Your Stories of Atheism: God Will Not Protect You

Your Stories of Atheism: God Will Not Protect You October 23, 2018

Your Stories of Atheism are heartbreaking, triumphant, angering and inspiring. They are written by you, for you in this ongoing series about how you came to identify as an atheist. If you want to send me your story, you can email me here. Please note that by doing so, you give me permission to publish it here as part of the series. If you wish to remain anonymous, please say so in your email otherwise, I will use just your first name. To read other stories, click here.

Our first and very brief story this week comes from Edward,

The combination of education and working in law enforcement seeing the horrible things humans beings do to each other, especially children. Many of those children prayed for the abuse to stop, but their imaginary friend did not protect them.

Here’s Jake with his story:

My first experience with religion came at a very young age. My mother’s parents were Mormon and my stepfather was Baptist. When I was with my maternal grandparents, we would attend the LDS Church and my mom was ever so happy to ship us off to Sunday school at the local Baptist Church on Sundays and Wednesdays when we were home, due to the fact that there was free shuttle service which basically meant free childcare for a few hours each time. Before my teenage years, I attended the Baptist Church more often than the LDS, but I did frequent both throughout most of my childhood. I actually became ensconced with the Baptist Church for quite some time. I joined their AWANA program (Approved Workmen Are Not Ashamed), which was an evangelistic Boy Scouts clone founded in the 1950’s. It was during my AWANA days that I was introduced to reading and studying biblical scripture. We were expected to participate in “bible drills” which consisted of the leaders giving us Bible verses to see who could look them up the fastest. It also consisted of us memorizing multiple Bible verses (i.e. John 3:16, Romans 3:23, Matthew 11:28, etc…). I learned a lot and became well versed in scripture due to my involvement with AWANA. I became so indoctrinated at such a young age, I actually started telling people I wanted to become a preacher.

After I turned twelve, things changed. My mother divorced my step-father, we moved from our home into HUD apartments, and my mother started clinging more to her parents which caused us to attend the LDS Church more frequently. So before long, we were visited by the LDS missionaries, who started teaching and preparing me and my brothers for baptism. At the age of thirteen, I was baptized into the Mormon Church. After my baptism, I delved head first into the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, the Pearl of Great Price along with the KJV Bible.

I suppose it was my transition into the LDS Church that caused me to start questioning its teachings opposed to what I learned as a Baptist. Whereas the Baptist Church taught about Jesus performing miracles within the confines of the Middle East, the Mormons believed Jesus also visited the Americas. Moreover, the Baptist Church warned us all about the fiery pits of Hell; whereas, the Mormons do not believe in a literal Hell. I believe this was the beginning of my agnosticism; even though, I didn’t realize it at the time. My questioning of God’s authority also scared me. I was always worried that if I questioned his word, I could end up burning in fire and brimstone. What was a kid to do when stuck between subscribing to the Baptists or the LDS Church?

Fast forward another year and my mother remarried again. After her new marriage, we moved three hours away from where I used to live. It was due to the relocation and lack of transportation that caused me to rarely attend the LDS Church. It seemed the longer I didn’t attend, the less I worried about going. This caused a LONG diversion from attending any services at any church. Before long, I started questioning religion and finally recognized myself to be agnostic. Although I wanted to believe and I wanted to know which religion was true, I kept running into too many occurrences of misnomers, conflicting information, and contradictions. Eventually, I gave up on it all together throughout the rest of my teenage and young adult years.

I never finished high school, received my GED and quit my first attempt at tech school. So I finally just entered the workforce as a courier and drove a truck for seven years. After topping out in pay, I decided that I needed to get back into school if I was going to make more money.  So I was accepted to my local state university and started taking classes. It was at that same time that I attempted getting back into the LDS Church. After hearing of Pascal’s wager, I decided that I needed to try one more time for me and my kids’ sake. I was worried that if I was wrong, I would be doing my family a great disservice.

I honestly believe it was a mixture of my college education, a major in history with a minor in sociology, and my second attempt at the LDS Church that solidified my atheism. During my second stint in the LDS Church, we did a lot more reading and studying of biblical scripture along with the Book of Mormon. As I studied more about the origins of the LDS Church in college, I had questions that no one at the church could seem to answer honestly. For example, the symbols that adorn the LDS temple in Utah are all based in Masonry. When I asked members of the church about this, they denied any affiliation with the Masonic Order even though the history books specifically show Joseph Smith and Brigham Young were Masons. It was because of their denial of history and/or their lack of education concerning their own history, that I made up my mind to detach myself and my family from the LDS Church. If they couldn’t accept what was proven within the documents to be true, then how could they convince anyone that they were the true Christian religion?

Then came the day I took a sociology course entitled “The Sociology of Religion”. This was the class that actually opened my eyes to what religion is, why it is, and how it has been used by the powers that be for millennium to control and deceive the population into whatever the popular narrative was of the day. After reading many articles and books on religions from Constantine to vaginal circumcisions in Africa, it all finally made sense. Religion was and has always been made up by the powers that be to keep the common man at bay. I was finally free. Free from guilt, free from hellfire, and free from fear. None of it was true. I discovered there was an origin to all religions and there are thousands of expired religions that many of our contemporary religions are based on. Then I discovered Sagan, Hawking, Tyson, and Dawkins among many others and the rest, as they say, is history.

Considering I am planted in the deepest part of the Bible belt in the US, my atheism is something very few outside of my inner circle know about. My reasons vary from disappointing my eighty-year-old grandmother to public scrutiny. As much as I’d love to scream my lack of belief from the rooftops, I know that it would not be in my best interest to do so. That is why I use fake accounts on social media as my sounding board. I do long for the day when atheism is the norm and to be a believer would make one a minority; although, I do expect when/if that day comes we would treat believers better than they’ve treated us.

Thanks, Jake. I agree with you. I also think we would treat believers better than they’ve treated us. I already try to practice that in my day-to-day dealings with them. I’m glad you found your way out and that you’ve experienced such relief in doing so!

If you want to send me your story,email me here. Read previous stories here.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • TomMars

    Your story arrives at a very different conclusion than my own. I have attended six universities, five of them secular, and one Baptist, and have four college degrees, including degrees where I studied the political influence of religious organizations and interests groups on public policy, all under the direction of secular professors. I have lived in several parts of the world, lived with people from many cultures and religious beliefs and lack of beliefs. I have practiced domestic law for many years and observed the deepest secrets people carry and listened to thousands of people share details of their lives hidden from almost all others. I have served in the military, and in religion. I left activity in the LDS Faith for a time as a youth. I am by nature cynical and disbelieving. As a child I never believed in Santa. I am skeptical of most people and most organizations and not a joiner. I have spent thousands of hours in study. My experience and education brought only one possible conclusion overwhelmingly supported by the evidence before me and my own experience and observations: I believe in God and I am an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. No, your average LDS ward member can hardly tell you about symbols on a temple, for example. However, there are thousands of Latter-day Saints who can tell you and the growing body of academic research on that topic, alone, is impressive. Too bad you missed it. As one scholar recently explained, he began to study the Church and left it. But he kept studying it and finally had to return.

  • guerillasurgeon

    I would say that if you have studied and gained degrees from six universities, and yet you still believe that whatever is written in the book of Mormon is true, your universities have done you a disservice. Depending on what you studied of course.

  • MadScientist1023

    “My experience and education brought only one possible conclusion overwhelmingly supported by the evidence before me…”

    You’re funny.

  • Martin Penwald

    So, what convinced you that Freya does not exist? Athena? Unicorns? Crom? Gzor? Toutatis? Ahura Mazda ? Bellisama ? Smurfs ?

  • ORAXX

    Neither Jesus nor any other divine entity is not going to come riding to our rescue if we screw up the earth’s bio-sphere. Jesus and all the other gods sat out the Holocaust, which should be instructive when it comes to the power of prayer and the likelihood of divine intervention in human affairs.

  • The problem with this topic, as I see it, is that it encourages people to tell stories of “Why they became atheist” or “Why atheism makes sense”. But most people don’t have such a story, because most people don’t arrive at atheism because of some bad thing that religion did. Let’s face it – religion isn’t real, so “it” can’t really do anything. People arrive at atheism because they start to understand how the universe really works, and there’s often no big revelation, no big religious betrayal, no big drama, in that.

  • “I am by nature cynical and disbelieving.”

    Not disbelieving enough, it seems. You just limit the number of magical beings you believe in. Selective delusion is still delusion.

  • Wayne Conner

    True, Gods aren’t real (as far as we know), but the institutions of religious belief and the people who support them are. Some people get harassed by friends and family. Some people even get completely shunned if they go against the faith. This doesn’t happen to everyone but it’s definitely more than you think. Listen to any atheist podcast that has call-ins and you’ll hear some pretty awful stories.

  • Anybody who was raised in a religion and believed it, then realized at some point that it was all wrong, has a story of some sort. Some may have never bought it (I envy them!) but a whole bunch of us never thought to question it any more than we questioned the names of the colors. It was just something we’d “known” all of our lives.

    I was 52 years old before something jumped out at me in church one day, what I call a “wait, what?” moment. No, my story has nothing to do with betrayal or being hurt, but I don’t think people like me are anywhere near a minority by having some sort of “how I ended up being atheist” story. At least in the U.S. most of us were raised with a default religion, so we had to find some reason to question it. I was born in 1960, so maybe those 20 years or more younger than me didn’t have the same sort of “default.”

    Or maybe I don’t really understand what you’re getting at.

  • Illithid

    Now I’m curious what your moment was.

  • Jim Jones

    My Search for Answers to my Mormon Doubts

    by Jeremy Runnells

    CES Letter is one Latter-Day Saint’s honest quest to get official answers from the LDS Church on its troubling origins, history, and practices. Jeremy Runnells was offered an opportunity to discuss his own doubts with a director of the Church Educational System (CES) and was assured that his doubts could be resolved. After reading Jeremy’s letter, the director promised him a response.

    No response ever came.

    https://cesletter.org/

    http://exmormonfoundation.org/conference.html

    “No Price Too High”

    “The Individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.”
    – Nietzsche

  • Rathje

    FairMormon almost immediately debunked Runnells’ CES Letter. And then shot down his attempt to debunk the debunking. Most of the stuff he cites as criticism of the LDS Church has had working answers out for decades. Runnells is a good example of someone who slept his way through most of Sunday School as an active Mormon, got blindsided by shallow one-sided criticisms, panicked, and by the time people pointed out valid counterarguments to his doubts – he was too emotionally distraught to even mentally process what people were telling him. Whereafter, he devoted himself to trying to craft an exit narrative that insulated himself from the fact that he simply panicked and made a stupid decision.

    Pretty bog-standard ex-Mormon story.

    Here’s a place to start that shoots down pretty much everything he tried to assert:

    https://www.fairmormon.org/answers/Criticism_of_Mormonism/Online_documents/Letter_to_a_CES_Director

  • Rathje

    I find it ironic that the doubt that fired off this whole de-conversion story was something incredibly stupid.

    Freemasonry?

    Really? You think it’s some sort of crisis if Mormonism borrowed some imagery from Freemasonry?

    Were you one of those weird Mormons who basically are Evangelical Fundie wannabes and think the Harry Potter novels came from Satan? Who the heck cares if one religion borrows from another?

    THIS was enough to send you into an irrecoverable tailspin? Really?

    Sorry bud, but if you’re THAT fragile, you got more problems than just whatever religion you happened to be a part of. And I’ll bet real money that leaving that religion and becoming an atheist didn’t solve any of your personal problems.

    For instance… you still talk like a fundie. Same black-and-white extremist thinking, same intolerance, same smug self-congratulated attitude that made you a defective Mormon still makes you a defective atheist. Ditch the pride and fragile ego. That would have served you a lot better than leaving church.

  • Rathje

    So where did the Big Bang come from and why did it happen?

  • Jim Jones

    Give it up. The LDS are nutbags and everything Jeremy claimed is true.

    And ‘FairMormon’ is anything but fair.

    https://cesletter.org/debunking-fairmormon/fairmormon-ces-homepage.html

  • Jim Jones

    From the first Oozlum bird.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oozlum_bird

    The oozlum bird, also spelled ouzelum, is a legendary creature found in Australian and British folk tales and legends. When startled, the bird will take off and fly around in ever-decreasing circles until it manages to fly up its own backside, disappearing completely.

    The resultant impossibility created a rip in the space-time continuum which cause the universe to implode and thus create the Big Bang.

  • Jim Jones

    > Depending on what you studied of course.

    It doesn’t matter what he studied. He was fooled by one of the most ludicrous stories ever, invented by a crazy, poorly educated conman and criminal. A poor man’s Donald Trump.

    His brain doesn’t work.

  • Oh, it was so simple! I was sitting there listening to the Sunday morning sermon with my Bible in my lap like a good little Church-of-Christer, and the preacher read a couple of verses from Genesis 3. Having opened to the page I just went ahead and read the whole chapter, and it dawned on me that there was absolutely nothing about Satan in the chapter. Satan wasn’t mentioned, and the context didn’t allow for anything besides an actual snake! It begins “now the serpent was more subtle than the beasts of the field.” So a beaver wouldn’t have done this thing, or an alligator, or a wildebeest, but snakes… those varmints are sneaky! No mention of any evil spirit using the snake, or Satan appearing in the form of a snake. Just that snakes are sneaky.

    The end of the chapter describes the punishments, and it’s clear that snakes are being punished forever… they have to crawl. Not only that, in the part the Christians are sure has to do with Jesus, the god says “I’ll put enmity between your seed and the seed of the woman.” If it’s Satan, why is it talking about his offspring?

    Why I woke up that morning, I don’t know, but it took me about a month after that to be 100% atheist. (I had to figure out first whether liberal Christianity had any basis. Verdict: NO!)