I don’t think I left religion in stages, i left at once. When i finally made the decision there was no turning back.
I remember having so many questions that were not answered in fact were more intensified with the hypocrisy i saw on Christians, and with the way i was told to stop my doubts or not to have questions. They were like ‘well if you are this deep with your questioning faith thing, then don’t speak to the other sheep, satan might use to make them stumble on their faith’. I felt like right when I needed spiritual help, i was turned away. I was alone. I was in the dark. I was in hell fearing that these questions will take me to hell, the one that was scarier than the one that i was going through in that moment.
I like to think i was a committed religious person, it depends on what you think commitment is. I tried, to read the bible every night, have jesus time in the morning when i wake up, i loved those times, i would pray, read the bible in fact i won on a bible reading competition being the only woman in the top ten, i guess i was the seventh, i still believe i was the first one to be honest, I don’t see any question that i got wrong, that’s how much i was confident in my knowledge of the bible.
I went on missionary trips, in fact my first two work experiences after college were with missionary organizations, i wanted to be a missionary who will die for jesus, somewhere in Africa or Asia but then i realized only white people or men are missionaries, i was just born to support my husband’s calling, not supposed to have my own.
I remember things happening in church that gave me more questions than answers, but faith i believed was believing even if you don’t understand, but still i wondered why would god create us with brains that we were not supposed to use to try to understand things, well i guess faith, blind faith, requires you to turn off your brain. Don’t listen to your heart, it is deceitful. Don’t listen to your mind, have faith. But listen to the voice of god speaking to you, well you will hear it in the spirit, small calm voice in your heart but still don’t listen to your heart.
I struggled with my identity, being a woman in church, what was my place? I read verses that brushed off rape, murder, and women being killed or even raped to protect god’s visitors (men) to god’s chosen people’s houses, verses that made me grossed out as a woman, verses that created an identity crisis and a war within myself. On one hand i wanted to believe, on the other hand it felt like this god doesn’t value me that much anyway, being a woman. But i comforted myself in the fact that he made me so he has a purpose with me, he values me, it’s just this men in church who misquote the verses that gross me out for weeks.. maybe it wasn’t the men misquoting, maybe they were accurately living what the words (supposedly from god but written by men, translated by men and the verses and chapters specifically hand picked to exist in the book by men) said. In hindsight, they were living in the light of what the bible said, by being there i had to accept to take and live in my place as a biblical woman. Did i tell you there was a book called defining biblical womanhood and manhood by john piper that grossed me out too? I wasn’t that kind of a woman, do i need to fit into this box or live fully the way i am? I wondered why men like john had a lot to say about womanhood.. i guess if you believe god is a man you become an authority figure on all things god cause he looks like you, you understand him in ways that women don’t, same way if you believe god is white, you hold in high esteem those who look close to god, and you get to be on top of the ladder since you look closer to what god looks like, the rest of us who don’t fit the category feel out of place and not belonging to the god but oh, well faith, let’s try harder to acquire his love.
I had questions, since 2017, i left the church on October 2020, so when people tell me to go read more they forget that i fought to believe for years. For years i prayed for god to show himself if he is real to me. When i saw how religion gives people fear, uses fear of hell to get people to commit and obey, i wondered if i really loved god or i selfishly was busy preparing where my soul will rest after i died by giving him fear based, lying love? If there was no hell, would i be going to the congregation to meet those fake people who fake talked to me when the pastor said ‘greet your neighbor’ and secretly display their sense of fashion and perfect lives every Sunday..
Also Read : Here is what’s wrong with African prophets
If there was a god why wouldn’t he help Africans who spend almost all their existence praying to him? Why are we buying an expensive car for this pastor when this girl doesn’t have school fees? Why do we need white evangelicals to come preach when we have a lot of African christian believers already? like is there a continent that believes in the god, white god, that’s sculpted and painted in churches in Africa like we Africans do? If my ancestors were beaten to believe is it really grace at work?
If i received this religion because of grace and i will go to heaven because i believe even though the number of people mentioned who will go to heaven in revelation is different, where did my ancestors who didn’t hear this jesus ‘good news’ before colonization go? To some this knowledge might inspire them to preach more because more souls need to hear so that they go to heaven, to me it made me wonder maybe religions don’t matter, maybe there was no hell since no one ever came to tell us about hell or heaven after they died, if it was how do you explain where all the people who died before jesus story go, before colonization (and hence spread of religion) what about people who still live in their cultures, where do their dead go?
Reading more into African history it seemed to me that religion was a tool for colonization. Knowing Africans to be spiritual as we were, introducing a spiritual thing would have taken away our identity, power, history and knowledge of what life is and etc. I’m still learning, still thinking and learning.
So on October 2020, i went to my last church overnight, danced, enjoyed myself, for the first time ever I saw clearly how everything that the preacher was saying didn’t make sense, i saw clearly how the songs we sang didn’t make sense if you think about them, it was like a veil has been taken out of my eyes and i could see and i wondered what was i thinking to believe all this, it clearly all was contradicting but well i guess faith, i had it in jesus and the next i didn’t. I realized then that religions are comforting, people need them because they help you not focus your attention on all the evil things going on in the world, religion with their songs of hope give people hope that it will all be well, if not here then in heaven, so make sure you do what is right to end up in heaven cause you don’t want to suffer twice. And in a world where there’s a lot of pain, loss and suffering I can see why this fear brings comfort, why believing a white man in the sky sees the wrong done to you and will revenge for you (especially since revenging could take you to jail) gives people a false comfort and hope.
And so at the end of the overnight, i said my prayer of gratitude, thanking god the father, thanking jesus, thanking holy spirit for providing the illusion of faith that i had, the identity of being a christian since that was who i was, nothing more, nothing less, my whole identity was me carrying that label, and at the end, i said my goodbye to the three-one god, i said goodbye to the institution, i said goodbye to all i thought i knew about life and living. And went back home liberated. I felt like the heavy weight had fallen off my shoulders, that day i saw the world differently, i felt lighter and peaceful.