Being several weeks into starting a blog about my experience of deconversion and various other topics, I did what I should have done weeks ago… I did market research. More specifically, I Googled “Christian deconversion blog” to find out what else is out there. I must say that my findings surprised me a bit. I thought, given the massive shift away from the church in America and other Western countries, there must be loads of people doing the same as me. Well, maybe they are and Google’s algorithm just isn’t giving them much love, but I haven’t found much. I found a few, but what I found much more of is Christians talking about deconversion. I felt “moved,” if I can use that loaded term in a tongue-in-cheek sort of way, to share with you what I found and offer a few thoughts.
First, let’s admit a difficult truth: no one goes much further than page 2 of Google search results. At the time of this writing, I am not showing up on Google at all, so I definitely feel the pain of that truth. Of course, some people do venture into page 3 and beyond, but that’s usually not the case. Also, by the simple fact that the first two pages are, by definition, what the Almighty Google deems most relevant to a search, there is no need to go further than that and muddy the water. So, for the purpose of this simple study, I will remain on pages 1 and 2.
Page 1 of results are as follows: –
So what we see here is a fairly interesting mix of pro and con messages. The first two entries are sites full of deconversion stories, with the third being a forum where de-con poster boy Bart Ehrman answers questions about his journey and current beliefs. But number four on the list begins to give me problems. You see, if I Googled “Christian deconversion blog” as someone who was struggling with faith and doubt and wanted to hear people’s stories of dealing with the same things, I would almost immediately be thrown back on my heels. The description for number four, from Wondering Eagle, says, “In light of Jon Steingard’s (former singer of Christian band Hawk Nelson, parenthesis mine) de-conversion from Christianity this blog wanted to do a post that would offer advice to pastors.” So, instead of getting help for my unbelief, I’m getting the other side’s propaganda for their leaders to beat me with. Entry seven has armchair apologist Alisa Childers, on behalf of The Gospel Coalition, committing character assassination against YouTube favorites Rhett and Link for (GASP!) having second thoughts about a faith that didn’t seem to fit any more and choosing to be honest about moving away from it. No points for integrity here then? Also, if I were a Christian man reading this article and learning from it, wouldn’t I be in sin for being taught by a woman? I suppose that hot potato for another day. The Prone to Wander article takes aim at another high-profile apostate Josh Harris of I Kissed Dating Goodbye fame. Finally, Google, having decided I wasn’t confused enough at this point, drops a paid advertisement into the mix with Testimonies of Faith. So, by my count, page 1 has given me 4 out of 11 entries contrary to what I was looking for.
Maybe page 2 will be a bit kinder as certainly Christians responding against apostacy is sure to make up a large amount of internet traffic. Page 2 results are as follows:
And then actual results:
Did you catch that?! FOUR ads at the TOP of the page leading in the opposite direction from my search. Then on to the proper results. Graceful Atheist, cool. Deconversion Resources, look closely, it’s a church website… and most certainly not one of those churches that would encourage honest questioning. Digital Irreligion, a scholarly study of the effect of the internet on apostasy. Interesting, might come back to that one at some point. Leaving Christianity, cool. Reconciling… New Break, the article doesn’t actually exist any longer so no help there. Case Study… Bible.org, goes without explanation. Deconversion Stories and Evangelism, pretty obvious but let’s just say that the “CC Philly” has nothing to do with Will Smith or Boyz II Men, the CC there is for Calvary Chapel. I’m an Atheist But…, cool I guess. Mike’s Ramblings, pretty cool. Last but not least: Deconstruction, Deconversion, Joshua Harris…, actually a pretty cool blog about the horrible response to Josh by Christians of all stripes. By the way, if you know about Josh, his book, the fallout, the backlash, and his recent renunciation of the faith and you want to be super-triggered by a self-important meddler, I highly recommend the blog post by Al Mohler of Southern Seminary. Al, you’ve gotten on my nerves for a long time, even when I was a Christian academic. I’ll come back to you later.
So, time for final scores. Page 1 gave me 10 proper responses with 4 of those being on the Christian side. Page 2 gave me 10 proper responses with another 3 Christian ones and one that was nonsense because it no longer existed. However, add in the paid advertisements and it becomes 25 total results with 13 being unhelpful, counterproductive, or potentially damaging.
All of this is to make one simple point: there is a serious lack of helpful information out there for people who are struggling… with serious questions about their faith and can’t speak to people about those questions out of fear… with moving away from faith and wanting validation… with anger at their experiences and having no place to vent… with the overwhelming hold that evangelical Christianity has on so many lives. My take-away from all of this is that I’m glad I started this blog. I’m glad to be making some sort of stand against an entrenched foe. And I really want some of you to join me. So, Dear Reader, if you feel so “moved,” please comment, share, and/or subscribe. The behemoth of Churchianity has a grip on so much ground, let’s take some back.