Shit like this is why I cannot be a part of this religion anymore. All my life growing up teachers and others were feeding my head with this idea that Lincoln freed the slaves. 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments all ratified. Then I get to the church and find out I’m still a fucking slave. Christianity is the slave-master’s religion, and I recognize it as such. If Hell is the price then I’ll pay it. The world’s white idol can fuck off.
There are numerous reasons why I left Christianity. The journey was 32 years before I finally said, “Enough.” As a black American, it’s simply not our faith. Christianity in America, by and large, was introduced to, and forced upon enslaved Africans. We were not allowed to practice our religions from our villages in Africa. It’s the slave master’s religion, and I recognize it as such. Being told I’m evil, serving Satan, and going to Hell are no longer compelling reasons for me to stay in something that I no longer want. And all Evangelicals have as a bargaining chip/blunt instrument, is Hell. They become petulant elementary school playground bullies, threatening to sick their god on me instead of the time-honored threat to ‘bash my teeth in.’ I’m done. If there is a God and an afterlife, my part in that is between me and the deity. It’s no longer anyone else’s business, and it really never was. I reject the agency of the church over my relationship with the divine.
That was me. The whole time I was a Christian. I believed, but I’ve never been much of a people person. I fit in when and where I fit in, and I was not there more than I was there. My attendance was never a consistent thing.
I was a solitary believer. And at this point you could say I’m more or less a Jesus-leaning deist with all sorts of Buddhist and Gnostic flavors and notes. Spiritually, I’m kinda like wine.
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Those of us who, through deconversion and/or deconstruction, are challenging Pascal’s wager are playing for the highest stakes imaginable. We’re betting that God is bigger and more awesome than anyone has ever envisioned, that the creator transcends the book and is nothing like our feeble 2-dimensional notions. So I want to say to anyone who is just starting the process or is considering deconstructing their faith or deconverting from it to take heart. It can be scary. It will scare some people in your life, but I think in the end we’re going to be okay.
As I think back on those early days 35 years ago, I was a freshman in college and had my first full-blown encounters with proselytizers. At the back of every discussion, encounter, or argument was Hell. It was an idea ever-waiting to be dropped into the conversation at the slightest hint of any refusal to accept. And what I didn’t realize until recently is that Hell was always a gun held to my mind by a god who offers to remove it if I’d only believe.
I’ve been headed in the direction of deconversion for several years. I strongly suspect the process began the day I first converted. It’s like carrying a sack on your shoulder with all the stuff of a religion…beliefs, concepts, commentaries, notes, sermons you’ve heard, ideas, thoughts, prayers, texts, dogma, emotions, rules, regulations, testimonies, myths, legends, all of it. And every so often you have to toss something out of the sack because you have no use for it anymore. Then over the years some doctrine or other, some belief that people hold tightly to but rarely, if ever, examine very closely rattles to the top of the sack and falls out. So you keep walking. And if you don’t tend to the sack weekly spots become frayed and more stuff drops out. Then some time passes, and later you start to realize that the sack has gotten really really light. Finally you stop and ask yourself whether you need what’s in there at all.
That’s the place I arrived at, and my answer to that question was, no.