Wesley serves on TCP's Communications, Forum, and Recruiting Committees.
From all the way across the globe in Paraná, Brazil, I was born into a Presbyterian home. My father is a pastor and my mother also studied in a seminary. Since an early age, I’ve asked some tough questions about faith and the doctrines that I heard in the church, but since people gave me no answer that satisfied me, I ended up searching for answers on my own.
I remember myself asking my mother about the origin of god when I was only six years old. At age 10, I wondered about predestination, about the lack of forgiveness for blasphemy against the holy spirit, and about whether Christianity really was the true religion.
After experiencing neo-Pentecostalism when I was 15 years old, I decided to enter a seminary. When I turned 17, I left home and was received at the same seminary where my parents had studied. I sought answers for my questions. I had already rejected the neo-Pentecostal experiences I had had, and suddenly I found myself in love with Reformed theology. It seemed so strong and well prepared and even gave me some good answers.
However, the more I learned about the history of the church and about religion, the more I began to realize that everything was wrong, that it was all just a human endeavor and and without something divine or special.
Finally I graduated from seminary and served the church in its publishing house working with educational material for churches and then with church missions. During this period I had several ethical and moral crises. The moral and Christian / biblical ethics were very confusing and contradictory to me. All this mixed with a fanatical Calvinism left me extremely confused. Finally, I realized I could not continue in the church as a pastor and decided that I would live my life outside the church until I had found the answers I was seeking. It was not that difficult, except for the fact that a degree in theology means nothing for jobs.
Time passed and I was, step by step, rejecting the biblical canon, the inspiration of many books, I was disagreeing with the way that the authors of the New Testament interpreted the prophecies of the Old Testament, and I was suspicious of the real existence of Jesus, etc. One day I stopped to think about what I really believed. To my surprise I realized that I did not believe in anything that could characterize me as a Christian, nothing. It was a surprise. I’ve always been seen as skeptical and as liberal for my friends, but I never thought of myself as anything but Christian. No matter how liberal I went, I enjoyed being a Christian and I thought I was following the purest form of Christianity.
The moment I realized I was not a Christian, I felt confused: What I was then?
I knew what agnosticism and atheism were, but was not sure if I was some of both. After thinking and studying, I realized that I was agnostic, but I soon realized that because of evidence and lack of evidence I could call myself an atheist without a doubt. It was a shocking moment for me as thinking of myself as an atheist was something scary!
After two months keeping secret about my disbelief I found the Clergy Project. After receiving support for coming out, I had the courage to tell my wife that I did not believe in god at all. This was a shock to her and a confusing time for both of us. Today she respects my intellectual conclusions but keeps going to church a occasionally.
Since I came out the closet, I’m not worried at hiding who I really am and what I truly believe. But I also have not announced to all the people I know about who I am. That’s irrelevant to me, I am who I am and I do not need to advertise or hide that. However I realized that writing and being in touch with other people who think like me is very important, so I started to write in my blog about my ideas and to share with others a bit of who I am and about my history. Today a few friends and family members visit my blog and read my writings.
My journey was very lonely and very intimate. The whole deconversion process was shocking to me, however I do not regret anything of it. I now realize that I have a lot of difficulties, such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and I have developed certain phobias and paranoia that are the fruits of the religious indoctrination I had and how I faced it. Today I live in a new phase of life. After many years, I finally feel happy and motivated. The peace and security that I feel today are priceless.