Apparently, I need to clarify myself »« But I guess he doesn’t love me enough to spell my name correctly

Why I am a happy atheist

One reason is that we’re winning. Christian web sites are full of articles complaining about how young people are leaving the church; Ken Ham even wrote a whole book about it. Here’s an example of the genre from someone called Marc5Solas.

The statistics are jaw-droppingly horrific: 70% of youth stop attending church when they graduate from High School. Nearly a decade later, about half return to church.

Half.

Let that sink in.

There’s no easy way to say this: The American Evangelical church has lost, is losing, and will almost certainly continue to lose OUR YOUTH.

I let it sink in, and for some reason I just can’t stop grinning — a nice wicked devilish grin. Yes, yes, yes, the church is increasingly archaic, and it even helps when people make lists of everything that is wrong with the church, because they aren’t seeing beyond the problems. It’s lovely. Just keep hemmoraging, godly institutions, I’m happy to stand back and watch you bleed out…although I wish you’d stop thrashing about, you’re doing some damage in your death throes.

10. The Church is “Relevant”:

He’s actually complaining that the church tries hard to adapt to modern culture — it’s a typical conservative view that the old ways were better. It ignores the fact that religion always changes: the 19th century Catholic and Baptist religions were different than the 20th. But that wouldn’t fit with their pretense of holding eternal truths.

But hey, churchies, please do insist on locking yourselves into antique dogmas. I’m all for it!

9. They never attended church to begin with:

This one is related to #10. All them newfangled singalongs and pizza parties and hep cat stuff are distracting — make the kids sit and listen to a sermon for two hours, that’ll root ‘em in the church.

8. They get smart:

My favorite! It’s those atheists who treat kids as intelligent questioning people that suck them in. Yay us! I mean, damn us. How dare we.

7. You sent them out unarmed:

To counter those atheists, the church has to get back to theological basics. Yeah, right. One problem there: that’s exactly what drove me away from the church, was learning what kind of bullshit I was expected to believe.

6. You gave them hand-me-downs

We’re back to the old-time religion whine. Kids are told to express their feelings, but those are lousy evangelical tools. Teach them the traditional stuff.

Please. Please do.

5. Community

Another complaint about the fuzzy wuzzy touchy feely modern church. Jeez, this guy really hates anything that deviates from his specific version of the faith.

4. They found better feelings:

More complaints about subjective faith over the virtues of dogma. I think he’s really padding his list of 10…so far it’s really about 2.

3. They got tired of pretending:

Christ, I’m so bored. It’s more of the same.

2. They know the truth:

More. Of. The. Same. Jebus. Now he’s complaining that kids taught this “god is love” stuff don’t have a proper appreciation of the fact that ‘god is law.’

1. They don’t need it:

Has he ever considered that maybe kids leave the church because the yahoos running it are boring as fuck? Yet again he’s complaining that an alternative liberal church let’s people find their way out of the rigid trap he thinks they ought to build.

Now you see why we atheists should be happy. Not only are young people abandoning that stupid mess of nonsense called church, but the priests are crankily sawing off the branch they’re standing on. May the whole rotten mess collapse soon.

Comments

  1. tbp1 says

    “Has he ever considered that maybe kids leave the church because the yahoos running it are boring as fuck?”

    Indeed. Not exactly the same thing, but I actually read the Bible when I was a teenager. I won’t pretend I studied it in depth, or didn’t skip over some of the “begats,” but basically I plowed through it all. Honestly, while there are a few nicely written bits, most of it is unreadable to anyone with a normal threshold of boredom. I’d rather read Proust in Finnish than go through it again. I kept thinking, “How is it that the perfect, omniscient, omnipotent creator of the universe can’t make his definitive book of history, laws and morals the slightest bit interesting?” It just didn’t seem credible: surely the book of such a being would be a joy, or at least a pleasure, to read. That was actually a pretty big step in my deconversion.

  2. hexidecima says

    #10 is always a good one to see trotted out. Teach religion, but well, don’t teach that *silly* stuff our grandparents believed. Religion always changes, just like creationism, whose modern adherents would scandalize their more ignorant brethren, with their acceptance of the bits of reality they’ve finally couldn’t deny any longer. Religion is anything but a compilation of truths; it’s just opinion piled on top of “interpretation” where a god must mumble badly to prior generations if one is to believe the current one.

  3. Gregory Greenwood says

    Now you see why we atheists should be happy. Not only are young people abandoning that stupid mess of nonsense called church, but the priests are crankily sawing off the branch they’re standing on. May the whole rotten mess collapse soon.

    The sooner the better – I just hope that it will be possible to keep the number of lives ruined or completely destroyed by the bible bashers and their toxic death cults to a minimum until this particular theological house of cards finally topples over.

    They say few things are more dangerous than a wounded and/or cornered animal. The fact that so many of these clerical parasites realise that time may soon be called on their gravy train could easily lead them to play a desperate hand in a bid to hang on to their unearned privilege. Things like the Tea Party may well be early expressions of that type of pushback.

  4. says

    This is the same line taken by all those CPAC whackjobs who think that the Republican party isn’t extreme enough: “If only we told them how we really feel about rape, takers, and those illegal brown people, we’d win!”

  5. chrish says

    “Our kids leave because we have failed to deliver to them the faith “delivered once for all” to the church.”

    This has got to be the creepiest thing I’ve ever heard a christian say. Sounds like they’re delivering them to a cult for sacrifice.

  6. Millicent says

    @Tbp1

    I actually read the Bible when I was a teenager. I won’t pretend I studied it in depth, or didn’t skip over some of the “begats,” but basically I plowed through it all. Honestly, while there are a few nicely written bits, most of it is unreadable to anyone with a normal threshold of boredom.

    When he was 12, my son was given a New Testament by a classmate of his who was trying to convert the ungodly, or whatev. I told him I thought he should try to read it, to see what he thought. His reaction to it, after trying for many pages, was, “This is so boring and stupid.” Not having been previously indoctrinated helps, of course. But the most interesting thing about the whole experience (y’all know what’s coming) is that when my son tried to engage his classmate about the material, it turned out that his classmate…hadn’t read it! Of course.

  7. kemist, Dark Lord of the Sith says

    They’ve never sat on a pew between a set of new parents with a fussy baby and a senior citizen on an oxygen tank. They don’t see the full timeline of the gospel for every season of life.

    I did.

    The minute I wasn’t required to attend church, that is a few years before I started thinking all this Jeebus crap was pure unadulterated bullshit, I did not go back, except as for politeness’ sake for events like weddings and burials.

    I really, really hate being bored and even the threat of hell would have a hard time convincing me to return there. I hated it even more as a teenager, probably because high school had already bored the pants off me by the end of the week, and I couldn’t see why I should have to ruin a perfectly good week end with more boredom with an extra helping of guilt.

    Out of three siblings, me and my brother are avowed atheists, and my sister is an apatheist who has never gone back to church since her marriage, and never bothered to have any of her three her kids baptized. And after discussing with my dad I have come to the conclusion that he is at the very least an agnostic who doesn’t see why he should waste his sunday mornings listening to the dronings of a reality-disconnected, pedophile-enabler male virgin when he could spend it riding his ATV after a week of hard work.

    That’s 100% leaving and 0% coming back – plus one parent successfully deconverted, in no small part because church is:

    a) So boring that people who can choose not be there never go
    b) Disconnected from the real world

    So I say keep up the good work, conservatives.

  8. petermountain says

    Has he ever considered that maybe kids leave the church because the yahoos running it are boring as fuck?

    What possibly can be boring about receiving forgiveness of sins and eternal life??

    8. They get smart.

    I rarely meet anyone more addicted to trolling fundagelical blogs than myself and yet … ok, this is so basic. Although I am starting to see some push back on sending one’s children to college (where they become liberal, atheist, then gay) I’ve not yet seen any rejection of the internet. And it’s the internet where I think kids wise up concerning religion. You simply cannot indoctrinate effectively when every 12 year old has access to the world.

  9. carlie says

    I can say from experience that even out of those half who return later, once they get back they often get a big hit of culture shock: all of the absurdities are much easier to see once you’ve quit going for a few years and then gone back. I’d bet a good portion of that 50% who return later then leave again for good after a couple of years.

  10. raven says

    3500 — 4000 churches close their doors each year In America
    www. godlikeproductions. com/forum1/message1747707/pg1
    31 posts – 4 authors – 7 Jan 2012
    1- In America, 3500 — 4000 churches close their doors each year. … than blindly following or bowing down to deluded man made polarised fairytales, … A number of churches have also been turned into nightclubs and pubs, …

    Around 4,000 churches shut down each year.

    I just found out that one of my natal sect’s churches shut down.

    It was a great old building from long ago when the churches had money and members. A few decades ago, it had ca. 1500 members. They just got older and smaller and finally didn’t have enough to keep going.

    The number of US xians who leave the religion every year, according to the NCC is 2-3 million.

  11. raven says

    The only church I know first hand these days is my parent’s.

    The average age is probably 60-70. They have a Sunday school. Usually there are no kids for it.

    This is somewhat skewed because they live in an expensive area where people with children can’t afford to live.

    In my area, the churches seem to be holding their own but just barely. At least one has shut down and is now a multi-purpose building for several smaller groups.

  12. yazikus says

    The other morning I was listening to something about the new pope on NPR. They brought on a woman who is some sort of catholic strategist (I forgot her name). She was saying that the reason the church was losing members was because it wasn’t sticking to the orthodox dogma, that only those guidelines create families capable of being big enough to grow the church (ick). The interviewer then mentioned that 66% of american catholics favor progressive things like birth control and women clergy. She responded “That depends on how you define catholic. Are these people who just call themselves catholic?”. I couldn’t believe that she just called the majority of american catholics “not real catholics”. Sorry if this is a derail, I just hate all of that “if we were just stricter and more bigoted, everything would be fixed!” mentality. I’m glad you covered this article. It was being passed around facebook a couple of weeks ago by some of my believing friends.

  13. says

    Now, now. I am not proud to admit this, but when I was in high school, math & science were – dare I say it? – fucking boring. I used to smoke weed before classes in an attempt to make them challenging. Of course in retrospect my boredom had everything to do with the teachers, not the subjects. But it is well worth remembering that there are also rhetorically gifted, incredibly charismatic clergy.

    I guess what I’m saying iz: we should be very careful before we stress “boring” as a litmus test for effective ways to deconvert young people. Sometimes the truth is… well, boring.

  14. raven says

    I just hate all of that “if we were just stricter and more bigoted, everything would be fixed!” mentality.

    I don’t see why.

    The churches are shaking themselves apart. The leaders of the xian churches produce more atheists in a day than Dawkins and Myers do in a year.

    I’ve seen the same thing. About all they can think of to do to halt the decline is double down on the crazy. Because being crazy and boring is already working so well.

    With present trends the US xians will just get dumber, crazier, more repulsive, and…smaller. One day they will be like the Amish. Weird people in out of the way places that the rest of us consider quaint.

  15. says

    My high school physics and biology classes were also deeply boring, but not because of the content…but because they were very badly taught.

    My physics ‘teacher’ (I use the word very loosely) announced on the first day that the entire class was self-taught, pointed us at a test bank, and told us that all we had to do was come up, ask to take the unit test whenever we wanted, and our grade would be determined by how far into the test bank we got. And then he babysat the class for the whole term.

    I’d go up and take a short multiple choice quiz once a week — which was enough to get an A — and spent the entire semester playing Hearts in class with my buddies.

    I didn’t smoke weed, but it would probably have been just as productive.

  16. raven says

    She was saying that the reason the church was losing members was because it wasn’t sticking to the orthodox dogma, that only those guidelines create families capable of being big enough to grow the church (ick).

    LOL.

    They have to reproduce because they can’t recruit any more.

    This “let’s outbreed those others” strategy rarely works. Most people have better things to do with their lives than be baby factories for dysfunctional and failing religions.

    Despite frequent calls from the Catholic priests to crank up those baby factories and reproduce more Catholics dammit, the average Catholic family size in the USA is 2+ and identical to the national average.

  17. yazikus says

    @raven: I see your point about how really it is good that they are saying out loud all of the awful things they think rather than sugar coating it to lure people in. It was super icky with the whole outbreeding aspect. I know I have better things to do with my life than be a “baby factory for dysfunctional and failing religions”. Hah.

  18. zibble says

    @13 irisvanderpluym

    I am not proud to admit this, but when I was in high school, math & science were – dare I say it? – fucking boring.

    I think they’re boring for the same reason church is boring – it just has absolutely nothing to do with you or the things relevant to your life.

    With religion, this is because some virginal luddite who’s never had a real job or a real life is talking down to you, saying you should care about his opinions more than your own life just because he says so (because he says God says so). With math and science (and education in general), I think this is the fault of how it’s presented. Similar to preachers, an awful lot of teachers think that education is BEST when it’s miserable, and even good teachers have to deal with the fact that they’re only step 40 of the production line of our learning factories run as prisons.

  19. Azuma Hazuki says

    He forgot two important ones:

    – 1) More and more people can learn about early and not-so-early church history. Like, say, the Inquisition. Now, yes, saying “X religion did Y bad thing, therefore X religion is false” is a fallacy, but it sure as shit makes people think…

    – 2) There’s enough exposure to science now that most people look at the cosmology in Christianity and go “but that’s wrong.” Of course, they’ll be told it’s metaphorical, and most people accept that, but a few are inevitably going to go “Well, what else is metaphorical? And what else is straight-up wrong?”

    I also agree with PZ that the worst thing they can do to themselves is to continue pushing the hardline dogma. And they will. And I hope dearly that they do. I would especially like to see a desperate, cornered-coyote effort to push the hardcore Calvinist interpretations.

  20. lpetrich says

    Trolling fundagelical blogs? petermountain, how long do you usually last in such places?

    One thing to be careful of: it may well be that articles like the OP’s are rhetoric intended to rally the faithful. However, various surveys identify a decline in US religion: ARIS, Pew, Gallup. They also find that it’s younger people who are the least religious, and that a generation’s level of religiosity is approximately constant. So what those people are complaining about seems to be real.

  21. Christopher Denney says

    I was more or less asked to stop going to church when I was about ten, when I was asked by my mom to not say anything to the younger kids (I have 3 little brothers) about Santa not being real. After listening to the explanations of why the lightbulb went off and I turned to the pastor who was standing nearby and said something like “So god is like Santa for grownups” I did not attend church after that. (which my brothers thought unfair)

  22. petermountain says

    @20 Ipetrich

    As long as I can unfortunately. I’m mezmerized by the stuff; It’s like I can’t look away.

  23. anuran says

    Is this the same Pharyngula which was wringing its hands over the sad fact that atheism as a movement is mostly the province of WEIRD men?

    The Church may not be serving the needs of educated American and European Caucasians with penes.
    It is most assuredly doing better in Africa, South and Central America and the Philippines.
    It’s providing a vital social function in Black and Latino America, Russia and Basque country.

    There are plenty of challenges to Islam in the parts of the world where it is the dominant religion. But the Faith is an integral part of life in these places – socially, politically, economically and judicially and in social services in places where governments are ineffective.

    There are plenty of secular Indians. Hinduism is not fading away. If anything its ties to nationalism have given it a boost.

    I believe we’re seeing an extinction burst for some expressions of the religious impulse. This has happened before. Hieratic city-states are thin on the ground these days; Marduk isn’t getting many sacrifices. Maybe the Cult of the Blood Drinkers is on its way out, too although I think reports of its demise worldwide are somewhat exaggerated.

    Religion is still with us from Vaisnavas to Scientologists, Randroids and worshipers of the Kim family in Best Korea. Its forms and beliefs are changing with social conditions. That doesn’t mean the religious impulse in one form or another is being eradicated.

  24. zibble says

    @23 anuran

    The Church may not be serving the needs of educated American and European Caucasians with penes.
    It is most assuredly doing better in Africa, South and Central America and the Philippines.
    It’s providing a vital social function in Black and Latino America, Russia and Basque country.

    The “function” it provides is hope for the desperate. I contest the word “vital”.

    You may have a point that we’re on the eve of the birth of a new breed of religion that better targets the shifting demographics (which is sort of, I think, what happened with Christianity, a shift from tribal, ethnic traditions to international organizations). At the moment, though, I don’t see what it could be – Objectivism doesn’t really appeal to people who aren’t navel gazing social outcasts or psychopathic millionaires, Deepak-style bullshit only appeals to a certain kind of solipsistic wanker. I really think the conditions which allow the formation of a new religion (like the authoritarian meddling of a Roman empire) no longer exist. Modern culture seems too fractured for any of the new spiritualities to gain enough power to self-perpetuate.

    In at least the educated corners of the planet, the conditions in which spirituality festers are being eradicated. I think there’s legitimate reason to think, barring a worldwide catastrophe, that a global humanism may be possible within the 100-300 year future.

  25. kantalope says

    I wonder if some of it is how the religious tied themselves to a failing political party as well. There ought to be a pretty large level of cognitive dissonance for someone trying to reconcile a government based on freedom of religion and a political party that wants to impose religion of everyone and that political parties failure to deliver anything that could possible be considered good.

  26. kantalope says

    oh my spaghetti dinner, I need to proofread when I reorganize a paragraph: ‘impose religion on everyone’ and party’s

    Need to win that powerball jackpot and hire me an editor!

  27. anuran says

    zibble – I may not think it’s vital. You may not think it’s vital. They seem to think it’s a vital part of their lives and communities. I’m not (quite) arrogant enough to believe I know them better than they know themselves.

  28. markr1957 says

    I loved biology and chemistry – had great teachers for those subjects. My physics ‘teacher’ handed out workbooks and went for a smoke, so the entire class was self-taught.

    Religion – not such a good teacher! School chaplain managed to totally muff his opportunity to ‘prove’ the existence of his god after one of my classmates stood up and declared hat he didn’t believe in god, and the chaplain’s response basically came down to “If god doesn’t exist I wasted 7 years at seminary school” – well, DUHHHH!!!

  29. robster says

    A post above talks of good ol’ hell. The churches themselves, the preachers and the rest of the fraudulent showmen have turned their churches into little local hells. The dogma they sell, the bigotry and hate they espouse, the criminal activity, the dodgy pastors and whole nasty unattractive story they sell is what is turning young people away from the churches and religious belief. This is good! Most young people know a gay person or an udulterer or another sinner scorned and realise that people are (on the whole) not evil. What they’re told in church and what they experience outside of it doesn’t in any way match up.

  30. zibble says

    @27 anuran

    “Vital” means “necessary for existence”. Communities and human beings objectively do exist without religion. If “vital” was poor word choice on your part, I understand, but anyone who thinks religion is necessary in their existence is provably mistaken, as humans often are.

    If you’d left it at “they prefer religious communities”, then I think that’s self-evident. I’d simply wish they’d prefer something that would actually improve their lives, like birth control and social equality, which their religious communities often preclude.

  31. atomicgeek says

    I always believed in the hell and damnation parts of my church upbringing but never felt any personal connection to any kind of creative or positive force–what I’d call God if I still leaned that way. By the time I got to adolescence, I was being exposed to actual history of early Christianity–i.e. the notion that scripture was something written and cherry-picked by human beings with human agendas and factional loyalties, independent of any kind of deity. I hadn’t quite gotten to the point of saying “this is all a crock of shit,” but the minute my parents said it was up to me whether I attended church or not, I said peace out. My mother is baffled as to why all of her children are vocal atheists. I’m pretty sure it’s because all three of us actually read the Bible and recoiled, because she still thinks her church has a message of love and morality.

    If this blogger thinks that the solution to apostasy is to go back to ol’ time religion, please please please let more churches pick up on that. Nothing turns kids off Christianity faster than being made to learn the letter of its inscrutable dogmas. I would hope that this holds true across religious faiths.

  32. says

    The science geek in me wants to know the methodology for this study.

    Oh wait. They made it all up.

    It’s the nature of religion–follow my mysterious rules, and something good (or in this case, bad) will surely happen. And if it doesn’t, I’ll be ready with an equally obtuse answer.

  33. unclefrogy says

    I think much could be learned by a comparison of religions belief and education and economic status in the believers and in the society in general and the level of political involvement or voice the people have in their respective countries. What it sounds like is the third world tends to be more religious.
    How does that compare in authoritarian societies .

    Education and democracy and relative security vs ignorance poverty and authoritarianism?

    uncle frogy

  34. davehooke says

    I suppose if you admit the repercussions of the enlightenment into its rightful place in the list of 10 reasons why kids leave churches, and you want to appeal to anyone in the least bit moderate, you are stymied, since you don’t want to pronounce enlightenment thinking as a bad thing.

  35. sirbedevere says

    He missed one of the biggest reasons people are leaving the church: us. The atheists. Oh, perhaps not all of us, but certainly a large percentage of the readers here. Intelligent, rational, reasonable people who are caring, responsible members of society and who are – get this – happy being atheists. And being open about it.

  36. says

    Seeing fewer and fewer young people going to church is, indeed, a good thing. I like to think I’ve had a hand in it, since I work for the largest networking hardware company out there! I think the increased level of communication and exchange of ideas via the Internet has affected this as well as many other things.

    My fear, however, is that while we (the Atheist community) are good at taking religion away from people (by making them think, for a change), we are a lot less good at giving them something with which to replace it. There are two big things which many people get from religion, becoming a member of a community, and feeling an attachment to everything else happening in the world. It’s true that you can still have both of these while being an Atheist (I know, I do), but a person has to do some research on their own, if not just to find a local Atheist group. We need to promote Atheist groups in all towns, in all countries, and the information should be included into all of those “You’re not alone” ads. These groups can easily provide a new set of friends and community for those who have suddenly become ostracized from their previous community, but these groups can also serve another very valuable function. They can serve as a role model for how to live a good Humanist life and teach more about the true nature of the world (how evolution really works, where morals really come from, etc.). This would make for a much easier transition to a “reality based lifestyle”.

  37. FlyingToaster says


    @atomicgeek
    :

    “Nothing turns kids off Christianity faster than being made to learn the letter of its inscrutable dogmas. I would hope that this holds true across religious faiths.”

    I’m the product of a Jewish engineer father and a Presbyterian Sunday School teacher mother. The only member of my family that has anything to do with organized religion since college is my [lame-ass] Republican brother, who moved to Arizona to be with his own kind.
     
    I was made to read the Bible — I later had to read it in college in a different language, which taught me exactly what translation error means — and learn church history (well, all about John Calvin, which served me well in a trip to Geneva). Didn’t manage to convince me or my sisters to believe it.
     
    I walked out of my mom’s church at 16, after being condemned for completing a school assignment about Vladimir Lenin and his statement “Religion is the opiate of the people.” I never had to walk out of my dad’s synagogue; they were ‘way more “Tikkun Olam” than pillar of fire or kashrut mafia folks.
     
    I think if you had religious teenagers read not only the Bible but their own church’s history, you could rid society of fundamentalism in a generation.
     
    FlyingToaster+2

  38. corporal klinger says

    @ raven #10

    Around 4000 churches close down every year? I had no idea. And still, as I read here, there is an abundance of churches everywhere. How many fucking churches are there in the U.S ?

  39. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    after being condemned for completing a school assignment about Vladimir Lenin and his statement “Religion is the opiate of the people.” – Flying Toaster

    So you should have been: that was Karl Marx.

  40. says

    I found that blog post over a month ago, and I’ve been subscribed to the comment thread ever since.

    I’ve considered unsubscribing, but I don’t follow any fundie blogs, so I think it’s important for me to have that little daily reminder in my inbox There’s an occasional sensible comment about how we’re walking away from religion because we don’t believe it any more, but most of the comments are just a big circle-jerk: fawning compliments about how wonderful the article is, and how correct the author is about everything, and about how everybody needs to read the post. It really is like the accident you can’t look away from.

  41. says

    One thing I happily grant the traditional church is the music.
    From Aeterne rerum conditor down (and gradually petering out) to the War Requiem, some of the greatest musical achievements have been inspired by religion.
    ‘Course through the middle ages that’s where the money was, but the music is still great.
    In fact the absolute high point of Western music occurs during a mass: Josquin’s Missa L’homme Armé.
    Now-a-days they’ve mostly gone to the dogs musically speaking.

  42. simonus says

    I just love the fact that in his quote of Epicurus the word “Atheist” is spelled wrong.

  43. thumper1990 says

    @richardelguru

    See when I think of church music I think of dirge-like hymns sung to the depressing drone of an organ. One of the downsides of the C of E, I suppose. The dreary legacy of puritanism.

  44. Rey Fox says

    The statistics are jaw-droppingly horrific

    He’s talking about gun violence, right? Rate of reporting of sexual assault? Child soldiers in Africa?

  45. Rey Fox says

    What’s funny is that he claims that his faith is 2000 years old when all he really wants to do, like everyone who complains about modernity, is to bring it back to the way it was when he was a kid. If he was really interested in getting back to the source, he’d have to erase that damned whippersnapper Martin Luther at least.

  46. kagekiri says

    Oh man, I remember one of my church’s pastors inquiring if I could give some tips on stopping kids from leaving the church when they went to college, because I was a “survivor” of “college indoctrination” who managed to keep his faith through graduation, and they were pretty worried about the massive drop-off of high school kids who deconverted in college.

    The only thing that really came to mind was “ignore or avoid all the counter-evidence or counter-arguments, and make sure to squelch your doubts early”, which I couldn’t quite bring myself to say.

    That church always taught stuff like “Chinese parents who want their kids to become bankers only give the kids real money to play with, because then they’ll know the real deal from any counterfeits” (it was a mostly Asian church, with lots of Chinese Americans like me, so it’s maybe even true).

    But translating that idea: it pretty much assumes you’re correct from the get go and tells you to reject even looking at “fake” stuff, which is just…brainwashing and indoctrination.

    I deconverted a few years later, as counter-evidence, once examined…really knocked a lot of my beliefs down (like creationism or the justice of God). And those doubts inherently destroyed my belief in Biblical infallibility, which had been a cornerstone of the whole edifice.

  47. d.f.manno says

    @corporal klinger (#38):

    Around 4000 churches close down every year? I had no idea. And still, as I read here, there is an abundance of churches everywhere. How many fucking churches are there in the U.S ?

    Of fucking churches I have no data. Of the non-fucking variety, a 2010 survey by the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies counted 344,894 congregations with 150,686,156 adherents in the following denominations: Christian, Jain, Shinto, Sikh, Tao, National Spiritualist Association, Bahá’í, Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Muslims and Zoroastrians.