My Deconversion Story

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This is supposed to be a comment on Ark’s archive for this stuff, but I was getting too wordy. I also realized that I’d deleted many of my posts on my blog about it during a particularly bad episode. I’m leaving this note here also to ward off a future deletion of this post. While I’m writing it because Ark’s intentions are good (you should check out his post; for curious Christians, read the deconversion accounts without commenting, please), this is the most complete I’ve been able to be about a really troubling point in my life. So it’s here.

Quite literally, this is an important part of who I am. If nothing else of me remains, I should like for people to know this about my life. I’m also going to post some silly memes to hopefully break up the heaviness of what I’m writing about.

My deconversion was an emotionally challenging process, but only because it was inherently attached to my mental break back in 2013. Until then, my faith was strong despite not attending church regularly. I’m fairly sure my faith was held in the gaps that willful blindness and years of indoctrinated intellectual laziness provided. The deity I believed in was a changeling that could fit whatever I thought I needed at the time.

Most notably, the main article of faith I saw crumbling first was my fear of hell. Being suicidal tends to gravitate one’s thoughts to that topic. What worried me was that as I was getting worse, my fear of hell waned. In other words, I was noticing that my fear of hell wasn’t keeping me away from wanting to end my own life. Throughout all the research I did to pursue that end, I would sometimes stop and wonder why I wasn’t getting called away from such obscene inquiries.

From there, I do remember trying to invoke the divine more earnestly for a time. Since I did believe there was an invisible force out there, and I was allegedly doing that deity’s work (I thought this deity had sent me to law school, which is silly), I thought my chances were good that I’d get the help I needed. Ordained destiny was at hand, so to speak, and I was going to obey no matter the cost. Thus, when I became more obsessed with death, I also prayed more to try to undo the process.

Naturally, my prayers went unanswered – even in the vague way evangelicals are instructed to look for. At some point about four years ago (it was in late October and early November), I realized with terror that I no longer gave two shits about going to hell. I still believed in it; I just didn’t care that I was going to have a hand in torturing myself for eternity. From what I remember, my main line of thinking was that it was going to happen sooner or later, so I should just get it over and done with.

I cannot stress the importance of noting that even after I tried to kill myself, I still had belief there was a deity out there, that this deity was the one Christians spread the gospel about. Despite all that had transpired, I was still hoping that maybe my failure was a sign or that anything happening to me was a sign. Even as I felt abandoned, I was still blaming myself for it.

Fortunately – and this is the delicious irony – I still went to church. Two events, one on Christmas Eve and one the Sunday after Christmas, finally helped me rid myself of my belief. The first event was during the ride home from the Christmas Eve service. My family and I were in the car listening to the lame holiday family friendly comedy channel on satellite radio. This guy was a Christian comic, and he was doing a bit about what Christianity and Christmas is really all about. Apparently, it’s about helping god first, others second, and yourself last. It’s about putting everyone’s needs (real and imagined) before your own. I remember thinking that the way this guy described it, he was being very unhealthy. There are some occasions where people have to put themselves first, but this has no place in traditional teachings. Quickly I mentally changed the subject, and I tried to ignore it because it made me quite uncomfortable.

The last event is one that I’ve probably told people the most about. I went to this church service where a seminary student had the job of delivering the sermon. He was the son of one of the members of the congregation, and he was pretty clear about letting people know it was his very first sermon. Climbing up to the pulpit, he let us know he was going to be talking about Matthew 2:13-18. Go ahead and read it; these verses helped me not believe anymore. This seminary student was in the pulpit, giving his sermon, and making a very poor case for defending why the slaughter of a bunch of kids in Bethlehem was a good thing. I was a little angry at the time because I’d jotted down a few notes on my bulletin, remarking at how poorly he was defending his thesis. He botched the job, and then I realized he was defending the slaughter of children to provide street cred for Jesus’s messianic status.

Still, after the service I shook his hand and thought I lied to him, “You did a good job with the sermon.” As it turns out, he did do a good job. That was the last church service I ever attended. On the way back, I thought more and more about what that guy had to do standing in the pulpit. He minimized the alleged suffering of an entire town’s worth of people losing a generation of infants. He shook off the sadism by which a prophecy could be so coldly given. He could not make the later teachings of Jesus consistent with that act of murder.

At that point, I was finally able to drive a stake through the heart of my former faith. I filled its proverbial mouth with garlic, I severed its monstrous head, and I buried it to never see light again. Of course, I didn’t start realizing the full ramifications until later. It didn’t feel like an epiphany, either. Looking back on it, I can say my faith went quietly.

I can say now that this is the opposite of my conversion process. While learning to follow Jesus was an extended ordeal spent with emotional pitfalls, manipulation, and coercion, leaving it was peaceful, quiet, and invigorating. Without losing my faith, I would most assuredly not be here writing this now.

Looks like the Greeks were right, too.

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