Questions I asked of Sunday School Teachers

A letter from Mikel

ben & melinda - sunday school.Image by bhardy via Flickr

I was thinking back on times I had questioned a religious teacher, and thought up a short list of questions I asked. I asked all of these perfectly sincerely, maybe a bit naively. Anyone is welcome to try answering--most of the time I was just given "that look" as if I was just trying to disrupt the lesson, or was told that "that's just what we believe."

I should also point out that none of these thing stands out as "the one thing" that caused to to leave Christianity. They are just little things that got my skeptical juices flowing.

Why should I expect to apply a Biblical passage to my life, if it's history, poetry, or prophecy? (Asked when a Sunday School teacher wanted the class to write down what how passage or other applies to our lives.)

Isn't claiming 'promises' from Psalms pulling those quotes out of context?
How do you know your beliefs are true, when there are lots of sincere followers of other religions out there who are equally convinced that you are wrong?
Why do you equate skepticism with cynicism? Skepticism is not wanting to believe without proof, and cynicism is more like unthinking rejection? (Not the exact words--at the time was was not too sure what cynicism was except that it was associated with negativity.)

And here is one that I have not asked, but would be curious to know an answer for.

If you believe that a person will not be judged harshly by God for sincere and honest disbelief, or mistaken belief in the wrong thing:

Why have Christian missionaries? If humanitarian aid is needed in some places, why not send humanitarian aid though non-sectarian charities such as Doctors Without Borders instead?

Does your church teach that it is not really so necessary and urgent for people to convert to Christianity in order to be accepted by God? Is that what is taught to the kids in your Sunday School?

Why should it matter to me what your personal beliefs are if they don't match what your church and Christian leaders are teaching?

Like I said, anyone is welcome to volunteer answers or make comments.

Greiving my death

A letter from Gee Will

Angel of GriefImage via Wikipedia

Last weekend my wife and I sent out e-mails to notify our family members that we aren't going back to church and are actually not christians any more.

All four parents and four siblings and each of their spouses are all committed evangelical christians - one brother is a pastor. None of them live anywhere close to us. We had talked directly to my wife's parents, and they took it very well - they are actually almost supportive. I talked with my younger sister on the phone when she called to talk about the elephant in the room.

So, we got calm but questioning responses from my wife's brother and sister, with reassurance that a change in beliefs wouldn't change their love for us.

But, I just got a response from my Mom, and as I expected, she is pretty much grieving my death. Though I'm not surprised, I'm still devastated that she is so hurt.

I don't need a bunch of condolences or anything... just writing therapeutically.


What do you say when someone says, "I am praying for you?"

A letter from Lisa

Pale MoonImage by zedzap via Flickr

My daughter went to the gynecologist the other day for a sonogram (12 weeks) and the fetus no longer had a heartbeat. I went to my daughter and son-in-law's town to take care of the baby they are adopting while they went to the hospital for the procedure.

Just got home.

People were telling both them and me, "I am praying for you." "It was god's will." "It was meant to be." . . .

None of us believe that god killed that potential (and very much wanted) child. And we don't believe "it was meant to be" for her to go through that whole in-vitro process twice in two years to end up with two dead babies before they ever got a chance to become babies.

When they say they are praying, I say thank you. They mean well.

But "meant to be" and "god's will" make me mad. Oh, and "God needed another little angel up in heaven," was lucky she was on the other end of the phone.

This is a real question. What do you say?

Finding my moral compass

A letter from Ian

Using compass (second stage, target)Image via Wikipedia

I am a fully convinced ex-Christian, and have been for a couple of years. Before my de-conversion I was from a fundamentalist evangelical background and had lived in it all of my life. Whilst life is much better with a free mind I do have some challenges and difficulties resulting from my journey out of religion.

I suppose it is the matter of a "moral compass" that I am not sure I can trust- or perhaps one that I have never learned to use.

I have known morality as a set of rules imposed- instead of feeling equipped to make good moral judgments as I work through life. This was all very well when I wholly accepted the regime in which I lived, and I had no real choices because everything was simple and proscribed for me.

Now I feel weighed down by the burden of having to work things out- and more to the point I feel I keep making bad decisions. My Christian friends see this as my natural moral decline after losing my relationship with "the Lord". I see it as a result of being cast suddenly into a moral universe where I am truly responsible, without ever learning the skills to navigate it properly.

Is this just me? Any thoughts and or encouragements? Does it get easier?

Celebration of Life or Propaganda Tool?

A letter from Dave

A sunset from a beach in :en:HonoluluImage via Wikipedia

I recently attended the celebration of life ceremony of my best friend, who recently died from a bacterial infection while camping in Hawaii.

I spent many years of my life discussing the deep questions with my friend, and both of us left the church together. His family did not take it the same way as my family. Both of his parents and other siblings constantly chided him and urged him to return to the fold.

My friend refused to see the world in such morally black and white terms that Christianity presented to him. When he died, his family wanted so badly to believe that he would be in heaven with them, that they began saying he had went back to Christ days before his death.

The family decided to hold a celebration of life ceremony at their long-time church. What started out as a celebration of stories and memories turned into the pastor explaining that our dear friend had returned back to Christ and that others should follow him. The pastor explained our friends struggle with faith in Christ, but said that he (our friend) eventually discovered he was wrong and decided to embrace the truth of Christ.

Having spent the last weekend with him, and hearing him discuss his lack of faith, made me angry to see this pastor turn the philosophy of a good friend into a propaganda tool for those attending the ceremony; who came to simply celebrate the life of another.

In the end, my friend's life and world view was wrongfully twisted to uphold something, he never believed in. I am not sure if I should contact the pastor to let him know how I felt by his actions, or just let it be my friend's family's final say.

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