I Used To Be A Nazarene...now I Am An Atheist

I started questioning some things from the bible when i was probably 13. My family is extremely religious. I was in church at least 3 times a week and heavily involved. I was brainwashed to the MAX. It was never about happiness for yourself, it was about being happy when "god" was happy with how you were living your life for him.

I was the perfect little christian girl involved with every part of the religion and i was even going to be a missionary and help all of the poor savages learn about god so they would not go to "hell."
I was involved in bible quizzing, christian plays, musicals and skits, I sang in duets, trios, choirs and cantatas, and I went to sunday school, youth group, vbs, church summer camp, and went with my parents when they did children's ministries in other states. We prayed at every meal, religious conversation was prevalent in our household, I was homeschooled in a christian homeschool group, and my entire family is composed of pastors, retired pastors, and hardcore christians. I tithed and gave offering every sunday, I tried really hard to do devotions every day, and my mom would do devotions with us on the week-days. I was only allowed to listen to christian music and every piece of media I read or watched was censored and the majority of my schooling was biblically-based.

It was never about, "How can I be a better person, or student, or friend?" Or, "How can I reach the goals that I have set for myself?"
Instead, it was about, "How can I better serve god? How can I get closer to god today? How can I honor and worship god with my actions today? How can I show god's love and share god's word with someone today?"

I had small issues with some bible verses and stories growing up but they were calmed by the mere, empty assurance that "We are not supposed to know everything. god knows and that's all that matters. god works it out for the good of those who love him, etc." I started really "straying from the path" when I was about 17-18 and I was getting ready to go away to college. I chose a nazarene college to attend, thinking it would "get me back on the right path" and in the "right mindset."

It actually did the opposite for me. When I was at the college, my real turning point came. I discovered my sexual orientation that I had been in denial about because "those" types of people go to hell and I wasn't going to go to hell and I just never, ever, ever let the thought enter my mind that maybe I was one of "those" people. The idea that I could not be true to myself and be happy and still get into the magical heaven was what pushed me away from the religion. I dropped out of that school and have not been to church since.

Then, I read an amazing book that changed my life. Happiness Is a Choice by Barry Neil Kaufman. This may sound silly but - I had never, ever thought of this. As I previously mentioned, growing up in my household, personal happiness was supposed to come from serving god. I had no idea that I could simply choose to be happy. It was a brand new concept to me and I was overwhelmed with this eye-opening emotion. As I read the book, I decided that I was going to live my life the way it made me happy. I was convinced that life was about happiness, not about guilt and sin and heaven vs. hell and believers vs. unbelievers. It's not about prayer or church attendance or hateful attitudes and condemning people to hell just because they disagree with you. I decided that it is okay to be lesbian, it is okay to choose my own beliefs, and it is okay to feel happy being myself and choosing my own path instead of being bogged down! :)

I wasted 18 1/2 years of my effing life believing that goat ****. It breaks my heart into a dozen pieces every time I think about how much of my life I missed out on because I was too busy looking down on everyone else who believed differently and preaching bullshit and feeling guilty about my sinful thoughts and so on and so forth, etc. It makes me wonder if I need counseling. (Does brain-washing count as abuse?)
brokenheaart brokenheaart
22-25, F
7 Responses Oct 20, 2011

Good for you young lady. I wasted 32 plus years of my life on that bs. 21 years of that was as a military chaplain which at least gave me the opportunity to provide some " real" help to people. I am thankful you did not waste as much time as I did.

If I could ask, have you ever read the Bible in its entirety?

Oh wow. I did so much of that...Nazarene church 3 times a week, church camp, bible quizzing, homeshooling, church college... I spent two years at Trevecca Nazarene University. I thought going there would help me get rid of my doubts and really devote myself to God, but some of the stuff I learned about church history and philosophy there seriously undercut any belief I had in the Bible. I am now an atheist, though that experience and many others. <br />
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Just wondering, which Nazarene school did you go to?

Yeah, church history really got to me also. How could God be involved with a church that did things THAT disgusting over the past 2000 years. Incidently though, you can still believe in God without believing in jesus.

OMG I went to TNU too!!!! I left during spring break and never returned! Let's talk some more please. I'm really excited that we went to the same school. Sorry i'm just now seeing this.

Wow it's been a year since you replied and I am only just now seeing it. I don't visit the Experience Project very often. LOL If you still want to talk some more about this feel free to send me a message. :)

thank you for your post. as a former naz, a preacher's kid (both mom and dad were ministers), and a product of a naz college and naz seminary, i relate so well to your story. life as an non-beleiver has been a courageous and fulfilling decision. i am horrified now about some of the things i was taught; yet i miss the people and the community as flawed as it was. allowing myself to think and question everything is true freedom.

You know what I miss? The music! I loved singing with everyone.

I am really inspired by your post! I have chosen to raise my children in the Unitarian Universalist faith which encourages people to seek knowledge by studying all faiths, philosophy, poetry ... wherever meaningful truth can be found. The faith also allows you to change your mind - lol! I have two daughters who are already turning into thoughtful people who know the importance of giving back and already question commonly held beliefs. I love that!! Anyhow, reading the post of someone who was raised in a more dogmatic faith and decided to leave it sort of makes me feel good about my decision for my kids. I know there is no magic answer, but I'm truly hoping that this will help them enter adulthood as confident women who question authority when appropriate, value social action, and are intellectually curious. Thanks for sharing!

That's really great! I am wondering could you message me and tell me more about your faith? I am curious. I like to know things and expand my knowledge.

I'm glad you got to see the real truth instead of the religions made up by some people thousands of years ago. The thing that got me to stop believing was all of this stuff about people going to Hell for not believing or for having other religions. I mean I struggled with this concept for a long time before I stopped believing and eventually saw that the Bible had originally been written a thousands of years ago by some people who probably wanted power and were good at convincing people to believe in it. It's funny though how I was still a believer even after I was no longer a Christian and I thought for a moment that I really was going to Hell, but was thinking that if I went there for thinking God was a tyrant, then going to Hell would confirm my belief. <br />
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So I hope you have a nice and happy life free from the religion that was forced into your brain during all of the years you grew up. I know I plan to.

Yes, you are spot on!! Thanks for your comment and glad we share this similar experience.

My turning point was, "They Lied To Us At Sunday School" by Ian Ross Vayro. I also read all the history that I can about the christian religion. How can a religion be "good" when it was created and run all this time by such evil people. My advice to you is don't fixate too much on your past, there's nothing you can do to change that. Look to the future, set goals and do what you can to achive them. Good luck...

thank you and i will def check out the book!