So, who are these guys with so much time on their hands? Well,
Emery is a graphic artist, dog owner and perpetual tinkerer.
Russ is a humorist, musician, mail-order business owner and conspiracy
theorist. They live in Texas, deep in the heart of the Bible
belt. In addition to their day jobs, they spend a lot of time
watching Christian TV and listening to Christian radio, everyday
more convinced that someone needs to tell the other side of the
To find out more personal info about these guys, and why they
left the faith, please read their testimonies below. You can
contact them by email
any questions or comments, and they will get back to you as soon
as they can.
One of my favorite stories is Hans Christian Anderson’s
The Emperor’s New Clothes. And my favorite part is where
the Emperor, completely naked (or just in his underwear, depending
on which version you get), parades his new "clothes" for
the first time in public. Now the people watching this procession
do not want to appear ignorant, for it had long been touted by
the Emperor’s "tailors" that the garments were
so esoteric, that only the truly noble and wise could see them.
So as the bare-bottomed Emperor marches by, they roundly cheer
him and tell him how wonderful his new clothes are. And all is
well until a young boy exclaims, "but mother, he isn’t
wearing any clothes!"
when I listen to Christian evangelists, I think of this story.
Because in order for their god to be fair, and justly
send people like me to hell, Christians must believe that somehow
I see the truth to their religion, but refuse to accept it. It
must be that I’m belligerent, or too busy having fun doing
things I know I shouldn’t do, or maybe I’m just plain
dishonest. But the one thing they cannot allow, is that I honestly
don’t get the message, that I really don’t
see any clothes.
Why? Because if this is true, then I would
be damned merely for telling the truth. And even Christians are
uncomfortable with their god condemning people for just reporting
what they see (or don’t see).
But let’s suppose the Emperor in the story really was
wearing clothes, but they were of a magical type that only adults
could see. What then? Would we punish the child for his remark?
Well, that depends. It depends if our priority is truth or conformity.
Do we reward people for honesty, or do we reward them for saying
the right thing, whether or not it’s how they really feel?
I believe it is better to be honest, and that is why I am not
a Christian, for I prefer truth over conformity. To put it in
its simplest form, I am not a Christian because I am unwilling
to lie to save my soul.
Perhaps an easier way to understand this is to pick a religion
that you absolutely do not believe in, and ask yourself why you
don’t believe it. Take Greek mythology, for example. Why
don’t you believe that Prometheus stole fire from the gods
and gave it to the humans, and was then punished most horribly
for doing so? Well, you might say that the whole idea of a guy
getting his liver eaten out by a bird every day, only to have
it grow back again each night, seems rather far fetched and unnecessary.
And besides, you would have trouble worshipping gods that were
so petty and cruel. So what if I told you, "well then, when
you die, you’re going to spend eternity in a dark and miserable
place, because in your heart you know this whole Zeus thing is
really the Truth, but you choose not to accept it? Besides," I
continue, "you’re just unwilling to give up your decadent,
un-Greek-like ways and start living like a true Olympian."
I think you get the point. There is no rebellion on your part,
and you do not reject Greek mythology out of belligerence or
laziness. The fact is, you honestly don’t buy it. There
is no duplicity here. There is only a little kid saying that
the Emperor isn’t wearing any clothes because he really
doesn’t see any clothes on him!
I wish it were as simple as that. I wish the people who pass
hellfire and brimstone literature to me on the street would believe
that I’m not miserable, that I am not in denial, and that
I really have no need for their religion. I wish they could understand
that I do have a peaceful conscience, that I’m not afraid
to die (it’s just the process that can be scary), and
that I would be very happy to meet God one day. But unfortunately,
they don’t. And even if they did, I would probably still
be guilty–sort of like what my pastor was fond of saying: "doesn’t
matter if you’re sincere, for you can be sincerely wrong."
That, and other statements and beliefs like that, are why I
created this site. Like the Pharisees and the religious establishment
of Jesus’ day, Christians are absolutely certain that they’re
right, no matter how unfair or nonsensical their beliefs might
be. Plus they feel an obligation to make others believe as they
do, often with little regard for their methods, or comprehension
of the damaging effects those methods can have. They put so much
effort into convincing people to see something they really don’t
see. And so many lives are crippled as a result.
As a born-again, evangelical Christian for 22 years, I was a
part of all that. I know the life, I know the mentality, and
I know the consequences. Yet I was fortunate, for I finally broke
away. There are those close to me who have not. It is for these
dear souls, and others like them, that I maintain this site.
No, I am not a prodigal son who has strayed from the path to
recklessly squander himself so he can come crawling home one
day from the pigsty. I still believe in honesty, fairness and
integrity, and try to live a good and moral life, perhaps even
more so today, for I no longer have a god who will "wash
away my sins"–it is I who must deal with them now.
Contrary to the picture Christians like to paint of those who
leave the faith, I did not do so out of decadence or irresponsibility.
I did so out of conscience.
For many years I listened to Christians tell me reasons why
I should be a Christian. Now, I hope they will listen to reasons
why I am not.
I had the born-again experience at age 20, after a very isolated
and depressive adolescence left me looking for meaning and direction
in life. I grew up in a morally strict but non-churchgoing household
with a Methodist background, but had never really understood
the idea of salvation by grace through Christ. Being saved and
forgiven "once and for all" was just what I needed
to lift the feelings of guilt and worthlessness from my mind.
For a year my main source of information was a televised Baptist
ministry, and the four Gospels in the New Testament. It was a
year of great personal growth and exuberance. As my Bible reading
continued, I found myself in decidely less simple and pleasant
New Testament letters of Paul, and attending a local Baptist
church. At first it was great, but once I got past the sappy-sweet
veneer of Sunday morning behavior, I got caught up in the game
of trying to figure out why my peers in Christianity seemed to
be every bit as defeated, confused and aimless as the "unsaved".
Why were they telling me I was in the "honeymoon phase" of
my "walk with the Lord", and that soon Satan would
assail me with doubts and temptations?? Surely they were just
not as spiritual as I was.
The three-year journey that followed took me through all the
various phases of the modern Christian experience, from getting
caught up in shallow and sensationalistic media ministries, to
digging deeper and reading the stories of the great Puritan authors.
I joined 8000 people in watching Jimmy Swaggart rock the house
in Baton Rouge, just months before his lifelong use of porn and
prostitutes was revealed. I let cajun televangelist Jesse DuPlantis
tap me on the forehead while others babbled and collapsed all
around me, and didn't feel the Holy-Ghost zap that I so desperately
wanted and needed to restore my flagging spirit. I joined friends
at Church on the Rock, years before Larry Lea was exposed making
bogus fund-raising appeals. I dated a girl at a huge metropolitan
Baptist Church, and listened to that church's popular pastor's
positive-thinking messages. Months later he was caught having
extramarital affairs with two different women in the church.
Meanwhile, I stayed faithful to my little local Baptist Church
and the very good and sincere man that pastored it. Until he
too made the mistake of falling in love with someone else's wife,
and was no longer able to obey the Biblical "command" to
keep loving his own wife... who hated being married to a pastor
so badly that she was losing her mind before our very eyes.
Even after weeding through all the garbage and getting down
to the vital and essential elements of the faith, I struggled
to see any cause/effect relationship between my actions of faith,
based on God's explicit Biblical promises to his sheep, and the
actual events unfolding all around me and other believers. Space
doesn't permit me to share my many pathetic stories of sincere
futility here. In a nutshell, it seems I had stepped on a treadmill
that other Christians had been on long before I had, and that
they would still be hanging on to, with the same heartbreaking
results, long after I had walked away. I had made the heretical
mistake of thinking too much, observing the lives of other believers
a little too closely, expecting the promises of the Bible to
be literally true, and following my zeal to its inevitably absurd
conclusions, instead of finding a comfortable compromise and
settling there for a life of intellectual dishonesty.
When I began to question the idea of literal and fundamental
Bible belief, my fellow believers quickly evaporated. Even after
all these years, none of them come around, perhaps ashamed to
admit that it really wasn't working for them, either. The only
people left to share my story with in those early awkward days
of post-belief were a few old high school friends, atheists and
agnostics who had kept the lines of communication open with me,
even after I had tried to force my beliefs on them. I am glad
they didn't give up on me.
I too am an agnostic, but only in the purest sense of admitting
my own "not knowing"... still thinking, growing, reading,
studying, meditating, sometimes even praying, keeping an open
mind, but never again being so naive or presumptious as to think
I have all the answers. The only people who really "know" are
dead and gone... and they aren't too much help to us, unfortunately.
Intellectual honesty and openness bring a peace and a happiness
that is not dependent on weekly reinforcement or group hysteria
to maintain. That's what works for me.