Regardless of how hard religion tries, plenty of religious people lose their faith. Spiritual people who lost their faith vary in age, background, and experiences, but at some point, they all followed a particular theological belief. Many people raised religiously become atheists because of issues they see with religious institutions or the parishioners they encounter. After all, some of the things Catholics believe may seem quite bizarre out of context. Other converted atheists may have found it difficult to reconcile their beliefs with science, or perhaps they found it unfathomable that a deity would subject them or loved ones to terrible situations.
The formerly religious atheists below all believed in higher powers at some point, but something along the way soured those beliefs. Overall, the reasons religious people become atheists all vary. Some cases are quite heartbreaking or infuriating, but others come with a bit of humor, such as a student making an irrefutable argument in class. Much like people's journeys with religion, people's journeys toward atheism take different forms.
From Redditor /u/Rust_Dawg:
I was about 8 years old, raised Christian (Episcopalian), went to church every Sunday, did Lent, prayed before bed, VBS, acolyte, etc.
After years of prayers being unanswered (even just for advice!) I began to tell my parents that God was telling me to do things, kid stuff like later bedtimes and allowing me to meet with friends. I quickly realized this was a powerful tool I could control certain adults with. That was until my pastor realized what was going on (my parents mentioned it of course like I was special) and warned me of the dire, eternal consequences of lying. Well, I manned up and insisted I was telling the truth, out of the indignant nature of a child hellbent on continuing to get his way, and with the brilliant realization that you'd have to be a mind reader to actually prove me wrong. After all, mom and dad gave this man at the church money every Sunday and it was because he said God talked to him! I had that little hairy robed guy by the nuts.
At that point, it was pretty much over. We stopped going to the church because of my parents' embarrassment over rumors of my apparent corruption, but in my eyes, I was just as illegitimate as the whole farce itself. Shortly thereafter, I figured out Santa, the Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, etc., and by then I knew that all of them had to be in the same category as that lovely tale of missing ribs and incest.
My parents actually did start going to church again after the kids moved out, but both of my younger siblings are also atheists. I'm not sure if it's a sign of the times or if my influence had anything to do with it.
From Redditor /u/Ithoughtshewaslvl16:
My parents are intense religious people. They have literally lived half their lives worshipping the deity. They pray to God first thing in the morning and once in the evening. When I was a kid, my dad lost a lot of money in the share markets. Mommy cried all night but she never stopped believing and praying. My first impression of god was why is he being a cold-hearted a**hole and doesn't listen to her prayers?
But, then I grew up and took a philosophy class, read the Bhagavad Gita, the Quran, and Bible-like storybooks and fables. One night, as I was stoned, it clicked for me that if I were born in a different country, I would be worshipping a totally contrasting deity. Hence, I never believed.
From Redditor /u/techno_09:
I was in my early 20s. Up to this point I was the dude that knocked on your door to tell you about salvation. One day I was doing laundry at a laundromat and saw a Jehovah’s Witness handout. I picked it up and remember thinking: "I’m so tired of feeling guilty about everything! There have to be other ways of thinking that might help me."
I went to a local bookstore and bought Philosophy for Dummies. There was a quote a few pages in that slapped me across my face: “There was a time when you were not and this never bothers you. Why then are you so concerned about not existing again?” (Paraphrased). After that, I was free. It’s been an awesome journey.
From Redditor /u/capnhist:
I had been going to church with a friend for a few years when my dad died. My family was not religious, and my dad was offered a deathbed conversion he rejected. I was about 15 at the time and his death hit me hard. When I finally went back to church, the pastor asked me if I would be willing to stand up front so people could pay their respects.
Most people mimed some pleasantries, while the majority studiously avoided eye contact. Then these dried-out old bats sauntered up, pleased as punch, said they were sorry for my loss but my dad was burning in Hell. To a 15-year old boy whose dad had died less than two weeks prior.
After the initial shock wore off I realized they were right. You go to Heaven by accepting Jesus as your Lord and savior, which he had refused to do. I then figured that no God that loved people would create Hell in the first place, and even if there is one I'd rather spend it in Hell with a good person like my dad than in Heaven with sour-faced, judgmental old dirt-bags like those two women.