Thursday, October 15, 2009

Losing My Religion....A reboot of sorts.....

Well, since I went on record last week with the confession that I am drifting away from my love of sports (especially the Red Sox and Louisville athletics), I may as well go ahead and let it rip.

I have given up on religion. It's not been a short journey....nor has it been a very long one. I have been a believer in Jesus Christ, most of my life. It began with my grandmother and grandfather being believers and hard core, fundamentalist church goers. They didn't really push it on me, I just loved them more than anything in the world, so I wanted to learn about what they were on fire for. I read some books by David Wilkerson, Hal Lindsey and others and really got into the "end of times" prophecy and the Book of Revelation (as well as Daniel). As I grew up, I kept a belief going (not sure that I would call it faith) though I wasn't really following up on it.

About 5 or 6 years ago, I took a new interest. I found a church (Highview Baptist) that I really liked and people that I liked even more. It fit for me. I finally was at a place where I could dedicate myself a little more.....I took baby steps, but I was walking towards Christ. My wife really started dedicating herself to Highview. She became a member and started helping out in different capacities. I began to attend a Sunday school class with Nancy and had two "teachers" who I really took to and appreciated (Ed and Andy).

In the last year, I began to question the Bible more and more, as I became more familiar with it. I was shocked at some of the things I read. There appears to be quite a contradictory nature in God's being. I started to read about God intentionally hardening mens hearts to do harm to others. I started reading about how God allows evil and how it is totally based on his mercy that anyone goes to heaven. It's not my choice. God knew before I was born. So, now I'm back at the predestination questions I have had for most of my life. I got a little more familiar with Calvinism and it shook me. All of these things I was learning about was hardening my heart towards God, not opening it. I decided that I didn't need to simply believe.....I had to find out for myself what I believed and why. I started deconstructing my faith.

I continued to pray. I continued to read and study the Bible. But, I also let other options in. I studied up a little on Islam. I listened to some speeches by Islamic teachers. I read books by Dawkins and Hitchens. To keep things honest, I read Stroebel's "The Case For Christ" and a book that was designed to refute Dawkins' "The God Delusion", which was called "Atheist Delusions". After all of this, the only thing that stood out in my mind was "I do not believe in Jesus as the Christ, and I don't believe in religion, period." That's quite a shock to my mind after praying EVERY night for 30+ years. It was hard to accept, but there it was.

Well, it's been about 6 or 8 weeks since I have been solid on this. In that time, I feel different. I actually feel free from the guilt and pain that I have always carried around with me. Was it self-imposed? Sure. But it came from a lifetime of being told that I was worthless and probably going to hell. I was constantly tormented about every little thought....every little utterance....every little mistake. It's no secret I suffer from depression and if you throw a nice chunk of religous guilt on top of it, I was being crushed by the weight of it all. I have let that go. I'm living my life. I'm not any less moral than I have ever been. I'm not any less friendly than I have ever been. I don't love my family and friends any less. My mind has opened to life. I will seek a life that is fuller. I will take the time to love people more. I will spend less of my time worrying about pushing my morality on the population in general, or on my friends. I actually feel like a better human being. But more than that, I finally feel like "me". I guess you could say, I've been born again.

So, there's that. I have come clean. I still have a great deal of respect for those who follow religion. It's their walk, and I would never think of trying to push them away from what they have in their hearts. I hope that I will be afforded the same respect. I don't need to be prayed for. That implies that there is something wrong with me that needs fixing. If you feel the need to pray, pray for the kids out there who don't have anything to eat tonight or are drawing their last breaths due to cancer, AIDS, or some other terrible affliction. I will correspond with anyone who wants to discuss things with me in a respectable manner.

Yeah, this is heavy stuff.....I'll try to get back to my rants and observations soon!

With the threat of hell hanging over my head like a halo
I was made to believe in a couple of beautiful truths
That eventually had the effect of completely unraveling
The powerful curse put on me by you

When you set the table
When you chose the scale
Did you write a riddle that you knew they would fail
Did you make them tremble
So they would tell the tale
Did you push us when we fell
David Bazan (When We Fell)


  1. What a well-written,moving post, Freddy. I felt your changes, almost as you were going through them. My personal sense of things is,in the end, what matters is whether or not we make the world a better place for those who follow us. And that is a full-time job. I think secondly, learning constantly is what makes the difference in people - in as many directions and in whatever depth they can handle.

    Like Eric Hoffer said: “In a time of drastic change it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned usually find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer exists.….”

    I appreciate and admire your candor on such a personal issue. No one says you won't return to those roots you were raised in, either. You'll just take your own assessments as a living human into the cathedral of Life itself, based on the best you can figure. That sure works for me because I figure you'll consider everything.

  2. Very impressive piece. I was telling Barbara yesterday (via e-mail, oddly enough) just how intellegent you really are. You never gave yourself credit for the intellect within.

    I remember reading the Case for Christ a few years back. While it left me with no doubt the person existed, I just could never open myself up that another human being can perform "miracles".

    To me, we've seen too many "Jesus's" to count .... mostly on TV. Jesus may have been a truly good human being, but I have trouble believing he was no more than a Jimmy Swaggert or Benny Hinn.

    That may have been harsh, I know. But it has always been about tithing, even in biblcal times. Money, crops, animals, et cetera. It has always about the many tithing their hard labored earnings to another human being they've put on a pedestal. Is it any different than any other pyramid scheme going?

    I've not done nearly the reading or studying you have on the subject (especially of late). Maybe because I've felt this way for some time, I don't know.

    I could write more, but need to get back to work. I will surely keep your blog in my favorites, though hopefully with our renewed kinship, I'll possibly already know what is written.


  3. I applaud your courage Fred...Knowing you like I do, I know how hard these changes have been on you (and how hard my own changes have been on me), and yet I am a witness to the mind-purifying release that facing reality has had on you and me.

    I'm so happy that you have had the courage to even start asking the hard questions...but I'm even more proud of your ability to follow the evidence where it led.

    But this is the start of your journey and my words make it sound like the end. Here's to life my's to your life, my life, our lives as we find out, maybe for the first time, just how much value there really is in freely, without fear.

  4. Thanks for the comments. I don't feel as though I'm any smarter for this revelation, nor do I feel like it took any courage. I think I just took the lid off and let myself out. I feel like who I am, for the first time in my life. FREDDY

  5. Oh, you're definitely not smarter. ;-)

  6. I believe in Jesus Christ as Our Savior.

    I also respect and appreciate your personal growth about the subject.

    Yet, I appreciate the 10 Commandments and the message from Christ of tolerance and forgiveness, which is in the New Testament.

    It really is simple

  7. I can relate to your feeling of freedom. How great it has been for me to throw off the weight of Christianity and just be me!!

  8. "I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours."
    -Stephen Roberts

  9. Freddy,

    I can relate personally to your experience, it was very similar to mine. Congratulations, that free feeling of the burden being lifted from you is one of the best feelings I've had in a long time.

    Join us at my blog if you're ever interested, we discuss a lot of these topics (if you're interested..)