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"You Were Never Really One of Us"


Rachel333

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patheos.com/blogs/godlessindixie/2014/08/31/you-were-never-really-one-of-us-2/

I just read this post on an atheist's blog and appreciated it because that's one of the frustrating parts of being an ex-Christian. When I did believe, I took my faith very seriously. (I think that's part of the reason I ended up losing my faith, actually--I couldn't let go and ignore the things that bothered me, and for me that ended up in me realizing I no longer believed.) It was a huge part of my life growing up--I've talked about this before, but I grew up in NWA in the same conservative homeschooling community as the Duggars--and I couldn't even begin to count the number of hours I've spent in church and other religious events (I know, I know, being raised in a barn doesn't make you a horse, but I still think all that time is relevant). I've read the whole Bible and studied theology, experienced as many different types of Christian churches I could find, gone on mission trips, considered myself "born again" and "saved" from the time I was little, gone through training to learn how to share my testimony and witness to others, memorized huge chunks of the Bible, etc.

And yet, because I no longer believe, to many Christians that means I was never a true believer in the first place. (Either that, or this is just a phase and eventually I'll "stop turning [my] back on God", as my mom says, which is a different though also frustrating issue.) It's a convenient way to just dismiss other people's experiences. Has there ever been a fundie who acknowledged that someone who left the faith might have had genuine issues with it? It seems like they always claim that the person who left had always had issues with sin and never truly believed.

Anyway, this argument has long been a source of frustration for me, so I appreciated this guy explaining why it bothers ex-believers so much.

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I don't know if I'll be able to say anything the way I want to say it, so I'll apologize in advance. I don't disbelieve you. I will pass along things that resounded with me, and perhaps they will ease you a bit. One of my problems, as a cradle Catholic, was following the party line hook, line, and sinker. I mean, Catholic school, weekly mass twice a week, sacraments, stations of the cross, wearing the uniform, and "being a representative of the Church" while wearing said uniform... being held to that standard... seems kind of fundy to me. But I was, (still am, but different) a Catholic, and I spent a lot of time being one.

Then I became a young adult, in college, not completely surrounded by Catholics, and I started to question things. And, as an older adult, a very difficult thing happened to my family, and I/we was/were basically booted from my home parish and told not to participate. This was a complete surprise to me and it was hard to take.

As a young adult, my struggles were with being constantly told what to think, how to pray, how to act, how to vote, even. As an older adult, my feeling of betrayal was such that, even though I believe myself to be a Catholic, I have not returned to church since this episode happened, years ago.

For both, I realized that neither of these things came about because of Church teachings. These came from the Church's hierarchy. The Pope's minions. The Archbishop's hit squad. It was CHURCH-ianity, not CHRIST-ianity. Once I figured out where the slip-up was, it was easy enough to continue to believe.

For you, the process is different. You no longer believe. Something changed. It isn't your fault; it shouldn't be seen as your fault. If these amazing Christians were doing what they SHOULD do, they'd be doing everything possible to bring you BACK to the faith, rather than sit in judgment upon you for not believing. I think that somewhere, in their own professions of faith, they also know that some, much, if not all of the stuff they repeat is tenuous... or a twisting of the truth. But they fear instead. They fear that being in contact with a non-believer might 'rub off' on them... or some such nonsense.

I am sorry this has happened to you.

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With us, you don't hear the "You were never really one of us." line. I have witnessed both family members and friends leave or become non believers. I wonder if that no true Scotsman response is kind of unique to American Protestant fundamentalism. In a lot of the world, religion is so intertwined with culture that people do not make a distinction between one and the other. So you can announce your lack if belief but you still in a lot of ways remain a member of the religious community, with restrictions on certain privileges believers have. How ow non believers are viewed or treated once they to go public is not uniform throughout the Christian world.

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I don't know if I'll be able to say anything the way I want to say it, so I'll apologize in advance. I don't disbelieve you. I will pass along things that resounded with me, and perhaps they will ease you a bit. One of my problems, as a cradle Catholic, was following the party line hook, line, and sinker. I mean, Catholic school, weekly mass twice a week, sacraments, stations of the cross, wearing the uniform, and "being a representative of the Church" while wearing said uniform... being held to that standard... seems kind of fundy to me. But I was, (still am, but different) a Catholic, and I spent a lot of time being one.

Then I became a young adult, in college, not completely surrounded by Catholics, and I started to question things. And, as an older adult, a very difficult thing happened to my family, and I/we was/were basically booted from my home parish and told not to participate. This was a complete surprise to me and it was hard to take.

As a young adult, my struggles were with being constantly told what to think, how to pray, how to act, how to vote, even. As an older adult, my feeling of betrayal was such that, even though I believe myself to be a Catholic, I have not returned to church since this episode happened, years ago.

For both, I realized that neither of these things came about because of Church teachings. These came from the Church's hierarchy. The Pope's minions. The Archbishop's hit squad. It was CHURCH-ianity, not CHRIST-ianity. Once I figured out where the slip-up was, it was easy enough to continue to believe.

For you, the process is different. You no longer believe. Something changed. It isn't your fault; it shouldn't be seen as your fault. If these amazing Christians were doing what they SHOULD do, they'd be doing everything possible to bring you BACK to the faith, rather than sit in judgment upon you for not believing. I think that somewhere, in their own professions of faith, they also know that some, much, if not all of the stuff they repeat is tenuous... or a twisting of the truth. But they fear instead. They fear that being in contact with a non-believer might 'rub off' on them... or some such nonsense.

I am sorry this has happened to you.

I would rather they didn't. There is pretty much nothing anyone could do to bring me back into the Christian faith. A nice Christian will accept me as I am and not judge or try and bring me back into the fold. The amazing Christians(and there are a lot here on FJ) will not try and bring you back into the fold because they understand how annoying that is. It doesn't bother me when Christians ask why I lost my faith if they are genuinely interested, but if they are only asking so that they can find out a way to get me back onto the path of righteousness I find that frustrating.

I think people tell themselves that the Christians who lose the faith weren't ever real Christians because they find it scary to think that this could happen to them.

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True that, Arête Jo. It varies widely by Christian. For myself and for most other Lutherans I know – but certainly not all the ones I know – the person who begins to identify as an atheist is treated with respect, some genuine curiosity, and frankly, some questions. What led you to this decision? Let me know if you'd like to talk about anything, okay? Hope you don't mind, but I'll be praying for you, even as I respect your beliefs that praying doesn't change anything.

It occurs to me that people who use the "no true whatever" and who declare an apostate "never one of us, really" have a surfeit of friends and a surplus of relatives to whom to retreat.

I probably have more friends than I realize, which is why I try my darndest not to alienate any of the ones I know about--I never want to lose a friend. They're too precious and rare, in my experience.

When the basis of the friendship has been Christianity, all the more reason not to reject someone who claims no longer to believe.

If I cut them from my life, what Christian witness will they have in front of them? I'm sorry for the OP and for the blogger who encountered this phenomenon. Were I close enough IRL, I would be your friend, if you liked me! -- your Christian friend, no matter what your beliefs.

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I wonder if the "Well, you must never have been a real believer" is a way to fend off their own fears that they could lose their beliefs/salvation. After all, if you were a "true believer" and now aren't what is to keep the same thing from happening to them! It has to be that you just were not in the elect, or not really saved or whatever their/your particular variation requires.

I think it is both fear and an explanation for others as to why anyone would leave the one true path.

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i really like this. when i "came out" as pagan, i had quite a few of my christian/fundie friends message me and critisize me...and any rebuttal was dismissed. more than one person gave me that exact line. it was very hurtful, and i ended up blocking quite a few people (after giving them a thorough lashing, as i had prefaced my "coming out post" with the fact that anyone who wanted to give me grief would be cussed out and blocked, as i foresaw that exact thing happening).

long story short, i grew up in a very religious household (almost became ati...thank the gods that my dad was too lazy to follow through with a lot of their stuff). i started having a lot of doubts that could never be sufficiently answered (usually got neat, packaged response that meant nothing and didn't really answer the question) or was told to "have faith", which is a non-answer. after i moved out and got into the real world, i went on a long, long spiritual journey from very liberal christianity, consideration of judaism, and a long stint as an agnostic theist from which i transitioned into paganism. as a child, i truly believed. and even when i was having doubts, i tried my best to be a good christian girl. christianity just wasn't in the cards for me.

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