I don’t get as emotionally moved as I did when I was a Christian (maybe that’s for another post – how Christianity uses emotions to manipulate people). Well – I do – but not nearly as often. But tonight was an exception.
First I read this post on The Friendly Atheist website:
I watched this video clip in it from DarkMatter2525:
Which was great – but then I watched the 45 min talk from the Thinking Atheist that inspired the video (it’s mentioned at the end of the first video.).
I’d heard of The Thinking Atheist but hadn’t really checked out any of his stuff. His talk impressed me at first because it made so many points that I try to make on my site. But then near the end he really hit home with me. I really encourage you to watch the whole talk – but at the VERY least – watch it from 34 min onwards to see what struck me so powerfully and personally.
So now that you’ve watched from at least 34 min onwards – here is what struck me so powerfully.
1. Teaching children that hell is real and that they will go there if they don’t accept Christ is psychological abuse. That may sound extreme but it’s not. And as he’s talking I’m thinking back to how I became a Christian. My 21 year old brother had just committed suicide (I was 10). Then I was invited to a youth group and church and bible camp where they told me this same story over and over (often in very intense and emotional ways) – that anyone who doesn’t accept Jesus as their personal saviour is going to an eternal and literal hell. What kind of a free choice did I really make??? I didn’t. I was a defenseless 10 year old girl who had just suffered a terrible, confusing, life-changing loss. I didn’t know what happened to people when they died. But they convinced me that there was a literal heaven and a literal hell and I had to make a choice and I had better make it fast because no one knows when they’ll die and face God’s judgment. I know those people really believed what they taught me and I’m not angry with them – but if I look at it as a bystander – watching that little girl try to make sense of what had just happened to her brother and now trying to make sense of the world and her own life – what a horrible and awful thing to do to her – scare the living shit out of her. They made me fear that my brother had gone to hell and that I was headed there too. It seriously brings tears to my eyes – not because I’m sad for myself – but because I’m sad for that little girl. I want to reach out and hug her and console her and tell her not to listen to those people trying to scare her. They used my loss and pain and fear as a weapon to convert me.
It makes me sad and it makes me angry that children are taught this all over the world and even more – it breaks my heart to think that I did that to my two oldest children. I was in a particularly vulnerable place when the Christians came into my life but it’s wrong to do this to children no matter what is going on in their lives. This isn’t a fair presentation of one particular viewpoint where they are then free to choose – it’s psychological manipulation and abuse to get a desired outcome.
(And yes – they did show us those Thief in the Night videos that he mentions about the rapture and tribulation – with people being killed by guillotine because they waited too long to accept Christ. I did a quick search and you can watch them on youtube – unfortunately.)
2. At the end he says that the responses he gets from people reminds him that he is not alone and he is not crazy. Then he whispers, ‘You’re not alone and you’re not crazy!’ How I wish I’d watched this video when I was in the midst of my intense, painful journey out of Christianity. How I wish I’d heard him whisper those words back then. I had the god glasses on for 20 years and when they came off the world was such a scary place that I really thought I might be crazy.
It’s been awhile since I’ve felt that way – but I hope that my website might help even one person going through the same struggle I did while losing my faith. Some people leave christianity effortlessly – but for others (like me) it is extremely painful and difficult. Taking the god glasses off can be scary and life-changing – but it gets better – much better.
Now if you didn’t watch the entire video – go back and watch it. Some really great stuff in there that took me a long time to figure out – but he has it nicely condensed 🙂