Special Feature: I Want to Break Free - By our new writer T.F.

Editor's Note: I've been trying to get this guy to write for us for years and at last he has agreed. It is my pleasure to introduce one of my very best friends and someone for whom I have the greatest respect: T.F.

BY T.F.

This website brings me more pleasure .... and painful memories...than I can put in words. I just read that awesome and heart wrenching post by Sam and his process of his de-conversion. It's heart-wrenching and jaw dropping at the same time, because of course I lived through the same thing myself.


 

The Pain of Breaking Free

People who don't go through that have got no idea of the pain and suffering and courage involved. I escaped by the skin of my teeth and hated that system (not the people) so much I never looked back in years . I completely put that nightmare experience and that ghastly religion out of my head as fast and as thoroughly as possible to try and let the healing begin. 

In the years following I was intensely embarrassed and almost neurotically obsessed to avoid anybody finding out that I belonged to that thing or admit that I had ever belonged to such a fanatical and crazy sect - and now I look back and read this site it brings back amazing memories of the mental transition process that very much mirrors what Sam went through. This is the first time I have really spoken of it properly.

Why I Left the Christadelphians

Towards the end of my time in the religion, as my teenage brain matured and my reasoning powers developed ,and my desire to question everything surfaced, I began suffering severe cognitive dissonance - I began to realise that the arranging brethren and the thought leaders in the religion were often like ships in a fog – the thicker the fog the louder they toot – and that they just didn’t have the answers to my questions but made out like they did.


For example how do you really interpret ‘providence’ and the hand of God in your life? How do you ascertain there is some providential activity happening at an individual level? Most CDs cited the hand of God in some activity when the probability of that activity occurring was very low.

I got to thinking if I was driving to some doubtful destination and I wanted to know if God wanted me to go there would he give me an indicator – if the probability of me getting 10 Green sets of lights was one in 1000 was this a sign that God was nudging me along? As stupid as this sounds,that is exactly how a lot of CDs and other self-deluding religious folk think – they say it’s a miracle, when it’s just a low probability, they say stupid inane things like when something weird or unfortunate happens – ‘everything happens for a reason, or a purpose’ – one of my favourite sources of vomiting.

What if you got 100 green lights out of 100….a million to one shot. Just gotta be god doing it eh? What if you got 9 green lights but , damn, one went red. Is god not quite so sure about if you should go there or not? I defy anyone to accurately and scientifically define how they interpret the hand of God acting in their life. If you ran the scientific standard statistical analysis on these things you would find that there would be a certain probability of certain things happening by chance and just because it is improbable doesn’t mean God is doing it. But those religions can drive you crazy trying to figure it out. 

Wouldn’t it be nice and considerate if God would make his purpose clear and if he is so Almighty and omnipotent why the hell can’t he just be a bit more transparent and obvious and helpful in telling us what it is he wants us to do. If he is so obsessed with us leading particular lives that bring greater glory to his massive ego, why doesn’t he just make it easier for us to understand what he wants that will make him happy? What’s with all the mystery, unclear language and uncertainty and an instructional manual to the human species capable of massively divergent alternative interpretations? 

There was a classic line in the Broadway comedy about the Mormons where ‘Jesus’ appeared to Joseph Smith with the golden plates and told him to transcribe them - but when he had done that, Jesus stressed to Joseph to keep it a secret ….And then ‘Jesus’ turned to the audience with a cheeky smile and a gay voice said – “because I just like it like that!"

The audience burst out laughing in acknowledgement of the stupidity and duplicity of these religious nuts keeping any verifiable evidence in any sort of transparent way which is capable of examination, questioning and reaffirmation …or otherwise!

As John says, absence of evidence is often evidence of absence. If you are a recovering and traumatised CD, try to see the book of Mormon on Broadway. It will do you good. Those poor guys went through an amazingly similar experience to us CDs. You will laugh on the outside and cry on the inside. But at least you got out.

My way to try to deal with developing cognitive dissonance and increasing certainty that the guys who were meant to have the answers, didn’t really, was to try to educate and make CD contemporary young people accept the process of logical thinking and truth finding and accept the conclusions that they lead to no matter what the consequences, like John Thomas said that we should.


Intellectual Honesty

The trouble with that is that you have to be intellectually honest to start with. But far from being intellectually honest, quite often our most senior and famous speakers exhibited blatant mental dishonesty to manipulate the argument in their favour; usually to maintain their status or position or pecking order in the societal group. I remember like it was yesterday being gobsmacked at the blatant mental dishonesty of one particular famous bible basher and at that very moment losing all respect and hope that anything he said or any conclusion he reached would be based on a proper and honest assessment of the facts, regardless of how that would affect his standing in the community!

Sam

I wanted to say that Sam is gem ...an amazingly well balanced, sophisticated and extraordinary intelligent man, and his writing style is stunning.

I would love to meet that guy someday, he's got guts.. Maybe a great day out? We should organise an Ex Christadelphian shindig at some point where people can come and break bread! Maybe a bit of wine wouldn’t go astray either. We could even have some talks by some of the group on how belonging to that religion affected them and how we overcame those effects or dealt with them.


Only the Good Die Young

Believing in all that serious stuff because Jesus is coming tomorrow is a sure-fire recipe to turn an effervescent bubbly teenager into a nerd, or Captain Serious. It's good to know that there are wonderful people who have escaped and that there is a wonderful life available after that debilitating and stultifying religion. As Billy Joel famously sang about that Catholic girl… Something like-‘ they gave you a statue and told you to pray …..– but they never told you the price you’d pay – the things you might have done….. Only the good die young.’



If you’ve recently escaped the clutches of the CDs do yourself a favour and download that song. That is one hymn you can really sing with gusto, pride and meaning, as you revel in your newfound freedom, unlike the insipid, moronic, wishy-washy absurd words in most of the CD hymn book that we all sang like mindless drones going through the motions of something we don’t really believe in. But had to do because our parents said to, or because everyone else is doing it and it’s part of the club ritual. 

I want to compliment that marvellous comment by Geri ... About how CDs motives to do things - whether they are good .. and I would add 'bad' to that ... are motivated not so much by the intrinsic moral feelings they have but because the biblical instruction and rule book tells them how to earn heavenly credits, and that is exactly what they are doing – as Geri brilliantly expressed it -"point scoring for an afterlife". It’s so nice to do nice things because you want to , and not because you have been told to by the good book, or the perverted interpreters of it.


It is also liberating to not be pressured into doing nasty things or having discriminating and contemptuous attitudes to other people when you feel like you are being pressured into doing them by that same “good” book and the perverted interpreters thereof – even when you inherently and intrinsically knew it violated your human moral code.

Don't be Judgemental

Our contempt for people outside our religion as infidels unbelievers or heathens having no intrinsic worth in this life other than as potential converts to our perverted way of thinking is something that I shudder to think about, and I still to this day detest being in the company of active fundamentalist CDs because I know that they are thinking of me in this contemptuous way. I also remember being pressured into treating my father with disrespect because he had left ‘the truth’. As Hitchens says ‘religion poisons everything.’

I pass on my compliments to the new Sam and Geri for their brilliant minds and superb writing skills and sharing for their thoughts.  I'd love to meet them. It does take time and sacrifice to be bothered to write these things in the hope that someone in our situation will be spared living a life of sacrifice based on a lie.


Why People Remain Christadelphians

That is the ultimate crime – to have one life and to give up all the things you could have done and the person you could have been because of a 2000 year old book of bigoted anecdotes and because of a crazy 19th-century doctor and his wacko phrenologist sidekick - and because of our inability to recognise that we don’t really believe all this crap. But we just have to look like we do in order to maintain the integrity of our social and family bonds.

That’s the real reason most people are in that religion and stay there. It’s the fellowship and friendship of people who are - let’s face it - in the main, really nice people most of the time. Sometimes naive and stupid; but sometimes extraordinarily intelligent and decent, even if misguided. My friends were top class people and it was agonising to step up to the plate and be honest with myself and realise that I didn’t really, truly believe the basis of that cult and that when and if I left I would lose those friendships.

One day I would also like to get into the science of the psychology of social acceptance and demonstrate how we as a species generally don't really believe a damn thing – we are just doing it to keep our friends, our social network and our parents happy- and that when you look at the science of social psychology it is just devastating how pathetic we are as human beings at mouthing beliefs in order to stay in the club, stay in the family, stay married, keep your friends, keep your bestie, and generally maintain our peer group.


If anybody is interested in this just Google social psychology experiments and see how something like 40% of people say the most stupid things to agree with the stupid opinions previously expressed by 15 confederate’s in an experimental boardroom setting. The experiments showed that it gets worse – give that initial thought leading or commanding person a laboratory coat or a licence or a uniform and you can get far higher levels of compliance.

And it’s not just about doing stupid things. It’s about doing nasty things. A scary percentage of people will actually press the button to electrically torture other people if the scientific experimenter in a lab coat said in a dull mono-toned voice “please continue’ even though the actor in the other room was screaming for his life.

As Christopher Hitchens said in that magnificent book ‘God is not great’ – it takes religion to make really good people do really bad things . The wholesale slaughter of the Canaanites (but keep the young teenage girls for fun ) and the Spanish Inquisition are two classic cases.

Of course the pomp and grandeur of religious ceremonies and of senior brethren - especially those with deep voices - standing up on the pulpit breathing fire and brimstone ads to their mesmerising power over the flock, and helps ensure compliance to their philosophies.

And how much better is it when you have GOD on your side. Just ask any suicide bomber!

Manning Up About God


I think leaving the CDs was so mentally and emotionally traumatic on me that I had to cling on to a belief in God to enable the transition out of the religion to occur ....it would've been just too big a mental shock to throw the whole god thing out at that time and it really took me years to stop believing in the imaginary friend in the sky. Although, ironically, it was nice to pray to your imaginary friend and thank him for getting you out of that religion- wow that’s turning it around isnt ? To look on my escape a “blessing” from God! 

But after a while you realise it is quite self delusional and you should stop it! If you are having trouble leaving the religion keep believing in God because it will make it easier to get out if you pray to him to give you guidance to be honest with yourself and have the courage to do what John Thomas told you to do - examine everything you are believe – if it is the truth it will not suffer thereby and if it is not the truth the sooner you find out the better. Humpf…

I still remember that verbatim decades later. Ironic isn’t it - that the words of the founder of the cult were huge motivators in me leaving the cult. When and if you realise you don’t have the truth and if you have to leave you can thank God for guiding your hand and helping you see the light and getting out of a false belief system that would have ruined your life , and that now you can dedicate your life to being a decent, honest, proper nice, person and rejoin society free of the biases and hatred and prejudices embodied in the biblical texts, and being ‘in the world but not of it’.

Treating Other People with the Respect they Deserve

To your shock you will find that most of the godless atheists and the perverted alternative religions have vast numbers of really decent, nice, quality people - just like you thought you had exclusive rights to as a CD. You can start treating other Christians and even humanists with respect and you don’t have to dream about murdering homosexuals, one spear for two people ,Leviticus style ,( quite efficient is our God ) or thinning out the population of the Earth. It is so liberating and a marvellous feeling to become part of humanity , and not to hate it, even with its warts and blemishes.

You are Going to Hear More from Me

I will certainly make more comments and contributions as I find the whole subject quite fascinating and even after all these years quite emotionally moving. You cannot live through what we went through and not feel massive empathy for the poor bastards that wrestle with it right now.


How to Leave the Christadelphians - (Or "There must be 50 ways to leave your lover")

If you are reading this and sharing some of the feelings of doubt about how the so called experts don’t really know, but spout off like they do, and try to put you down or they get testy and feel threatened by your honest questions (ask them how to spot and define god’s providence in your life vs good or bad luck, for starters). Then start by praying for the power to be intellectually honest and have the courage to follow through on your findings.

If you don’t have the courage, (and escaping from any brainwashing cult often requires more courage than most people have ,so don’t feel bad) – just get the hell out of there and run for your life and don’t look back. Get the courage later when you can think straight.

Sometimes you have to trust your gut feel – you know it’s right ….but you can’t quite intellectually justify the split yet because those bastards have got you so damn confused with their nitpicking intellectual bullshit…. And you know in your heart of hearts if you dedicated five or 10 or 20 years of full-time study you could and would prove the sons of bitches totally wrong.

But do you really want to waste your life proving by chapter and verse and by archaeological and atomic and scientific geological and biological and genetic and whatever evidence you will muster to nail them, that they were wrong? – and in the process turn into a total nerd and waste half your life and then realise that you have just wasted your precious one shot at life to prove what you knew in your gut all along?

Hmmmm? Hell no! Get out of there and get yourself into an environment where you can think straight, freely and logically without any pressure from them trying to drag you back . Slam the door, turn off your phone, move interstate, move overseas, go underground ….
“There must be 50 ways to leave your lover".



Wait a year and see if you really want to go back. Bet you won’t. Try to find an alternative social group for support…. Or write to us and let us try to help you; we have plenty of support groups. God knows, we know what you are going through. If you can’t handle being alone there are other lovely Christian religions, much nicer and more accepting and more tolerant than CDs, and tennis clubs and sceptics societies. Go and have a beer with your mates and use a swear word. A quickfix ,but a port on the side for those leaving the religion.

Self-Control in Your New Life Outside Christ

May I warn you not to swear excessively as a sign of your new-found liberty! Yes it feels good but don’t go overboard. Also may I warn you not to abandon all self discipline – don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Living your previous life of intense and over the top self-discipline often racked with guilt. If you are a teenage boy with raging hormones, then suddenly realising that it is all massively wrong makes you tempted to say - everything wrong is right and I’m never going to believe in any self-discipline again.

Take my advice and don’t do that . Yes you have been ripped off and yes most of what you believed to be black was white. But keeping control of yourself and being able to use sensible measures of self-discipline to control a myriad of things in life is essential to your future well-being …. Excesses in eating ,drinking , smoking , swearing and sex, you will quickly find out, are not well received by those people who you thought were all from Sodom and Gomorrah.

You will find your Christadelphian upbringing will actually be an advantage in terms of good morals, honesty and good behaviour that many of your heathen friends will admire you for - but don’t be afraid to drink beer, swear and fornicate from time to time – but only when you’re in the mood, not to prove a point. Don’t go crazy and let it develop into a statement of your hatred of your former rule-ridden and oppressed life.

There are also atheist societies for those who want to take it to the next level up and there is a marvellous 'Festival of Dangerous Ideas' every year at the Sydney Opera House with thousands of people (who have abandoned belief in Tooth Fairies, Easter Bunnies, Father Christmas and other miscellaneous gods and spirit-based or imaginary entities)  gathering to celebrate their sceptical attitude towards the spiritual world.


Most importantly Google Christopher Hitchens and read or download the audio on iTunes of his book ‘God is not Great.'

No Going Back

Once you realise that there is no going back you will get a massive epiphany of the lie you have been sold, or born into. Don’t beat yourself up about how stupid you were to believe all that stuff …it wasn’t your fault - you were born into it and totally brainwashed, like so many of us, and don’t worry you’re not going mad - it’s not you. Those doubts you are having are real and based on your deep-seated DNA and intelligence which, if there was a God was given to you by him to use.

Grab hold of that thread of a doubt and follow it through to its conclusion and make the break to a new life. Fulfil your true genetic potential to become a solicitor, a captain in the Navy, go out and vote and have a say and how you are governed and taxed, go to an Anzac day memorial at dawn and celebrate those brave people that defended our country and laid down their lives instead of those gutless Christadelphians cowering behind pathetic religious beliefs that would have theoretically allowed everyone in Australia to have been murdered and/or raped by the invading armies of the Japanese. Free yourself of the shackles of peer group and family pressure and social conformity to an antiquated and dangerous 19th century cult.

Your Wonderful Future

Given the millions of sperm that could have impregnated your mothers egg you have won the genetic lottery of life to even exist. Value your existence and celebrate it and make the most out of it by living to your full potential and being the best person you can and making the world a better place. You won’t believe the difference that getting out of that religion will make; it's like getting out of prison. 


I hope to see you on the other side.

 

 
Editor's Note:
 
Christadelphians have 'One Moment in Time' and this is it.

No resurrection. No eternal life. This one moment in time is all that you are ever going to get before you sleep in death for eternity.

Join with us to put that superstitious old religion behind you. Join the Ex-Christadelphians in seeking truth and displaying enlightened morality. Let us respect humanity and work for its improvement. Let us work to ease humanity's suffering and promote its search for knowledge and understanding. Let us care for one another and be there for those who need us. Let us outshine those who cling to that cursed religion and show them a better way.

May we do all that and then walk to our eternal graves with courage and heads held high.
 
Because the good that we did in our precious one moment of time can never be taken from us. - It will last for eternity.
 


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