What Leads People to Give Up Their Faith?
Faith was not part of our life, it was our life. Yet our unshakable faith in God did not ultimately prove unshakable. How is that possible?
Beliefs start to grind
One of the most important reasons for people abandoning their faith is that their own views no longer align with those of the Church.
The evangelical movement in particular is characterized by its emphasis on individual faith and your personal relationship with God. You are expected to believe in the Bible to be your hyper-individual opinion, while at the same time being absorbed into a very large conservative collective. ‘ So that will grind as soon as your own opinion of the collective starts to deviate’.
Extreme events strengthen faith
You can also fall from your faith if you experience something extreme that you cannot place. ‘You are very vulnerable in a real existential crisis,’ According to Van Saane. ‘You may think: if my faith doesn’t help now, when will it? Then all the relevance of it is gone, then it’s over. ‘
But beware: the other way around can also occur. Do you experience your religion as meaningful and healing during such a violent event? In that case, says Van Saane, such an event actually strengthens faith.
Whether you want to leave the church depends on your character
Some may have fallen from our faith, but billions of people in the world are very satisfied with the meaning and sense of community that their religion gives. At the same time, there are also people who have doubts, but hold on to their faith.
‘It depends on your character whether you want to give up your social network and start over,’ says Van Saane. According to her, the best off are the people who have joined a faith group where there is room for doubts and conversation. ‘Those people have a meaning system and a social environment where their doubts are accepted.’
For Roeliene, the identity crisis after she stepped down from her faith was quite fierce: ‘I had to reinvent myself on many fronts. It is especially difficult to be proud of my own achievements. That honor always went to God. And I can approve of all my standards and values because I think they are good. Not because the Bible agrees or disagrees with me. It took time to get around. ‘
Only years later do apostates feel happy again
Then the key question: do you become happier when you say goodbye to faith? The answer to that is different for every ex-believer. Psychologist Darrel Ray founded the foundation Recovering from Religion .
Choices that suit you make you happier
We can answer the question whether we are happier now with a resounding ‘yes‘. We both feel more like ourselves and are behind our choices much more than when we still believed. ‘That’s not surprising,’ says Van Saane. In fact, you have done exactly what the Gospel teachings asked of you: to pursue standards and values that are entirely yours. You are now making choices that suit your personality. That makes you happier. ‘
The only downside, of course, is that we go straight to hell after we die. But since we don’t believe in that anymore, we don’t worry too much about it.