Why members deconverted

Since the Freedom From Religion Foundation was founded in 1978 in Madison, Wis., it’s grown to approximately 16,000 members nationwide. FFRF has enjoyed steady growth over the years, but has enlarged its membership dramatically the past few years. In 2004, for example, membership totaled about 5,500.  For quite some time it’s been the largest group of atheists, agnostics and religious skeptics in the U.S.

As detailed in Freethought Today’s November issue, FFRF surveyed its members last spring, with nearly 4,000 responding. For space reasons, the story didn’t include responses to the survey question, “If you deconverted from religion to freethought, what was the primary catalyst?” Here are just a few of the members’ many answers to that question:
• “While in the military, a chaplain told us it was OK to kill the yellow-skinned man, and that got me questioning.”
• “Women’s studies. I realized religion was another system conceived by men for men. All the scales fell away.”
• “9/11 was a wakeup call regarding religious fanaticism and how dangerous it is for societies.”
• “I never believed the tales told in church because I had already been read so many fantasy tales by my mother. I could tell the difference between a fantasy tale and reality from around age 10.”
• “Most wars have been about religion.”
• “As a young teen, I learned about the Holocaust and realized that there is no God.”
• “At age 9 or 10, a pastor told me it was a sin to go fishing on Sunday.”
• “Attending a Unitarian Universalist church where the minister was an atheist.”
• “Being a Mormon.”
• “At age 15, watching my father die because of blind faith.”
• “Bill Moyers interviewing Joseph Campbell on PBS.”
• “Reading, college bull sessions, friends, lack of evidence, science.”
• “My father was skeptical and said we should go to church ‘just in case.’ ”
• “How could anyone believe Noah’s ark was real? I was 8 and knew better.”
• “About three years ago, a friend loaned me a copy of ‘Letter to a Christian Nation.’ I read it and felt relieved and finally knew where I stood. Thank you, Sam Harris.”
• “I knew what the bible said about sex wasn’t true, so I figured the rest wasn’t either.”
• “My scientific studies ultimately led me to a more confident atheism. Dawkins said it well when explained that he was agnostic about god to the same extent that he was agnostic about garden gnomes.”
• “The hypocrisy, bigotry and completely unjustified claims of moral superiority by religionists are what continue to motivate me to support freethought organizations.”
• “The Catholic Church spending millions of dollars lobbying to take away reproductive choice rights.”
• “I didn’t ‘deconvert’ so much as finally realize I never really believed in the first place.”
• “Killing for Christ in Vietnam.”
• “Ingersoll’s Some Mistakes of Moses.”
• “Learning about the Holocaust.”
• “Pat Robertson.”
• “Psychotherapy!”

Freedom From Religion Foundation