Is it Really Deconversion?




I’ve never really cared for the word, deconversion. The actual meaning of the word, as a noun, is that it’s a return, from some religious belief to a previous belief or none at all.  For many, if not most atheists I know, they never had a chance to deconvert, because they never converted to their religious belief initially. Think about it. A child of parents from any religion automatically raise them to believe what those parents believe. Small children always, at least in my experience, want to please their parents, so it’s easy for them to take on those characteristics the parents indoctrinate them with, whether good or bad.

That may sound harsh, but I think it’s true. There was no conscious choice, as a child, to accept the belief. when that child becomes older, begins questioning that belief, and eventually leaves the fold, it’s not really being deconverted less than it is that person waking up to the fact that what they’ve always been taught is false. The more atheists I speak to, the more I find out this is true. Although we all like to use deconversion as what occurred, it actually didn’t because the person didn’t consciously join the religion. It would be true if someone converted from one religion to another, even within the religion, one denomination to another, then decided, willfully, that it was not for them and went back to their previous belief.

Being indoctrinated, basically from birth into a religion and then at some point leaving it behind entirely, can’t really be called deconverting. I know there’ll be some that disagree and even say that I’m being too literal with the terminology, but consider what we have all heard about people that were lured into a cult, and friends and family members having an intervention, attempting to have that person leave what is believed to be detrimental to that person’s well being.

I remember as a young Christian, being at evangelical events, where, at the end of the service, there was a call for those that wanted to accept Jesus to come forward. There always were some but I wonder how much of that was due to peer pressure versus something that young person would’ve considered had they not been at the event? We can never really know but I’d venture that the chance would be less had those friends not been there to provide some impetus.

When I hear of people discussion their deconversion, I’m always skeptical simply because, if there was no choice initially, than it’s unlikely what happened was actually that. Having others make that decision, at whatever age, is not a conscious conversion and therefore, leaving the belief behind, really isn’t a deconversion.



One thought on “Is it Really Deconversion?

  1. I agree with you. Children are reared in their parents’ belief system. They are born as atheists and learn to assimilate into the culture and religion just as they learn to speak the language or languages spoken at home.

    I know that a call to the alter for Communion most often occurs during a time of excited joy or other strong emotion. No doubt peer pressure is involved some, too, but I think more it is an intimate feeling of being “touched” or needing the “touch” of what the believer believes is God or Jesus.

    I do think peer pressure occurs when your peers and you first join the church at first Communion, obviously.

    But then, we were Methodists before that sect became lined up with the wacky evangelicals.

    Yes, questioning brings about thought, which brings about a need to investigate through various methods, which brings about more thought and leads to doubt, which leads to atheism eventually. That is why believers are told that it is dangerous to be friends with atheists and scripture and pastors tar us with the same brush as they use for Satan.

    That is why for centuries the masses were denied education and then why it was illegal to print the Bible or later to read anything besides the Bible and school books and the newspaper. But, you know how the enquiring minds of humans need to know… And hooray for that!


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