Anger for the Converted

25 Dec

Nihil ex nihilo – nothing comes from nothing. When someone converts to a faith, they have to have left another, and that doesn’t matter if it’s secularism or atheism. When that moment happens, there’s a sense of betrayal by the “faith” you left behind.

I know–weird thing to choose for a Christmas Day post, huh? However, I was reading a lovely post by an ex-Mormon woman who shared her testimonial about leaving her faith, due to her sister’s being upset her previous post about the pagan origins of Christmas. The problem with leaving a fundamentalist group (and this is true, regardless of religion) is that on one hand that group provides a great strong community that you can count on, but the only way they maintain that community is by not veering from their ideals. And to talk about Christmas trees as a Germanic pagan practice, or the date being related to the Roman holiday of Saturnalia, is simply not done.

What this comes from is anger; this is not talked about as part of the convert experience. In missionary faiths, the convert is celebrated, and asked to share their testimony to when they came to the truth. However, they don’t talk about that moment when you realize, “My God, everything I thought was a lie!” That sense of betrayal doesn’t go away quickly or easily.

Contrary to popular belief, the convert leaves their home faith not because they have a lack of faith, but because they believed too deeply. Evangelical atheists (as I like to call them) will tell you all about how religion is the true sin of man, but they only got there because they were a firm Christian (it could be others, but it’s probably Christian) that believed strongly and wanted to know more. My friend who I define as “evangelical atheist” is the son of a seminary school dropout and a recalcitrant nun–you don’t get more Catholic than that.

They hit a point where the questions they were asking weren’t given good answers and came to the realization that there were no good answers. That’s rough. Penn Gillette (THE evangelical atheist) talks about growing up in the Congregational Church of Greenfield, Massachusetts and being asked to leave youth group because he kept pelting the leader with all these questions that he brought to each meeting.

For me, I did what most Americans do–hold two contradictory concepts in my head at the same time. Hanukkah is about celebrating the miracle of lights, even though 1 Maccabees or other contemporary accounts don’t mention it, and that only comes later in the Talmud. I believe the real miracle was the unexpected victory of Jews to win their independence. Christmas does fall at the same time as Saturnalia, but because that was a time when early Christians could celebrate openly, with fear of persecution. Bunnies and eggs are fertility symbols and used at the spring equinox which vaguely comes at Easter (your lunar calendar may vary with the solar one), but that doesn’t stop people from experiencing the resurrection of Christ.

I don’t have to defend my faith because the contradictions are not what I cling to. What I hold to is that God exists and He intercedes in our lives; what I believe follows from those two premises. Everything else is the tradition we choose to follow. Just like family, religion can be messy, and you don’t all get along, but we come together for the important stuff. And the pain goes away… eventually.

What do you think? What brought you to your principles? What kept you strong or made you leave your faith? Tell me in the comments below!

3 Responses to “Anger for the Converted”

  1. andrea137 December 25, 2020 at 3:37 pm #

    I started to seriously question my cult (That’s what Mormonism truly is) after I realized that all of my serious questions received the same answer ” That’s not for us to know”. When I was struck down by the temple matron for asking a question, it finally broke completely.

  2. andrea137 December 25, 2020 at 3:37 pm #

    Reblogged this on Life All Day: Live Like A Pro.

  3. Silk Cords December 28, 2020 at 4:59 am #

    Wow, deep and complicated topic…

    Sometimes it’s not a question of not having good answers, it’s a matter of not wanting to accept the answers. Many atheists also fall away because they can’t believe God would let the world go to hell in a handbasket like they believe it has. Free Agency means it’s on us though. We can’t blame God for man’s inhumanity to man or our other poor choices. In that regard, the SJW movement is a good thing; at least they’re trying to fix things even if their efforts are sometimes misdirected.

    Events like the early Christian church moving dates of events to try to supplant pagan holidays certainly don’t do much to lend authenticity to the faith though. Tax and census time for Romans was in the Spring, so Jesus was probably born closer to when we celebrate Easter. It doesn’t invalidate that he was born, but it does take away credibility from the faith.

    As far as personally breaking faith… I started out Catholic, but never got much exposure to it, so when I did, it felt alien to me. I also disliked that any sort of intuitive gifts, etc… got written off as the work of the devil. Poof, I’m gone. Remember your “super power” post and my obscure reply? Same thing going on here.

    Like Andrea, I was Mormon for a while, BUT their answers to my marriage problems were always that yes, my ex was out of line but if I did better, they’d magically fall in line. I also had questions about Masonic symbolism showing up in the faith that nobody was willing to discuss. The last 1/4 of the Book of Mormon is all about the evils of secret societies and how they destroyed the lost tribe of Israel that the book is supposed to chronicle, then it turns out the church is apparently heavily connected to and founded by Freemasons.

    I’m pretty much a freelancer now. LOL. “What I hold to is that God exists and He intercedes in our lives; what I believe follows from those two premises” covers it nicely for me.

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