Friday, December 13, 2013

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Spiritual Experiences

When I discuss religion and faith with other people, I find myself most interested in why they chose their particular path. For some their decision was greatly impacted by their family and heritage. For others, it was a spiritual experience that led them to choose a particular religion and/or deity. Spiritual experiences fascinate me.

While I was a Christian I had very few spiritual experiences, perhaps because the IFB world I was raised in downplayed personal experiences and the Holy Spirit. I suppose that's why we were fundamentalists, though, because we stuck to what we perceived to be the fundamental teachings of the Bible - people of the Book and all that jazz. I had a friend in school who was a member of a Pentecostal church, where the Holy Spirit and personal experience was emphasized more heavily. I never attended any of their services, but the stories I heard were certainly interesting! I imagine the ecstatic fervor that is a hallmark of Pentecostal services would have been scary because it was so far from what I thought was normal. I've been to several church services (of varying denominations) over the years that made me very uncomfortable because the church members felt comfortable enough to show honest emotions while worshiping. I'm secretly jealous of how genuine they allow themselves to be while in public.

After I left Christianity I began to study other religions more in-depth than I had previously.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Article: So, a Catholic Walks Into a LifeWay Store

This post, written by a Catholic, really caught my attention. Read it here.

Catholics v. Protestants goes back a LONG way. Hopefully more people will continue to wake up and realize that the bad blood accomplishes nothing positive. I was raised to view Catholics and any other denominations as not really Christians - only us fundamental Baptists had the truth and were living a life that was pleasing to the God of the Bible. What a childish worldview!

On a funny note, the large amounts of shelf space in Christian book stores that is dedicated to things like Veggie Tales and Duck Dynasty really is ludicrous. Between that stuff and the Christian romance novels... yeah.... I never was a huge fan of Christian bookstores.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Article: Unity of Religions? "God is not One!"

This article makes some good points. I am totally for all religions learning to peacefully coexist rather than all religions losing their individual identities and being merged into a single blob. It is the beautiful diversity that exists amongst the religions of the world that prevented me from hating religion altogether after I left the IFB. It's true that I currently attend a Unitarian-Universalist church, but it seems that the UU's version of universalism and the universalism described in this article are not the same thing at all.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Link & Some Thoughts About Fundie-land, Romantic Ideas, & Quiverfull

And this, my friend, is what the world of fundie/Baptist/uber-conservative/homeschooling looks like, as told in Jane Austen speak.


In a small Baptist church like the one I grew up in, the matchmaking that goes on is insane. I can't tell you how many times a lady from church (or one of my girlfriends) came over to squeal about a young man who had started attending or was visiting, especially if he was the child of someone in ministry. The important credentials were always his education, how he was serving in ministry, what his plans were, how he was dressed (better be a suit or something nice!) etc.; if he could sing or play an instrument he got bonus points. Guys weren't viewed as potential friends, they were viewed as potential mates. It was all very silly and unhealthy, and I can see that now, but at the time it was both thrilling and embarrassing to be involved in this world. At the time it seemed romantic, probably because of stories like Pride and Prejudice. Indeed these views of male/female interaction, courtship, love, whatever lives on through literature and films that depict patriarchal views/society as romantic, beautiful, classy, proper... you get the idea.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Article: Is Debating Atheists Biblical?

Read the post here. Hadn't ever thought of this conundrum before, even when I was a Christian. What about you?

Friday, October 11, 2013

Article: Equality of Women in Early Christianity

An interesting perspective on women and the early church. Read the article here. A few years ago I learned how the current canon of the Bible came into being (see below), and was quite shocked. With this knowledge in mind, it would not surprise me to discover that pro-equality letters/books were cast aside and burnt by early church fathers. From a Christian perspective. Love how this caveat is added:
Before we discuss how the books in the Bible were chosen, we must first take a step back and realize that the decision was a divine decision.   Though it was men who made the decision on which books to include, ultimately it was God, working through the Holy Spirit in those men’s hearts, who selected these books.   For the Bible is the one and only foundational book to which all true Christians look for guidance in their lives.   God, who created the heavens and earth, as well as all of us, would not allow any corrupted document(s) to make their way into His Word, that is, the Holy Bible.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

A Disturbing Picture of Love

A friend posted a link to this family's blog post. I do not know the family, but I'm a sucker for pregnancy stories so I decided to check it out. It was very sweet and exciting to read until I got to this part:

Dear Itty,
The pregnancy test confirmed that I am pregnant…but probably with only one baby. We’ll never know if it is #6 or #7 who lives on within me, so we have decided to call you Itty. And today, although we are so delighted to be housing and mothering Bitty, we want to say goodbye to you.
Itty, I never had the chance to tell you in person, but there is a holy God who made you—at a level much higher than the scientists who joined sperm and egg in the lab. This God loves you very much, and He put His stamp of affection on you by creating you in His own image! His ultimate desire for every person is to be with Him, enjoying Him and worshiping around His throne (which is like a huge and fancy high chair). But we are all born into a disobedient family, even you, Itty, who will never properly be born at all. So God sent His Son Jesus to live a perfect life and be killed as a punishment for the sins of those who believe in Him by faith—making it possible for us, though we are not holy ourselves, to be together with our holy Creator God. That delightful, sunshiny presence that you now bask in—whether as an embryo or as a full-grown person I do not know—is this loving God, who has brought you near to Him by forgiveness through Jesus.
We love you because He first loved us. We wish that we could have had the chance to meet you and see you grow… Goodbye for now, Itty. We love you and miss you already.
Mom and Dad

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Sunday Morning Musings

Sunday was supposed to be a day of rest for Christians, but for most of my 20 some years as a Christian, Sunday was far from restful. The day started out with my family scrambling to all get showered, dressed, and out the door in time for Sunday School (at 9:45). Three out of four of us were not morning people. My mom tried to have a special breakfast for us on Sunday mornings plus she needed to prepare the lunch we would eat after church, so she had added burdens that required more time and less sleep. Getting out the door was incredibly stressful and hardly helped at least me to be in the right frame of mind for spiritual things. The Sunday events at my home church consisted of 9:45am Sunday School, an 11am service, 4pm teen meeting (for the few years we had that), 5pm choir practice, and a 6 pm evening service. The 11 service often ran until 12:20pm or later, but we didn't get home until close to 1pm because we socialized with friends. By the time lunch was made and eaten, there really wasn't much time left in the afternoon. We made the best of it, though, by taking walks, playing games, or watching something together. As we kids got older we discovered the joys of Sunday afternoon naps. Some families didn't allow any activities on Sunday (based on Old Testament principles); I was very thankful my family wasn't that hardcore. When I reached college I did begin to question spending time on non-spiritual things on the Lord's day, but quickly abandoned my questions.

My Sundays in college were rarely restful. I chose to attend churches that were at least an hour away all four of my semesters. The first two of those semesters were spent at a church where I did what I could to help the pastor by teaching a Sunday School class, knocking on doors (even in the snow), and working on whatever odd projects came up. The next two semesters I attended a different church, largely so I could be with some new friends that I had made. We spent our afternoons crashed at the pastor's house, at a nearby mall, or otherwise having adventures together. It was during this time that I began to question how conducive to a day of rest the model of church I was used to actually was. My friends brought this up and I found myself in agreement; if one of us was sick or just feeling wiped out we chose to come back early or, rarely, skip church altogether. The college would have never approved of what we did, but to an over-tired (and very ill, as I was experiencing a mystery illness that would turn out to be fibromyalgia) college student, it hardly seemed important. My body, mind, and spirit needed rest; God had commanded that we observe a day of rest, so I rested.

Friday, September 20, 2013


I still follow a few evangelical Christian sites/people on social media. Why? Well, for the same reason I follow some Catholics, Hindus, Pagans, etc.: I enjoy hearing things from other people's perspectives. I certainly don't agree with everything I see, but I understand that only listening to the people you agree with is dangerous. You can't get the big picture from one view point. And, without the big picture, it is easy to slip into "me and mine are the only ones who matter" ideology. Religious fundamentalists tend to promote/exist in this way of thinking, which is why they are often referred to as cultists. I personally refer to such existence as living in a bubble.
I spent the first 21 years of my life living in one bubble or another - attending church and the school run by the church, working at a religious summer camp, living on-campus at a religious college. Bubbles promote circular reasoning and shun new, outside-the-bubble influences; a lot of really silly (or terrible) things continue unchecked in this sort of atmosphere. The most disturbing aspect of bubble ideology is thinking that you are the only one/ones who are right and know the truth. Many Baptists I've known believe they have a monopoly on true joy (joy is supposedly different than happiness, because joy only come from knowing Jesus). I held that belief as well, until I got outside the bubble and met very happy/joyful people who were not Christians. Anyway.
Today I read a post written by an evangelical Christian who was so thrilled that she had been able to witness to a Hindu man on a plane. She and the man had a nice conversation discussing the differences between their faiths and then the man asked her to pray for him. The Christian lady was so very excited over this fact because, to her, it clearly meant he was considering converting. I don't know exactly what was said during their conversation, or why the man asked her to pray for him, but I do know this situation looks very different from another perspective. Hindus, in my limited experience, are very wonderful people who are happy to discuss their beliefs with you. They aren't out to make converts or change the world - they just want to live good lives and be good people. Also, people of many faiths are very comfortable asking someone of another faith to pray for them. Many people hold interfaith beliefs or are at least able to accept the views of others without judgment. Most fundamentalists won't attend the religious services of another faith, let alone ask a non-Christian to pray for them. Because of this rigidness, the fundamentalists I've known have always assumed any non-Christians who asked for prayer were either wanting to convert or knew that they should convert.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Article: 15 Things Not to Say to a Recovering Fundamentalist

Defeating the Dragons has written another post that I must share; read it here.

I have been told most, if not all, of the things she lists; I find them equally as infuriating as she does. Perhaps the most infuriating phrase on her list is, "You were never really a Christian." To have someone else decide  your personal beliefs weren't sincere enough or real is very insulting. Most Baptists I know have no trouble saying that to/about anyone who left the faith. Another phrase that stood out was, "If you are truly seeking God in this time, he will lead you to the Truth." The assumption that Christianity, particularly the fundamentalist version of Christianity, is absolute Truth (to the exclusion of everything outside of it) fuels so many un-Christian thoughts and actions. I'm so thankful I no longer hold to a belief that is so exclusive.
13. “Be careful you don’t lose your faith.” — Hännah

People are genuinely concerned about us, and just want to make sure that we’re ok. However, the concept that we could be “ok” without religion, without Christianity– it’s a little bit too far outside the box for a lot of Christians. To a lot of the people I know, living without their faith would be pretty unthinkable. Thoughts like “I don’t know how people survive without Jesus” (which is a modern remix of “you can do all things through Christ”) are pretty common among Christians– and they mean it. To be honest, I’ve said that sort of thing on more than one occasion. But, let me assure you: we are just fine. For a lot of us, “losing our faith” was the best– and hardest– thing that ever happened to us.
It's certainly been one of the best things I've ever done.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Article: Goddess with Us: Is a Relational God Powerful Enough?

A very interesting approach to the concept of an omnipotent divinity. Read it here.
Previously, I had never heard of a relational divinity. The beliefs I was raised with taught that the God of The Bible was omnipotent, and, if he were not then he would be a sham not worth worshiping. Indeed, I found him unworthy of my worship because I could not accept him as both good and omnipotent.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Article: why “talk”? Why not just get married?

This may help you understand some of what is said in my previous post.

How IFB Has Shaped My Life: Part One

My IFB background has shaped every aspect of my life thus far. I used to accept fundamentalism's dictation of my actions without question. Those days are long gone, of course, but fundamentalism is still doing its best to shape my life. Being raised in a lifestyle that involved attending church three times a week (and more if there were revival services), attending church-school five days a week (K-4 through 12th grade), and being heavily involved in the church and school as a family did an excellent job of instilling IFB principles into my very person. I attended and then worked at a summer camp run by Baptists; I then went on to a Baptist college where IFB principles were further entrenched into my thinking. When I made the decision to leave IFB and Christianity as a whole, I did not fully understand how much my former beliefs would continue to impact me in the future. Perhaps the largest way it has impacted me is in the areas of relationships, love, and marriage.

Sunday, September 1, 2013


Meditation used to be something I misunderstood and viewed with a mixture of skepticism and awe. Some Baptists/Christians say meditation is too New Agey and invites the Devil in... or something silly like that. I think they say such things because they don't actually understand what meditation is. See the definition here and/or allow me to sum it up for you.
To meditate is to focus on something, particularly something spiritual.
Prayer is meditation. Thinking about Scripture (as commanded in the Bible) is meditation. Mary meditated as she "pondered these things in her heart" after she found Jesus in the temple speaking as a learned adult rather than the child he appeared to be. Quoting passages like The Lord's Prayer or the Twenty Third Psalm is meditation. Meditation is Biblical.
Anyway. Growing up I viewed meditation as some weird thing Asian monks did. Pastors and teachers warned against the evils of meditation, yoga, and anything else "New Age" so I saw these things as negative. Negative and mysterious. Fast forward to my post-Christian days as I explore forbidden fruits and discover the truth about them. In looking for ways to help myself heal from and cope with chronic illness, I read a lot about meditation and guided imagery. What was this nebulous thing called mediation? How did people sit and think about nothing for hours upon end? Was it just craziness? I looked into it some, but it wasn't until a few months ago that I came to understand meditation.

Interview with an Ex-Fundie: Meet Ashlee

Meet Ashlee, a young woman who is an ex-fundie, happily married, and a Christian. Thank you for sharing your story, Ashlee!

What do you consider your current worldview/religious beliefs to be?

Christian - Having a relationship with God and not the church. Politically, I would consider myself moderate.

How did you become involved with Christian Fundamentalism?

I was born into it. Until I moved out of my parent’s house I had no choice with what I wanted to do. My parent’s controlled everything.

What sort of church(es) did you attend while in fundamentalism?

IFB – very conservative

How did Christian Fundamentalism affect your home life (relationship between parents, relationship between parents and children, relationship between siblings, discipline methods, lifestyle choices, etc.)?

I think it caused tension between my parents and me because I was always afraid of getting in trouble. Being a PK I always had to play the part of being the good Christian girl. I didn’t have the same thinking as my parents. I felt like I couldn’t be true to myself. I felt more like a fraud. Moving out of their house I feel like now I can be authentic. With the control they had over me I couldn’t think for myself. It was either the Bible way or the highway with them.
Was patriarchy (male headship) present in your home, church, or relationships with other people? If so, how did it make you feel at the time? How do you feel about patriarchy now?

My dad was head of the home and also the church, so I got strictness in both the home and church. I do not agree with males feeling like they can dominate the female. Being brought up in the IFB the men teach you that they have control over you. 

What were you taught about sex before marriage or sex in general?

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Josh Harris, Sexual Abuse, & My Opinion of Courtship (5-27-13)

Kudos to Josh Harris (of I Kissed Dating Goodbye famedom) for taking a stand on sexual abuse in the church. Read the story here. Really appreciate what he has publicly said, particularly this part:
My hope is that a person would hear me and think, “Okay, if the pastor can admit that in front of the church then I can call the police and tell someone what is happening to me. I can get counseling. I can tell my story, too.” It’s very difficult because it feels like such a shameful thing, but we need to learn how to talk about sexual abuse in the church. We need to teach people who have been abused that it’s not their fault.
I respect Josh Harris for making this stand; I know what a huge issue this is in churches, and what he has done will hopefully make a difference. i I think this is a deplorable turn of events for all involved. Allow me to explain why.

I read I Kissed Dating Goodbye as a teenager. It was one of two books my mother provided me with on relationships and sex. Well, they weren't really about sex so much as avoiding it like the plague until you've said your marriage vows, but anyway. Even as a fundie teen who cared deeply about staying pure and someday having a godly relationship, I thought the message of Harris' book was off. It's been so long since I read it that I can't remember what in particular it was that bugged me, but it was enough that I put the book on a shelf and never picked it up again. I think part of my issue was the premise for the book - dating is bad. I like(d) old fashioned things, but falling back to courtship in the way prescribed didn't seem healthy. Fast forward a few years to when I'm reading Created to be His Help Meet and other Quiverfull literature. Even then I took issue with the concept of true courtship. Despite my feminist thoughts, many notions about courtship, marriage, and relationships in general were poisoned by the ideology I'd read about and even heard from teachers and pastors over the years. I consider the teachings poison because they lead to unhealthy relationships. I speak from personal experience.

Abstinance & Raw Potatoes (5-23-13)

Check it out here.

Believe it or not, this is the logical end to most purity teaching that goes on in evangelical homes, churches, schools, and camps. If you tell someone (for a long enough period of time) that something is bad, don't expect them to suddenly flip a switch and be able to view it as good. Many a marriage has fallen on the rocks because a spouse (usually the wife) can't shake the sensation that sex is dirty and somehow evil, therefore it is a source of guilt, shame, and stress.

Article: Sloppy Seconds Sex Ed (5-17-13)

Please read the article here.

I sincerely hope more Christians will take up this message and use it to prevent further damage from abstinence-only teachings. I grew up hearing similar things from people whom I respected (camp counselors, preachers, teachers, etc.); the teachings did impact my ability to view sex as a normal, healthy part of life. The teachings have impacted countless people over the years. I know a few of those people personally.

A Letter That Made Me Sad & Angry (3-26-13)

This letter is flying about on facebook amongst my IFB friends. I read it and was appalled. The woman who wrote it has chosen to believe that a fundamental aspect of her biological make-up – her sexuality – is a grievous sin.

IFB’s and those who are similar to them are notorious for making sex and sexuality out to be a great evil (unless you’re a man). I myself was affected by that teaching. But the woman who wrote this letter has to deal with more than “just” sex. She is a lesbian. A homosexual. As most IFB’s I know would say, she is a “pervert.” Such ideology makes me sick. This woman is expected to ignore her sexuality and never find pleasure in sex (because to have sex with another woman would be an abomination!). She will probably be expected to find a way to “fix” herself and rewire her brain to find men arousing, not women. She will be expected to either never find a companion to spend her life with, or to choose a man and marry him. For a lesbian (not a bisexual), being with a man, even if she loves him, can be unsatisfying, scary, and possibly feel more like rape than making love. And for that husband, how will he feel? What awkward, possibly awful place will he be put into? Both partners in a relationship deserve to find happiness and satisfaction in their sex life – it is a basic human need and one of the reasons we form such relationships.

Again... Really? (5-22-2012)

Here we go again! North Carolina has yet again made it into the public eye through the actions of a Baptist pastor. Pastor Charles L. Worley of Providence Road Baptist Church in Maiden, NC spoke out rather forcefully about the Biblical wrongness of homosexuality and has warranted the attention of national media. Here are two links to the story: and 

After reading the lengthy quotes from this pastor's sermon, I am appalled at his ideology.

Some Quotes & Some More Thoughts on Sex (4-30-2012)

‘‘The whole problem with this idea of obscenity and indecency, and all of these things—bad language and whatever—it’s all caused by one basic thing, and that is: religious superstition,’’ George Carlin in a 2004 interview. 
‘‘There’s an idea that the human body is somehow evil and bad and there are parts of it that are especially evil and bad, and we should be ashamed. Fear, guilt and shame are built into the attitude toward sex and the body…. It’s reflected in these prohibitions and these taboos that we have.’’ ~ George Carlin

The first statement is very interesting to me - I've never heard anyone draw that conclusion before. The second statement is what initially caught my attention. I couldn't agree more with him, as you will know from reading my previous post. The first time I took Biology class, it was embarrassing, seeing those body parts for the first time and reading about the functions for which they are used. The principal of the Christian school I was attending taught that chapter to us, because of the silliness that teachers knew would ensue from discussing the topic of sex. I imagine silliness and embarrassment are part of any classroom discussion about sex, be it Christian or non. I think that shows that our society has made the wrong choice in how it approaches the topic of sex. 

A Change for the Blog

Love & Sex, the other wing of this blog, is being closed and I will move those posts onto this blog. So, if you suddenly see a glut of posts on the topics of love and sex, you'll know why.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Article: What Non-Christians Want Christians to Hear

What Non-Christians Want Christians to Hear

After reading the comments the author chose to highlight, I came to the conclusion that these people were mostly referencing fundamentalist Christians. Many fundamentalists find great joy in the notion that their lives and tactics are odious to unbelievers. How do you (the non-fundamentalist) have a discussion with someone who feels that way? - You don't.
I found this comment to be incredibly insightful:
“The main thing that baffles and angers me about Christians is how they can understand so little about human nature that when, in their fervor to convert another person, they tell that person (as they inevitably do, in one way or another), ‘You’re bad, and wrong, and evil,’ they actually expect that person to agree with them. It pretty much guarantees that virtually the only people Christians can ever realistically hope to convert are those with tragically low self-esteem.”– E.S., Denver

Friday, July 26, 2013

This Is What Fundamentalism Looks And Sounds Like

A KJV-only pastor bashing men who don't stand up to pee. Why? Because real men stand up, and God wants you to be a real man. The funny/sad things is, this man could have been any number of men I heard preaching at my school, church, or in other Baptist churches I attended.
His blog can be found here: Steven L. Anderson. His wife blogs at . I show the entire link because I think it does a good job of illustrating the way the husband dominates his family. I suppose it could just be because the husband is more famous or something, but after reading through their blogs I sincerely believe they want their identity to be dominated by the husband. This family is very Quiverfull, patriarchal, the whole shebang. The wife, Zsuszanna, is quite passionately devoted to the patriarchal ideals that dominate her world - this is clearly seen in her writing. From what I've gathered she is originally from Germany and was raised as a Catholic. Steven witnessed to her while visiting in Germany when he was eighteen, she eventually converted to Baptist beliefs, and they were married very shortly after that. Baptist fundamentalism appealed to her so she dived right in and marrying a loud-spoken, KJV-only (1611 version, baby!), hyper-conservative guy and the rest is history. They are against voting, against any form of family planning/contraception, and a long list of other things that only make sense in the world of religious fundamentalism.
I'm so glad I left this world before marrying into it and being further entrapped in its hold.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Article: My Time As An Agnostic

I've posted from Defeating the Dragons a few times here and have come to the conclusion that you should just spend an entire day reading her blog, because everything there is worth reading. This post really struck me as I read it, particularly in light of my own de-conversion and my recent post on agnosticism.

Article: My Body Is Not A Stumbling Block

Defeating the Dragons has written another amazing post, this one about the fundies' obsession with modestly-dressed women. Please go read it here.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

What Does It Mean to be a Buddhist?

I have the good fortune of knowing someone who is Buddhist - not something I ever anticipated when I was still a fundie. Anyway. Ryan was kind enough to answer some questions for me and told me I could quote him here, so I shall. He's done extensive research on Buddhism, so I appreciate his willingness to share his knowledge. My questions will be in italics.

There are three main branches of Buddhism. The first, Theravada, is the oldest branch that adheres to the historical Buddha's teachings. The second, Mahayana, includes most other forms of Buddhism: Zen, Pure Land, Nichiren, etc. They adhere to many of the Buddha's teachings but added some deities and new beliefs. The third, Vajrayana, is a form of Mahayana but is often considered a third branch because it's fairly different. It's highly ritualized with lots of deities. The Dalai Lama follows Vajrayana. I'm most interested in Theravada. 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

What Does It Mean to be an Athiest?

I initially approached this study with some anxiety. Atheists are often ill spoken of, particularly by fundamentalists, due to how in-your-face they can be about their disregard for all things religious and spiritual. I personally have come across several such atheists in the blogosphere - it's not pleasant. There are even other atheists calling out the unpleasantness (as I discussed here). Not all atheists are unpleasant, though! I've also come across nice atheists, like my friend Erin, who is very respectful and non-judgmental about the beliefs of others. She agreed to discuss her atheistic world view with me so I could share it here.

What does atheism mean to you? When did you decide you were an atheist?
To me atheism just means the lack of belief in an intelligent creator. I never actually realized I was an atheist, it just developed over time as a logical conclusion to philosophical questions.
Have you taken any flak for being atheist? 
I have taken flak for being atheist. I was personally attacked by the mother of one of my very close friends who committed suicide. She called me a bad influence and said I wasn't original or unique and was going through a stupid phase. It was probably just brought on by grief and anger but her son was also an atheist and being one of his best friends I knew that. The funeral was an insult to his memory because they pretended he'd been a good Christian his whole life when it was against everything he believed in.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

A Realization About Spirituality

A thought struck me earlier today and I haven’t been able to shake it, so I will write about it. 

My spirituality has never been allowed to be about me.

The strict Baptist upbringing of my first two decades did not allow for anything that even hinted at selfishness. We weren’t Puritans by any stretch of the imagination, but we were taught that our lives weren’t about us because they belonged to God. We were born because God had a purpose for us. This purpose might include many things (pain, ridicule, sacrifices as huge as dying), but it ultimately culminated in bringing glory to himself. All that we said or did was supposed to please him and bring glory to his name and cause. How we worshipped, what we wore, and even the secret things we pondered late at night belonged to him. To do things because you wanted to was selfish and sinful. Rebellion was “as the sin of witchcraft,” (1 Samuel 15:23) after all. Most of the Christians I have known toss around the phrase, “it’s God’s will” or “the Holy Spirit is leading me to do this” or something similar to that to justify the decisions they make. I’ve seen those phrases used to justify some pretty terrible things, but that’s a topic for another time. 

Fundamentalism removes the individual’s self. An individual (in the sense I’m speaking about) is comfortable in their own skin and is quite happy to find his/her own way in life. An individual is empowered and free. Individuals don’t last in fundamentalism (unless they become cult leaders or the like). Fundamentalism must break down people’s sense of self, tell them it’s evil (play on past guilt, etc.), and then insert a controlling measure (strict adherence to particular teachings, lifestyle, dress, etc.). The Bible often uses the imagery of sheep needing a shepherd to illustrate humanities’ need for the Christian God. Sheep are very stupid animals, or so I’ve been told, and will get themselves into all kinds of trouble without the guidance of a shepherd. People often act like sheep; sometimes we like being told what to do rather than having to make our own decisions and then being responsible for them (and sometimes it’s necessary, to a degree). Individuals don’t fit well in flocks of sheep, though.

Monday, June 17, 2013

What Does It Mean to be An Agnostic?

 The term agnostic comes from ancient Greek and means "without knowledge."
An agnostic is a person who believes that the existence of a greater power, such as a god, cannot be proven or disproved; therefore an agnostic wallows in the complexity of the existence of higher beings. 
Agnostics on religion (Christianity, Islam, Buddhists, etc): Religious zealots are often viewed as ignorant by agnostics’ because of their blind following of a supreme being which may or may not exist. Agnostics will often question the existence of a supreme power because a lot of modern religious beliefs have no basis in modern logic; therefore blind following of popular religions is viewed as an easy out for people who chose not to think for themselves. 
Agnostics on atheism: On the other end of the spectrum, unlike atheists, an agnostic uses a more scientific approach to their belief system. An agnostic knows that just because there is no physical proof of the existence of a higher being, it dose not automatically mean that one does not exist. An agnostic views an atheist on the same plane as a religious zealot; often because the belief that human beings are the pinnacle of intelligence and there are few things that we do not or have the potential to understand. 
The realization of knowing that “we cannot know everything” is the backbone of the agnostic belief.

Saturday, June 15, 2013


Two interviews have been posted; I soon hope to post more. In the meantime, I will be studying various religions/worldviews and posting my findings here. It has been pointed out to me that I tend to present the naked information and leave people to draw their own conclusions. I enjoy giving my opinion, no doubt, but I would prefer that people make up their own minds. I've often found myself frustrated to hear or read an interview in which the writer' has misconstrued the actual information through framing, tone, etc. Because I do not want to be guilty of this, I'm going to keep my personal opinions at a minimum in interviews and my exploration of religions.

Interview with an Ex-Fundie: Meet Anne

Meet Anne, a Bible-believing Christian who was raised in fundamentalism.

What sort of church(es) did you attend while in fundamentalism? 

It was basically a fundamentalist mega church. It had its own school, and it easily developed into its own culture. (You see the same people six days a week—five days in school and at least once on Sunday. They see all your choices, everything you wear, every word you say.)

Was patriarchy (male headship) present in your home, church, or relationships with other people? If so, how did it make you feel at the time? How do you feel about patriarchy now? 

Fundamentalism has a sickeningly low view of women: Congratulations, you have a womb. I understand that, however much we like to think of equality, this is still very much a man’s world; but I am strongly against fundamentalism’s subpar view of women. Yes, patriarchy was very strong in my church and relationships. It made me feel inferior, which was utterly ridiculous considering the people I was being subjected to. I was an above average student in high school and college, but yet I was supposed to be “under” people whose intellects were inferior to mine. It was very disappointing. I also recall one time in college when I presented a plea to do a fundraiser for a project I was working on, and I got turned down rather unceremoniously. As a last resort, I had a guy in my group go talk to the administration; he got it cleared the first time he asked. Also on a humorous note, I worked in a department during college, and a guest visited our office, which was made up of mostly men. When I walked in, the ultra conservative guest had his back to the door and was going on about how good it was to see an office full of men.

Interview with an Ex-Fundie: Meet Erin

Cartoon provided by Erin
Meet Erin:
Despite a degree in religious studies and office management, Erin is a SEO and online marketing consultant, and married to a future MD.  Together they have two children, one dog, and toys all over the floor most of the time.  She blogs at

What do you consider your current worldview/religious beliefs to be?
After much study and consideration, I follow the Jesus of the Bible who taught that love for others is one of the greatest gifts you can offer the world.

How did you become involved with Christian Fundamentalism?
I perhaps have a unique situation in that I was not raised in fundamentalism.  I grew up in a very sincere non-fundamental home attending a Bible / Christian Missionary Alliance Church with my parents.  Growing up in churches like that, it was demonstrated to me that God is good and loving and that He extends grace freely to everyone.  Church attendees, pastors and staff were all equal and on first-name basis with each other.  I never remember thinking that the pastor or anyone else held any higher position than another.

When I was 17, the pastor of the Alliance church we attended left, and due to the influence of close family friends who were members of an IFB* church, my parents were persuaded to visit and later joined their church.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Article: Growing Tired of Atheism

Please read the original here. The comments add so much to the overall point, as usual, so take time to read those as well.

I was pleasantly surprised to come across this article. It seems I'm not the only one who is becoming disgruntled with the nastiness that goes on amongst some atheists. I'm not an atheist, but that's beside the point. Dividing people up into groups and then lambasting them for not thinking the same way you do is fundamentalism, regardless of the religious context. Many atheists are very nice and could care less what other people believe. I know a few of these people - they're wonderful! Then, there are those who make a huge deal out of being anti-religion and enjoy slamming everyone who doesn't agree with them - this is wrong. Christians don't get the right to lord it over non-Christians; atheists don't get to lord it over non-atheists; nobody gets to lord it over people who disagree with them. Simple.

Ex-Fundies, Identity, & Finding Balance

I keep up with several ex-fundie blogs, many of which can be found on my blogroll. Most of these blogs are written by women who have left their backgrounds in Christian fundamentalism and embraced new ways of living. Many have left religion altogether; others have moved to more mainstream realms of Christianity where they focus on love instead of rules. I enjoy reading each person's story and seeing how their lives have changed (for the better) since making the fateful decision to leave fundamentalism. Some of them have moved on more easily than others, and it shows in their writing.

It isn't hard to spot who is still flaming mad. Vendettas and bitterness show through as they address their past (this isn't surprising, since many of their pasts are quite horrible). The term ex-fundie is an integral part of their identity. Their writing is predominantly angry and/or negative, and they tend to lump the people who disagree with them into one bad lump. Sadly, I think their anger blinds them to many things and leads them to say and do things that are more harmful than helpful. If you've kept up with my blog in the past, you may feel I just described myself. It's a fair point to make, and I won't deny that I went through the flaming-mad phase for quite awhile (as addressed here).

In contrast, some of the authors make it clear that they have cooled off.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Article: The Thaw, Evangelical Teens, and Persecution Complexes

Please read the article here and proceed to enjoy the comments - they are wonderful (as always).

Love this person's comment:
"Why can’t I pray in school?"

You can. Go ahead. Bow your head in the classroom or cafeteria and start praying. As long as you're not being loud and disruptive while you're doing it, nobody will do anything to stop you.

"Why do I have to check my religion at the door?"

This is hilarious to me, given that nobody questions a child wearing crosses or T-shirts with Bible verses on them, but the second a kid comes into school wearing a pentacle, Om, or hijab, there's a huge stink about it. Christians aren't the ones who have to "check their religion at the door;" it's everybody else.

"Why can’t I write about God in my school papers?"

I have never heard of anyone receiving even the slightest reprimand for writing about God. Writing about how your religion's rules should apply to people who aren't members of your religion is not "writing about God."

"Why do I have to tolerate people cursing my God, but I am not allowed to talk about God and my faith?"

Monday, May 20, 2013

Article: Domestic Violence in the IFB Church Movement

Please read the article here.

"Abuse is physical, sexual, emotional, economic or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that frighten, intimidate, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, injure or wound someone."

This goes on in IFB circles ALL the time. I saw it go on in friends' household when I was a child. I watched it go on at the Baptist college I attended. I watched college friends go through it. I experienced it personally in at least one major friendship in the past. People I hold very dear have gone through so much abuse at the hands of fundamentalism.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Article: I Love You and You are an Abomination

I can sympathize with this man's words. The "love" often proffered by friends and family can be deeply hurtful (and annoying). Read here.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Article: Servanthood & Suffering v Equality & Justice

When a Gospel of Servanthood and Suffering Stands in the Way of Equality and Justice

When you teach people to live their lives focused on what they will get in the next life, you can lead them into doing all kinds of things. Happiness awaits in the next life, but only if they are willing to suffer greatly in this one. Why try to get ahead in life? Why try to find happiness and enjoy yourself? Nothing here on earth matters, so why bother? This is a very sad state of affairs. There is much here on earth, in the every day things we experience, that is beautiful and heavenly. The only purpose to having people stay focused on the next world is so they will more readily forget what their lives are here on earth. Makes it very easy to get good, honest people to work themselves to death for a cause, stay dirt poor and give to an institution (which may or may not use those funds for the true good of their fellow humans [I'm not speaking against charity, rather the abuse of it that has gone on for centuries in the Catholic church and others]), and submit themselves to leadership that will tell them they are filthy and worthless without Christ and should therefore gladly give all they have so they might receive rewards in the next life.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Mississippi High School Forces Fundie Messages on Students

Insanity. Read the story here.
Can I say total disregard for the law? Kidnapping teenagers was one of the stupidest things they could have done. Teenagers have cameras, phones, ipods, and who knows what else. Did they honestly think it wouldn't get out? I suppose that the most likely scenario is that they thought the risk (jail and fines) was worth getting the name of Jesus out to the teenagers. That's sad.

Looking Back & Moving Forward

If you read the earliest posts on this blog, you'll quickly realize there was a time when I practically hated all things religious and many things spiritual. I was angry and bitter after spending the first 20 or so years of my life in fundamental Christianity. The day the blindfold came off, I began realizing the many things I had learned, seen, been part of, and had done to me that were wrong. The lies, the imposed guilt, the many options I should have had but didn’t because of my upbringing. The many evils done in the name of my former religion that had been swept under the rug by fellow Christians. So very many things crossed my mind and fueled my anger.

As I look back, I realize my anger was one of the five steps of loss and grief. The five stages are denial and isolation, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance (I pulled my list and quote from this site). They don’t necessarily occur in a specific order and you can move through them several times. I’m going to list the stages in the order that I experienced them.

Before I officially renounced my faith, I went through the first stage of denial and isolation.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

I Used to Believe This Stuff... Ugh

These are things I was raised to believe as an Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB). My parents may or may not have taught me these things, but they were most certainly taught or inferred by church, school, college, and fellow IFB.
  • Better use the right version of the Bible, KJV to be specific. Avoid all music that makes you want to move, so just go for old hymns and you’ll be safe.
  • Spank your children, don’t trust them, because they are born with a horrible sin nature and are really little monsters bound for Hell.

Article: Religious Trauma Syndrome

Religious Trauma Syndrome: How Some Organized Religion Leads to Mental Health Problems
Posted on March 26, 2013 by Valerie Tarico

At age sixteen I began what would be a four year struggle with bulimia. When the symptoms started, I turned in desperation to adults who knew more than I did about how to stop shameful behavior—my Bible study leader and a visiting youth minister. “If you ask anything in faith, believing,” they said. “It will be done.” I knew they were quoting the Word of God. We prayed together, and I went home confident that God had heard my prayers.

But my horrible compulsions didn’t go away. By the fall of my sophomore year in college, I was desperate and depressed enough that I made a suicide attempt. The problem wasn’t just the bulimia. I was convinced by then that I was a complete spiritual failure. My college counseling department had offered to get me real help (which they later did). But to my mind, at that point, such help couldn’t fix the core problem: I was a failure in the eyes of God. It would be years before I understood that my inability to heal bulimia through the mechanisms offered by biblical Christianity was not a function of my own spiritual deficiency but deficiencies in Evangelical religion itself.

Dr. Marlene Winell is a human development consultant in the San Francisco Area. She is also the daughter of Pentecostal missionaries. This combination has given her work an unusual focus. For the past twenty years she has counseled men and women in recovery from various forms of fundamentalist religion including the Assemblies of God denomination in which she was raised. Winell is the author of Leaving the Fold – A Guide for Former Fundamentalists and Others Leaving their Religion, written during her years of private practice in psychology. Over the years, Winell has provided assistance to clients whose religious experiences were even more damaging than mine. Some of them are people whose psychological symptoms weren’t just exacerbated by their religion, but actually caused by it.