Worthwhile Reads: The Leavers

These are a bit old, but I just came upon them and wanted to share.

First, this from Christianity Today:

The Leavers: Young Doubters Exit the Church

Then a response on Camels with Hammers:

Sex And Apostasy

About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • http://returntovomit.blogspot.com Jeffrey Nordstrom

    Thank you so much for posting the response from Camels with Hammers.

  • Scotlyn

    Interesting Christianity Today article, which I know my father will have read looking for a formula with which to restore me to the faith.

    That formula isn’t there. I left because I found out that it wasn’t true – the Bible is an odd and eclectic collection of writings, God is an artifact of human imagination that varies in accordance with individual and cultural factors. Reality is full of quiet wonder and endless interest.

    Once I realised it wasn’t true, I also realised I could apply my own moral reasoning, which was able to distinguish between real wrongs that harm people – rape, theft, murder, oppression; and fake “wrongs” that are about controlling the flock but cause no harm to anyone – masturbation, sexual dalliance, enjoyment of alcohol, sexual dalliance with people of unapproved gender, the questioning of all authority.

    I was “in” the church for 20 years or so. I’ve been “out” for more than 30 (and was not the least bit tempted back when I started my own family, quite the reverse). There is no formula, or discipleship process, or relationship building effort that will change my mind.

    And here’s the clincher. Christians have lost the power to punish apostasy. (And we must never forget how important it is to keep it that way). What would previous generations have looked like, without the wars on heresy, without the inquisitions, without the investigations of heresy and apostasy and the ability to punish?

    Would I have openly left if I could be punished or killed for doing so? I’d like to think so, but really it is a very open question. Few people have that much integrity, and most have too much to lose. Realistically, the chances are I’d be one of the ones who kept the head down and said nothing “pondering all this in my heart.”

  • mostlylurking

    I love how he starts out with a conclusion of “moral compromise”, and labels the majority that didn’t answer as he predicted in his own conclusion as “dishonest”. That IS the way science is always done, yes? /sarcasm.

  • Gordon

    I ike reading good news! And all those teens leaving the church is definitely good news.

  • Rebecca M

    I laughed and shook my head when I read in the article from Christianity Today that the problem with all of us is apparently that we were raised with superficial “moralistic deism.” I actually probably would not have been so pushed to leave if my church was deistic in nature. Part of me hurts for these people who simply cannot see or refuse to believe that people who were really, truly involved in a non-superficial church and were wholly immersed could have left. They aren’t ever going to get it, are they?

    • Rosie

      Same here. My interactions with liberal Lutherans and other “process-oriented” Christians have led me to this realization. And also to the realization that I’m not willing now to take on a myth that is so…triggering…for me, thanks to my upbringing. And since process-oriented believers don’t believe in a hell for unbelievers, they’re not even telling me I *need* to take on their guiding myth, only that it works for them.

      My parents bought the ironically-titled book “Already Gone” by Ken Ham of AiG; it argues much the same as the Christianity Today article. I actually skimmed through it and got very depressed; the longer I read, the less I seemed to exist. I’d say that’s actually what drove me out of my parents’ church–the fact that there isn’t room in their world for people like me to exist. There’s room for me in the liberal churches; I just have a visceral aversion to the language they use.

      I know the Eagles weren’t writing about leaving the church when they wrote it, but Ham’s book does seem to put a whole new spin on the lyrics of their iconic song. “Well I know it wasn’t you who held me down/ Heaven knows it wasn’t you that set me free/ So often times it happens that we live our lives in chains/ And never even know we have the key./ But me, I’m already gone/ And I’m feeling strong/ And I will sing this victory song….”

  • smrnda

    The idea that people leave for some other reason than that the claims of the religion are false – that it’s just a smokescreen so that people can ‘party guilt free’ – even when few people cited that reason shows you why religion is losing its grip on young people; it refuses to accept facts it finds uncomfortable. The young people leaving must just want to sin, it’s nothing about truth or falsehood.

    The article at least acknowledged that many people struggling with doubt find that nobody can answer their questions except with platitudes, but the reason that’s true is that for some of the questions, there aren’t any answers that aren’t worthless platitudes. You can’t reconcile “God is love” with the God of the Old Testament. You can’t even promote a God that’s rational with the content of the Bible.

    I once had some contact with evangelicals – their answer to any ‘tough question’ was to say ‘well, even with that God love you” or to say that since they didn’t find God commanding killing babies inconsistent with the idea of a loving God, it isn’t a big deal and why don’t I believe?

    Something I have to say though is that churches probably ‘win’ people not through arguments or reasons but through emotional manipulation. They seem to think that the young person who is now an unbeliever has sinned because they have ceased to go to church and now doubt, but if your beliefs require a recharge over and over again by hanging out with like-minded people, isn’t that a sign that the beliefs don’t stand on their own for rational reasons?


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