Today is my one-month anniversary as a blogger.
Before all of you early-adopter types start giggling, you can rest assured
that I am well aware that I am behind the curve here. The impact of Web 2.0 on
communication and marketing was a hot topic in PR circles before the term Web
2.0 was coined in 2004, but it was only recently that I felt prompted to join the conversation.
If I put my old PR hat on, I could use this lead for a dozen different
articles; from the perspective of a “tip of the spear” Gen Xer on social
networking (I was born in 1966) to a light-hearted look at my online
relationship with my 18 and 19 year old kids.
Instead, a quick review of my blog stats for the month of July is driving
this post. As I assessed the pageviews and where they originated, I found that the bulk of the click-throughs to my WordPress blog came as a result of a piece titled I was Never a Real Atheist from people who had searched or followed a link to the word atheism tagged to the post.
Apparently atheism sells.
I followed the links backward and found myself in the land of Christian de-conversion.
Now de-conversion may be a hot topic in Bible-college circles, but I wasn’t
even sure if it was a real word. Webster’s online says that it’s not, but the folks that are contributing and commenting at http://de-conversion.com use it frequently.
The site claims to provide “Resources for Skeptical, De-Converting and Former Christians” and is a social network/support group for confused, hurt and angry Christians who have either already “de-converted” or claim to be in the process of doing so.
The site claims to have logged 667,660 hits since March 2007 and, while they could be elevating those numbers, the volume of comments on the featured posts is such that I would not be surprised if it were true.
I am sure that there is much to be said theologically about whether or not “de-conversion” is possible if a person had a genuine experience with Jesus, and I am not remotely studied enough to go there, but as I read the posts of dozens of self-proclaimed “former believers” I saw a pattern emerge:
1. I grew up in the church and loved the Lord once.
2. I began to question and doubt.
3. My questions and doubts were either dismissed or ignored or responded to with platitudes that I could not accept.
4. When it was clear that I would not be satisfied with platitudes, I was told that I was defective, i.e. I wasn’t
really saved in the first place, I was looking for an excuse to sin, etc.
5. I am grateful to find this community of people who are also doubters and skeptics (and ultimately unbelievers) so that I do not have to walk this path away from the faith of my childhood on my own.
The unbelief proposed by whoever designs and moderates the site (I could not find evidence of a clear “owner”) portrays in the site description a kinder, gentler version of atheism that might appeal to a once-faithful doubter…
“For the most part, we believe the teachings of Judaism, Christianity, & Islam, based on the perceptions and myths of a nomadic ancient Middle Eastern tribe, should be viewed critically – as should the holy books of these religions. This blog attempts to critically, but respectfully, address issues with these religious ideologies, especially Christianity. If you are a skeptical, de-converting, or former Christian, you may find these discussions interesting.
We also believe that whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God
reviewing your life, you will be judged on your actions and not just on your ability to blindly believe in creeds -when there is a significant lack of evidence on who God is or if he/she even exists.
(de-conversion.com, July 2008 )
That can’t be so bad, right?
And yet, many of the posts betray what I interpret to be sadness as a result of the perceived loss of faith. It may be wishful thinking on my part, but a number of the respondents still attend church and participate in ministry despite what they describe to be a sense of isolation and unbelief. It made me wonder who these people are and how their churches (and churches in general) tend to handle a person who is struggling with a perceived loss of faith?
Would love to hear thoughts on this…