air and decided I needed community and support. A church. I had stopped going because my ex had deemed our last church to not be teaching the Word of God correctly or deep enough and he disliked their new connections to WC. I found a sweet little church with people my age and started attending. I literally have nothing bad to say about that church or the people who attend it except possibly the pastor who told me the following. I had been dating a Christian and the pastor knew we were quite smitten with each other (Uh, try an unhealthy rebound >.< yuck). He decided it necessary to inform me what his thoughts on divorce and remarriage were. He explained that while I was ok before God to get divorced due to the abuse I sustained, it was not ok for me to remarry. Ever. I had mad a commitment before God and while it sucked that it didn’t work out, I had to honor it until his or my death. Peachy.

Hearing that devastated me. I had married way too young at 19 and while I had meant my vows I had no idea WHO I was marrying as I would later find out. I could not believe God wanted me to be alone and never experience a full and loving marriage. That my only experience of marriage would be one of continuous abuses. That my daughter would never have a two parent home again and that I would be destined to struggle alone and achingly lonely to be everything for both of us. None of it made sense and my instincts kicked against it violently.

I began researching. I found loads and loads of Christians who disagreed with that pastor and allowed, encouraged and condoned remarriage, especially in my case where infidelity and abuse were present. Luckily that rebound relationship didn’t work out (he was a fundie – YIKES!) and suddenly the pieces fell into place for me to make some big big changes for me and my daughter. We moved and settled deep in the countryside, started attending a new church where I felt relatively welcome and unjudged.

But this new church had different doctrines. And friends in real life and Online had different doctrines too. Everyone seemed to have them. I was definitely not new to the concept of doctrinal differences, but it was the first time I had been so personally affected by one or the other being right. I wanted one way to be RIGHT but if the other was RIGHT was I condemning myself and my new partner to hell? Then I came across an incredibly well outlined doctrine which made a case against the existence of a literally hell. It outlined how Noners would simply be annihilated and believers would spend eternity with God. I was taken aback. Which was right?

I became deeply concerned with finding out the Truth. Which of the many sects of Christianity had the right story? What if none did? What of these Gnostics? How did I know they didn’t have a corner on the truth? How could I reconcile the way I was being treated as a divorced woman with the Jesus I followed and how second class I was constantly made to feel? How could I be part of a church that reveled in such abject wealth and riches while so so so much of the world wallowed in poverty? What about the disgusting ways the LGBT community were treated? What of the inconsistencies in the Bible? How could God leave behind such confusion? Why would he leave things so ambiguous. If God is the same yesterday, today and forever… then… that means at one time commanded a raped woman be stoned to death and babies and women be slaughtered… wtf? And this was the doozy – why was he SO fucking silent and inactive to the mind blowing amounts of injustice happening all over the world?

That is just a very small taste of the questions that swirled and swirled and swirled around my head constantly. I began hungrily reading. My goal was simple. Find out which sect was right. Find the right theology/doctrines/beliefs and I would have my answers. Find out if the Bible had to be taken literally or metaphorically. Find out if it was some kind of cryptic guide to a deeper understanding and spirituality that not everyone was privy to. Find out the TRUTH.

Three main areas of discovery followed. One was scientific. One was instinctual. One was based on the validity of the Bible itself.

At this stage I will leave those three sections for future posts (they’ll be up shortly), because then I can address them deeper.

At the end of this discovery time, which lasted over a year, I was left without my faith, much much more peace and contentment and a freedom from so very many unhealthy things in my life that religion had imposed on me. I felt so incredibly free. The end result was also scary because having been involved in the church for 10 years, I knew what happened when people walked away. Rejection. Gossip. Supposition. Judgment. Condemnation. Guilt. All of these things were things I had to deal with. I lost a lot of “friends” (they weren’t worth the time and effort I had invested to begin with) and many of my closest friends still do not know the completeness of my loss of faith. I am gentle on them because I know how they will react and how they will worry and I spare them that. They know I have lost my faith but I spare them my rage at the faith and it’s leaders. I spare them the rage at feeling 10 years of my life were wasted in deception.

Among some of the harder things I had to face were the douchebag bastards who were very detailed in explaining how much I was hurting my daughter and letting her down. The pastor of my last church very gently and supportively and lovingly told me how I was hurting my daughter and depriving her and how badly I was regressing. My response? stfu and gtfo of my life. You’re done. Emotional manipulation and coercion are NOT ok with me. I’d come too far to put up with that load of horseshit.

In the end out of many, many friends I kept 4 from my real, every day life. My Christian friends I had made online were much more loving and accepting of me and it was never a problem. One of the real lifers has abandoned her faith as well. The subject is skirted around and that is ok with me. They very considerately asked if it was ok to be honest about their faith around my daughter. I said of course! It’s who they are and I love them, be themselves. While they never try and push her towards Christianity or indoctrinate her, they do occasionally give her overtly Christian things which grates on me. We deal with that as it comes up, which is usually painfully honestly on my part.

For my part I have both remained myself and changed significantly. I find my status as an agnostic free thinker allows me delve into subjects I never thought possible and consider an incredible amount of new things from a detached outside perspective, giving them each careful thought and rarely passing judgment unless it directly effects my life and how I want to live/raise my daughter, etc.

The biggest changes in my life are as follows:

  • I am an unabashed feminist and am no longer afraid to call myself one. You’ll be exposed to my rage against Christianity’s treatment of women shortly as well as general patriarchal bullshit too.
  • I no longer have a cognitive dissonance about the LGBT community and consider myself an activist for their rights. Love the sinner, hate the sin? I call BS. Had it pulled on me and it is a sickening feeling. So wrong and am so deeply sorry for not addressing my attitude to their community sooner.
  • I am personally pro-life but politically pro-choice.
  • I will never, ever again get married. For many reasons including that there is no equality in marriage right now. Only straight hetero-normative people can marry and until there is absolute equality then the whole institute is a means for discrimination. There are other reasons like rejecting the idea that being married lends some kind of validity to a relationship and disliking the government involvement as well.
  • I am no longer wallowing in cognitive dissonance  and no longer ignoring what I completely and utterly disagree with in terms of biblical issues and the culture that is coupled with Christianity.
  • My views on what it means to be a steward of the earth have changed drastically but they are not necessarily in conflict with the faith itself.
  • I am unapologetic in my swearing and firmly believe they are just words – occasionally appropriate, often not! ^_^
  • Sin = human nature and it is neither intrinsically negative or positive.
  • I no longer apologize for who I am anymore or feel like I am constantly failing or disappointing God. (Fuuuuck that noise!)
  • I accept the theory of evolution. Before I thought God started the whole shemazzle – now I am decidedly agnostic on who, if anyone, started the process and just enjoy that it produced what it has.
  • I now honor myself more, my daughter much much more and anyone who’s path I cross more – their journeys are their own and it is no longer for me to enlighten them or save them. I am not perfect and I still argue and debate with people, but I am now a facilitator and an observer more than anything else.

On the whole? I am still me. I am still trundling along working and trying to raise my daughter while moving towards a self sustained life. I am and always have been an Activist… I just don’t have to try and convince the believers that THAT is what Jesus said was important (they never listened anyway). I still donate more than I can afford to the charities I have researched and have found to be doing good, effective work. They have changed since I was a Christian. I still celebrate holidays but have reverted to the Pagan festivals, not because I have become a witch/pagan but because I have found them to be the most relevant for myself as someone who is so ecologically aware – living in tune with the seasons and nature is a truly enjoyable thing. I leave out the magic ^_^ lol because this world IS magic all on its onesies.

So. Highly unexciting. Well for anyone other than me. It was extremely painful and hard in parts. I will write about the most brutal realization for me personally in another post (click the link – it’s up now). Very, VERY liberating experience as well. I deeply value my ability to think critically and question now and to not have to believe what some random authority figure has deemed “truth”. I found it next to impossible to do these things while trying to hold onto my faith.

I do feel like I broke free of an oppressive religion. Part of me wants to apologize to any Christians who may read this for saying that but it is true. You may say “I am sorry your experience was bad, or that you encountered bad teaching, spiritual abuse, etc – my experience is MUCH different.” but rest assured, I used to say that exact thing myself. I feel like I have escaped, not unscathed and am better for it, and am now much more aware. I am now Agnostic. That means, when it comes to the question of whether or not God exists, my answer is I do not know. However, I do not, under any circumstance believe the God in the Judeo Christian Bible to exist as outlined in the Bible, nor do I believe He is the only way to any kind of salvation or that we even need salvation in terms of salvation from innate sin.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Abuse enabler says sorry and shockingly, it means nothing.

I’ve recently subscribed to Feministing which focused my attention on the Catholic Church, specifically in Ireland – my adoptive country.

You’d have to have your head pretty far up your arse to not realize the prolific world-wide sex scandals that have been rocking the church for nearly a decade now.

Having said that even I had no idea how far-reaching the rape and abuse was within the church. The pressure about the revelations has forced a response by the Pope. The same Pope who, himself, was involved in the move of a priest accused of molesting boys to seek therapy in another area but never notified authorities of the allegations of abuse, allowing the accused to subsequently molest more children. Whoops! Dropped the ball there Rottweiler.

How the fuck is an apology from a man who negligently moved and hid an accused pedophile and molester supposed to carry any weight within the church or to the victims? How the fuck is an apology with NO MOVE to provide justice for the victims supposed to carry any weight? Why are the accused routinely protected, re-located and in many cases allowed to re-engage with children in different areas, while the victims are ignored, shut up, shamed and silenced? How does “I know some of you find it difficult even to enter the doors of a church after all that has occurred.” and “submit yourselves to the demands of justice, but do not despair of God’s mercy.” even come close to being acceptable responses to the rape and abuse of children world-wide?

Cardinal Sean Brady, head of the Irish church, read the letter the Pope issued with the apology out in church even though he himself was involved in forcing 2 children to sign secrecy oaths back in ’75. All together now! WTF is THAT? You’re basically mocking the realities of the abuses happening within the church and showing the apology to be the load of steaming horseshit that it is. Why the fuck are these two abuse enablers leading members of the Catholic Church (one as the fucking POPE HIMSELF) when they themselves should be removed from leadership and preferably convicted for being accomplices in rape, molestation and abuse? Cardinal Brady said he would resign if the Pope asked him to… because that’s going to happen when the douche bag himself sheltered and enabled a molester. Clever, that.

And where are the authorities? Why are these pedophiles not being brought to justice in a court of law?

Good question.

I can’t speak for the rest of the worlds justice systems, but looking at my own adoptive country I cannot ignore the shockingly low conviction rate for rapists; as low as 1-2% back in 2003. Or the fact that they get suspended sentences or over turned convictions. It’s appalling – especially when rape has such far-reaching and horrific effects on the victims.

Apparently this Island either can’t or won’t face the realities of abuse and rape and prefers to ignore it or cover it up. The shocking victim blaming attitude so many Rape Victim Advocates speak of was demonstrated in a stunning response to the conviction of a rapist in Listowel earlier this year. That’s right, people lined up in sympathy of the rapist to shake his hand and console the sick fuck over his sexual assault conviction. Thankfully on social networking sites groups supporting the victim sprung up instantly and many spoke up in rage and indignation of such a sickening response and the local rape crisis centre in Listowel was inundated with support for the victim. And too right, too – that girl is being shunned in an assbackwards town for being violated.

You ready for the kicker? One of the men who defended the rapist as having nothing but respect for women? A priest. Who then shook his hand after the conviction was handed down. Father Sheehy has since resigned – thankfully, because anything less would be a mockery of the victim. Or wait – he already did that by defending her rapist. Good on ya, Father.

If Ireland wants to be taken seriously as a modern and progressive country, this attitude of blatant disregard for the victims of violent sexual and physical abuse not only needs to end but do a complete turn about and start bringing the offenders to proper justice. A sorry just doesn’t fucking cut it.