When a person deconverts after spending their whole lives invested in Christianity, it is normal for them to experience a wide range of emotions. It is quite common for ex-Christians to feel angry and betrayed, and they will experience this in a way not normally seen by those who were never religious. In other words, Christianity’s biggest critics come from those who have ‘been there and done that’.
Now back to answer my own question: am I angry at Christianity now? The short answer is no. Following on from this answer:
- I am not going to give Christianity a free pass, and
- For those who have deconverted from Christianity and are angry, their anger is mostly justified.
I’m not going to lie, when I first left Christianity, I was angry. My anger partly motivated me to leave Christianity, as well as to begin writing this blog. When I first decided I didn’t believe in God anymore, I was still going to church, for several years! I was afraid to leave so I began writing this blog. Here I could express my real thoughts about Christianity, as there were few people I felt I could share my thoughts with. The problem with continuing to go to church on a regular basis, while living with conservative minded Christians, is that you still have to pretend to put up with the bullshit; and you know what? That sucks!
The last time I set foot in a church was nearly three years ago now though, and I plan to keep things that way. Now I live with like-minded friends so I can be pretty open about my beliefs. Being able to be open about my beliefs has caused my anger to subside a little, and it probably helps that I’m not involved at all in the ‘Christian scene’ anymore. I am still friends with some of the Christians from my old churches, but they live in different towns so I wouldn’t see them often anyway. When I do see them, I won’t bring up the topic of religion unless they bring it up first. I prefer it that way, although sometimes things can get awkward.
So why I am not angry at Christianity then? Perhaps I should explain. With Christianity there are the belief systems associated with it, and there are the people who hold these beliefs. While Christianity promotes some morals, much of it is pointless, promotes violence and inequality, and to top it all off, insanely ridiculous. When it comes to the people who believe these things most critics tend to look at the ‘what’, but they don’t go any further and look at why they believe said things. As someone who used to be on the inside, most Christians I knew lived normal(ish) lives. They essentially lived the same way as you and me, except for perhaps going to church on Sunday, saying some prayers, and maybe going to a Bible study. They don’t force their beliefs on others, and they aren’t trying to manipulate or scam others – even the pastors! Now no doubt you can think of examples of people behaving contrary to what I have just said, but in my experience, those were the exceptions rather than the rule. Being angry at these people, for the most part, isn’t justified. They believe what they believe because that’s all they’ve been told, and they’re discouraged from looking elsewhere by other people who are in the same boat as them. I’m not saying I think this is all OK, by the way, just that most of these people are cogs in the machine that is religion, and that directing your anger towards them is mostly futile.
Before I continue, it is important to mention that there are many different brands of Christianity. Based on my experiences, there is a big difference between the Pentecostal and Baptist denominations, and the more fundamentalist minded denominations. The fundies are much more toxic, and if things went their way, we would be back to experiencing theocracies in the dark ages. For those who were Christian and are angry at Christianity, I get it. Perhaps your experiences within Christianity were much worse than mine. The other denominations have some silly beliefs, but you will find people within those churches becoming more progressive now, at least down here in New Zealand.
But now I should address the elephant in the room. Christianity’s belief systems often are harmful, regardless of who is holding the beliefs, and Christianity encourages the spread of these beliefs – it is their way or the highway. Here are some of the many things promoted in Christianity which I am angry at:
- Discrimination and persecution towards LGBT people.
- Shutting down critical thinking.
- Promotion of gender inequality.
- Promotion of unhealthy attitudes towards sex.
- Promoting pointless morals with the threat of eternal consequences.
- The hypocrisy (say one thing yet do another).
While I mentioned before that you shouldn’t be angry at most Christians, some of them are big assholes too. Every belief system has its bad people, but the cloak of Christianity enables and justifies their behavior. I told you I wasn’t going to give Christianity a free pass.
But what can be done about this then? Firstly, getting angry with Christians and trying to argue with them isn’t the answer. As long as they are a part of their religion, they will cling to the beliefs associated with it. When they try to force their beliefs on you or the way your country is run, then being angry is totally justifiable, and you should be able to stand up for yourself and what you believe in. But… you can’t change them. The only real way for a Christian to change their beliefs is to deconvert; and that is when a persons belief system can change dramatically. You can’t force someone to truly deconvert, they must do it on their own and see things for themselves. I’ve always looked at it like this way: if they seem unhappy with their religion or are more open minded about things, then I would show them the way, if they want. However, if they are genuinely happy in their religion, then leave them be; chances are, their belief system isn’t that bad, in that case.
So, how can I summarise this all up? When I first left Christianity, I was incredibly angry at it – this anger has subsided somewhat. I am not angry at most Christians because, as a former Christian, I can understand why they believe what they believe. Having said that, many of the belief systems in Christianity are toxic and I am angry at those. There is a big difference between the various denominations of Christianity, and some are much more toxic than others.
Cover Image Source: Darkonator, DrawingHub.