Here is another account in my series of real-life deconversion stories. They are often painful, psychological affairs, as you can see from the various accounts. This one is different. it is not a deconversion to atheism, but one from right-wing Christian Republicanism to a vastly different form of Christianity and worldview. Thank you to Manfred who has provided this personal account. Please treat him with respect if you do happen to challenge his positions.
Over to Manfred:
I think the first time I got angry about being misled by fake news right-wing propagandists was when I went and listened to a full Obama speech to see what led up to him saying America was so bad. It turned out that they had cut out the portion where he stated he was quoting someone else and cut out the portion where he actually refuted the quote. As soon as I discovered that, I began investigating almost everything that was pushed by conservative media. It was around the same time that I began blasting non-political and non-theological hoaxes that I found on FB.
Despite all that, I remained a conservative Republican that thought Christ’s return would happen at any moment. I was still part of a fulfilled prophecy forum. (This particular forum believed Javier Solana was the AC.) However, soon I realized that something was off about trying to figure out who the AC was.
But, things didn’t really start to change a great deal until something happened with my church membership. So, some background is needed. I was born Amish-Mennonite (a particular conservative Anabaptist sect whose legalism is between that of the Amish and Conservative Mennonites.) However, when I was young my family changed churches frequently and I was exposed to a lot of interesting things, including miracles occurring to us. When I was 15, my weird dad ran out from my family. At 17 my mom and I returned to the Conservative Mennonites and attended a church in Virginia. We brought my sister along who had never been a CM before. I pondered membership with the CMs for a while. I knew I didn’t believe everything this particular church believed, but I felt it was home.
Eventually, I decided to become a member at that church. I began taking the “instruction class” that was required before Baptism and membership. Around the same time I was offered a job in Georgia. I accepted the offer. I finished the instruction class and promptly moved to Georgia and began attending the local CM church. A few months later I had to go to VA to get baptized and receive my membership. About a year or so later I formally asked for my membership to be transferred to Georgia. All was well and good, until I had to quit my job due to allergies.
So, I moved back to Virginia and that uber-legalistic church. By this time I realized the church there was extremely legalistic. I had also read the book “when pleasing others is hurting you” by David Hawkins. I knew that I had to be sure if I really wanted to join that church again. I waited two years and people began to bug me about it. One day I was praying and I asked God when I should ask to have membership moved back. He specifically told me, “After the service on the second day of revivals that are coming up in a month.” I thought, what an oddly specific thing for Him to tell me.
So, I went to church that specific night. As it turned out, that night the visiting preacher’s entire sermon was on the great importance of local church membership. I was like, woah, this is awesome. So, I went up to my Bishop afterwards and I told him I wanted my membership transferred back. Instead of rejoicing, he gave me an odd look and told me he would get back with me. I knew immediately that something was off. He came back to me a few months later and told me “You need to a have a job in the local community before we can accept your transfer request.” (I had just graduated from a local community college and was actively seeking work.) I knew immediately that that something was wrong and I began researching scripture intensely. I realized that almost everything the CM’s taught that was different from the rest of Christianity was absolutely wrong. So, I plotted my escape and I began writing blog posts that would be published in the future. I also began to actively look at furthering my education. I eventually told my mom that I was leaving the CMs, turned out she left before I did.
I ended up going to Liberty University with the knowledge that it was only a stepping stone before I went for a degree in something else. A year into my program I realized that the Baptist way was just as bad as the CM way when it came to accuracy. Then, the massive thing that changed my entire life happened. I was trying to go to sleep one night and God told me “Go research the term “fornication.” I was like, “WHAT! My mind is settled on that!” But, HE would not let me rest. So, I got up in the middle of the night and started my research. I soon found that my entire worldview on sexuality was wrong. Thus started my transition to a progressive view on human sexuality and the rest of theological and political worldview began to crumble.
I stayed with LU, and I am glad I did. I learned skills there that helped me research their dogma about everything. I actually became an ethical socialist at the end of my second year. I realized that everything the conservative political pundits had to say was a lie. Yet, I still remained a Republican of sorts
And then, I went to work in the Jerry Falwell Library’s Archives and Special Collections. I discovered the real history of the modern Republican party. And, I was done. (And yes, I have a lot of stories about what I found in that Archive, LOL)
I eventually moved to Vancouver, BC for yet more schooling. (I am working on getting two Masters in Archives Science and Library Science. My dream jobs) I got here and was immediately confronted with just how many LGBTQ+ people there are here. The breaking point for me on that front was discovering that Intersex people exist.
I currently identify as a Polytheist Progressive Universalist Anabaptist.
I am still a Christian and an ardent believer in the spirit world. I have had experiences my entire life that I cannot reconcile with a non-religious understanding of reality. So, I am not sure I would be a good fit for one of those stories. But, if the following worldview would fit, let me know.
Essentially, it boils down to my knowledge of what has occurred to and through me that prevents full deconversion from Christianity. However, I come to discover in recent years that the dogmas of modern dualistic Christianity do not actually match the early dogmas of the religion. I view Augustine, Tertullian, and to some extent Saul, as the very ravening wolves that Christ warned us about.
I believe that God used the evolutionary process to not only bring about humanity, but also our capabilities to understand the spirit world. As with every evolutionary process, the evolution of religion has been fraught with massive missteps and bogus ideas. I believe that the Old Testament and other religious traditions were peoples attempts to understand what God was saying to them. They did not write down what He said word for word, but only their interpretations. All humans do this.
So, with that in mind, why did Jesus not make everything the way we humanists think things should be? Well, I believe that Jesus was sent to help humanity “level-up” in our evolutionary path. He was sent to a specific group in order to overcome their distorted tradition with as much real knowledge as they could handle.
So, with this in mind, I believe that the humanist movement and modern scientific understanding are further “leveling-ups” that have happened as a result of God’s will. I do not believe that we have reached the pinnacle of understanding reality. I think we are still only scratching the surface.
This raises another question though. Do we have free will? I believe we have the free will to chose what we will do, but that God knows every possible outcome of every action, even the possibility of his intervention.
As of right now, this is the best way I know of how to make sense of everything I have learned and experienced throughout my life.
Let me give you an example of something that happened to me. Many years ago there was a social media site called Xanga. Conservative Mennonites really liked the platform. One day I noticed that a warlock was purposefully trying to provoke some of my friends. I reached out to him. In the course of our conversation (I still have the screenshots) he told me that he had been killed by a dog when he was a child. He remained dead for several hours apparently. During that time “Satan” took him to heaven and it was bad and took him hell and it was good. He then told me that every time a Christian prayed for him, something bad would happen to him.
I was highly skeptical of this claim, but I wanted to test it and see if it was true. I got on my knees in bed and prayed for him. While I was praying, I saw a car come at me. I prayed about this situation and again I saw a car come at me. This time the car went to my right, but I could not tell if it hit me or not. This shocked me and I immediately informed my mom of what I had seen.
The next day I asked the guy if anything crazy happened the day before. His answer? He was helping a guy get his car out of a ditch and another car brushed him. Later, he was walking along and another car hit him! I have no idea if my prayer caused that to happen, or if my prayer prevented major injuries. But, wow! That was weird.