Welcome back! Wow, that was a FUN interview with the Minnesota Atheists. I’ll link y’all to the archived podcast once it’s available, don’t worry. You know I always link you up because I like you! For now, I’ve got some good news for everybody reading my words who is starting to escape from religious indoctrination:
You are free.
I used to talk about freedom in Jesus a lot when I was Christian, but I really wasn’t free at all. It was more a case of Christian doublespeak–freedom is slavery/slavery is freedom and the like. I engaged in this doublespeak out of fear, mostly, and wild hope. If Christianity was true, then redefinitions became a lot more understandable in the long scheme of things; the ends justified the means at that point.
Looking back at my experiences, I see a lot of awful stuff that happened to me, stuff that I endured and tried to ignore or even excuse because I thought the religion was making true claims. Glossing over those experiences either by wearing blinkers or using language that obscured or negated those experiences was part of how I coped–but those mechanisms brought their own problems later.
I began to recover from that awful stuff when I deconverted. It was a hard journey, but it was one worth the taking. The thing is, even though I thought I was alone, I really wasn’t. Neither is anybody else.
Right now, thousands and thousands of people are starting that same journey I started long ago and that many of you are starting now. Many other thousands are on the road already.
Nobody is alone here. Whatever someone is going through, chances are another person can speak to that experience to at least some extent. So I wanted to kick off this beautiful Sunday by saying this:
It’s not crazy to wonder if there’s really a real god or if a particular religion is really the one true religion out of all the thousands of religions that have ever existed. Odds are none of their claims are actually objectively true.
It’s not weird to wonder why, when Pope Francis recently told his religion’s officers to be nicer to LGBTQ people, their response was to whine that they felt rudderless. It’s not weird to wonder why they don’t see that they’re totally wrong: they’ve got plenty of rudders, just not rudders they like.
It’s not bizarre to wonder how a violent, hypocritical, misogynistic adulterer like Scott DesJarlais could possibly keep his job in American legislature simply by crying crocodile tears to his Christianist base, who are happy to re-elect even someone as vile as that if the alternative is someone who won’t push theocracy to their liking and enshrine their Christian privilege into law well enough for their taste. Hell, it’s a step forward just to realize that being Christian doesn’t guarantee anybody’s good character.
It’s not shocking to wonder why, in the wake of Mark Driscoll‘s disgrace and Mars Hill’s breakup, that his pastors are still very sad that he got driven out at long last–and even hopeful that one day this disgraced Dear Leader might come back to prey upon church members again. I’ve even seen blog posts from Christians demanding he get his job back, or demanding that Christians “forgive” him for what he’s done, so a big part of me isn’t surprised at all to see a pastor actually sounding wistful and sad that such a sexist creep got drummed off his throne. I don’t know about you, but back when I was Christian I couldn’t even perceive the wrongdoing of the leaders of my religion, much less acknowledge it, much less condemn it in the strongest possible terms like this pastor really needed to do. That kind of utterly mean-spirited behavior is something I couldn’t even see at the time either, so I don’t expect people like that pastor to realize that’s what he’s doing.
You’re just waking up.
This is totally normal. It’s completely normal to wonder why you didn’t wonder about this stuff before. It’s normal to wonder why other people don’t see the stuff you see now (and even to wonder why you didn’t even see it before you awakened). It’s normal to feel like you’re now inhabiting a whole different world than you did while Christian. Not every single ex-Christian goes through this stuff, but enough do that I’ve got to think it’s perfectly fine if someone does.
In my case, I felt like I was finally seeing something that nobody else around me could see, like I was finally asking questions nobody else dared to ask even of themselves.
This morning I was thinking about that when the alarm clock went off (on time, and thanks to the radio host Scott for reminding me about Daylight Savings because I didn’t pay enough attention to those niceties even when I had to). Life’s a lot different from those darker days. My Sundays nowadays look largely the way I want them to look–marked by family, friends, fun, and catching-up on housework. I don’t have to go somewhere I don’t like, do stuff that feels increasingly irrelevant but pretend I like it, and dress up for the privilege and burn half my weekend on that activity. So when I told Scott on the radio this morning that it’d been a long time since I’d had to be up early on a Sunday, I wasn’t kidding.
A lot of my friends and readers were stuck in church today, though, and still trapped. I just want to say: you’ll get free of this crap soon.
You’ll get there. Hang in there. You’ll find the right time, the right way, the right words. You woke up, and that’s the first step right there. A lot of the rest of the journey is inevitable if not semantic.
Things only get better when you’re in charge of your own life and can make your own decisions.
Thanks again to all of you for being such wonderful traveling buddies. You’re the best!