Why I am no longer a Christian.

In 1991 I underwent a religious conversion during a time of great personal stress. Since then I have been a Christian, but I’ve only gone to church for the first two years and very intermittently since. My particular faith is most easily described as “evangelical”.

The reason I haven’t had much to do with churches is that nothing about the culture of American evangelical Christianity is tolerable to me except the Gospel itself. This is a big problem, because you’re not just supposed to pray and learn, you’re supposed to interact with others. I’m instructed to be a member of a spiritual group and also to share the faith with others. At first it was just the problem of everyone being sort of corn-pone and not culturally aware, which is a lot more important when you’re in your 20s. Increasingly I ran into disagreements about science and politics that were a bit worse, and I stopped spending a lot of time with churchy people. After this election, though, I’m through. I’m walking out.

It’s time I stopped describing myself as Christian. I can’t do it. I look at the people who claim an evangelical faith and they make me physically ill. I can’t break bread with them.

The first thing that happens after a fellow believer discovers my spirituality is congratulation and a big smile.The second thing that happens is some political or theological litmus test. We are all supposed to support the war, support the current government, love capitalism, despise “liberals”, hate homosexuals, and deny the last 300 years of Western civilization. I am not to agree with the theory of evolution. I must support not only my own government’s wars but all those of the state of Israel. I am supposed to care very deeply about unborn children but let them starve or be bombed once they’re born. I’m supposed to reject the last 200 years of biology and embrace crackpot pseudo-science.

I look at the people around me that I love and you want me to hate all of them. I refuse. Hate me too, instead.

You people physically disgust me. All of you. I can’t be in fellowship with a nation of murderous ignorant hypocrites. Go back and read Amos and Isaiah, and think on this: are you the prophet, or the faithless nation?

You can call me a “liberal”, and I’ll thank you. You can call me a “humanist”, and I’ll smile. You can even tell me, as you have been lately, that I’m un-American and unwanted in your country, and I’ll respectfully disagree. But don’t call me Christian. My conscience won’t allow it.

46 thoughts on “Why I am no longer a Christian.

  1. Fine. But if you call me Christian, don’t equate that with “hypocrite.” And if you call me a fundamentalist, don’t define that as “fucking crazy.”
    Because neither of those definitions are accurate for the true meaning of the word. And don’t think that there aren’t those of us who live/believe according to the true meaning of “Christian” “fundamentalist.”

    1. sometimes, comprehensive reading requires you to separate yourself from the generalizations made, if you don’t fit into said generalized category.
      -J

      1. oh, sorry, must have mis-read the following “Oh and don’t call ME ‘you people’.”

      2. Maybe you did. Funny, because I meant it pretty literally. “Don’t call me ‘you people’ ” = my requesting that I be separated from said generalizations. As explained previously.

    2. I didn’t mean you *personally*. But that’s what the word “Christian” means in America now. I’m sad about that. I just can’t stomach being that any more. It’s an empty horrible soulless parody of anything I ever believed.
      If those are Christians, Jesus died for nothing. I’m not interested in the label, or the churches, or any of it any more.

  2. You seem to operate under the assumption that all Christian denominations are conservative, anti-science, culturally benighted, and proselytizing. That simply isn’t the case. Some of the most intelligent, in-touch, politically active, culturally aware, liberal and faithful people I have ever met are Christians — are motivated in very direct ways to do what they do based on their relationship with Christian scripture. They’re members of the United Church of Christ, they’re Quakers, they’re Epsicopalians, they’re Methodists and Unitarians and Church of the Brethren. Why give up on something you belive in — something that has been of personal importance to your life — just because you feel uncomfortable about the beliefs and practices some other people have used the same scriptures to justify? That’s why there are hundreds of different denominations within Protestantism. If the emphasis on proselytizing makes you feel squicky, if you don’t like the politics of the other members of the church, if they don’t share your worldview and commitments, then you find a group that does. I have no doubt you could find a faith community that’s more appropriate to who you are, if you take a few of them for a test drive. They’re all just different rides to the same destination, so why not try trading up to a more comfy model before you abandon the entire enterprise?

    1. Oh no you DINT. Oh I know you di’int list “MUSK LIFESAVERS” as one of your LJ interests.
      That’s too cool.
      I have three rolls sitting right beside me here at work. True story.
      They’re awesome. Like eating perfume. Like sucking on incense. In a GOOD way.

      1. That’s exactly how I describe them to people who haven’t tried them: like edible incense. I haven’t had any in over a year now. A friend in Australia used to send me several dozen rolls at a time, but she’s gotten slack.

    2. I don’t feel like church shopping
      And that word “Christian” now means those people. And if I go to a church I see those people. And if I say I’m one, they want to know all about my politics. And then they hate me.
      Forget them and the word “Christian”, and the whole business. Christ died for nothing.

  3. those of us with a ‘religion shaped hole in there heart’ embrace you, and welcome you with this basket of bread, and some penfolds grange.
    I’m sorry it had to come to this for you, but understand your decision.
    -J

  4. How messed up is this? I’m an atheist and I want to talk you down from this. I drew a lot of my beliefs from Jesus’ words.
    But if the Christians in your neighbourhood have sullied the name too much, I understand. Still, when you say
    you want me to hate all of them. I refuse. Hate me too, instead.
    …this is a true and sincere imitation of Christ.

    1. “you want me to hate all of them. I refuse. Hate me too, instead.”
      …this is a true and sincere imitation of Christ.

      I agree. *high-fives you*

  5. I love you more than any fag hating motherfucking stupid fake christian preacher ever could. Pay attention to people who love you. There is always space at chez aevil should you ever decide to defect. America is gone and those who figure this out sooner rather than later will be happier for it. Come to the dark side. Come to Europe. I won’t call you anything but friend.

  6. I’ve been a born-again Christian since the age of six, and I completely understand your frustration. I urge you not to allow other people’s prejudices dictate to you what is and isn’t Christian. If you claim Jesus as your Lord and live by the Gospel to the best of your ability, then you’re a Christian — and that should be the end of the story.

  7. I don’t want to offend anyone who is an evangelical who might be reading this, or trivialize your experiences with it, but please don’t forget that Christianity has been around a HELL OF A LOT LONGER than the evangelical church has. Christianity has certainly not always looked like this.

  8. Wow, you’re a lightning rod for firing up the public this week.
    Another post I think is great, and this one totally rings true within me. You know I highly respect you, Conrad, but I think you might be a bit emotional here.
    I don’t know what spawned this tirade against Christianity, and honestly, i don’t know if it matters. I’ve always believed that religion is a personal relationship with your creator, whatever faith it may be. Unfortunately, the glory and happiness of this relationship can be very tempting to share, and as such, the “privacy” and personal nature of one’s covenant with his or her creator has become a very public thing. Two people share in the same glory and want to compare notes, this continues to grow, and then the next thing you know, you have a whole room full of people all wanting to share the same message.. Well now you have a real problem, because you have a ton of people all itching to speak, so you have to elect some sort of leader to sort em out, and then that person starts organizing everything and then bam, you have Organized Religion… We all know its a tool to control the masses and the true message has been lost through the years.
    So, now its 2004, and its been bastardized and bastardized and religion is almost just a political tool. Fear and Hate are common practice as love and compassion have taken a backseat.
    But make no mistake. The people who practice these hateful views, confusing religion and politics aren’t true Christians. They’re automatons that believe whatever their told to believe. They are promoting the self-serving and self-preserving agenda, under the guise of serving the Lord.
    This might be the greatest sin of all.
    So, you tell me not to give up on the system of politics. I tell you not to give up on being a “Christian.” Just challenge the hypocrites who call themselves a Christian yet purvey traits of hatred, bigotry, and intolerance.
    As always your friend,
    Assface McGee

  9. I quite agree. I came to a similar conclusion and drifted into agnosticism years ago, but I see the problem from a slightly different perspective: it is nearly impossible to change the nature of a man. For the vast majority of people, if you grow up to be an ignorant, intolerant dick, you’re not going to stop being an ignorant, intolerant dick when you get the Jeebus. You’re just going to use it as a justification for your dickery so you can feel better about yourself. Religion hardly ever changes people — it just changes the reasons which they claim guide their actions. And sadly, it’s flexible enough to be used for just about any end that mankind is capable of.
    So when I look around and see that many of the nicest, most caring people that I know are athiests or agnostics, it really makes me wonder… what use is being in the God Club, except as a security blanket?
    I hope you find the answers you’re looking for. Good luck.

    1. If I’m not mistaken (and I might be), I don’t think mr. iggy is saying I GIVE UP ON ALL THE THINGS I BELIEVE. I think he is shunning the label. When half the people you know equate your use of the word Christian with a lot of the things he has listed (and they do), it gets PAINFUL to have to say BUT I AM NOT THAT KIND OF CHRISTIAN. Every single time. And it goes both ways — when you talk to Crazy Christians ™, you have to explain that you are NOT the same. When you talk to the people you *do* generally agree with, you have to explain that although you do believe in Christ, you are NOT LIKE EVERYONE ELSE. It is just too painful to have to continually draw this line, and redraw it in almost every social situation. Sure, the people who know you and care about you know what you mean and who you are, but they are, unfortunately, not the only people you meet every day.
      Anyway, I don’t think he mean “giving up the faith” but “giving up (throwing up) the title as it’s being seen generally at this juncture in time”. Feel free to correct me.
      I don’t see my relationship with God as being a security blanket. I see it more as a guide, or a map. I’m terrible at orienteering, and my life is very wandery, but I can try to find a track. I don’t think God owes me anything. I think it’s the other way around.
      “Grace is a word used in Christianity to refer not so much to skillful movement but to presence of God in touch with a human soul moving that soul to respond in faith and love. While the human being realizes that our response can never outdo the original and continuing redemptive action of Jesus the Christ, it is incumbent on us to do whatever we can to share that goodness with others.
      […]
      But this lofty challenge is not always reflected in Christians. So Conversion and repentance are continuing realities in a Christian’s life. What happens when our deeds have not redounded to the glory of God but rather have had others cursing our God or us? God gives us the opportunity as long as we have not finished this earthly journey to repent and renew the graced life we have received in Christ.”
      I think a lot of Christians forget that it’s a constantly renewing thing. That it’s a requirement, pretty much. Anyway, I’m no scholar. I’m just a noob on the whole religion thing, but that’s a lot of what it’s about for me.

      1. Exactly.
        You folks should bear in mind that, while we do not live in the bible belt, we do live in the VERY CAPITAL of self-absorbed, egotistical, self-righteous, greedy, Republican “Christianity”. It really is all about politics 24/7 here. I wouldn’t want to hang out with these people. The ‘nice’ ones tend to be hopelessly naive people who stumbled into money somehow; the rest tend to be shrill manipulators and evil bastards who want to contain and destroy everything I hold dear. No, thank you. When I meet Christians who are sane, it’s always a shock to me. We really don’t have that many of them out here.

  10. I’m reminded of the difference my dad and I have on religion: He thinks it’s just evil, and I think that it’s usually only evil when organized.
    This is why I’m an agnostic jew who’s a SubGenius and Universal Life Church minister. I want to keep myself disorganized.
    I’d say that you shouldn’t let other people dictate what you feel you can call yourself but, frankly, it’s just a word. You have your beliefs which may derive from the teachings of Christ (I’m sure I just disemboweled some major discussion points here), making “christian” a reasonable word to describe them, but it isn’t necessary.
    Ok, I think my brane just blew a fuse somewhere in there, so if it didn’t make sense, forgive me.
    In any case, perhaps you should just call yourself a Substitutian. Or how about a Me-ist?

    1. Right on
      Agnostic raised in a Jewish household. (Born in Israel, speak Hebrew, had a bar-miztvah, and so on.) The faith never meant much to me, but I have great respect for certain parts of religion.
      Even in my own home, I’ve seen strangeness as time moves on. My mother was remarried in a “non-denominational” church, and her husband’s family is all about Our Lord Jesus Christ. Before this, she was into Kaballah, and now my father is. I just don’t even know what’s going on. These people were close to furious with me when I attended a youth group with a friend of mine at his Unitarian church. Those kids (and that group) were easily the most well-adjusted I’ve ever known: not rabid about religion or politics, but mostly sitting and chatting, discussing ideas and often sounding like a freshman philosophy course.
      In my opinion, it should be a process of understanding, equality, and improvement, not finger-pointing and three cheers for us-not-them.

  11. i was a regular churchgoing christian once, myself. it was a long time ago, and i was just coming of age. the church was one of the early converts to the moral majority. it was like an overnight coup. one week there were idyllic paintings of jesus leading baby lambs through a field, the next week there were full-color portraits of aborted fetuses. one week there were festive singalongs, soon thereafter there were bonfires of kurt vonnegut books and john lennon albums. i learned about all the different satanists from elton john to elvis presley to judy blume.
    i only wish i was kidding.
    anyway, even at this age i knew what my deal was regarding gender/gayness/whatever, so i knew these people would probably physically kill me if they knew. but that wasn’t enough to get me to stop going. not even when they claimed the UPC code was the signifier of the beast or that the 1982 planetary alignment would bring forth the apocalypse. no, what happened was john lennon got shot. and the following week, they were so happy, conrad. they were yipping and smiling and laughing, “take that, satan!”
    that day is just seared into my memory. i never looked at god and christians the same way again. whatever grace and goodness there is in the world, i know it didn’t come from the church. the christians’ subsequent years of gay-bashing and record-banning and book-burning–not to mention the jaw-dropping hypocracy of pedophile priests and philandering pastors from bakker and swaggart to ol’ paul crouch–only reinforced my negative views. it opened my eyes and taught me to seek god on my own terms and to avoid his self-professed followers like the plague.
    having said that–i have often found comfort in the gospel and i refuse to let the so-called christians take that away from me.
    i’m not sure what, if any, salvation awaits us. but i know for a fact that we walk more in christ’s footsteps when we walk away from the big-money, big-judgement machine of “christianity” than we do when we accept the false fellowship of bigots and hypocrites. one struggles to imagine a god that would allow such hateful and blasphemous followers.
    i’m sorry you’ve come to such a difficult place. i understand it, i agree with it, but still, i’m sorry. it’s a lonely and painful thing.

  12. I’m sorry that these people have so messed with Christianity to make it into what it is. You have tremendous integrity to make this choice. I have nothing profound to say. As always, you love my love and respect.

  13. I know exactly what you mean. Mostly, I define myself as an agnostic cultural Christian: meaning, I was raised in the mythos, and it’s what I go back to in times of stress, but it’s not a primary identity label for me.
    Basically, I decided I couldn’t give up on the art and the music just because I don’t agree with the theology. Also, there are Christian churches here with liberal-commie-pinko congregational politics, and that works better for me.

  14. This is a big problem, because you’re not just supposed to pray and learn, you’re supposed to interact with others.
    I’m a bit hazy on this, but wasn’t the first few decades of Christianity full of hermits out in the wilderness being alone? I remember in my Western Civ class we had to read something about “desert fathers” (this?)
    I hereby revert to my familiar role as a quote engine:
    “Religion is always falling apart” – Alan Watts
    And a longer one:

    During the age of emergence of the world religions, stress shifted from lived ritual to transcendent doctrine, and in looks as if the wheel has come full circle, and that where religion contains some vigor, it does so by becoming civic once again. In North America, religious attendance is high, but religion celebrates a shared cult of the American way of life, rather than insisting on distinctions of theology or church organization, as it once it did. Apparent exceptions to the trend towards secularization turn out on examination to be special cases, explicable by special circumstances, as when a church is used as a counter-organization against an oppressive state committed to a secular belief-system. It is possible to disagree about the extent, homogeneity, or irreversibility of this trend, and, unquestionably, secularization does assume many quite different forms; but, by and large, it would seem reasonable to say that it is real.
    — Ernest Gellner, Postmodernism, Reason and Religion

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