Apologizing for Her Christian Past January 30, 2010

Apologizing for Her Christian Past

Rechelle at My Sister’s Farmhouse recently became an atheist and she’s apologizing for the ways she acted all that time she was a Christian:

1. I apologize to all the homosexuals. I am sorry that I believed in a religion that condemns you. I am sorry that for many years I thought that the bible was right in it’s condemnation of homosexuality. I am sorry that when I no longer thought the bible was right about homosexuality being a sin, I did not raise a gigantic stink about it every Sunday right in the middle of the sermon… week after week after week… until the church issued a restraining order against me and I could no longer come within a hundred feet of the sanctuary.

To no atheist’s surprise, there are several more items on that list. It’s good to hear and it gives me hope that others might follow in her footsteps.

The funny thing is that even people who are still Christians could apologize for (and fix) many of those things.

But most of them won’t bother. Because they don’t think their treatment of gay people (among other things) is anything that deserves an apology.

(via The Introspective Ramblings of a Middle-Aged Doubter)

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  • Baconsbud

    I have seen comments on another blog about this but didn’t read it till this morning. It is amazing how much a persons eyes open when they brush off their god belief. Congrats to her and her family for this change. I really liked the end of number 5. It doesn’t make any sense to me why someone would have to be tortured and die slowly for the actions of others.

  • I wonder how many people cling to belief because of guilt. I know one person who does this – she’s lived her life under her “truth” and has suffered so much for it (casting out family members etc). She’s at the point now that if she gave up her belief the regret of how she lived her life would be too much for her to bear.

    Rechelle is brave to acknowledge and, um, repent her actions while she was under the influence. My heart goes out to her.

  • Two opposable thumbs up for her post!

  • I feel guilt everyday for the judgmental shrew I once was.

    After Prop. 8 passed, I went to http://www.forgivenessfor8.blogspot.com and submitted an apology to the LGBT community and walked away from the Mormon church. I honestly didn’t think it could pass, that was the first moment I fully understood the bigotry the church promoted.

    I can relate to every point she made and everything she apologized for.

  • Tony

    She doesn’t have to apologize. All she needs to do is ask Jesus for forgiveness…

    …AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAA! That was a great blog, by the way…

  • Polly

    Apologizing for thinking or believing something that you had little control over is a strange idea. Still, it’s nice that she wants to send out a positive sentiment to the gay community.

    It’s a hollow victory for a now-atheist to apologize.

    As Hemant intoned, I, too, would much prefer to see believers “repent” of their actions. I really don’t care what people believe as long as they don’t act on it to the detriment of others.

  • Jeremy

    What’s very frustrating is that the Bible doesn’t condemn homosexuality. Most Christian denominations have progressed beyond its sexual morality (stoning rape victims, selling daughters into slavery, and so on) aside from this one issue. Leviticus no longer applies, we all know Sodom and Gomorrah wasn’t a maurading band of gays because Lot offered his virgin daughters instead of the male angels, 1 Corinthians translated “male prostitute” (malakoi) into “homosexual offenders” and so on. And the biggest argument that Jesus was a queer is that you got him talking on every subject related to sexuality, including divorce and bestiality, yet he never looked at himself and his exclusive company of men to say a single word about gay people. Yep.

  • That was really amazing. I could relate to each one…brought back tons of memories, some most unpleasant. I wish her the best on her journey.

  • I feel weird reading that list.

    Mainstream Christians believe that God exists and hates homosexuality and atheism. This is a statement about facts. A person is correct or they’re not. If they sincerely believe, then the worst thing I can say is that they are mistaken about facts.

    Can we accuse someone of acting immorally because they acted on a mistaken belief?

    While it’s certainly regrettable that she condemned gays, I’m not sure it’s something that needs to be repented.

    My problems with Christianity-as-practised have a lot more to do with the way that people aren’t willing to learn about and examine their beliefs, for fear that they might be wrong.

  • TychaBrahe

    Richard H, if I kill you because I believe you are a threat to my life, are you any less dead because I was mistaken? If I am a landlord and I won’t rent to you because you look like the guy who raped my best friend in school, am I any less wrong because I am mistaken?

    I understand that it feels wrong to condemn someone who acted in good faith–although at some point acts become so heinous that “I honestly thought I was doing the right thing,” is not sufficient excuse. However, no matter how trivial the act (“I wouldn’t let him in my store, so he had to walk to the next block to buy a pack of gum,”) when the perpetrator’s misinformation is corrected, often the only way to begin to assuage the guilt is to apologize, and publicly.

  • Jim H

    Rechelle seems to have disabled comments, so: Rechelle, if you happen to read this, thank you for your apology; it’s accepted.

    @TychaBrahe: the hypotheticals you raise are all things that are illegal. It’s not illegal to hold mistaken beliefs…

  • I added her to my blogroll to defray some of the lost traffic (I get about 2 hits a week, so it would be nice if a few others promoted her as well). People have been leaving comments on her sisters blog about how they aren’t going to be reading it anymore. This could be hard on Rechelle and her family in a small town in an area were people have very tribal instincts about religion…’if you’re not like us in every way, then you’re out of the tribe and you lose the protections and benefits’…but she’s doing the right thing by being honest. Good luck Rechelle and CD. Let us know how it going, you’re not alone.

  • Kimpatsu

    But she’s still committed the greatest sin: apsotrophe abuse!

  • Kimpatsu

    But she’s still committed the greatest sin: apostrophe abuse!

  • Why does she feel so guilty? It’s not like God is going to punisher her for her sins… 😉

    It is pretty cool that she’s discovered she can be remorseful for reasons other than fearing God. Through one blog post of apology is likely enough. I see no utilitarian purpose in being a hand-wringing self-hater.

  • We Are The 801

    “Can we accuse someone of acting immorally because they acted on a mistaken belief?”

    Gee, I dunno… ask Scott Roeder.

  • Slickninja

    While she’s just a drop in the bucket, its always nice to see people grow out of hateful behavior. While it might make for some snarky comments from other readers (as it kinda deserves when asking for forgiveness) she obviously is remorseful and admits being wrong. That takes a lot of gall.

  • Cafeeine

    The apology has become an inspiration:

  • medussa

    @ Rechelle, author of the blog in question: thank you so much for your honest statements. I personally accept your apology, and regret that you had to disable comments due to all the hatemail: I would have loved to post major kudos there. Here’s hoping you read this.

    @ Richard H, doing hateful acts in a mistaken belief doesn’t have to be apologized for if you had no idea those beliefs were wrong. But when your brain, your heart, and your logic is saying those beliefs are wrong, and you’re only holding on to them because you don’t want to rock the boat, or suffer the consequences of speaking out, then you have just become complicit in the horror. This ranges from Germans in 1930s Germany who turned against their Jewish neighbors, to my grandfather who regularly turned his illegal alien laborers in to immigration authorities when they complained about not getting paid. He “honestly” believed they had no right to claim any wages from him, as they had no legal standing in the US.

    And I don’t really see what legality or illegality of a belief has to do with the morality of it: both examples I raised above were legal at the time, yet deeply immoral, and very much worthy of an apology. Many Germans I came to know who actually lived during that era admit to having felt uneasy about the rabid anti-semitism, and knew it just wasn’t right. And they expressed regret, a lot of it. And my grandfather? Well, he would never have admitted what he was doing was wrong, but his awareness showed in the way he treated some laborers better than others. Those that made him more money than the rest were not turned in and deported, so he certainly only used the system when it benefited him.

  • Richard H, “sincerity of belief” is not a “permission slip” to do … well, whatever one wants to, no matter how bad … and not be responsible for it.

    Historically, Christians have been “sincere” about a lot of harmful beliefs, but that hardly means they could not or should not have known better, and even if they didn’t, give them a “pass” on it. For example, medieval Christians no doubt thought that using coercive tactics to bring heretics back to orthodox beliefs was “the right thing to do” in order to preserve their mortal souls and prevent the souls of others from being endangered. But their sincerity didn’t actually make it right, and it doesn’t mean they aren’t accountable for what they did.

    It’s time we stopped looking for excuses to let religious folks do … well, whatever one wants to, no matter how bad … and figure ways to squirm out of having to accept responsibility for having done it. It’s all too common to say, “Well, that’s what his/her religion tells them to do,” shrug, and let it all go right by. This excuse-making only perpetuates bad behavior; it does nothing to stop it.

  • muggle

    Are you sure she’s sincere? I clicked on the link and every one of those came across as a mockery of Atheism to me.

  • cj

    Thanks for the link credits Hemant! I don’t think my little tiny blog has ever seen so much traffic!

    Rechelle’s story really seems to be spreading around the web like crazy. I’ve really enjoyed reading her blog lately!

  • Angie

    I’ve delighted to see that Rechelle has rejected Christianity in favor of a loving, authentic life. Rechelle, if you read these comments, know that we salute you.

  • JSug

    This part is particularly awesome:

    I apologize for ever calling the bible ‘god’s word’. It isn’t ‘god’s word’. It’s just a book. There are a lot of other much better books. There are books that helped humanity move beyond misogyny and slavery and tyranny. There are books that led to scientific discoveries which led to medicine and helpful machines and made the world a better place. None of those books are in the bible. In fact, the bible helps people to justify misogyny and tyranny and slavery and the bible made church leaders fear science and so they burned scientists and doctors and smart people because what those smart people were learning was often in direct conflict with what the bible and the church taught. I apologize for not telling you that the bible and christianity are two of the main reasons that it took people so long to move from tyranny into democracy, from slavery to human rights, from cruel religious mandates to civil law. I hope someday you will figure that out for yourselves in spite of what I taught you.

    That’s a big heaping helping of rationality. How long since she became an unbeliever?

  • Considering that I see atheists treating Christians much, much worse than I see Christians short of Fred Phelps and his merry band of inbred, un-Christian hate-mongers treating homosexuals, I’m sure Rechelle will have a lot more to apologize for very soon. In fact, a quick reading of her most recent posts shows she’s well on her way.

  • Thanks for the link Hemant. I am really enjoying learning about the atheist community and hearing from all the atheists out there! Such kind, thoughtful, intelligent people. This is not exactly the image of atheism that I was taught. Ha!

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