Every once in a while I’ll talk or meet with people who want to sell the faith. They talk about how awesome Christianity is. How it’ll change your life. You don’t have to do anything. Just let Jesus in.
These sales pitches make me uncomfortable.
Most of this is because I know the selling tactics aren’t always truthful. Yes, plenty of people have a good time with their faith. Maybe it’s the potluck dinners. Or maybe it’s because there are people who go to church with lives that are messier than yours. Theoretically, it could even be because it makes people feel good. It doesn’t matter much, because each case will involve the same things.
Old Testament doctrines? They don’t apply if they’re ugly. Sticking point on a specific part of doctrine? Pray about it. How will it change my life? Always for the better, but don’t dare ask for specifics. Just be open to the Divine Plan.
My problem is that I know it doesn’t affect people that way. The guarantee of salvation isn’t really a guarantee. It’s just one layer of thought added to many more. Eventually they smother anything trying to escape.
It’s also frustrating when you point this out.
As a former Christian, at best I can hope to be ignored. Because I don’t believe anymore, my faith was weak. I was lying to myself. Or I never truly believed. Bottom line?
Not. Good. Enough.
It never matters that I know what’s supposed to happen when a person reads the Bible. Or the years of praying and thinking I was loved by an invisible friend. Or the years of thinking supernatural forces totally messed with us in ways we couldn’t comprehend.
It’s taken me a while to figure out how to make this less frustrating.
One of the most important thing any deconvert or former Christian can learn is this: your experience in the faith is just as valid and important as anyone else’s. The people who say they know what you believed? They’re lying, either to themselves or to everyone else.
They don’t get to minimize and pretend that bad church experiences are aberrations or flukes. If they want to sell their faith as a cure for anything, there needs to be full disclosure. People need to know that the version getting sold to you isn’t the one you’ll end with.
It could end with you believing space aliens are coming with Jesus to bring Armageddon.
It could end with you dying from handling poisonous snakes.
It could end with you holed up in a bunker awaiting the Rapture.*
These are just a few of the bad consequences. There might be okay ones, like ending up in an inclusive congregation with awesome bake sales to fund homeless shelters. But there’s no guarantee. And there’s no guarantee what you learn is going to be healthy for the people around you.
Belief wasn’t always sunshine and rainbows. There were even some times I felt good about it. But I’ve seen more broken promises on Sunday than anywhere else. If the sales pitch was that honest, maybe fewer people would buy into it. Or, at the least, they might not sink into it too deep.
*The Rapture isn’t even in the Bible. It’s fanfiction of…fiction.