Losing My Religion

Villa

Member
Oct 28, 2017
195
Hi Era,

I need to get something out there, I don't really know if it will help, but I haven't been able to talk to anybody about this and feel like maybe outside perspectives could help (could be badly mistaken here lol).

So I was brought up in a very religious family. It's all I've ever known, and every one of my friends and family members (including my wife) are also part of the religion. But lately I've really been struggling with something. I had doubts ever since I was in my early teens, but just tried to ignore it and pretend those doubts didn't exist and weren't important, probably because I was scared of challenging my world view, but also scared of how it would affect my friends and family. I love my family, I really do, they treat me incredibly well, I had a very loving upbringing, they've always been super supportive of me and have done their best to help me through difficult times. But the thing is, with this religion, if you decide to leave (or if they kick you out) you're cut off from everyone. Zero contact until you decide to return (I believe there's an exception for a wife/husband though, but there's still certain rules for them I think). Even if you tell them that you just don't believe it anymore, that's not really accepted, because everyone thinks it is absolutely 100% the true religion and if you say otherwise, after being a part of the religion, you must be lying and have some ulterior motive/other reason for leaving. (I'm not sure if they officially kick you out for not believing until you 'do something wrong' or properly resign though) I know that must sound crazy and cruel to many here, but unless you've experienced a very strong religious culture, I think it would be very hard to understand. They really truly believe that it's the right thing to do, both for themselves and for the other person, even if it's very difficult.

So over the years my doubts about my faith just grew and grew, and I noticed hole after hole, things that just didn't make sense to me. So nowadays I don't really know what I believe. On one hand, the religious ideas I've been exposed to don't really make sense to me, but on the other hand, I find the atheistic/purely scientific view of the world makes me feel super empty and depressed, that my life, everyone else's life and the whole world really, is completely pointless and arbitrary. And this has resulted in, for the past year I've been finding it really difficult trying to hide this from my wife, my friends & family. I've just been going along with the religious way of life that I've lived my whole life (it requires quite a bit of time and effort devoted to it), pretending to everyone that everything is normal, I'm still a true believer, etc. And unless I want to risk losing every single relationship in my life, I don't really feel like I have a choice other than to keep on pretending. I've really been struggling with this though, since 1) kinda living a lie 2) spending a significant amount of time and energy on something I don't believe in anymore, and 3) even just having my own personal struggle with what I believe, and what the point of my life is.

I just really don't see any way out of my situation, and probably having a confidential talk with a psychologist would be better than a post on a forum. But I have some time alone, and just want to get some outside perspectives.
 

JLP101

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,028
User Banned (2 Days): Drive-By Posting and Thread Derailment in a Serious Thread
 
Dec 6, 2019
29
But the thing is, with this religion, if you decide to leave (or if they kick you out) you're cut off from everyone. Zero contact until you decide to return (I believe there's an exception for a wife/husband though, but there's still certain rules for them I think). Even if you tell them that you just don't believe it anymore, that's not really accepted, because everyone thinks it is absolutely 100% the true religion and if you say otherwise, after being a part of the religion, you must be lying and have some ulterior motive/other reason for leaving. (I'm not sure if they officially kick you out for not believing until you 'do something wrong' or properly resign though) I know that must sound crazy and cruel to many here, but unless you've experienced a very strong religious culture, I think it would be very hard to understand.
I'm not an expert on religion, but that sounds like pretty abusive doctrine. Like the sort of thing that "churches" such as Scientology practice.
 

Salmonax

Member
Oct 27, 2017
1,260
Sorry for what you’re going through. I was raised religious, but ultimately my family didn’t care enough to drill it into me. In my eyes...

The truly crazy thing is that it takes far more humility before what we are and what the universe is to believe that what we have to be humble before is our very existence, each other, and this impossibly habitable planet.
 

whatsinaname

Member
Oct 25, 2017
7,041
Dec 31, 2017
3,220
I've been in basically the exact same situation, having to pretend I believe around family. And let me tell you, it's really caught up to me at this point. Lots of stress and uneasiness. But like you, I also don't know what the right solution is, because flat-out admitting atheism to my family would be pretty devastating for them. So for now I am in limbo. However the longer it goes, the faster I realize how it's going to come to a head pretty soon.

Your situation is a bit more difficult than mine as you are married and I'm assuming your spouse is similar to your previous level of piousness. Anyway, I know my post probably doesn't help, but you're not alone. And yeah, talking to a professional is likely going to be better.
 

King Alamat

Member
Nov 22, 2017
2,923
It doesn't matter how nice your family was to you growing up, they aren't worth dealing with if they're gonna shun you for not believing the same things they do. I hope you find a path you're comfortable with, though I will say that being an atheist isn't so bad. I express it as a sort of optimistic nihilism. Just because there is no greater meaning to life doesn't mean you can't forge your own happiness.

 

Man God

Member
Oct 25, 2017
23,198
There's no good answer. Living a lie is painful but so is risking it all to go out in the open. It's hard to even probe a spouse about this sort of thing if they're indoctrinated.
 

TaySan

Member
Dec 10, 2018
7,855
Are you a Jehovah's Witness or LDS by any chance? If the former you have my sympathy. My moms side of the family is Mormon and looks down on us for not being of the faith, but they don't completely write us off on life like the former does.
 

FunkyMonkey

The Fallen
Oct 25, 2017
1,298
It's full of holes because it was literally made up by man as a means of controlling the masses. There's more magic in a seed growing into a plant or an embryo growing into a baby or the sky full of other solar systems and other galaxies than there ever will be in a man with a beard zapping things with his hands

though to be fair the bible is full of insane badass stuff and has spawned some of the best art (imo)
 

Powdered Egg

Member
Oct 27, 2017
12,164
Are you set set living where you currently are? Is there a possibility that you can move away, reject your faith and keep contact with friends and family from a distance?

I'm sorry for your situation OP but anyone that would put religion over family is in the wrong. As for the new-Atheist depression and existentialism... honestly, the religious know deep down inside they don't have the answer either. Everyone cries and gets depressed when they lose people because they know they don't know what happens after death, religious or not.

If you decide to publicly leave your faith please seek therapy or others who have left the faith also for support. The abandonment by your friends and family can really mess you up.
 

Chandler

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,299
I don't know how much this will help you, but I'm a firm believer of optimistic nihilism and think this is a good primer on the first step on rewiring those "nothing matters" thoughts into something more positive and inspirational.


On the topic of your former religion, if I must be blunt, it sounds like a cult. I don't have any experience but I wish you luck on getting out.
 

inguef

The Fallen
Oct 28, 2017
14,674
If all of your relationships will crumble once you do not share their religion, they are not worth having.
 
OP
OP
Villa

Villa

Member
Oct 28, 2017
195
Thanks for the replies. I think setting a therapist would probably be the best step to take.

I understand how some posters would view things, but it's not as simple as 'the relationships aren't worth it then'. This is literally my whole life, every person that I love and that loves me. I just wouldn't survive. I also don't have good health, so I need help and support.

As far as the optimistic nihilism view, I've read about it and had previously watched that video, but I just still can't find a way to justify not feeling that life is pointless. Which is why I just don't really know what to believe, I hope that maybe there's a purpose to the universe that we're not aware of or that is beyond our comprehension or something. I know that just because I don't want something to be true, doesn't mean that it isn't. But I'm just confused really
 

Jon Carter

Member
Oct 27, 2017
4,017
I will say that being an atheist isn't so bad. I express it as a sort of optimistic nihilism. Just because there is no greater meaning to life doesn't mean you can't forge your own happiness.
I would add to that that not being religious doesn't necessarily mean thinking there is no possibility that our life has greater meaning in some other way. I'm not religious because I reject obvious bullshit, but there are more than enough ways life can have greater meaning while not conflicting with science and history.
 

saenima

Banned
Oct 25, 2017
11,776
Life is not pointless without religion. On the contrary. Once you realize you are nothing but a collection of matter that will disperse when you die, everything in the now will matter that much more. Because it's all there is. You'll stop pining for some fantasy afterlife dreamed up by some ignorant folk millenia ago and start truly appreciating our current place in the universe.
 

lt519

Member
Oct 25, 2017
4,087
Thanks for the replies. I think setting a therapist would probably be the best step to take.

I understand how some posters would view things, but it's not as simple as 'the relationships aren't worth it then'. This is literally my whole life, every person that I love and that loves me. I just wouldn't survive. I also don't have good health, so I need help and support.

As far as the optimistic nihilism view, I've read about it and had previously watched that video, but I just still can't find a way to justify not feeling that life is pointless. Which is why I just don't really know what to believe, I hope that maybe there's a purpose to the universe that we're not aware of or that is beyond our comprehension or something. I know that just because I don't want something to be true, doesn't mean that it isn't. But I'm just confused really
I've never been religious but had a book recommended to me once called God's Mechanic that I ended up reading. It's a book written by an Astronomer within the Vatican that explains, that despite being very rooted in scientific methodology, he still practices in faith and gives some examples why despite the most religious doctrines being proven scientifically inaccurate there is still reason to participate in religion from both a community and faith perspective.

Some things I agreed with, some I didn't, but I found it an interesting read. Might be of interest to you and help put at ease that hard religious doctrines being wrong still don't disqualify religion as a whole.
 

Bear Patrol

Member
Oct 27, 2017
215
Sounds like Jehovah’s Witness or Mormonism.

Therapist would definitely be the way to go, to start.

I’ve had to go through a version of this and I wish I could say it was easy to make the break but it was not. The good news is that it gets easier with time but it will take time.

It seems like you come to a the point where you realize that you are living a lie. What you choose to do from here is up to you but there are no easy roads. The relationships you have fostered to this point are based on the common ground of the religion in question and, if people are going to cut you off for not being part of it anymore, that is a choice you will have to respect.

When this was me, what helped was the realization that the love I felt was not, in fact, unconditional. If someone who professed to love me chose to rescind their love, their presence in my life the contribution to a community around me, etc., due to a difference in opinion about religion, that wasn’t true love and acceptance. It was still hard but that helped me realize that I was now free to find and explore the meaning of that sort of true love. I have a wife now who loves me unconditionally and would help and support me through anything (barring me doing something illegal or unethical, of course). I have friends who would (and have) travelled across country to hang out with me when I’m down, help me out or just be there for me. If I choose to take up religion or bring it into my life again, they won’t abandon me (unless I try to impose my beliefs on them)

You will find a community again if you do make a break from your current religious life, this I can promise you. It is hard to picture this where you’re at because you don’t know what a community can look like without the common foundation of your religion but it can and does exist. You’ll have to figure out other areas of common ground with other people and that will require you to practice but it’s totally doable.
 

SolVanderlyn

Member
Oct 28, 2017
9,066
Earth, 21st Century
As a religious man, I think you have to find the path to God that best suits you.

Ultimately, only you can decide where you want to be. Your family can't force you to do anything.
 

Chasex

Member
Oct 29, 2017
876
I'm going to give a different take on this.

I completely disagree with the posters saying that if they won't support you leaving the religion they are not worth having in your life. That their love for you is "conditional" and therefore not worthwhile. I don't see it as conditional because they will sincerely believe in their hearts that cutting you off is for the best, both for you and for them. They love you... but will feel they have no choice. See, religion is an insidious thing that preys on a particular part of the mind which is easily compartmentalized and full of contradictions. They will think it's not personal. They can both love you... and cut you off at the same time, yet not understand the issue. It's literally brainwashing, and it's almost not their fault at that point.

Personally, I find religion utterly repulsive. I went to bible camps and the whole thing from a very young age, but I never believed, even for a second. I was bullied relentlessly and led to believe there was something wrong with me. Clearly everyone around me was feeling something and I could not understand it. I thought I was faulty, broken, stupid, worthless, everything. Again, awful experience all around. Yet, after all that, I still pretend to believe around my grandparents, and I spend my time and energy to attend church with them. I'm not sure if they would "cut me off" per say, but I value our relationship and understand they come from a different time period with different values and perspectives.

Hopefully this made some sense. I'm having a hard time explaining it properly atm.
 

oreomunsta

The Fallen
Oct 25, 2017
2,371
Oh dear... this sounds like the Jehova's witnesses... that's a tough one OP

I wish you luck. Maybe talk to your wife first? I know someone who is from a witness family, and she doesn't want to practice that anymore, so basically lies to her family while brushing off any doubts thanks to her husband who was never part of the religion
 

Jag

Member
Oct 26, 2017
4,645
Sounds horrible. I hate what religion does to people. I don't have advice, but hope you can navigate your way through this. You have alot of people who feel the same. You are NOT alone in this.
 

Subpar Scrub

Member
Oct 25, 2017
3,296
That religion sounds super fucked and controlling, you should be glad that you broke away from the cult that’s demanding a separation of contact and instituting emotional abuse to retain its members.

Free yourself from the shackles of that “religion” and know that your life can be as interesting, exciting, educating and fulfilling as you make it. You have the power to take your life into your own hands and do whatever you want, away from the restrictions and glory-robbing of some random deity.
 
Oct 25, 2017
7,751
It's going to be difficult but if you don't believe anymore then just get out of that situation, anyone that actually loves you will not drop you and anyone that drops you wasn't worth your time.

Just make sure you can deal with being alone for a while and be economically ready.

Thanks for the replies. I think setting a therapist would probably be the best step to take.

I understand how some posters would view things, but it's not as simple as 'the relationships aren't worth it then'. This is literally my whole life, every person that I love and that loves me. I just wouldn't survive. I also don't have good health, so I need help and support.

As far as the optimistic nihilism view, I've read about it and had previously watched that video, but I just still can't find a way to justify not feeling that life is pointless. Which is why I just don't really know what to believe, I hope that maybe there's a purpose to the universe that we're not aware of or that is beyond our comprehension or something. I know that just because I don't want something to be true, doesn't mean that it isn't. But I'm just confused really
There is no purpose, you make one for yourself and that's it. At least you know that just because you want for there to be something it's not true so you're almost there.

The Health part makes this complicated, I wish you a lot of luck.
 

Terraforce

The Fallen
Oct 27, 2017
9,984
Sounds horrible. I hate what religion does to people. I don't have advice, but hope you can navigate your way through this. You have alot of people who feel the same. You are NOT alone in this.
Let’s not act as if this is a black or white topic. If it always led to negative connotations, religion wouldn’t be remotely as prevalent as it is. Religion just means different things to different people, and not every religion is the same so there’s no room for such blanketed remarks. Especially when many would believe religion saved them. There’s no objective right or wrong about it.


Anyway, the main takeaway OP needs is that you shouldn’t force it. It’ll takes some real self reflection to come to a conclusion, but forcing it upon yourself because of your family or merely using it as an emotional crutch shouldn’t be how you should go about this. Opening up and talking to someone irl sounds like the best option for you right now.
 

Nothing Loud

Member
Oct 25, 2017
3,922
I'm not an expert on religion, but that sounds like pretty abusive doctrine. Like the sort of thing that "churches" such as Scientology practice.
common for Christian Evangelical/Baptist and Mormon and Jehovah’s Witness churches. It’s basically inhumane. My JW friend left his religion for his gay boyfriend and his family disowned him and he has never seen or heard from his friends or family since.
 
OP
OP
Villa

Villa

Member
Oct 28, 2017
195
I'm going to give a different take on this.

I completely disagree with the posters saying that if they won't support you leaving the religion they are not worth having in your life. That their love for you is "conditional" and therefore not worthwhile. I don't see it as conditional because they will sincerely believe in their hearts that cutting you off is for the best, both for you and for them. They love you... but will feel they have no choice. See, religion is an insidious thing that preys on a particular part of the mind which is easily compartmentalized and full of contradictions. They will think it's not personal. They can both love you... and cut you off at the same time, yet not understand the issue. It's literally brainwashing, and it's almost not their fault at that point.

Personally, I find religion utterly repulsive. I went to bible camps and the whole thing from a very young age, but I never believed, even for a second. I was bullied relentlessly and led to believe there was something wrong with me. Clearly everyone around me was feeling something and I could not understand it. I thought I was faulty, broken, stupid, worthless, everything. Again, awful experience all around. Yet, after all that, I still pretend to believe around my grandparents, and I spend my time and energy to attend church with them. I'm not sure if they would "cut me off" per say, but I value our relationship and understand they come from a different time period with different values and perspectives.

Hopefully this made some sense. I'm having a hard time explaining it properly atm.
Thank you, it does make sense. That is more accurate to how I would explain it, my family do unconditionally love me, and would continue loving me, but they would truly believe that cutting me off would be for my own good, as crazy as that sounds. They would find it as difficult as I would, it's not a question of whether they love me enough. I was brought up being taught to believe in it, just as my parents were brought up to believe in it. And I don't know, if circumstances in my life had been different, I may never had questioned anything and continued believing in it. As mentioned above, things are rarely black and white.

I do really appreciate the supportive replies. Helps to get perspective from others, and to remember that others have experienced the same thing. I've never done anything like it before, but I'll try to arrange a chat with a therapist.
 

LookAtMeGo

Member
Oct 25, 2017
5,764
a parallel universe
I grew up as a Jehovahs Witness. When I left I lost everyone I had ever cared about. Sometimes I wish I never questioned my faith because not having the support I had my whole life fuckin destroyed me. Dealing with the realization that everything you believed and all the hopes you had are gone is not easy. Being abandoned by those you care about the most is more than difficult. I know they do it because they truly believe in their hearts it's the right thing to do. It's the most fucked up thing. I tried the whole double life for a while but that didnt work. I could lie to everyone else but I couldn't lie to myself anymore.

I will say that eventually they came around to a certain degree. My family will at least talk to me but mostly is just them trying to get me to come back.

Maybe it's just how my brain is wired, I'm inclined to have a more spiritual side to me. I've found it comforting exploring different faiths and belief systems and forming my own ideas. Maintaining some kind of "connection" with some kind of higher power has been good for me. Its helped to fill a gaping hole in my psyche that was left from the departure of my beliefs. But that's me.

Best of luck OP. I understand how fucked up it can be to be in that position.
 

Grayson

Member
Aug 21, 2019
1,242
Please if you’re JW run far and run long away from it while you have these thoughts. They destroy lives, my best friends included.
If I had my way they’d be up on charges and disbanded for the abject harm they cause.
 

Yataran

Member
Jul 17, 2018
220
Copenhagen, DK
So I was brought up in a very religious family. It's all I've ever known, and every one of my friends and family members (including my wife) are also part of the religion....
I'm really sorry about what you're going through. I have personally been in a similar situation, and it's never easy. A difference in my case is that the very fringey, fundamentalistic religion I grew up in would not officially encourage the shunning of people who abandoned the beliefs, but it was nonetheless a very real possibility that I feared. It could definitely happen if your family was "hardcore" enough. Fortunately it wasn't my case when I left years ago, but I have read of other cases where it did happen... In any case, nowadays I have very little to no contact with the people from the church besides my family.

Have you found a "former-whatever" online group where you can discuss things anonymously with other people who have left your religious background? That helped me, especially while I was figuring things out and making up my own ideas. It's good to hear from people who come from the same background and can fully understand the peculiarities of your religion. You may be surprised to find that a lot more people than you think may be in a similar situation.

Also, realise that you are not forced to be atheist if you decide to move on from your religion. Or anything else in particular. You can be whatever you decide to be, and you should do the change at a speed that suits you and your circumstances. There's no fixed set of rules about how to leave a religion. For example, I would consider myself agnostic nowadays, but I did not go straight into this from fundamentalistic beliefs. First I moved into a more mainstream church because I still believed in God back then, but I had rejected all the "exclusive" aspects of my former group (e.g. We are the only true church, all other churches are polluted by Satan, blah blah... Pretty cultic). I stayed there for a while and I was happy enough until the questioning and doubts started happening again. But as I had already gone through a transition before, this time it was somewhat "easier" as I knew that I had to be honest with myself one way or another. But it was still difficult, because this time I could feel that I was moving into not believing.

I was bullied relentlessly and led to believe there was something wrong with me. Clearly everyone around me was feeling something and I could not understand it. I thought I was faulty, broken, stupid, worthless, everything. Again, awful experience all around...
Similar situation here. While I did believe strongly as a kid, I was also a very questioning person from the beginning. It wasn't enough to believe just because "it is written" or some other reason like that... Later in life, for a while I struggled with feelings that something had to be wrong with me or with the way I practised the faith because I didn't have what other people were obviously experiencing (Note: It was my perception that the others had that whatever). I tried to sustain my faith with whatever approach I could come up with, but it was untenable and eventually it just came crashing down.
 
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The BLJ

Banned
Feb 2, 2019
332
France
I'm religious, so I'm not going to be of much help with your concerns. However...

But the thing is, with this religion, if you decide to leave (or if they kick you out) you're cut off from everyone. Zero contact until you decide to return (I believe there's an exception for a wife/husband though, but there's still certain rules for them I think).
Any religion that has specific rules of shunning and ostracism qualifies as a cult, you know. I think that you being in a cult is far more worrying than whatever it is you do or do not believe. Because in religions that don't qualify as a cult, you might be shunned by your local community for becoming an infidel but that comes with many instances of someone leaving a closely knit together society, it even happens when somebody leaves a club or a political party. However, cults have devised specific rules of shunning, designed to be psychologically oppressive and force you to either live in misery or come back to their society. It essentially forces you to keep playing into the cult's game even if you want out.

I think I've heard of a couple of anti-cult organizations that both document cults and help people leave them. If what you're saying isn't an exaggeration, I strongly suggest trying to get in touch with one such anti-cult group.
 

diakyu

Member
Dec 15, 2018
4,525
When I see people say "nothing matters" what they mean is "nothing matters in the grand scheme of the universe", luckily we can't comprehend the grand scheme of the universe. Luckily the grand scheme of the universe also has nothing at all to do with you. These things only seem massive to you because you allow it to seem like a daunting presence. The miracle of human existence is the ability to see meaning and depth in things that otherwise are devoid all meaning and depth.

Meaning in particular is something so nonsensical and abstract that it's all completely made up. Meaning to you is not meaning to me. I can prop something up to have astronomical meaning yet you can also say that it means nothing simply because you believe or think it doesn't. Meaning can be attributed to a lot of things but to many it shares a similar definition to "purpose". Like with "meaning" though, "purpose" changes from person to person. "Purpose" is just as nonsensical and abstract as "meaning".

You seem to be in a rough spot where if you leave you find yourself without a meaning or purpose. But accepting that there is no meaning or purpose means that you get to do what makes humans such special creatures. You get to make that meaning and purpose yourself. You get to look at things, people, places and see meaning and purpose in them that no one else sees. That should be special to you. You shouldn't fret about the small things like how it seems to the universe, because screw the universe it doesn't matter to you. What matters to you are things that you think matter, and your purpose should be the pursuit of what is meaningful to you OP. But always remember that meaning of life is always what you want out of it. There are no questions, only distractions.

plot twist I'm a Christian but I definitely feel for you situation, especially about the ostracizing. Do you care to be clear about what you belong to or is that being too nosey?
 

Jasup

Member
Oct 25, 2017
755
Yurop
As far as the optimistic nihilism view, I've read about it and had previously watched that video, but I just still can't find a way to justify not feeling that life is pointless. Which is why I just don't really know what to believe, I hope that maybe there's a purpose to the universe that we're not aware of or that is beyond our comprehension or something. I know that just because I don't want something to be true, doesn't mean that it isn't. But I'm just confused really
Hey, if it's ok I'll try to give some of my thoughts on this matter. I feel that I can't comment on the relationship aspects of leaving religion as I've never had any experience from it, I was raised without religion.

The meaning of life is a thing that's posed as one of the deep questions. Even if you're not a believer in any religion, this question will reach you at some point. Personally I remember thinking about it a lot as a child when I saw Monty Python's The Meaning of Life, but of course we are exposed to the society around us and the question is asked especially from religious circles. However, when the question is asked it seems that it's usually asked with a specific answer in mind, and that answer depends on the person asking.

Correct me if I'm wrong here. In many religious world views the point of life or existence is that a deity created us (sometimes to do something specific) and usually that's the end of discussion. But you can go deeper by asking why did this deity create us? Does the deity have a need for our existence? If your purpose is to serve god, why does god need your service? How ever I personally look at this, the end result for me is that if a deity can exist without us, our creation is arbitrary to them. Is it really that removed from pointless life?

Now, as a non-believer, for me life is not pointless. However the meaning for our existence doesn't come from any outside authority. For me life is the point. The question of what the meaning of life is doesn't exist, there's only the notion that life is. That I, you and all of us are alive at this moment is rather marvelous in itself, I think.
 

Nicktals

Member
Oct 27, 2017
3,545
Hi Era,

I need to get something out there, I don't really know if it will help, but I haven't been able to talk to anybody about this and feel like maybe outside perspectives could help (could be badly mistaken here lol).

So I was brought up in a very religious family. It's all I've ever known, and every one of my friends and family members (including my wife) are also part of the religion. But lately I've really been struggling with something. I had doubts ever since I was in my early teens, but just tried to ignore it and pretend those doubts didn't exist and weren't important, probably because I was scared of challenging my world view, but also scared of how it would affect my friends and family. I love my family, I really do, they treat me incredibly well, I had a very loving upbringing, they've always been super supportive of me and have done their best to help me through difficult times. But the thing is, with this religion, if you decide to leave (or if they kick you out) you're cut off from everyone. Zero contact until you decide to return (I believe there's an exception for a wife/husband though, but there's still certain rules for them I think). Even if you tell them that you just don't believe it anymore, that's not really accepted, because everyone thinks it is absolutely 100% the true religion and if you say otherwise, after being a part of the religion, you must be lying and have some ulterior motive/other reason for leaving. (I'm not sure if they officially kick you out for not believing until you 'do something wrong' or properly resign though) I know that must sound crazy and cruel to many here, but unless you've experienced a very strong religious culture, I think it would be very hard to understand. They really truly believe that it's the right thing to do, both for themselves and for the other person, even if it's very difficult.

So over the years my doubts about my faith just grew and grew, and I noticed hole after hole, things that just didn't make sense to me. So nowadays I don't really know what I believe. On one hand, the religious ideas I've been exposed to don't really make sense to me, but on the other hand, I find the atheistic/purely scientific view of the world makes me feel super empty and depressed, that my life, everyone else's life and the whole world really, is completely pointless and arbitrary. And this has resulted in, for the past year I've been finding it really difficult trying to hide this from my wife, my friends & family. I've just been going along with the religious way of life that I've lived my whole life (it requires quite a bit of time and effort devoted to it), pretending to everyone that everything is normal, I'm still a true believer, etc. And unless I want to risk losing every single relationship in my life, I don't really feel like I have a choice other than to keep on pretending. I've really been struggling with this though, since 1) kinda living a lie 2) spending a significant amount of time and energy on something I don't believe in anymore, and 3) even just having my own personal struggle with what I believe, and what the point of my life is.

I just really don't see any way out of my situation, and probably having a confidential talk with a psychologist would be better than a post on a forum. But I have some time alone, and just want to get some outside perspectives.
Why is a consequence-less, god-less universe scarier to you than a universe where a large percentage of all souls or humans suffer for eternity? (Assuming, but most religions that excommunicate probably also have a hell)

It's weird how empathy is usually taught in religion while being ignored in a greater context.

Let me just say it took me a long time not to be ashamed of those thoughts. What you're considering is a very courageous, hard thing to do. And I always figured, no one armed with the truth would resort to bully tactics like excommunication.

EDIT: Also, why would god create an animal who a.) was the only one aware of their own mortality and b.) had far and away the greatest critical thinking/logic and problem solving skills and then punish that animal's soul for all eternity if they pointed those critical thinking skills inward to look at their mortality and religion. Never seemed like such an intelligent design to me.
 
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Lua

Member
Aug 9, 2018
1,117
I can't see those dogmas you described as anything but abusive and wrong. The same way some religion treat woman has to be criticized regardless of tradition, stopping people from talking to who they like because they don't believe the same thing is just absurd, doesn't matter the explanation.

I do understand its not as simple to you, because its literally your whole life and everything you hold dear constructed around those beliefs, but i could never live on like this. If there's someone who you know would keep a secret and you could talk about this would help more i think,
 

Thuddert

Member
Oct 25, 2017
4,243
Netherlands
Everyone has their doubts. If you can't practice it while having these doubts, then it's no longer a healthy part of your life.

Talk to your wife, your closest friends and family. The way they respond will tell you if you're on the right path.

The most important part is that you have to decide for yourself.
 

Abylim

Member
Oct 29, 2017
2,469
Australia
Raised as a Jehovah’s Witness here, ended up leaving on my own when i was 15.

was a very hard decision, and everyone i knew shunned me, family included. Moved to Australia (was from canada) and have been very happy.

My dad started talking to me, and recently he’s been pushing the jw stuff. Ive even found some older people i used to know, and when i contact them, they just want to convert me. It’s a depressing feeling, thinking they just want to convert me.

At the end of the day, there were too many inconsistencies in what they taught, and asking questions just pisses people off.

I hope it gets better for you, its not a great experience going through with it, but i have a family of my own now, and I’m happy.
 

Mehdren

Member
Oct 27, 2017
202
Scotland
I feel bad for you OP because I know you can't put the cat back in the bag and it must be eating you up inside having to lie to yourself and others.

I don't have any meaningful advice because you're in a really tough situation where only you can really decide the outcome, but I hope things work out for the best.
 

Jiminy

Avenger
Mar 29, 2018
4,249
Raised as a Jehovah’s Witness here, ended up leaving on my own when i was 15.

was a very hard decision, and everyone i knew shunned me, family included. Moved to Australia (was from canada) and have been very happy.

My dad started talking to me, and recently he’s been pushing the jw stuff. Ive even found some older people i used to know, and when i contact them, they just want to convert me. It’s a depressing feeling, thinking they just want to convert me.

At the end of the day, there were too many inconsistencies in what they taught, and asking questions just pisses people off.

I hope it gets better for you, its not a great experience going through with it, but i have a family of my own now, and I’m happy.
One of my best friends and their siblings left the JW fold in the last few years.

Luckily they still see their family and everything is very polite and amicable. But yeah the undercurrent of "what are you doing, come back to us", often with sincere concern in it, never seems to end.
 

Heynongman!

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,149
Definitely sounds like a cult unfortunately. The sooner you can remove yourself from that situation, the better you will be. I believe there are help groups for people in your exact situation. I'm sure if you google "leaving X" you'll find a support board specific to your situation.

If you don't mind me asking, which organization is this? I'm assuming it's a form of Christianity and not Scientology given all the talk about faith. I know there are a lot of small Christian cults in the Midwest US, and they can be real nasty to folks that want to leave. Mormonism and JW can also be really harsh. Then again you could be in another country, but it's rare to find a country as accepting of cults as the US
 

Travo

Member
Oct 27, 2017
3,240
I don’t have any advice for you, OP. I just want you to know I have similar feelings and haven’t had the strength to confront them yet.