17 Christians-Turned-Atheists Tell Us Why They Turned Their Backs on Christianity

We live in a world where identity is often shaped by faith. Even so, some Christians find themselves questioning and even renouncing the beliefs they once lived their lives upon. More often than not, the shift from being a devout follower to an atheist is driven by their personal experiences and issues, so we’ve rounded up 17 reasons that shed light on why people are no longer religious!

A Deacon’s Misstep

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“When a deacon told me that disability was an abomination of God and the disabled were a burden to us all and a mistake.”

The Christian Church is all about love and acceptance, so the deacon’s harsh words make it understandable why this user was turned off. However, the deacon committed a wrong here because, in times of strife, we must all remember that there are no accidents in the Kingdom of God. Desiring God explains, “We’re talking about God here—He knows the genetic condition of the sperm and the egg, and He can simply say, ‘Don’t go there. We’re not going to conceive this time because it would make a blind baby.’ He can say that, and if He doesn’t say it, then we could use words like permit: He permitted this natural sadness or brokenness to happen.”

A Quote From Thomas Jefferson

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“‘Question with boldness even the existence of a god; because if there be one, he must approve of the homage of reason more than that of blindfolded fear.’ Believe what you want, but you’re not gonna sway me. What I find most beautiful about this quote is that it doesn’t say God doesn’t exist nor that he’s not real. It just gives another interpretation that I was never privy to growing up. Why shouldn’t I question God’s existence? And if I question enough and come to terms that he doesn’t exist, then the God I used to believe in should still love me the same.”

The quote the user mentioned above is a quote by Thomas Jefferson to Peter Carr, an American educator and politician. Jefferson was deeply religious, albeit an unconventional believer; as an empiricist, he believed that God was rational and benevolent, but He was not tangible. For him, God did not intervene in human affairs, and there are no miracles in this world.

The Church and Its Greed for Profit, Power, and Influence

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“The Church did it for me when I started to understand that it was a business—for profit, power, and influence—and when it started to become political. The final straw was when I started to see how much hypocrisy there is, by way of prejudice and hate.”

The Christian Church is supposed to be the House of God that brings His people together. Unfortunately, people who lead the church are still human; they make mistakes, fall into temptation, and fail to uphold the morals God has instructed us to have. Because of this, they are laden with greed for profit, power, and influence, which, in turn, push people farther away from Christianity. Additionally, the many scandals the Christian and Catholic Churches are involved in are some major roadblocks that prevent people from seeing the actual value of religion.

The Existence of an Overcontrolling Yet Unreliable God

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“One of the most annoying inconsistencies for me is how if something good happens, ‘Thank God for doing it,’ but if something bad happens, ‘Thank God He stopped it from being worse.’ Does this man have control of everything or not?”

People who don’t fully understand God’s ways can easily think He is overcontrolling yet unreliable. After all, religion is believed to always have rules and regulations that people must follow. Yet, even when someone follows His teachings to a T, they feel as if God is not giving them what they want. The Hillside Church of God says, “We might live in a culture that is fueled by instant gratification, and our walk with God should not be expected to be the same; look to His word, pray for patience, and remember that it is not to our timing but His timing.”

The Inconsistency of Prayer

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“Someone also once pointed out the inconsistency of prayer. If God controls everything and has a plan for everything, why on Earth would you pray to him for a certain outcome? He already decided what He was going to do. He already had His plan. He’s not going to change it because you ask Him. So why pray at all?”

People’s belief in prayer’s inconsistency is in line with thinking that God is unreliable. The user above shared their pain points regarding the inconsistency of prayer and God’s supposed omniscience. According to Reverend Brent L. White, even if God is omniscient, we should still pray and ask because God wants His children to ask for things He knows they need. The very act of asking enhances and deepens one’s relationship with Him.

Insights From a Comedian

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“Ricky Gervais made a great point about church and religion, who, by the way, is an avid atheist. Loosely quoted as saying, ‘Isn’t funny how you are always born into the right religion.’”

Mainstream media can influence us in many different ways, and for this user, a statement quoted by one of their favorite comedians hit hard. If you think about it, there’s some truth to this statement: whatever religion you’re in, they always teach you that it’s the “right” religion or the “best” religion for you. If that’s the case, what, then, is the one true religion we must all follow?

Pagan Beliefs and Mythology Classes

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“Taking a mythology class in college and realizing all the different religions had similar origin stories of how Earth and man were created and evolved, but the details differed based on the environment the people lived in and how far along they were technologically. Anything science couldn’t explain was the will of a higher power.”

When we’re born into religious households, we grow up knowing only one kind of faith. However, the moment we step into the real world, we start to learn about the different religions that exist and have existed in this world, including pagan religions, such as Roman, Greek, and Egyptian mythology. When observed, all these religions have similarities in how the world was created, what men should do and what they shouldn’t do, and more; in these cultures, anything that they cannot prove by the knowledge or tools they had would then be attributed to a higher power—gods and goddesses. This coincides with what Central Oregon Community College teaches its students; it says, “Religion reduces human anxieties by explaining the unknown or making it understandable, providing comfort in times of crisis, sanctioning a range of human conduct with notions of right and wrong, setting precedents for acceptable behavior, and/or transferring the burden of making decisions from human to supernatural beings.”

Not Being Allowed to Question One’s Faith

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“Being told not to question my faith made me lose it. If I cannot question what I believe in to better understand it, then it wasn’t worth believing in in the first place. Or they are hiding something they don’t want me to find out, which makes me even more skeptical of it.”

Humans are not perfect; therefore, there will be times when we question or doubt our faith—especially when we’re in the thick of the downsides of life. However, while doubt is normal and sometimes even encouraged in Christianity, some preachers misunderstand it as someone turning away from their faith. This is precisely what happened to this user, as they were instructed time and time again not to question their faith. This only made them second guess the truth and whether or not the church was hiding something from them.

Finding Contradictions in the Bible and Its Teachings

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“Also, reading beyond the selected passages in my Bible study classes? Whoa, there is a lot of messed up stuff in the Bible. And you would get in trouble for reading more than just the cherry-picked parts they only wanted you to know. Contradictions galore!”

The Bible is not something one should ever take literally; it should be read with context and understanding of the metaphors, similes, and more that exist within it. However, it’s also understandable that some people easily misconstrue what’s written. Sadly, if you use literalism in the Bible and your faith, you’ll be left thinking that God is tyrannical and unforgiving. This is something that has embedded itself in the mind of the user above.

The Existence of Santa Claus and Skepticism

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“I stopped believing because of Santa Claus. As a kid, I wanted magic to be real. I needed it to be, and everyone told me it was—just have faith and believe in magic, and it will be real! That’s apparently all it took. Finding out Santa wasn’t real was a major bummer to my child self, and it literally made me question everything else I’d been told. Especially because when it came to talk of God, as everyone told me the exact same thing: have faith. Believe. Just let Him into your heart. Yeah, you guys fed me the same lines about Santa and look how that turned out. Eight-year-old me just discovered skepticism.”

The main problem with Santa Claus’s existence is the lies associated with him. Santa Claus is the modern, tangible figure of Saint Nicholas. However, just like the user above realized, Santa Claus is just a lie, and therefore, all things that cannot be seen—like faith—should also be taken with a grain of salt. The San Diego Union-Tribune shares, “The ‘miracles’ we tell children Santa performs—knowing if you’ve been bad or good, making reindeer fly, traveling to every house in a single night and squeezing his not-insignificant bulk down chimneys that are clearly too small for him, not to mention consuming incredible quantities of milk and cookies without ever stopping for a bathroom break—these are all hidden ways of making children susceptible to superstitious thinking.”

Realizing That There’s No Salvation in Church

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“I was in a hard time, and I started praying, attending catholic activities, and doing lots of other things like these. I wasn’t feeling better. Years after, I gave up doing these things and started taking care of me by myself, and now I’m happy. So the faith gradually went away.”

If you grew up in a religious household, you’d agree with the anecdote above. Religious people usually tell us to turn to God for help—to pray when we need something, to talk to Him to feel better, and to devote our life to His plans. But with all the negativities happening in our lives, it’s easy to think that God is not on our side or is taking too long to help. We must, however, remember that instant gratification will never bring us out of the darkness.

God Was “Supposed” to Help—but Didn’t

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“I used to be a Christian when I was little, till about the age of 12. I stopped believing in God due to a mixture of personal things, losing people, etc., and it was around the time in school when we actually started to read the Bible, and the God in the Bible is no god I want to believe. He is not benevolent in any way, and any argument you use to say why you think God doesn’t exist, a Christian will tell you that, ‘That’s what faith is for.’”

All kids in a religious household have been taught that God loves us equally and will protect us from all evils. However, when we become adults and become more aware of the dark sides of the world, we start to question our faith. Why does a “good” God allow someone we love to die, and why does a “good” god let us feel pain? These negativities can easily swallow and drain a person’s faith in the Lord, pushing them farther from His embrace.

Going to a Catholic School

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“Going to catholic school did it for me. They were teaching us things that contradicted what they had taught the year before, and you couldn’t really ask questions. If you did, the theology teacher would yell, ‘That’s what faith is for! Don’t question the Bible.”

Questions and doubt are all parts of growing in faith. However, people who are supposed to teach us that and answer our questions are human, too, and they make mistakes. This user encountered such a thing when they went to a Catholic school. As a school and as a Catholic institution, it should be one of the first to promote learning and strengthening of faith; unfortunately, how the teacher acted did the opposite for this user.

Fear-Based Teaching

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“What really really made me disgusted was that the teachers were adamant that suicide sends your soul straight to Hell because you took the life of one of God’s creatures. A schoolmate had a father who took his life, and the way they handled it was horrible and basically made mental health issues a nothing burger.”

Unfortunately, Christianity is notorious for using fear as a motivator for its people to follow God’s teachings. However, we must all remember that as brothers and sisters of Christ, we are called to cultivate an open community of love, acceptance, grace, and forgiveness. Fear is never an effective way of teaching people about God’s love, and there’s simply no room for fear in the journey of faith. An article shares, “A fear-based view of God can therefore be associated with greater anxiety, the development of fear circuits, and increased negativity due to the absence of a positive view of God or as a result of the fear-based view of God,” and can therefore push people to become non-believers or atheists.

Growing up as a Southern Baptist

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“When I started getting to the age where I could think critically about things, I just started noticing some inconsistencies. Specifically, I was told that people who believed in other religions would go to HellHell because they followed the ‘wrong’ religion. What? When religion is based a lot on where you are born, I just could not truly believe that people would be sent to HellHell for being born in the ‘wrong’ country.”

A person’s environment and upbringing can also significantly affect their religious affiliations, which happened with the user who shared their thoughts above. Given this, a Southern Baptist can easily choose to become an atheist because of possible perceived inconsistencies between the church’s teachings and their personal or environmental practices. Additionally, a church’s overly strict doctrines can also make one shy away from facing religion and faith. For example, the user above mentioned that they couldn’t understand why certain religions preach that people would go to HellHell just because they didn’t believe in the same or in the “right” religion.

Being Turned off by the Bible’s Teachings

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“Reading the Bible in Bible Study is what started it for me. I just got frustrated because when I had questions about things in the Bible that didn’t make sense, I was made to feel like I shouldn’t be asking questions. That flew in the face of what I’d been taught in school about asking questions to learn and find the truth, so it really rubbed me the wrong way.”

Because the Bible presents many perceived contradictions due to its metaphors, context, and more, many people, like the user who shared their anecdote above, can easily get turned off by its teachings. For many, Bible study helps them get a clearer perspective on the world. But for others, it could get overwhelming, especially if you do so without the proper guidance and tools.

Being Influenced by a YouTuber

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“The dude my sister married was the pastor’s son, so it was an honor for my mom and dad. She always said to my mom and dad that he didn’t treat her well. But they never believed her and said that that was a part of the marriage. She changed a lot—got more sad and didn’t talk as much as she used to. I didn’t meet her for like two years and she got kids and stuff. One day, we got a phone call from her man. She was dead. She had had enough and took her own life. My family didn’t like it at all. Suicide and mental illness were not ‘okay,’ and we didn’t talk about her anymore. At this time of my life, I found this YouTuber named Mr. Atheist, and he opened my eyes a bit.”

Some branches of Christianity could come across as overly strict, and this is what happened to the user who shared their anecdote above. In their story, their parents turned a blind eye to the pain and suffering their sister was going through just because she married a pastor’s son, which they believed to be a high honor. Additionally, they also immediately shut her out just because she committed suicide, which is deemed a sin by the church. In moments like this, when religion is the main cause of the conflict they’re going through, it’s so easy to get influenced by thoughts that contradict what they’ve known all their lives; because of this, words from a mere stranger brought them a lot more comfort than their faith or religion.

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Sadly, some Christians might not realize that their behavior is offending non-Christians. Their hypocritical and judgmental behaviors can be off-putting, pushing others to get annoyed and irritated with them. So, if you’re a Christian who wants to improve how others perceive your institution as a whole, read through to the end of this list to identify some key behaviors or habits you need to avoid!

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Author: Karen Danao

Bio:

Karen is a writer and also a marketing and advertising professional. Beyond the keyboard and the screen, she is someone who’s out to enjoy every bit that life has to offer!

Poetry, philosophy, history, and movies are all topics she loves writing about! However, her true passion is in traveling, photography, and finding common ground to which everyone from different cultures can relate.

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