My Journey from agnostic - atheist
I'm really struggling here. When we got married, 12 years ago, I suppose I was agnostic, and I viewed church folk as harmless, and I thought it was a bit of a social club where you can meet honest people with good values. My wife is very keen, and goes most weekends, and attends a meeting every 2nd Wed night, too.
But over the years I became less interested. Then I played Bass for the church occasionally. One some of those occasions they were really rude to me, treated me like a piece of sh1t actually. I didnt make a scene, but I told them one day - "I am volunteer - I am giving up my time to do this. Now please dont ask me to play ever again". and they didnt,!
Ok, I didnt stop my wife going..
My boy was about 1 at that stage. Then I lost my job, and I was picking up contract work here and there. Things were bad financially. Soon we were paying the mortgage using the credit card, and things got worse and worse.
During that year, I made a measly £17 000 - (USD 34 000). We had credit cards with debt of £10 000 plus on !
Then I got a reasonably paid permanent job, and I sat down and devised a plan to get us out of the debt. I realised that I was paying all the bills, and that without my wifes money (She'd gone back to work at this stage), we'd be stuck in debt. She was reluctant to help me pay the bills - I remember one day specifically asking her to help me buy 1 tin of paint for the house, and she refused !!
Ok, I dont mind giving - we were (and still are) sponsoring a child in Africa, we were sending money to another family in Africa too, and she was sending bits and bobs to other (good) causes here and there. No doubt the church was getting money, too, but I didnt know how much at that stage. I was getting a bit frustrated now with this church business. One time I went there with her, and I was flabbergasted to see a NEW, huge Mercedes truck and trailer, emblazoned with their logo and all on it. I thought "bloody hell, what does THAT cost, and why are they spending our money on that?" - it was a fully equipped mobile stage so they can go round and spread the word, you know?
Now, she was sending money to these goons, and refusing to help me maintain the house????? Something was wrong, surely???
I thought "surely the church would be reasonable, and advise us to get out of debt, before sending them money?" right? So, I met a woman in the congregation, calling herself a "financial advisor", and I asked her to look at our family finances. (It turns out she was just an insurance seller, but had glamourised her title to "financial advisor").
Well, I sat through a few hours of the WORST financial advice Ive ever heard, and then it materialised that my wife was sending 10% of her salary to the church, and this muppet said this was the "Scripturally correct thing to do".
Wait - 10 percent???? £300 / month? ($600). Yep. While we're in £10K debt??? -- Yep. (They call it a "tithe" - the bible has a story about how the farmers would donate 10% of their crop to the local village. No-one can explain to me how THAT story equeates to me having to send 10% of my earnings to an affluent pastor!! ????)
So I looked up what I could, to find out about the leaders of this church. Would you like to guess how much their property portfolio is worth? $500 000 maybe? nope - $1 000 000? - nope, $10 000 000? - er, no, keep going - $50 000 000???? - err no way !! MORE!
Ladies and gentleman, I give you Brian and Booby Houston, hillsong church, value of property portfolio.... $100 000 000 ---- Yes, ONE HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS worth of property!! And *I* am sending *THEM* money???? wtf?
I was MAD! We were in debt, have no plan for retirement, no plan for my boy's education, and yet these b*stards had talked my wife into this tithe (sic) nonsense? (What hurt the most that those funds were being diverted away from my son's future).
I mulled it over for a few days, and then I let my wife know that if she doesnt stop sending our money to those twats, I was going to leave and file for divorce.
I asked if our other donations count towards this 10% (sic) rule, and no, they dont !! so we agreed instead to send money to my needy Aunt, and to start a savings acc to help my boy in the future. After about 3 years of this arrangement, she has finally agreed to stop, and put money into sharing our living expenses.
She was defiant and would not see my point of view on the finances. Eventually she went for counselling, and eventually agreed that our debt, our expenses, and our son's future were the priorities.
Meantime I thought and thought about the whole god thing, and I discovered Richard Dawkins, and Christopher Hitchins, with Dawkins (The god delusion) helping me see it was all based on legend, myth, and not a scrap of evidence anywhere. I became atheist there and then.
My wife still attends, but I dont think shes let on to anyone that she's not paying anymore. By hosting the Wed night thing (I stay out of sight!), she is doing her bit to help the church.
(I'd rather see the back of them forever, but I need to let her decide that. If I push, she will probably choose them over me and my boy, as usual)
Male M, struggling noob.