ExChristian.Net -- encouraging ex-Christians

encouraging de-converting and former Christians
The ExChristian.Net blog exists for the express purpose of encouraging those who have decided to leave religion behind. It is not an open challenge for Christians to avenge what they perceive as an offense against their religious beliefs.
A podcast by Dr. Marlene Winell


Dr. Marlene Winell, psychologist, educator, and writer in the San Francisco Bay Area as well as author of "Leaving the Fold," talks about her loss of Christian faith during an interview on the Australian radio program, "The Search for Meaning with Caroline Jones"

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by Valerie Tarico

It appears that televangelist Pat Robertson is in the thrall of Satan, according to spiritual warriors, Drs. Valerie Tarico and Marlene Winell. "It's the only possible explanation," said Tarico. "How else can we make sense of his repeated attempts to humiliate both God and Christianity in the wake of recent natural disasters."

Tarico spotted what she saw as a suspicious pattern after Robertson's recent remarks about Haiti. As people lay dying in the rubble of Tuesday's tragic earthquake and nations around the world scrambled disaster experts, Robertson spoke to the Christian Broadcasting Network's "The 700 Club:" "Something happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it," "They were under the heel of the French. You know, Napoleon III, or whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the Devil. They said, we will serve you if you'll get us free from the French. True story. And so, the Devil said, okay it's a deal." Robertson summed it up: "Ever since, they have been cursed by one thing after the other."

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by Marlene Winell

The full-blown fundamentalist version of the “Christmas story” is truly pernicious. In the last couple years, I’ve thought about the imagery of Christmas (the child archetype) and the traditions we all enjoy which can be separate from Christianity (See previous articles). This year, I read a piece by Billy Graham called “You can know the Christ of Christmas,” and was reminded of all that is wrong with this religion, and how it can taint so much about life. I felt so sad reading this because as a humanist, it seems so wrong to denigrate who we are as human beings.

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by Marlene Winell

Christmas ball - ChristianityImage by nabeel_yoosuf via Flickr

I’m sure we all remember being told to not forget that “Jesus is the reason for the season,” so if you are recently deconverted from Christianity, this may be a confusing time for you. But I think it’s a good time to do some healing and growth by taking personal responsibility for how to construe the holidays and consciously deciding what to do, if anything. In my view, this is part of the larger reconstruction project of recovery, which involves rethinking and reclaiming responsibility in every facet of life. As examples, I have discussed the importance of taking responsibility for personal “spirituality,” for deciding on one’s own sexual guidelines, and the importance of getting past looking for “God’s will” in making life choices.

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by Dr. Marlene Winell

Watch me fly away, give me life like a butterf...Image by Te55 via Flickr

Recently I had a very short, but encouraging little dream right before waking up. I had been feeling burdened by all the problems in the world. In my dream I got the message that “the butterflies are working to lift our spirits.” I woke up surprised and delighted. Later I shared it with a couple friends who also liked it, amused by the image.

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by Marlene Winell


I met Jesus in Golden Gate Park many years ago and he helped change my life. He sent me in a new direction – away from Christianity.

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By Marlene Winell

There is a fundamental contradiction in the evangelical message of salvation because, according to them, it is NOT Christ's atoning death that saves you, it is YOUR BELIEF in it. (otherwise everyone would be saved). Therefore, this is not a salvation by grace, it is another salvation by works, albeit cognitive work. You must DO several things - find out about and understand the atonement, accept that Jesus dies for your sins, feel guilt and express your sorrow for being responsible, ask forgiveness, and invite Jesus "into your heart" to rule for the rest of your life.

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A newborn infantImage via WikipediaBy Marlene Winell

We can probably agree we don’t like the commercialism of Christmas, the stress, or the holiday angst. Yet at the center of it all there is a powerful image that speaks to all of us –- the Child. It’s fascinating to me that once a year so many people stop everything, or at least pause, to acknowledge a Child.

But who is this Child of Christmas and why does the image have such power? We have religious and secular interpretations, and I would like to suggest a third -– a soulful interpretation.

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By Marlene Winell, Ph.D.

I get this question so frequently, I’ve decided to make a better effort to reply. To be honest, I don’t like the question because it presumes we know what those words mean. Here are some responses, touching on more or less serious aspects of the topic.

1. Which god? Do you mean Zeus, Baal, Athena, Shiva, Allah, Jehovah, or some other? If you mean one of those, then no. I am not a theist. I don’t believe in an individual being that created and now controls the world.

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By Marlene Winell

This is an excerpt from my book, "Leaving the Fold: A Guide for Former Fundamentalists and Others Leaving Their Religion." I would be interested in your feedback.


Religion is supposed to be good for you. Yet people get hurt in religious systems, sometimes seriously. I used to think that although damage was done by so-called cults, most religion is essentially benign. It could give you some comfort as a child and teach you some values, but then you grew up and away from it. It wasn’t until I looked back on my struggle to grow free of my own indoctrination, and heard the stories of others, that I realized that this kind of emotional and mental damage can be profound.

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Honor the Child
Marlene Winell, December, 2007

The Christmas season is often busy and complicated with families and schedules and special events. There are standard criticisms of materialism and holiday angst. Yet at the center of it all there is a powerful image that speaks to all of us – the Child. It’s fascinating to me that once a year so many people stop everything, or at least pause, to acknowledge a Child.

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