I No Longer Believe. What Do I Tell My Kids?

Here is an email I recently received. Any additional helpful advice would be appreciated. [Used with permission]

Hi John,

My de-conversion happened over a 10 year period in full-time ministry. I left ministry 12/31/06 with my integrity in tack. Now I just opened up my de-conversion to my family last summer. My wife, not surprisingly, was relieved. My kids, who we had sent to a fundy Christian school, were disturbed. I assured them I was not going to hell and that I still believed in “God” as much as I thought was possible to believe anymore. That comforted them for a while until we stopped going to church. My oldest child is very spiritual. She enjoys church and misses the Christian school. I too and a very spiritual man. I’ve found some solace in exploring Buddhist philosophy and I enjoy what I’m learning. I’m not fully come to an atheist I’m more agnostic but I’m not a believer in the God of the Bible.

I’ve been reading, devouring many books about the lies of Christianity. Sam Harris’ books have been huge eye openers. As was the DVD “The God Who Wasn’t There.” All of these just conformed my suspicions about my faith. I bought into a fairy tale in 1983 at the age of 15. I had a radical conversion and after high school I began the path toward full time ministry. After a stint in the Army to get some college money, I went to Bible college and seminary. I served in 2 churches as youth pastor. I ran a growing and successful AWANA program. I served on full-time missionary staff with Campus Crusade for Christ from 1996-2001. I launched and ran my own campus church/ministry from 2001-2006. From 1994-2006 I had growing doubts.

In the last ten years I began to see that no matter how much faith or belief I had God was and did not work. Oh I thought he did. I pretended he did. I duped myself in to believing on some level that he was really there for me. In that time a dear friend who de-converted in 1999 asked me this question: “Steve, what has Jesus really done for you this week, this month, this year?” I came up empty. All the trite answers I could give him were just fluff… stuff I had really stopped believe after many, many disappointments with God.

So I found a way out of ministry without going public with my agnosticism. Christians are so mean when someone falls away. I know I was mean myself a couple of times more than I want to remember. I became a financial advisor and I love it. But I played the game for a while because I deeply feared that I would be outcast. That fear is slowly drifting away.

Here’s my dilemma… I love my kids and I raised them in the Christian way. I really strove to live the life I was “called” to live. I didn’t leave because of “sin” in my life. I wasn’t really looking to leave. I just kept searching for reasons why God was not answering my prayers and helping us. So I left because I could not believe it any more. I could no longer tolerate the let downs. But my kids are feeling the pain of it because they still have “childlike faith.”

Do you have any advice? Are there resources for guys like me to help me free my kids from the God/Jesus myth? I do want to encourage my kids to be spiritual. But I just don’t know how.

Any words you would have for me would be appreciated.


Steven A. McDowell

Here is my advice:
Steve, you're not alone.

From what I can tell this book will help you and your wife.

You should get a subscription to Michael Shermer's Skeptic Magazine, since it contains a nice sized section written just for kids.

Beyond that there are skeptical meet ups that may be in your area. Get your kids to meet and play with non-believing kids. Do a search for these groups here.

There are also skeptical groups associated with Center for Inquiry that would help introduce your children to skeptical children.

With your permission I'll post this at DC to see if anyone else has some helpful suggestions.

Best to you,
John W. Loftus