Exodus from Faith stories

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Augus's picture
Exodus from Faith stories

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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Biggus Dickus's picture
Yo Biggus here I used to be a

Yo Biggus here I used to be a pagan then I converted to early christiaity and so I more or less changed as the religion did. to make a long story short I try to do what is hip at the time.now that may seem strange but if you live over 2000 years it makes sence trust me.

Biggus Dickus's picture
Yo Biggus here I used to be a

Yo Biggus here I used to be a pagan then I converted to early christiaity and so I more or less changed as the religion did. to make a long story short I try to do what is hip at the time.now that may seem strange but if you live over 2000 years it makes sence trust me.

Alembé's picture
Hi Augus,

Hi Augus,

Thanks for sharing. This subject comes up from time to time. You may wish to check out the stories posted a couple of years ago:

http://www.atheistrepublic.com/forums/atheist-hub/what-your-story-being-...

MCD's picture
Here is my story. I never

Here is my story. I never believed. I played the game. I pretended. And then one day, I decided not to pretend anymore.

Augus's picture
I want to clarify. the thread

I want to clarify. the thread from two years ago is all well and good. and thank you Alembé for posting it. But I'm more specifically look for the process that people went through in leaving a religion. what changed for them and how they decided to bounce. and mine was kinda long, partially because it was a long process and partially because it's the first time I've actually tried to sit down and write out the whole concise story. so it can be as brief as you feel like making it, but I'm curious to see if other people went through whole thing to arrive at the exit.

JB God's Country's picture
I more or less had the same

I more or less had the same experience as MCD.

Thinkable's picture
I personally used to be more

I personally used to be more like Augus,very straight en in my religion(Christianity)especialy growing up in Romania wich is the second most religious country in Europe.As a kid(from the age of 8 to 11)I was determined to become a priest coming from my deep love for Christ and his creation while my familly being a faithful one to God tottaly suported me.I used to go to church every Sunday and always tried to learn something new from the holy bible.
There were times when I started to question God's existence when I was feeling that science disproves Him and when I felt that some parts of the bible dont go well with the reality,but ending up stopping myself and saying that is the devil trying to delude me.In my familly I really didnt had experiences with atheists,my father is,but didnt talked to him about religion,my mom said that he didnt liked going to church early in the morning so that is why he became an atheist and I went with that explination.Two years ago my doubts about God started to grow more and more and religion was making less sense,so I said that is time to answer my questions.I meditated in this subject for about three months,talked to my father who share his views on God,talked to some friends where one of them talled me that he red the whole bible and saw how much bullshit is in it.Following his advice I started looking carefully in the bible's verses and started seeing it's flaws and realized is not inspired by some divine being.That is when I deconverted and for the past two years I've been an atheist.

Nyarlathotep's picture
Thinkable - I felt that some

Thinkable - I felt that some parts of the bible dont go well with the reality, but ending up stopping myself and saying that is the devil trying to delude me.

That is a very interesting insight.

Augus's picture
one of the most insidious

one of the most insidious things about about organized religions is the mechanisms in place to keep people from questioning their beliefs. some of them are quite intricate. In the Baha'i faith, there is no devil, and in-fact, there are verses that have constructed the well known tenet of personal investigation of the truth. This gives the believer the sense that they have held onto their faith entirely through their own volition and sense of reason. But then, their are verses such as this one:

"We have consumed this densest of all veils, with the fire of the love of the Beloved—the veil referred to in the saying: “The most grievous of all veils is the veil of knowledge.” Upon its ashes, We have reared the tabernacle of divine knowledge."

there is this concept that man-made knowledge can veil you from divine knowledge. when you start to question your faith as opposed to questioning everything else, you think "am I falling into the trap that the writings have warned me about? that's sort of our devil hiding in plain sight.

Pitar's picture
Your "one of the most

Your "one of the most insidious things about about organized religions is the mechanisms in place to keep people from questioning their beliefs." is what we now call a religious meme. The routine stabilizing of the apologist is done through their weekly exposure to the meme. It isn't anything different than what has always occurred but these days bring new terminologies that have current universal understanding allowing us to move forward without explanations of antiquated terminologies.

I've given my story here before so I won't cover that ground again. I will say that I was an anti-theist before reaching my teens and settled down to atheism some years after.

I read through your thread-starting post and have to say that what you're going about is the commercialism of your faith versus the cultural embracing of traditional rights of passage through the community and family unit. Well said, but that's the way of all religions and perhaps the crux of their problems. Brand competition is an ugly business even if gods are in the sales pitch.

SecularSonOfABiscuitEater's picture
Although I have Catholic

Although I have Catholic/Christian family and have read the bible a couple times.. Hinduism is the religion I grew up in. like many religious people, I thought mine was better. Why not right? It literally does promote peace. Cool. Karma is a concept that promotes the golden rule. Cool. And The worst that can happen to you is that you're reincarnated into an animal you're not fond of. Not eternal torture lol. All true but wait... We have our Crazies too. From the people who are devoted to our god of death and sacrifice a goat every sunday to please her to the one who think that eating beef is offensive. From a young age I always doubted that there was a sentient god and the story of it all, but the catalyst of my rejection is how much money mattered. The Pandit(our version of a priest or other holy person) would refer to the families who donated the highest amount as "The Financial Families" like do you hear yourself? And are the rest of you proud of this shit? This guy was upset that there weren't more high rollers at the casino.. oops I meant Temple. My writing cannot properly illustrate it, but oh boy, if you could see how fired up he was when talking about this shit. It took about an hour of the time that I was expecting to get my spirituality on. My parents and i never returned to organized religion.
I think my atheism was always there and I didn't know it. I was a child of science. Especially biology, geology and Astronomy. Creation made no sense, religious people always sounded brainwashed, I always felt rediculous when I prayed and it didn't seem fair for people to thank god for thier accomplishments instead of themselves or those who helped. College only turned my skepticism into something real that I could back up at anytime. Learning history, a multitude of sciences and Epistemology was a gift. At 24 I finally felt like I was at a point that my word had gravitas and I told my parents and close friends that I don't believe in God. It's liberating really. Thank common sense, education and free will.

Augus's picture
Like I said at the top, I too

Like I said at the top, I too thought my religion was so obviously vastly superior to all others. The more I stepped back, the more I could see just how similar it was to Christianity or Islam which it happened to grow out of.

SecularSonOfABiscuitEater's picture
Yeah they're all man made

Yeah they're all man made systems of mind control.. better off without em. Although I admit I still slip up and say phrases like "oh my god" or "I could've swore" or "holy shit" lol
it's just common language. Is that something to worry about or not?

Augus's picture
no, in time, it will cycle

no, in time, it will cycle out. for example, I tend to say "for fuck sake" as opposed to "god's sake". I've never been one too fret over language though. ours is just so infused with christianity right now. But it will fade in time. language is always evolving.

still breathing's picture
Brought up Catholic, fought

Brought up Catholic, fought it through my teens, read Ayn Rand at 18, became an atheist to the stupefaction of my parents, saw the light and got born again, couldn't bear the inevitable bs, did all kinds of new age crap in my 30s, including living in a yoga ashram, came back to Christ (shit!), left again, then, then: I found myself in a cult, a real, honest-to-badness, fracking, idiotic cult, one so horrifyingly ridiculous that its name shall not be named (because some of you might look it up and then some of you might think me emotionally impaired--not that I'm not, necessarily).
Sigh. I think that's what cured me though. I saw the worst of the worst, truly. Following all of the OT, all those laws. There were lies, abuse (every sort), oppression, and a leader who was a sociopathic maniac (par for the cult course, of course). But I was able to question and examine what was going on--thanks, Internet!--and I did escape (taking my son, leaving the abusive, faith-addled husband) and that exodus was 18 years ago. And although for years I had murder in my heart (I mean seriously), I got over that, and accept that I've been there and done that and, it's done. I am cynical, a lot grumpy, I "believe" nothing. Now, I think, I am too damaged and too old to be further bamboozled.
Wait, an audible voice might do it...

Pitar's picture
still breathing

still breathing

Quite the gauntlet. From "an atheist to the stupefaction of my parents,..." to "...too old to be further bamboozled." is a snug fit in my own past though the two followed in close succession before I hit my teens. The latter I suspended as a shield between us that ultimately removed the parent/sibling relationship altogether. If religion could do that then we have evidence of its deeply resident evil calling to simple people who prefer to avoid becoming, as you nailed it, "faith-addled".

I'm glad you collected your senses, your son and split. Otherwise, I hope all is well with you.

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