Who's next?

 By Jon Morgan

This year I’ve been reflecting on how much I changed in the 2010s. Some of the changes could probably have been expected given my age and stage of life, but leaving religion in particular wasn’t expected by me or by those around me.

It now makes me wonder how many others there are like former-me: People who are young, indoctrinated, dedicated to their religion. Maybe they’re already facing doubts, or maybe they will in the next five or ten years. Maybe they’re already thinking of quitting, or maybe they just view the doubts as things to be conquered.

If I were going back in time, what might I say to former-me? And if anyone feeling these things happens to be reading this post, what might I want them to be aware of?

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  1. Wow. Profound stuff, and beautifully written. What advice would I give? Be gentle with yourself. Be patient. Don't get stuck in one place while evolving out of the religious mindset; try to keep moving while heading toward the exit. Don't let anyone stand in your way. Always be polite in your departure, but firm. Don't burn any bridges you cross over, until you're sure you won't need them for a possible retreat. When you're sure later that you won't need them to retreat upon, then burn, baby, burn.

    Looking back, I can see I never really believed, but was just going through the motions. On some level, it all smacked of nonsense and fantasy and wishful thinking. Always. There were too many inconsistencies, too many contradictions, too many pat answers that were actually non-answers. On occasion, someone would make a preposterous speculation or comment, and I would find myself cringing inside.

    When your instincts make you respond that way, it is important to listen to them. It is then often important to gradually vote with your feet, whether you are reacting to a religion, a job, a relationship, a friendship, a neighborhood, or anything else. I can also see, in looking back, that by being trapped in CD Land, I was also trapped in other dysfunctional relationships that greatly hindered me.

    One member of our ecclesia had severe mental health problems and intruded herself constantly into the lives and affairs of other members. She stalked members on the telephone, going through her address book each day, dialing one member after another in alphabetical order. Very quickly, because the numbers of Christadelphians in the world are small, she was calling every day. We thought we were duty bound to help her combat her loneliness, and we would accommodate the phone calls, and the situation eventually became absolutely hellish. When I left CD Land, I felt free to end that particular relationship and similarly miserable and dysfunctional ones.

    I also felt free to unload some of the relatives. I no longer had to interact with them each Sunday and Wednesday, and was able to free myself from most of my more toxic family relationships.

    There are many forms of bondage in life. Ending one form often assists you in ending others.

    These kinds of changes are always painful, but the pain is best described as "growing pains." I came into Christadelphianism as a beautiful child, and was taught that I had been born evil and was carrying a burden of insidious sin. (Gee, thanks folks.) I left Christadelphianism with a belief, one that lasted for years afterward, that I would undoubtedly one day face God's terrifying wrath for having fled such "Truths." In hindsight, I can see how terribly they wounded me by imbuing me with such crippling thoughts and feelings.

    And even so, I loved them enough to still feel sad for them in their blindness. "I was blind, but now I see," as the old hymn goes. Indeed.

  2. And Happy New Year. We are glad you are back residing in the land of thinking people.

  3. "Run, Forrest, RUN !!"

  4. I was born into a Cd family and was indoctrinated with Cdism - an inevitable consequence. I had pleasant Sunday School years, Youth Circle, Swanwick, and other Youth Gathering events during my growing years. My parents were careful that I attended, though they weren`t over strict with me and there were plant of social activities mixed in with the religious stuff. Almost all my close friends were attendees. I was getting well into the Cd bubble. My baptised early adult life was enjoyable, as all my social contacts were members. Bible Campaigns in various UK locations were engaged in with zeal and enthusiasm. It wasn`t until I moved away from the Birmingham UK area, to an isolated ecclesia where social activities were almost zero, like-minded members few, discussion at Bible class not allowed, that I began to feel that if these were people who believed the same as I did, then "something was quite right", it wasn`t balanced - was it them, was it me, was I in the Truth? I attended less frequently, and at the same time was travelling for business throughout the UK and near continent. The Cd die-hards would say that I was being influenced by worldly matters. I would say that my brain was being gradually freed from my former indoctrination and allowing me to think clearly for the first time in my life. I started to read non-Cd publications widely; to study, to look carefully at what I believed, getting more of an understanding of what I was "in", without the feeling that I was upsetting God, who was watching me. I began to realise that Cd`s were adrift in their beliefs and that I had, well, not wasted exactly, but had spent a lot of my life so far, up the creek of living without the correct paddle to take me in a meaningful and truthful direction. Eventually, because of my non-attendance over several months (I wasn`t contacted and questioned by the AB`s), I was disfellowshipped - not that by this time it upset me in any way. I felt relieved. Anyone leaving the Cd`s will face a mixture of reactions from friends and members still "in". These reactions usually fall into three categories, Good, Bad and Ugly. A few don`t change towards you, most stop contacting you, and the Ugly "pass by on the other side" -literally, and refuse to shake hands when passing by is not possible. Do not worry about it. They are the losers. I was fortunate in the sense that both my Cd parents had died before I left, and my children were still young enough at the time my wife left with me to not get caught in the Cd net, so any family strains were avoided. I did have a Cd aunt who found it necessary to tell me that my mother would be turning in her grave, which did upset me a little, though I wondered about her literal understanding of being "asleep" in Christ. Whatever your new circumstances after leaving, embrace your new wider-horizon of living, and make new friends, and be happy for your release from a controlling sect. You won`t get the Cdism out of your brain - it`s there for all time, but it will start to fade over time (it sometimes still makes me feel cross even now many years after leaving) and you will begin to see it for what it is - which is not the Truth. People leave the Cd`s by different routes. I have a good ex-Cd friend who managed it by exercising his intellect. My route was different, a gradual lessening of influence. After leaving I made a determined effort to check out that I`d done the right thing by leaving. I have friends who are happy to be "in". I remain convinced that leaving was right for me.

    1. "I remain convinced that leaving was right for me."

      And that's the important thing, isn't it. I may (and in fact do) have a lot of opinions about the benefits and drawbacks of Christadelphia and about what might come next if leaving Christadelphia, but each person has to make their own decisions and live their own life.

    2. What are some of the benefits? In hindsight, I see very few. A sense of community? I didn't get that there. No one invited us home for dinner. In communal activities, we were only present because their beliefs required them to include us. Uplifting music? Maybe if you're living in 1690. Brilliant biblical insights? No, mostly convoluted nonsense. An inspiring liturgy? You had to prop your eyes open with toothpicks. Nice people? Maybe when you're new, or until you disagree with them or question some of their beliefs.

  5. My feeling is that if you stay, you also stay in a state of delusion. Permanently. The problem with that is that the result is often an exceedingly stunted life. We all function in small social ecosystems (for lack of a better word); if staying in this cult helps you to survive and gives you meaning, then stay if it's what you truly want or need to do. And by the same token, if you have doubts, you surely should explore them.

    I left because I was expelled. Chucked out unceremoniously as unworthy. I was told I'd be welcomed back when they felt ready to welcome me back. At this point in my life now, if they promised me all the winnings of the national lottery, I wouldn't go back. On one or two occasions many years afterward, I visited temporarily (for funerals, weddings, baptisms, etc.). These were situations sometimes clearly manipulated to draw me back into the faith, despite the previous expulsion. It didn't work. Within minutes of listening to some octogenarian mumbling about the Second Coming of Jesus, I'd be groaning silently in my head. On one occasion, without intending it, I literally let out a loud groan, to my own alarm as well as that of the people around me. It was an instinctive, primal, and spontaneous reaction. In hindsight, I can laugh about it.

    It is a confining and spiritually dead religion that imparts no joy and no wisdom (practical, biblical, or any other kind). The members, I found, do not appear to truly live -- living involves coloring outside the lines sometimes. This bunch is hemmed in like chickens in a pen, and they make just as much noise when you don't conform to the house rules and the pecking order.

  6. I've finally left completely myself now my now project is to collect street art murals

    Which you can find on my new website Techni Tou Dromou technitoudromou.com

    1. Well hopefully you will take a tanker load of paint stripper and scrubbing brushes with you, and encourage the "artist" to get herself a useful productive job rather than vandalising buildings across the country.

    2. It's not vandalism I got to legal graffiti/street art festival n other legal walls it's better than being at home reading the bible lots of walking down the canals plus travelling to different cities living the good life

  7. I was sucked into CDIsm through CYC aged 12. Consequently, I became an increasingly smug, pious teenager who felt superior to all who hadn’t discovered The Truth (including my MP father - worldly politics?- pah!). I was baptised at 18 largely because my father was dying and I thought a good deed from me might lead to god saving him…
    My journey towards enlightenment and disfellowship began almost as soon as I started to study Eng Lit at uni but my decision to turn my back on CDIsm was made on viewing for a long hour or so John Martin’s huge painting of the flood in Tate Britain. It captures hundreds drowning in the waters - in the forefront a terrified mother desperately trying to hold her baby above water. Top right the ark floats serenely in a shaft of light. ‘If this god exists I don’t want to be on his side’. Since that epiphany I’ve never looked back…but it took a while to throw off the terrors of Christ’s return. What a wicked religion it is - how much precious youth I wasted

  8. In Sunday School the story of the flood should be told using such descriptive detail as in that painting. But it isn`t.

  9. Think of all that religious zealotry has given us: the butchery in the Roman theaters, the Holocaust, the vicious persecution of gay people, the Spanish Inquisition, the institutional subordination of women, the expulsion of the Palestinians from their lands, etc., etc., etc. Such a loving and merciful God -- NOT. Such useful and productive ideologies -- NOT.

    1. All religion is chicken shit and, to a large extent, a scam. That is the only practical thing I learned in Christadelphianism.

  10. This posting will make me sound mercenary. It is the last thing I have ever been. While it is uncomfortable, I will post this post anyway......

    Obsessive adherence to any religion or cult, or obsessive adherence to any belief system, is perhaps a sign of mental illness. While in CDism, we practiced, with great determination, the whole "be a good Christian" thing. We gave old ladies rides to church. We welcomed them to our dinner table every week. We washed their clothes, ran their errands, and picked up the checks in restaurants. We nursed them when they were ill, threw birthday parties for them, and included them in our vacations. We expended very, very great amounts of time and effort and money to "do the Christian thing," because, ostensibly, the elderly bats needed the assistance.
    Almost nothing was ever reciprocated, even in superficial ways, and we tried to be kind anyway, and to give "with a glad heart," as the Bible instructs us to do.

    The elderly frumps finally went to their just reward, and we later would discover they left very substantial amounts of money to various CD and other Christian charities. One even left a large bequest to her garage attendant. For us, their hosts, there was nothing in the estate dispositions, despite unsolicited and unexpected verbal promises late in the game from them to reward our generosity. Our children had sometimes gone without resources, so we could help these other members of our religious "flock." And they'd had absolutely no problem coming into our very modest and difficult lives and laying their own health, mental health, and financial problems across our backs. Nonetheless, even at the end, they were busy buying their way into "The Kingdom," and that was more important than keeping the promises they'd made to us or remembering that we, in reality, were actually the people of modest means who needed a hand up.

    I was left with the feeling that we got played. I was left not with disappointment so much as a feeling of having been betrayed. I was left with contempt for belief systems that so gleefully reinvent reality and turn it on its head. When sorting through the debris of one of our benefactresses' estates (we got to spend months doing that, also), upon discovering the many thousands of pounds that she'd left to CD "charities," I was filled with revulsion. In the past, this same cow had repeatedly mailed a few pennies to my children on their birthdays, and then demanded a thank you card containing detailed words of appreciation. I had always explained that the purchase of a thank you card and its postage would have cost more than the "gift" itself that the bitch had given. We were nonetheless hounded until I always refunded the "gift" to the cow in question.

    One of the old bats was incessantly demanding help in the last years of her life. Like the others, she reimbursed us for nothing, reciprocated nothing, and was, in reality, grateful for nothing. On her deathbed, the day before she died, she said to me: "How do you think I did, on my life's journey? Was I a good Christian? Be totally honest with me."

    I thought long and hard before answering. As I've mentioned, she had made me the executor of her estate, and I'd already read the Will the day prior and I'd seen that there was no mention of us in it. Not even words of gratitude.

    "You wanted from us what you never gave," I said calmly, "even when you were in a position to give it."

    She looked at me, squirmed in the bed, and then, to my surprise -- and yet in some ways not at all to my surprise -- extended her wobbling hands toward me. I thought we were going to have a moment of truth, and reached toward her. Instead, she indignantly gave me the double finger.

    I thought it an appropriate summation of both my "investment" and our relationship.

    1. Jody, none of what you write in any way makes you look mercenary. It just looks like exactly the same observations that many of us will have made.
      Mancott has in the past pointed out that not all of them behave this way, and reminded us of the charity himself and family received from them on occasion.
      Sad to say that most of the Christadelphians I have known, have been highly acquisitive people, acting in many of the ways listed, and then some.
      It is very strange behaviour, especially as they know that they are being watched at every move by God, and will have to stand and account for their actions at the judgement seat, before they head off to the Kingdom with other similar thinking individuals. It is almost as though they don't REALLY believe all this stuff at all.....
      I have myself been done over for restaurant bills on more occasions than I care to recall. When I wasn't being done over, watching how they cheat each other to dodge paying their share fills me with mirth to this day, and gives us a ready insight into the inner workings of their devious minds.

    2. It is sad to read what Jody experienced. As Joseph has remembered, I did post that my parents, and later when married so did I, receive charity from a brother in "my" ecclesia. I think all societies, including Christadelphians, are pretty much the same. They are usually a cross section of those from different walks of life, different social positions, different levels of financial comfort. They respond in different ways to the different situations in which others around them find themselves. I had Cd friends who often shied away from sharing a restaurant cost. I had other Cd friends who went out of their way to make sure it was they who bore the whole restaurant bill amount. I came across brethren in business whose business ethics were questionable. There were other Cd businessmen who couldn`t have been more generous in their business dealings. In novels I read there are often instances of this. The person who always get away without paying their share of a taxi fare. Dodgy business deals. The instances of avoiding paying their share in a restaurant, as mentioned above. It`s a human condition seen in all societies, including the members of Cd ecclesias. As for Joseph`s point about the Cds acknowledging that God is in their lives, watches over them, knows their every day life`s movements, thoughts, this is a good point. Do they really believe this? Is this just that the indoctrination is firmly lodged within them, but reality is what they live by?
      Clearly they are not all the same in this, but it does give me pause for thought.

    3. Jon, I shall respond more fully to both your's and Mancott's posts more fully later. At the moment I am tired from today's labours.
      As I'm sure you are aware, I am now an atheist, or at best a "cultural Christian", however, I concluded many years ago that our Lord definitely had a point when he said that "By their fruits ye shall know them", and through both Christianity and atheism, have continued to believe that.
      As an aside, both my fig tree, and both of my vines have done very well this year, yielding many figs and bunches of both red and white grapes. Not even Jesus himself would be doing any cursing this year.

  11. "Don't truly believe what they preach" and "compartmentalize the behavior" are probably the best explanations for this kind of behavior. And, yes, it is very terrible when you act sincerely and generously and someone shoves their boot so deeply up your nether regions.

    It is important to heed advance warnings. As the beloved Oprah Winfree once said: "When people show you over time who they truly are, you must always believe them."

    I was disinherited by my own mother for "failing to walk the path of righteousness" and refusing to subscribe to her nutty little cult. She was a toxic and violent narcissist, someone who damaged every life form she encountered. Both before and after encountering CDism, I never believed in "Hell," but I wish there was one, because it would be a good repository for such people.

    1. Anon, quite apart from the anecdotal evidence that many of us have, and discussed here many times, very occasionally, some undisputable facts do leak out.
      In the UK, nearly all of Christadelphia closed down, or went online only early in 2020, despite restrictions being lifted by July 2020, many (if not most) Ecclesias remained under self inflicted restrictions until 2022, and many have never properly restored their activities. Bible class by Zoom, and "Public Lectures" (now known as "Bible Hours", despite lasting 15 minutes), are commonplace. Many Ecclesias have given up all together, others half heartedly have "occasional" Bible talks, and a large number simply redirect "interested visitors" to the website of www.gospelonline.co.uk .
      When I say interested visitors, I mean that. Fully signed up Christadelphians don't bother themselves to visit the site. Some of the talks are actually OK, Roger Long's " What is God's purpose for the world" is reasonable enough. But look at the number of views, at time of writing, just 48, and at least 5 or 6 of those are mine. The other talks have garnered just a few dozen views over many months of being online. I conclude that those Ecclesias that have suspended lectures, and link to the site, cannot even be bothered to watch them themselves. You have to wonder why, but it surprises me not one bit given what I have been told by various sources.
      20 years ago, at the Ecclesia at which I was a member, the entire month of November was spent phoning, writing to, collating and publishing the very "best " of speakers for the following year, people being weekly brought in from around the country, to speak, pontificate and be richly hosted for their efforts.
      Now it seems that posting a link that they don't even visit themselves is enough to earn eternity in the kingdom.

    2. I wanted to believe, really I did. But if I'm honest with myself, I know deep in my heart, I never, ever, really did. There is a scene in the movie "East of Eden," in which James Dean asks his mother if she ever believed the precepts of her church. "To be honest, I never believed any of that slop," she replies.

      It was a line that resonated when I heard it.

    3. I'd say Marge's comment probably describes many of us. We robotically do things, without really believing in what we're doing and saying. And when we examine it all carefully, we then have an epiphany that we never truly did believe any of the nonsense we appeared to be aligned with. And that, my friends, is the beginning of our liberation......

    4. Religion is often a racket. It is often intended to shake you down, get a monthly or weekly contribution from you, to exploit you. What do you often get on an individual level when you help others? Answer: Unending additional requests for help. "Help" that ends up with you investing more of your own time, effort, labor and money into the life of a person who never invested the same amounts in himself.

      I left CDism, yet had CDs who never left me. They were all misfits, like me, but they never abandoned the cult. Even though I've departed, they put the tap on me constantly for meals, financial assistance, errands, etc. It is almost like I am a magnet for these people. I don't know how to get rid of them, and don't know most of the time if I want to get rid of them. It's as if I'm holding onto something, like an addiction of sorts. Am I holding onto my past? Am I such a loser that these folks are my best chance at simulating friendship? Am I unconsciously trying to make amends for rejecting the cult? Do I let them cling to me, because I need to cling to them for some sense of security or continuity extending from my past into my present? Holy shit, what a mess. It is not so very different from the misery of remaining in the CDs, long after I knew I should have left.

      All I know is that it feels extremely unhealthy, as if I'm being exploited.


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