Over the years I’ve gotten a lot of questions about my life in and out of Christadelphia. Here’s a compilation of questions and answers. I will probably edit and add more as time goes on. Feel free to ask more in the comments.
Do you ever regret your decision to leave the Christadelphians?
Nope! Not at all. As soon as I was out, I knew I’d made the right choice.
What was it that opened your eyes and drove you out?
In looking back almost 20 years later, I think a lot of it really had to do with me just coming in to my adulthood, and looking at all that the world had to offer that I had been shielded from in my youth.
There wasn’t one thing that made me go, “That’s it, I’m done!” It was really a culmination of a lot of things. In no particular order:
- The incessant dissecting of bible verses and attempts at gleaning meaning from every single word in the original Greek or Hebrew or Aramaic or whatever.
- Trying to apply rules, laws and cultural expectations from 2500-year-old shepherd tribes to modern life.
- The culture of everyone judging each other for every stupid thing.
- The constant feeling that I was NEVER good enough (see above point).
- The misogyny, homophobia and transphobia went against my own personal values.
- The stifling feeling of being a young woman whose only purpose was to find a suitable mate to marry and then produce children.
- The long narrow road that lay ahead in which I would perpetually be teaching Sunday school/ playing the organ / making food for the potluck luncheons and bible class refreshments, and then cleaning up after it all.
- The lack of interest in any kind of charity or public services outside of the Christo bubble.
- The lack of interest in the environment – why bother, if Jesus was supposed to return any moment and magically clean up the earth?
- Perhaps biggest of all was that I just couldn’t believe any of it anymore.
I go into it all in detail in the series I wrote called Losing My Religion:
Losing My Religion – Part 1
Losing My Religion – Part 2
Losing my Religion – Part 3
Losing My Religion – Part 4
Losing My Religion – Part 5, The Bitter End
Keep in mind, I wrote a lot of this as sort of a therapeutic experience, so it probably is longer and more detailed than it needs to be, but getting it all off my chest was immensely helpful in making me feel better and less like I was crazy!
Do you keep in touch with any current Christadelphians?
I have some family who are still Christadelphian, but I haven’t seen them in a decade.
For a while there was one friend I managed to keep in touch with, but her lack of enthusiasm in returning my texts in recent years as made me doubtful that we will ever actually reconnect. I kind of want to, because I am curious to pick her brain about what is keeping her in this obscure sect when most of her family isn’t even in it anymore.
Sometimes I hope that a former friend or acquaintance will leave the Christos and come to me for support, but so far they all seem to have stuck with it.
Do you miss your Christadelphian friends?
I missed Debbie something terrible after she gave me her friendship ultimatum. I truly felt like someone had cut off my arm. I couldn’t imagine life without her in it. I went through all the stages of grief – anger, denial, depression, straight up rage, and finally acceptance. But it literally took me YEARS to accept it. She did end up reaching out years later and we had a few awkward attempts to reconnect, but ultimately too much water had gone under the bridge and I was not comfortable being around her.
I missed the social aspect of my Christo life for a long time. At first, it was hard to adjust from having a large social group to having none. I still occasionally think about how cool it was to go to a bible school or a different ecclesia and see people who knew my grandparents or even great-grandparents, or to have someone approach and tell me that they were a distant cousin.
There are a couple of friends I still miss today. I wonder how they are doing, and I’ve thought about reaching out to them to catch up. I don’t live that far away from them, yet also not close enough to accidentally run into them at the store or anything. But then I remember that without the shared interests in bible study and fantasizing about the Kingdom to come, it would likely be a short-lived reunion. I’d love to be proven wrong though.
I do tend to assume that anyone I was friends with back in the day has written me off as an outcast and a sinner, which makes me feel sad but also makes me not want to reach out, you know?
So are you an atheist now or what? What do you believe?
When I first left the Christos I took a hard dive into atheism. I read Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins and was pretty much “screw all religions!” for a bit. I think it was part of my healing process. Kind of like declaring “I’m done with dating men!” after a bad breakup.
After a while, a friend at work mentioned that Oprah and Deepak Chopra were doing 21-day meditation challenges. I had wanted to try mediation for a while but couldn’t really picture myself going to an ashram or a retreat or anything to learn it for real. So I started doing the Oprah/Deepak sessions. It was just 15-20 minutes each day, and I really liked it. It helped me open up to the idea of there being a higher power that was something other than the Christadelphian god I’d been brought up with.
The Oprah meditations led me to Eckhart Tolle, who opened me up further to this realm of spiritual but not religious. It felt really comfortable to me to chill the eff down, sit back and just observe. Observe the world around me, observe my reactions to it, and what’s going on inside me.
I also started going to therapy about 5 years after I left the Christadelphians. (In hindsight, I wish I’d started before I left – it would have been helpful in the transition!) My therapist at the time was pretty new-age and encouraged me to keep exploring meditation and eastern philosophies.
In the years since my interest in spirituality has waxed and waned. Sometimes I meditate, sometimes I talk to my higher self or my spirit guides, and sometimes I feel elated and deeply connected when being present in nature. Other times I don’t really feel any of that, but I am content to just be myself and know that I am a kind, loving, nurturing person.
Was there anything good about being a Christadelphian?
Actually, yes! I wrote about growing up Christadelphian and what I liked about it a while ago. The main good thing was having a solid community to belong to, where I made my first friends. I felt secure in the knowledge that we had this worldwide community of Christadelphians, and that I would be safe and loved by any of them. (This was my childhood perspective, at least.)
I also feel like believing in God and feeling that I could pray to him or to Jesus when I was scared about having surgery, or recovering from surgery, or worrying about a test at school or whatever, was very comforting to me.
That being said, I think those same things could have been achieved if my parents hadn’t been religious but had just been involved in our local community and had taught me about mindfulness meditation and managing my emotions better. That would have been a more ideal situation, but it was the 80s and my parents were not on that wavelength.
Is there anything that would convince you to return to Christadelphian life?
I have no desire to be part of any organized religion. I’m even wary of organized spiritual activities, or anything that attracts a cult-like following. I think spirituality is so personal, and no one else should tell you what to believe. You have to really come to it on your own after lots of personal experience, reading a variety of other people’s work, and deep conversations with other seekers.
Aren’t you worried about the consequences of being an unbeliever?
Nope. I don’t believe in heaven or hell, or the kingdom of god on earth, or any of those rewards or punishments.
What keeps you from murdering and raping and pillaging, if you don’t have religion?
I have never had any desire to hurt anyone else. I don’t need the idea of an invisible man in the sky watching my every move to keep me from misbehaving.
Do you hate people who are religious?
No, I respect that people have different beliefs. We all have different life experiences, different cultural influences, family backgrounds, etc. If your religion makes you feel good, keeps you happy, and makes your life worth living, then you do you.
What I do hate is when people try to push their religious beliefs on others because they are convinced that THEY are right, and everyone else is wrong. That attitude has caused an immense amount of pain and suffering for millennia.
I think that’s all for now! I do have some thoughts to share about the trauma of religion, but will do that in another post and link it here whenever that happens.
5 thoughts on “ex-christadelphian FAQ”
Very proud of you Heather. It took a very strong person to leave Christo’s. They are in mind a cult. I was only subjected to it in my very early years….till I was about six. Veery fortunate for me. Keep on your track and you will be okay.
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Thanks Jan. I’m glad you got out when you were a wee lass!
What was it that opened your eyes and drove you out?
Good for you though – deprogramming is incredibly difficult (just look at that Q folk)
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Thanks! Good question- I will add it to the post after I think about it a bit.
I updated it! It’s the 2nd question in the post now. Thanks for the question, it did make me go back and think about it. Turns out I had an arm-length list of reasons. 😀