15 Formerly Religious People Share Their Breaking Points

©Unsplash,Zac Durant

People find and lose religion all the time. Part of being human is searching for what our existence is all about (or not about), so people are always looking for an answer. And if something that used to seem promising turns out not to be…well, then people often just move on to something else.

In this article, AskReddit users reveal the breaking points that caused them to leave religion behind.

1. Red flags

“I was a Christian, but my church got to the point where they were banning tons of media (secular music, the news, certain books, wanted censoring chips in TVs, parental controls on the computer for adults) and then they started telling us that we needed to abandon/leave our secular friends and family (even Christians of different denominations) and only be friends with the members of the church/youth group.

At the same time they were saying that we were in the final years before the rapture/return of Christ and it would be best if we didn’t go to college or have kids, due to the hardships it would bring. The youth pastor proceeded to have children and the regular pastor sent his grandchildren to college that year.

The red flags turned crimson.”

2. Blasphemy

“I churched so hard in high school. So much so that in college I got invited to a dinner with my college Catholic priest. At dinner I said, “I love pizza!” He said, “You can only love God and people.”

I mean I was already upset with broad, seemingly meaningless rituals, but that was the boiling point.”

3. Hellbound

“Striving so hard to be as good of a person as I could be but still being told I’d go to Hell for certain aspects of myself or beliefs I held. Yet watching others carelessly do rotten things to others and going to confess their sins and feeling like they had the right to continue to be bad people or to act holier than thou. Finally realizing I didn’t need a religion to be a decent human being or all the guilt that was put on me.”

4. Nonbelievers

“I was raised Christian, but late in high school, I couldn’t get it out of my head that good people I knew and friends I had that weren’t Christian were supposedly going to Hell. Be that Muslim friends, Jewish, agnostic, atheist, non-religious, etc. I had pretty much the gamut of religious beliefs among my friends, and I just found it hard to believe these people would be punished for how they were raised.

I’m not anti-religious. Religion is very cultural, and I think it’s messed up to bag on people’s culture. But someone’s religion usually boils down to where they were raised and by whom they were raised. And I can’t accept that people are judged based on these qualifications, in any religion.

For a while, I reconciled this by saying that being a Christian wasn’t necessarily about announcing you’re a Christian, and that accepting Jesus can also mean living a life like Jesus even if you’re not consciously doing that, or not doing that in the name of God. But that’s not what the Bible says, and it’s not what the church believes, so I’ve moved away from that.

Now I’m kinda a universalist, agnostic or something. I don’t really care if there is an afterlife or a God. If there is, then the God will reward those who were good people in this life, regardless of religion. If that God doesn’t do that, I’m not particularly interested in worshiping him or his afterlife.”

5. All guilt, all the time

“I was raised by guilt. I finally got to the point where I refused to feel guilty for every little thing I did.”

6. God vs. Santa

“I was already questioning pretty heavily, but for whatever reason one of my friends comparing Santa to God was the breaking point. He said “When we talk about Santa as an all knowing being who rewards good behavior and punishes bad its a ridiculous fairy tale, but when we talk about God in that context we’re just supposed to believe it blindly.” “

7. Trauma

“I was told that God would help you. If you prayed to God he would give you strength. He would help bad things become fixed etc…

I lost my religion when, at 7 years old, after years of praying and fully believing God would help, I still had to watch my alc*holic father beat my alc*holic mother up almost nightly. It was one night while I was picking glass shards out of her hair that I realized that if there were a God he didn’t care enough to make things change… and honestly the idea of a cruel, uncaring God scared me more than the alternative so I decided to believe instead that there was no God.

Things are finally better now after years and years of pain and suffering in my family… and it still wasn’t God who fixed it.”

8. Prayers

“It was years and years of asking questions that apparently didn’t have answers besides “…but the Bible says”, but specifically the final straw was praying that my sick and dying grandfather would pass quickly and painlessly, instead of the three weeks he spent after that vomiting up his own stomach bile and starving because he couldn’t eat before the cancer took him.

I never asked for anything remotely self serving or personal because I always thought that was wrong, but this one instance I begged and pleaded for help, not even for me but for my dying grandfather, and instead it was almost like someone playing ‘corrupt-a-wish’ on a message board.

It wasn’t even a matter of believing or not believing, I just didn’t and couldn’t pray anymore after that. I was almost afraid to ask for anything else.”

9. A man of God

“A pastor called my mother a whore.”

10. Never clicked

“I’m agnostic but I stopped going to church once my pastor berated me for doing teenager things like getting a haircut and piercing my ears. He told me that that’s what witches did when mourning their lost loved ones and handed me a conveniently provided information packet.

He also had some hypocritical stuff to say during the bible study so I’m glad I never had to go again. Religion never really clicked with me but he was what made me hate christianity the most.”

11. A mini government

“For me, it was seeing people misinterpret their own religious texts. Terrorists are prime examples of it. Also seeing how irrational people were being, following a religion. Riots, public parades, blockades… All for a god that others don’t even believe in. Keeping the property and financial losses aside, this is probably why religious leaders are so successful. A mini government, in which their subjects have complete trust in. Manipulate them at your convenience, and get the work done

Ps: Maybe I’m not formerly religious. I used to go to gatherings because I was forced to, and couldn’t understand anything.”

12. That’s all it took

“I read 300 books

Note: Any books will do. Just read a bunch of them. Get some outside perspective and some conflicting points of view. Done.”

13. Controlling

“I was a Jehovah’s Witness. I took a break and left for a few years. When I attempted to come back the time off really opened my eyes at the control they try to exert over every aspect of your life. That’s when I opened my mind that they weren’t the one and true religion.

Then it became obvious the horrible things they are guilty of. Then became disheartened with all religion since they all use guilt, shame, and fear to control their members for money and power. Then I realized the bible is utterly ridiculous and that if I were to believe the bible, that God is a total a**hole.”

14. An easy break

“Praying for many months and begging for things to get better while also getting bullied way more and finally falling into depression. I guess the anger made me start questioning everything, and religion is pretty easy to break with logic.”

15. No longer a believer

“I was raised Christian. I believed the Bible and I believed in miracles and I really absolutely believed. But I was a bit of an optimist, so while I believed non Christians went to hell I figured God loves everyone, he’ll give them time to find him.

Then I got a phone call that my non Christian friend died. And I knelt on the floor and I prayed, in tongues even. And I prayed that if Jesus could bring Lazarus back to life he could give my friend another chance. That I would die in her place, I’d go to heaven so surely it would be better that way. And I knelt and I sobbed and I prayed to die for hours. And I was so sure, I mean God loved her right, this was the perfect answer?

Shockingly enough my friend did not magically come back to life. I didn’t lose my faith all in one go. I tried to find justifications but I just couldn’t anymore. So now I just love my friends as much as I can while I’m alive and if I go to hell when I die at least I’ll be in good company.”