I was raised Methodist in Maine, which means we never got carried away by zealotry. My mother was a lay minister in our church. When I was 18 I left Christianity behind.
And as much as I complain about the out of control zealotry and hypocrisy of right-wing fundamentalist evangelical “christians.” (note the quotes), that’s not why I left. I have known some good, decent Christian human beings who tried to embody the teachings of Christ, not just in church, but their everyday lives.
For me it came down to the mechanism at the basis of the Christian Faith.
Joshua Duggar (and family and their supporters) claim that because he is “christian” and has prayed for forgiveness, he has been forgiven by God so we should all shut up and forgive him too (despite the fact he that he got away with it for over a decade without paying the price demanded by our society/justice system and is a massive hypocrite claiming the be about “family values” who preaches that homosexuality and homosexuals harm children). This is at the basis of the Christian faith: Because Jesus died on the Cross, he paid the price for our sins, so we are forgiven for ours.
How does that work exactly?
I get the Jesus was an incredibly nice guy who was wise and wanted to help people and wanted people to be good to each other and help one another. And it *sucks* that he was persecuted, tortured and killed for basically showing how corrupt the major sect of Jewish faith had become at that time. (All major religions seem to fall into stagnation and corruption and then have a major upheavals to get them back on track. Jesus was the kind of the Martin Luther of his time.)
And maybe he was was the son of God, or maybe his followers just thought so (was he really saying “believe in me as a person,” or “believe in what I am teaching,” after so many translations from witness accounts, who can be sure?), or he was saying we all are children of God, or maybe he was slightly off his rocker. Genius, madness, thin line. You know. But I don’t know either way.
But even if he was the son of God, how does he dying 2,000 years ago forgive me of my wrongdoings now? I don’t get how that works. The mechanism of it.
If I were to, I don’t know, steal a candy bar. Doesn’t the responsibility for the righting that wrong fall on me? Shouldn’t I make amends (pay and apologize). Isn’t it the store owner/person that I wronged’s forgiveness be the forgiveness that I should be seeking? The forgiveness that actually matters? He/she’s the one I hurt, not God (or does an omnipotent God get personally harmed by someone stealing a candy bar?), so why does Jesus come into it at all? How does him dying 2,000 years ago mean I am absolved of any wrong doing for stealing a candy bar?
So as wise as I think Christ was, and as well as I know my scripture, and as nice as I know many Christans to be, I am not a Christian because I don’t believe in the core of the faith: That Christ died to forgive me of my sins. It’s something Christians take on faith, but I can’t have faith in that because it just does not make sense to me.
And as for Heaven/the afterlife, we only have control over what he do here and now, so isn’t *that* the most important thing to care about? Isn’t making this world the best it can be matter more than something we really have no control over, what may or may not happen to our souls after we leave this world behind?
(I do believe in souls. Any question I had about that was answered when I watched my father die. He did not just stop, he changed. Something about the way his physical body looked different. Something was missing. The being he was had fled.)
And as for the fundamentalist belief that all human beings are inherently sinful. B.S. Maybe the fundamentalists are, but I don’t think most people are. I don’t think we’re all inherently saints, but we aren’t all inherently bad either. As we have seen with the Duggar case, it’s just a rationalization fundamentalists use for doing wrong. “We’re all sinful, so you shouldn’t judge me! Excuse me while I go judge this gay couple.”
Y’know, these people. The ones that treat Jesus as a “Get Out of Hell Free” card: