Young people talk about why they left their faith

In the second part of its series ‘Losing Our Religion’ (I linked to the first part yesterday), NPR convened a group of young people from varying religious family backgrounds to talk about why they were no longer religious. The young people came from families that were Jewish, Muslim, Protestant Christian, Catholic, Seventh Day Adventist, and mixed.

Although the reasons they give will be familiar to readers of this blog, it was actually quite moving to listen to them and the interviewer David Greene is to be commended for letting them speak and not try to dominate the conversation as interviewers are wont to do.

The Muslim Yusuf Ahmad explained that he left his faith because the religious stories just did not make any sense to him:

“Like the story of Abraham — his God tells him to sacrifice his son. Then he takes his son to sacrifice him, and he turns into a goat. I remember growing up, in like fifth [or] sixth grade I’d hear these stories and be like, ‘That’s crazy! Why would this guy do this? Just because he heard a voice in his head, he went to sacrifice his son and it turned into a goat?’ There’s no way that this happened. I wasn’t buying it.

“Today if some guy told you that ‘I need to sacrifice my son because God told me to do it,’ he’d be locked up in a crazy institution.”

Listening to him I felt embarrassed. Why did it take me so long to realize what was so obvious to him at a young age and should have been obvious to me too? The Christian version of the Abrahamic story that I grew up with is a little different but equally revolting. Maybe if That Mitchell and Webb Look had been around when I was young I might have got a clue earlier.


  1. Charles Sullivan says

    His son was turned into a goat? I don’t think that’s the Halal version. I believe that an animal sacrifice was used as a substitute for the human sacrifice of the son. I mean, the story itself is disturbing enough without a child turning into a goat.

  2. Rodney Nelson says

    In the Biblical story Yahweh stops Abraham at the last moment and tells him there’s a goat in some nearby bushes. Abraham sacrifices the goat instead of Isaac.

    When I heard this story as a young child my reaction was that Yahweh was being a bully. He forces Abraham to do something that Abraham really doesn’t want to “teach” Abraham to always obey Yahweh.

  3. Psychopomp Gecko says

    I lost my faith in middle school. Around 12 or so. I was generically Christian before someone decided I join up with some church youth group since I lived pretty far away from people and didn’t have too many friends to interact with. So I joined up, got to learning and reading. Was rather fundamentalist because if the Bible is the inerrant word of God then you can’t really pick and choose. They didn’t want me reading revelations though. I think it was because I suggested drug use played a part in it and they just figured I needed to be more adult to understand it. That part was at summer camp, by the way.

    I didn’t leave it for the best of reasons. See, around that time, I got a computer for the first time. This was soon followed by an internet connection and (here’s where it differs from a lot of others) a computer game. I played it multiplayer, was entertained, met people, and that helped to kill off a major part of the motivation. Didn’t realize until more recently how much being part of a community or having someone to play with had to do with it. So my religiosity died down with it and eventually I found a nice website that had a lot clearer answers and arguments dealing with Christianity.

    Not sure if it’s actually still updated at all or what happened, but is still around. Never hear about it when other people talk about stuff.

    Oh, and it’s actually pretty funny what game I enjoyed for the multiplayer enough that it helped me drift away.

    A fun little title from the 90s called Diablo.

    (And having played Diablo 2, I can tell you that the series was at its scariest and most claustrophic, with the most fitting music, in the first game. Haven’t played Diablo 3, but I’m betting it’s just an adventure game with demons and magic instead of anything to do with scaring the pants off little kids. Now get off my lawn you young whippersnappers.)

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