I think it would be interesting to read the various stories of how Atheists who used to be religious left their religions. here is mine
I grew up in the Bahá'í community. I loved it. In my teens I was certain that I would never leave it partially because, as I read so much of the literature and internally recorded history and participated in the local, regional and international community, I had convinced myself that it was immeasurably superior to all other religions. I also knew that if (insane an idea as it was to me) I did ever leave; I would simultaneously be rejecting the entirety of religion. Over a four-year crumbling of faith, I was dragged kicking and screaming out of it by my own sense of reason.
There were four sort of pillars in the Bahá'í faith, or at least my perception of it; personal belief and prayer, the writings, the community and the institutions. The first thing that shook me was found in the community. Something I considered as fundamental and inviolable about my religion was the concept that people should be introduced to the faith through honest and casual conversations. This was how I grew up in the faith and it was backed up by virtually everything I read in the source material for the religion.
In the spring of 2008, I took note of a disturbing new trend. A few Bahá'ís decided to "experiment" with different ways of 'teaching the faith' (the common turn of phrase for spreading knowledge of the Bahá'í religion). These Bahá'ís in several areas, including my own, experimented with the already tried and castigated method that has made Mormons and JWs infamous; namely, door-to-door preaching, sometimes with a flipbook to homogenize the experience. Along the same trail came other ways of approaching interactions with non-bahá'ís that were unsettling. I won't go into all of that, but suffice it to say that the community was progressively letting in practices that violated what I considered to be the fundamentally Bahá'í way of doing things.
Even my own efforts to introduce people to the faith felt stifled. In late 2010, I had made friends with an ex-Mormon my age and went through a sort of introductory workshop type book with him. We'd get together at his place, and read some stuff and trail off in discussion. One of the major things that had turned him off of Mormonism was the door-to-door teaching. I wanted to reassure him that Bahá'ís were totally opposed to doing that type of shit. But I fucking couldn't! Because in the current state of the Bahá'í community, it wasn't true anymore! I thought, "How can I even introduce this guy to the rest of the community?" this dude was becoming a good friend, and it felt like I would be betraying him if I brought him to some event and somebody started talking about their most recent door-to-door bullshit.
Next were the institutions, the organizing boards and committees, some elected from the bottom up, and others appointed from the top down. From the local levels to the international, I watched as they sanctioned these new modes of proselytization as ways for Bahá'ís to step out of their comfort zones and, yes "experiment" with new ways of inviting people to join the 'Cause of God.' Then, speaking of sanctions, came the actions of some of these institutions at the local and national levels, like kicking somebody I knew as my summer camp children's class teacher off of the Portland local spiritual assembly (LSA) and revoking her rights to participate in the conduct and elections of these institutions, her "administrative rights." Following this was my brother receiving the same in the form of a letter from the National Spiritual Assembly (NSA). My brother had after years of estrangement from the Bahá'í community, started to worm up to it again, taking small steps like joining prayer gatherings. His only infraction was declining to recite, with his Christian bride, the Bahá'í marriage vow at their wedding. What an incredible slap in the face out of left fucking field for something he probably didn't even realize was that big a deal. I started to feel I could relate to Malcolm X when he found out that Elijah Muhammad had been fucking multiple teenage girls.
During the same years that all these events were going on, I had come to a certain impasse in my obsessive compulsive vein of reading the Bahá'í writings in chronological order, alongside historical essays. For example, somethings that I had certainly read before in Abdu'l-Bahá's Some Answered Questions, stuck out more glaringly a second or third time through. Here he unequivocally disagrees with scientific theories of his day, which are recognized as scientific facts today; to be exact, the origin of Man in the family of primates as a product of evolution through natural selection. In Abdu'l-Bahá's own words, if religion disagrees with science it is simply superstition. At the same time, the concept of spoken prayer made less and less sense to me every time I considered the belief that God is all-knowing, and is aware of your every thought and feeling.
Finally, in the late spring of 2012, as I sat in my college dorm room, contemplating the futility of my current situation within this confused Bahá'í community and my inherent inability to persuade people of my perspective on what they were doing, due to the sanction of the institutions, I stepped out of the faith in true Bahá'í fashion; by following another piece of advice from Abdu'l-Bahá':
Religion should unite all hearts and cause wars and disputes to vanish from the face of the earth; it should give birth to spirituality, and bring light and life to every soul. If religion becomes a cause of dislike, hatred and division it would be better to be without it, and to withdraw from such a religion would be a truly religious act. For it is clear that the purpose of a remedy is to cure, but if the remedy only aggravates the complaint, it had better be left alone. Any religion which is not a cause of love and unity is no religion.
So I said to myself that, at least for the time being, I should not be a Bahá'í. There is a concept I have heard referred to by an ex-Mormon as 'the shelf,' the place where you leave the religious ideas that do not yet make sense to you. After my tentative decision to stop being a Bahá'í, I more and more found just how much was left forgotten on that shelf. At a certain critical mass of beliefs and rules that made no sense, I passed the point of no return and outgrew religious thought all-together.
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