I just read an excellent academic article from the Journal of Religion and Society entitled “Explaining Deconversion from Christianity.” I was referred to it by another blog (ReligionandMore.wordpress.com).
Since I rejected the Christian faith several years ago, I was interested to know why others had followed the same pathway.
- One ex-Fundamentalist said he left because of the ongoing battle within himself between faith and reason. Eventually, he said, reason could no longer be suppressed.
- Numerous ex-Christians expressed concerns about the doctrine of hell. For them, eternal punishment simply did not fit with their conception of a loving God. One questioned why God would create the human race and then knowing we would sin against him, send us to spend eternity in burning and suffering. Others could not reconcile that God would send their loved ones to hell simply because they did not believe in Christianity.
- Many had problems with the idea of God’s passivity with suffering, whether individually or globally (tsunamis, earthquakes, hurricanes, etc.).
- Some mentioned God’s active role in suffering, especially as described in the Old Testament.
- The bible itself also played a role, both in relation to the many unbelievable stories (see my “Outrageous!” posting), as well as the fact that, scientifically, many of the described events could not have happened.
- A large percentage of people, while believing in the existence of God, could not understand why he didn’t help them in their time of trouble. In other words, their prayers went unanswered. Some felt that God did not keep his promises (ask and you shall receive, follow me and I will bless you, bring your tithes and I will open the windows of heaven, etc.)
- Many felt they had done their part – praying, waiting, being faithful – but God had failed them or let them down.
- Not surprisingly, many left Christianity because of other Christians (hypocrisy, being judgmental). Plus they tired of “pat” phrases (e.g., “God works in mysterious ways,” “God will never put more on you than you can bear,” “It was God’s will”) whenever they faced some kind of crisis and needed moral support.
- Church leaders also played a role because they could not provide satisfying answers to perplexing concerns. Instead, they would instruct the person to read the bible or pray about it.
According to the article, in nearly every instance the ex-Christians expressed no ambiguity. They made their decisions based in complete certainty and experienced no regrets.
Amen to that.