Victoria NeuroNotes

Into the Gray

The Masses Have Been Framed and Shamed for a Murder They Didn’t Commit

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Every day I read blog posts from people who’ve left the faith, Christianity, and the relief they felt realizing that it wasn’t their fault that Jesus had to die an agonizing death. Their years of anxiety and low self-esteem, wanes. Their shame slashed. Still, for many, it may take quite a while to overcome years of indoctrination from shame/fear based religions.

In 1766, author Richard Allestree wrote: “The newborn babe is full of the stains and pollution of sin, which it inherits from our first parents through our loins”  — The Whole Duty of Man (London, 1766), p.20

Jesus crucifiedMost Christians believe in what is called penal substitutionary atonement. This is the view that humans, due to their sinfulness, stand under a “death sentence” before a holy God of justice. But, because God (Yahweh) loves you so much, he sent his son, Jesus, who takes on this penalty, dying in our place. This “substitution” (Jesus’ life traded for our own) makes atonement, reuniting Yahweh and the person.

I don’t think that people who never went deep with their faith or never had faith to begin with can really relate to the inner turmoil that can take place in a person who accepted this as a fact.

I’ve sometimes read where people have said “how could anyone take this nonsense seriously? I knew it was BS by the time I was nine?”  You have no idea how much I envy you. I can understand how someone like me may have been perceived as stupid, gullible, naive, whatever. I bought it hook, line, and sinker because I was conditioned from an impressionable age, during crucial brain development, to feel shame — to accept part of the blame. Not so much from my parents but from clergy and Sunday school teachers. Today I call them travel agents for guilt trips, a.k.a. child abusers.

Dr. Brené Brown, after 10 years of research about the impact of shame, stated that shame is epidemic in America.  Is anybody surprised by this finding? I’m not. Dr. Paul Eckman, from the University of California, states that shame is the most private of emotions, and that humans have yet to evolve a facial expression that clearly communicates it. Psychiatrist Peter Loader states that people cover up or compensate for deep feelings of shame with attitudes of contempt, superiority, domineering or bullying, self-deprecation, or obsessive perfectionism. The findings from Dr. Brown’s research also showed that shame is highly correlated with depression, addictions, and eating disorders.

Your Need for Grace is Your Fault

Last night I came upon a blog on Pathos which inspired this post. Peter Mosley expressed my sentiments exactly:

“I used to sit, silently, in deep meditation, every communion, in deep gratitude for what I thought Jesus did for me.  Although I didn’t admit it at the time, it was humiliating to have that gratitude. The trauma of realizing how Jesus suffered crippled my psychology, I think.  I don’t think it does this to everyone — but if you really feel, deep inside, what Jesus did for you, profoundly and sincerely…I think your sense of gratitude would also be perpetual and overwhelming.  And with every smile and laugh in relief, you’re reminded that the fact you need grace is your fault.”

What truly loving parent would want you to feel this way? Mosley nails it when he states:

“It’s like being accused of murder, and then getting pardoned for it.  You’re grateful for the pardon, but every week you go to a building and thank the one who pardoned you.  You also hear constantly about how terrible what you did was, and how incredibly nice it was to be pardoned.  This makes you cry in gratitude.  It changes your life and the way you see yourself on a fundamental level.

A child’s self-identity is shaped around the things they hear about themselves. A study of schoolchildren found that only 4% had not been the targets of adult shaming; including “rejecting, demeaning, terrorizing, criticizing (destructively), or insulting statements” (Solomon & Serres, 1999).

You Can Never Be Good Enough—Unless You Accept This

In his superbly made deconversion video series, Prplfox states:

DSC_4464-1“Christians can acknowledge many ways a person can become an ex-Christian except for one, except for the most genuine: a broken Christ-follower who tries desperately to not become an atheist, but is finally forced to accept that the message of Christianity—that Christ died for your sins, that you are defective by your nature, corrupt and lost without God—is not true. And if that happened to you would it be your fault, or would that make your life an involuntary testimony to the poverty of Christianity? What would that mean about other Christians? And what would it mean to those you care about?

What if you were 21 and you thought you were the only one?

If an idea can’t stand on its own truthfulness, it has to find another way to survive. And often the way that happens is by the gradual, unintentional, or intentional refinement of the hijacking of our emotional architecture. Possibly the most effective, most powerful way a belief could do this would be to devalue or eliminate all other sources of self-affirmation— which Christianity does with devastating efficacy—so that there is no hope, or beauty, or meaning, and more importantly, no integrity of the self without it.

If a belief can do this to you, you will have almost no chance of being able to critically evaluate its truthfulness. Christianity alters your identity to ensure the survival of itself. And the ones who are the most vulnerable to this message are the ones who already deal with the insecurity of feeling like they are not good enough: young people who want to understand love and truth, and what it means to be good, which is the very nature of being an adolescent. And to them, as the adults they trust and look up to, while believing we are doing what is loving, we tell them that you can never be good enough—unless you accept this: this is what love is, this is what you deserve for your flaws. That is the Gospel—the death of Jesus has no meaning unless you first believe that it should have been you.”

Guilty of the Worst Murder in History

Richard Sennett is a Professor of Sociology at the London School of Economics and University Professor of the Humanities at New York University  He has been a Fellow of The Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He states: “Shame has taken the place of violence as a routine form of punishment in Western societies.”

Mosley:

“And you eventually, after 28 years of thinking, every day, that you needed this grace desperately,  find out that the murder of this great, great human being was not your fault.  In fact, it didn’t even happen nearly the way it was described, if it happened at all.

Maybe you would fall to your knees and cry and smile in relief.  Maybe all those years of psychological torment would fade away. Maybe you would collapse in the sheer shock that this…all of this…was not your fault.

That’s what it was like for me.”

And that’s what it was like for me, too. As my brain began to thaw, years of suppressed emotions surfaced.

Mosley:

Biblical counseling post2But the difficult thing is that I still see people in Christianity who are lied to.  Who are told they are guilty of the worst murder in history because of their supposed sins.  Who are controlled by the lie, and grateful to the very people who perpetuate it because they voice “forgiveness” for it.

So there’s anger in seeing it.  There’s anger in people still trying to tell others they are guilty, and that if they are ungrateful for the “pardon” their sins will land them an eternity of torment. That does make me upset.”

Me, too, and this is why I care, why I share. It’s why I advocate and educate. It’s why I put up with the accusations that I am a messenger of Satan, and why I’m willing to take the heat in discourse. Not because I think Christians are stupid, gullible and naive for believing in a god. It’s because I’ve experienced, first hand, the psychological harm caused by toxic shaming in the name of love, and I see the fallout of this inhumane teaching everywhere I look.

 It’s not your fault!

Trigger warning:

“The wounded recognized the wounded.”
― Nora Roberts

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Author: NeuroNotes

Victoria predominately blogs about religion, and the brain's role in religious type experiences.

238 thoughts on “The Masses Have Been Framed and Shamed for a Murder They Didn’t Commit

  1. Reblogged this on humanistmum and commented:
    No child should feel shame for being alive.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. It is hard to explain to people who have had a largely similar experience at school and Church why I used to take it all so much more seriously than they did. Some people seem to be able to let a lot of the religious things we were taught wash over their heads and not take too much notice of it. Even though I am a happy atheist I still struggle occasionally with how I was brought up to see myself and I can’t shake the feeling Christianity has a lot to do with that.
    Articles like this are great for reinforcing that there are others out there who feel the same. And it is OK to feel pissed off at the religion without hating religous people.

    Liked by 2 people

    • “And it is OK to feel pissed off at the religion without hating religous people.”

      Very well said Humanistmum. I can also relate to occasionally having triggers because of the way I was brought up. I also don’t think people really know what freedom feels like unless they were once enslaved.

      Btw, thank you for the reblog. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Great post, Victoria. One of the most morally offensive things to me about christianity is its notion of grace. The idea that I was born a sinful, disgusting piece of shit and am only saved because “god” was “graceful” enough to send himself to Earth as his own son (what a crock of shit,eh?) in order to commit suicide via Roman crucifixion so that I can be forgiven for being said piece of shit, is disgusting to me. It is an anti-human, immoral, sickening concept that keeps people mired in shame and guilt, and forever dependent on a corrupt, immoral, money-grubbing “church” to comfort and guide them. $Amen$

    Liked by 3 people

  4. It’s very difficult to explain the psychological effects of parenting/guidance that tells you one thing and means the opposite. Shame and guilt are central elements to the ongoing manipulation, the doorway used to enter and affect the deeper values of self worth and self trust. Insidious, yes… and pernicious, but a means to have to turn to the abuser for validation – as strange as that sounds – only to be open and willing to receive more manipulation. It’s a very difficult trap to get out of and fraught with having to first pass through and survive the heaps – external and internal – of guilt and shame. And that wound is hard to heal because our feelings rarely follow the direction we want them to go.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. “but a means to have to turn to the abuser for validation – as strange as that sounds – only to be open and willing to receive more manipulation. “

    That’s a very powerful statement. Sadly, many people have been conditioned since childhood to perceived this abuse as love. A form of Stockholm syndrome.

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    • … and a ‘gift’ that keeps on giving. People raised this way later react with those they love using what they know- emotional manipulation – as a coping mechanism. Children are particularly susceptible and so the cycle continues. I don’t think it’s much different in effect that parents who spank and think it is a good form of discipline- again, reacting with what they know but calling this form of direct manipulation ‘love’.

      I was very fortunate in that my early curiosity allowed me to remove myself intellectually from bizarre parental behaviour (I had many friends from whom I could compare and contrast family dynamics) and figure out what on earth was going on. One parent I understood was suffering from mental illness and so I could receive the abuse knowing that this was the presentation of a significant brain dysfunction. In other words, I knew from an early age it wasn’t me… even though all my siblings and extended family rationalized this parental behaviour as a means to an end over which they really had no right to judge or intervene. Sadly, my siblings have continued throughout their lives to repeat many aspects of the dysfunction they learned to internalize and have paid the price for doing this, namely, damaging their own children in the process and knowing the guilt and shame for doing this.

      I see little if any difference between mental illness exhibited by dysfunctional behaviour and mental illness exhibited as pious behaviour. It’s interesting to me how many of us generally try hard to avoid associating with the former but are willing to publicly embrace and respect the latter!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Tildeb, I do remember having a lot of curiosity as a kid and sometimes an awareness that made my parents nervous. Early on I had some boldness to say “that punishment didn’t fit the crime”, so to speak. That pissed my parents off, primarily because they knew I was right, but also because I had question their authority. However, they were not near as bad as my teachers, some who were nuns.

        Nuns are considered inferior in the RCC, and I witnessed a lot of bullying and physical abuse from them in my younger years in Catholic schools. I think the nuns were projecting disowned parts of their psyche in order to manipulate and control these feelings in another person without danger to their self. Children were the idea targets. I also witnessed a lot of disrespect towards children. I learned quickly to keep my mouth shut or I’d pay the price. Basically, I closed down emotionally and played denial games with myself to cope.

        You wrote: “I see little if any difference between mental illness exhibited by dysfunctional behaviour and mental illness exhibited as pious behaviour. It’s interesting to me how many of us generally try hard to avoid associating with the former but are willing to publicly embrace and respect the latter!”

        Your comment reminded me of something Sam Harris said during a debate. He said “religion allows perfectly sane people to believe by the billions what only lunatics could believe on their own. If you wake up tomorrow morning thinking that saying a few Latin words over your pancakes is going to turn them into the body of Elvis Presley, you have lost your mind. But if you think the same thing about a cracker, that it’s the body of Jesus, you’re just a Catholic.”

        I’m sorry to read about your siblings and their children. 😦

        Liked by 1 person

        • I still think the root problem is privileging religious belief. If one doesn’t do this, then I think (as Shelldigger pointed out) the problems with it pop out and seem rather obvious. Only then does one see the extent to which people contort their thinking to make up seem to be down and black another kind of white and then it’s easy to not go along.

          Like you, I spent some time in a Catholic school with nuns and was subject to particular negative attention for my unquenchable curiosity and ability to get myself out of the way when thinking about people and their behaviour. I know this was unusual in the eyes of grown-ups and my peers responded especially well to me on issues of fairness… what we would now call a strong sense of morality seemingly immune to bullying and religious rules and deference to authority. I would do what I thought was right and defend my actions with what I thought were really good reasons – even to the local priest and the area’s bishop – and I’ve never lost that approach. I had far too many older brothers to give in to the strapping and paddling so gleefully undertaken by the nuns, to the lack of favoritism given to other students who easily complied and regurgitated religious lessons without critique, and this only raised me higher in the esteem of most other students who continued to vote me captain of teams and head of class councils… so much so that the school asked my parents to remove me as morally incorrigible and a bad influence on others. I take that as a compliment to this day.

          It’s very difficult breaking the cycle of family dysfunction. I can’t fix others but I can and have done well with my own. I think the trick is not to react (using dysfunctional responses that come ever-so naturally) but proact (using a blueprint). I like to ask other parents, who admire my family dynamics and sincerely enjoy the presence of my children, who seek some advice, “What’s your parenting goal for your child?” This seems to be a question few parents ever ask themselves and fewer still who actually think it through and make a plan. But when they do, what a difference! Dysfunctional reactions still happen, of course, but it’s music to my ears hearing a parent apologize to a child for poor behaviour and then tell the child that they will strive to do better. That’s a pretty good start.

          Liked by 1 person

          • “so much so that the school asked my parents to remove me as morally incorrigible and a bad influence on others. I take that as a compliment to this day.”

            This made me laugh out loud and I would consider it a compliment, too.

            “…it’s music to my ears hearing a parent apologize to a child for poor behaviour and then tell the child that they will strive to do better. That’s a pretty good start.”

            Hear, hear.

            I consider myself pretty damn fortunate to have overcome years of indoctrination in the most religious region of the U.S. They broke my will for a period of time using manipulative tactics, but they never killed my curiosity and thirst for knowledge.

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  6. Again, Awesome! You can’t help yourself, can you? You should seriously beginning submitting stuff for CNN’s Faith Blogs (I think that’s its name?), or Huffington Post, like Valerie.

    I can understand how someone like me may have been perceived as stupid, gullible, naive, whatever.

    Not at all. I think the difference is in denomination. I’m one of those who began to see the inaccuracy of it all at age nine, but i was a Catholic, in Australia… It’s just not taken seriously, not like US protestants take it. That is something I have come to understand in these years of blogging; just how different the experiences are between countries and denominations.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Gosh, thank you John. You brought up an excellent point — I do think culture plays a huge role. I was raised Catholic, but became a protestant in adulthood. I did take my faith seriously, though, even as a kid. I was trusting — obviously too trusting. Questioning authority was also discouraged. I attended parochial schools, CCD classes, went through first holy communion and confirmation — the works. Looking back, I don’t think the adults took it seriously, but they were good at convincing us kids.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I went through all the motions too, Communion, Confirmation, the whole lot, but it was somehow never “real,” if that makes sense. More like a pantomime. In Secondary I was schooled by Augustinian priests, but we never had a single religious instruction class. Not one. What we did have in grade 10 was a semester of Comparative Religion… and it was really honest. No sugar-coating at all, an certainly no promotion of Christianity.

        But seriously, this work of yours is simply too good, too detailed, too timely to stay confined in the wordpress world. Submit, submit, submit.

        Liked by 2 people

  7. Very commendable post. I swear you guys and gals make my little blog look like scribbles on the bathroom wall. 🙂

    You point out very well the psychological warfare religion has perfected over the centuries. They use it to great advantage in keeping the marks in line. Indeed it is a key component to the scam.

    Some of you have mentioned when you started to see through the veil, or should I say caught the wizard behind the curtain. When I was somewhere between the age of 6-9 my parents were invited to some church. I of course was shuffled right off to the kiddie pool Sunday school. There I was greeted with warm smiles and coloring books. When the lady running the show figured out I was a newb both her and the kids there all knew it was going to be a starting from the top again evening, I could feel the way the air had changed in the room, the kids who already knew the routine relaxed, they had seen this before. So the lady running the show began the creation tale in genesis. When she told us that on such and such day god created night and day, then on a subsequent day created light, well let’s just say I’ve always been a sharp pencil, I quickly looked around and politely raised my hand. The lady addressed me and asked what was my question, and I asked how was it that god created night and day before he created the sun?

    That lady turned as red as a beet, glared at me as if I had sprouted horns, and stomped out the door fuming. Again, the air had changed in the room. I was too young to know what a shunning was but ladies and gents I was shunned mightily. None of those kids would even look my way, and the really mad lady never did return.

    On the ride home my mom asked me what I thought. I told her it was really weird, and I explained what had happened as best I could. She never asked me again about that experience, and we never went to church again either. 🙂 My heathen ways started early lol.

    Later in life when I was 16 or so, I tried the church thing again, but was just too damn stubborn to fall for all the crap they trying to sell me. I kept going for a while, trying to see what it was they were seeing, for the life of me I just could not swallow all the inconsitent bullshit. I felt like some sort of infiltrator hanging out after services having cake, and sharing pleasantries. It was during these after service situations I could really get the vibe of who and what these people were. It was there I heard things like “they should load up all the atheists and shoot them” or I’d hear them laughing about not being kin to monkeys, or I’d hear them gossiping about such and such and how they were fallen or they were bad, or they were messed up people, but they were people of god. The whole thing just stunk like an enormous pile of hypocrytical bullshit. This infiltrator eventually had his last piece of church cake and never went back.

    Living in the south though presents problems for cake eating atheists. For one thing it is lonely. No one to really talk to without the godawful subject of religion coming up. But I eventually found my way, on my own. And there ain’t nuthin too terrible about that. It is good to share your/our experiences on these blogs. People need to know that it is ok to not be part of the religious tribal groups. People need to know that life exists outside of those groups. That life is actually quite wonderful without shouldering the burden that is not yours to carry. Lastly it’s pretty cool that Sundays are for football!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Shelldigger, I loved your Sunday school story/experience — made me giggle — and wow, are you ever fortunate that you didn’t have to go back to church. That’s a rare experience when you’re living in the South, primarily in the thick of evangelicals.

      You wrote that they (church folk) said: ““they should load up all the atheists and shoot them” I can believe it. I heard some rather negative comments said about atheists (mostly from evangelical pastors and evangelists), and for a period in my life, I was afraid of them. We, you and I, live in hostile territory. 😀 It’s fun to joke about it as a way to decompress, but I agree with you — it does get lonely. As Neil Carter once said, when you live in the South, it’s like going to church every day. Why oh why couldn’t I have been born and raised somewhere in one of the Nordic countries.

      Great to see you around, and thanks for your kind comment. Edited to add: your blog rocks.

      Like

      • I was raised up above the Mason Dixon line until I was oh late 15-ish. Then we eventually moved down here because my mom has a sister here. I grew up mostly in East Peoria Ill. Then spent some time in Ia. Then lived in W. Memphis Ark. for a while. My mother and step dad were owner operator over the road truck drivers. I grew up learning how to drive and work on big trucks.

        Yes, we do live in enemy territory. There sure as hell aren’t any free thinking, godless, atheist, heathen groups to go to. Thank all that is good and fine the internet came along.

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    • My shelldigger friend, this

      I swear you guys and gals make my little blog look like scribbles on the bathroom wall.

      is all I always want to make you feel 🙂

      Like

  8. Great post Vi.
    I, for one, with Nietzsche, have blood on my hands for the death of god. I am happy that I killed god so humanity can shine.
    I love this post

    Liked by 3 people

  9. ‘Inner turmoil’? Yup. Absolutely no idea. My idea of inner turmoil would be more on the lines of whether some bloke I fancied thought the same about me. That’s not taking your experiences lightly but to show you how far away from it I really am. But you know that anyway 😀

    It was however, a very well explained post. Even if I can’t grasp the concepts. I’m more like Shelldigger going to Sunday school and being given a colouring book. Except I didn’t challenge authority. I just didn’t like drawing so stopped going. I thought it was going to be a proper school and that I was going to learn something academic not mess around with crayons.

    But it’s interesting to speculate, as I didn’t challenge authority (then;)) what might have happened had I been indoctrinated. Shudder to think. Because I did believe everything my parents and teachers told me.

    We had school assembly and religious studies (school was nominally Anglican, founded by a bishop I think, and our school motto was each for all and all for God) yet assembly was done in a routine fashion, and RS was done in a suitably dusty fashion where we studied the bible in early years, more like a history lesson really, and in later years we looked at other faiths and visited different places of worship. Primarily my school was interested in academia and getting girls into university wherever possible.

    Can’t remember what year RS no longer appeared on the curriculum, but it wasn’t a compulsory subject for O-levels, only a few weirdos studied it to exam level. The rest of us concentrated on maths, physics, chemistry, Latin, French, history, geography, and English Lang and Lit. I’d liked to have done music instead of geog, but you can see where the emphasis was in the subject areas. We did art too. We took the exam a year early, it was regarded as a practice run for us all before we got stuck into ‘proper’ subjects the following year 😀 But you can hardly teach critical thinking and questioning and develop young minds and then expect them to fall for a blatantly nonsensical story.

    I can imagine if we had studied religion as faith rather than an academic subject, I would probably have worked very hard at it, not made waves, and privately thought it didn’t hang together. Which tends to be the European approach. Or at least the Anglican one. Everyone in class was asked their religion/denomination (we were all ‘christian’) and with the exception of a couple of methos and fish eaters (regarded with suspicion) everyone was CofE which really meant most of us weren’t anything. It was ‘cool’ not to be religious. God Squad people were mocked.

    You could get exemption from assembly if your parents wrote a note. I just took the easy option in sixth form and started going late to school, as did a number of others. Before that it was quite good fun as a number of us would try and hide so we didn’t have to go, ie in toilets, cupboards, under desks etc with prefects and teachers patrolling around to find the rebels. When the coast was clear we would all sit around having a laugh, and swapping homework 🙂 much more use.

    To return to the serious point of shame/humiliation, my parents did use that as a tactic in terms of discipline and upbringing. ‘Don’t do anything that would bring shame on us/end up on the front page of a newspaper’ was code for ‘don’t have sex’. If I’d used my brain rationally I would have worked out that young roughseas having sex would hardly be front page national news. My father later accused me of trashing around but it fell on deaf ears. I’d worked out my own code of behaviour by then. So to some extent, I can understand the tactics around shame, just not the subject matter.

    I am however, deeply sorry for what so many of you have gone through and still go through. Barbaric. IMNRHO.

    Liked by 2 people

    • In my defense, I did not know I was challenging authority. I was genuinely curious how the hell they could have missed such an important part to their story. I looked around the room to see if anyone else was curious about this, seeing no curiosity present I took it upon myself to ask. I mean they called it Sunday School, I thought it was ok to ask questions if you didn’t understand something. Little did I know…

      I still wonder what ever happened to that really mad lady lol. Maybe she went home an began her path to atheism, I can only hope.

      To this day, I still have the, well I don’t even know what to call it, but I can walk into a room full of pompous egos and piss them all off in less than twenty seconds. It’s a talent I suppose.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mine wasn’t as well developed as yours. I’ve worked on it though 🙂

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      • “In my defense, I did not know I was challenging authority”

        I can relate, although I quickly learned that this was a big no no. If you challenged authority you were being disobedient, and it was pounded in me that rebellion and stubbornness was a fast-track ticket to hell.

        “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. ” 1 Samuel 15:23

        In a nutshell, I grew up having no voice, no sense of autonomy, and based on the blogs I’ve read these past 3 years, I most certainly wasn’t alone.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Wow, that’s crazy. I had it better than many I guess. I was at least allowed to be inquisitive. My family was not overtly religious, we set out a plastic santa and a couple of reindeer come x-mas, and we had a small nativity scene that counted as x-mas decor, but there was no mandatory church and no beating about the head with bible quotes. I could not even begin to imagine what kind of hell on earth living like that would be. Especially for one born with an innate curiosity and a desire to learn.

          Now I did know better than to plainly try to subvert the parents authority. I took many an ass whoopin as a kid, some I had coming, some not so much. I knew better than say something like, “yeah, if you can catch me” in response to a butt whoopin threat. Don’t ask me how I learned that one lol. I knew better than to challenge my parents, but it was ok to ask questions for the most part. You just had to be damn careful to word your questions so they did not seem to be an attempt to undermine their authority. Come to think of it “growing up as a kid” is a metaphor for tiptoeing through a minefield, or vice versa.

          Living as you have described in an apparent fundamentalist household, suffering the mental anguish, the guilt, the beating about the head with bible quotes, and likely being told to mind your place as a female, is child abuse plain and simple. There should be no home where a child lives in that kind of psychological shithole. It was many things, the reason religion did not suit me. The inconsistencies, the lies, the beginnings of understanding what we are talking about here and now, but it was the displays of blatant hypocricy that really pushed me away at that time.

          But in the here and now I can see all too well that children are treated more like hostages/slaves by their fundamentalist caretakers, and not treated as kids. That’s not good for kids…mmmkay? I know as a parent, you have to establish a certain amount of parental authority. Things just do not work well in total chaos. Kids should be respectful of their parents and other adults. They should say yes sir, yes ma’am, and hold the door for you. They should be grateful for what they get and understanding when they get the short end of the stick. They should be many things, but most of all they should have the freedom to explore, to learn, to understand how the world around them works, without being handicapped by the dedicated insanity that is fundamentalist religion.

          Liked by 2 people

          • SD, actually I did not grow up in an evangelical fundamentalist home. Catholic all the way, and neither of my parents have read the bible, just the Catechism. However, they used the Catholic church as baby sitters and it was the RCC that indoctrinated me more than my parents. They just reinforced it. I had a conversation with my mother a couple of months ago and mentioned Yahweh. She asked me who that was. LOL

            They were stanch Catholics and my dad was in the military, so obedience and submission were absolute requirements for survival. 😉

            Those scriptures about rebellion and stubbornness were pounded in me while attending Catholic school and CCD classes. But both my parents also attended Catholic schools in their youth, and they parented the way their parents parented who were also Catholic and raised Catholic.

            I didn’t get introduced to bible thumping protestants until I was an adult, and that was primarily due to several life events that left me “prey” to the wiles of the “devil” a.k.a. evangelicals.

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    • “‘Inner turmoil’? Yup. Absolutely no idea.”

      Lucky you and I mean that without any sarcasm. I can remember when it was not cool to be religious in high school. The most religious never wore cool cloths and the very religious girls would were drab, baggy dresses and sneakers. By then I was attending public schools, but it was very taboo to say you didn’t believe in god, and I never knew a person who didn’t. It was also not uncommon to see students walking around in public schools carrying bibles. I really didn’t know much about the bible back then. We were taught in Catholic school to memorize prayers and phrases out of the catechism. We were taught that our words, mental or vocal, our prayers became flesh. Try and wrap your brain around that one. I do not ever recall being taught critical thinking skills in school, ever.

      Like

  10. It is difficult to get one’s head around it, and like many of us when we were newbie bloggers the likes of IB, SOM, David, Brandon and Colorstorm were regarded simply as freaks. I even regarded unklee as a bit of a joke – more so because he came across so serious. These days , I realise he is serious, and its a case of Holy Crap on a Cracker!

    In fact, the very first religious extremist I ever encountered was Carrie’s mother – remember the movie Carrie? ( who doesn’t!) Yes, she was mentally ill – the mother – but I am betting there are plenty like her that are considered perfectly normal than you very much.

    And it seems there are parts of your country that are infested with religion.
    It’s about time people like Finkelstein etc are paraded in front of the general public and obliged to speak up.

    Would make a pleasant change.

    Liked by 1 person

    • “It’s about time people like Finkelstein etc are paraded in front of the general public and obliged to speak up.

      Would make a pleasant change.”

      Hear, hear. It can’t happen soon enough which is why I appreciate the work that you, John and others do in presenting these findings.

      “IB, SOM, David, Brandon and Colorstorm”

      They are considered the norm in the Southern region of the U.S. Perfect examples of the power of indoctrination and self-indoctrination which can and does lead to psychosis because it can and does cause temporolimbic overactivity and hippocampus atrophy.

      Liked by 1 person

      • As comedian Lewis Black once noted:

        They are crazy. They are stone-cold-fuck nuts. I can’t be kind about this, because these people are watching The Flintstones as if it were a documentary.

        Liked by 1 person

        • You reminded me of this — which you’ve seen before, but it’s worth a re-post for anyone who hasn’t already seen it. Simoly brilliant.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Ms non Video can never resist clicking on Dave Allen however many times I have seen it before. Love the bit about ‘Do you love God? ‘ sees chap nailed on cross. I LOVE GOD!

            Liked by 1 person

          • At times humour can be used to explain very profound truth. Dave Allen was a staple of my childhood.

            One of his jokes I recall is as follows:

            The young Irish vicar would ride his bicycle down the path between towns where he would meet an elderly priest from another parish, and they would discuss matters daily, until one day the old priest noticed the vicar walking instead of riding and asked him “What happened to your bicycle?”

            The vicar explained that the bike was stolen.

            “Well, then”, the old priest said, “Next Sunday, do a sermon about the ten commandments and preach heavily on THOU SHALL NOT STEAL. Then you will surely get your bike back”. The vicar agreed and went off.

            The next week, The two met again and this time the vicar was again riding his bicycle. “See what I meant!” the Old Priest said. “The power of the Word. The Ten Commandments, and Thou Shall not steal!”

            The vicar responded, “Well, not exactly, Father. I was preaching about the Ten Commandments, and I was all ready to preach heavy on ‘Thou Shall Not Steal’, but when I got to ‘Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery, all of a sudden I remembered where me bike was!”

            Liked by 2 people

  11. Reblogged this on A Tale Unfolds and commented:
    For believers … of whatever stripe.
    This is what god belief can ( and does) do.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the reblog, Ark. 🙂

      Like

      • And talking of Grace ( ”I never touched her m’lud – honest.”) Here’s a discussion between two Christians.
        The one, David, is likely a shoe-in for Ken Ham’s fan club.
        Er …

        https://ltg4dailywalk.wordpress.com/2015/05/19/the-way-of-love/

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thanks, I’ll check it out in a bit.

          Like

          • Victoria,

            Excellent post and perspectives.

            You mentioned to my blog friend “Ark” in a reply-comment below: “Is it possible to authentically love others when you are taught to loath yourself?”

            The answer is “No”

            And, as noted, many (if not nearly all or the vast super-majority) religions pile on guilt, self-loathing and self-condemnation through heavy doses of indoctrination to reinforce the “need” for their brand of religion. You hear it so often on religious broadcasts: “You’re bad…you’re lost…and you’re going to hell. But, I have the cure! Step right up, but first, please drop a little something in the offering plate to help us spread the cure to more folks…other lost people just like yourself!”

            And, remarkably…it sells. But, what it’s based on has a very shaky foundation.

            “Original sin”, based on a “story” of creation from several thousand years ago originally told and written to help create a “historical” connection to the “beginning” for the nation of Israel (probably written while in exile in Babylon when the final or near final version was written) and passed through hundreds–if not thousands–of scribes, editors and religious leaders can, to answer your question, make “love” impossible.

            And, that is many a religion’s purpose and sole (or is it “soul”) intention.

            Interestingly, for the religious folks, Jesus said, “Love one another” and followed those words with “just as I have loved you” speaking of a non-condemning love…a love not born of enforced, indoctrinated self-loathing, and being born “bad” but to an unconditional love (as the most famous verse in the Bible attests, John 3:16.)

            But, that “version” of love was not good for indoctrination purposes and was somehow left on the editing room floor for religious doctrines and theologies.

            “Love” turns up in most religions with an asterisk…with rules, steps, commandments, conditions, procedures, a what’s what of quid pro quo all humanly manufactured to ensure love is a love of their own construction, making and choosing. The same is true of forgiveness, grace and even peace. Simple words, construed to “work” for a religious brand.

            And, with a self-sustaining intention in mind, so many people have been indoctrinated by religions in what you so excellently articulated–a thick, circular web of judgment, condemnation, doom, doubt and cultivated in a resulting field of self-inflicted pain. All of this based on a constructed theology of a god that enjoys to hate, judge, be jealous and, in one of his more off-the-rocker moments, nearly destroys mankind with a flood for people choosing to sleep around with angels (another “story”.)

            And, for me, that is the challenge of overcoming the many constructed beliefs, doctrines and humanly constructed theologies in choosing to seek and, yes, even have faith in the midst of a very challenging environment.

            As evident, religions do what you say largely for their own self-perpetuation. They counter perspectives such as yours voiced in your post (and to a large degree the questions I pose them) with pat answers learned through indoctrination. At one extreme–they are offensive, attacking and condemning. But, when challenged on conflicts within their own brand of religion, defensiveness results in silence. And, when cornered but not quite ready to leave the discussion, there is always the “hell” card they seem to enjoy playing…another clear construct of religion.

            While, as Ark will attest, I am very “soft-headed” in many ways in somehow maintaining faith, I do my best to shine a light in a very similar way on the abuses you note through questioning and challenging those “preaching” an exclusive, judgmental, condemning, hateful and hurtful “Gospel” of their own making. I ask questions–and you should read some of the answers. Some will make you laugh…but most really are truly painful to read because the people are fully entrenched and bought-in (or sold out) to religious exclusiveness and constructed theologies.

            But, I’ll keep plugging away asking questions… 🙂

            In the meantime, I love your writing, your perspectives and your honesty, and wish you,

            All the best,
            luke

            Liked by 1 person

            • Hi Luke, welcome. and thank you for your kind words. I’ve only read a few of your comments on Ark’s blog, and you came across as kind and non-judgemental. I did notice you “liking” posts on other people’s blogs who were rather judgemental with their beliefs (evangelicals), so I guess I have been confused about where you stand. I do have a question for you. Do you believe in penal substitutionary atonement?

              Liked by 1 person

              • Thanks, Victoria.

                It is true, I have “liked” some posts/comments on some very judgmental blogs in likely the more tolerant context of their respective postings…it always encourages me to hear/read someone predominantly judgmental to say something about love, forgiveness or peace without a condition or asterisk attached. Seeing them take a step back from the a judgmental abyss, even momentarily, likely fuels my enthusiasm and “inspires” me to seek to find a way to the “like” button in their postings 🙂

                But, it is also very true I have also been “banned” by quite a number of similar, faith-based bloggers–seeing entire threads go into, dare say, blog “hell.”

                Not saying this in any type of defense, but the reality is that perceptions of people being in the “middle” (not that the “middle” always applies to me) usually means they are equally attacked from two sides instead of one. So, I’ve enjoyed what could be called equality in criticism. 🙂

                To answer your question: No, I do not subscribe to what you mention and many refer to as a “penal substitutionary atonement.” And, I have many reasons, but in the interest of time I’ll try to compress the primary thoughts (and, for the record, I am clearly not a theologian…just “luke” sharing his perspectives) 🙂

                The substitutionary atonement is at the very heart of connecting to the creation story, Adam and Eve’s sin, to the concept of “original sin” and the resulting necessity for “blood” and a perfect sacrifice as noted in the religion of Judaism. While even many Evangelicals seem to forget, Jesus was very much a Jew with Jews writing and framing most of his story in the Bible (an important factor to always remember when we read some of the Jewish focused commentary.)

                This premise was very much needed to link the “Jewishness” of Jesus to the story of Israel’s national story (the Old Testament) and to create the connection to a Gentile audience in the NT. Reading the story in four different accounts in the NT each has its own level of connectedness to a Jewish past and national heritage and the OT prophesies. Genealogies speak to this attempt to say, “Here is the Jewish Messiah”

                But, Jesus was clearly not the Messiah predicted in the OT, so, considering the epic capacity of changing and altering interpretation among Jewish religious leaders (with Jews likely being the primary first authors) it is not shocking you see the construct of a connection to the Genesis stories from Adam, Noah through Abraham and Joseph, the story of Moses and the Exodus, all based on being separated from Yahweh over disobedience, being exiled and then finding redemption. A penal, substitutionary atonement connects to sacrificing perfect lambs as evidenced in Judaism. The writers–seeing this opportunity to retain the Jewishness of Jesus and open the door for Gentiles–began to midrash their way to a penal, substitutionary atonement.

                But, it did not end there…

                The penal substitutionary atonement was then later refined to bring into account the construct of “hell”, putting “fear” into play along with inherent lostness, brokenness and the need for redemption. “Hell” fit nicely with the blood, guilt and atonement of a penal requirement for a perfect sacrifice…and they’ve run with it to this day.

                The one consistent in the gospel accounts was Jesus NOT fulfilling the role of Messiah and challenging the religious leadership/culture at the time…costing him his life on a cross.

                For me, what I see in the Bible is a consistent and sustained effort to make the past fit in the present. Examples: read 1 and 2 Samuel and Kings…then read Chronicles. Two perspectives. Samuel and Kings, likely written in exile with “blame” on the disobedient kings for bringing about the separation from Yahweh, the loss of their “land” But, Chronicles…much different. A “southern” kingdom, “younger son ascending” story without the foibles of the kings.

                Two stories, written for different reasons and intentions at different times with different present realities. The same is true of most “history” narratives…

                And, Victoria, my expectation–this expectation I alluded to– from the Bible is much different than most other followers of Christ, Christians or whatever the brand, so that makes much of the theology derived from the Bible much more subject to questions of context, culture, timing, intentions, biases, etc. So, I’m probably not the best critique because I see the Bible much differently than most…and I see God (Yahweh) not as the OT (and Revelation) portrays… and the same holds true for Christ…

                I hope this helps to clarify, but again, I’m not a theologian…far from it. I’m more of a faithful skeptic 🙂

                Liked by 1 person

                • Luke, thank you for sharing your perspective and for your clarification. Peter made a comment recently in another blog, and I’m paraphrasing — the world just makes a lot more sense without God. I concur. I can see that you have an open mind and a caring nature. I wished more Christians were like you. 🙂

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • Thank you, Victoria 🙂 Peter is a wonderful person to be mistaken for–a very good person and friend 🙂 And, making sense of the world definitely keeps life interesting and helps to add a couple of laughs along the way! Looking forward to sharing the journey, all the best, luke

                    Liked by 1 person

                    • You’re most welcome, Luke. Yes, I agree, Peter is a wonderful person and I do consider him my friend. Sorry about you going into moderation. You must have changed your email addy or perhaps the change of your gravatar triggered it. Anyway, I wish you all the best on your journey. Life is tough, and laughter helps to smooth the jagged edges. 🙂

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • 🙂 Thank you! I changed the image and email…change can be good (other than trying to change something on Word Press! 🙂

                      Like

                • Oops, sorry, I meant to write Luke, not Pete. I’m going to correct that.

                  Liked by 1 person

        • Oh dear — sadly, David knows the bible fairly well. I do not see love in Revelations 19. I see a Jesus who has gone off the deep end. Is it possible to authentically love others when you are taught to loath yourself?

          Like

          • Not in my book.
            He’s talking about excommunicating an entire denomination
            I recognise he probably doesn’t actually understand what he’s talking about but people like him need to be sorted out.
            I just hope he doesn’t enter the gene pool – even in the shallow end.
            What a Dickhead.

            Liked by 1 person

            • When you are indoctrinated to the degree that he is, you take scripture at its word. The path is narrow and few will make it to heaven. Why? Because they didn’t obey god’s word, which is the bible. Women are forbidden to teach men, and must obey and submit to their husbands, and homosexuals are an abomination. It’s right there in the “good” book. When a Christian tells me they love me, I know they haven’t the foggiest clue what love means.

              Like

              • But he is cherry-picking the OT. A classic case. He’s like unklee without the intellect.

                Like

                • Ark, they all cherry pick. All of them. Moses comes down the mountain top with the 10 Commandments — “thou shall not murder, steal, or covet”, then in Number’s 31, obeys orders from Yahweh (who gave these commandments) telling “god’s” people to murder, steal and covet.

                  Jesus says love one another, but takes part in a blood bath in his second coming; then an angel of the lord calls the birds from the sky to dine at the lord’s table, gorging themselves on the dead flesh of people like you and me.

                  Like

                  • Ah, but you see it is only murder if it is unlawful killing. Warfare and capital punishment are lawful killing and not murder in OT theology. people in your own community. Especially if God orders it, indeed as we saw from King Saul, it is the most grievous sin not to kill others when commanded by God.

                    It has been interesting observing Christian scholars and apologists seeking to defend the ‘indefensible’. The shocking thing about Numbers 31 is that God is essentially doing it for revenge. And then no doubt plans to torture those killed here in Hell for all eternity.

                    Sometimes Christians seek to use the ‘tough love’ concept to justify what appear to be harsh actions by God. At other times it is noted that God is a combination of justice, mercy and love, that usually mercy and love prevail over justice, but at times justice prevails, i.e. Numbers 31. However it begs the point of how is it justice to kill an infant who is not old enough to know right from wrong? How is it justice to torture someone for a trillion trillion years for a few years of misbehavior on earth?

                    I have concluded that Hell is the Achilles heal of the Christian message. Especially for Calvinists (Tiribulus note). What I have noticed is that they really don’t want to talk about it, they don’t even want to think about. I wonder if deep in their heart they know that a good, loving and merciful being could surely not torture people for all eternity. So consequently if they think about it they find a chink in their theology, and a small chink for a fundamentalist soon becomes a gaping hole from which there is no recovery. So they desperately try not to think about it. Or they gravitate to the ridiculous position of arguing that God sends no-one to Hell, people send themselves there with God somehow standing helplessly by with a tear in his eye.

                    Liked by 1 person

  12. Hi Victoria

    Thanks for that link to the Prpfox video series. I just sat through all six videos. It was absolutely compelling, it really spoke to me. I could so understand how he felt. At the end I suddenly realised there is hope in life yet. That the meaningless and hopelessness I feel at present will pass as I learn to embrace life. Thanks for that. And I loved his little Purple Fox!

    Liked by 4 people

    • At the end I suddenly realised there is hope in life yet. That the meaningless and hopelessness I feel at present will pass as I learn to embrace life.

      I can only speak for myself, here, but I went through a bit of a nihilistic phase, too. I think that’s natural. When everything, everything, you thought had any meaning whatsoever crumbles before your very eyes it takes a little while to regain equilibrium. Life does have meaning. There is joy. There is so much to learn, so much to see. There are still so many moments to take your breath away.

      Liked by 5 people

      • Thanks Ruth, one of the things I really identified with in the videos was where on the way to losing faith he suddenly found it hard to participate in worship. It all seemed so fake.

        It brought back a memory of mine from last year (when I still had faith) I was attending a friends Pentecostal Church which had a ‘spirit filled’ worship leader. I was finding the endless repeated choruses unbearable – I started counting how often the same line was repeated. After one had been repeated about 20 times I said to myself if that is repeated another ten times I will walk outside. Which I did.

        I later spoke with the pastor and said I really appreciated his sermon, but I found the music too much. He admitted that there was debate in the church about whether the worship was in ‘the spirit’ or ‘the flesh’.

        Yet around a year earlier when I had attended the same church I just walked in the building and felt, ‘the Holy Spirit is here today’. There would be a wonderful meeting and I would feel ‘moved by the Spirit’,. But on reflection even then as I realise as I felt the Spirit, where my whole body would shake and tremble, deep inside I wondered ‘is this really God or is it just psychological’.

        At the time I had left my employment and was determined to work full time for God. It was all my focus was. But now I look back and seems like a distant memory.

        “The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there”

        L.P. Hartley

        Liked by 3 people

        • “I was attending a friends Pentecostal Church which had a ‘spirit filled’ worship leader. I was finding the endless repeated choruses unbearable – I started counting how often the same line was repeated. After one had been repeated about 20 times I said to myself if that is repeated another ten times I will walk outside. Which I did.”

          Repetition, repetition, repetition. That’s how neural pathways are form. The repetition can also put you in a trance, thus a suggestive brainwave state. Sneaky “devils” aren’t they? 😉

          Like

          • After a while you see a pattern in how the music is chosen. Start with upbeat music and then after a little while slow it down to cause people to reflect. It can cause deep emotion in people. It is sheer emotional manipulation. Whilst the worship team claim that they are seeking the Spirit’s guidance, I know they plan it in advance, having talked with church musicians, especially a slow piece before calling people forward for prayer and the like.

            Like

        • This all reminds me of the last prayer I prayed. I was on the phone for hours with a friend who was going through so much drama. I prayed all these things for her for the longest time, but I felt so disconnected with what I once considered to be Holy Spirit, God and Jesus. I had been seriously fighting to remain a Christian for many years, but this was near the end of an intense search of the previous two years. I knew it was all over when I hung up the phone. I called myself an atheist just minutes after the phone call, immediately before going to bed that night.

          Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Peter. I’m so glad you watched the video series. I am overjoyed knowing that you’ve come to realize that there is hope in life yet. You just wait. 😉 Ruth said it better than I could, but yes, there is so much to learn, so much to see, and moments, many moments that will take your breath away. As I’ve already shared with you before, religious belief, deep belief, can deactivate neural circuity in specific regions of the brain. When those puppies come back online, reactivate, it’s like experiencing a whole new world with new eyes and a whole new you. It makes the loneliness of being an “outsider” bearable.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I’m on Prplfox video 4. I see so much of myself in his experience, things I either couldn’t name or couldn’t recognize or couldn’t articulate. Thank you for putting us onto him.

      Like

  13. You absolutely nailed it, Victoria. Christianity reinforces self-loathing. We are but wretched worms. We are filthy rags. Apart from him we can do nothing. It is crippling.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Ruth, I couldn’t agree more. People can be in denial about its psychological effects but if they call themselves a Christian, and believe that Jesus died for their sins, then yes, they have to accept that they are wretched and any good they do is as filthy rags. It’s despicable to fuck with people’s heads like that, especially children.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. This is one of your best, V, and that’s saying something. I don’t know if I ever got to the point of feeling deeply responsible for Christ’s death, but I have felt and perpetuated shame many times in my life. The psychological toll of being told that the worst event in human history is your fault…it’s torture.

    Liked by 2 people

    • So happy to see you Madalyn, and thanks so much.

      ” The psychological toll of being told that the worst event in human history is your fault…it’s torture.”

      Torture indeed, and it is appallingly clear that our culture has become desensitized to torture and sanctions it. Think about it — the masses submit and give their hard earned money to avoid angering the bully (terrorist) in the sky.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I know it is funny. But to me it is just so true and a bit raw for me.

        The one comfort I can take is that at least some of the money I donated to support the church over for many years was for direct programmes to provide practical health and poverty relief. It was not all wasted.

        At least I did not fall into the tele-evangelist web. I would really be crying now if that was the case.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Bravo!

      I’m so grateful for my kids because they helped me to see the truth about religion. I’m human, I make a lot of mistakes and I still show my kids love every day. They don’t have to convince themselves that I love them, they know that they know it. I don’t speak in code or riddles for them to know me. I spend time with them, and tell them clearly that I love them. If I am so filthy and my righteousness is likened to that of a menstrual cloth then how have I managed to show them so much more love than what an all powerful and all loving God has ever shown me?

      Something that I had often tortured myself with while I was a Christian was the idea of me crucifying Jesus over and over again every time I sinned! No wonder I was rarely happy for the first four decades of my life.

      Now I just sing all my old Church songs and giggle because they’re ALL sexual:

      “Softly, tenderly Jesus is calling, calling ‘dear sinner come home’.”

      “He touched me. OH! He touched me. And all the joy that floods my soul! Something (build up) happened (here it comes) And now I know!!!!!!!! He touched me and made me whole.”

      “He’s all over me and he’s keeping me alive! I know he is keeping me alive!”

      “Come, Lord Jesus, come…..as deep cries out to deep!”

      You don’t even want to know all the God songs I know about somebody somewhere “coming”.

      Liked by 2 people

      • It’s so great to see you, Charity. You wrote: ” I don’t speak in code or riddles for them to know me. I spend time with them, and tell them clearly that I love them. If I am so filthy and my righteousness is likened to that of a menstrual cloth then how have I managed to show them so much more love than what an all powerful and all loving God has ever shown me?”

        Well said.

        ““Come, Lord Jesus, come…..as deep cries out to deep!”

        You don’t even want to know all the God songs I know about somebody somewhere “coming”.”

        I am lmao right now. That is so true about about it all being sexual. Seriously, God is a jealous god, right? 😉

        Liked by 5 people

        • I think I remember one older song that went something like this:

          “Come, Lord Jesus, I need you. Come, sweet Jesus, I pray.”

          another….
          “The Spirit and the Bride are calling out to you, calling out to you ‘come quickly’.”

          (I don’t know why anyone would want someone to come quickly. Wouldn’t you want it to last longer?)

          “Come just as you are. Can you hear the Spirit call? Come and see. Come believe. Come and live forever!”

          (Maybe it’s my Romanian roots talking, but it sounds like something a lusty vampire might sing to the object of his affection.)

          There are so many songs, older and newer, with “Behold He comes” somewhere in the lyrics.

          Even while I was a single Christian I saw weirdness with God and sex. I noticed that the more I listened to worship music the more I wanted sex. Which is odd because that’s what I often turned to so that I might not give into temptation. Something else that bothered me was the Christian/Biblical opinion of sex as a whole. Sex outside of marriage is evil, sex in marriage is good and Godly. However, if a Christian couple abstain from sex until marriage and only have sex with each other, that baby they created is still born with a sinful nature. If that’s the case then one is ultimately saying that the sex that resulted with said baby is sinful, right?

          Liked by 2 people

          • “(I don’t know why anyone would want someone to come quickly. Wouldn’t you want it to last longer?)”

            “If that’s the case then one is ultimately saying that the sex that resulted with said baby is sinful, right?”

            Bingo.

            Like

            • Seriously, it’s as though they’re using reverse psychology when it comes to sex and morality. They have issues with pregnancy out of wedlock, abortion and STDs when they have no one but God, the Bible and their own faith to blame for it all. Their mindset continually sets them up for failure.

              It’s no wonder that I still have issues with my weight and health. I still have body issues, even three years after my deconversion. When you do not allow people to be discerning about their own bodies and sexuality by using their own minds, you are not allowing them to be their own authentic selves. You quench their maturity and identity instead.

              Liked by 1 person

              • “They have issues with pregnancy out of wedlock, abortion and STDs when they have no one but God, the Bible and their own faith to blame for it all. Their mindset continually sets them up for failure.”

                There is no doubt about that.

                ” When you do not allow people to be discerning about their own bodies and sexuality by using their own minds, you are not allowing them to be their own authentic selves. You quench their maturity and identity instead.”

                I couldn’t agree more. As a Christian women, I thought being attractive was a curse. Being widowed with a baby was even a greater curse. Being a Christian women, married or single, sucked, period.

                I have a hypothesis. I think the reason the Abrahamic religions made women the scapegoat and created a divide between men and women was to keep men from being more loyal to their partners than to the kings, rulers. So they came up with ways, laws to make men feel guilty for loving their wives more than god, and methodologies that produced dopamine and oxytocin inducing attachment towards their god. Worked like a charm, did it not?

                Liked by 1 person

                • I believe many men have it pretty rough in religion as well. They have masculinity shoved down their throats, as well as all things heterosexual, BUT they’re supposed to be madly in love with their bridegroom, Jesus.

                  I don’t believe that slut shaming is as prevalent as sex shaming. Many ministers believe that masturbation is evil. Dobson actually excused this years ago because of the stress relieving benefit it has. Men are ripped to shreds for looking at any movies with nudity in them and are rebuked for dwelling on their sexual desires.

                  There is also this huge push in Church for men to be fighters and warriors. Anything that may seem sensitive or feminine about them to others is immediately rebuked as a “spirit of homosexuality”. I wonder if these spiritual leaders have ever looked at the human condition or even animals in nature. The most beautiful birds that I’ve ever seen are cardinals, pheasants and peacocks. Do you know which ones are the most regal? All the males!

                  My husband is what many consider a man’s man. However, put on the recent Les Mis movie and he is the biggest, blubbery mess you’ll ever see!

                  We have to allow individuals to be individuals. We should not dictate who they’re supposed to be, we just need to let them “be”.

                  Liked by 1 person

        • Either my mind is in the gutter or this church signs belong in the gutter, but I will go with the latter.
          I am currently reading Religion and Sex and it explores the relationship between suppressed sexual desires and religion. I think it will point some light to these signs.

          Liked by 2 people

        • Hi Victoria, I am just now going through the comments on this post (I’m a little behind on my blog-reading!) and I had a few jaw-droppers in reaction to those signs. . .cackle, cackle.

          As usual, you have drawn the most insightful comments – isn’t there a line about being judged by the company one keeps?? 🙂

          Great post and so unfortunately true.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Thank you, my dear friend.

            “I had a few jaw-droppers in reaction to those signs. . .cackle, cackle.”

            I know, right? There are so many more just like that. The “wet sloppy kiss” and “pounding heart” mentioned in that video Skirt shared blew me out of the water from a neurological standpoint. Based on those lyrics as it describes the physical manifestations felt towards Jesus, it seems most likely that they are identical to someone who has a passionate relationship with a lover. There’s no doubt in my mind that the exact same areas of the brain are lit up by those worshipers in the video. It also explains the “honeymoon” period that many Christians have that often wanes, which also happens with lovers. Dopamine can plummet keeping them on a cycle of “renewal” and “re-dedication”. Crafty Christianity — the deceptive lover.

            Like

            • Victoria, given this comment here, I think you will find a match in the book I linked in my post.
              Ever asked yourself, what the song of songs is doing in the bi-bowl [as one Pink calls it]? It is basically an erotic poem only redeemed by the fact that it is found among the pages of the bible but it would fit in any secular anthology.

              Liked by 1 person

        • Not one with “Can’t nobody do me like Jesus!”

          or

          “Jesus on the inside working on the outside.”

          V, I seriously love these signs!

          “Have thine own way, Lord, have thine own way!”

          Liked by 1 person

        • I want to comment on this comment SO BADLY Victoria!!! 😈

          But my better judgement (not Yahweh’s by the way — Oooo, that rhymes!) tells me to hold my tongue! In my mouth! 😀

          Liked by 1 person

        • Holy crap, V! Stop making me laugh at this stuff while I’m sitting at my desk at a Christian university! The cognitive dissonance is killing me… :0)

          Liked by 1 person

  15. Great post,V, brought into focus two things that I have never considered before. One, that I’ve been taught (and fully believed) that I am at fault for everything from the weeds in my garden and the pain of childbirth to the torture/murder of Jesus and the saints and ultimately of God’s displeasure. And two, that so many of the songs I have sung from childhood are crazy sexual! I have always been queen of the sexual double entendre …. now I wonder if that has less to do with my natural wit and more to do with the subliminal message the church has been me sending all these years!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Skirt, thank you. After my deconversion a lot of my thoughts surfaced about the impact that Christianity had on my psyche. I began to understand some of the emotions I felt — and feeling ashamed for being a woman.

      Quote: “Augustine believed that the serpent approached Eve because she was less rational and lacked self-control, while Adam’s choice to eat was viewed as an act of kindness so that Eve would not be left alone. He considered a man’s erection to be sinful, though involuntary, because it did not take place under his conscious control. His solution was to place controls on women to limit their ability to influence men.

      According to Raming, the authority of the Decretum Gratiani, a collection of Roman Catholic canon law which prohibits women from leading, teaching, or being a witness, rests largely on the views of the early church fathers—one of the most influential being St. Augustine, the Bishop of Hippo.[146] The laws and traditions founded upon St. Augustine’s views of sexuality and women continue to exercise considerable influence over church doctrinal positions regarding the role of women in the church.”

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Augustine_of_Hippo

      Tertullian, an early church father who played a primary theological role in Western Christianity wrote:

      “In pain shall you bring forth children, woman, and you shall turn to your husband and he shall rule over you. And do you not know that you are Eve? God’s sentence hangs still over all your sex and His punishment weighs down upon you. You are the devil’s gateway; you are she who first violated the forbidden tree and broke the law of God. It was you who coaxed your way around him whom the devil had not the force to attack. With what ease you shattered that image of God: Man! Because of the death you merited, even the Son of God had to die… Woman, you are the gate to hell.”

      The bible clearly states, in both the OT and NT, that women were made for men, but not the other way around. I must say that when I’ve read comments from Christian guys, especially conservative, and just very recently when one refer to himself as a bride of Jesus, and are taught to give their best love to Jesus, it became clear to me why there was disdain for our gender, and why Christianity (which is a patriarchal religion) had strong sexual undertones. We (women) were replaced. Jesus became there lover.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. “With what ease you shattered that image of God: Man! Because of the death you merited, even the Son of God had to die…”

    So, Woman was responsible for destroying the perfect plan of an omnipotent God, apparently evading his omniscience (for if he knew we were so evil, why would he have created us?), and also shattering his narcissistic image in man? Da-Yum – if that’s true, women are the most fucking POWERFUL force in the universe, more powerful even than God! (waiting for lightening to strike. . . . nope, still here)

    “We (women) were replaced, jesus became (men’s) lover…”

    Since I’m a closeted church musician, I still sing songs in church, mostly modern worship songs. For a while I couldn’t bring myself to sing them because I didn’t know if I believed them. Now that I KNOW I DON’T, it doesn’t bother me a whole lot. Since few of these songs reference God or Jesus by name, I picture singing them my husband and am amazed that they mostly fit! That’s because so many of the modern worship songs refer to Jesus poetically like lover. “O Lord you’re beautiful”, “Jesus I’m so in love with you”, “He is jealous for me…. heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss” (I wish I was making that one up https://youtu.be/bLvgqqZvLZk 3:00+). They’re usually written by men, sometimes really rugged looking men, but often other (non-artistic) men (including my husband) feel very odd singing them while picturing Jesus as the object of all this lovey-dovey, sexual-sounding affection. I used to think these men were uptight and needed to open themselves up to god. Now? I see how weird it is.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Skirt, I just got through listening to the video. It seemed clear to me that they were in an altered state of consciousness, and just wow about the sloppy wet kiss. The music was awesome so I can see how people get pulled in to believing that the “holy spirit” was present. Spiritual sex with da holy ghost. Yet another area where religion hijacked our emotional architecture.

      Dr. Michael Persinger, a cognitive neuroscientist states that when people gather in a group for a common purpose, the larger the group the more effective, they will experience a special kind of psychological arousal — a sense of wholeness.

      Quote: “You have these groups in the kind of ecstatic states, a kind of expectancy state, then you have the individual come out, the speaker who will coordinate all these experiences among the mass of people. This person must be a kind of orchestra leader to maintain his great orchestration of cognitive experiences. As the speaker begins to give the message, the people are full of emotion — full of imagery.”

      It’s a feeling of being one with everyone in the group.

      These images take on tremendous personal value because of the elevation of the opiates. Because of the groups state of ecstasy, and within the gathered crowds, you see the features of these opiate releases. They may cry. Individuals sway. You get the smiles, a mild glow, like a mild drunken state. These experiences are associated with mild electrical changes deep within the brain.”

      Now, if you add sexual overtones, like that worship song did, there is an even greater release of opiates and more electrical charges in the limbic system.

      Nothing worse in the world then feeling guilty because your partner wants to spend more time with Jesus than with you. You feel guilty for being jealous and then feel even more guilty that you are pulling (tempting) your man away from his true lover (God). It’s just mindfuck stuff.

      Btw, I used to be director of music when I was in church. I also worked for a Christian radio station, so I heard these love songs all damn day, throughout the week and into the weekend. 😀

      Liked by 2 people

    • Didn’t have to click the link, well aware of the song….”loves like a hurricane”, etc.

      My favorite one from IHOP was “all things work together for my good. Your love never fails!” That was while I attended an AG Church in San Diego years ago.

      V and I were heavily involved in music ministry for years as well. I bet all three of us could swap some interesting stories about Church, leadership and worship.

      I hope you are doing really well, Skirt. V’s blogs are safe havens for people like us. I wish you the best on your journey.

      C

      Liked by 3 people

      • “All things work together for my good. Your love never fails!” is one of the songs that I NEVER put in a set these days – can’t even pretend with that one (although I never liked it much before either)! Thanks Vi and Charity – it’s reassuring to meet women who have walked the same path and understand what it is like to do something like worship God and play from your heart with complete sincerity, then to be bowled over by unbelief. It’s helpful to see that one day I can be ok – thanks for the save haven.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Skirt, I’m right there with you. I deconverted a little over 10 years ago but I spent most of that time processing unexpected emotions and thoughts that surfaced as specific neural circuitry reactivated. I didn’t really have anyone to talk to about all this and neither did I share my experiences until recently when I started this blog in June of 2013. But to be able to share with other women who had similar experiences and thought processes is something I really do appreciate, and it helps me to not feel so alone. I agree with Charity that Christian men have had it tough regarding mixed signals, but I think that women internalized of lot of cruel crap that most men simply can’t relate to. It’s one of the main reasons clinical depression is more prevalent with women than men.

          I’m really happy that our paths have crossed. It’s a pleasure to get to know you better. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

        • I was so ashamed of my deconversion that I didn’t even interact with anyone about it for many months and when I did it was with just a few people on a couple of blogs, I can’t begin to describe the pain. However, I think mine was mild compared to others for I doubted Christianity from the time I was 18 until I deconverted over 20 years later. My doubts seriously began at Bible School of all places! I had two decades of crying, grieving, praying, journaling, fasting, singing, hoping, reading books and studying the Bible, doing all that I could to believe. I was thinking about an incident after reading V’s blog last night that I haven’t thought about in years. It was one of MANY where and when I should have ran out of a Church and stopped going to any church altogether. However, I didn’t. I felt that all disdain that I received was just par for the course. Either I did something wrong and deserved it and/or God was trying to teach me something. I was God’s personal punching bag.

          I guess I held unto that song because I truly wanted to believe that God loved me, no matter what. After all, He only chastens us because he loves us, right?

          You are not alone, you really aren’t. I don’t know how this transition will come about for you, but it will happen. At some point you will experience more peace than grief. It happens at a different point for all of us as we deconvert. You’ll wake up one day and will realize that certain words and actions don’t cause you as much pain as they once had when they were said or done around you in the past. However, you might experience triggers that bring up quite a bit of pain that you never realized you had. Any mention of hell did that to me for a while.

          The year I deconverted, my parents traveled to my family’s house for Christmas. I was so miserable and EVERY OTHER gift they gave me was religious! My parents are leftover Jesus People from the early 70s. I had such a lousy holiday that year. The next Christmas was at their house and it was half a year after I told them I was done with religion and their toxic abuse. My siblings and all of their families came from all over the country to spend time with my parents as my family stayed home. They outed me to all of them. The Christmas after that, last year, they sent my little boys a card. My dad wrote about how my husband and I are the Anti Christ. After all of that, I didn’t even mention any of this until some time this year to a few of my blogging friends.

          Skirt, I do wish you well with all you do. No matter what, we are all here for you. It’s uncanny as to how many of us are online. At first I didn’t know how to look for people like me. Now I see more and more deconverts. It’s reassuring to me because it shows me that people are thinking for themselves,

          Peace and love,
          Charity

          Liked by 2 people

          • Oh, Charity, that story about the Christmas card to your boys . . how heart wrenching. Why, oh why do people do such dreadful things to children?? The sad part is, they probably thought they were doing the right thing. I grieve for you. Every time I hear these stories I think the same thing, – “You didn’t/don’t deserve that kind of treatment!”

            Although my break from faith was not nearly as traumatic (none at all, actually), I can still imagine the pain of yours and my heart goes out to each of you who’ve experienced such a turbulent experience.

            Liked by 3 people

            • Carmen, it’s fine.

              I licked my wounds at first. Then I considered the source and it no longer bothered me. I mentioned on here before that my oldest, who was nine at the time, was so upset he wrote my dad a letter about it and we sent it right away. I honestly prefer “anti christ” over “prodigal” any day because I have no intentions in going back to my emotional and mental prison of faith.

              It is a good thing to give thanks, but not to an invisible God or spiritual authority who believe it is holy to rebuke the hurting. I give thanks to agnostic/atheist bloggers who genuinely care. I’m grateful for sunshine, trees, water and the moon. Most of all, I appreciate my little family who love me unconditionally. These are the people and things that matter in life, not doctrine and toxic people.

              Enjoy your evening, Carmen.

              Char

              Liked by 3 people

              • It’s odd what our emotional battles did to us, eh? Although I – in no way – would ever say that having two alcoholic parents was a good thing, I think the one thing that it DID do to me was make me sensitive to others’ pain. It also made me recognize and be grateful for the good things that have happened in my life – I, too, am now surrounded by a loving family. I’m so glad you are free from your toxic environment, Charity!
                P.S. I think I’m a couple hours ahead of you, so our evening is ending but thanks – hope you have some left. Hubby just came in from mowing the lawn for the first time this year, so we can say that summer is coming (FINALLY!).

                Liked by 3 people

      • Charity, I’m so glad you popped in. I’ve been missing you terribly and you have a gift of stimulating discourse. Is it OK to be jealous of your kids? 😈

        Liked by 1 person

        • Ha! Your comment almost made me cry it was so ooey, gooey sweet!

          I admit, I used religion to live vicariously through my boys when they were little. I wanted them to do greater things for God than what I ever could. Once I deconverted, I noticed that I began to live vicariously through them in academics, sports and music. After one, two and even three years of such extracurriculars, I’ve allowed them to let go of the activities they were no longer interested in anymore.

          I’m a long ways off from making parent of the year, but I do thank you for your sweet comment.

          Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Skirt

      What you say is so true. Jesus is like a perfect love, in theory at least. But in my case it felt like an unrequited love. So much so that the folowing song probably best reflects how I feel about the whole matter in retrospect:

      In fact the more I reflect upon it, the more I think it sums up a lot of my Christian journey. Unrequited love!

      Liked by 3 people

      • Wow Peter. 😦 It’s so true. I am moved to tears after listening to the song, because I can relate. I think that anyone who once had a sincere faith, came to same realization. But I’m glad it hit me like a wrecking ball because it shocked my brain and my deactivated neural circuitry (associated with attachment) started re-activating,. Things started making a lot more sense after that — which help expedite my deconversion journey.

        As I shared with you in email, I had to process a lot of this through a neuroscience lens to help me understand what had happened from a neurological standpoint. The Purple Fox was spot on when he said that Christianity hijacks our emotional architecture, areas of the brain rich in oxytocin, vasopressin and dopamine receptors.

        *hug*

        Liked by 1 person

        • I told someone recently who was concerned about my state of mind, (they did not know about my loss of faith) that knowing the issue is one thing, dealing with it is quite another.

          I feel like I am in the situation of sufferer from depression who pushes away people who are trying to provide help, thus damaging relationships and making the recovery ever harder (I am not talking of my internet friends here, but my local friends).

          I do despair of myself at times.

          Like

      • Peter, I’m so glad that I’m not the only one who has made that comparison with this song!

        Like

      • Wow. That song from Les Miserables is one of my favorites, one I used to sing for auditions. Picturing God instead of Marius…. I always saw this story through God glasses. I wonder how different it would look now. Another song that has always resonated with me is Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” It evokes such powerful emotion in me, and I wondered how someone unreligious could write such a powerful song. “Cold and broken hallelujah….” means more to me now. If I had a song for this part of my journey, it might just be this one.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thanks for sharing that song. I wonder whether it is primarily the raw emotion of such songs that we connect with.

          It is interesting how listening to a song from the past can bring back to us the emotions we felt when we first became familiar with the song. In retrospect I can see some signs of growing distance from religion in my approach to music. I was only nominally religious as a teenager, it was not until my early 20’s that I really brought into concept of Christianity even though I had attended church my whole life. However I now look back and see that in the months leading up to my faith crumbling I was increasingly reverting back to listening to the music that I grew up with pre-faith, it was that secular music that increasingly worked for me
          emotionally.

          This is one reason I found the Purple Fox series so valuable as I could start to see that my move away from faith was not a sudden turn, but a gradual drift that I fought against until the ‘back shelf’ items just became too much.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Leonard is a fine poet and a truly awful singer from Montreal. KD is a national treasure from Edmonton; I remember seeing her roasting hot dogs over the Olympic flame in Calgary and performing a country a western diddy in a wedding dress and I thought to myself that here’s someone who can really sing. What they evoke in this song is very powerful and moving even if we the listener can’t articulate it. This pairing would never come out of most religious countries: he’s a English speaking secular jew (where French is the official language) with Buddhist learning while she’s a lesbian from a Texas-like province. But what a gem they create because none of any of that matters a tinker’s damn; they are both tremendous artists and both deeply perceptive humans who can touch parts of us by being able to exercise their crafts. That’s what establishing enlightenment values in law can produce: the opportunity for people as unique individuals to become….

          Liked by 1 person

    • Skirt, I was thinking about this song as I thought about our recent “conversation”. As much as I was into worship as a Christian, I could never bring myself to sing this song. Then again, it could have been because my pastor’s teenage daughter would lead this song in Church. For some reason I never liked the combination.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Good ol’ Misty Edwards! Didn’t realize she started at IHOP. Always thought she was the secular version of Evanescence. I didn’t know this song but we have used her stuff – My Soul Longs for You (“You’ll come like rain” – eek), Surrender (“have your way”), I Am Yours (“it’s been a long night…I am hungry”). Never realized until now that these all have bizarrely sexual overtones! The only one I ever used in a set was Pledge, which I liked musically. Our music directory deleted the line about “you have ravished me, your bride” which seemed pretty icky anyway.

        Liked by 1 person

  17. Hi Victoria,

    Thank you for this post and especially the comments that have resulted from it. As bizarre as this sounds, it is essentially equal measure informative, heart breaking and uplifting. Although it makes me sad to hear of the terrible things that you and others (including Tildeb who I have been following for a while now) have had to endure, it provides me with hope that this phenomenon (religion and religious belief) will eventually be over come and that some day, reason and common sense will win out. Or at the very least, the status of religion will be relegated to that of private belief without public privilege. I am saddened to hear of the loneliness that people like you and shelldigger have had to endure and I wish more people would recognize that this is a very real thing that many, many people have to deal with. I see the bigger problem being that of apathy and indifference of the quasi-religious, the “moderately” religious, non-religious, etc who turn a blind eye to sufferings that people are subjected to all over the world while either not recognizing, now wanting to recognize, or not wanting to admit that religious belief is the main contributor to all of this suffering. My personal opinion of the matter is that this is done out of fear. They’ll claim that it’s out of respect that they do this, but what they really mean is fear. They’re scared they’re going to hurt someone’s feelings, they’re scared they’re going to say the wrong thing to the wrong person and lose affections of a parent or loved one or a friend. They’re scared that they’ll end up isolating themselves. They’re scared that they’ll suffer the loss of a job. As far as I can tell, this seems to be Swarn Gill’s MO. He’s not religious himself, but he’s deathly afraid of offending people who are and terrified of the negative consequences that OTHER people might suffer lest they criticize religion and religious belief and the very harmful dangerous consequences attached thereto.
    I sometimes feel like I’M the over-zealous one because I want to learn as much as I can about the criticism of religion and what I can do to contribute to it. I’ve gotten this from my own friends, who are also non-religious themselves but find it strange that I would want to read so many books by the new atheists and old philosophers who criticize religion (even though there are numerous other books I have read regarding cosmology and evolution and philosophy). I suspect that if any of them had to be transplanted to your neck of the woods and live there for a few years, they might start to understand why I feel the way I do about religion and religious belief.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Hi Ashley. Thank you for your comment and for your empathy. I do appreciate Tildeb being more open about his own experiences and it helps me understand where he’s coming from. I think everyone has their own debating style that is reflective of their personality, their personal experiences and their knowledge. You wrote:

    ” They’re scared that they’ll suffer the loss of a job. As far as I can tell, this seems to be Swarn Gill’s MO. He’s not religious himself, but he’s deathly afraid of offending people who are and terrified of the negative consequences that OTHER people might suffer lest they criticize religion and religious belief and the very harmful dangerous consequences attached thereto.”

    I feel fortunate to have gotten to know Swarn better via email, so I have a much better understanding of where he’s coming from. He’s also quite intelligent and has a lot of knowledge about the workings of the brain. He is applying a debating technique that tends to me more effective than some of the techniques used by other non-believers, including myself. Perhaps you’ve heard of the Backfire Effect? Quote:

    The backfire effect occurs when, in the face of contradictory evidence, established beliefs do not change but actually get stronger. The effect has been demonstrated experimentally in psychological tests, where subjects are given data that either reinforces or goes against their existing biases – and in most cases people can be shown to increase their confidence in their prior position regardless of the evidence they were faced with. In a pessimistic sense, this makes most refutations useless.”

    That doesn’t mean we should cease to educate and share the negative impact that religion has on society, but sometimes, or more often than not, hitting people over the head with your anger infused opinions can come across no differently than a fundie trying to hit you over the head with his/her bible.

    Quote:

    “What should be evident from the studies on the backfire effect is you can never win an argument online. When you start to pull out facts and figures, hyperlinks and quotes, you are actually making the opponent feel as though they are even more sure of their position than before you started the debate. As they match your fervor, the same thing happens in your skull. The backfire effect pushes both of you deeper into your original beliefs.”You Are Not So Smart – The Backfire Effect

    I also think that we have to take into account death anxiety and the power of indoctrination. Both can have a very strong grip on people. I’ve always been the curious type and studious, so I think that really helped me come out of my religious stupor. But had I been a strong, devout Christian reading these debates that were infused with ridicule from non-believers, it would have most likely strengthened my already indoctrinated view of atheists. Not everyone is willing to face their own mortality or have their whole worldview turned upside down. Deconversion is not for the faint of heart. It’s fucking hard. I think we have to have an awareness about this before we can be effective in discourse. I’m still learning every day to be an effective communicator, but I can allow my pain of loss and feelings of betrayal to get in the way and muddy the waters, so to speak. We are, after all, human. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • As we’ve discussed before, we all come at this differently, and from very different backgrounds. From my point of view, I am not seeking to deconverts people unlike Christians who are seeking the reverse. Although, I am something of a lost cause/total waste of time.

      However, your point ages ago about lurkers did strike home, and reading your blog and others, there are people who seek that validity that it is ok to reject a religion, any religion.

      But, because I don’t have your background, I don’t have the same empathy or eloquence, sadly. All I can do, is to say it is perfectly possible for two atheists to have sex before marriage, not have children, and still be together thirty years later without god’s divine intervention. And that we can work out morals, ethics, and values, and live by them without harming and hopefully helping our neighbours (neighbours used in a general wide term).

      I leave the challenging, acedemic, religious approach to others more qualified, mine is merely to question as just another person on the street. Whether it achieves anything is anyone’s guess.

      Liked by 3 people

      • ” All I can do, is to say it is perfectly possible for two atheists to have sex before marriage, not have children, and still be together thirty years later without god’s divine intervention. And that we can work out morals, ethics, and values, and live by them without harming and hopefully helping our neighbours (neighbours used in a general wide term).”

        It certainly is, but there are so many Christians who say that morals came from Christianity. When I see that it tells me they have many blind-spots, or as the neurological research shows, their love for god has deactivated neural circuitry associated with negative emotions (towards their god) critical social assessment and mentalizing. Other Christians will say, and you’ve seen this, too, that it matters not that you are a moral, ethical person. You’re doomed to eternal torment if you don’t submit to their god. This is clearly demonstrated in Revelations 19 when Jesus makes war with those who didn’t submit to his father, Yahweh, and “treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty”.

        I was stunned to read, I think it was Peter who commented, that a survey/study showed approximately 30% of Christians prayed for harm to come upon others. Just mind-boggling. Kate, I’ve always considered your comments here and on other blogs, valuable, and you bring a unique perspective as one who was never a believer.

        Liked by 1 person

  19. Great and thought provoking post Victoria. Original sin, Christ dying for our sins, it’s all terrible that guilt and fear are used to not only control behaviour, but also control thoughts, so that you even get to feel bad for thinking something outside the fundamentalist narrative. And then of course this psychological architecture, as you said, extends to other areas of life. I have been fortunate to have a less fundamentalism in the family, but have a couple. I would say though there is still some uncomfortability in some of my cousins admitting their atheism. Since I have been openly atheist, I have had a couple of my cousins ask me questions, and so it’s nice to be a resource for them.

    I thought of a couple of things as a I read your post, one was the survivability of these ideas. In 1976, Richard Dawkins coined the term “meme” which has a much different meaning than how it is used in popular culture today. It does seem that many cultural and religious ideas do get passed down similar to genes, and just like the “selfish gene”, these memes also seem to want to survive. The good news is that unlike genes, through vigilance we can change the environment to weaken the conditions for such memes to survive. Which is why education is so important, and I said before to you in private that understanding how the brain works and the value of critical thinking can allow us as a society and an individual to challenge such harmful ideas. Hopefully, in time passing on these ideas that cause guilt and fear will be seen as immoral as any other act.

    The other thing I thought about was in regards to what you said about parents think they are being loving. This is something that I have been very interested in and as a result sat in a class about the psychology of love taught by one of my colleagues. Given how fundamental love is to us, I wondered why does it manifest itself so differently? Like anything else, while we all have the genetic drive for love, the way we do it is learned, and mostly from our parents. So in many ways you have generation after generation of folks thinking that they are showing love, because that’s how they were shown love from their parents. All sorts of abuse can assist as love to the young because they are programmed to love and trust their parents. It’s so incredibly tragic. The ones who don’t deconvert, like you, will go on thinking that building your spirituality through guilt and fear is a form of love, instead of abuse, which is what it really is. Luckily we are the product of more than our family and culture and with globe getting smaller through the interconnectivity of information, I feel optimistic that we will reach a new golden age for humanity, because the things we know about how the world actually works will not go away.

    Sorry for the choppy style here…still on my phone!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Swarn, I hope you made it home by now and I look forward to hearing about your storm chasing trip as time permits. You wrote:

      “It does seem that many cultural and religious ideas do get passed down similar to genes, and just like the “selfish gene”, these memes also seem to want to survive. The good news is that unlike genes, through vigilance we can change the environment to weaken the conditions for such memes to survive. Which is why education is so important, and I said before to you in private that understanding how the brain works and the value of critical thinking can allow us as a society and an individual to challenge such harmful ideas. Hopefully, in time passing on these ideas that cause guilt and fear will be seen as immoral as any other act.”

      Very well said and I am in agreement with you that the teaching of ideas that cause guilt and fear should be considered immoral — unethical because it certainly is. It’s abuse. I’m not suggesting that we never experience guilt because if we’ve done something wrong, then guilt can be beneficial. But to shame children and adults on the scale that Christianity has done, causing untold suffering shouldn’t be tolerated. The evidence is all around us. I wanted to touch on a few other things you commented on but I may not get to that until tomorrow. Thanks so much for taking the time, while on the road, to comment at such length. I hope you and your son had a wonderful reunion. No doubt you did. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • It was a wonderful reunion last night, thank you!

        As I was waking up this morning I was thinking of the very thing you just mentioned about scale in which Christianity try to perpetrate this mass feeling of guilt. Doing it on the individual level is bad enough, but I started thinking of this billboard I saw in Indiana on the way back (by the way Indiana apparently has more fundamentalist Christian billboards than Missouri, Texas, or Oklahoma per distance of interstate traveled!) that said something like “God will bless this country, once we as a country start doing God’s will”. That statement, to put it mildly, is extremely fucked up. It’s probably the kind of things that gets me the most angry, because it’s the same kind of BS you hear people say like “school shootings are more frequent because we took prayer out of school”, or “that country got hit by a hurricane, because they don’t believe in God”. So apparently it only takes one bad apple to spoil the bunch. The message seems to be that if you are not Christian children dying is your fault, and if you are Christian it’s probably your fault too, because you probably haven’t been doing enough to convince everybody else that they need to be Christian too. I remember reading something that Dawkins wrote about how the “power of prayer” continues to be believed in. When it “works” then God answered your prayer, when it doesn’t “work” then it must mean that you didn’t ardently believe, that you must be doing something wrong. And this can extend to larger scales, like if a town prays for rain because they are in drought. If rains don’t come, then that must mean that there is a sinner among the community that must be rooted out in order for God to answer the town’s prayers. So not only does it make you feel responsible for your own hardships, but for everybody else’s. Perhaps the most distressing part of it all, is that when you look at how such beliefs characterize God himself. God really does come off as a megalomaniac, narcissist, and psychopath all rolled into one. If such a person existed in the real world and was literally just doing this to a group of people, the public would cry for the gallows. And if this God is supposed to be “our Father”, if a such a parent existed the children would certainly be removed from that situation. Good parents give unconditional love, they support their children through their mistakes, and believe in their ability to be good and be better. If there was a God he should be required to have as much belief and faith in us and we are supposed to have in him. But a God who only gives love once a certain set of conditions are met is no “Father” and is certainly not worth giving respect to even if he is real. I feel it would actually be my moral obligation to be opposed to such a being. I wrote a blog post about a year ago about this that you might be interested in. It is actually the very philosophical argument that first led me to reject the idea of God, especially in the way that many Christians today and many Christian historically have characterized him. http://cloakunfurled.com/2014/08/22/returning-your-ticket/

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  20. Victoria,

    I have heard of the backfire effect – not described as such but certainly the phenomenon itself. I would probably tend to refer to it as the “brick wall effect”. There are several bloggers I have had entanglements with where it becomes very apparent that it doesn’t matter what I have to say (or anyone else for that matter) because it will not be taken into consideration. No matter what, they are right and that’s that. They have their belief and that’s all there is and there’s no shaking that out of them. I have resolved to take a new approach to such people. I found myself being too hostile and too belligerent and realizing that even though I wouldn’t describe my postings as necessarily just “anger infused opinions” – because they would be based on some kind of scientific fact or the refutation of other people’s non-scientifically based assertions – they would come across as such. I have been over on ColorStorm blog and I have adopted the Socratic method when conversing with him. It is rather unfortunate, but certainly not unexpected, in that it appears as though it has not yielded any meaningful discussion and just turns out to be him making the same unsupported assertions and statements. My hope is that my questions will cause other people who read them to see his blog for what it is – namely a place to state that scripture is always correct, that he’s right no matter what, and that any questioning of assertions and positions is futile because all paths lead back to god. If I can cause just one person to think about the questions I have asked, I feel I will have made some progress. I doubt that I will actually ever know that I have, unless someone outright tells me so, but I don’t really care about that.
    “I’ve always been the curious type and studious, so I think that really helped me come out of my religious stupor” I would say that your curious and studious nature not merely “helped” you come out of your religious stupor, but was absolutely THE critical component. I have read some of your earlier entries in which you state that many, perhaps most if not all religious people are full of fear. I don’t disagree with that, but they are usually also completely ignorant as well. It think the two go hand in hand. They don’t know anything else other than what they’ve been told about god by their pastors and preachers and they don’t want to know. They’re too scared to want to find out, so they just shut off the critical thinking part of their brain and believe. The really tricky part is trying to determine which ones are willing to be studious and curious (like you) and which aren’t (like colorstorm).
    But anyway, I must say good work on your blog and congratulations on freeing yourself of the chains of religious belief. Here’s hoping you can convince others to do so as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Ashley

      I am currently reading through Guy Harrison’s book ’50 reasons people give for believing in a god’. He argues that a direct attack on a person’s belief rarely changes the persons view. Harrison seeks to get people to think, he suggests that is the best tactic so he proposes asking questions rather than making statements.

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      • Peter,

        Yes, hence my adoption of the Socratic method in my conversations. When I see someone making unsupported assertions or using faulty logic or claiming to know things they can’t possibly know, I start asking questions. The questions are designed to get to the root of why people “know” what they think they “know”. So far, it hasn’t caused the people I have conversed with to change their minds (at least I don’t think so) and has lead to a lot of incomprehensible responses, evasiveness and being ignored/not answered. It’s what I expected though, so it’s not surprising. Hopefully, somewhere along the line, it gives some people pause to think. We’ll see how it goes!

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        • How are you going with ColorStorm?

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          • How am I going with him? Nowhere really. Take a look for yourself. I’ve posted on “According to what?”, “Whoa, don’t plant that seed”, “Logic? Ha!” and “Fiddling and Burning”. The end result is always the same. Scripture is god’s word and it’s always right. End of discussion. I am extremely lucky if any of my questions get answered and it usually ends up being in some kind of indecipherable code, that, when I ask for further clarification, I get more of the same or nothing at all. So I realize that I am extremely unlikely to change his position but maybe if I am lucky, some of the lurkers/readers will notice the way he tends to argue and by having me point out his tactics that they’ll recognize when they’re being sold a counterfeit bill of goods. I’m not expecting much, but I guess I am having a little fun watching him tie himself up in knots. I am actually quite surprised that he is willing to let me continue. I wonder for how long…..

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            • I had an argument with him a while back about scripture. He said that God’s word was unchanging forever settled in heaven. I asked him how it was then that the story of the women caught in adultery was not in an of the early texts of the Bible. Did God give a deficient Bible to the early church (indeed for the first few hundred years)? He never responded.

              Dare I say – an inconvenient truth. The problem with fundamentalists is that they have a view of the Bible as being dictated by God directly, but all history shows that view cannot be sustained. They fail to accept this reality because it challenges their whole world view.

              Liked by 1 person

              • Looks like my good graces didn’t last that long! ha ha ha. I went over to CS’s blog and read his latest post. A long winded whine about how Victoria’s post (this one actually) is, well let’s just say – real bad stuff. I will give him praise for recognizing that our efforts are really to “plant the seeds of doubt” (especially after I flat out told him as much in an earlier conversation). I commented on some of his observations and now my comments are “awaiting moderation” whereas they used to be posted immediately. I wait with bated breath to see if CS will have the courage post them or will feel too threatened by them and banish them to the depth of the netherworld, never to be seen again.

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      • There is very often a problem to follow Harrison’s suggestion (“He argues that a direct attack on a person’s belief rarely changes the persons view.”). The problem is that any criticism of religious beliefs is usually understood to be exactly this, a direct attack. It is quickly and effortlessly repackaged to be an ‘attack’, a ‘war on Christians’, atheist zealotry, fundamentalism, militancy, stridency, hatred, anger, evangelical humanism, atheistic secularism, and so on. The assumption he makes is that a ‘direct attack’ is counterproductive.

        Reality tends to differ.

        Direct attacks often implant a seed of doubt, a watering of an existing doubt, exposing true believers to people and ideas that are contrary to what they believe yet seem reasonable, personal, successful, intelligent, moral, ethical, and good citizens. The cognitive dissonance alone is means to start the deconversion process and get people to stop automatically singing the praises of religious belief and recognize that there really are legitimate criticisms of it, that there really are pernicious effects caused by it, that there really are people harmed not just by a few ‘bad apples’ who are religious but by all of us who privilege religious belief and prepare the ground for this harm to regularly occur daily… generation after pious generation.

        And the evidence for the effectiveness of ‘direct attacks’ can be found in their thousands. A quick trip to Dawkins’ Convert Corner reveals just this, and the testimonials (and permitted emails) from many New Atheists show the same effectiveness.

        Direct attacks work. Going along to get along – avoiding direct attacks and merely asking questions – has no equivalent body of evidence of deconversion to support it. But it sure sounds nice and makes the author seem to be a very tolerant and swell kind of guy… not like those other nasty atheists.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Tildeb,

          Interesting point that you bring up about what a “direct attack” actually is. In my mind it was being belligerent, obtuse, ill-mannered coarse or border-line abusive – of which I could be convicted of being guilty of on several occasions. But it’s really a subjective opinion and can mean whatever the accuser wants it to mean. In my approach to CS, I decided to try something completely different. I do ask questions, but I also point out the flaws in his thinking and use his own words against him in subsequent posts and I avoid the angry outbursts and swearing and other such things. Oddly enough, I don’t feel the urge to talk to him that way. Whereas someone like av8torbob just comes across to me as an extremely arrogant, know-it-all smartass, CS doesn’t. He comes across as a very brainwashed and deeply deluded individual – so much so that I kinda feel sorry for him. I am curious as to whether or not this approach would work with someone like av8torbob for example as it seems that both approaches have gotten me equally far to date, which is to say really, nowhere – with them. However, I feel like my approach with CS will bear more fruit amoung the lurkers than my to-date approach with av8torbob. I would be interested in your opinion on the matter if you (or anyone else here) would be willing to give it. I think you know me well enough that I have no interest in being a tolerant and swell guy! Ha ha ha

          Liked by 1 person

          • CS banned me long ago.

            I find it ironic but absolutely typical of most Christian sites (that moderate every comment from the out-crowd) that a proper tone was judged to be lacking in me when faced by those who uphold and prmote misogyny, bigotry, and discrimination as godly virtues.

            In particular, Wally loves to expound at length but, when challenged on a particular lie and/or distortion and/or misrepresentation then whines about others for comments longer and way too complicated for the humble likes of him who needs simple sentences… and thentries to hide behind the Good Ole’ Boy persona that seems to be sickly nice as well as intellectually simple, and then ends it by saying he’s off to another Church meetin’… only to pop into the thread and throw in smear comments against atheists and cheer comments for the in-crowd. CS thrives on the adulation and mewling of his followers.

            It’s my experience that I really must stop paying any mind to those who have little if any regard for what’s true and knowable no matter how nice they may seem to be.

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        • I suppose we each have our own personal style of communication. We cannot really succeed trying to be someone we are not. Hence each of us will communicate differently.

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          • Quite so. But that accepting sentiment is rare.

            I have encountered the “I’m an atheist, but…” crowd far too often to think being told how to effectively communicate by them is anything other than a convenient faitheist meme they spread to satiate some inner need to be liked by those who assume they are immoral nihilists waging war against their god… but nicely, of course. The assumption that seems to underlie the desire to be nice I find usually hinges on a presumed compatibility and kumba ya world between belief and non belief… as if ‘to each his own’ describes the truth value of claims made about the reality we share.

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            • You are correct in what you say. Whilst I am a realist in regard to humanity. I still find it hurtful when people attack my integrity as Tiribulus did on Violet Wisp’s blog recently. I don’t mind people arguing about my opinion but I do mind them attacking my character.

              But the reality is that I realise I need to develop a thick skin to be able to participate in forums where the debate is robust as often people who can’t win the argument logically resort to personal attacks. I see from your personal story that you had to develop a thick skin very early on.

              Until recent months I called myself a Christian and I am still yet to break all the emotional attachments. So I suppose I find it hard seeing people who had subscribed to the same faith as I once shared acting in ways that so go against how I understood that faith.

              I appreciate your logical approach to issues. It is an approach I aspire to emulate, however I fear my interpretation of issues is still impacted by emotion.

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              • What others see as my ‘logic’ for (rather lengthy) opinions I hold and express (yes, many have called me ‘Spock’ for most of my life), I see as requiring an explanation, a revelation of my line of reasoning, showing why I think as I do. If my reasoning has gone astray, I actually appreciate it when people point out where and how. If I don’t explain, then they can’t offer me this benefit. I then feel no regret or remorse for opinions and ideas I can then adjust accordingly. You see, I think it’s actually a good thing to hold opinions that I think are well informed and I don’t like holding on to poorer opinions just because I have invested myself to believe them to be correct or right.

                I have always seen opinions and ideas and beliefs as if they were bubbles over people’s heads like in cartoons and graphic novels… separate from the person but attributed to him or her for holding it at that time. I see my own the same way and popping this bubble with better reasons I don’t see as a loss or attack but a justified correction. But many people do take it as a loss, as an attack. In fact, I have found (to my surprise) that many people assume these bubble ideas are part and parcel of their very identity. To threaten an idea or opinion or belief with what I think are better reasons to change them is then seen as a ‘direct attack’ on the person and I’ve been accused more times than I can count of committing ad hominem for doing this. This never fails to surprise me how much people personally invest int their ideas.

                This is the same accusation, for example, leveled against those us who criticize Islam or alternative medicine or conspiracy thinking or denialism as a set of really poor ideas and then being labeled as ‘Islamophobes’ or shills of Big Pharma, or duped by cabal, or a castrophist, and so on… as if criticizing an idea were synonymous with criticizing people’s identity. It’s not me making this bubble idea part of an identity! It’s a problem I’ve encountered time and time again but it’s not my problem; the problem belongs to people who take on board an idea (or set of ideas) and attach it to their very identity.

                This is why I joke that I’ve been called a commie-pinko-fascist democratic republican with alarmist liberal Nazi leanings towards conservative socialism. Or an evangelical and fundamentalist atheist! I am at a loss how I’m supposed to tabulate all that into a properly labeled snowflake identity to be tolerated and respected by others simply because I insist they do or I shall be offended and not feel safe!

                Good grief.

                So I think it’s important for everyone to separate ideas and opinions and beliefs from the character of the person in order to evaluate them without all the unnecessary and obfuscating baggage. And when one does this, one begins to see just how powerful and causal is the working of the indoctrinated brain, which makes discussions like Victoria offers so fascinating and revealing..

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                • I have certainly noticed that certain issues in society are not able to be freely discussed because critics are labelled bigots or the like ignoring the potentially valid points being raised.

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                  • Just listed to anyone scream “Islamophobe” whenever there’s even a hint of criticism directed towards the religion of Islam. The whole thing is designed to shut down any conversation about the horrendous things in that purported “holy” book. And this just doesn’t come from Muslims – it comes from all over. I don’t know why they’ve singled out Islam though. Why not just use the word “Religionophobe” so that it applies to all criticisms of all relgions?

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                    • I keep hearing it is a religion of peace. But the Koran actually commands them to kill unbelievers. This is an inconvenient truth that tends to get ignored. The Koran is similar to the Bible in that there are sufficient contradictory passages that one can to a degree make it say what ever you want on many of these moral issues.

                      But having said that, when I studied Christian history and looked at the event of the 16th century (especially the 30 years war in Germany) I concluded it was not much different than Islam now.

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    • “The really tricky part is trying to determine which ones are willing to be studious and curious (like you) and which aren’t (like colorstorm).

      Ashley, as I mentioned to another commenter, I generally don’t comment on Christian blogs unless I’ve been invited or someone is asking questions with a sincere tone. I do appreciate those who have commented on the Christian blogs, the blogs aimed at further reinforcing the stigma associated with unbelief or promoting discrimination, and so many do. Chances are anything you share on blogs like Colorstorm’s will not make a dent in his deeply indoctrinated brain, but there are lurkers, and I suspect there are more people questioning their faith than not.

      One of my biggest concerns is that Colorstorm, Tiribulus, David, IB, Wally and other conservative evangelicals are greatly contributing to, and reinforcing the cruelty, the shame, and fear. When they come on unbelievers blogs and justify and/or condone the horrific behavior of Yahweh, I can’t help but question the possibility of Stockholm syndrome, or a mental disorder where a major feature/symptom is hyper-religiosity.

      You wrote: “But anyway, I must say good work on your blog and congratulations on freeing yourself of the chains of religious belief. Here’s hoping you can convince others to do so as well.”

      Thank you so much. As I’ve shared with a few of my blogging friends, I don’t think people can fully appreciate freedom unless they were once enslaved.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Colorstorms blog is the first Christian one I’ve ever commented on. I was kind of going back and forth on whether or not I should continue, but I think I will, for as long as he continues not to moderate or censor me. My other reasoning is to take the argument to their door step if you follow me. I can come on your blog or tildeb’s and will probably agree with just about everything you say – and I will certainly learn things in the process – but to go to someone’s site with whom I don’t agree is more in line with the goal of getting other people to see where their thinking is illogical and their arguments flawed. I agree with you in that anything I say is unlikely to put a dent in CS’s or any of his deeply committed followers brain, but leaves doubt with the lurkers.
        It’s interesting that you say “I can’t help but question the possibility of Stockholm syndrome…” because I have thought that myself. In one of CS’s blog posts, he concludes by asking why everyone doesn’t “bow their knee, etc…” and I explained to him that I have no desire to live my life as a slave or a serf no matter how wonderful my master is purported to be and how benign the master-slave relationship would be. I never did get any feed back from him though. I’m quite certain he never gave it a second thought. The Stockholm syndrome prevents him from seeing this as a master-slave relationship.
        And you are right. I can’t really appreciate what it was like for you to emancipate yourself from the chains of religion and have to live surrounded by people who think that you’re hateful or evil or not human because you don’t believe as they do. I can sympathize but I don’t know what it’s like to have to go through that. I suspect that’s one of the main reasons the religious apologists do what they do, because they really don’t know, don’t understand and don’t want to understand how badly religion can poison EVERYTHING. I live in northern Ontario so while we have our religious zealots here, they are nowhere near as prevalent and powerful as they are in the Southern US. Given all the data about the rise of the “none’s”, hopefully it will remain that way or perhaps they will lose even more of their influence.

        Liked by 1 person

  21. this is where I am as a Christian for 34 years and a closer disciple of Jesus for the last 25yrs. I’m understanding how much I’ve been lied to, shamed and manipulated by people and a system I trusted with my very physical life and eternal destiny.
    feelings of guilt for discovering the truth and not just doubting my faith but rejecting it as a fabricated fantasy are sprinkled with fear of what comes next for my life without it.
    don’t really know how to express all the feelings appropriately, sufficiently or fully. thx for the article. describes me and my wife to a tee.
    -mike

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Mike,

      Welcome. Thank you for reading and for having the courage to share so personally here. There are many who read this blog who can relate to your circumstances. I am at a loss for words right now because I had no idea you were going through this. I think I may have read a few of your comments on Ark’s blog a while back and popped over to read a little on your blog. I can’t remember exactly when, but I do remember reading a few posts and noticed that you were a Christian and studying the Bible. I rarely comment on Christian blogs unless I’ve been invited and/or see that they are questioning.

      I don’t know what I could say to comfort you and Brandy because the grief is similar to experiencing the death of a loved one. I’m here to listen if you need a safe place to vent, to express the feelings when they come to the surface. I’m so glad you and Brandy have each other during this trying time. I don’t know if you’ve met Peter yet, but he is in a very similar situation right now and it’s been difficult for him as well. I’m so sorry for your pain. 😦

      Keeping you and Brandy in my thoughts,

      Victoria

      Liked by 2 people

  22. thank you for your kind words and encouragement. we haven’t “come out’ yet on My Omer due to a current inability to adequately process and identify our own feelings and thoughts let alone share them on what is or has been for most practical purposes a Christian Blog. I have connected with a couple of blogs of like mind and similar backgrounds. not sure how this all works out but when it does I do plan to be transparent and open. but for now, I’ve been trying to minimize the biblical/Christian emphasis with only tangential references.
    this is difficult and I’m not sure that I’m even proceeding in a correct way or path. your advice and ‘prayers’ for lack of a better concept are appreciated. thank you.
    -mike

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    • I can understand why you would want to take the necessary time to process this before sharing openly on your blog. You have to also be prepared for the possible fallout from other Christians who are confused, shocked and/or worried about you. You know what I’m talking about, no doubt. I didn’t tell anyone for a good while until I felt stronger and more self-assure about my own findings. Be true to yourself, Mike, pace yourself and don’t allow others to pressure you. This is your journey and you have to live with what ever conclusion you come to — to own it. When you do, the confusion will lift, this I promise you. You and Brandy are welcome to contact me via email should you want to share more privately. My email addy is listed in my gravatar. What you share will remain confidential. However, I am glad to read that you have connected with other blogs of like mind and similar backgrounds. Support is important during this time.

      Btw, my apologies for misspelling Brandy’s name. I have a friend who spells her name with an “i”. I have since made the correction.

      A hug for you and Brandy.

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    • Hello Mike and Brandy,

      I wasn’t going to hog V’s blog today, but your comments really touched my heart and I just wanted to reach out to you and your wife.

      My husband became a Christian at 11 years old and I asked Jesus into my heart at three years old. We were both raised in Christian homes and we both deconverted around Easter 2012 at 39 years old. We even continued to go to Church a few times after that at a couple of different Churches for several months for “the sake of our kids”. All that did was just cement our decision and we haven’t been back to Church since then. You can read more about me throughout the comments to this particular post by Victoria for a little more background.

      As a married couple, we have had to tend to many things that were neglected all those years while we were Christians including our own marriage. Religion taught us to constantly put Jesus first, so much so that we suffered individually and as partners. We see the damaging effects of religion in the way we raised our children and in how we dealt with our emotional, mental and physical health, as well as theirs.

      Now is a good time to debrief from religious trauma. Get plenty of rest, and get in touch with each other. Most importantly, find out who you really are. Understand that you are incredible people. DO NOT beat yourself up for all the years invested in religion. Please remember that religion impacts family, politics, culture, hospitalization and other aspects of community locally and at a global scale. It influences us in many ways and affects our decision making. There’s no need to rush into anything, just work through the process. There’s also no need to put a label on it and if you do that’s fine too. It’s also fine if your label changes because you’re both getting to know yourselves in a very different light from what you have in the past. Know that you are not alone and you are loved. There are so many people like us out there.

      It is also important for you to come out when you are ready and the way that you prefer the most. It took me three years to put my name on my gravatar/profile pic. Every deconvert goes through a different process for different amounts of time. No one can tell you how or when (or even if) to come out, that is strictly up to the both of you.

      Please be encouraged. You guys are so brave. Work at your own pace and always do what is best for you in particular.

      Charity

      Liked by 2 people

  23. I’m late to this dance too, huh? 😛

    I couldn’t read all of the comments so I apologize beforehand if I’m repeating a topic that’s been adequately covered. Philosophically Victoria, you’ve opened a Can-O-Worms for the Christian apologist, you witchy woman you… stirring up the pot! 😈

    When I was thick in my Fundy life-phase, “total depravity” was always a thorn in the/my flesh (if I may borrow a quote) that in MY MIND was annoyingly unjustified! I viewed that “death sentence” and eternal damnation as ridiculously harsh for supposed acts and behavior way, way before our great, great, GREAT ancestors were born, let alone before all of us today were even conceived! HOLY SHIT… really!? 😮

    What is so different in that to a child being born with severe retardations and condemning that child for something they had no control over whatsoever!? It’s asinine! It’s completely inhumane and shows NO LOVE or compassion from a hateful Yahweh. Period. In fact, it reeks of a man-made social, economic, political, and imperialism of resources actually! Does it not?

    Then in regards to a psychological detriment, giving people or the masses an expected Proxy, or an easy way of non-Ownership for their behavior, etc, is/was a MASSIVE blow to human empowerment. But then again, over the millenia, those highly educated nobles and leaders needed power & control over their subjects. Nothing like a “magic show” to fool the uneducated. And it still goes on — exponentially worse — even today; especially in illiterate 3rd world nations/tribes. 😦

    A revealing post Victoria. Well done Ma’am! ❤

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    • I remember also thinking this too Professor! Why does any of what happened 2,000 years ago, have anything to do with me! lol

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    • I find one of the most powerful arguments against a certain view of the interventionist god is that people thank god for answers to a trivial prayer, ‘Thank you God for the parking spot’, yet god then did not help the starving and suffering. Perhaps God would have healed the sick child, but was too busy finding that parking spot instead.

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      • This video is by Brandon Fibbs. He and I were students at CFNI Dallas and now we’re both non believers! He even interviewed me for the school yearbook while I was the moral issues ministry leader. (He has currently worked on Cosmos.) It’s along the same vain as your comment.

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        • Yes sums it up very well.

          There was a survey by Christianity Today regarding prayer. What they found most disturbing was that around 30% of Christians prayed for harm to occur to other people. The more ‘religious’ a person was the more likely they would pray in that way.

          To be fair to the people who pray for trivial matters, I suspect they have found that the only prayers that seem to be answered are those that are more than not likely to happen anyway (i.e, God is either not there or chooses not to answer).

          I remember some years ago praying and praying for a particular world crisis. To no avail. After doing this a few times one tends to find more ‘productive’ avenues for ones prayers.

          As I left Christianity I argued to other Christians that God does not honour the promises in the Bible. Of course they did not see it that way. But I think an objective person would make that case.

          I like to cite as an example when Britain was only part Christian around 700 A.D. there was a situation when a non Christian force attacked the Christian lands. A group of 300 monks prayed near the battle for God’s help, all 300 monks plus the Christian army were destroyed. At the very least we can say with assurance that the majority of prayers are not answered. My question is are any prayers answered?

          Of course it might be we are not praying in accordance with God’s will. I think we need help to know. The following video provides an idea that might help (tongue in cheek):

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          • Peter this was so good!

            Yeah, those who pray “Lord, do whatever it takes to change so and so!” bothered me while I was a Christian adult. I found myself backing out of a prayer circle or leaving altogether when I heard those words. My parents often prayed that way, probably still do.

            I think one of the major things that led to my deconversion were the Gospels. I often read about the miracles that Jesus manifested and didn’t understand why I didn’t see them. Especially when I considered how we all should be doing even greater things since we have the Holy Spirit with us. I can’t even count all the times I prayed for healing and addiction deliverance for family members, myself and strangers. I even prayed the same for those in hospitals every time I visited someone or just walked or drove by one. I was so radical that I prayed for resurrections whenever I walked or drove by cemeteries. I prayed for their minds, bodies, families and homes to be completely restored so that God may be glorified and Jesus worshiped. It’s not like I was yelling or preaching while I did this, I was almost always pretty quiet about it. And still nothing, absolutely nothing.

            Liked by 2 people

            • Hilarious video. Reminded me of going to a women’s conference where the speaker said “God doesn’t deal in green lights – he assumes you know to keep going until he throws up a red light for you.”

              I never could figure out whether to “pray without ceasing” for what I desired, or to pray for God’s will to be done. Doing both seemed like a cop out, but then I was always arrogant and bold in my requests. I still hear people fervently pray for someone to be healed or get a job etc, and then add the addendum “if it be your will.” WTF? Which one is it? Seems like a trap door to me in case your wish doesn’t come true: Oh well, it wasn’t God’s will, I did my best.

              Liked by 1 person

        • Charity, this was a powerful video.

          Like

        • I think Brandon took this video content directly out of my brain. Such cognitive dissonance, no wonder I have been so confused! This is very recent, as one of the clips is actually of a man being gunned down in the area where I now live. If the images before didn’t have my attention, that one did. A little too close to home, all of it.

          Like

      • Peter,

        You make a GREAT point Sir! Does it not reflect our own (egocentric) POV what “sort of Higher Power” we perceive as real? 😉

        Like

        • I suspect religion fills a deep psychological need of making us feel important. What could make us more important than having a direct line to the creator of the universe? Victoria can explain it better than me.

          Liked by 3 people

          • “What could make us more important than having a direct line to the creator of the universe?”

            Yep.

            http://neuroresearchproject.com/2012/06/26/the-three-rs-religion-recognition-reward/

            Like

          • And this:

            “Childhood fantasies, including an absence of death and the seemingly all-present, ever-caring and all-knowing parental figures who give us comfort, often become the basis for religious beliefs in adults. This hidden wishful-thinking mechanism feeds our ego (that “someone” cares about everything we do) and gives us consolation from death in the idea of an afterlife. Many strange things we ‘experience’ are cultural (therefore an aspect of upbringing), and once a scientific and critical understanding of them is attained, the beauty of the natural world displaces the appeal of the supernatural. Religion, when not considered a byproduct of misapplied cognitive psychology and social factors, is self-inflicted delusion, illusion, smoke and mirrors.”

            http://www.humanreligions.info/causes.html

            Religion taps into the same reward centers as hard drugs such as cocaine and heroin. Religion Is Dopaminergic. When we go through a deconversion — we are also going through dope (dopamine) withdrawal, literally. Anticipation (such as going to heaven) is even more dopaminergic. So you get a double whammy. Not only that, but neural circuity that had been deactivated by bonding/attachment reward neurotransmitters such as oxytocin and vasopresson, reactivate as you come out of your “God loves me” stupor. Triple whammy. Is it any wonder we feel like death warmed over while going through deconversion?

            Like

    • Late to a dance, you? Never! 😛

      I’m pressed for time but will comment later. Thank you Professor.

      Liked by 1 person

    • “What is so different in that to a child being born with severe retardations and condemning that child for something they had no control over whatsoever!? It’s asinine! It’s completely inhumane and shows NO LOVE or compassion from a hateful Yahweh. Period. In fact, it reeks of a man-made social, economic, political, and imperialism of resources actually! Does it not?”

      Indeed it does Professor. To add insult to injury, studies out of the University of Leeds demonstrated that humans flock like sheep and birds, subconsciously following a minority of individuals. A behavior/trait that was intended to benefit our species has been taken advantage of.

      Liked by 1 person

  24. Pingback: Broken and Spilled Out | Out From Under the Umbrella

  25. I’m glad Ruth reposted this, because it didn’t show up in my reader. (Might’ve missed others, too..?)

    I’ll have to look into that.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Five years after leaving my faith, I’m still living with guilt and shame. It was helpful to read this. And I think that’s all I can say for now. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  27. I’ve posted this video in a post I published last year, but this is also quite appropriate for this post.

    Liked by 2 people

    • As if I needed another reason to not be a fan….

      Like

      • Excerpt from link below: “The Duggar family’s involvement in Bill Gothard’s Advanced Training Institute (ATI) homeschool program adds complexities to this story which are unknown to the average person. The underlying principles and beliefs the Duggars have built their lives around actually help groom and shame victims, help hide grievous abuse, and even keep offenders from receiving needed help.

        The lessons learned from birth in homes like the Duggar’s strip children of their voice and agency. Starting with blanket training babies and toddlers understand quickly that disappointing a parent leads to swift and painful consequences. As they grow, it becomes clear that simply doing what is expected is not enough. It must be done instantly and cheerfully. Children are even forbidden to seek out the logic behind the request, as kids are prone to do, because that is seen a making excuses or delaying obedience. The consequences of failing to meet these expectations are severe.

        Gothard and the Duggars believe that spankings are necessary to save a child from their inborn nature to do evil, and these are not just any spankings. The Duggars endorse the child abuse methods taught by the Pearls. Growing up in an environment of fear, where questions are seen as rebellious, eventually makes children unable to speak up for themselves. They become unable to trust their own judgment of what is right and wrong. These children are the perfect targets for abuse; they do not know how to advocate for themselves.”

        https://homeschoolersanonymous.wordpress.com/2015/05/23/gothards-ati-and-the-duggar-familys-secrets/

        Like

        • Even while I was a conservative Christian stay at home mom I could not stomach this show.

          As I mentioned before, their sexual purity mindset has set them up for trouble.

          I remember the episode where they had a home made slip and slide on a hill. They had their kids completely clothed, which looked ridiculous in that Arkansas heat. It was also when the mom and dad told the kids that they were expecting another kid. The look on the daughters’ faces said it all! “Holy cow, I’ve got to take care of another baby!” I understand siblings having to help out sometimes, but the parents specifically said that they assign a little one to each of the older girls.

          As far as Josh is concerned…. I believe this happened to him before he did this to his sisters. I believe that this is NOT the whole story. I can’t get over all the support the parents are receiving!

          The following is an interesting timeline of events:

          http://defamer.gawker.com/the-web-has-known-about-josh-duggar-for-years-when-did-1706258269

          Liked by 1 person

          • I read much of this from another website. I’ll quote one section from your article:

            “When Josh returned home in July 2003, his father and church elders took him to a state trooper to confess what he’d done. The trooper, Cpl. Hutchins, gave Josh a “very stern talk” but did not charge him with any crimes. InTouch reports that Hutchins was later arrested on child pornography charges and is currently serving 56 years in prison.”

            From another article:

            “Doug Phillips, the now-disgraced former president of Vision Forum Ministries, gave the Duggar matriarch a “Mother of the Year Award” in 2010, he declared that Duggar “modeled for millions a passion for God’s gift of the fruit of the womb and a tenderness and wisdom in raising her 19 children that have been downright inspiring.”

            In addition to being adherents to the Quiverfull movement, the Duggars are also proponents of the Advanced Training Institute (ATI), a Christian homeschooling program invented by fundamentalist leader and accused sexual predator Bill Gothard.

            http://mic.com/articles/119098/inside-the-christian-cult-that-told-the-duggars-to-blame-their-daughters-for-their-abuse

            Sexual dysfunction and abuse at every turn. It continues to get darker and darker. But — when you read the Bible, and see the sexual dysfunction, incest, devaluing of females, and scapegoating., is it any wonder?

            Garbage in, garbage out.

            Liked by 2 people

            • This reminds me of my Bible School days at CFNI Dallas in the early 90’s. Girls were required to wear dresses that covered our knees and shoulders. Public displays of affection were not allowed on campus and single students were not allowed to have TVs. At every turn there were strict rules regarding music, smoking, drinking, sex, curfew, and accountability.

              I was told by a former student who left the school right before I began about an incident that happened as all students were gathered for a session. The dead founder’s wife, Freda Lindsay, stood in front of the student body disgusted with rumors of married students having oral sex. She then demanded their repentance for such an abomination!

              In my first semester I went to a swimming hole in the Dallas area with other male and female students. We all took our turn jumping off a small cliff while we swung from a rope. On the way to our destination we had to walk through water as we walked on slippery rocks. A guy that I kind of liked (we never had a romantic relationship, we were just acquaintances) offered to help me navigate through our course by holding onto me. He kept holding me up from behind with a full on hard on the entire time. He talked to me that day like he liked me, there was never any physical contact after his erections against my body. He wanted us to hang out later that day. When I arrived at our meeting place on campus in the midst of a bunch of students, he literally walked right by me and left the building. We went from acquaintances to strangers that evening. He was a year or so a head of me in school. Right after my graduation I read about his new youth pastor job in our alumni publication. I could have puked.

              During my second semester our school’s New York campus shut down due to an extremely low attendance rate. Transfer students moved to our location to continue their studies. One of the transfers was an incredibly creepy guy who always made passes. One day I barely acknowledged him (I tried to keep my distance) when he told me to take my glasses off. “That’s what I thought, you look much better without them.” He tells me as I try to book it as far from him as possible. He grew quite a reputation for making women on campus feel incredibly uncomfortable with his words and glances. One day I was around a few other single students. We were all women comparing notes as this same guy somehow came up in our brief conversation. Suddenly, a woman became incredibly uncomfortable and her nervousness was obvious through her body language. She says “I needed to hear this. He tried something with a friend of mine. I’ve got to tell somebody.” She said this so heavy laden with sorrow that she could barely raise her voice loud enough to be heard. She immediately left. I noticed that the guy suddenly disappeared. I later found out that while he was with a woman in her car, headed out to a student ministry outreach, he attempted to rape her! He had suddenly tried to kiss her and tried to force himself on her. She somehow got away from him. As I began my last semester I saw that he was back to complete his last semester as well.

              Liked by 1 person

          • “As far as Josh is concerned…. I believe this happened to him before he did this to his sisters. I believe that this is NOT the whole story.”

            I don’t know about that, but seems he’s one messed up adult considering the dysfunctional crap he was fed in his youth. Charity, I’m not sure if you read HA’s post published today, but the author was exposed to the same disgusting “sex education” that Josh Duggar was. He states:

            “I’m not here to say I know what was going on in Josh Duggar’s mind all those years ago, but I can tell you what I felt when I was taught these things as a teenager.

            This teaching really messed me up. I assumed I was no better than a sex criminal because I had sexual thoughts. If I wanted to be with a girl, I was no better than a violent rapist. Sexual thoughts are natural for pubescent teens, and making them feel their life and soul are in literal danger by even thinking these thoughts fucks you up. How is it productive sex education to tell young people that they might as well commit the act if they are going to think about it three times?”

            https://homeschoolersanonymous.wordpress.com/2015/05/24/atis-sex-ed-curriculum-silencing-victims-and-excusing-sex-crime/

            Liked by 1 person

          • Cont from HA post:

            ” Looking back, it’s easy to see how this philosophy can lead to serial sexual abuse because men are relived of much of their responsibility for their actions, while just lusting is as bad as actually doing the act. Leading many men to think they are beyond help, consumed by their desires. So instead of dealing with them, they repress them, and it only makes it more difficult to deal with what may have begun as natural sexual urges.

            I can see just in my own life how this thinking impacted my sexual ethic and ideas of consent at a young age. It made me think that masturbating made me as perverse as sex criminals. I talked with a friend of mine and we would confess our “sins of lust”, and I saw us as struggling with similar burdens. His burden meant he took advantage of underage girls, mine was masturbating in my bed. ATI and Bill Gothard taught me those things were just as bad.

            In my many conversations with ATI survivors, sexual abuse is too often a topic of discussion. One woman I talked with was abused as a child, and her family not only blamed her for it, but held exorcisms. They convinced her the demons inside her were “making” men abuse her. Agency and responsibility are replaced by pseudoscience and utterly incomprehensible logic about sex and sexual desire. Gothard used this system to groom his victims, to shame them into silence, to make them afraid to speak up. Why? Because they might have been responsible for the abuse.”

            Liked by 1 person

            • I think that when everything is a sin it’s hard to really distinguish between what’s actually normal and not normal. Although I was not home schooled, I grew up in a very religious home and understand much of what was mentioned in your last two comments. I still believe that there is more to this story. I wouldn’t be surprised if their Church is full of child abusers (physical and sexual). I feel like there’s a reason the dad kept his mouth shut after his daughter told him about it. It sounds as though he didn’t even confront Josh about it after she confided in him about it. What dad ignores such a comment?! It’s seriously one of the reasons why I think there’s something even more sinister about this whole mess.

              Liked by 1 person

              • I know that the Duggars are Independent Baptists and I was Pentecostal for many years. Though there are differences there is one thing in common, victim shaming. The way Charismatics/Pentecostals do it is more subtle. Say you are someone who has repeatedly been abused, sexually in particular. There is a theory that you have a “familiar spirit”. That an evil spirit had attached itself to you when your uncle raped you. As a result, you were raped by a stranger later on down the road. You married a man who ended up raping you as well. Why? Because of that familiar spirit! It makes you a target for sexual predators. In order to stop this you must forgive the abusers and be delivered from said familiar spirit.

                I was brought up in an incredibly angry, abusive and neglectful home. One summer, while I was a preteen, my dad was actually kind to my mom, sisters and me. He began to help out a lot around the house, rarely yelled at us and we had some serious prayer/Bible times. My parents started telling me that they needed to pray for me. Before I knew it, I was crying and yelling at the top of my lungs in our family room as they were praying for me to be delivered from the spirit of bitterness. That’s right, boys and girls, my parents sucked and immediately got back into their sucking for many years to come and I’m the one who needed to be delivered.

                I remember a year or two after that, in my early teens, there was a big district AG meeting at our Church. I was so broken before the Lord. So desperate to be good. I stood in a line at the altar for the speaker, Carlton Pearson, to pray for me. I wanted so much of God. You know what he prayed over me? For God to deliver me from a spirit of self pity. All I could do was cry, cry and cry some more. Once again, I was the evil one, the sinful one. I was the root of all my issues as a kid, preteen and throughout the rest of my salvation.

                Whether people of faith will admit it or not, that’s all victim shaming. That is what religion looks like, ancient or modern day, it’s all the same. Nobody has to be trapped in it. There is an escape route to leave the prison. Follow your brain and even the common sense that you have been trying to drown out with prayers, scriptures, chants and songs. You have a choice to leave, please don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

                Love and peace to all,
                Char

                Liked by 1 person

                • Charity, I was thinking that some people reading all this are thinking to themselves how we could get ourselves so pulled into this and actually believe it. But the more I learned about how religious methodologies impact the brain, the more I understood how this can happen, and especially if you’ve been raised in this environment from childhood. What’s so sad is that this has been going on for a couple hundred years.

                  Jonathan Edwards accidentally discovered effective shaming techniques during a religious crusade in 1735 in Northampton, Massachusetts. By inducing guilt, shame and acute apprehension with the people attending his revival meetings, he quickly learn that they would break down and completely submit. He started writing down his observations. He published “Discourses on Various Important Subjects”, the five sermons which he believed had proved to be the most effective in the revivals, and claimed that of the five sermons, the most effective in paralyzing people with shame and guilt was ” Justice of God in the Damnation of Sinners”.

                  Today, these methods are still being used in Christian churches and revivals throughout the world. It pisses me off beyond measure that so many people are impacted (especially children) by these mind control techniques. Insurmountable suffering has come from it. I’m so sorry for what you’ve been through, Charity. My heart aches when I read your personal story. 😦 You wrote:

                  “There is a theory that you have a “familiar spirit” — yes — this is quite prevalent in the South, and the charismatics and evangelicals have mingled Voodoo with Christianity. Instead of using hot peppers and garlic with incantations to ward off “evil spirits”, the Christians use “putting on the armor of god” and deliverance/exorcism rituals.

                  After my partner took his life (because clergy fucked with his head after he sustained a brain injury), a preacher told me that it was highly likely that a “suicidal spirit” had come upon me and my infant daughter. This abuse goes on every single day in the name of Biblical Counseling. They get away with this abuse and get rewarded with tax exempt status from the government.

                  You wrote: “Whether people of faith will admit it or not, that’s all victim shaming. That is what religion looks like, ancient or modern day, it’s all the same. Nobody has to be trapped in it. There is an escape route to leave the prison. Follow your brain and even the common sense that you have been trying to drown out with prayers, scriptures, chants and songs. You have a choice to leave, please don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.”

                  Well said. They will also need a lot of support as well. Deprogramming is difficult and it can take years to atrophy those neural pathways when going through it alone. Reach out.

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • Victoria,

                    I have seen these same “emotional healing” tactics and deliverances in Peterborough, England; Pontiac, Michigan; and San Diego, California behind closed doors and in the middle of filled sanctuaries. They are not isolated to just the South in the US by any means.

                    Thank you for your kindness. I’m no longer sorry that I went through all of that. Things happen, that’s the way it is. I’m glad that I at least got out because there are many who don’t know what to do and stay stuck in the misery. I guess that’s why I am so specific when I comment because I want people to start asking questions about their belief system and experiences. They’re free to have a personal religion all they want, but have they really done their research? Can they honestly say that they are genuinely happy or at least on their way tovgetting there?

                    Like

  28. “I bought it hook, line, and sinker because I was conditioned from an impressionable age, during crucial brain development, to feel shame — to accept part of the blame”

    Nailed it, Victoria! I remember being a first grader in catechism being taught about original sin. We had to draw two vases and leave one white and color the other black. Then we were told that the vases were our souls and that ours were black at birth. My innocent six-year old heart asked, “How could we have done anything bad when we were born. We were just being born.” The teacher slapped my hand and told me to keep the questions to myself. So I did.
    The whole irony in this is that I don’t even blame her for some of the scars. She had years of her own scar tissue – her slap on my hand was my question triggering her shame, too. Crazy, huh?

    Liked by 2 people

  29. “The teacher slapped my hand and told me to keep the questions to myself. So I did.”

    I got lots of slaps on the hand (with rulers) by nuns for the same reason — asking valid questions. I even got slapped in the face, I kid you not. I was not being rebellious, or a smart ass. They were innocent questions. It got so bad I would flinch when I was around a nun if she moved close to me.

    “The whole irony in this is that I don’t even blame her for some of the scars. She had years of her own scar tissue – her slap on my hand was my question triggering her shame, too. “

    Most likely it was.

    Michelle, it’s great to see you my friend. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Agreed on many points, Victoria. If we’re constantly taught we’re garbage we start to believe it and become it.

    I am so glad that I am free! I am so free! No dose of God could ever do that for me.

    C

    Liked by 1 person

  31. An Overview of Recovering From Religion

    RR has support groups that meet monthly all over the US, with groups starting in Canada, the UK, and Australia, and new faces are always welcomed. If you have questions or need more information, feel free to browse our site, join us on Facebook or Twitter, or contact us for more information!

    The Mission of the Hotline Project

    “To provide a real-time peer support network for people questioning the role of religion in their lives, dealing with the negative impact of religion in their lives, or anyone who has friends or relatives facing these transitions. The hotline offers a unique avenue for callers to share and explore their thoughts, feelings, and perspectives while providing them with immediate, anonymous, confidential, and compassionate support combined with relevant resource referrals.”

    RR is made up of people who have all given religion our best shot, but we can’t bring ourselves to accept the unacceptable any longer. If you’ve ever questioned the archaic edicts and laws of holy books, the inconsistent morality and questionable motive of ancient teachings (along with their many modern interpretations); if you’ve raised an eyebrow to virgin births, or found the flaws in resurrections, bronze age “miracles” and the well intentioned, but undoubtedly unreliable “power of prayer;” then Recovering From Religion is the place for you.

    We are recovering from every imaginable religion: Baptists, Mormons, Catholics, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Hindus, Muslims, Lutherans, Pentecostals, Evangelicals, and many more.”

    Available 24hrs on weekends, 6pm-Midnight (Central Time) on weekdays.

    http://recoveringfromreligion.org/about/overview/

    Like

  32. Published in the British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies

    Article 1: Understanding Religious Trauma Syndrome

    Article 2: Trauma from Religion

    Article 3: Trauma from Leaving Religion

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Oh my, Victoria. guess we’re all just a bunch of ignoramuses! We are ignorant and religious blind. Is this kind of arrogance common among all priests?

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/standingonmyhead/2015/05/twelve-reasons-why-i-never-argue-with-internet-atheists.html?ref_widget=popular&ref_blog=diaryofawimpycatholic&ref_post=dzhokhar-tsarnaev-all-out-of-mercy

    Like

    • LOL — he says he’s a former Evangelical, then an Anglican priest, now a Catholic priest. Translation: he’s fucked up.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I predict he will be a deconvert one day himself. You and I know all about changing denominations and look where we ended up.

        Like

    • What drivel that author hides behind. He could have made that post much, much shorter by admitting that he doesn’t argue with atheists because he’s got nothing to make his beliefs seem reasonable. That’s a clue, by the way, Fr. Dwight Longnecker.

      Like

      • He suggests atheists don’t know about religion. From my observation it is actually those atheists who do know about religion that the Christian apologists are reluctant to engage with.

        Like

        • Agreed. And, more often than not, banned… always a badge of honour. Notice that no comments can be made on his page.

          Like

        • No. They do engage with atheists (deconverts) who know about religion. It’s me they dance away from because they can’t see inside my head. They have no hook because I never believed. Water off a ducks back, means absolutely nothing to me.

          Like

      • And like any true apologist he stretches out a couple of points into 12.

        Like

        • How true! (Mind you, I’m just as guilty about length even with far fewer points.)

          Like

        • I checked out his website. In today’s post “Give More Money for Heaven’s Sake” — (how original) he states that when Jesus said sell your things and give to the poor it wasn’t for the sake of the poor but to spare you from going to hell.

          He states: Many Catholics don’t give very much to the church at all.” ➡ RED flag

          “In today’s Mass reading the rich young man asks Jesus, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus answers, “Sell all that you have and give to the poor.” Look closely. The primary reason is NOT so the poor will have food and shelter. The primary reason for the command is that the man will be able to inherit eternal life.” Longenecker further states:

          […]
          “The big scary problem here is that this lack of generosity is not primarily a social issue. In other words its not so much that the poor will be hungry and homeless. Instead the really big problem is that we have to draw the conclusion from the gospel that if you are rich and you are not sacrificially generous then you will go to hell. There I’ve said it. If you’re rich (and most Americans are rich by world’s standards) and you are not sacrificially wealthy you will go to hell.”

          This attitude coincides with studies showing that atheists and agnostics tend to be more driven by compassion to help others than are highly religious people, and that the highly religious gave for other reasons, such as doctrine, reputational concerns, etc.

          In another post he says: “Earlier in the week I write a light hearted post saying that one of the most wearying things about atheism was simply how mind crushingly boring it is.”

          What a puppet for the RCC coffers. But wait — there’s more. *snort*

          “Whether atheist or Anglican, Methodist or Mohammedan or Mormon, Agnostic or Amish, Hindu or Holiness Church of God–what makes a person boring is when they take themselves seriously, and the person who takes themselves most seriously is the self righteously religious person, an lest any atheists think they can escape the judgement, devout atheists are just as self righteous, judgmental and dead boring as the worst of the religious folks.”

          Devout atheists? 😀 He goes on…

          “This is one of the distinctive marks of a true religion: it’s followers are joyful. They know how to laugh.

          They take God seriously, but they do not take themselves seriously.”

          Wait…what?

          Longenecker: “They laugh at the human foibles and frailties in their religion. They laugh at the inconsistency, hypocrisy, pride and stubbornness of religious people. They laugh and rejoice at the odd customs and strange traditions. They laugh with wonder at the unexpected and supernatural elements of their faith.”

          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/standingonmyhead/2015/05/hilarity-and-holiness.html

          Does anyone else find this hilarious?

          Like

  34. I was once told that gratitude was an ill fitting tunic that would chafe if worn too long. I think it is very true. Hugs

    Liked by 1 person

  35. Pingback: The Masses Have Been Framed and Shamed for a Murder They Didn’t Commit | Scotties Toy Box

  36. Pingback: How the “Good News” Nearly Killed Me | Victoria Neür☼N☮☂eṧ

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