Samantha Sanberg, Converts, #(2001)

Jan 14, 2015

Ironically, my path to de-conversion began with my heavily religious Grandmother. My grandmother was a wonderful person, even the word wonderful seems to understate the beauty of her existence, she cared for everything and everyone. In caring about everything and everyone, my Grandmother would frequently offer mostly sage, mostly unsolicited, wisdom/advice. In the birthday card she sent to my older brother for his 17th birthday, my grandmother offered some of that advice — “Happy Birthday, you’re almost a man. Don’t join a cult”. At first my brother was offended, but after speaking with our parents (who were also very religious) my brother was able to replace feeling insulted with feeling immensely loved and cared for by my Grandmother. From that point forward, my brother and I were hyper-aware of cults. This was pre-internet days so researching cults was no small task, but my brother and I did it. We wanted to know all about the terrible things called cults so that we could avoid them and help others to avoid them! We were doing God’s work! One Sunday evening, after researching cults earlier that afternoon, my brother and I went to church. We always sat close to the front so the preacher would see us, so the community would acknowledge us as faithful church patrons. The preacher’s sermon was like any other, we paid our tithe, said some prayers, and left. On the way home my brother and I stopped for ice-cream at our favorite spot. We ordered tall ice-creams that were dripping with deliciousness. Sprinkles, gummy bears, two flavors, a cherry, it was all on my ice-cream. The woman handed the cones to us, my brother reached into his pocket for cash but nothing was there. “Oh, I gave all my money to the church” he said as he sheepishly smiled at the cashier. The woman apologized and seem to genuinely feel bad as she tossed our ice-creams into the trash can. On the drive home I was upset. I couldn’t place just how I felt, I was mad about the ice-cream but I was also mad at the church. I announced my feelings to my brother, “stupid church”, I said. My brother stopped the car, hugged me, and said “God built the church, we help provide for the church”. “No, people built the church!” I yelled “the church is built, why did they need our ice-cream money?!”. The questions didn’t end there, I was filled with new questions. Why was I filled with all of these new questions about the church? I didn’t have any questions before. Then, the light bulb sparked… cults. I know about cults now. The church is similar to cults.

That was it, there was no returning to my blind faith and unquestioning following. I couldn’t justify the church’s many actions anymore than I could justify a bunch of kids committing suicide on bunk-beds while wearing Nike’s shoes.

I began searching for answers and found that science did a fantastic job at searching for and finding answers. The thought that science could hold any valuable insight into why humans exist and how they came to be had never entered mind while I was religious.

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