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    [–] Newly hired youth minister got me kicked out of church for no reason. I found out he had been screwing a Deacon's wife and I helped the Deacon ruin his life BamaFan4Jesus 2 points ago in NuclearRevenge

    In their own perverse ways, Mr Charming and (more importantly) PastorT, prevented me from making a major life mistake.

    As I said in my OP, I was a pre-ministerial student at one of my denomination's colleges. It was my senior year, so I'd already applied to one of my denomination's minister's schools, so that I would eventually get a Master of Divinity (M.Div.) or Doctor of Theology (Th.D.) degree. My goal was to become a minister in my denomination and also a professional "Apologist" (defender of the faith).

    I and all of my church friends recognized that Mr Charming was a sociopath the minute we saw him.

    But we all loved PastorT like our own father. We had the highest admiration for him. After this experience, we all lost whatever respect we had for him. (I did not discuss it in the OP, but I was not Mr Charming's only target, nor was I the only one that PastorT commanded to, "better shut up and do what you're told", or something similar.)

    After this experience, I knew that I would never get a letter of recommendation from PastorT, so I could never be accepted to my denomination's minister's school, and even if I went to a different minister's school, ministers are a tight-knit bunch and he would make sure that my ministerial career would be dead before it started.

    By that time, however, it didn't matter because I'd seen enough to know that I never wanted to be like PastorT.

    So I changed my mind, went to a different grad school and, with the benefit of years of hindsight, I am still very happy with this decision.

    If PastorT had not betrayed my trust and admiration for him, I probably would have gone to minister's school and by now been several years into a minister's career, and be lying for a living.

    [–] Newly hired youth minister got me kicked out of church for no reason. I found out he had been screwing a Deacon's wife and I helped the Deacon ruin his life BamaFan4Jesus 2 points ago in NuclearRevenge

    Here are two good books about Old Testament archaeology, that are non-technical and easy to read:

    "The Invention of Ancient Israel: The Silencing of Palestinian History", Keith Whitelam, ISBN 978-0415107594

    "The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts" Neil Asher Silberman & Israel Finkelstein, ISBN 978-0684869131

    If you are interested in problems with the New Testament, a University professor in North Carolina, ex-Christian named Bart Ehrman, has written many interesting books which are inexpensive to buy and easy to read.

    Web sites and YouTube channels about Christian & Bible errors and absurdities

    www.infidels.org

    www.skepticsannotatedbible.com

    https://www.youtube.com/user/freethinkersbooks

    https://www.youtube.com/user/NonStampCollector

    https://www.youtube.com/user/DarkMatter2525

    https://www.youtube.com/user/brettppalmer

    We'll skip any discussion of the first few chapters of Genesis. Suffice it to say that the evidence that the universe is over 14 billion years old, not 6,000 like the Bible says, and that geological & biological evolution did occur, is so overwhelming, and Creationists' "evidence" so bullshitty, that it is not worth debating. (Analogous to NASA debating astrologers about whether the Earth orbits the sun or vice versa. You just don't want to dignify it with a response.)

    [–] Newly hired youth minister got me kicked out of church for no reason. I found out he had been screwing a Deacon's wife and I helped the Deacon ruin his life BamaFan4Jesus 1 points ago in NuclearRevenge

    telling me I have no moral compass

    Christians are the ones who have no moral compass. They will do anything that they think that Jesus told them to. Since Jesus does not exist, this means that they are drones for any Christian leader that their "faith" tells them to.

    This has led to enormous harm "in the name of God", since Constantine.

    “With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil - that takes religion.” Steven Weinberg

    [–] Newly hired youth minister got me kicked out of church for no reason. I found out he had been screwing a Deacon's wife and I helped the Deacon ruin his life BamaFan4Jesus 5 points ago in NuclearRevenge

    Well, actually, I am no longer a Christian. My faith survived the events in my post, but then I went to grad school, eventually completing a PhD in archaeology (took several years).

    Although my grad school, which was a state school in the Midwest of the USA, did not discuss Biblical Archaeology specifically, I applied my newly learned skills to the Bible, and the archaeological evidence for it. I was compelled by an enormous mass of well-documented facts to reject my former beliefs in the Bible.

    [–] Newly hired youth minister got me kicked out of church for no reason. I found out he had been screwing a Deacon's wife and I helped the Deacon ruin his life BamaFan4Jesus 2 points ago * (lasted edited 13 hours ago) in NuclearRevenge

    What a heartbreaking story!!! Christians talk about "love" but they are always eager to believe rumors which are obviously false just because they like to hurt other people.

    As I said in my OP, I am no longer a Christian. (Because I studied the evidence.) I still have some Christian friends, whom I have been friends with since I was a small child. But, although they remain Christians, they have rejected "Bible believing" Christianity and have become much more liberal.

    My conservative Christian friends, the ones who stayed conservative, I rarely interact with any more. They are just such a pain in the butt to even be around. They have this persecution complex and they say that people hate them because they're Christians. Wrong. People hate them because they're assholes, hypocrites and just plain mean.

    [–] Newly hired youth minister got me kicked out of church for no reason. I found out he had been screwing a Deacon's wife and I helped the Deacon ruin his life BamaFan4Jesus 1 points ago in NuclearRevenge

    Honestly, it took all of my willpower not to choke the living shit out of Mr Charming. I was really afraid that I'd do something that would get me sent to prison.

    So silence was the best I could do.

    I'm pretty sure that Mr Charming did know that I was somehow connected to what Fred did. When he saw me at that dingy bus station, he looked like I'd just stuck a live grenade up his ass and pulled the pin.

    [–] My Grandmother Put Greedy Preachers In Their Places .... Twice .... Even After She Died BamaFan4Jesus 2 points ago in ProRevenge

    Well, the truly sad part of this whole story is that it is not unusual for religious leaders to "guilt" old people into giving them gobs of money that they don't deserve.

    I've read every comment about my OP (an arduous task, but I truly wanted to know what people thought). Various commenters have tried to guess which denomination BigWhiteChurch was in, and have guessed Mormon, Church of God, Baptist and a couple of others, based on their own personal experience. Several comments suggested individual churches by name, and one church, a multi-campus megachurch located in Alabama, was suggested by no less than 5 different commenters. (They were all wrong, but good guesses.)

    There's a lot on the web about ministers who scam old people, or do what they tried to do with my Grandma, which is despicable but completely legal.

    So, although the story would be humorous, it would probably not be newsworthy.

    It did make it onto YouTube, though, although it's just a guy reading what I wrote.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FB90nh28T9o

    [–] Newly hired youth minister got me kicked out of church for no reason. I found out he had been screwing a Deacon's wife and I helped the Deacon ruin his life BamaFan4Jesus 1 points ago in NuclearRevenge

    You mean archaeological "digs"?

    My PhD research was on a colonial American site, but my summer digs have been pre-Roman England, except this summer, when had to stay in the States because of the virus.

    I have left my former conservative Christian beliefs and I am not now actively involved in the study of Christianity. I spent my whole youth, as well as 4 years in one of my denomination's colleges as a "pre-Ministerial student" studying Christianity. So I'm pretty saturated on it.

    [–] My Grandmother Put Greedy Preachers In Their Places .... Twice .... Even After She Died BamaFan4Jesus 2 points ago in ProRevenge

    That almost happened.

    The lawyer (my uncle, Grandma's and Grandpa's son) got 1 or 2 phone calls from a lawyer who said he represented AssPastor, PompousPastor and/or BigWhiteChurch, threatening to dispute the will and demanding a "settlement".

    My uncle does a lot of wills, so Grandma's will was pretty tight. In addition, he had done a lot of things to prove that she was mentally competent at the time she decided to cut BigWhiteChurch out of it: exam & written statement from Grandma's doctor, some kind of cognitive test (I don't know what kind, but it was designed to test for legal "mental competence" and she made a perfect score on it). My uncle even made a video of Grandma discussing various topics and even had her repeat the entire 100th Psalm and all of 1 Corinthians Chapter 13, which she did from entirely memory without prompting and without a single error.

    The phone calls stopped when My uncle told the lawyer, "If you sue us, everything that happened at the Reading, and Grandma's handwritten note, will become a matter of public record. Are you sure you want the local TV stations and newspapers to find out about this?"

    [–] Newly hired youth minister got me kicked out of church for no reason. I found out he had been screwing a Deacon's wife and I helped the Deacon ruin his life BamaFan4Jesus 3 points ago in ProRevenge

    I agree. I never liked her because she was just so bitter. But I do feel sorry for her.

    I hope she got a divorce. I know that it's no easy task to raise 3 children by yourself, with no job skills and an ex who is going to do everything he can to get out of paying alimony or child support. (My prediction based on the known fact that Mr Charming was a complete sociopath.)

    But anything would be better than living with, and being married to, Mr Charming, IMO.

    [–] My Grandmother Put Greedy Preachers In Their Places .... Twice .... Even After She Died BamaFan4Jesus 1 points ago in ProRevenge

    I spent 4 years as a pre-ministerial student at a well-respected "Bible believing" Christian college. I was completely dedicated to Jesus and was devoting my whole life towards studying to be a minister and serving Him completely. 2 Timothy 2:15

    You are very quick to judge someone whom you have never met. Matthew 7:1-3

    [–] My Grandmother Put Greedy Preachers In Their Places .... Twice .... Even After She Died BamaFan4Jesus 2 points ago in ProRevenge

    Everything you're saying is simple regurgitation from some apologetics book you read. I'm not going to try to debate with you until you start thinking for yourself.

    [–] Newly hired youth minister got me kicked out of church for no reason. I found out he had been screwing a Deacon's wife and I helped the Deacon ruin his life BamaFan4Jesus 1 points ago in ProRevenge

    It wouldn't surprise me if she was a lovely sweet woman when they first met and married, but over time, he likely mistreated her. She probably knew about the affairs, (as there were likely more than one) he likely rubbed it in her face.

    I assume that you are talking about Mr Charming's wife. I have no idea what kind of person she was before I met her.

    But I am sure that she knew about Mr Charming's affair with Fred's wife before Mr Charming started his job at my church, because Fred told me that he personally called her and told her, shortly after Mr Charming left Fred's church. Fred just felt that she had a right to know. I don't know how much detail Fred gave her (sent her videos? photos? etc? I just don't know).

    I do agree with you that she very likely felt trapped in her marriage. As far as I know she had no job skills. She had been a "full time wife & mom" since she married Mr Charming.

    [–] My Grandmother Put Greedy Preachers In Their Places .... Twice .... Even After She Died BamaFan4Jesus 1 points ago * (lasted edited 3 days ago) in ProRevenge

    In response to sectorsight:

    How did you go from God being your authority to you being your authority? What does that process look like?

    Every religious person is "their own authority" whether they admit it or not.

    Suppose you are a Catholic Christian, or any other denomination. That means that you have made a decision that every other denomination is wrong and you are right.

    How do you know this? For most Christians, it is simply "faith". They do not know their own beliefs well enough to say, in detail, WHY they disagree with the beliefs of other Christians, not to mention Jews, Muslims, etc. But they believe that's ok, because they have "faith".

    This is simply arrogance. These Christians are saying that they are certain, often (usually) without even trying to study the evidence, that they are right and the vast majority of other Christians are wrong.

    I took a different approach. I looked at my Christian beliefs very deeply and focused on the fact that (1) I am fallible and (2) Christianity's most important tenet is that it stands for absolute truth. (Without this basis, every other Christian belief is subject to doubt, even the existence of God, so the whole "absolute truth" thing is the foundation on which everything else rests.)

    How do I know that I have the truth? This bothered me because of my own human fallibility. So I decided to study the Bible very thoroughly, then study the evidence for the truth of the Bible (evolution/creationism, archaeological support for the Old Testament, apparent self-contradictions in the Bible, etc.).

    Although my original intent was to be sure that I was the "right kind" of Christian, my investigations led me to conclude that the Bible is unsupported by evidence, and contradicted by an enormous mass of evidence.

    So, the only honest thing for me to do was to admit that I had been wrong and reject my former beliefs. Christianity's own emphasis on "truth" was its own undoing, in my case.

    [–] My Grandmother Put Greedy Preachers In Their Places .... Twice .... Even After She Died BamaFan4Jesus 1 points ago in ProRevenge

    Totally Awesome!!!

    I did not know that Grandma was now a YouTube celebrity. Thank you for telling me about this.

    [–] My father is homeless and I'll and I don't know what to do BamaFan4Jesus 1 points ago in legaladvice

    If you feel like you absolutely have help him, be sure to set some very firm limits to protect yourself financially and emotionally.

    One of the most important things that they teach you in lifeguard school is that some drowning people don't want to be rescued. They just want the lifeguard to drown with them.

    [–] My Grandmother Put Greedy Preachers In Their Places .... Twice .... Even After She Died BamaFan4Jesus 4 points ago * (lasted edited 5 days ago) in ProRevenge

    Grandma was more a "do-er" than a "faith-er". She certainly had her beliefs, but she rarely talked very much about them. She was a "Jimmy Carter Christian", not a "Jerry Falwell Christian".

    Even the standard Christian "I'll pray for you", she handled differently. If someone asked for her prayers, her response was not merely "Ok, I will", but she would also try to get that person to tell her something that she could do for them. It might be something simple, like giving them a listening ear for a few minutes. Or it might involve more effort, like bringing them a casserole, putting them in touch with a cheap, honest auto mechanic (or plumber or whatever), etc. But it was just about always something.

    She never had much respect for religious people, of any faith, who sat on their butts and talked about how righteous they were but didn't do much else. She wouldn't publicly disrespect them, that was not her style. But she would work around them when she needed to.

    [–] My Grandmother Put Greedy Preachers In Their Places .... Twice .... Even After She Died BamaFan4Jesus 2 points ago in ProRevenge

    Reality is beautiful and deep and ancient and more complex than we ever knew.

    Sounds like you are on the right track. Well said!!!

    [–] My Grandmother Put Greedy Preachers In Their Places .... Twice .... Even After She Died BamaFan4Jesus 2 points ago in ProRevenge

    Libraries full of books have been written to answer this question, but basically, nothing in the Old Testament before about 700 BCE is supported by archaeology (back through human history) or science, i.e., Genesis chapters 1-2, evolution, etc.

    In fact, the archaeology and science tell us very clearly that very different things happened.

    And even the New Testament, what little of it can be archaeologically verified, reports things that simply never happened. For example, the Gospel of Matthew says that there was a "great earthquake" when Jesus was resurrected on the first Easter. We don't know exactly where Jesus' tomb was (which is itself an archaeological problem), but the Bible repeatedly says that it was in or very near Jerusalem.

    All of the buildings in Jerusalem, as well as the wall around it, were made of mud brick or unmortared, unreinforced stone. A "Great Earthquake" would have caused enormous damage. Yet not one ancient historian mentions it, and there is precisely zero archaeological evidence that an earthquake happened in Jerusalem anywhere near this time.

    As I said, there are huge numbers of books that discuss the historical errors and other problems in the Bible. One of my favorite authors is Bart Ehrman. He is an ex-Christian who teaches at a university in North Carolina. He has written several very high-quality, well-documented books that are inexpensive and easy to read.