People Are Revealing Why They'll Never Go To Church Again, And I'm Curious About Who Feels The Same
"I suddenly thought... this is a cult."
As someone who bounced around from one church to another in an effort to find a good fit, I'm always curious about where others may draw the line and stop attending service altogether. I've come close once – it was right after one pastor warned the congregation about LGBTQIA+ representation on television, and told parents to keep their kids away from all such things that might lead their children to stray from the path of God.
I plucked my tithe out of the basket, just to be clear.
1. "I moved to a new city for university and was doing a bit of church hopping. At one of the churches I had a “once you see it, you can’t unsee it” moment where I suddenly thought... this is a cult. The church we went to was a really boisterous, hallelujah type place, and it was very overwhelming, so I had gone to the bathroom to try and avoid a full blown panic attack. When I was in there a few ladies crowded me and were saying I should take the panic as a sign that the Lord was flowing through me. Like... no this is anxiety, it’s a physiological thing. They really, earnestly believed that I was being touched by Jesus and I couldn’t help but feel like they were brainwashed. It was so awkward and off-putting, I lost my faith and haven’t really gone back since."
2. "My father lost his job and the only work he could get involved travel, which meant he couldn't make the Sunday service. Even though my parents gave to the church monthly, all the support we got were 'prayers that he found a job closer to home.' As a teen, I was asked by church elders why father thought making money for his family was more important than attending the church."
3. "The priest I confessed my sins to was a kiddie diddler and fled the country. My sins were hella tame compared to whatever he had going on behind the scenes... I didn't feel cleansed. I couldn't in good conscience be associated with a religion who refused to protect its own children."
4. "Nowadays, I think church is mostly a social group for people with similar cultural beliefs, more than an exercise in spirituality. I took my family to church for years because that was what I grew up with, and I was familiar with it. But, gradually I realized that as a truly spiritual person, I had outgrown the beliefs of the Methodist church and I felt hypocritical to be there. My kids didn't even buy the stories and complained about going. So when my grandpa died, we just stopped going to the church he expected us to be at every Sunday."
5. "I started to realize the teachings of the church weren't Biblical. Every Sunday the pastor would talk about righteousness that was really nationalism, and being free from those who are filled with sin, but very specific sins. We had divorcees in the church and overt racists, but not gay people or former inmates. There were teachings of love, but it was very clear that love was only meant for certain people."
6. "My grandmother said, 'You don’t need the church to be faithful to God, your body is the church. As long as you talk to God on your own time and it’s genuine, you’ll be fine. Besides, the church is only there to collect money, but when you need money for rent, food, clothes or anything else, they’ll tell you ‘it’s God will.’ Fuck those thieves.'"
7. "My church growing up was kinda messed up. Southern Baptist. We brought an African American friend to Wednesday night youth group, and the youth pastor took him aside, told him to leave, and asked him not to come back. That’s just a tidbit into how things operated there."
8. "My spouse was raised Catholic, she'd go to church at least once or twice a month, and would feel guilty if we didn't go for longer than a month. Then the pedo scandal happened and she's had zero interest. She still has her faith in God and Jesus, but has none in religion as an institution."
9. "I had a hard time the first Sunday after the 2016 election. The person reciting prayer said something about the "new era" and I was not a fan of how they said it. Made me realize that I wasn't sure I was in the right place anymore."
10. "My minister lived across the street and I used to hangout with his son who was my age and my friend. His mom, the minister's wife, got brain cancer, and it took her years of suffering until she died. Our minister broke down during service, crying at the alter and cursed out God. It affected me deeply."
11. "I asked myself, would I have been Christian if I was born in a country with a predominantly different religion and my parents were of that religion? The answer was no. Which made me ask what makes Christianity 'more right' than other religions."
12. "The nail in the coffin was a service where we had to read a passage that said something along the lines of 'we are dust and ashes before God,' and I could not get behind thinking I was nothing – especially compared to an entity I had never met or heard from personally – when I already had my fair share of bullies in school trying to convince me of the same."
13. I grew up in a VERY religious area and everyone in my world was very Mormon. I came out as bisexual on Facebook and the people in my congregation spread that news like wildfire. The bishop called me in for a 'chat.' He was planning on excommunicating me. I was still a minor. Luckily my mom had my back 100 percent, and came with me to the meeting and asked to have a word with him beforehand. She chewed him out like I’d never heard her chew another adult out in my life. When it was my time to come in, I could tell the bishop was choosing his words carefully. He asked me to post on my public social media pages and let everyone know that my religion didn’t condone homosexuality and that I wasn’t having sex outside of marriage. Just thinking about a grown man asking that of a minor still makes me furious. That was the moment I decided I was done going to church."
14. "My family went twice a week before Covid. The child care gave me and my husband a chance to relax and connect with others and God, and gave our kids a chance to hear lessons geared toward them and be loved and taken care of by others. But once Covid hit we stopped going. We tried online service a couple times, but with two toddlers it just wasn’t really an option. We tried to go back when numbers in our area dropped but there was all but no physical distancing set up, and about five out of 150 in the whole sanctuary were wearing masks. It didn’t feel like a loving way to look out for the fellow man and we haven’t been back since. I don’t really know how to move forward, even now that both of us are fully vaccinated."
15. "The pastor that I deeply admired and respected turned out to be having multiple affairs and cheating on his wife for months, if not years, prior to her finding out. It just feels like I’ve been duped, too, and it will take some time before I’m ready to go back."
16. "It’s something that my dad and I would do together and then go get breakfast after. We would try new breakfast spots all over the DMV every Sunday and compare notes on who had the best waffles, hash browns, and hot chocolate. After he died, I never wanted to go back without him. I lost a lot of interest in the church members, too. People kept telling me that it’s 'God’s plan,' but I was 13 and couldn’t rationalize/ comprehend/understand/accept that."
17. "I was introduced to the first gay person I had ever met and he was... great? Like a good, kind, caring human who lived a good life. And I started thinking about how the church that I had been part of for the first 17 years of my life always taught me that homosexuality is a choice, and a mortal sin, and it just seemed... wrong. So I decided that the institution of Catholicism was not for me and I never explored any other religions."
I'm genuinely curious – what made you stop attending church? Or, if you still go to service, has there ever been an instance that almost made you quit? Let us know in the comments below.
Note: Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.