October 11, 2015

In case you’re new here, this blog is the product of volunteers and employees of Recovering from Religion (hereafter RR), an organization that seeks to help individuals who have left religion. RR does this in a variety of ways: local support groups, a peer support helpline called the Hotline Project (which you can call at 1-84-I-DOUBT-IT), and the writings on this very blog, among other methods. The “recovery” part of that is sometimes tricky, though. What does it mean to “recover from religion”? At what… Read more

October 2, 2015

For five years, I taught high school English in a small rural district in Illinois. During my tenure there, one of my main goals was to improve student reading by leveraging student choice, and because our school had virtually no library budget, I expended a fair amount of effort (and money) to build a classroom library that contained books of diverse topics that I thought might appeal to students. Over time, I acquired a number of young adult (YA) books that I… Read more

September 30, 2015

Cassidy’s last post is a great demonstration of one of the quite common experiences of the ex-religious: the attempts of the still-religious to explain (or, at their most polite, inquire) why we left religion in the first place. Passing the blame to poor representatives is just one way that this is executed, but I think that there is an even bigger factor at play: expectations. Actually, let me step back just a second: One of the most insidious aspects of most ideologies is that… Read more

September 29, 2015

It’s hard to generalize much about Christianity, which is only to be expected for a religion with tens of thousands of denominations and countless individual interpretations of its source material. That said, there is one thing that seems to happen damned near constantly when Christians come face-to-face with non-Christians and especially ex-Christians: At some point in the conversation, they will state with total certainty that “Bad Christians” made us deconvert–or that these “Bad Christians” prevent people from converting in the first place. If there were a bingo card for deconversion, then this accusation would surely be its middle square! Read more

September 28, 2015

When the map and the terrain differ, trust the terrain. – Swiss army proverb If you are reading this, congratulations, you survived the apocalypse. (Well, probably. Time will tell whether we’ll find out if it was another one of those spiritual raptures.) Granted, a fair number of religious people, even the evangelical Christians who are most likely to have bought into the “blood moon”/shemitah eschatology, will go on without a second thought because they never thought any of it was likely…. Read more

September 24, 2015

When Christians begin to seriously doubt, the reactions of the people around them are predictable. Christians take doubt very seriously–because they must. If they do not stamp it out quickly, then one person’s doubt can infect a whole group. So when you see one Christian honestly and openly express feelings of doubt, before long another Christian will wander into the discussion to try to “help” that first Christian resolve those feelings. Read more

September 23, 2015

One of the inexplicable side effects – or maybe not, I don’t know – of doing the writing that I do here (and to a lesser extent, the other secular work I’m involved in) is that I sometimes have people who send me private messages and E-mails wanting to talk out issues or sometimes even ask for advice. A lot of my advice is built off of what I have seen from others, since I am under no illusions about my expertise in these matters,… Read more

September 21, 2015

A few years ago, my colleague Hemant Mehta wrote a post over at Friendly Atheist entitled “The Christian Church Won’t Become More Inclusive… and That’s Good for All of Us,” which was a response to a Christian writing about how anti-gay attitudes were hurting the church (which is demonstrably true). When I first read it, I had been an atheist for only a few months, but I remember that its thesis struck me even then: I want to see a fractured Christian church. I dream of seeing… Read more

September 20, 2015

Doubt is nothing more than the dawning suspicion that something is wrong with a person’s beliefs or impressions. It’s very natural to feel doubt when someone begins to notice that reality doesn’t quite line up with his or her religion’s claims and mythology. It is a shaking of the foundation of certainty. And it is the enemy to many Christians today–whether they admit it or not. Even while doubting, they carefully follow to the letter their culture’s teachings about doubt–and when one of their own leaves the fold, it leaves them confused, angry, and casting about for who and what to blame for the defection. Today we will look only at how Christians engage with doubt, and next time I’ll look at the resolution of doubt. Read more

September 15, 2015

This is a part of an ongoing series following a campaign going on in central Illinois called Room for Doubt. For more background, check out the first article in the series, Is There Room for Doubt? A week or so ago, I previewed the Room for Doubt program, making some predictions about what it would entail. This past Sunday (September 13) was the inaugural day of the campaign, and having watched one local church’s live broadcast, I realized that I had presumed a… Read more

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