People Are Sharing Why They Stopped Believing In Organized Religion, And Their Perspectives Are Genuinely Interesting
"I’ve never gone back and don’t miss it at all."
Recently, Reddit user u/seventeencans went viral after asking the internet to share why they'll never go back to church. There were so many raw but honest stories, that even more people flooded the comment section with their own thoughts and experiences. Here are some of the most thought-provoking replies:
1. "Realizing I was queer and seeing how the church rallied around the choir leader — who was pressured into denouncing his gay identity in front of the entire congregation — were the nails in the coffin. I’ve never gone back and don’t miss it at all."
2. "I’m a pastor who will be resigning in about a month to do who knows what. I’ve been done with church for a while. It’s so hard to preach love, social justice, caring for the marginalized, the exact things Jesus preached, and then knowing what my parishioners are saying and doing the exact opposite... I’m still down with JC, but done with church."
3. "I'm adopted. I'm Asian and my parents happen to be white, as is my younger sister because she's their bio kid. I used to get asked about when my "real parents" would come to pick me up, and one of the priests asked my mom if she'd really 'thought it through' about what having a nonwhite kid would do to her family image. Another parishioner asked if my parents were giving me up when my sister was born, because they 'didn't need me anymore.' So we walked away from institutionalized religion and have never looked back."
4. "When a trans kid came to youth group, the youth pastor said they could only come back if they dressed like a boy and not a girl."
5. "My father was caught cheating on my mother. When my parents went to the pastor for counseling, he told my mom that she could not file for divorce, and that it had to be my dad's decision. Of course, he wanted to work it out but she wouldn't have it. She filed for divorce and left the church. My brother and I left with her."
6. "The pastor told this story about his friend Bob, a salt-of-the-Earth, amazing human being who everyone loved. That’s when I lost it. Y’see, Bob was killed by a drunk driver and was going 'STRAIGHT TO HELL BECAUSE BOB NEVER ACCEPTED THE LORD JESUS CHRIST AS HIS PERSONAL SAVIOR!' I was about 14 years old, shaking my head, thinking, You know, I’m betting Jesus would have given Bob a pass. I was ready to leave right there and then."
7. "I grew up Byzantine Catholic. A new priest came to our church. He got ordained in another country/rite of the church so he could get married. I didn’t get married in the Catholic Church because my husband would have had to become Catholic, which he didn’t want and I wasn’t going to force him to. The priest who found a loophole to get married denied me communion in front of our entire parish on Christmas Eve because I didn’t get married in the church. I decided after that I no longer needed to go to church to have a relationship with God."
8. "My aunt and her then-boyfriend, now my uncle, were the second interracial couple in my hometown. The church congregation made it apparent that they didn't approve of the relationship. My aunt was asked to leave the choir group and my dad, who was 10 years old when this started, was called all sorts of names for having a sister who was dating a Black man."
9. "We learned the pastor was having affairs with at least three different women — yes, he was married but not to any of them — and the youth minister was charged with embezzling church funds. That was it. No more church for our family."
10. "They had a couple come in to talk to us about family planning and the evils of birth control. They said they had successfully avoided having children for four years after they were married without using any form of contraception. All I could think of, at 18, was how insanely irresponsible it was, teaching a bunch of teenagers that you can prevent pregnancy with cycle tracking alone."
11. "The concept of missionaries turned me off. My great-grandparents on my mother’s side were Hindus, like my father's family, but they were poor, and when missionaries came, they basically said, 'Give up your faith or you and your family can starve.' I don’t think any God would want their followers to be like that."
12. "The Sunday before the second George W. election, our priest gave a 15-minute homily in which he said that 'good Catholics' will vote for Bush, and anyone else will go to hell. My mom took about 20 donation envelopes and wrote on them, front and back, about how ridiculous and unethical it is for a Catholic priest to instruct his congregation on who to vote for. I was about 13 at that time and it profoundly affected me. When I turned 18, I decided Catholicism is not for me and I am now an agnostic."
13. "I was in my early teens at youth group and they split us into small groups to discuss and share our answers to questions. My group’s question was, 'What is the right religion?' We decided to say there are many religions and the right one is whichever you choose, as long as it doesn’t harm anyone. We were yelled at by the youth pastors and told that Christianity is the only 'right religion.' I stopped going to church after that."
14. "I ended up getting pregnant at 18. The pastor and most of the older congregation looked down on me because I was a 'sinner.' As if that wasn’t bad enough, about 3 months later, the pastor’s unwed daughter got pregnant, but she was never snubbed, and his new grandson was the best thing on Earth. I just couldn’t stand to be around hypocritical Christians anymore."
15. "In high school, my husband and I were really good friends and he was the middle child of his family. Within six years of each other, both his older brother and younger brother died in tragic accidents. His parents are some of the nicest and kindest people you would ever meet. The day his younger brother died I immediately knew there is no God."
16. "I was raised Christian, and the main thing that turned me away from it was the fact that I was sexually abused as a child. When anyone found out, they would say things like, 'Oh, God was just making you stronger,' or 'Read the story of Job, sometimes God just tests you.'"
17. "We stopped going to church when COVID hit. I was struggling with a group of people who claim to be about loving people, and yet they won’t wear masks and be an example of protecting others. I don’t question Jesus, but I do question a lot of the people who claim to follow Him."
18. "My great-grandfather was a very prominent Southern Baptist preacher, so I was raised in a very religious household. When we moved across the country, we found a new church. I told the youth pastor how I wanted to become one. They straight up told me — as I was cleaning the church voluntarily twice a week — that women have no place in church leadership. I was good enough to clean the windows, and give them money, but nothing else. Haven't been to a church since."
19. "I was raised Catholic, and started raising my kids Catholic until an old man teaching first-graders told my 7-year-old son that he was going to hell for disobeying his parents. He came home that night in a very weird mood, then burst into tears and said he didn't want to go to hell because he took a toy from his sister after we told him to share. Yeah, that was the line."
If you can relate to these experiences, what did a religious leader say to you directly that made you turn away from places of worship? Let us know in the comments.
Note: Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.