Fascinating interview. Compelling subject, compelling responses.
The irony is that I had become a part of this community because I was looking for a way to make sense of suffering and because the communal aspect of Christianity was very appealing—but when I became increasingly serious about my quest to change my sexual orientation for them, I ended up retreating further and further into myself, and suffering more and more. Eventually I was just a zombie stumbling through my own life, completely unengaged with the world around me; focused solely on this one thing.
My atheism wasn’t born out of the negative experiences that I had had within the church, although I will admit that they sort of set me on a course of self-reflection that led me to the conclusion that God probably does not exist. As a college student, I was encouraged to turn a critical eye on my initial conversion experience. When I did, I realized I hadn’t really converted for the theology of the church, but for the community and the ethics and the positive social action. But I wonder if I would’ve had the opportunity to enter into that deep kind of reflection if I hadn’t had to question everything about who I was for a number of years. I don’t know. I actually think those kinds of hypotheticals are a bit silly. I am where I am now, and that’s what I know. But it’s important for me to say that I didn’t decide that I don’t believe in an anthropomorphized deity who is an interventionist force simply because Christians were mean to me. I feel that’s what a lot of people think about atheists—that they don’t believe in God because of negative experiences with religion.