Saturday, September 2, 2017

Leaving Fundamentalism Related to ACON Recovery?

This was my one of my favorite songs when I was in my early 20s: Funnily enough, I was revisiting this song the other day. A lot of people are outraged with God.  I used to watch this video even as a Christian before I had my present doubts and used to think "How do I reach people like that?"

Recovering from Bad Religion is an earlier article that goes with this one.

I am still in a time of spiritual exploration but I know I am done with fundamentalism. I don't know if my final resting spot will be in some more liberal version of Christianity or not. I am looking into more liberal circles now.  Right now I have to see if finding a God of love is even possible. Obviously many have diverted from the teachings of Jesus Christ in loving their neighbors. Many human beings yearn for a loving God. Some of us question what kind of God we even believe in.  Can I love a fundamentalist God where almost everyone burns in hell? These are some really intense questions.

Some other odd questions about God have occurred to me. I always heard Christianity was a relationship. Why were so many fundamentalist Christians so plastic and fake? Why did so many support oppression and hate the poor? Didn't want God want actual "friends" and not just worshiping sycophants that told Him what He wanted to hear? Why would God want a bunch of Yes-men around? Wouldn't that make God like the narcissists I have warned about on this blog for years? ACON recovery can influence your spiritual viewpoints, of this I have no doubt.

There's good Christians who warn about narcissism out there, Smakintosh even warned about the disconnections in the churches, and the support of oppression and abusers, but I worried about the view of God I was given. In fundamentalist Christianity, I definitely was introduced to a God where nothing was ever good enough and legalism ruled. God was exposed as this perfectionist like my parents who always had to be right, and who punished people severely for not measuring up, even though they had been created with inbuilt faults not of their choosing.

Things with me and God have always been complicated. Abuse doesn't help when it comes to picturing a loving God. When I picture a "Father", it is someone raging not hugging me. As I have written when I was young, I was an atheist, after leaving my family's Catholic church. I explored comparative religions, humanism and other pagan religions for many years, and attended various Unitarian-Universalist churches depending on where I lived over a 12-13 year period. That included one large urban congregation, a college town one and a small start up fellowship that later closed.

Some ask why the world is unfair. I don't see me going back to full atheism, in my spiritual exploration. Someone made all of this but I know with certainty, I no longer consider myself a fundamentalist. Bible teachings and the good teachings of Jesus are still in my head, but there is a lot I have to reconcile and work through now.  Obviously due to my past, I am familiar with those who are not religious but spiritual.

I wrote about that already but later I was pondering ideas about what pulled me into independent fundamentalist baptist churches in the first place? Why did I become a fundamentalist? Did it have something to do with my abuse history? For those who are new to this blog, I was in the IFB church, independent fundamentalist baptist, this includes a short stint in Calvary Chapel and some bible studies in mainstream evangelical churches too. The IFB is one of the most conservative and fundamentalist branches of Christianity out there.

Inside there was always cognitive dissonance between liberal values, being an artist and married to someone who loved punk rock. It's like I had my feet in two different worlds. One friend told me she always thought I had liberal values. This is true. The worsening dismissal of social justice in conservative religious circles has bothered me for years. The election and unthinking evangelical support of Trump is gasoline that has been poured on the religious questioning fire. Yes I had cognitive dissonance with a foot in each world. I would write things on Christian message boards, questioning Republican politics even years ago. Politically I never fit in. The lack of compassion I see towards the disabled, the poor and those who want to believe that God will keep them from all suffering in this world because they are "better" people separated me from from fundamentalism. Other disabled people have shared with me their experiences in the fundamentalist and evangelical world. They have told me they were blamed for their disabilities too, and constantly patronized, told they were in need of fixing or mentoring. They have faced much of the same pain I have.

My ACON recovery has changed me spiritually. It is changing the religious terrain. I can't do the fundamentalist thing anymore. Because of my abuse, I was stuck in the bowing, scraping and begging, saying "please love me" and "seeking approval". I ditched all the abusers I was "never good enough for" and is this spilling out God? It definitely spilled out on to the independent fundamentalist baptist church.

In fundamentalism, one is told they are  a worm, some Calvinists take the depraved "worm" thing a bit further, but I can't even count how many times, we were taught that every human being is deserving of hell or how narrow the path to heaven was while I was in fundamentalism. One's religious beliefs can be a reflection of one's self esteem. There are Christians who warn against this negative side of Christianity like Dr. Donald Sloat, a Christian psychologist who has written books, warning Christians that a degree of self-assertion is not a sin and is imperative to forming one's own identity. He definitely warns of a harmful tie between abuse as a young person and toxic religious beliefs.

Did all the high expectations and being trained to beg for approval, take me into fundamentalism to begin with? My family was not IFB but in the Catholic church where leaving meant you were hellbound. By age 10, I was the family "heretic and apostate", being in a different branch of Christianity did not change this decades later. I had decades of spiritual abuse accompanying the other, simply because I refused to follow my family's religion.

How about life being all about performance, and following rules? Certainly life under Queen Spider was all about rules and being perfect by her definition of it. Her religion was all about following the right rituals, and rites and looking good to others.  Religious rules outlining a certainty, trying to obtain a "proper life", and finding a place to fit in? Did my own weaknesses from abuse attract so many religious people who were out to "fix me"? Even the card-making ex-narcissist friend did with me, was the religious woman [conservative Lutheran] in her case trying to reform the way-ward disabled "sinner".

The fundamentalist god is a perfectionist where nothing is ever good enough. Even if you think about the gospel via grace, okay Jesus gets us into heaven but how many churches make this about being perfectly saved and perfectly obedient? The IFB definitely did. I was taught in one church only 5 percent of professing Christians were even saved, add in all the non-Christians and most of humanity was then destined for hell.

Fundamentalism preys upon a self-loathing in humanity. There is no elevation but this view of humans as just being chaff to be burned in God's furnace. If one's God acts just like the narcissists you escaped, how are you going to form a loving relationship with someone like that? This is a spiritual wall I massively hit. Wouldn't a loving God take the built-in flaws of people and their imperfections into consideration? The whole set up was abusive.

In fundamentalism, I was taught nothing was ever good enough for God. More and more I was reminded of the abusive perfectionistic parents. Preachers who concentrate on hell and all of us going there, did any of us ask to be born on this earth? I am supposed to believe their version of God is loving when He does nothing but make demands and threatens me and others with punishment beyond the horrors this world gives to many people?

I am struggling still with the concept of hell. Some people have joked to me, "We will be with all the cool people in hell then having a party"but really when I got down to brass tacks, I got severely depressed thinking of a loved and agnostic aunt who probably committed suicide in the 80s being in hell, and all my non-Christian friends. One close and very loving friend was an anti war activist who had very New Age beliefs, she was an ex-Catholic and she died of cancer. Is she in hell too? My cognitive dissonance in fundamentalism started years ago with these matters needling at my mind.

I and my husband got in weird conversations--he is agnostic, where he asked me to rescue him from hell, I would say "get saved" of course, but then I found myself saying if I end up there by some chance you come and get me. We have seen the movie "When Dreams May Come" maybe a few too many times. Like Robin Williams, I know the degree of love in this world that had him chose his wife in hell.

There is a cruelty to hell that is beyond the pale. I had bad thoughts starting that only a psychopath would create a place like hell, it's one reason I became troubled regarding God. Imagine Him sitting back and there are millions there, all burning for eternity. Outside of some sociopaths like Ted Bundy, 99.9% of humanity would free people like that from their pain. I am scared to write this thought by the way, not wanting to upset my Christian friends but it's an honest one I have. Here I need to rethink the fundamentalist teachings that just about everyone goes to hell. I was given a very cold and cruel version of God.

Yes think of all the victims of the Holocaust burning not only in life but eternity.  I see all these Indian people around me, they are moving to my town and many are Hindu all going to hell. I would see little children,smiling parents and others. They are nice people. It is an horror to the senses. I had to take another look at what I had been taught in fundamentalist churches and it wasn't lining up with my conscience.

When people say Christians are haters, how much of that is centered in these views of hell, and the fact Christians preach so many are going there. Many Christians who are more liberal then fundamentalists do not believe this way.  There are churches that teach those of good conscience who even are of other beliefs do not go to hell. There are Christian Universalists who say hades means sheol or "the grave" and not literal burning fire and those who believe in Universal Reconciliation.

I have noticed since leaving fundamentalism, I feel more open to other people. I don't have to worry about "being corrupted" as constantly warned by my churches anymore or the pressure to "witness", which in my case, I am polite and shy and would do it once and then leave someone in peace but it is torture on our end too to think people we love and care about are going to hell.

I asked myself how much brutality now in our society today with the prison industry,  love for police state and war, hatred for disabled, coldness of Republicans, and punishment politics is related to the core teachings of fundamentalist and evangelical Christianity especially regarding hell?

I am kind of scared of uber-religious people now. I was one of them and question myself hoping I didn't hurt anyone myself. In my case I broke all the rules which some of them definitely would tell me is one reason my faith has "faltered". I got rebuked once at IFB church for hanging out with non-believers and "pagans". I listened and smiled and didn't fight but didn't follow their instructions. They didn't know at that church I had close non-Christian friends online and other places too. I just couldn't form the little Christian bubble in my life that most of them had been born into.  I cared about people, dumping for them for disagreeing about religious beliefs seemed cruel and evil after all my own family had already done the same to me.

Did the PTSD left over from the abuse and other tragic events, spill into the paranoia and fear that rules the fundamentalist world? We were taught to be afraid of everyone. Honestly I got burned out on all the horrors promised me and others in the Tribulation. In my religious world while pre-trib predominated there was lots of post-tribbers around. Pre-Trib people believe the Rapture will take them up before the bad stuff happened and Post-Trib people believe they will be here for it. Revelation had locusts and the fear of nuclear war wrapped up into it. Many evangelical websites are full of endless doom porn. I still believe there is a lot of corruption in higher echelons and uber-rich jerks planning for wars and profit, but lately I realize how the Alex Jones contingent got Trump elected. Some of the powers that be love using fear for control. If one's religion has become all about punishment, fear and control what good is it? Those three things RULE in fundamentalist Christianity.

Was this fear taught me in the PTSD horror house I grew up in and taken with me into adulthood? If you want to know the main emotion floating the alt-right Trump boat where they have taught people to hate and fear other people, it is FEAR and fear works well to control people. Hell definitely is used to scare people.

When I converted, after my hard days in Chicago witnessing stabbings, robberies, and other horrors including my own medical ones, I was in a very vulnerable place. When I moved to a small very rural town, it was like escaping to heaven. It was as if I had been rescued out of the gaping maw of hell itself. I was still young and only had been married a few years and imagined I and my husband too having the ideal lives I saw around me. It was a naive and idealistic view but it was my thinking at the time.

My family is uber Catholic.  As I have written here before, my mother and sister put on the ultimate religious parade.  When I left the Catholic church at 17, and "came out" as an atheist. My scapegoat position in my family became even more cemented. I was actually called EVIL to my face and told I would go to hell multiple times. Even my own grandmother called me an "evil girl" and how dare you not believe in God. I was told I could not be in my sister's wedding because I was not a good Catholic girl besides being "too fat" for the pictures.

My mother chased me through the house hitting me and calling me heathen when she found an Unitarian Universalist church pamphlet in my bookbag during college. I have noticed on deconversion boards, they tell young budding atheists to make sure only to tell families they are atheists only over dinners they have paid for in houses or apartments that are theirs as well. In other words, keep your mouth shut until you are on your own! I agree with this advice! Religion can be quite the minefield.

All relatives and family friends were turned against me. The smartest ones were the ones who kept their mouths shut and just stopped going to church. Some relatives didn't even show up at my wedding due to religious differences. It was a spiritually abusive environment. My golden child sister before I went no contact would plaster endless Facebook photos of her children getting awards from bishops, her daughter kneeling in front of statues of Mary with a priest blessing her, etc. My mother's cousin was a creepy priest who slapped me once when we were alone and ran one of those abusive Indian schools, and her best friend this high power nun who worked with bishops and Cardinals. Holy people loved by God were those who had been given children, proper lives and good jobs.  I know not all Catholics are like my family but this served as an different backdrop.

The freewill thing was used as a battering ram. In fundamentalism, there is definitely the message that your life is the result of your own choices. My family from their end held those views too.  If anything goes wrong, it's your fault. Some nods are made to Job as a "good man" but for most who end up on the losing end financially or otherwise, there is the message that you put yourself there. Human beings are a product of genetics, culture, society, family and early childhood environment and experiences. These things are ignored in fundamentalism.

Narcissists make life all about punishment and about toeing the line. So do fundamentalists. Could this translate into one's chosen religious beliefs? Fundamentalist religion is all about obedience, and fear including fear of punishment. My churches taught me that every time I suffered God was "chastising me."  I was told God had a "plan" for my life and that all my sufferings were a result of my choices. My disabilities were from something I did wrong or a curse. God was not blessing me because I had not obeyed him. I was wicked because I never had children etc. These things were concentrated in the deliverance ministry abuse.

There was a point where I felt like life itself was punishing enough without the promises of punishment in religion. On top of these sufferings, the threat of hell was always present for the smallest infraction. Is it too much of a reach to suspect, that my upbringing influenced my religious choices? I feel more free lately knowing I don't have to live in religious oppression, shame and endless guilt anymore either. More happiness has come in freeing myself from religious oppression.

Leaving the Fold

IFB Exposed

Mean Christians Want People to Die in the Gutter


  1. This is why I approved of Sinead O'Connor tearing up a photo of the Pope on tv.;someone had to tell the truth.The Catholic church is just a leftover of Medieval times,and it's dictatorial,anti-women stance needs to end.It is true that many Christian churches are that way.My uncle had been one of the few Lutheran ministers who was KIND AND HELPING to his congregation.(I heard some of his sermons.)He complained,in a letter,that he went to a Lutheran conference,where the leading speakers and ministers were "HELL FIRE AND BRIMSTONE"to punish people,and were very much "My God is an angry God,"and it made him sick.They really wanted to PUNISH THE SINNER,ECT.So at that time,(only a few yrs, ago)the east coast Lutherans were still that way.ugh!!Too bad my uncle was in the minority.My dad's Lutheran minister-missionary dad tried to convert the "heathen Chinese,"but it didn't work.--Few Chinese went for it.And my dad's parents really made his early life as a PK,miserable.He eventually split up with them,never talked to his mom for 45 yrs.--and he was angry and depressed his whole life.--they made him feel"I am a failure because I never lived up to my parents' high standards,and expectations."He was very MENTALLY ILL from a lot of it.--very crazy.So I agree with you,peep,that can really screw over kid's lives.I got very depressed,lately,cause I realized very FEW THINGS IN MY LIFE were in MY CONTROL!!!--OTHER PEOPLE decided everything,and that affected my whole life!!Yes,that "free will" stuff is a BIG LIE.WE DON'T HAVE FREE WILL.MOST of the important things are ALREADY CHOSEN for us!!!-We have hardly ANY CHOICES AT ALL.I and my sister are alchoholics;our only choice was,to go to AA,and NOT DRINK.BUT PTSD AND MENTAL ILLNESS?TRAUMA?we can't get rid of it!I have BRAIN DAMAGE I have to take medicine the rest of my life.--it'll never be cured.Society LIES TO EVERYONE,and uses us all.--we end up hating and hurting ourselves,instead of recognizing the above--I barely learned to be KIND TO MYSELF.It is still very hard.Yeah,most of our lives were never UNDER our control!!!--so "free will"is a big lie.Please,Peep,be kind to yourself,(and yer partner,He is a great guy!!)"be gentle with yourself."SASS told me that,they're great,too!!Bless,you,Peep,for your wonderful blog!!

    1. Hi Hoho, I approve of Sinead O Connor doing that too, she was proven right ten years later when the sex abuse scandals broke. I still think she is being punished for coming out against powerful and wicked people. You are right about the Catholic church, very anti-women and dictatorial. That's Queen Spider's and Mini-Me's religion and when I wouldn't accept it, problems arose decades ago.

      I am glad your uncle was a nice and kind Lutheran. We have some nice Lutherans in this community. Sometimes there are those who have real love and it is not fire and brimstone every second. When the constant focus is hell, punishment and endless rules, people weary.
      Too bad your Dad had to suffer under that and hard core missionaries probably were to the extreme too. It sounds like his parents were abusive. You see missionary kids writing about abusive religious missionary parents who are out to colonize, and gain numbers of converts. I wonder if a lot of narcissists are attracted to that work.
      Yeah it sounds like he had narcissistic parents where nothing was ever good enough who abused them. Religious abuse can be some of the worse because then the narcissistic parent claims God is on their side. I definitely heard that, where she acted like she was speaking for God and even from the Catholic end of things told me I was listening to "devil music" and wicked and that I would go to hell. Even with Aunt Scapegoat, she got banned from the Catholic family cemetary, cremated. So whose in and out, of "cemetary" or "heaven" they themselves think they can decree.

      Sadly you had to deal with a very troubled father because of these people.

      I am questioning the concept of free will too. In Christianity they always say we have sinned, and its free will, that makes how our lives turn out but there is a lot I had no control over. I didn't chose this body or circumstances. In fact when I review my life, there was very few choices I got to have, maybe what I majored in college, but was that a sin when I loved the filed? Yes many things are CHOSEN FOR US. Sometimes the cultures that pay attention to FATE at least seem more realistic about this. I have an infection now again, this body curtails me constantly even against doing things I'd other wise do. In fundamentalism yeah they tell you everything is under your control and if you are a "good" enough person everything will work out. I agree too society lies about this to us, telling us always to blame ourselves and hate and hurt ourselves. It is a giant burden to think your life turned out a certain way because you CHOSE it, but when I examine things, no I did not. Yes we need to be kind to yourself thanks regarding Mr. Peep. Sass sounds like a great group :)

  2. I'm sorry you had to discover this later in life, but at least you knew about narcissism and went NC with your abusers before your narc relatives could do anything worse. My adopted narc mother spiritually abused me for years, particularly during my high school and college days. I remember reading about insecure parents who abused their teenager and twenty-something adult children in newspapers and magazine, so I got out when I was in my early 20s.

    After I left, I was a magnet for spiritually abusive middle-aged and elderly adults who thought they could control me. I stopped them before they had a chance to go further as your deliverance friend did to you. I also talked to classmates, coaches, professors, and therapist about religious people who did not act like loving and caring Christian we read about in the Bible. I learned over the time that some of these people are insecure people who want God to bless them, so they reject poor, disabled, non-white, and other types of disadvantaged people. Republicans were are reading about are insecure people.

    The ones I complained about years before I learned about covert narcissism were covert narcs who spiritually abused people because they want something from God. They want traditional marriage and children, somebody opposite sex to love them, and an easier married life such as having the money, financial security, more comfortable lives with their children, and blessings from God. Some of these people were racist, anti-Jews, victim blamers, legalistic, holier-than-thous types, and very self-centered. If you look back over the time and know about these people's backgrounds, you will realize that they were insecure people.

    I am giving you several examples. I worked with a mentally weak young man at McDonald's in the 1980s. He was a sourpuss and miserable. I saw him bringing the Bible to work and heard him talking to somebody about God. I asked him questions because he told a customer or a coworker about God that was off. I don't remember what it was. I told him that what he said to a customer or coworker did not sound right. He said, "We should have one belief, not different beliefs. You are going to hell because you don't come up to the same conclusion as I did. You are not saved." I yelled at him, and he walked away.

    1. I am glad I went NC too and glad you escaped your abusive narc mother anon. Yes narcissists often spiritually abuse too or use religion.
      Yes I am actually avoiding the people a whole generation ahead who would be religiously abusive and controlling. I have some older friends but I mean people who come from that angle. I am too old for "projects" and "fix-it friends" I think I was stuck in the whole "trying to fix things" mode and it made me prey for people like that. So many had told me I was "doing things wrong" to end up with certain outcomes I came to people with that attitude.
      There are many toxic people who use religion for cover and they can be damaging to faith. I think some are insecure people and others think they speak for God, they try to find power using God too.
      There is something negative in American religion where the prosperity gospel has infused all over the place, and where the poor, disabled, and other groups, are told they are undeserving of God's blessings because they are sinful. alt-right people like Charles Murray write books about how immorality brings poverty even to whites, ignoring many greater oppressive structures. Such types claim God is on their side.
      I agree with you about the covert narcs who desire good appearances, and they want financial blessings of being prim, proper and conforming.

      Yes that one man sounded like a covert narc using religion to control people, and doing theological and legalist tests on them.

  3. My co-worker tapped me on the shoulder and motioned me to the kitchen because she wanted to warn me about him. She told me she knew that guy for years because they were neighbors and that he had too many problems. She hugged me and told me I would not go to hell for not believing the same as he did. My friend and I talked more about that guy and learned he was insecure because he did not have a girlfriend and his personality turned people off. He was not bad looking. His face was attractive enough for me, but his coldness and judgmental perspectives turned me off. I never dated him because I received negative vibes from him when I tried to introduce myself to him. Years later, when I learned about covert narcissism, I realized his covert narcissism turned people off, and I was lucky that I never dated or married him.

    Another insecure people I dealt with "became Christians" because their lives did not go well. These people were friendly to me "before they became Christians" and then turned their backs on me after they "surrendered their lives to the Lord." There was something about these people's behavior that turned me off. I saw their eyes, their smiles, and changes in their aura. I freaked out at the changes in their lives. They had some brainwashed looks, and it scared me. I thought they had a brain transplant or something like that. My friends thought they were on drugs or had a brain lobotomy. I kept on hearing other people saying, "Oh, they became Christians because they were losers" or something like that. Some people who knew these obviously brainwashed new Christians told me that they or their parents were insecure, weird, and very strict. Some of these people displayed covert narc traits earlier on. I did not catch it because I did not know anything about love bombing.

    In my 30s and 40s, some of these people got married and had children. I heard stories about these people. They were insecure and always complaining. They never got taken care of by God as they wanted. A woman wanted to work at home as a daycare owner. She never got it. Several years ago, I noticed that some are still married and their children became young adults who are embracing religious narcissism. I learned years ago that most of Generation Xers and some Baby Boomers left denominational churches for non-denominational churches that opened doors for religious narcs. I'm glad you read Dr. Sloat's books, and you are doing some thinking. I did the same years ago.

    1. I am glad your co-worker warned you about that guy, he sounds extreme approaching people at McDonalds, but I encountered people like that in other places. I used to have some controversial fundamentalist opinions but did not get in people's faces about them. I am rethinking hell now but hell is used as a threat and narcissists can go to town with it. I do wonder if religion can become a refuge for disenfranchised and outcast people and YES I apply this thought to myself. It may be another reason I ended up in fundamentalism, trying to make meaning of my very troubled personal world and imagining outcomes and having God "on my side". Maybe with this guy, him being a covert narcissist, he has abused religion to make himself feel "special" and give his life some worth and meaning to others. I was sincere in my beliefs, but I know wanting to give my life some worth and meaning, was some of my own motivations with my entrance into fundamentalism. I wanted life to have meaning, and the suffering and failed career to count for something, I know this sounds weird. Sadly he is being mean to people and using hell as a battering ram. I never was a good fundamentalist and disobeyed preachers who told me not to listen to rock music, go to concerts etc etc. I would witness but was shy about it, and hated offending people. Sometimes some would find out my more controversial opinions and would get angry but I was not an "in your face" type like that guy.

      I am glad you did not date or marry him. Yes I have read about people who became Christians who did so out of extreme trouble and turmoil. I wonder this about myself, because I got saved only a few months after dying of one serious hospital infection, it is also when I went nearly completely deaf. I am sorry those people turned on you and looked down on you from their new religious perspectives.

      It sounds like those friends became like Stepfords. I saw many Stepford people in fundamentalism, in the beginning I was clueless and wanted to be happy and have a good life too but then when I noticed all the emotions and life and passion seemed squeezed out of people it scared me. I did not have good relationships with people like that either, and I was considered a "bad Christian" even just from my UU past for the few who found out.
      Probably strict and abusive parenting led them to controlling religons and cults. Basically the idea of my whole article here. When people are under constant pressure to be perfect from a narcissitic parent they carry that crap in life, and this includes finding religious "perfection" and joining legalistic churches or cults.
      Many false churches and cults use narcissistic techniques and more like love-bombings, I visited churches where I got love bombed and it made me uncomfortable. I was love bombed by the deliverance minister.

      I think there is a lot of toxic religion out there. With God I am in a state of confusion,because of his non-intervention in people's lives. I am having to walk through a thicket of a lot of what I have been taught, knowing it is not bearing on reality.Some of those people may have believed many false religious promises from religious narcs. Narcissists make a lot of promises, and too many churches they now teach even if they are not Word of Faith or direct prosperity gospel that God will bless you if you obey etc etc, so if their lives do not turn out they get angry. I believe the prosperity gospel and different facets of it is very appealing to religious narcs and they have made use of it. Yes I enjoyed Dr. Sloat's books, still thinking my way through a lot. Thanks:)

  4. A different Anonymous here. I have always wished I could believe in God, a kindly God - I've always wished there was a benign power overseeing things, but I just can't believe it and I feel like that's completely a result of my relationship with a cruel unpredictable violent father. I think it's true for a lot of people too, that their relationship with God strongly seems to reflect the relationship they have with their parents, good or bad - or it matches it maybe is more accurate. Like, I always wished that my father were kind and caring, since he was all powerful, but I knew it was a hopeless wish. It's like there's some place in your brain for "relationship with omnipotent beings" and your parents mold that for you during your childhood and that determines what makes sense to you in your relationship with bosses, God, whoever has a lot of power over you. Which is maybe why authoritarian families are comfortable with authoritarian churches, or authoritarian churches promote authoritarian families, and very non-authoritarian families might be more comfortable with atheism or atheism leads to more non-authoritarian families. Or a benign God is more associated with benign treatment of children and the helpless. Or people who believe in a violent, jealous, punitive God would feel that was a sensible way to oversee a family.

    1. I understand. I have journals from times I was an atheist where I wrote in them. "I wish there was a loving God that cared about us". I am in a very strange place now regarding any faith, and I am angry at God and even for his lack of attention to human suffering and fragility. Someone I knew moved away and got this horrible cancer, and just died, and one of the nicest people too. Things like this are building up in my mind.

      I have talked to people who have "deconverted" from Christianity and I notice a running theme, they speak of constant unanswered prayers and God not intervening in their lives. Some suffer immense tragedies, and others start to think God is not there.

      Many of the young ones came out of very authoritarian and abusive homes, and are separating themselves from their family religion as I did at 17 away from Catholicism.

      I believe too that parents influence one's view of God as well. I have had strange thoughts that I hope if there is a God that he takes these things into account. My questioning of hell alone has taken me to new places. I believe America has become a very authoritarian place--Trump etc, and it is related to evangelical Christianity and the religious right. I tried to reconcile being an anti-authoritarian, and a Christian which will probably now bring me more into exploration of more liberal churches, but definitely authoritarianism rules a lot of religion, and I agree the more religious a family, the more authoritarian.

      Their view of God impacts how the children are treated. If one believes in a loving and merciful God where fewer people go to hell it is different from the fire and brimstone fundamentalist land. One thing I am noticing is a lot of deconverters and atheists admitting that they wish there was a loving God overseeing things.

      God has massively disappointed me, leading to my faith troubles. I am wondering now why God does not intervene and why so many prayers are not answered even for other people...I prayed for the man that died of cancer. And found myself worrying because I wrote to someone online, "Why does God say no to 99.9999 percent of prayers?" Some people become Deist believing God made the world but does not interfere, but Jesus said prayers would be answered. It can be confusing.

      I do think most human beings yearn for a loving benign God. I can't believe in the fundamentalist God and love such a Being who sends someone to hell on a dime. Hell troubles me deeply. This is why I am having the doubts I am struggling with and yes my abusive history like yours plays in.