1. What prompted you to make such a drastic change and how old were you?
14. Was having problems with depression and identity, and my previous religion was not helping me or giving me the answers I needed. I began to examine my religion, other religions, and my perceptions of the world. My perceptions and religion started to conflict with each other. I was faced with constant cognitive dissonance.
2. Do you think that if your faith had been presented in a different manner by your family or your church/synagogue/political system/science/etc it would have prevented you from choosing to leave? If you didn't buy it yourself, why do you think it didn't "take"? Was how you were treated a factor?
Perhaps, but I can't say for sure. My family stopped going to church regularly when I was about 15. And we only went once a month or on holidays when I was 11.
I never fit in at church. I hated Sunday school because I didn't like memorizing scripture or talking about current events through a Jesus-filter. I didn't like sermons because I felt the preacher was often being too general and was just telling people to blindly follow whatever example he gave that day. I felt like I was just too weird to fit in at school and WAY too weird to fit in at church. That said, I enjoyed some of the stories told just as stories.
The community always treated me kindly, so how I was treated on a personal and general level wasn't a problem.
Maybe if I had felt more comfortable at church at a younger age I would have stayed, but I really don't know.
3. How do you feel about it now? Are there any regrets? What have you gained?
I feel more at peace with myself and that I have gained a greater understanding of the world and the complexities of it. I have no regrets.
4. How did it affect your relationship to your family and also impact the social circle you had?
My father was a little incredulous when he found out. My brother doesn't really care and doesn't really bring up religion since it is a very subjective subject and he deals better with objective facts and theories that can be factually backed up. My mother still believes it's a phase I'll grow out of. Aside from that, nothing bad happened. Their reactions didn't change how they felt about me or treated me. I'm still just as close with my family as ever. My friends were never very religious or cared what religion any of I was if they were.
5. Has anything replaced your old faith?
Nothing structured. I still maintain many of the commandments from the Bible, as they are common sense ideals to abide by in regards to treating other people well and not getting in trouble. I try to maintain a scientific view of the world: skeptical but open-minded. I'm more likely to say "It's possible" and not feel uncomfortable about it. I'm still very spiritual because I cannot deny that there is something bigger than everything; I just have no idea what it is and try to accept that I could never know what it is.