SDA Deconversion Story Part 6: Final Thoughts

And the story goes on, to this day. My relationship with my family has greatly improved, but it is still bad. I remain very bad at handling myself with them, something I feel very guilty about. I have many painful stories to tell that have happened since, I have a lot of funny stories and I have some heart warming tales that I will always remember and share. I cannot say how grateful I am to my friends.

The pain, it does not end

When I say the story goes on, I do mean it. This, what I shared, was only the beginning. So much has happened since in the years following this. I look back sometimes and I cannot believe how much my life has changed. I have gone through so many painful experiences; I think the most painful thing was losing my identity to my family. I was once previous talented, gifted and a treasure. I had a long list of achievements to put besides my name. But in an instant, I went from being a shinning star to an absolute disappointment. To this day, I am still that disappointment, and they have told me as such, literally. In their eyes, the only things that matter are:

  1. My well-being
  2. The fact that I am a non-Adventist and have left the church.

I so desperately want to go back to being their darling. I so desperately want them to be proud of me. Until I had these things and I lost them, I did not realise how much I needed it. Instead of kind-hearted, I am now viewed as cold, angry and a whore (their words, not mine). I have begged them to tell me good things about myself; they struggle each time.

Why didn’t I just walk away? Why do I care?

What haunts me to this day, as I have sat here and written my account down, is the confusion at myself. Why didn’t I just shut off, and not care about their words? Why did I just not “come out”, and then ignored the words they would say to me? Why did I care so much? It strikes me so because I am otherwise a very strong individual and am hard to crack. But it was like I had invisible rope around me, tying me to the chair that was the church. When they surrounded me in their intervention meeting, why did I not just say “it is true”? What could they do to me? Yet I was absolutely frozen with fear. Somehow, the environment, the culture, it had me psychologically tied down with terror, guilt and shame. I still feel guilty for all that has happened, as though it was my fault. After all, did not my family do a lot for me growing up? I had everything and they supported me in so much. Do I have the right to throw that away, in-light of my experiences with this?

What do I owe them?

While I don’t know the answer to this question, I do know something; I wished for more information when I decided to leave the church. I know that I am not alone in my experience in leaving the church. I know of several people who have either left or are still involved, many which had much worse experiences than me.

Why I made this website

When I deconverted, I tried to find information from people that had left. I wanted to find out how they had done it. Unfortunately, I could not find a lot of information on leaving the SDA church. I speculate that this for two reasons:

  1. The church has greatly improved over the years, and less and less people are having the sorts of experiences that I had when I left the church. Because the “mainstream” church is no longer a cult, it isn’t talked about.
  2. Not a lot of people involved in the conservative sides of the church deconvert completely. They either get stuck in the exclusive culture and can never bring themselves to leave, or else they will deconvert to “liberal” Adventism. They will never share their stories of their time involved in the dangerous, cult-like aspects of the church.

Because of reason 2, I suspect that there a lot of stories unheard and untold. And even if there aren’t, I don’t care at all. I don’t need to hear them. But if this website helps just 1 person, I will be happy.

This website is my inner thoughts, my attempts to grapple with this strange world I was once apart of. I try to break it down, to analyse what goes on. Not just what goes on in plain sight, but what the undercurrent is, what Adventists really mean when they do and say things. As much as I try to talk about it, I know my explanations will fall short. But ultimately, that is OK. This website was not created for gawkers (though you are welcome to look around). It was created for ex-Adventists, who will inherently understand what I talk about. It is here so that they can see they are not crazy, that they are not alone, and if I help just 1 person, my mission will be complete.

My Deconversion Story

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6

10 Comments
  1. Thank you for sharing your experience. I am an ex-Adventist now an atheist and I have found that mainstream Christianity is just as problematic as the SDA church. The overt vitriolic hatred of gays and lesbians and forcing their (christianity) beliefs on others (trying to stop abortion rights in the U.S.) are just two examples. The bible has shown time and again a god of love on one hand and a god who supports slavery, the oppression of women and genocide on the other. So for me I had to chuck the whole thing out and find peace and contentment in myself. I still listen to gospel music and I do like some of the hymns. I listen to the Heritage Singers too.

    The cult-like behavior you attribute to Adventism is a Christian problem. Jesus says in Luke 14:26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.” That, my friend, is the very epitome of cult like behavior. I am glad you have found a way to leave. Again thanks for this site.

    • Oh yes. I resonate very much…. even to enjoying Heritage Singers from time to time! I love Pink Floyd too – introduced by my more renegade Adventist friends in those days!!

  2. thanks for your story, a lot of work on the webiste also. I am an ex Adventist and have been for decades, just under 4 years ago I moved away from all god beliefs and am now an atheist. Congratulations on your site and seeing. through the indoctrination, very tough stuff.

  3. I’m ex-SDA, not necessarily atheist but wading kind of aimlessly in post-Christian waters trying to figure things out. Unlike you I was not raised Adventist; I became involved with the church through close friends during a time I was very vulnerable and needed guidance.

    Even in that case it was deeply heartbreaking to realize that most of them really didn’t care about me as a person as much as a convert. Their attitude towards outsiders is ignorant at best and hateful at worst. I got tired of the scare tactics, conspiracy theories, pseudo-science, petty in-fighting, theological extremism, and just how toxic the environment became. Still, they were quite kind to me as an individual, and I struggle with missing the tight-knit community we once had. Yet I know that staying would have caused me untold damage. I can only imagine how you struggle with your family. I wish religion wasn’t so effective at hurting people.

    I’m incredibly happy I found a site like yours. Just about all the ex-SDA outreach organizations are run by bitter conservative Christians from other denominations with a chip on their shoulder looking to poach vulnerable members to fill their own pews (which makes them no better than the church I was leaving). The rest are a scant amount of ex-SDAs on atheist forums; while I sympathize with their perspective I am not an atheist and don’t really want to fill the void with passive-aggressive ranting about religion. For once it’s nice to have someone give practical advice as well as understand that these things often come with a lot of personal baggage and mixed feelings.

  4. Thanks for your website. I was a new convert, not a cradle SDA and I stayed for only 3 years before leaving. I could never reconcile the God that is Love with the hatred and ignorance I suffered as a woman of mixed race in a southern USA SDA church. I can’t count how many times I was told to go to the ‘black’ church despite being mostly Native American and Filipino.

    But I still craved cottage cheese loaf when I was pregnant and I still tremble with fear at news headlines like the ones about Syria. I wonder if they were theologically correct as I’ve seen just as much, if not more, abuse in mainline Christianity. I even *gasp* converted to Catholicism at my first marriage which ended in divorce 18 months later due to his sexual issues caused by, guess what, a repressive Catholic upbringing.

    I found this site because I contemplated returning to the SDA church. But now I have toddlers in tow and could never expose them to the kind of oppression you suffered. I don’t know the answer any more, at 43 years old I’ve gotten tired of looking for them.

  5. First of all, I also am an ex-SDA and will never rejoin the church. I don’t want you to think that I would convince you to go back to the church. It seems you had a terrible experience, only one that parents and adult role models can give you. Most everyone experiences having to break away from their parents and their ways and rules, especially around age 16,17, and 18. That is when people should stop being a child and become an adult. Because your parents cared so much for you, they tried to shape you into what they thought was best. However, they should have understood that you needed to change into an adult. What is not common about your situation is the fact the your parents were SDA. I have been told the same lies, prophecies, beliefs, traditions, etc. by my parents and teachers. But parent’s zeal for religion is separate from not letting their child grow up. Their zeal for their religion is something extra that hurt you. But wrongful zeal for false beliefs/lies began with the people who started the American religions. Seventh-day adventism, as well as many other religions, began in the 1800s in America during “The Great Awakening.” Those religious leaders have passed down wrongful zeal and lies to our parents, grandparents, missionaries, etc. So in a way, your parents are victims of that historical event. It seems you were in the SDA church because people convinced you without question that was the truth(parents). It seems you left the church because people convinced you without question it wasn’t the truth (high school). Have you looked for answers without listening to anyone? You will find your own truth.

  6. I was raised an Adventist. I never really believed the teachings.I always thought that EG White was a poorly educated young lady with a head injury. I learned that the SDA church was started when a lot of churches were being founded in the USA. The stories in the bible seemed somewhat outlandish to me. If God did all of those great and terrible things way back then why doesn’t he do those things now. Why do we have to read between the lines, now. just about all of my friends were SDA when I was growing up. I have expressed my views to a few people. A good friend of mine assumed that I was talking to someone at work who influenced me to turn against the church. I found the “truth,”on my own. I studied and studied. I have come to the conclusion that many Adventist pastors know that this is a bunch of crap.The problem is that they cannot speak out. They have families to support. Look at what happened to the liberal Adventist California just recently(1/2014).

  7. I can sure relate to hiding out with friends when you left the church…..that is very familiar.

    I have found a new home in the Episcopalian Church (when in America) and the Anglican Church (when in Canada). I love the liturgy. So many times, I have experienced the overwhelming desire to just start bawling, when I take communion. There is real hope out there in other churches, don’t give up. I stay away from anyone or anything that pretends they have the corner on the truth. I was attracted to the Anglican church mainly because of its beginnings: The King wanted a divorce and the Pope wouldn’t give him one. No BS, no “prophets” no “special insight.”

    I believe with all my heart that the SDA church is a nasty, satanic cult. Its doctrines breed low self esteem and self-loathing. It is entirely destructive and was started by a deeply mentally ill, brain damaged woman. Her “visions” were probably seizures of some sort.

    There is new life out there.

  8. Wow, thank you for your story and for those who replied. This has been very helpful reading this. I tried to find help from thereapists, but they don’t understand. I was not born into the relgion, I joined at around the age of 14, when my Aunt sent a pastor to give us bible studies. She was getting sucked into the church, I suppose during a vulneralbe time in her life. She eventually left, but I was then sent to an SDA Boarding School, which as it turns out was very dangerous. It was a terrible education that yes, you guessed it, separated me from the world. They did indeed create a paranoid education, that it was always Satan who was at my back, and they even freaked me out when they said to pray in silence, or Satan can hear me. Whoa! When I finally graduated, I had to attend a local city college because I knew I was lacking in basic skills. And I discovered I could not write an essay. I signed up for remedial english classes and hammered it out and then learned I didn’t have any basic classical literature education, or any of the basic core stuff that most people receive from public school education. I was embarrased, and very upset how poorly prepared I was. My mother worked many hours of overtime to help me go to what I had hoped would be a good highschool, but as it turns out they basically stole her money. Yeah, the SDA church is a cult, and I feel so sad for the people who are trapped in it. Your story about escape is powerful, that has got to be so difficult if you are born into the religion. With only 4 years of my life in that church (their school system), I still struggle with Friday nights and Saturdays. I am still separate from many people because of that seperatist education. Life is certainly a strange trip to say the least. I have found help by carrying bincoulars to observe nature all around me as much as possible, there is something about bincoulars that helps to focus my mind. And this way I can think about evolution, and let my brain swim in this. I don’t know if we ever find freedom 100%, but this website is very helpful. About 10 years ago I discovered SDA Kinship, thinking this lgbtq organization was going to help build a bridge away from the church, then to my horror I realized that this group is simply a political arm to fight the church and stay in! So that was trauma all over again, and took me a few years to heal from that. It bothers me that I was hoodwinked, but I guess there are traps everywhere. I have learned in the last year from my housemate that as it turns out Saturdays are perfect day for me to work becuase it helps me to be around people, and not feel overwhlemed by the intense energy of Saturdays from most Americans who use it as their recreation day.

  9. I identify so much with you and many aspects of your story. I’m only just now realising how insidious is the control and manipulation. I can clearly state that my experience of Adventism was cultish. The confusing part was how much of my experience had so much love and care intertwined. I’m only just now seeing that perversion of love and care for what it is. The mind control is not easy to eliminate and loosen.

    Thanks for sharing your story.

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