24 users responded " Don’t pastors’ kids make the best atheists? "

"Don’t pastors’ kids make the best atheists?" was posted by and 24 users commented
Nathan said,         
December 4 2009

I, too, am a preacher’s kid, both of my grandfathers and many of my uncles are preachers. I was home schooled and bible was a large part of the curriculum. I have a minor degree in theology and attended a religious undergraduate institution with required chapel attendance, where I met my wife who, like me, had been raised in a fundamentalist leaning pentecostal style family. I have studied the bible in depth my entire life, and now I am very much an atheist.
All my life I had my doubts as to the logic of certain elements. Even as a 4 year old child, I figured that the idea of the devil was pretty much bullshit. I figured either A.) God is all powerful and thus the devil is meaningless, B.) God created the devil to give us a choice, or C.) God is not all powerful and this is horseshit.
Once in college, during my religious ethics course, 3 things took a big swipe at the foundation of my faith, 1.) I learned about the canonization process, 2.) I had an awesome teacher named Dr. J. Todd Hibbard who showed me the humanity of the bible, and 3.) I learned what a tautology was and came to the realization that religion is an inescapable tautology.
I began to see the flaws in all the arguments of the apologists, so I decided to boil my faith down to it’s very essence to see what I could really believe in. I basically came down to the way Jesus summed it up, which was pretty much “If you want to go to the kingdom of heaven, love god with all you’ve got and love your neighbor as yourself, above that, there is no law and all the prophets are fulfilled.” That phrase I saw illustrated consistently through out Jesus’s message. I realized that if that was true, then even the divinity of Jesus was a non-essential debate, if I would just do that much, I was good to go. I then came to realize that the “Love God” part is really just a motivating factor to reinforce the 2nd part, “Love others as you would yourself, be kind, be good.”
I realized that the purpose of life is to live, to love, to be loved and to have relationships with others. The meaning of life is to fulfill the self-perpetuating imperative of our species, not just through reproduction, but by enhancing the quality of life for those around us through relationship and accomplishment. We, as a species, place high honor on the sacrifice of one for the good of many. We honor and revere those who bring something good to the masses. We praise the artist, scientist, or inventor who adds something to the human experience. We hold up highest the heroes, the soldiers and cops and regular people who risk their own lives to protect the group. We vilify selfishness, cowardice, hermits, “scrooges,” killers, those who break relationships, hurt others, threaten the group, don’t share, and don’t participate in the group.
Evolutionarily, it all makes sense. We are so centered on our own species that we can hardly fathom that me are not the center of the universe. We cannot fathom that all of nature is not set up for our benefit and that we are not rushing headlong to awesomeness. We are so self-focused that to say that we are indeed not the highlight and focus of all of creation robs life of it’s meaning for some. But I have good news, a lack of a god or central plan doesn’t rob life of meaning. Instead, it thrusts the responsibility for meaning onto each of us. We must all create relationships and participate in the larger human existence, each of us doing what we can to make life better for those around us. We must all seek the most good for the most people, even if that means a somewhat reduced good for ourselves. A life without god is not a life without meaning, it is a life where meaning is what we work towards, earn, and accomplish.

I have a lot of siblings. I have come out to one of my brothers and two of my sisters. My wife and my brother support me fully, my oldest sister is convinced that I will “come around” and that I’ve “let knowledge get in the way.” Well, she’s right on that last part, but I’m not coming around. This isn’t some phase where I’m trying to be different, this is the product of years and years of research, devotion and study. I wanted so badly for there to be a god, I wanted so badly for it not to be a giant heap of bullshit, I tried so very hard, but at the end of the day, the proof would not be silent, it whispered, “there is no god… there is no god.”

Sarah said,         
January 18 2013

Thanks for responding. Is your wife an atheist, too?

Sarah said,         
December 16 2009

Dear Nathan,
Thanks for the thoughtful response.
I suspect that attempting to answer why bad things happen to good people (how come no one asks why good things happen to bad people?) has created a lot of atheists!
There is really something to what you said about collectivism, as in the greater good. On the other hand, the road to hell is paved with good intentions… for the greater good. Religion enables this. The perpetrators of September 11th all thought they were doing something for the greater good, as well as wanting to go to Paradise themselves.
It’s great that your family, all in all, is fairly tolerant of you. There are many people who really try to believe in God. George Carlin did. In the end, though, it was impossible for him and many others. I admit that I never tried very hard.

Dave F said,         
August 14 2012

I’m glad that I came upon your blog. My story is a similar one; PK who used to be very devout (prayed at the cross at the front of the church, went on church outings, volunteered, etc etc) but as I grew both physically, scholastically, and emotionally; things started making less and less sense. At first the logic and possibility of what was written in the scriptures fell; but I rationalized it away with “well it’s really just a series of parables on how to live our lives”; then the historical hypocrisy of those parables vs what the church practiced in the past (and especially the present). And finally, I remember my friend Belinda saying to me “What makes you think that this era has it right, people have been worshipping Gods for hundreds of thousands of years; what makes you think that this small moment in history has got the idea nailed down?” It was the final Domino, it was the moment the notion of God fell to the wayside.
I too was miserable, although I didn’t admit it to myself. I tried to get back that sense of belief for years, but knowing was knowing, and I couldn’t undo it.
Now the higher purpose I serve is humanity, and the world around us. There are 7 billion + people, all of whom are affected in one way or another by our actions, and a world with innumerable species of creatures that are affected by us; it’s a burdensome outlook, but one that grounds me and allows me to be part of something very tangible.

Sarah said,         
January 18 2013

Thanks for writing. I think your friend Belinda makes a good point. I’ve said to theists who challenge me, “How do you know your god is the right one and not Thor or Osiris or Quetzalcoatl or Amaterasu?”

Rayne said,         
September 5 2012

I’m currently a Pastor’s kid, & 15. I’m homeschooled & have to use a Christian oriented study. Buuuut, I’ve recently came to the conclusion that you came to, but not by chioce. I’ve become a negative athiest, & my life is so much more calm after I made that choice. And now I’m struggling to find the wordds to tell my parents about my choice. I mean I have to tell them soon. ‘Cause I can’t keep getting forced to pray to God that I don’t believe in. So do you have any advice about how to tell them???!

Sarah said,         
October 1 2012

Hi Rayne,
Thanks for writing. I always enjoy hearing from people of the younger generation. How do you think your parents would react if you “came out” to them? I’m asking because if they got truly angry and the consequences were serious, it might be best to keep it to yourself, for now.

yihahitsjosh said,         
October 25 2012

I want to start by saying that I cannot tell you how heartwarming and satisfying it is to of just read your story here.
I, like you, am also a pastor’s kid (PK). We pretty much have had the same story growing up. Went to church twice a week, bible study, and really bought into the belief. Where our story differs is that my dad has had, and is still having, an extremely unstable career. Since my birth, I have been through 8 different churches; all of which came from various breakups due to feuds between my dad and the church’s elders. Due to this, my faith had started to dwindle around middle school. It wasn’t until high school when I really started to question everything about not only my belief, but just the whole world around me. The generic “what’s the point of life” question would keep on popping up in my head. As I took science classes in high school, I started to learn more and more about the natural world around me. The big bang theory and the theory of evolution made so much logical sense to me. The dots all connected so seamlessly. As I got more and more interested, I took my curiosities to the internet and started to dive in more and more. The more I dove in, words like “god” and “religion” started to look silly. As time would pass, I would finally consider myself to be an atheist.

This brings me to my point now.
I have never thought of uttering a peep of my atheist beliefs to my family. I can’t imagine the heartache my parents, especially my dad, would go through. He already has a tough career, as his current church is again going through another split up. I was just curious as to how you brought yourself to tell your parents. And if your parents have fully accept the fact that your atheist?

Annis000 said,         
January 10 2013

Im 16 years old i have a twin sister. My mom killed herself when i was 11 months years old. I’ve been told by many people that people who killed themselves go to hell. How can i believe that when she was only 16 years old and in so much pain? My grandma is a pastor and she puts church above everything even though she says she doesn’t. I hate church i don’t believe in God because everything contradicts itself. Why should I believe in that and not believe in other religions? I told her that she’s pushing me away from church and instead of listening she says that it doesn’t matter how i feel as long as i go to church. I felt guilty all the time because of my thoughts and my sexuality because im bisexual i felt horrible i wanted to die but then i came to and realize i don’t have to feel that way i can become my own person. I wanted so much to believe in God i never felt his presence . What started me off was when i was getting prayed over the pastor was pushing me and i told my grandma that and she told me it was the holy spirit all of it was bullshit. If i wasn’t under my grandma i wouldn’t give a shit about God because it isn’t being shoved down my throat. I read the bible like i read harry potter. I honestly don’t care about i, but i start to when i constantly have to get prayed over because the devil wants me. If he’s so powerful then why doesn’t he come get me?
I called out to him a couple of times when i was younger, but hey if there was a real god then he would show himself. I want to see all sides I want to become a anthropologist but how can i do that when i cant get out of my own opinions?I find religions interesting like legends except for the bible. Help me please I feel so lost. Also i never met my dad and ive been told that his dad killed himself and that the dad brother also killed himself that’s why the devil wants me and my sister so much because were supposed to become powerful priestess. I think its just genetics. HELP ME need someone to talk to.

Sarah said,         
January 13 2013

Hi Annis,
Thanks for your story. I am so sorry for your troubles.
Who said you were supposed to be powerful priestesses? Priestesses of what, the devil?

Megan K said,         
January 20 2013

I’m very glad I found this – I can relate so much to it. A part of me feels stereotypical-college-student for going away from home, becoming a Democrat, drinking, getting high, and losing my religion, but I’m getting over the built-in guilt and self consciousness. Getting the true college experience, eh?

Like a lot of you here, I am a PK, evangelical, mostly homeschooled, and my entire family is Christian. I’m 21 and in my second year of college. My doubt started in an Art History class, where we were going over the Egyptians and gods and all that stuff, when my teacher mentioned the “borrowing” of legends from previous religions. Moses was sent in a basket down a river, and it turns out that was stolen from some other ancient religion (along with a lot of other ideas that I didn’t care to remember). That startled me, and the denial set in. I can’t say I’m highly researched, but eventually I came to the conclusion that there was no god. I tried to find scraps to hold on to, but I couldn’t salvage my faith. For a couple days I felt really empty because I lacked a purpose, but now I feel clear-headed and excited to live my life without needless guilt. The horrible thing is that I’ll probably live in secrecy for a long time. It would kill my family to find out, but… eventually I’ll get the courage to tell them. I had to lie to my dad over the phone today, told him I went to church and they preached about Jonah. I don’t want to lie for much longer, but I don’t want trouble my dad until the day he dies. Awful either way, but glad to be free now.

Thanks for the post.

Jon said,         
March 10 2013

and everybody else,
My name is Jon. I was born and raised a pastor’s kid. My father is a pastor at an Evangelical Free Church. He’s preached there all my life, and I have gone to church for as long as I can remember. I’ve attended bible studies, the whole nine yards. I even home schooled for most my life. I too came to a point where I doubted my faith, and decided to investigate for myself. However, I came to a different conclusion then you. You see, I found that Christianity has valid arguments, and that there are many wholes in atheists arguments. Darwin himself said that if there was no missing link, then his theory of evolution was invalid. He actually stated that “Every geological formation and every stratum should be full of such intermediate links.” And we have yet to find one. I also think the Kalam Cosmological Argument is a very solid and strong Christian argument. I would love to hear its logical fallacies, as I don’t want to support an inaccurate argument. The main reason I believe in God is because of logical evidence, not emotional experience. I do think God is a mystery, because if we knew everything about him, he wouldn’t be God. Here’s a good example if you’d like:
But I know what you feel. It’s so easy to get caught up in a religion, but it’s not about religion. It’s about a relationship with God. It’s about making your faith your own. Not because of your parents or friends or your church. If you choose not to be in a relationship with God, then that is your choice. It’s so easy to be discouraged from God because of legalism, judgmentalism, and hypocrisy. Many Christians are irrational and unreasonable, but that doesn’t make God that way. I admire you for looking in the facts to make your faith your own, and questioning your beliefs. That is a good thing! I would rather you question and turn from your faith than believe something that you don’t see as right. I’m glad you questioned your faith as a Christian. But I’m asking you to question again, question your faith as an atheist. We both did our research, and both discovered two different conclusions. Like any good scientific or logical situation, I feel we should compare our results, and discover the truth. You had reasonable evidence to leave your faith, and I’m saying there’s reasonable evidence to rejoin. If nothing else we could agree to disagree, but I’d love to hear from you.

queen ashton said,         
November 18 2013

Hey! Ashton here.
I’m a pk and I’m only 15. I’m not really sure what I believe. I’m homeschooled this year, by choice.(long story) My dad s pretty lenient for a pastor. He lets me do a bunch of things other pks couldn’t do. One of the things I have a problem with that he does is that he makes me read the bible every single morning. If it just stopped there I would be fine with it. BUT NOOO! He not only makes me read it but he makes me study it and do a prayer on it. It’s super annoying. Every single day when I read it, I doubt more and more. Everything is constantly contradicting itself. But then at the same time I wonder if god isn’t real then how did the world come about. I font believe in the Big Bang theory because it kinda sounds stupid and seems like it has been disproven way to many times. And it makes as much sense as the bible does which isn’t saying much. The bible doesn’t make sense and other religions don’t make sense. So I don’t web know what to believe in
I’ve never wanted Christianity to be real but all my life I’ve realized it’s been disproven time and time again and it makes just as much sense as other religions. Also if the bible has been around for so long, written by humans, been translated thousands of times, how can we be sure that it is true.
I don’t consider myself a Christian, but I sometimes believe in god. I just really don’t like him because he seems really selfish and evil. And I get really scared because I don’t want to go to hell.
How do I tell my family I’m not a christian. I have no idea what they will do. Cry? Get mad? I don’t want to see my dad cry or see him angry at me because I love him lots. Also if I tell, me and my best friend might not get to hang out ever again. My best friends dad isn’t a pastor but he is really into Christianity. He is way stricter than my dad on Christianity. He lets my friend only listen to christian music. He won’t even let her go to the mall anymore because he says the mall is worldly or something. It seems like everyday he gets stricter an stricter. Me and my friend are trying to start a band but my friend’s dad is forcing us to be a Christian band. My dad doesn’t care of we are a Christian band or not as long we obey the bible and stuff. He’s really supportive of our band starting and pretty much everything I do so that is another reason why I’m hesitant to tell him what’s going on. My friend knows that I’m not a Christian and I love the way she handles it. She didn’t cry or get mad or preach to me. She was just a little curious to why and then she let the subject go. She doesn’t treat me any different then she did before I told her.
So what should i do. Tell my dad an make him cry or angry. And also never get to hang with my best friend again. Not tell and have to study that contradicting extremely boring ancient book and write prayrs about it. U have no idea how stupid I feel doing that. Sing and make songs about things I don’t even believe in and always hide who I am.
Even I fj don’t tell now, I’m gonna have to tell some day. And I’m looking forward and no looking forward to that day.
Also if I should tell now. What should I say?
Sory this was so long, I just had a lot to say.

Sarah said,         
December 10 2013

Thanks for sharing. I really hope things work out for your dad. I rarely say things in the “I know this” form, but there is no hell, so don’t worry about going there. Be strong: it will get better.

Franklin said,         
December 30 2013

hi fellow,
I’m not a pastor’s kid but actualy grew up in a christian home.. Been goin to church and readin d bible all my life which only has lead me to my current state of d notion “God is Imaginary”… ….Got into research on proofs why he is imaginary and saw facts and truths in them that i couldn’t deny….Now i haven’t drawn conclusions yet if he really is imaginary so i need references to websites and books to enlighten me further on my study….thanks if u’ve got anyone…

Bblum said,         
February 19 2014

This is one of the saddest articles I have ever read. I’m a PK and a Christian. Not because of my parents but because I have come to know the God that cares for me on my own. There is overwhelming evidence that the bible is the most historically accurate book there is. There are literally thousands and thousands of manuscripts to attest that. I have been going through a video series called True U and I strongly encourage those with questions or doubts to watch. It’s lead by Stephen Meyer and is a great resource.

Dspmjac said,         
February 23 2014

Darren here. I have been raised my entire life in a legalistic Pentecostal religion that is very strict. I’m not a PK but I am married to one. Over recent years while raising kids I have grown to realize that religion is not what’s important or what Christ was concerned about. He himself fought against the religious institutions of the day and hated what they stood for. A few years back as I searched for justification to leave the legalism I really studied how Christ despised the religious leaders of the day. Many of you have been hurt in the name of religion, some well meaning, some ignorant, and some more concerned with keeping up appearances. Like all man made institutions corruption of some sort will eventually find its way to the top. Human are like wolf packs and seek to be alpha dogs, we are one step removed from basic primal instincts. However, the continual failure of man or our inability to define God doesn’t mean he’s not real. Creationism with a dose of natural evolution is the most logical explanation of our existence, the earth is really too awesome in all its wonder to have been created in a Big Bang.

I walked away from legalism in 2010 but what I carried with me is the infilling of the Holy Ghost as promised in the book of Acts. I can understand how without such an experience God may not seem very real. I am in my 40’s now and I could not imagine living my life without this real experience, without it I really think I maybe would doubt God’s existence. Many make fun or count it as just pure emotionalism which is not at all true and simply a way of dismissing what is not easily explained. The jury is still out on my teenagers and whether they will accept Christ, I pray they do but at this point they have doubts like many of you. Will I spend a lot of time worrying about heaven or hell not really I simply would choose this life of walking with The Lord over again regardless. It’s truly the road less traveled, even within the Christian world. I apologize for those that have hurt you or not shown you God is real.

By God sending his only Son to die for our sins he erased the formula of the past and became the sacrificial lamb, and sent the comforter to live inside by evidence of speaking in tongues as told in the second book of Acts. Which without living it myself i would find it hard to believe as well.

I encourage you before you close the book forever please explore this real experience and how even Life magazine listed it as one of the 100 most important things of the 20th century. What happened In Topeka Kansas and the Azusa Street Revival in Los Angeles around a 100 years ago resembles that which is spoke of in the bible of in the last days I will pour out my spirit on all the earth.

May God Bless You in your search for truth. Thank you for searching for what is real and true. The religious world is full of fakes and hypocrites, but many times sitting quietly in a pew overlooked by many are meek humble saints that serve with deep conviction and not notoriety or prestige. They have found a real connection with the one true God, I pray we all find the same.

Nicole Sitarz said,         
April 20 2014

God’s Not Dead!

Craig Stanton said,         
June 4 2014

Please rethink your generalization that gay people might be atheist because the church rejected them. Switching religions, maybe, but losing faith entirely?

I am the gay son of a revered Christian minister, and I am an atheist. My thinking is that because I have actually read and studied the Bible from an early age, unlike most Christians who do neither, I know what I don’t believe in, know preposterous claims and fables and blatant contradictions when I see them.

Having an independent streak and an IQ of 151 might be part of it, too.

abigail said,         
July 25 2014

Hi, I am 13 years old and a pastor’s kid. I am so lost, I don’t want to lose god. He spoke to me two years ago that my future was secure, but I’m not so sure. All I know is that I would never say and really mean it that God is dead, but I… just don’t know. At least I hope I will always say God’s not dead.

abigail said,         
July 25 2014

P.S I am on the worship team, and I help with everything at church, plus the people who are my grandparents, are also pastor’s.

abigail said,         
July 25 2014

I mean Godparents.

AnotherAtheist said,         
March 27 2015

I’m yet another PK who is an atheist. This article saddens me. It saddens me because of what you’ve gone through, and others in your shoes.

However, I am proud of you for coming out to your parents. That takes a lot of guts. I haven’t had the guts to do so yet, but I’m sure they already have me figured out. My mother asked me recently, “What kind of person are you, if you aren’t a Christian?” I told her, “I’m a good person,” but this did little to convince her that I wasn’t a heathen.

I’m incredibly discouraged by the concept that you need a god to be moral. Why don’t people have enough wisdom and judgment to decide what is right and wrong? Why must I turn to the supernatural, which has no evidence, to give me all the answers?

Modern religion is just modern mythology. I have no more reason to believe in Jesus than Zeus. Stories are fun, but just that.

Nate said,         
March 28 2015

My father was a preacher in the Northwest territories. They focused on helping the native people as life up there was difficult. I saw plenty as a young child what man was capable of doing to one another, even witnessed two drunk friends get into an argument with one of them stabbing the other to death. Yeah it was crazy up there. I realized at around eight that man lies. A lot. Throughout history there are rulers that used Christianity to further their power. People talk of faith and just believing, yet that would mean I must believe what centuries of man has passed down as the supposed truth. There are so many denominations and cast offs of Christian belief that it has lost all credibility. I am supposed to believe that I lucked out because I believe in the right one? I’m my opinion it’s just a lie the was started long ago, twisted to some purpose by the Roman Empire to cattle the masses. Tell a lie and someone that believes it, they will tell others it’s the truth for centuries. Finally resting on our ears, the world’s longest game of telephone. You almost never get the same words in a game of it in class of 20+, either someone hears it wrong or changes it just to cause fucking havoc. I just don’t have faith in man and why should i?

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