Leaving Christianity: Staying Away From Church

This has been on my mind a lot lately, considering the proliferation of billboards in my area that ask me to consider going to a church or reconsider my beliefs about deities. All of this signage is on top of church signs, church groups, and church advertising in media. Unless I stay completely shut in, I will see a reminder somewhere of what the dominant religious beliefs are in northern Alabama.

To put this in perspective, the population of the entire county is roughly 346,000 people. One directory of churches I found listed 344 churches in the area. That’s about one church for every 1,000 people. They all operate with donations from church members, so each church has at least enough resources to keep the lights on and print bulletins every week.

It’s too easy to get reminded of why I don’t believe.
Sometimes it’s the sheer audacity of something on an ad. Lately, it’s also the lack of any other religion advertising in the area. Then there’s the cold, dark realization that a secular group probably couldn’t advertise even a positive message without generating controversy. Thus, the signs aren’t a reminder just of what I’m trying to let go of and forget; they’re a reminder of how hostile the local environment is to non-Christians.

Staying away from it all can be incredibly difficult.
To be fair, “staying away” has to have a more flexible definition where I live. Unless the local Christian population wakes up one morning and realizes that there might be people out there who need to recover from what they believe, the amount of advertising isn’t going to change. For me, I’m trying to figure out how to remove the association of what this advertising says and what it means. Therefore, staying away is a difficult mental exercise.

Patience in these things definitely is a virtue. At times I am able to drive past church advertising or ignore a commercial for the local non-denominational cult. However, there will be other times where I will see a promise that can’t be kept or an outright lie. Maybe I’ll see a church preying on people who just need sympathy and not indoctrination. Those times used to grievously unbalance me, but I’m getting better with practice.

There are other people in my area who also have been trying to cope with this. They’re doing a decent job in their own specific ways. Sometimes drawing strength from them helps me out tremendously. Sadly, there are probably others who don’t even know how to connect with others who leave religion behind. To them, seeing all these messages for Jesus are like seeing the bars on the cage.

The most important thing to remember: they can’t make you believe.
Christianity only has the power a person gives it. Without belief, there is no invisible omnipotent force ready to force itself on anyone. All the claims in the world about how real this deity is are as meaningless as the monster underneath a child’s bed. No grand puppet master pulls the strings. It isn’t a bad thing to not believe.

Yes, people where I live can be hostile to non-Christian belief. Despite that hostility, they can’t do the one thing they need the most. They can’t force me to believe again. It might not change the world in a drastic fashion, but not believing has changed me for the better. Living where I live, this can be too easy to forget.

When I do remember this, it makes staying away from the trappings of Christianity incredibly easier. Nobody has to save me because I’m not lost. The cage my old faith has built doesn’t keep me in.

It now keeps me out.

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14 thoughts on “Leaving Christianity: Staying Away From Church

  1. Years ago, I thought about visiting America. Well, maybe NY (museums), DC, New Orleans, the Everglades, and California (friends there).

    Since the internet I wouldn’t touch it with a barge pole. I had no idea of your indoctrinated religion.

    Liked by 2 people

    • NY, DC, and CA are not as bad. CA does have its fundagelical places, but you have to get outside city limits to find them. I never liked New Orleans when I went, but that could just be me. And if you go to the Everglades, depending upon the routes you take, you just might end up seeing some of the many billboards that churches hire out to decry the evils of abortion.

      Liked by 1 person

      • As I say, it’s not on my list of places MUST visit. Cuba and South America are tops, South Africa has always been on the list, and Libya for Lepcis Magna. The thought of seeing endless fundagelical billboards is not a travel incentive. At all.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. This is why you have freedom _of_ religion. It’s not freedom _from_ religion.

    As a none Christian i see nothing offensive that they wish to say hey look how much we love our god. To which I say good on you as I drive on past.

    Liked by 1 person

      • I’m well aware that these are his feelings. I’m also saying that perhaps these people are expressing their feelings for their deity. As a non-Christian I drive by these churches and go huh that’s interesting I guess they really love that guy huh. But I’m not so easily offended that they want to post that but I also think he should be able to post in his front yard if you want come on in and let me tell you why you’re Jesus never freaking existed it would have said a lot of the Christians in the area but he should have a right to post it just like they have a right to post our Jesus is born again and coming to save you. But I was reminding him about his feelings but that is why we have a ride for freedom of religion in order to choose what religion we do or do not want to follow but not a freedom from religion. Just like he has a freedom to speak and to not choose God he should also have a freedom to pray to whatever he wants to pray to what about prayed all.

        Wilson right to voice our opinions and even be offended by it but there’s no use getting offended by it because then you give them the power. He also could be a friend of mine We Carry On conversation all the time so perhaps you need to just go put your nose back in another hole somewhere.

        Because honestly if he finds what I commented to him about offensive Hillary mail me or hit me up here or he’ll talk to me somewhere somehow he has a hundred ways actually contact me okay maybe not a hundred but several. I always liked his perspective and he knows that

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      • Oh we agree. But limiting their freedom of speech also limits ours. I just figure i won’t get offended because that gives them power.

        So instead chuckle at the ignorance of worship here or else.

        Like

      • It’s a bit of both, I think. The First Amendment protects speech of all kinds, both desirable and undesirable. For every form of speech that might not be healthy, there’s other speech that has advanced U.S. society.

        Here in the South, being very religious is also a cultural thing. When you meet someone new to the area, it’s normal to ask what work they do and which church they go to. It’s just assumed that people go to church.

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