Jesus Needs New PR

Jesus Needs New PR


Christian Nightmare Speaks: My exclusive interview with the blogger behind the popular site

One question that I get more often than you might imagine is this: Hey, what’s the deal with Christian Nightmares? (You know, the Tumblr site/blog of mostly freakishly Christian videos that I repost a lot!)

And while I have exchanged a couple emails in the past with the person behind the “faith-based freak show,” the honest answer was this: I don’t know. I should ask him/her at some point. We started emailing back and forth about an interview a while ago. But it took a while for us to make it happen.

I’m so happy that we managed to work it out. Because I this interview is honest, blunt, and full of humanity. And I’m not going to say anything else. Because I want the interview to speak for itself.

But I do hope you enjoy this conversation…

ONE MORE THING: YOU get to ask the follow-up questions. That’s right; after you read the interview, if you have a question you’d like for Christian Nightmare to answer, just leave it in the comments! On Monday I will choose a handful of questions (the couple of the most interesting ones and some of the most popular ones) to present to Christian Nightmare to answer. And then I’ll post the follow-up interview when its available.

Okay, now for my interview with Christian Nightmare (CN)…

MPT: First of all, thank you for doing this interview…

CN: No, thank you for giving me the opportunity.

MPT: Christian Nightmare, (addressing you like this reminds me of the time I was in therapy and my counselor made me confront my past like it was flesh and blood. I should have called it Christian Nightmare.) Anyway, I digress… so when did you start Christian Nightmares?

CN: Ha, I’ve spent plenty of time in therapy too! I started Christian Nightmares in November of 2009.

MPT: Why did you start the blog? In other words, what was going on that first day that caused you to think, “I’m gonna go to Tumblr.com and start a blog about crazy Christ-centered nightmares”?

CN: Well, the month before, I had been laid off from my job, and at first, having all this newfound free time was great (and much needed, as I was miserable at my job, worked to the bone, and exhausted). But after a month off, I started getting restless, I wanted to get back to “work”—I’m happiest when I’m busy. Also, I had been working as an online editor and writer for a magazine for a few years, I learned a lot, and I figured it was a good time to use some of that knowledge and experience toward something I was passionate about it. As for the subject matter of Christian Nightmares: I was raised in a very strict and extremely religious household. I was “born again” when I was five-years-old. We went to an insanely fundamentalist, fire-and-brimstone Baptist church, and I spent way too many hours there each week when I was growing up. I’ve spent half my life trying to unlearn most of the things I was taught there, trying to deprogram myself. The name “Christian Nightmares” popped into my head one day, I now had a lot of free time, so I figured it was a good opportunity to dive and start further examining some of the things that had terrorized me as a kid—the blog seemed like the best way to do it.

MPT: And you do this anonymously. Which I must say… I sort of envy sometimes. Anonymous could be fun. Was remaining anonymous important to you?

CN: Remaining anonymous was and is very important to me. I have a lot of family members and friends that are still heavily involved in the church, it’s very important to them, so I don’t want to hurt them personally.

MPT: Do your friends/parents know about the blog? If so, do they approve?

CN: My close non-Christian friends know about the blog, and so does my father—he understands why this is important to me, and has been pretty supportive. But he’s also very concerned/nervous that my mother might find out some day—she wouldn’t take it well, to say the least. So I’d like to remain anonymous, and I hope people respect that.

MPT: Okay, so are you famous? I mean, would I know you if you weren’t, you know, being all secretive and anonymous?! Because it would be sort of awesome if you were like Joyce Meyer or Mark Driscoll or something. OK, maybe that’s just another Christian nightmare…

CN: You nailed it—I am Joyce Meyer’s alter ego! Please tell everyone! No, sorry to disappoint you, but I’m not famous.

MPT: Okay, fine. But for what it’s worth; I love your blog.

CN: Thank you…

MPT: I like the fact that the concept is simple, yet you do such a great job of finding some very obscure and interesting “Christian” content. When somebody asks you to explain your blog, what do you say?

CN: I usually tell people that it’s a satirical look at extremist Christianity. Unfortunately, I think those fringes are moving closer to the center, but that’s another story . . .

MPT: Is doing the blog therapeutic at all?

CN: The blog is very therapeutic, and cathartic. To be able to look closely at the kinds of things that troubled me so much as a kid, that caused so much doubt and fear and guilt and insecurity—to be able to look at that stuff now through adult eyes—has helped me tremendously. It’s really put things in perspective, made it easier to fully realize, “It wasn’t you after all! You weren’t a completely worthless sinner in need of God’s grace! You were a human being, a confused kid trying to figure out a very complex world, but surrounded by a lot of people that had twisted Jesus’ teachings and abused their positions of “power” and “authority”!

MPT: Do you have limits or boundaries as to what you will and won’t post?

CN: I don’t want to post things that are really mean-spirited, or blatantly offensive, or trying too hard to be provocative. That stuff doesn’t interest me.

MPT: Obviously, the blog has become a huge success in a very short time. You’re often mentioned at blogs like Gawker, Jezebel, Dangerous Minds, etc (And I must say that I was a little jealous of that Gawker mention!)

CN: I’ve been really happy with the response/attention the blog has been getting. I think it has something to do with how polarized America is—now more than ever—politically and culturally. I also think a lot of people have had similar experiences to mine with the church, so they can relate to it. But don’t be jealous about the Gawker thing—it’s not like it was The New Yorker or something . . .

MPT: On the flip side, has there been any negative feedback about your blog?

CN: Yeah, there’s been some negative feedback. I’ve gotten emails like, “You better watch what you say about the Lord!” and “You won’t be laughing someday when you’re burning in Hell!” That kind of thing.

MPT: What’s the number one question that people inquire about?

CN: I get a lot of emails from people asking if I’m a Christian or not, that’s probably the number one question. I’ve even gotten a few that started like, “So what’s your deal anyway?” Pretty funny. Those emails don’t bother me, but I don’t write people like that back, I don’t want to engage them.

MPT: How do the negative/critical emails make you feel?

CN: At this point in my life, I know what I believe, I’m not going to get into a debate about it—I spent too many years of my life doing that. Also, the critical emails don’t bother me because I don’t feel like I’m doing anything wrong. If I was posting stuff on Christian Nightmares that made me feel like I was crossing a line—taking cheap shots at people, or being dishonest, or taking things out of context—then I might take those emails more seriously. But I don’t feel that I am. Everything I blog about was already out in the world for public consumption—and most of the videos I’ve posted were uploaded to YouTube by the people that are in them! Seems like fair game to me. Also, when some “Christians” send me hateful, condemning emails, they’re really just validating the blog, and reminding me once again why I don’t want to have anything to do with people like that.

To be fair, I have gotten quite a few well-intended emails from Christians that take a more loving approach. And some of these people seem genuinely concerned for me, and I appreciate that. But they still seem to be trying to save my soul, which seems more than a little condescending . . . Again, I think some of them mean well. But it’s hard not to see it as just another tactic, just a more positive one: “How could you not want to come to the coolest party in the world?!” Well, for one, I don’t believe that this party spot you’re talking about (Heaven) exists . . .

I do have to say, though, that the number of encouraging emails I’ve received about Christian Nightmares has far outweighed the negative ones, and that’s really surprised me. I’ve gotten a lot of emails along the lines of, “Thanks so much for your blog! It’s helping me exorcise the demons from my evangelical upbringing, too!” Those emails are great, they really mean a lot to me. I always try to respond to those people.

MPT: Can you tell me a little about your childhood as it relates to faith?

CN: Hmm… as it relates to faith… I don’t know if I ever was a true believer, I was just too afraid not to believe. I was completely controlled by fear. So many of the sermons in church ended with, “If you were to walk out of here today and get hit by a car, do you know where you’d spend eternity?” I didn’t know, and it was petrifying! If they were right about this place called Hell—a place of complete and utter darkness, a never-ending lake of fire where lost souls are tortured for all eternity—then I was screwed if I was wrong. I didn’t have the guts to let my chips ride on that one, especially at such a young age. I think I tried to talk myself into believing, and I recited the Sinner’s Prayer, just to be on the safe side. But because in my gut I didn’t really believe, I was constantly doubting myself, and incredibly insecure and anxious. And then the pastor would regularly preach things like, “You say that you’re saved, but are you really saved? Did you really mean it when you asked the Lord into your heart? Are you really living for him?” It totally messed with my head. I’d think to myself, Well, I said the prayer . . . I thought that was all I had to do! I’m pretty sure I believed it in that moment . . . But what if I didn’t? I became really paranoid and terrified of death. And I must have asked Jesus into my heart thousands of times: Before I’d get into a car or on a plane (just in case we got into an accident), and every night before I’d go to bed (just in case, for some reason, I died in my sleep), to name just a few scenarios. It was crazy! But it was very real to me at the time. Needless to say, it didn’t do much to build up my confidence and self-esteem, and it shaped my personality and worldview in some pretty negative ways. It’s taken me years to reverse this, and I’m still not all the way there yet.

MPT: Did your church experiences involve any true-to-life “Christian nightmares”? Care to share a couple?

CN: There was one Good Friday, when I was about 10 or 11-years-old, where I was forced to eat a heaping tablespoon of horseradish to get a better sense of “how much Christ suffered for you on that cross!” It was presented as “the least you can do considering all Jesus did for us!” That was pretty nightmarish, and ended with me hugging a toilet bowl.

I was also petrified of The Rapture, this idea that, at any moment, the Trumpet of the Lord could sound and all of the believers would get wisped up into Heaven, but that I might get Left Behind. Not only was I really scared and depressed by the idea that most of the people I knew might suddenly vanish and I’d be left to fend for myself, but I also thought that if that happened, then I would know that it was all true after all, and that my only chance of joining my friends and family up in Heaven would be to reject the Mark of the Beast, and then probably be beheaded (we’ve all seen those movies in church, right?). I became obsessed with The Rapture, really paranoid about it. There were many times when I thought that it had happened. I’d be talking with my mom in the kitchen or something, then turn around and she’d be gone, and I’d think to my self, Oh my God, this is it—it’s happened! And I’d yell out, “Mom? MOM?!!!” Of course, she’d just gone downstairs to fold laundry or something . . . I can laugh about it now, but I didn’t then.

MPT: When was the last time you went to church as a worshiper (not as a wedding/funeral attendee)?

CN: I never really felt like I was going to church to worship, I was forced to go. Once I left home for college, I stopped going. I would go back to the church I was raised in whenever I went home to visit my parents, but that was more out of guilt, and it was also just easier to go and get it over with then it was to get into a huge argument about why I didn’t want to go. But eventually, I couldn’t even do that anymore.

The last time I went to church was about three or four years ago. It was Easter Sunday. The preacher opened with, “He is risen!” and the congregation droned back right on cue with, “He is risen indeed!” Then the pastor went through the same routine that I had heard a thousand times before: He led with a joke, or some corny anecdote to win the crowd over, and then went in for the kill, yelling and getting all teary-eyed as he described how they had driven those spikes into Christ’s hands, and reminding the congregation that it was our sins that had sent Jesus to the cross.

MPT: Why do you think that was the last time?

CN: Well, at one point during the service, I looked around and there were fully-grown adults nodding their heads in agreement and screaming, “Amen!” There were little kids sitting there totally wide-eyed, soaking this stuff in. And it made me angry. It made me angry (and sad) that these people were so willing to sit there and let themselves be subjected to such blatant, guilt-tripping manipulation, and it made me furious that they had no problem letting their kids take this stuff in.

Then, of course, the heart-string-tugging organ pipes in, the pastor gives the invitation, everyone starts singing “Just As I Am,” and people start going forward, including eight-year-olds, ready to admit that they are sinners and ask Jesus to forgive them and come into their hearts, sobbing like crazy because they’re probably just as confused and scared as I was at that age. I couldn’t take it anymore. I decided that I never want to be a part of something like that—on any level—ever again.

MPT: Would you ever consider visiting church again?
CN: No, I have no interest in ever going back to church.

MPT: Do you believe there’s a God? And if so, what do you imagine God would say to the fear-filled 12-year-old version of you?

CN: I really don’t think there is a God. Science makes a lot more sense to me, but it doesn’t completely satisfy me either. There are a lot of things I don’t understand when it comes to the universe and how and why human beings are here on Earth; so much of it seems beyond comprehension—but I’m OK with not knowing. I don’t think anyone has the ultimate answer, and I’m suspicious of anyone who claims to. I would love to believe in God, I really wish I could sometimes, I think it would make things a lot easier. It would be great to be able to believe in a benevolent being that has everything under control, that’s looking out for us down here, and that someday will take away all of our pain and suffering and reward us with eternal bliss and contentment and fill us with love. But I can’t, my mind just doesn’t work that way.

And I certainly don’t believe in the God that I was taught about as a kid, this egomaniacal man in the sky who needs constant praise, thanks, and recognition, who demands that we acknowledge how imperfect and inferior we are in comparison, and who has designed our lives as one giant, confusing, fucked up loyalty test to him. That guy sounds like a psychotic, abusive prick to me. Even if he did exist, I’d want nothing to do with him.

So, I don’t think I can answer the second part of your question. I don’t think a God would allow 12-year-olds to be so fear-filled, and to be mentally and emotionally abused like so many children are in evangelical Christian churches. I also don’t think a God would allow so many kids to be sexually abused, as has been widely seen in the Catholic church. I don’t think a God would allow many of the terrible, inhumane things that happen each and every day.

I also believe that blind faith contributes to a lot of the problems in the world. I think it’s dangerous not to question and challenge “authority,” religious or otherwise, it can leave people vulnerable and ripe for exploitation. But ultimately, I don’t think it really matters what I or anyone else thinks—I wish more people would think for themselves. And who knows, maybe if some people didn’t view their lives on this planet as just a stop-over—if they weren’t waiting for Jesus to come and save them, or dreaming of their mansion in Heaven—maybe they would treat each other better, or feel more inclined to work towards improving living conditions in the here and now. There’s plenty to do.

Do you have a follow-up question? Leave your question in the comment section. (Editor’s note: Not all questions will be answered.)



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Comments read comments(109)
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Vikki

posted March 14, 2011 at 8:49 am


No witty, thoughtful comments to share. No interesting follow-up questions. Just wanted to say “thanks” to you both for this interview.

Vikki



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Janna

posted March 14, 2011 at 8:51 am


Great interview! It’s so nice to know I’m not alone. While I DO still believe in God, I certainly don’t believe he’s the scary guy I learned about growing up in my Texas Baptist church. I’m still trying to “unlearn” and “deprogram” and will also never again go to church. I refuse to subject my children to the kinds of hate and ignorance being preached inside those walls.



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The Armadillo

posted March 14, 2011 at 9:03 am


I don’t necessarily have a question, but thanks for posting this, and thanks to Christian Nightmares for being so honest. It’s a great example of the horrible consequences possible when we use Christ as a manipulative tool and deviate from the mission of love Jesus sent his church on. I am a Bible-believing Christian, but all of the things that made him angry have the same effect on me. I was just lucky enough not to grow up in that kind of environment.



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Lorie Neighbors

posted March 14, 2011 at 9:06 am


Wow, that interview is heart breaking on so many levels. I mean, to think that a person’s religious upbringing would lead them to completely reject God and not believe He exists is horribly ironic. Christian Nightmares’ (CN) childhood church is a nightmare and, as you know Matthew, not unique. Yes, God does require that we admit we are sinners (BUT NOT WORTHLESS!), wants our praise and adoration, and that we acknowledge we are inferior by comparison. But if we are taught about God and receive Him in the true light of who He is, a LOVING God who loves us so much that He wants us with Him forever, then our worship and commitment to Him will be voluntary and enthusiastic. It will fill our hearts with peace and joy, not with contempt and fear, as in CN’s case.

Great interview, questions and responses, both of you. But disturbing and thought provoking.



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    chris ward

    posted March 14, 2011 at 9:48 am


    Lorie, can you explain how someone can be a worthy/worthwhile sinner? The bible states that all human’s good deeds are like rags (literally meaning is rags used for menstruation) to god. That sure sounds worthless to me.

    Matthew – I was really happy to hear about your therapy and I thought it was great to hear that both of you have had experience in it. I too had an experience where my therapist asked me about my relationship w/ god and for the first time ever, I realized, even if I dont believe in him, the relationship was real.

    My question to the both of you: Do you think that the videos that are posted to Christian Nightmares could also be hurtful to your younger selves? When I divorced my wife a few years back, my parents flipped out stating that I was disobeying god’s law. What I found great comfort in was posting videos from CN on my FB. My parents told me that they thought it was inappropriate for me to do so – as its my responsibility to shame the families name. However, now that I’ve gone through some extensive therapy, I’ve realized that I can’t watch CN as much — its just too painful. For instance, watching the video of the tea-baggers yelling at the muslims was too much for me. I realized, that my own family are hurling those words at me! I’ve come to realize that b/c I’m not a christian, and I’m liberal and I support abortion and gay rights – that I’m now the other in these videos and its too much.

    OK — enough from me. Thanks so much for this interview.



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      Bryan

      posted March 14, 2011 at 12:19 pm


      I’d say that in the greater context of what God has done to reconcile us to Himself, you’d be hard pressed to say humanity is worthless to Him. You don’t consistently pursue a relationship with something that’s worthless. You don’t suffer and die for something worthless. We evidently have intrinsic worth to God given His actions on our behalf and desire to commune with Him.



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      Tamara Out Loud

      posted March 14, 2011 at 12:33 pm


      Obviously I’m not Lorie, but your question really jumps out at me, so I hope you won’t mind my tossing in of two cents.

      I think I can be a “worthwhile sinner” despite my menstrual-raggish deeds because my worth doesn’t come from what I do; it comes from who I am. My kids sometimes act like total jerks, but I love them- I find them worthwhile- because they’re *my children.* And I figure the same goes for me with God.



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      Lorie Neighbors

      posted March 14, 2011 at 2:17 pm


      Thank you to Bryan and Tamara for your thoughtful comments–you have said much of what I would say to Chris. Yes, we are sinners because we are human and not perfect and we need a Redeemer. But we are of inestimable worth to God, otherwise why would he send his only Son to die for us? Why would he answer prayer, heal people, and abide with us? In Luke 7:13 Jesus met a grief stricken woman who’d just lost her only son and “his heart went out to her” and he raised the boy back to life. Many Bible verses tell us that God is compassionate and loving! You matter to him Chris. You are not just a cog in life’s machinery. It is terrible that the church and those who profess Christianity have done such a horrible job and have hurt you and countless others so much. It’s embarrassing and humiliating to me that some churches focus on the judgment of God to the exclusion of His love.



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      Arni Zachariassen

      posted March 14, 2011 at 7:19 pm


      Is it just me or is it only boys who point out the whole menstrual thing with those filthy rags? I’ve never heard a girl mention it.



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Sarah Mae

posted March 14, 2011 at 9:25 am


I don’t have a question, just want to say “thank you” for posting this. I need to read these stories so I’m careful not to stay in my own little blind box.



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Loo

posted March 14, 2011 at 9:31 am


My experience is UK, but I have interacted with fundamentalists online. Even had one tell me that because my daughter was a chorister we were hell bound.
I am not saying that my experience is less traumatic with dogmatics, and I love fellowship but hate the arrogance of the Church. My husband is a psychotherapist, and his family life was dysfunctional clergy, a PK in the US I think.
The Church is an organisation that has hierarchy, patriarchal, dominate, and to maintain it’s hold fearful, or traditional. Individuals have to conform to the model to be accepted.
We started to return to church because my daughter wanted to be baptised. I cannot fit into church rota life, I work Sundays. So on the fringes we stay. I wanted to belong but realise I am much better off, my perspective is less skewed.
My son alas may have been put off. Church life should never outweigh family life, and he has been subjected to some heavy evangelical worship. He prefers Ghandi to Christ at the moment.
All I want is for my children to know the relationship with their Creator! My ‘tabernacle’ where I meet God most is in the hills and on walks, not being Bible bashed to submission, or overlooked as I am female.
I was once told, ‘There is no such place as a perfect church, and if you did as soon as you went it wouldn’t be’.



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Kevin

posted March 14, 2011 at 9:42 am


Sad. On a lot of levels. Saddest that the experience of one church would form in him such a narrow view of biblical Christianity. Sad that his rejection of God and church has led to spending his time doing what has wounded him – manipulating thought.



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    Another Narrow Ex-Christian

    posted March 14, 2011 at 3:01 pm


    Hi Kevin.

    I would like to congratulate you.

    Your comment shows that you are the exact sort of condescending, passive-aggressive asshole who never allows ex-Christians to forget that it’s not just the fundamentalists we should avoid.

    Did you get a little tingle when you accused CN of manipulating his readers? Did it make you feel vindicated (or do you think you’re vindicating “The Lord”?) to insinuate that he actually doesn’t even know what he’s talking about? You called him “narrow” and “sad” (but I’m not sure you meant concern over his happiness, by that.) I bet you know that wasn’t the “love of Christ” but you had to pop off at him anyway, the damned atheist, because there’s no way his opinions could be rationally developed and thoughtfully considered – he’s just an emotional inadequate, “rejecting” God because he can’t get over an unhappy childhood, right? (Though how one “rejects” something one doesn’t believe in is a bit of a mystery.)

    Well, thanks for enlightening all of us. You’re definitely the bigger man here. Definitely.

    P.S. You forgot to capitalize “Biblical.” I bet Jesus isn’t too happy about that…



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    Greg

    posted March 14, 2011 at 3:31 pm


    You’re kind of a dick, Kevin. A sanctimonious ass who couldn’t even honestly engage with what was said in the interview. Peeps like you are Christianity’s worst PR.



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    unlucky uzzah

    posted March 14, 2011 at 4:56 pm


    Kevin, I wouldn’t say CN “manipulates thought.” The blog pretty much just presents things that other people has published; commentary by CN is pretty minimal, usually restricted to the occasional adjective in the one- or two-sentence setup.

    Obviously anyone who maintains a blog is selecting their content, and may end up building an argument through those selections, even if it’s inadvertent. But this is hardly a manipulative blog compared to some of the stuff out there!



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    Kevin

    posted March 15, 2011 at 1:38 pm


    I think you have misjudged my intent. But at least you weren’t judgmental or condescending. (I need a little avatarish thing here with sarcastic eyes rolling).

    Get over yourselves.



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      Greg

      posted March 15, 2011 at 1:55 pm


      If your intent wasn’t to sound like an pharisee asshole, you have failed.



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E.G.

posted March 14, 2011 at 9:48 am


Wow. Thanks.

I am not entirely in his boat, but I can imagine this. The church I went to growing up was not (quite) as bad as his. But it got close. Thankfully I had parents that didn’t buy into the strange bits coming from the pulpit.

But, like him, I’ve still had to “reprogram” myself from certain aspects. I’m nearly 40 and I still feel like there are parts that need fixing. So, I can imagine (but just barely) what experiencing the full brunt it must do.

Rapture and head lopping off stuff… that part we have in common. Horseradish? Wow. Just wow.



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Jessica

posted March 14, 2011 at 10:15 am


I’ve been following MPT’s blog for a while and it’s still so odd to hear about others with such similar stories to mine. I was a pastor’s kid in an evangelical denomination that manipulated people into believing through scare tactics. I was terrified of the rapture happening for myself and for any of my family who might have “sinned” just before and been left behind. I refuse to return to the type of churches I grew up in, because I get so angry to see adults and children manipulated by pastors who have twisted the Word into their own ego-maniacal power trip. Thank you so much for this interview.



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    Green Eggs and Ham

    posted March 14, 2011 at 7:32 pm


    I too am a PK. I had a stint as a survivalist as a young teen. I wasn’t a real survivalist living in the woods with guns and 3 years of flour in the basement, I was too young for that. But intellectually and emotionally I was absolutely convinced that Jesus was coming back immediately.

    I was also convinced that the Illuminati and the Satanists were in control of everything. Oh, and that Ronald Reagan was the best, last hope for a Christian nation. /facepalm.

    My Dispensationalist father tried to dissuade me of these ideas. But I was too young to evaluate ideas properly. Oddly, he didn’t make significant efforts to stamp out these crazy ideas running around the church.

    Going to Bible College and the train wreck of my health made me an atheist. (Yes, I have studied “real” Christianity; and yes, it is worth rejecting. Which real Christianity would that be, anyway?)

    I don’t call myself an atheist anymore, not because I am reconsidering Christianity. I side with the atheists in the atheist/theist debate. To me the God of Christianity (in all the ways good and bad he is presented) is too small. I call myself a skeptic, because I am open to the question of God, I just haven’t heard a truly good argument for one yet.



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Recovering Alumni

posted March 14, 2011 at 11:01 am


Kevin – how is he manipulating thought? Have you even looked at his website? All he does is collect videos in one place with no commentary.

Your comment seems like a typical kneejerk reaction – do you even care about the trauma he’s been through or just that his theology is wrong?



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    unlucky uzzah

    posted March 14, 2011 at 4:59 pm


    Sorry, Recovering: I replied to Kevin above without seeing that I was duplicating your point. (And duplicating it with far worse grammar, to boot: “people has”?!)



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Tamara Out Loud

posted March 14, 2011 at 11:45 am


The description of a god who is a “psychotic, abusive prick” made me laugh, and then it made me cry. Thank you, CN, for speaking so openly, and thank you, MPT, for sharing it here.



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FDR

posted March 14, 2011 at 12:12 pm


Have you ever really studied Christianity? I mean this in a serious way, not trying to be sarcastic at all.
Sounds like you have dropped the belief in God based on your church experience, which seems to be from an old school fundamentalist background.

If you have studied Christianity, what is it about Christianity you don’t believe in and why?

Great interview.



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kb

posted March 14, 2011 at 12:15 pm


Like so many others here, I grew up in a very fundamentalist, dictatorial church. I’ve lived a good part of my life fearing a god that seemed happiest when I was most afraid. For a while, I ran. I tried to get as far away as possible from the church that I knew and the god that I knew. Then I found the real God – one that I wasn’t familiar with, but was anxious to know.

If life is a quest, the moment a person, CN included, ends the search for fulfillment and meaning, it will likely only be by accident, coincidence or maybe even providence that he/she will ever be truly happy. So, I would like to know, is CN finished searching? Also, it seemed to me in the interview that as CN described the god he/she learned about as a child, he/she got angrier. What if CN discovered that that God was an imposter, would he/she be willing to reconsider a relationship with the real one?



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Steve Thrush

posted March 14, 2011 at 12:26 pm


mpt~
thanks for this….this conversation is so fricken’ real. not always comfortable, but real. i ache for others who get lost in all of the crap too. one of the thoughts you’ve helped me articulate goes something like this: “Following Jesus is God’s design. Being a christian is something that often looks very different.” would you ask CN how he feels about following Jesus…what we know of what He said and did. could he…..would he…does he…..ever consider that…even if he doesn’t believe in….um…..all the crap religion that surrounds God? just something i wrestle with almost every day thanks. ~steveT



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Amy

posted March 14, 2011 at 1:06 pm


I hate how “Christians” turn off people from ever wanting anything to do with Christ. This really saddens me!



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    chris ward

    posted March 14, 2011 at 1:25 pm


    Just for the record, as a non-theist and an ex-born-againer, Christians don’t turn me off to God — its God/Jesus who completely and utterly turn me off.



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      Lorie Neighbors

      posted March 14, 2011 at 2:23 pm


      Why?



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        chris ward

        posted March 14, 2011 at 4:22 pm


        It would be too long to explain why and honestly, it would be hard to place it all in this comment section – so I’ll reduce it: I will not partake in a relationship w/ someone (i.e God) who believes that I am fundamentally flawed when I know that I am not. Its impossible to partake in such a relationship for me b/c it sets a precedent of me being dependent on this being b/c he knows my true intentions and I am, somehow, not aware of them. To have to depend on something/someone to know how I truly feel is not appealing.
        If I want to watch porn – I will. If I want to do drugs – I will. If I want to divorce my wife – I will. The only person that should be considering these motives is myself – but when I factor a god into that- I start second guessing myself and thats the last thing I’d want to do – b/c this is my life — not HIS!
        He made a being (which happens to be me) and he’s not happy with it (thats why I need Jesus) — however, that his FAULT — absolutely not mine! It was his choice to send his son to die for me – I’m under no obligation to accept it.

        Hope that helps answer your question



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          Lorie Neighbors

          posted March 14, 2011 at 6:05 pm


          Yes, thanks for sharing Chris.



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cindyc

posted March 14, 2011 at 1:47 pm


This interview just reinforces to me how flawed people are–even with the best intentions (as I believe people who go to church have), we manage to do crazy things like manipulation and scare tactics in order to “save” another. I am a follower of Christ, but my church is rather “normal”, nothing like the churches many of you had to grow up in–which do indeed sound like christian nightmares.

I do have a question, though. If Christian Nightmare feels so strongly about this, and so willing to make a statement against something, I find it strange that he would hide behind anonymity. I understand he says he does not want to hurt his family, but I tend to think he is hurting what they believe already by what he posts–so this is just something he says so he doesn’t make himself feel bad (which may be the guilt he learned while he was growing up). I think if someone chooses to take such a strong stance for or against anything, using anonymity to do it is an easy cop-out that helps you to shirk responsibility for your words or actions. It takes a lot of integrity to own up to what you think. I think christian nightmare’s anonymity is no different than the KKK hiding beneath a sheet, or anti-abortion protesters hiding behind signs or masks–just that the disguise is the internet. So that’s my question–REALLY, if you feel so strongly and want to make a change, why the anonymity? What are you really afraid of?



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    LRA

    posted March 14, 2011 at 2:31 pm


    What the hell is your problem??? Seriously. How dare you ask such a ridiculous question. Did you even READ the goddam interview? The man came from an ABUSIVE church. And BTW since you didn’t bother to READ the interview, the guy’s dad knows about the blog.

    Cindyc, your post here has seriously pissed me off. You are insensitive and ignorant and you lack compassion. You have attacked me and now you are attacking this guy? Really?

    REALLY? F*CKING REALLY??????

    You seriously need to get some perspective. If you even think about coming back at me with some ridiculous BS, DON’T.

    Seriously, DON’T.



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      Lorie Neighbors

      posted March 14, 2011 at 2:35 pm


      I’d have to agree with you, LRA. Especially in Cindy’s comparing CN to the KKK in his/her anonymity. Seriously????



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        LRA

        posted March 14, 2011 at 2:47 pm


        You know what. I’m sorry y’all! That was too strong! I’m just having a bad week, so I’m sorry. Really. I mean it.

        The KKK thing set me off. But still, I’m responsible for my actions.

        This comment made me cry because it made me so angry. That is my fault.

        :(



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          Matthew Paul Turner

          posted March 14, 2011 at 2:50 pm


          You’re fine!

          Besides… you spelled your frustration with an asterisk.

          :)

          But seriously, no need to apologize.



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          LRA

          posted March 14, 2011 at 2:57 pm


          Thank you, friend! Of all things I’m at home sick with the flu! The stress of this week has leaked into my body. I woke up at 6 am puking this morning. (Sorry, ew, that is gross, I know!) I’m cranky, sick, and still grieving. I wanted to stay in lurk mode, but I just got really mad. Dang it!

          You are the best! I mean it!!!!



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        Andie Redwine

        posted March 14, 2011 at 2:55 pm


        Fact is, we’re all pretty anonymous here on the Internet. Even you, Cindyc.

        Christian Nightmares isn’t lynching anyone, or dragging a body behind a truck. S/he’s just pointing out abuses and asking good questions. To label CN as the KKK or any other perjorative group is simple an ad hominem attack that is mean-spirited and, yes, abusive.

        Love you, CN. You’ve provided my husband and I many a cheap date with a glass of wine and a scroll through your site. And the next time your detractors can’t say anything nice, come on over and sit by me!



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          cindyc

          posted March 14, 2011 at 3:17 pm


          I may be anonymous–(I know Texans have guns! :) –but I also haven’t chosen to start a public site with a very strong viewpoint on something.
          I also enjoy CNs site, but I do think if you are going to start a public forum making strong statements either for or against something you should not be anonymous. My opinion. Wondering why CN chooses anonymity, legit question.



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          unlucky uzzah

          posted March 14, 2011 at 5:04 pm


          It’s a legit question, but it was answered clearly in the interview.



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          Claire

          posted March 15, 2011 at 9:09 pm


          Short answer: S/he said s/he is respecting his/her family’s anonymity.

          I mean really. Depending on the community or church his/her family is associated with, I wouldn’t want to imagine the type of nonsense they might have to put up with…

          I think it’s a perfectly respectable reason to remain anonymous.



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          Claire

          posted March 15, 2011 at 9:10 pm


          That answer was for cindy, btw. Not you, uzzah.



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      cindyc

      posted March 14, 2011 at 3:09 pm


      <3<3<3
      xoxoxox
      :)



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      cindyc

      posted March 14, 2011 at 3:20 pm


      ONLY his father knows about the site
      Hugs!
      C



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    Matthew Paul Turner

    posted March 14, 2011 at 2:41 pm


    The KKK, Cindy? Really?

    He started a Tumblr site!

    Care to explain? Or retract?



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      LRA

      posted March 14, 2011 at 2:48 pm


      Matt, I apologize for my strong reaction!

      Thank you for posting this interview. I can totally relate to it!



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      cindyc

      posted March 14, 2011 at 3:08 pm


      Not retract, but I will explain-the KKK “protests” under a sheet because they are not “man” enough to stand up proudly for what they “believe” in–it’s a disguise so they don’t have to take the heat (no pun intended) and can anonymously intimidate people. So MPT if you thought I was comparing CNs actions to the KKK I apologize–I did not mean that at all. I do not think he is a terrible person in the least, as a matter of fact I am very sympathetic to what he’s been through and it’s upsetting to me that something would hurt someone’s life as it has done to him under the guise of “religion”. It’s heartbreaking to me.

      I was making a comparison to the hiding–there are reasons that people who feel strongly enough about something to make public statements choose to be anonymous. Is it because he is afraid of backlash from the church? Is he embarrassed because of what he’s been through? Is he trying to seem intimidating? How is the anonymity helping to make anything any better? I’m truly interested to know.



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        Greg

        posted March 14, 2011 at 3:35 pm


        Cindy – Could you post your contact information here, in the comments?



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          Molly

          posted March 14, 2011 at 5:28 pm


          Touche’



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          cindyc

          posted March 15, 2011 at 6:01 am


          Greg–see my other comment. I don’t choose to create a public forum speaking out about something. If someone does choose to create a public forum speaking out about anything–for or against– IMO they owe an identity to the people they are speaking about, unless they fear a threat to their safety. Thus, the question.



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        JLL

        posted March 15, 2011 at 10:45 am


        I think we all saw that CN remains anonymous because he cares about his family. Imagine someone in his parents’ church bringing the site to the attention of the congregation! There would probably be some shunning going on, or at the very least some extremely awkward fellowship gatherings…



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AgnosticPentecostal

posted March 14, 2011 at 1:49 pm


Big props to both of you. I can really identify and appreciate where CN’s coming from. These times call for gut-level self-honesty, something that’s far too lacking in all religions (and even some non-religions). I’m excitedly anticipating the day when overly absolutists power-holders will take the back seat to us wishy-washy types. Then we’ll really get something done. Heh. ;-)



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Christina Keith

posted March 14, 2011 at 2:02 pm


Just another person wanting to express my thanks for the interview. It is nice to know I am not alone! I too grew up terrified and constantly praying the prayer and now can’t trust anything that isn’t based with scientific fact. It was such a relief when I stopped believing that one day the rapture was going to take away everyone and everything I loved. Thank you again… and I completely get the anonymity bit, my Mom is also unaware of my beliefs, which I keep private, out of respect, and out of the fact that the whole world doesn’t need to know exactly how I believe in my heart….



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Tapper

posted March 14, 2011 at 2:21 pm


CN, Do you see any shift in the fundamentalist church in the last 20-40 years (since your childhood)? And if you have seen movement, is it for the better or worse, based on your childhood memories? In other words, has what you experienced undergone any fundamental changes that we can see today, compared to the 50’s 60’s or even 70’s?



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    Lorie Neighbors

    posted March 14, 2011 at 6:07 pm


    That’s a very good question, and I look forward to reading CN’s response!



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Rick Garner

posted March 14, 2011 at 2:30 pm


While this is an insightful interview, what’s sad is that appears CN has been snared by the evils of his past and thus dismisses from existence because if God is so good, He wouldn’t allow evil to exist.

People seem to forget that this world is sinful. Sin is real. Sin has consequences. We feel as if we’re entitled to total happiness and easy-living.

Bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people. God allows these things to happen for His reasons and we don’t have to understand them. We must remember that God is good, just, loving, and merciful.

Instead of doubting God’s goodness or dismissing His existence, our reaction should be to trust Him.



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    LRC

    posted March 14, 2011 at 5:34 pm


    *puke*



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    nickoo

    posted March 14, 2011 at 7:02 pm


    I went through the same thing as the interviewee and am now only starting to get over it. Feeling this freedom has finally brought me true happiness after many years of living in fear and guilt. Evangelicalism is tantamount to child abuse and if I’m a father one day I will never subject my children to it. Life is tough enough as it is, no one should have to go through this type of experience.

    In any typical abusive relationship (I’m calling a spade a spade here, evangelical christianity is abusive) the abuser (the church) typically blames the victim (the sinner), and then offers to forgive the victim (through Jesus) if the victim is “good”. The whole time the victim knows something is wrong but can’t figure out what it is, they then start to blame themselves instead of realizing the problem lies with the true abuser (the church).



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      Rick Garner

      posted March 16, 2011 at 6:33 pm


      Nickoo, while I understand your analogy, I’m curious how do you define evangelical Christianity? How is it abusive? It seems some people have unfortunate experiences in certain congregations or denominations and stereotype the group with a label.

      For example, I’m a Southern Baptist and that denomination likely has many stereotypes (and may even be considered evangelical) but I consider myself a follower of Christ above above anything else and not concerned about stereotypes or assumptions.



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    chris ward

    posted March 14, 2011 at 7:59 pm


    Rick – please remember – you live by that axiom (see below), but not all do. I live by the axiom that my feeling are real and my feelings have consequences. I also believe I am entitled to total happiness, however, happiness does not equate easy-living.

    *People seem to forget that this world is sinful. Sin is real. Sin has consequences. We feel as if we’re entitled to total happiness and easy-living.



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      Rick Garner

      posted March 16, 2011 at 6:40 pm


      Chris, I expect non-believers to forget this but sadly many Christians ignore or become numb to sin. My reference to total happiness and easy-living is that some naively believe that when they follow Christ that every day will be filled with joy and all their cares will disappear. Christ never promised such.



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Sam

posted March 14, 2011 at 2:53 pm


Question for CN: Would you consider forgetting EVERYTHING you ever learned in church, then living for a year like the Jesus you find in the Bible (some modern translations) did, minus the teaching and preaching parts? Live among the poor, the fringe people, outcasts and so on and touch them, become friends, love them, give them your stuff and so on? Don’t read a book about the Bible, don’t listen to sermons, but only read what the Bible itself tells us about Jesus and live like that.

I’m kinda getting past pointing out all the crap about the Institutional Church types. It’s so easy to find stuff, like finding apples on an apple tree in August. Some people agree, and some people get mad. But not much of anybody changes.

What we need are alternatives to the church stuff. Like loving on people, especially the hurting, poor, outcast and you get the idea.



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    Green Eggs and Ham

    posted March 14, 2011 at 7:55 pm


    I can do this without being a Christian. Seriously, Christianity has to get over thinking goodwill, and charity, and gift-giving and identifying with the downtrodden as some special Christian virtue.

    They are human virtues. And yes, humans are no better at living them than Christians.

    Church history is a complete negation of the teachings of Jesus regarding wealth and power.

    Within centuries of its founding the Church became entangled with the Roman government. When the Roman Empire fell; the RCC became the government.

    The RCC was complicit in the systematic denigration of humans in the system that is known as feudalism. The Protestant Church took a similar path with capitalism. Both economic systems view humans as means to ends.

    There have been exceptions like St. Francis of Assisi or Archbishop Romero, but exceptions prove the rule.

    If your Christ is at work in your Church, then he is impotent, because only a precious few Christians seem to understand Jesus on the issues of wealth and power.



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      Sam

      posted March 14, 2011 at 9:28 pm


      I agree with you. Not sure what I said that made you think otherwise. The question is not does it take a Christian to do this, but are we doing it and what are we discovering as we are. Can’t comment on what Jesus is or is not doing in churches, because I’m not part of that. I don’t have a background similar to yours, but have heard there are some pretty crazy religious groups out there. I do follow Jesus, but never found Jesus in the church, as apparently you did not. I read that this is why millions have left churches.



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        Green Eggs and Ham

        posted March 14, 2011 at 11:23 pm


        I am sorry, I had a kneejerk reaction. I am wary of less crazy Christians too.

        Your comments, on closer read, seem far less cluttered with Christianity than most Christians’ would.

        And they take Jesus’ words about who your neighbour is very seriously.

        Churches are dangerous places; avoid them at all costs. I didn’t find Jesus in the Church. There are too many there claiming to speak for him.

        Jesus does very much impress me. He thinks that humans are ends in themselves, which is still revolutionary.

        My thoughts about Christian history are currently focused on the Christianization of the Slavs. I am reading on that right now for class.

        I am reading repeated references to the slave trade in Constantinople. Slavery was perfectly permissible as long as you weren’t enslaving your fellow Christians. Heathens and Muslims were fair game. I cannot tell you how viscerally repugnant Christianity is.



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          Sam

          posted March 15, 2011 at 5:30 pm


          No problem! Yes, Jesus is a most interesting person, isn’t he? If you’ve read a little, you have probably run across people from many religions who admire him, even though most of them don’t recognize him as God. I love Gandhi. He admired Jesus. I remember Gandhi saying “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ.”

          I’m not interested in looking like Christians. I’d prefer to look a bit like Jesus.

          I’m sorry for what the church did to you. You deserved better. So do lots of other people. I’m guessing that you have abilities that will enable you to be a helper to help others heal also. There really is life after church.

          Think about it. There are at least 300,000 churches in just the USA. Think about all the people who depend on them for a paycheck. Think about the billions of $$$ involved. Think about all the people who run them and control the people who are part of them.

          The basic rule for making money: have a product or service. Convince people they need it, on a regular basis. Then convince them that your product is better than other similar products, so they’ve gotta get it from you. Now it’s “Give me your money and do whatever I say if you want_____”. When your product is God and heaven, if you can convince your customers if they don’t get your version of the product, then they go to hell, then you can get away with a lot. Sound familiar?

          There are probably thousands of examples of where people used religion, God or Allah or whatever and the holy writings to supposedly provide support for whatever they wanted to do. It’s happening this very moment. I just don’t get why each new generation keeps falling for the same old scams.

          I find my peace following Jesus. He just doesn’t look anything like the churches I have seen, or maybe I should turn that around.



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Jared

posted March 14, 2011 at 2:57 pm


Some very candid, introspective answers. But caution MPT: saying you “love” your interview subjects’ work and that you are “jealous” of him comes off as amateurish and unprofessional. I’m sure there are other, less overt ways that you could convey these sentiments.



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    Matthew Paul Turner

    posted March 14, 2011 at 3:02 pm


    Hey Jared, this is a blog interview. Doesn’t that change things a bit?

    If this was going to be on CNN or some other national media, I certainly would have taken a more professional tone. But it’s a blog interview. And it’s my blog.

    The editorial rules are not the same.



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      Tamara Out Loud

      posted March 15, 2011 at 10:34 am


      Oh, it’s about to get ALL amateurish and unprofessional up in here: MPT, I absolutely love what you do, and I am way jealous of the grand scale of your blog. And I hope that was perfectly overt.



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      Noelle

      posted March 16, 2011 at 10:20 am


      you start getting too professional, I’m going to have to stop wasting time here and go get some work done



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Tapper

posted March 14, 2011 at 3:23 pm


A. What was I thinking when I subscribed to the comments? A lot of HATIN’ goin’ on up in this beatch.

B. Anonymous pulls off the mask a bit better than you do CN, but yours does have it’s own style. Kudos.



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    Noelle

    posted March 16, 2011 at 10:18 am


    you subscribed to the comments? Dude, how much e-mail can you take? Learn to skim



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sadie

posted March 14, 2011 at 3:48 pm


Thank you CN and MPT for sharing this interview.

To the detractors and those trying to “save” him, bring him back to the church…hahahahahahah wow, you’re pathetic. Can’t handle a little criticism ey?



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Brian

posted March 14, 2011 at 4:19 pm


I’m kind of getting a kick out of a majority of these comments. It’s like people are saying, “if only CN would visit my church, then he would see the truth.” Maybe I’m wrong, but from what I read in this interview, he knows what the Bible says about sin, death, hell and Jesus. He chooses not to believe it.

Anyway, MPT my question for him would be: What is the most memorable clip you’ve posted since you began the site? (And a link to said clip would be great)

MPT – Thanks for posting the interview. I have corresponded with CN a couple of times and always found him to be a nice person, it’s good to finally hear his story.



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FDR

posted March 14, 2011 at 6:16 pm


It doesn’t matter anyway…. Love Wins…. who cares if he believes in God or not. He will eventually according to Love wins. Live your life CN.



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    Matthew Paul Turner

    posted March 14, 2011 at 6:47 pm


    Let me ask you this:

    Do you believe you’re going to Heaven (or saved or born again) because

    a) Jesus died on the cross for the sins of the world….

    OR

    b) your belief/trust/faith IN the fact that Jesus died for the sins of the world



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      Lorie Neighbors

      posted March 14, 2011 at 7:53 pm


      B of course. If A were true, then everybody is going to heaven and God’s Word clearly says the opposite. Not even everyone who says they know Him, will have eternal life.



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FDR

posted March 14, 2011 at 6:40 pm


Also MPT,
What would you say to Chris Ward or CN about salvation?



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FDR

posted March 14, 2011 at 7:14 pm


MPT,
I believe Jesus summed it up to Nic in John 3:16- he who believes will not perish… pretty simple
in light of that read John 3:36

Let me ask you this. How is one saved? Do they need to be saved? What does that look like? What did Jesus and Paul say about it? What is the Good News?
Would love for you to answer :)



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    Matthew Paul Turner

    posted March 14, 2011 at 7:21 pm


    So ultimately, in your mind, it all comes down to you believing/trusting… so a person’s belief or non-belief is of greater importance than what Jesus did…

    How is that any different than humanism? Isn’t grace undeserved? Unearned?



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FDR

posted March 14, 2011 at 7:26 pm


I’m just quoting Jesus and Paul. Seems You avoided the question. What would you tell CN and Chris about salvation? And
Where in the Bible does it say Jesus death was a pass for everyone? Just wondering…
I’m not being mean spirited because this is very important. I would love to know what you think.



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    Matthew Paul Turner

    posted March 14, 2011 at 7:34 pm


    Eh… what you and I think doesn’t matter.



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      Lorie Neighbors

      posted March 14, 2011 at 7:55 pm


      But…do you actually believe that every person goes to heaven, because Jesus died for everyone?



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FDR

posted March 14, 2011 at 7:38 pm


hmmm. what i thought… sad



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    Matthew Paul Turner

    posted March 14, 2011 at 7:54 pm


    :)

    Thankfully your fear and “sadness” have no effect on me.

    So please… Be sad. You can’t hurt me.

    :)



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      Lorie Neighbors

      posted March 14, 2011 at 7:56 pm


      And that’s “effect” not “affect.” :))



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        Matthew Paul Turner

        posted March 14, 2011 at 8:01 pm


        Thanks… :)



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FDR

posted March 14, 2011 at 8:03 pm


mpt,
ok .. at least you are honest about it..
I wonder why people in the Bible were never so vague about the Gospel?
Acts 16:31 one of many non vague instances….
Still wonder what you would say to CN and Chris?



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Green Eggs and Ham

posted March 14, 2011 at 8:05 pm


I have a question and not just a rant.

CN: How do you keep looking for this stuff? I watch some of it on yours, this and other sites and it sets me off.

Some of my reactions are PTSD-like; some are anger; some are weariness; and some are sorrow. I can only take it in very small doses. (Chick tracts still scare the h*ll out of me. Long story; I’ll tell it some day.)

Kudos for your site and your work in telling the truth that sets us free.



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air

posted March 14, 2011 at 8:59 pm


Fascinating! Kudos for believing in yourself and moving forward from an abusive experience.

I’ve never had a religious experience such as you’ve described, but can relate with the feelings you’ve expressed. I’ve experienced people who are riddled with guilt and remorse and want forgiveness and a fresh start, but never forgive themselves or those who’ve possibly lead to such feelings. I’ve lived along side those, who are so selfish and self centered they can only think of themselves and not how their beliefs and actions can be abusive to a young mind.

What I take away from your blog is that you are giving us what’s out there. This is not made up or embellished. The imagery, video and music speak for themselves, and in this interview, so do you.

Many may disagree with you, and that is their choice. Let them speak from their soapboxes. You my friend, do not need to shout, the material does it for you.

Thanks for sharing, being honest and beng an outlet for those who share your same point of view.

-air



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Chris M

posted March 14, 2011 at 10:49 pm


Wow, what a great interview. Thank you. I can relate to so many of those experiences CN had. There’s definitely some blinders that come off when you grow up and can look back on things for what they really were. The whole manipulative fear pitch. The rapture panic. It really should give the church a whole lot to think about.



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Joel B

posted March 14, 2011 at 11:09 pm


CN:

Thank you. Even if my comfort in companionship comes from an online and unknown source, it is better than nothing. I too have been deeply traumatized by evangelicalism. In fact, even though I am not in a church anymore I still feel traumatized on a daily basis because of the ways I see church still affecting me and affecting those close to me. My question is one I have asked MPT before:

You mentioned that moment when you are enlightened into seeing the absurdity of some church culture as a form of therapy, and I can totally relate. What I find, however, is that when I go back and take a deeper, more rational look at evangelicalism, the catharsis is replaced with cynicism, and I am hurt more. How do you filter out these feelings and guard against cynicism? Or, is the cynicism actually therapeutic? In other words, looking back at your past gives you hope for the future, but what if seeing church culture today only gives you more hopelessness? Hope that makes sense. Thanks.

Again, love the site. Coming out of the “I don’t think that way closet” was a rough one for me. (Especially when you are the only pastor’s son. And you belong to a large Calvinist church.) And with that goes my anonymity for some readers of this blog, so I’ll go ahead and stop writing. Thanks again for the interview, both of you are wonderful!

– Joel



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redacted

posted March 14, 2011 at 11:10 pm


It seems to me the question is not “do you believe in God” but “WHAT IS god anyway?” If I divorce myself from all traditional notions of God, and think about how deep science has gone into inner and outer space, the concept of infinity, then “god” (lower case) is almost a scientific term; “what is god?” is the same a “what is life?” The fact that our ancestors had very simple notions of the world and limited scientific knowledge meant that they came up with simplistic ideas that were little more than superstitions and security blankets.

Asking “does god exist?” is like asking “does life have meaning?” I don’t know, I hope so, sometimes I feel so, but there’s no proof.



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    chris ward

    posted March 15, 2011 at 7:53 am


    Redacted — wonderfully put!



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Joel B

posted March 14, 2011 at 11:17 pm


Also….MPT:

How do I post a picture next to my name when I comment??

And also, I am going to Rome for a study abroad this Summer to study early Christological depictions of Jesus within the Vatican and writing a thesis paper. My thesis is that our images/ideas/themes/motifs about Jesus are almost entirely based on Greek and Roman art and literature and much of our doctrines, creeds, eschatology, etc. is based on these images as well.

Since my paper deals with the historical Jesus vs. the Western American Jesus I was wondering if you had any interest in reading my research/paper or keeping up with me this Summer? I am trying to get established in the internet world because I want to write after school, and am going to blog about the trip (As well as my life and thoughts, etc.) I didn’t know if you had any words of wisdom, advice, or help to offer me? If you don’t mind shooting me an e-mail sometime, that would be really appreciated. Thank you, sir.



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Sara

posted March 15, 2011 at 8:09 am


CN, thanks for your honest interview. Your response about praying the sinner’s prayer over and over just in case it didn’t take could have been straight from my own brain. I did the same thing growing up, I was terrified of dying in my sleep or being “left behind”. I had an experience just like your when I came out of my room and found myself alone in the house. I started calling everyone I knew, completely panicked because I was convinced the rapture had happened and I was alone.

My question would be, how do you find your content? Do you have certain sites you watch or key words you search for? Just curious.



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    Sara

    posted March 15, 2011 at 7:36 pm


    And I like your mask by the way. Just sayin’. The word “awesome” comes to mind. And the word shiny….



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JLL

posted March 15, 2011 at 10:59 am


Fabulous interview!!! I had a somewhat similar upbringing to CN–I would be considered a backslider, haven’t attended in years, etc. But there are still things about the church and Christian culture that I enjoy. Some sermons can still move me to tears. Old hymns and choral pieces give me a little tingle. I’ve come to the point where I can watch “A Thief In The Night” and laugh my butt off. I’ve even started collecting some of the trappings of my evangelical upbringing (PTL memorabilia and Kathyrn Kuhlman books!). So I’d like to ask CN, is there anything about Christian culture or “the church” that he still enjoys? Anything he experienced or remembers that doesn’t leave such a sour taste?



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    Noelle

    posted March 16, 2011 at 10:15 am


    Good question.



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Noelle

posted March 15, 2011 at 7:27 pm


90+ comments and lots of new voices. I had to give it a skim to see how many different questions are actually in there. a handful. Will be interesting to see the answer?

Who were the first atheists you met as a youngster? What was your impression of them and what did they think of you? Are any still friends? Do you keep in touch with old Christian friends?

You can stay anonymous and not say if you have kids, but if you rhetorically do (or will in the future) how will you teach them about their grandparents’ religion and all the beliefs of their peers? Will you do secular versions of religious holidays?

Do your Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, etc friends understand your site?

Did you get to go to Christian summer camp as a kid? Did you fail the swimming test and have to stay in the shallow end of the lake? Were you awesome at 4 square? Did you dread the campfire thing where the counselors guilt you into giving a testimonial, even though 11 yr olds aren’t cognitively able to do that?

Favorite girl scout cookie?



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ActionNotWords

posted March 16, 2011 at 4:26 am


Maybe, instead of constantly debating, offending and judging we should get on with our lives and calling, what ever that may entail.

Too much time is wasted on these comment bits, aimlessly debating till the sun goes down.

God (or otherwise) could surely think of better things to do with your time.

So read and if you enjoyed, say you enjoyed. If not, say you never enjoyed.

Over and out



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    Noelle

    posted March 16, 2011 at 10:13 am


    but do you have a question?



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Rick Garner

posted March 16, 2011 at 6:32 pm


Nickoo, while I understand your analogy, I’m curious how do you define evangelical Christianity? How is it abusive? It seems some people have unfortunate experiences in certain congregations or denominations and stereotype the group with a label.

For example, I’m a Southern Baptist and that denomination likely has many stereotypes (and may even be considered evangelical) but I consider myself a follower of Christ above above anything else and not concerned about stereotypes or assumptions.



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StuartB

posted March 17, 2011 at 12:18 am


Christian Nightmare – you say you have no interest in going back to a church ever again; understood. But if you had the opportunity to remake, change, or in general reform the American Christian Church, in what shape would you make it, what would be different, what would it look like, etc, and why? How would you transform the church of your childhood into the church you wished it would have been?



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NikkiL

posted March 17, 2011 at 9:57 pm


This was a really interesting interview. I’m glad I stumbled on it. I have 2 questions, whether they get answered or not I wanted to ask them. First, do you find it difficult to maintain deep relationships with Christian friends and family? If they believe you’re going to hell for your beliefs, and you feel that they’re wasting their praise and faith on a psychotic, abusive prick, it seems like it would be hard to have relationships that weren’t surface level. That’s an awfully big elephant in the room! (Please know that my tone is sincere and by no means sarcastic). Ok, second, in the interview you mention people twisting Jesus’s teachings. Am I reading too much into that, or is there an untwisted version of Jesus’s teachings that you believe in? Thank you again for being so candid.



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Stacey

posted March 18, 2011 at 9:57 pm


I went to a Christian college, and one time my Spanish professor left the room and we thought it would be funny to have a rapture drill. We all hid in the next classroom over. I bet Senior whatever his name was – never got over it.



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BrianD

posted March 19, 2011 at 10:49 pm


CN, thank you for the interview. I’ve followed the blog for quite some time now and wondered what the story was behind it. Thanks for taking the time to tell us.



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Abby

posted March 30, 2013 at 8:23 am


Hi MPT and CN,

Thanks so much for this. I have experienced evangelicalism to the same extent in many ways. I have been doubting and questioning for the past 5 years and it’s been traumatic, to say the least. Anyways, I think one of the hardest things about deconstructing my faith and really examining what I have believed to be truth for so long, is the relationship I have with my parents (and other close, Christian friends). They aren’t the type of parents who would never speak to me again if I ultimately told them I didn’t believe but they are the type who would be deeply disappointed and probably spend the rest of their lives trying to convert me back. My Dad is a pastor so it’s kind of in his nature. I anticipate a lot of guilt and heartache. Can you speak to this? How was your relationship with your parents/family affected? What advice would you offer? Thanks for your time!



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