A post-Christian story

The Pew Research Center's report showing a sharp decline in the percentage of American's calling themselves Christians has received plenty of discussion today. I haven't even come close to following all of the conversation and analysis on the topic, but the numbers feel about right to me. I'm part of those numbers. Commencing some time in my young adult years I realized that the Biblical literalism preached by the churches around my hometown didn't hold water. Aside from how things like the entire universe being created by a divine being in seven Earth days was contradicted by observed evidence, there were all the internal contradictions to the Bible that made it logically impossible for all of it to be the literal truth. The irony is, I only discovered the contradictions in the Bible because I took the Good Book seriously enough to read it all the way through (even Numbers) and to study the Scriptures with care.

liked religion, though, so I wasn't going to give it up just because the Bible wasn't literally true. I had grown up singing hymns and listening to preaching. The rhythm of the familiar protestant services comforted me. There were plenty of mainline and liberal church homes for me, places where the preacher didn't insist the study of evolution was evil or that independent thought was Satan's work. As we moved around the country, we found a new church everywhere we settled. We even bought a house once because it was close to the church we belonged to.

There's no reason for someone to leave religion simply because it's not true, not so long as you are finding it to be True. Kelly and I didn't quit calling ourselves Christians because it wasn't True on some level. There's still a lot in the Bible I can endorse, from the Sermon on the Mount to the Song of Solomon to my favorite book of all, Ecclesiastes.

I didn't leave Christianity because it lacked Truth. I left Christianity because the self-proclaimed guardians of the faith pushed me out.

I got so tired of being "not that sort of Christian." I wasn't a Christian who thought that science was a secular conspiracy; I wasn't a Christian who believed gay people were going to hell; heck, I wasn't a Christian who thought anyone was going to hell. I kept seeing politically motivated 'Christians' insist that everything I held dear meant that I wasn't one of them, so eventually I agreed with them.

I knew that I didn't need religion to explain why we exist or where we came from. I soon discovered that I didn't need religion to inspire me to moral choices. I stopped calling myself a Christian, and I haven't regretted it once.