I don’t know if I believe in God anymore.

I’ve been thinking about this for a while.

Actually, honestly…I think I may have been raised in a cult.

Content warning: Themes of emotional, physical, religious and sexual abuse

Sea and sky

Important context

My parents divorced when I was young.

My father

My father is one child of four total children of a pastor and a pastor’s wife. Denomination: Assembly of God (AOG).

There was heavy emphasis on behaving a certain way, conducting oneself a particular way even as a child, and being cautious of what your actions/behaviors would look like to people outside the family.

My dad is a member of the Ed Young church/megachurch cult.

My mother

My mother married an abusive man sometime after divorcing my father. For context purposes, I’ll refer to her and her husband as “my mother” and “my stepfather”.

She was raised Church of Christ (COC); he was raised Baptist to an extent, specifically Independent Baptist or Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB).

Maternal extended family

My grandmother is adamant about adding COC churches.

My aunt attends a COC church…kind of. From my perspective, it feels as though she attends church when it makes her look good or is likely to benefit her in some way.

They believe God and church come first — unless it affects your social life or work life, at which point you should instead attend work and not put God first because you might lose your job and that’s lazy. Because “God isn’t worth losing your job over”.

My childhood

I went to church every Sunday I visited my dad or his side of the family, or my mother’s extended family.

Otherwise, my mother and stepfather only took us to church on holidays — or when he had a business opportunity, even if that meant adding something to his portfolio or boosting himself in his local community.

When we lived in Forney, TX, I started attending church with a friend because it got me out of that environment.

He grew really possessive and didn’t like my “attitude” when I’d return, how I would challenge his lies about what the Bible said, and even grounded me from church at one point because he viewed it as a “social affair”.

I remember begging him to let me attend while my mom put headphones on and listened to music. He yelled, “SHUT UP!” at me, startling me, and threatened me to let it go or else I would “never leave the house again”.

At one point my stepfather and mother forced me to watch this porn clip because it was trending. I’m still scarred from that. (Hint: 👭💩☕)

I struggle to accept that this man was ever genuinely a Christian, considering he behaved this way even when we went to church (more on this later).

Reasons I question my faith

I don’t know what I believe right now or anymore. I won’t be making any decisions about my faith for a while, because I think my crisis of faith can also be attributed to my environment.

Even atheists from other states have commented my blog and social media posts in the past to say that Christ followers from the Northern US are not the same as the ones in the Southern US.

So I am leaning towards waiting until I leave, have moved up North and am in an environment much better for my mental health — and away from the negative religious influences noted in this post. 🤷‍♀️

Conditional kindness

I started to wonder about my beliefs after realizing my relatives were only kind to me when I fit into their molds and religious behaviors.

If I didn’t go to church, I was perceived as “spiritually ill” — even if I attended one online (or didn’t).

My mother’s side of the family insisted I attend church, then stopped going themselves on occasion.

I was held to a higher standard, which I only realized once I lost my apartment due to the pressure from my relatives and my inability to cope with the this-and-that ping-pong game that was their values. 🤷‍♀️

“Tough love” was my punishment for being unable to live up to their standards, accept their high expectations, and thrive in the neurotypical lifestyle while masking my autism.

Conceal, don’t feel, and definitely don’t let anything real show.

  • If God loves me so much, then why were churchgoers and even pastors working so hard to convince me that I needed to change myself to be accepted into the church?
  • If my family loved me, then why did they essentially shun me/shrug me off when I couldn’t live life like a non-autistic person?

Can’t question anything

If you call them out on the inability to question things, they insist you are mentally ill (also known as “spiritually ill”).

From there, they will respond with, “You can ask us anything,” to faux validate you so they can indirectly and passive-aggressively humiliate you in a sermon later.

Because no, of course you can ask questions! You just shouldn’t ask certain questions they don’t have answers to, because it hurts their pride; and some things can only be answered through prayer…even if you spend a lifetime praying for the answers.

Denial of science

I struggled a lot during school with the evolution theory vs. creationism. That’s different.

As I’ve grown older, denying science despite the evidence of science — at least for certain aspects of it — feels like choosing to be obtuse in favor of sticking to whatever feels comfortable. I can’t imagine living my life like that is the right thing to do.

Christians’ decision to deny science in favor of whatever hateful agenda they want to push is gross.

Rejecting different experiences

While people can experience Christianity in different ways, no one can experience it in a way that’s not socially appropriate.

It needs to be similar to other people’s experiences — nothing too different — because that’s what they’re comfortable with.

Man of the house = God

The irony of my mother hating my dad because he believed archaic things about women and marrying a man who positioned himself as “God” in his home is not lost on me. 🤷‍♀️

Her husband referred to himself as God, as a man on Earth through whom God acted. When my stepfather beat me, that was God moving through him.

He wanted to be king of the house. He refused to accept any verse in the Bible that challenged his authority and lashed out at me when I did challenge his authority, using the Bible specifically.

If I woke up the next day, that was because my stepfather allowed me to wake up the next day.

If I had food on my plate to eat, that was because my stepfather allowed me to have food on my plate.

I didn’t pray much as a kid, but when I did? I was expected to lift my mother and stepfather up, to talk about them in good lighting as if they were the best in the world. When I didn’t, I was punished.

Christian only at church

The people I went to church with often behaved totally different outside of church. It was like a switch flipped ON when they walked into church that flipped OFF as soon as they walked out.

Some would behave the same exact way, in the most hateful kind of way. Most behaved kindly during church and returned to their sourpuss selves afterward.

I couldn’t deal with the ingenuity, and then being held to even higher standards than they even followed themselves.

Responses to sexual assault

I was sexually assaulted multiple times by people who attended church. I was also forced to accept certain conditions in which I felt uncomfortable, simply because those people were deemed “safe”.

I stopped reporting the sexual abuse/assault when I was tired of my mother calling me a liar and threatening me with my stepfather’s spankings.

“Do you want him to beat you until you can’t sit when he gets home? No? Then stop making up lies about everyone. You’re so desperate for attention. 🙄”

Not practicing what they preached

The behavior that really does it in for me is:

  1. I was raised to be a Christian, “because that’s what you’re supposed to do”.
  2. I was taught to behave a specific way, “because that’s what the Bible says”.
  3. I grew up and realized the same people who taught me this DON’T behave that way but continue to hold me to that standard.
  4. When confronted, they are extremely confused and don’t understand what I’m “going off about” or why I’m “trying to argue”.

They need religion, the Bible, church and God to remind them not to kill or maim people.

They need it to remind them to be selfless, and I wonder if that’s the problem — because I’ve rarely met selfish people who aren’t members of a church.

They take verses from the Bible and add meanings to them — even when they claim to be thinking of the biblical context literally. Then they will straight up say, “No — you misunderstood. It’s like this; you have to think of it beyond the words. Just listen to me. I know it best.”

Attending “controversial” sermons is honestly one of my favorite pastimes. 🤷‍♀️ Never have I ever seen so many people in pews opening their bibles to read the verse that shocked them so, that told them they are supposed to behave differently and not this hateful stereotype they perform.

Conditioned to believe

I only believe(d) in God in the first place because I was born into a family and raised by people who believe. I never had the opportunity to decide for myself whether I wanted this religion/faith or a different one.

Anytime I expressed my uncertainty, I was guilted, punished in the name of discipline, and threatened to burn to death for the rest of my life.

At one point, my stepfather purposely burned me with his lit cigarette when I didn’t want to hug him. “That’s what it will feel like if you’re not a good girl. Do you understand? You want to go to Hell? No? Then you better hug me.”

Obsession with guns and violence

I think, if Jesus saw the way Christian obsess over guns, violence and victim-blaming, he would weep.

My stepfather was obsessed with guns — and he still is. It’s a trigger-happy household, if you will. His oldest son creates content about being in the army, specifically with all the guns he shoots.

I live in Collin County. Two summers ago, the Proud Boys brought coolers to a Pride reading event at the library. This group of LGBTQ+ supporters formed a barricade for people to enter the library FOR the reading.

The coolers: full of guns of all shapes and sizes, to “protect the kids”.

I’ve never felt safe surrounded by Christians or anyone who had a gun on them, and I grew up around both like it was normal.

I grew up hearing how men talk about women and how Christians chat about people who are different from them. Even if I didn’t realize why at the time, I did recognize that I didn’t fit in with that lot.

It’s so weird to me how the same people who sit in pews and use the Bible as a weapon are the same people who believe in having rifles for anyone who dares cross them.


I have no idea where I stand…and I didn’t even include anything about my sexual orientation.

Because I have spent a lot of time thinking about my faith — and the believers were are supposed to exemplify Jesus’s love but don’t — without even venturing into these feelings and thoughts in relation to my sexuality.

I think that says a lot overall — like how my issues with Christianity and the Christian church can exist outside of any stance on homosexuality.

To me, that is a sign of serious problems within the church and a “religion”.

Because every issue I have with the religion, and religion in general, has me wondering whether it’s a cult.

Every cult denies it’s a cult. No cult wants you to know you’re being brainwashed, that they’re controlling your mind by manipulating you.

The only thing I know for certain is that I no longer believe in God as was in the image of my stepfather. He is, without a doubt, a narcissistic pig who warms up to churches solely for the business opportunities — not because he actually believes and practices what they put out.

It’s always the same play for him: Attend a service as a new person, introduce themselves, start networking by getting involved with the church, pitch website management services, eventually leave when the play doesn’t work anymore or they move for other reasons.

There are churches that affirm the LGBTQ+ community where I’m moving, as I’m leaving Texas and moving across the country next year. I’m looking forward to it, even though I have no idea what the experience will be like and am anxious about it. 😅

I’ll make my decision then. For now, I’m on a religious detox. ✨

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Comments on this post

Grew up COC. Family preachers, elders, deacons, song leaders, sunday school teachers. YES -CULT. All religion. Research how christianity was born & how it continues to evolve. Beaten, degraded, bullied, submission to males. Watch Shiny Happy People docu – like a looking glass. Religious trauma is real. Sending hugs✌🏼

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Hi Apryl,

Yeah, I watched Shiny Happy People — it was so weird to me, because my egg donor loved that family + believed, with her husband, that that was like a rubric for how women should live their life. 🥴

And then I see conservatives in this county pushing what they push for the sake of their beliefs, which aren’t biblical, as if it is. It feels like a cult all around. 🤷‍♀️

Being away from that direct environment has helped me more than it’s harmed thus far.

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