Losing my faith...

As most of you already know, I’m Catholic. And lately, I’ve been SERIOUSLY questioning my faith.

It’s not the little things, like, the church’s stand on things like women in the clergy, or abortion, or whether or not you can do this or that. Although that does steam me up

It’s not some of the hypocrisy I see, like priests who lie and cheat, and a celibate male dictating how I shouldn’t have control over how many kids I should pop out. However, it is annoying.

It’s not that I don’t believe in God. Although I sometimes wonder WHAT God is, or what happens when we die.

It’s not that I hate going to church. Even though it can be annoying sometimes.

It’s not that I don’t believe in Jesus, or the angels and the saints-which I have always believed in. But I do think they aren’t the only ones there.

It’s that I have trouble accepting that anyone who doesn’t believe in Jesus is going to Hell. I want to believe in Jesus, because I like the messages of love, and peace, and sharing. But I cannot, will not, will never accept that someone who isn’t Christian is going to Hell. It’s wrong. I cannot fathom a Christ who would send Ghandi, or Anne Frank to Hell.

I cannot accept that there is only one life to live, that once you die, you go to Heaven or Hell, no questions. Surely God is not that black and white!

The Bible was written by MEN. They claim it is the word of God. And how do we know? I’m scared because this is very painful-oh god, I’m crying even as I type this.

But I don’t want to lose my faith, because it’s always been with me, and at times I have found comfort in it. It hurts, it really freaking hurts.
Please-don’t try to use this as a way to “win me back to the fold”, or get me to “convert to your religion.” And for those of you who aren’t religious, please don’t gloat, or say something like, “Well, religion is just a drug for the weak”, or it’s irrational. Because it’s not to me.

Anyone else feel this way?

I’m not intentionally following you around the board…but anyway:

Its my understanding that the Pope has (more or less) accepted that devout followers of other religions (such as Buddhists and Muslims) are essentially striving for the same goal/“savior”, and that they too will end up in heaven.

I know this is a really simplistic overview of what the Pope said (circa 1999 I think), and I certainly didn’t major in Catholic history in College, but I hope this helps resolve some of the issues that you have.

(If you need a cite for this, let me know and I’ll look it up)


You’ve found some peace in the Catholic church in the past. You’ve worked around the bits that rub you the wrong way. Can you view this the same way? So, some Catholics and other Christians believe that they’re the only ones who are Saved. But the very same people believe OTHER things that bug you too, but you’ve managed to work into your theology (abortion, women clergy, etc.)

I think I read on this board, your calling yourself a “cafeteria Catholic.” (If not true, sorry.) But if so, this can be an item you leave behind.


Guin, honey, you need more help, and a different kind of help, than you’re gonna get from a lot of pixels representing various strangers around the world. For heaven’s sake, go find a real live human being to talk to about this. FTR, every Christian has gone through what you’re going through now, and we all come out the other side. We don’t come out unchanged, but we definitely come out. :wink:

So buck up, kiddo, and go find somebody to talk to. You must know some good Christians who aren’t going to bang the drum for “Catholicism” per se, but who are just Good People. Don’t you? [insert anxious face smilie] You can’t live in such a deep dark hole as that.

Pick a different church to go to tomorrow morning. Pick one out of the phone book, or because you like their ad in the paper, or go to the one that’s down the street, no matter what flavor it is. Look around for a friendly face, not necessarily the pastor. Talk to that person. Say, “I need some help,” just like that. If he or she can’t help you, in 5 seconds you’ll be passed along to someone who CAN help.

If you strike out at that church, find another one. Keep looking for answers, because they’re out there. The problem is, this isn’t the kind of question like, “Why are my tropical fish dying?” that we can give you a pat answer to. “Well, check the pH, check the nitrites, are you overfeeding?” This is the kind of really bad tough question that you have to find the answer to yourself.

And in my (wide) experience of different flavors of Protestant churches, to help you in making a selection I will say that it sounds like you’d be most comfortable talking to Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Methodists, and, oddly enough, the Salvation Army. Those are the denominations that are least likely to bang the drum for their own denomination, and least likely to claim hellfire and brimstone for all the others. The Episcopalians and Presbyterians also tend to be much more liberal, and more likely to understand your point about Anne Frank.

The Salvation Army is good because they’re used to hearing all sorts of things–nothing surprises them. And they won’t tell you you’re an Evil Person for having these kind of thoughts.

You probably want to avoid Baptists, Assembly of God, Disciples of Christ, and anything called First Christian, Second Christian, etc. which is an actual rather conservative denomination and not just a generic designation.

Not to say that there aren’t Good People with deep understanding of knotty theological problems in these very conservative denominations, but in my experience, at the first-mentioned churches you are more likely to find answers to your questions without being forced to accept the whole kit ‘n’ kaboodle, and without being sucked into the whole “potluck lunch/come to Bible study on Wednesday night” lifestyle. Distance, that’s the word I’m looking for. Those churches will usually let you keep your distance. OTOH, if you want a club to join, till death us do part, go right down to your nearest Baptist or Assembly of God church and sign up. :smiley: If you ever try to leave them, they’ll kill you.

You a nice person, seems like, from what I’v eseen.
I too believe the bible was written by men, so, not to get into my hard-to-explain beliefs that we are all part of the god, so it kind of was written by god, but it’s kinda dumb, and certainly no the whole story, blah blah blah etc etc etc,

I have been through this and feel for you.

Listen- any god that demands fear or a certain type of behaviour from a person-well, that’s not love sweety, that’s conditional bargaining.
People love conditionally, the god does not.

There are many people who have done bad bad things, or things that are considered bad, who have been able to find happiness. There are thos who have not. And good people (whatever that is ;)) who have had very bad things happen. So, the way I see it, God isn’t there to make things go our way, although I believe we do get help now and then, but is jsut there, and we live and laugh and cry. More complicated than that, but as I’v ejust had pointed out to me, i don’t communicate so well when I have really deep feelings about something, so i’ll close with
Yeah, what DDG said. You could probably mail many of us responding also- I know what she said, but also, it helps to spill your guts to someone you don’t know living who knows where- it might help you get yourself a little together for when you do go talk to someone IRL
listen, need a laugh? go on over to mpsims, there’s a thread there I started called ‘rules’- many fine people are contributing to it and it might help you catch yor breath for at least a minute…

I’ll say a little prayer for you.

My problem with Duck Duck Goose’s last two posts (and I hate to sound like some sort of Catholic apoligizer…I’m really not that devout) is that she dismisses Catholicism, and there are many priests within Guinistasia’s own denomination that are in agreement with her views (minus abortion…I get the feeling that you are not against abortion, I could be wrong about this?), and that she could talk to them without having to go to protestents (not that they’re all that bad, but, being Irish Catholic, prejudices die hard I guess)

To clarify, after reading DDG’s wonderful posts (I knew she’d be along presently): I definitely did NOT mean to prosletize, if that’s what it sounded like. I’m agnostic, anyway.

I just hope you find comfort and peace wherever you go to church. I can’t go to church right now, but I miss it sometimes.

Hang in there.


Let me add my own vote of confidence. From my own shaky ground.

This can work out, even though it seems dark and hopeless, you have a perfect line to follow, mainly God. Listen carefully and He will take care of you. Its overly fruity, but God loves you, dearie, and can see in the dark you’ve found yourself in.

It’ll work out. And if you want to talk to a fellow almost lost person (I had a great night on a similar thing about a week ago…) e-mail me. If I’m not an idiot I’ll remember to e-mail you when I get home.

hugs and Loves,

This is not an attempt to draw you into my religion but an explanation of what I believe in the hope that it will reassure you that things are maybe not as terrible as they seem.


Now for a delve into a night at the punha household:

Punha: “Mama, do you think Anne Frank is in Hell?”

Phantomdiver: “Why would she be in Hell?”

P: “Because of the believe that people who don’t believe in Jesus are in Hell.”

PD: “You have more that your life on Earth to figure that out.”

Okay, so this wasn’t earth-shattering. My honest opinion, which, truth be told, does differ from Christianity:

How you behave here, and why you do that, has more to deal with what happens after you die (and before, really) than if you believe in a guy who (I think) lived a bunch of years ago and tried to set a good example.

"It’s that I have trouble accepting that anyone who doesn’t believe in Jesus is going to Hell. I want to believe in Jesus, because I like the messages of love, and peace, and sharing. But I cannot, will not, will never accept that someone who isn’t Christian is going to Hell. It’s wrong."

What I would concern myself with, if I were you (and this is meant only as food for thought and not “Adopt this way of thinking and you will be saved”), is to consider the kinds of lives people live and not if they believe squirrels, for example, are the gods of the world. Look at the lives they lead instead of the beliefs they espouse. For example, there’s a man in the priesthood who goes around spreading messages of hate and intolerance and damnation and suchlike. I’m sure you’ve heard of him. Then you have people like, for example, weirddave, who for all I know considers himself his own god. A wonderful man, one of the more altruistic people I’ve ever met. Honestly, I could not care much less what his religious beliefs are because beyond knowing for the hell of it, I don’t much care. What makes him wonderful is the life he leads and the examples he tries to set. IMO he’s a better person than the one who spreads hate and damnation and hellfire.

"I cannot accept that there is only one life to live, that once you die, you go to Heaven or Hell, no questions. Surely God is not that black and white!"

While I believe that every soul lives in a body only once on Earth (angels not being souls but intelligences), I think the idea of Heaven/Hell no questions asked is a bit odd. I’m having trouble even understanding what you mean by it, so instead of going off on any number of things it isn’t, can you explain to me what it means to you?

"The Bible was written by MEN. They claim it is the word of God. And how do we know? I’m scared because this is very painful-oh god, I’m crying even as I type this."

Okay, here I have to delve into what I believe and what is not necessarily espoused by the RCC. But it may help you to understand, even so.

I am of the opinion that the Bible was physically written by men but inspired by God . . . IOW, “Hey, Ezekiel, what in the name of Hosannah are you doing?” “Jude, I got this story in my head and it won’t go away”.

Okay, maybe not EXACTLY like that. I’m sure Fenris will be along shortly, or perhaps Persephone, to do a whole little script thingy for us:D

How we know . . . because way back when, a bunch of people who knew their Bible stuff decided what did and didn’t go in. It confuses the heck out of me, too. There were all sorts of requirements: you had to be in a certain place at a certain time writing in a certain language . . . if you like I can look for the requirements but I promise nothing.

It’s strange stuff, I tell you. But, IMO, that’s part of the cool thing . . . there’s stuff we’ll none of us ever understand until after we die. And there God is, waiting to tell you all sorts of cool shit you could never imagine or even conceive on earth. It’s like the most elite clique you’ve ever seen, only He wants everyone in on it.

Hope this helps.


I am not Catholic; I am an agnostic, leaning towards atheism , yet retaining a strong interest in religion and spirituality. I understand what you are going through since I went through a similar experience myself. I have no desire to persuade you to remain within the Catholic Church or to convince you to leave. Rather, I want to echo what some of the other posters have said.

DDG is right that interaction with different faiths can be helpful during a time of searching. Explore. I would add Unitarian Universalist to her list.

Starbury and masonite are also correct – the Catholic Church has room for you as well. Here’s a quote from the documents of Vatican II:

These say that belief in Jesus is not an absolute requirement. And you are not alone in your questions. Karl Rahner, one of the great Catholic theologians of the 20th century, dealt with this issue as well:

Another theologian, though not Catholic, that I have found to be fascinating in dealing with this issues is John Hick. He has written extensively on the issue of religious pluralism, including God and the Universe of Faiths and Problems of Religious Pluralism, both of which I would recommend. Here are two quotes from Hicks:

I apologize for the length of this post, but I wanted to show some of the different perspectives of this issue. I think it’s wonderful that you are thinking about these things even though it makes life more difficult at times. The search for truth is an ongoing one.

As I said, I have been through this type of searching myself, and it is a searching that continues still.

Oops, I meant to hit the preview button, not the submit button.

The only thing I had to add was: feel free to email me if you want to discuss this further. I’d be happy to give you some more suggestions for reading and to discuss any of this with you.

Guin, I feel for you. I can understand what you’re going through because I, too, am struggling with my faith. Not the Christian aspect so much as exactly what tenets I hold to and what aspects I endorse. I am finding my church to be more hate-filled, narrow-minded, and vitriolic (by the way, I was raised in a Southern Baptist Church). I’m considering going to the Episcopal or Catholic churches.
I think Duck Duck Goose said it well, really. I’m quite aware that there’s probably room under the Southern Baptist umbrella for me, but I’d personally rather be rained on.
You know, if you ever need to talk, feel free to email me or ICQ me or whatever. It’s all in my profile.

Been there, done that, re-evaluated, am now a happy agnostic. :wink:

What really ticked me off about catholicism was the Ratzinger Dominus Jesus declaration. Really. It sucks ass. Big time. Back to the middle ages. Back to witch burnings. Back to converting the heathens… he actually states that people who practice other religions are pretty much doomed, and that roman catholicism has the absolute truth… I kid you not. Bonus: this is an official vatican document…


I guess I made the faith switch when I realized a good family friend (priest) had a woman in every port (so to speak) …

:::::shuffling off to dream up a new religion and make lots of dough:::::

(Please please please please please, may that URL code work, please)

Guin, I’ve a dear friend who is a Roman Catholic priest and who also considers the idea of hell to be completely incompatible with the belief in a loving God. If you think it will help, I’ll email him and I’m sure he’ll be happy to explain how he manages to reconcile this belief with his Catholicism.

Ah, Guin, these questions can only be answered by you. Only you can reconcile your personal beliefs with official church doctrine.

I, myself, had no problem saying I was a Catholic while actively disbelieving much of church doctrine. Even after I was kicked out of Wednesday school (it was always on Wednesday, yet still called Sunday school) for asking who married Cain and Abel, when did God come down from Heaven to write the Bible for us (You mean he didn’t? So then some ordinary man wrote it? No? God wrote it? I don’t understand what you’re trying to tell me!) and, the final straw, how in the name of all that is holy can God condemn stillborns to purgatory? They didn’t do anything but be born dead!

I also didn’t see anything wrong with my grandmother being a devout Catholic and a follower of the occult religion Santeria.

The last straw for me was when my then Cardinal O’Conner made it perfectly clear that you could not be a cafeteria Catholic. You either believed in it all, or you weren’t Catholic.

My devoutness must not have been that strong because after I read that, I shrugged to myself and stopped calling myself a Catholic.

I envy you your much stronger faith. Good luck in your examination of it. And remember that, no matter what, your personal relationship with God is just that, personal. It’s between you and God.

Seriously, I mean that.

I guess, it’s not so much that I don’t wanna stop being Catholic, because I really don’t. Since I love the prayers, and the beliefs in the angels and saints, things like that. I have become attracted to some of the aspects of the Eastern Orthodox churches, with my love of Russian history.

I guess I forget sometimes that the church DOES say that following one’s own conscious is most important. I’m really not looking to convert. And going to Mass anymore does NOTHING for me. Weird, I know.
And no, I’m not against abortion. I mean, I personally don’t like it, I think it’s, well, not WRONG, but, how do I say-icky? Like, I just don’t like it, or feel comfortable with it. BUT…I also see a need today for it, and the need for everyone to make their own personal choices.

I guess what’s upsetting me now is that the Church is going backwards. I don’t like hearing that the church preaches against birth control. Or that John Paul has forbidden anyone to even ask about women clergy. Stuff like that. I guess I’m more of a very liberal Catholic, and I don’t want to LEAVE, because it’s always been a part of me. But I want to reconcile that with my “all people are going to heaven eventually” belief. What I mean is, I believe that “Hell” is simply reincarnation-it’s right here on earth, and that if you don’t make it right, you’ll come back to experience things until you get them right.
I dunno…I guess I’m just weird. Thanks, I know I’m not making good sense right now. I guess it just gets to me too when people lump “all those Christians are so narrowminded” or “You Catholics are Heathen statue worshippers who will burn in hell,” or something like that. I’m Catholic, but I guess I’m also kind of All Religions are Right, sort of thing…
Thanks, I really really love you guys for this.

Sorry for the hijack, but


You may not be kidding, but you are also not reading the text correctly.

I don’t like Ratzinger. I certainly wish he had not promulgated that easily misinterpreted bit of retrenchment.

However, at no point does the actual document condemn to hell those who are not (Ratzinger) Catholic(s).

The point was to call on Catholic teachers to be sure that they did not fall into error. This means, from the perspective of the RCC (and even more narrowly from Ratzinger, of course), that teaching views that are contradictory to the RCC teaching is forbidden.

Yes, the document talks about the “errors” of those who are not following Catholic doctrine. However, that is no more than saying that “we have got the Truth.” (Anyone from a different denomination in the habit of saying “Our beliefs are all in error, but we like them?”)

At no point in the document does it claim that only Catholics are going to heaven. It does claim that the RCC has a better handle on God’s Truth than anyone else. (Duh?) The point is to admonish Catholic teachers to avoid, for example, claiming that the Eucharist is “just symbolic” simply to avoid offending Protestants for whom Communion may be just symbolic. If one is to teach Catholicism, one must teach Catholic teachings. (That seems pretty obvious to me.)

As noted, I think the timing and the language of the document were both faulty. However, it was not the condemnation of all things not Catholic that some people attempted to make it–and it never claimed that those who were not Catholic were going to hell.

This is indeed the very thing that has bothered me for some time now. Eternal punishment. I often think that if by some large miracle I do happen to make it into Heaven I would have to appeal to God Himself on behalf of those sentenced to eternal suffering to please just end their suffering and just destroy them completely. If I don’t make it I hope FoG or someone will appeal on my behalf (and the rest of you suffering souls). I have a feeling though that most “christians” won’t feel that way and that they may appeal to God, but not on my behalf but instead to pour some gas on the fire.

Hitler, Stalin, Dahmer… these were inded evil people. But do even they deserve to be punished FOREVER?? Some of you would send a resounding “YES”, but I submit that even as horrific as their crimes were, there must come a time at some point where they have paid their debt for their crimes. And if you’re an atheist, then why should there even be any laws? I mean if we are no better then animals, what is the point of morals and ethics? We certainly don’t imprison lions for killing gazelles. Just because our brains may have evolved beyond that of a lion is no reason to all of the sudden punish people for doing things we don’t like. “Yeah but the lion was killing for survival. So that he could eat”. So was Dahmer.

  1. I do believe in God.
  2. While I would consider my self to be “fundementalist” I would add that it is not in the sense that is often loathed on this board (need clarification? ask!).

I’m not here to win souls. IMO people have heard it already and nothing I say can convince you anyway. Make your own decisions about life/death/afterlife and I’ll keep my opinions about your soul to myself. If you ask me about it then I’ll tell you. I personally believe “christians” need to keep their mouths shut and let their lives be a testament instead. Although, sadly, their lives are often no better then the people they preach at. They feel it alright to claim salvation and forgiveness all the while banging their secretary behind their wifes back. Because they are “forgiven, not perfect” (insolent mockery intended). What a fucking crock of monkey spunk! Fucking hypocrite “born-again-christians”. grrrr! (southpark: Mormon. The correct answer was “Mormon” <mmmkay. wouldn’t that just be fucking hilarious! I’d love to see the look on their faces then! I for one would laugh so fucking hard I’d die again!>)

Let me also state that while I have attended various “churches” (I hate that word, it’s a fucking building, not a church. According to scripture the church is the body of Messiah, not some rotting building that they gather in) I no longer attend. I found that I had better friends that were “heathen” (please understand I use that term in jest. I’m certainly as much heathen as anyone) then I ever did in any snooty ass judgemental “church”. That bothered me quite a bit. (let me also state that just because people have misinterpreted scripture and used it for monetary gain and evil purposes, this does not negate it’s message, nor in anyway reflect upon the author, imo) I tired to reach out and make friends with many people in “church” but it seemed they were only interested in knowing you on “church day” (I’ll call it that for lack of a better term since the last church I went to actually met on the Sabbath and not on Sunday. Although I have also attended Sunday “churches” too). Who knows? Perhaps I’m just not friend material. Perhaps I’m not worthy of their friendship. Fuck them and anyone else that feels that way about me. I’m a decent person and would give someone the shirt off my back. Shit I’ve taken in total strangers before that were living on the streets. Maybe it’s because I know what it’s like to be down and out and have nothing. Or perhaps I really do have a good heart and care about people. I will admit that as of late I’d be happy if there was just me and animals on this planet and all the humans were gathered up and thrown in a large vat of boiling used motor oil. Goddamnit, I’ve become so fucking cynical.

The concept of eternal punishment bothers me. I’ve always been taught that God is a better parent then me. But I wonder now. I mean I believe in punishing my child if she messes up because I want her to learn to be responsible and to understand that being decent is not just something we do to appear superior, but it is something we do because it’s the right thing. But no matter what she did I would never agree that eternal punishment was justifiable. Isn’t God supposed to be just?

Fuck it. Someone wake me if FoG does appeal on our behalf.

<walks away bewildered and muttering>

Hi Guinastasia,

Just want to let you know that I’ve struggled with this most my life, except that at this point, I think I’ve lost all the faith I ever had. Mostly, for me, it’s been about going through the motions just to keep my family/community happy, but feeling terrible about it inside.

Thinking back to my confirmation, I remember that I already didn’t believe in everything I was saying – I just didn’t know what to do since I didn’t really have the option to not go through with it without upsetting a lot of people (heck, my mom was the leader of my confirmation class).

When I got married, I went through “Engaged Encounter” and had to have a Catholic deacon I didn’t even know co-officiate the ceremony just for appearances sake (the other officiant was my husband’s father, who’s a Presbyterian minister). To this day, I feel so crappy/hypocritical for doing that and wish we had stuck to the totally family wedding.

The hard part is that I really respect my mom and my in-laws and don’t really understand why they were dealt the faith card and I wasn’t. I’ve spent the last few years reading everything I could, listening to Christian talk radio, researching different religions, but I’ve yet to find anything that inspires me.

My husband is an atheist-leaning agnostic, so it’s not like I need to hide my feelings, but he doesn’t really understand what it feels like to be a guilt-ridden, post-Catholic, fence-sitting agnostic, and he finds religious discussion very boring. However, I was very comforted last year to discover that my dad is in the same boat as me and I can always talk to him about my (lack of) beliefs.

Can you talk to your family members? Is there anyone you know and love who might be struggling with the same issues?