People leave the faith for many reasons. Sometimes it’s a result of their own inquiries but sometimes they are helped along, their assent into skepticism and unbelief unwittingly mid-wifed by believers themselves. Psychologist Valerie Tarico, author of “Trusting Doubt: A Former Evangelical Looks at Old Beliefs in a New Light,” outlines how believers do just that in her article,”8 Ways Christian Fundamentalists Make People Convert — to Agnosticism or Atheism.”
The eight ways she suggests “church leaders or members do things that either trigger the deconversion process or help it along [...], push people out the Church door or shove secret skeptics out of the closet,” are listed below. In the full article she offers much more detail on each, examples of how they show up, and why and how they have the negative impacts they have. I can imagine even many believers might agree with her, especially those of the “Lord, save me from your followers!” persuasion. I think it goes deeper than that. This is not a list for extremists, but also for the rank and file:
5) Disgusting and Immoral Behavior
6) Science Denial
7) Political Meddling
Now, this is not intended as an anti-Christian polemic. Believers can read her article and disagree as much as they want. It seems to me though this is something along the lines of “I am breaking up with you, and now I would like to tell you why.” Anyone who cares about their relationships might want to take heed, at least listen and consider what’s being offered, but I imagine there are those who will just blow it off as so much religion-bashing yet again. That would be a missed opportunity and unfortunate for us all. Note, for example, that none of these 8 have anything to do with Christianity’s core beliefs! Valerie’s blog is here, for those who would like to follow her or do a little more poking around.