On Leaving Christianity

On Leaving Christianity January 10, 2014

So, I have discovered that when you formally make an announcement that you’re converting to Judaism, it angers your friends who are fundamentalist/evangelical/not-practicing-but-still Christian. It is apparently more stressful for them to hear that you’re rejecting Jesus-as-Messiah than to have you not believe in anything at all.

But I’ll save that for another post, eh?

Right now, I want to talk about leaving Christianity. I was approached by a friend who says I’ll soon be a part of someone’s research about leaving Christianity. I am glad that more Christians I know are taking up the challenge. Speaking of that, Dan Wilkinson over at Unfundamentalist Christians wrote a post (just now!):

Creationist Ken Ham versus the Truth

Ooh, this one is interesting. If you don’t know who Ken Ham is, he’s the guy behind the Creation Museum. I’ve actually been there. The museum is interesting and you can tell they put a bit of effort into the displays. But oy. Yeah.

Ham is apparently convinced that young people, like me, leave Christianity because of evolution. He writes:

This debate will help highlight the fact that so many young people are dismissing the Bible because of evolution, and even many young people who had grown up in the church decided to leave the church because they saw evolution as showing the Bible could not be trusted

Wilkinson says what I would say, which is to call this a bunch of junk. Dan says,

Mr. Ham, they’re leaving the church because of people like you: people who fervently create walls, erect barriers, establish rigid rules for what one must believe in order to be a Christian. They’re leaving the church because your version of Christianity has nothing whatsoever to do with right practice, and everything to do with “right” belief. They’re leaving the church because by essentially demonizing everyone who doesn’t agree with you, you’ve made believing in Young Earth Creationism* more important than Jesus’ explicit explicit commandment to love God and neighbor.

Yes! Exactly. Well, there’s more than that. But for me, one attraction of Judaism was the ability to debate and the encouragement to use my brain. I am led to believe that my ability to reason is a gift from Gd and that to not use it is a waste of the resources He created. It is acceptable and encouraged to debate in Judaism. It’s okay to ask questions. I never felt that way in Christianity, which takes the very literalist view of the Bible.

I don’t want to say that my choice of Judaism was entirely because of Christianity, because it isn’t true. My soul wants the Torah no matter what other religion exists. But the way some Christians treat the LGBT community, other faiths, and minorities doesn’t really help any.  Young people in my generation are exposed to such awful “liberal” ideas like equality, wanting to help the suffering around the world (and here at home!), and poverty. We want our religion to care about the environment, about our future, about each other. We’re tired of hateful intolerance. So yeah, we drop what doesn’t work. On the other hand, I think we are more spiritual than the previous generation. We crave spirituality and meaning; we want the traditions and the rituals that the previous generation eschewed.

If Christianity, or any religion, can balance tolerance and love with meaningful spirituality, then I think the young people will stay. It’s really that simple

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