Tammy D. Sundby

Feedback discussions - Tammy D. Sundby

tells me I probably left Christianity because I was not a "true Christian" in the first place.

In a later instalment she tells me that speaking in tongues is a miracle.

I give her some information and anecdotes on tongues and related phenomena, such as being "slain in the spirit" from the ex-tian archives etc.

----- Original Message -----

From: Tammy D. Sundby

To: Steve Locks

Sent: 10 October 2000 17:05

Subject: your webpage on religion

I hope this is the right address, but pertaining to your falling out I

just want to say that alot of people profess to be Christians because

they accept the doctrine, not because they have actually asked Christ

into their hearts and commited to pursuing a relationship with him.

Christianity is all about focusing your life on this relationship. Alot

of people don't realize that believing alone is not enough and miss out

on the awesome experience and life that comes with knowing God throught

Jesus Christ. I felt "life" breathed into me when I asked Christ into

my heart, that made me want to go out and do cartwheels all day. I've

had a friend tell me that based on what I said, he tried it and felt the

same thing and was the best thing he ever did in his life. I had the

opportunity to witness other people testify to feeling exactly what I

felt, to deny their faith in other religions/cults based on this


My request is that if you have not specifically asked Christ into your

heart and pursued this relationship in your life, you probably should

re-examine whether you really were a Christian, or just someone who

believed in the doctrine and specify that on your web-page. Thank you.

----- Original Message -----

From: Steve Locks

To: Tammy D. Sundby

Sent: 11 October 2000 21:22

Subject: Re: your webpage on religion

Dear Tammy,

If something is not true but it makes you happy to believe it, is this belief

virtuous or even admirable? Is it responsible to promote a belief if it is

false? Would you want to believe something if it was not true even if it made

you happy?

People express as much love for religious leaders whom you would think

cultists, as you write about your love with Jesus. Moonies express their

happiness and love and devotion for the "true messiah" Sun Myung Moon - their

true "Father" who fills them with elation and inspiration. They too say they

have never been happier. You can read this in ex-Moonie leader Steve

Hassan's book "Combating cult mind control" - see


As you will know, people can be deliriously happy thinking somebody

loves them only to be shocked when they suddenly receive a "dear John"

letter telling them it is all over. There is even a condition, known as

De Clerambault's syndrome where a person believes that they are loved

by someone they may not even know - especially when that someone is

of a higher status than them. Happiness and a feeling of love is not a

guarantee of truth or even that the beloved exists, let alone that they love

you back. You may also be surprised at these happy people


People leave from every variety of Christianity including those who fit your

description, doing cartwheels for Jesus and having "invited him into their

lives" etc. My site is not just about me, although I certainly felt and

believed that I had Jesus in my life (or rather he was life itself!) and you

will find such testimonies if you surf around.

Your claim that I was not a "true Christian" also puts the lie to Jesus' claim

that you can tell a tree by its fruit. None of the Christians who knew me when

I was a Christian could tell that I was not a "true Christian" rather quite

the opposite. Make sure you read this.

What about all the ex-priests, theologians, ministers etc. were they not true

Christians either? Unfortunately there is no consensus amongst Christians

as to what a "true Christian" is. In fact one Christian told me that "inviting

Jesus in" is "as false a gospel as has ever been preached" so in his eyes

you might not be a true Christian.

Every kind of Christian is described as "false" by another kind somewhere.

Fundamentalists condemn Catholics and some Catholics condemn non-Catholics

and so the list goes on and on. Christianity has included a rich litany of

inter-Nicene argument, mutual condemnation, ex-communication and murder

of "brothers" and condemnation of "non-believers" from the beginning to the

present day. Jesus prayed that his followers would be as one (John 17:20-22).

His prayer had so little power that argument, heresy, schism and religious

wars have been the story ever since. For every Christian group one can

find another group who will tell them they are hell-bound "false Christians."

I have discussed your points further on my website. If you read

nothing else that I recommend, then please read my summary at

http://www.eclipse.co.uk/thoughts/slocks.htm and this debate.

Then write again with your thoughts on what I wrote there and in this email.

Christians are meant to love people. That is a good sentiment,

but do you not think that love includes the responsibility to try to

understand others? Do you wish to really understand why people leave

Christianity or are you just doing what virtually all Christians do, which is

to pontificate and diagnose without listening? The most primordial

thing for a Christian is not love, it is Christian dogma. When love

really becomes primal then the compulsion to force the real world

into your particular Christian interpretation no longer becomes your

mission. Real love means the responsibility to actually find out what is

going on. So please read

seek and ye shall find? and http://www.eclipse.co.uk/thoughts/slocks.htm

Then if you really wish to understand follow the other links too.

If you want to look into some of the evidences for and against Christianity

then you could follow my ongoing debate that starts here


Sorry to be abrupt, but you have obviously not read much of my site. When you

have read the links above then come back and we can have a proper


Best wishes,



Leaving Christianity

Five minutes later, whilst I was still on-line, I received this...

----- Original Message -----

From: Tammy D. Sundby

To: Steve Locks

Sent: 11 October 2000 21:27

Subject: RE: your webpage on religion

You sound absolutely positive there is nothing true about Christianity.

I hope God himself came down and revealed this to you. If the truth

were something to be grasped, what makes you so sure that it has to

follow the logic and reason of your worldview?

----- Original Message -----

From: Steve Locks

To: Tammy D. Sundby

Sent: 12 October 2000 21:08

Subject: Re: your webpage on religion

Dear Tammy,

You wrote:

<< You sound absolutely positive there is nothing true about Christianity.

I hope God himself came down and revealed this to you. >>

In your previous email you told me that Jesus filled you with so much that is

good that you feel like doing cartwheels all day. I would have thought that

such inspiration from the God of love who taught you to love your neighbour as

yourself would have engendered greater feeling for your fellow man than the 5

minutes you gave me before replying with a taunting email. It really doesn't

make Christianity look very impressive I'm afraid. Why do you think that I

wrote at the end of my testimony "I had been taught that you can only love God

if you love your neighbour. It is ironic that I found I could only love my

neighbour if I didn't love God." ? What is primal for a Christian? Is it love

and truth or is it Christianity? Do you really wish to understand and relate

to your fellow man or just force us all into a mould of the Christian

worldview, whatever the facts?

So, are you really interested in finding out why people leave Christianity, or

are you just here to point fingers and not listen?

Obviously if I thought I had a divine revelation then I would be a theist and

thus your comment << I hope God himself came down and revealed this to you >>

is just typical Christian sarcasm, which I'm afraid I see a lot of. My

non-belief is a very powerful working hypothesis, and the result of my

researches making Christian belief untenable, not a proof of the

non-existence of any particular deity. I am open to be convinced that I

am wrong, so if you wish to engage me in open, carefully considered

and non-sarcastic debate then please do.

You wrote:

<< If the truth were something to be grasped, what makes you so sure that it

has to follow the logic and reason of your worldview? >>

Conviction is a state of mind and not a guarantee of truth. Personally I'm

convinced because I read, discussed and thought about it, which is the most

common story of why people leave. You will see some of what these reasons are

if you follow the links in my previous email. Bare in mind that I changed my

worldview. I didn't start with a worldview that denies divine revelation, so

your comment << what makes you so sure that it has to follow the logic

and reason of your worldview? >> is quite misplaced. My views are

something I came to, not what I started with. However if beliefs are

based on revelation or faith then it soon becomes apparent that it is

difficult to know what to have faith in or which is the correct revelation

as there are many different faiths and revelations that are in conflict.

Famed Christian apologist William Craig wrote in "Reasonable Faith:

Christian Truth and Apologetics, 1994" as follows: "Should a conflict

arise between the witness of the Holy Spirit to the fundamental truth

of the Christian faith and beliefs based on argument and evidence, then

it is the former which must take precedence over the latter, not vice versa."

Craig (and I assume you too) thinks that his religious experience is veridical

http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/michael_martin/holy_spirit.html whereas

somebody else's very different religions experience is apparently not!


Others of course could (and do) make exactly the opposite claim, so

appeal to divine revelation is quite useless. Curiously it was the spiritual

attraction of atheism that was one of the things that intrigued me about

it in the first place. What do you think about that?

Anyway, why do you think I (and all the other ex-Christians including

previous ministers, missionaries etc.) have not had divine revelation?

Did Jesus not say "knock and the door shall be opened to you," "seek

and you shall find"? Was he not telling the truth? See here.

Will you answer at least this question - if Christianity is false would you

want to know that?

Don't forget to read seek and ye shall find? before answering again as I will

be putting our correspondence on our website, as I warned on my email page.

A hasty, rude, or un-thought out reply from you won't look good to those who

come to my site with questions and doubts about Christianity (see who is visiting

my site from my poll).

Best wishes,



Leaving Christianity

----- Original Message -----

From: Tammy D. Sundby

To: Steve Locks

Sent: 16 October 2000 15:40

Subject: RE: your webpage on religion

1. I'm not sure why or how you can accuse me of "attacking" you, or

"pointing fingers", when all I have done is asked a simple question.

All I've asked is that you entertain the thought that all the research

in the world won't bring you back in time. In fact there's probably

just as much evidence to support the religion as you can find to not

support it. There are some atheist/scientist who have set out to do

what you are doing and in the end chose to become Christians(to name a

couple, read about C.S. Lewis, Dr. Don Bierle, "Surprised by Faith",

Joshua McDowell, "Evidence that Demands a Verdict").

2. You previously accused Christianity of being a pack of lies. If you

don't know the ultimate truth, how can you make that assertion? These

are simple questions. They don't need a debate. If there's a

possibility that you can be wrong, where are you ultimately at in the

end? You're left with the choice of having faith or no faith. And in

the end you may or maynot be judged for your decision. So which way do

you go?

3. You accused me of not loving my neighbor. Just so you know, none of

the above or previous comments were intended to come across as "snide".

I can't keep you from reading into my letters. So I explicitly ask that

you just take them at face value, no emotions.

----- Original Message -----

From: Steve Locks

To: Tammy D. Sundby

Sent: 19 October 2000 20:23

Subject: Re: your webpage on religion

Dear Tammy,

I apologise if I have misread any emotions. Nevertheless, if you "explicitly

ask that you just take them at face value, no emotions" then I ask that you

don't quote me as saying things I did not.

<< 1. I'm not sure why or how you can accuse me of "attacking" you >>

Try looking for this in my emails, that is not what I said. The meaning

of "pointing fingers" is rather different than "attacking." My point is that I

feel you are contacting me to tell me things, not to dialogue, and these

things you are telling me are ones that I have already been discussed at

length in the links I gave you. I really would love to chat at length with

everybody who writes, but it is not possible and so I have to cut out the

repetitive ones. However, if you want to impress me then please do

read those URLs. I poured a lot of energy into my feedback and only

put a few of them up at the URL above. Most of the matters that are

raised with me by email have already been discussed at length there

and I don't have the time to repeat them, although I am very happy to

take things further than I have already discussed.

<< all I have done is asked a simple question. >>

It seemed more than that, in that you were diagnosing why I am not a Christian

without looking into the matter as was evidenced by the fact that it took only

5 minutes to reply to my first email. Have you read the links I gave you? I

have seen no comment on them from you.

<< All I've asked is that you entertain the thought that all the research

in the world won't bring you back in time. >>

In time for what?

<< In fact there's probably just as much evidence to support the religion as

you can find to not support it. >>

How do you know this? What is the evidence which has so far eluded me, not to

mention the ex-priests, theologians, missionaries etc. who have left


Why didn't all these well-churched and professional Christians know about the

evidence you claim to know? Why didn't it stop them deconverting?

<< There are some atheist/scientist who have set out to do what you

are doing >>

What do you think I "have set out to do?" I was a Christian, but became

convinced I was mistaken about Christianity and am now sharing what I and

others have been through and learned with those who are interested. Are you

suggesting I set out to become an ex-Christian? Make sure you read my

conversation with Dr. Garrett where I have discussed all this already at great


<< and in the end chose to become Christians(to name a

couple, read about C.S. Lewis, Dr. Don Bierle, "Surprised by Faith",

Joshua McDowell, "Evidence that Demands a Verdict"). >>

Again you are not reading my site and I am not going to repeat myself (too

much). As you should know from


I have read all of C.S. Lewis (it's "surprised by Joy" BTW, which I

also lent to an atheist friend when I was a Christian in the hope that it

would convert him) and as you should also know from

http://www.users.globalnet.co.uk/~slocks/asym/jordan.html Josh

McDowell is not even highly regarded by some Christians, and is

thoroughly discredited at


I will look into Dr. Bierle, but from past experience I am not hopeful. You

may be interested in the "asymmetry of conversion" research I have been

conducting which starts at


<< 2. You previously accused Christianity of being a pack of lies. >>

I did not say that. I did say I find Christianity "untenable" which means I

do not know how it can be successfully defended.

<< If you don't know the ultimate truth, how can you make that assertion? >>

Easy, I don't make it. I have had occasion to use the quote "A really

successful lie is best sandwiched between two truths." Christianity is far too

complex to all be "a pack of lies." I disbelieve the supernatural elements and

am convinced that the history and psychology of religion is other than the

conservative church paints it. See



http://sites.google.com/site/leavingxtianity/why#n4 and


<< If there's a possibility that you can be wrong, where are

you ultimately at in the end? You're left with the choice of having

faith or no faith. >>

Belief is not a "choice" if it is honest. I cannot choose to believe something

which I find unbelievable, even if it was virtuous or responsible to do so!

You really must read my conversation with Dr. Garrett where I went into all

this and many more of your points in detail.

<< And in the end you may or maynot be judged for your decision. So which way

do you go? >>

Pascal's Wager is a very flawed argument! Illogical and immoral.


I don't want to read things into your words, so please reassure me that you

are no not insinuating I might go to hell, as that's a pretty nasty threat.

Krishna and Allah have also predicted unpleasant things for those who

do not believe their "true religion."

"Pagans indeed are those who say that GOD is the Messiah, son of Mary. The

Messiah himself said, "O Children of Israel, you shall worship GOD; my Lord*

and your Lord." Anyone who sets up any idol beside GOD, GOD has forbidden

Paradise for him, and his destiny is Hell. The wicked have no helpers.

Pagans indeed are those who say that GOD is a third of a trinity. There is

no god except the one god. Unless they refrain from saying this, those who

disbelieve among them will incur a painful retribution."

[Koran 005:072-73]

"We appointed angels to be guardians of Hell, and we assigned their

number (19) (1) to disturb the disbelievers, (2) to convince the Christians

and Jews (that this is a divine scripture)"

[Koran, Sura 74, verse 31]

"He who in this oneness of love, loves me in whatever he sees, wherever this

man may live, in truth this man lives in me...I am from everlasting the seed

of eternal life...in its delusion the world knows me not...all beings have

their rest in me...I am the way...he who loves me shall not perish...only by

love can men see me, and know me, and come unto me...malignant men hate

me...they come not to me, but they go down the path of hell." Krishna - the

Bhagavad Gita (c. 500 B.C.)

I am not scared by their threats either.

If you believe that your god allows hell then your relationship is like that

of an abused spouse or victims of the Stockholm syndrome (you will understand

why I say this if you read the links I gave).

<< 3. You accused me of not loving my neighbor. Just so you know, none of

the above or previous comments were intended to come across as "snide".

I can't keep you from reading into my letters. So I explicitly ask that

you just take them at face value, no emotions. >>

I am glad to hear it and I apologise where I have misunderstood you. However I

still fail to see how writing "I hope God himself came down and revealed this

to you" can be anything other than sarcastic or taunting. Since you know I

don't believe in any god, how did you think this would sound and what did you

mean by it? When you responded in 5 minutes with this

were you really doing so out of love? Why did I not deserve more

consideration such as is due to the neighbour you love?

Have you read any of the links I gave you previously? You really must do so as

I do not have the time to rewrite my website in emails for you. Also you have

not answered any of the questions I have asked of you. If you don't get much

more of a response from me it will be because you are still rehashing old

ground I have already discussed.

Best wishes,



Leaving Christianity:

I have snipped some repetitive emails, then I received the following...

From: Tammy D. Sundby

To: Steve Locks

Sent: 10 January 2001 23:00

Subject: RE: your webpage on religion

sorry, but I think your research was off the mark. Your webpage

discrimitively calls charismatic people "crazy." I somehow get the

feeling you never read the books I suggested, nor will you. Besides the

Bible, there are plenty of books testifying of miracles, plenty of

people who will do the same. Not too long ago a friend of ours brought

us to his church in which the entire congregation was praying in

tongues. We found out our friend does too, he told us how the first

time the pastor laid his hands on him in prayer, his body fell to the

ground. His body didn't know why, but it just wanted to lay. I 'm not

trying to convert you. I just don't like that you haven't given enough

creedence to people's testimony. You've blatenly stated that you think

charismatic people are crazy. All my friends are not crazy, they pray

in tongues, and they instantly got the gift basically the same way (a

pastor or person who prays in tongues laid their hands on them in


From: Steve Locks

To: Tammy D. Sundby

Sent: 18 January 2001 23:10

Subject: Re: your webpage on religion

Hello Tammy,

I'm sorry if my remark about thinking charismatics were probably "crazy" sounds

discriminative. However, it wasn't quite the blatant accusation you portray.

<< You've blatenly stated that you think

charismatic people are crazy. >>

However I did not "blatantly state" any such thing. You have to give me credence

too and read my material with more care.

What I actually said was "I was always unhappy with anything at all

fundamentalist in religion and thought that "charismatics" as we called them

were a bit disturbing and probably crazy. It didn't seem to have much to do with

religion as I knew it." As you should know from my site, this is what I thought

when I was a Christian. So I did not "blatantly state that I think charismatic

people are crazy." Instead, I reported that when I was a Christian, I thought

that they probably were crazy. There are many things I thought as a Christian

that I do not think now.

I actually now think that charismatic behaviour is very normal, as it appears

over a spectrum of religions, cults and even secular cults (see

http://www.freedomofmind.com). However, I still find some extreme religious

emotional behaviours disturbing and unhealthy.

Do you think any non-Christian religions are crazy? Are atheists crazy in your


<< I somehow get the feeling you never read the books I suggested, nor

will you. >>

I certainly have read some of them. I even corrected you on a title! Indeed I

read voraciously as a Christian. What have you read that is critical of


However, as I said before, you really must remember that my website is not just

about me. Try and look at the larger picture. Even if I personally had never

read any pro-Christian material or apologetics (which certainly is not the case)

do you really think that nobody who has read the books you quote has left

Christianity? What do you think ex-ministers, priests, missionaries and other

well-churched Christians have been reading?

It is quite absurd to think that ex-Christians have an inadequate background in

Christian apologetics. Some time reading the deconversion stories on my site

will show you this.

Also, as I said before, the full range of Christians leave Christianity, even

including those who spoke in tongues. I already wrote to you as follows:

>People leave from every variety of Christianity including those who fit your

>description, doing cartwheels for Jesus and having "invited him into their

>lives" etc. My site is not just about me, although I certainly felt and

>believed that I had Jesus in my life (or rather he was life itself!) and you

>will find such testimonies if you surf around.

I wasn't making this up, and I will demonstrate the truth of this below.

There have been a number of threads on the "ex-tian" (ex-Christian)

mailing list from people who used to speak in tongues as Christians.

As ex-Christians they could still do it. People do it in other religions

too. Glossolalia is hardly unique to Christianity and I do not see why

it is seen as miraculous - especially as the exact same phenomena

happens in religions you would claim were "false." Look up "glossolalia"

in a psychology book, or even medline! http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/PubMed/

"Emmahubbaba-amanicahina-emminimuna!" = "Jesus will do great things in the

lives of the youth of our church!" Anyone can do it - I just made that up!

"Schamalukani-prestinaka halaluka mishticanici!" = "Krishna will bring great

numbers to himself!" and so on...

<< I somehow get the feeling you never read the books I suggested, nor

will you. >>

Since you disapprove of not reading the "other side," then I take it you will

read the following, and read it properly, not just skim-read it.

Here are some quotes from ex-Christians (taken from the ex-Christian archives

http://rabendary.tesp.com/ex-tian/ex-tian.htm) pondering their time when they

spoke in tongues, were slain in the spirit etc.

********Begin quotes**********

...we were known mostly for the "move of the

Spirit", and a very effective praise and worship service. We really were

able to convert people with that-we saw angels, were commanded to speak

in tongues and danced and screamed and sang and were slain in the spirit.

We were known for that most of all, along with our speaking in tongues

and casting demons out of our minds and bodies. they believed adamantly

in healing, inner and outer, so when I saw this on your cult page,

and Randy Clark's name (he was a pretty serious leader) I knew that you'd

been taken in by the same old stuff.


Sometimes speaking in tongues .... is used as a good lil "mantra" ...

ie. one preacher I saw once, got his people to start off just sdaying

something like Hubba Bubba ...

I mean sheesh ... a bubblegum label used to springboard off into


But it worked, and people bought it ...


Isn't the "Toronto Blessing" the "laughter blessing?" Just wondering. I was a

charismatic for a while, and can still speak in tongues whenever I wish. I

believe Rob Berry can too. Just a note to let you know that there's two books

written by a former Pentecostal minister, one of which is called DON'T CALL ME

BROTHER, which discusses a lot of the different "blessings" in the

charismatic/Pentecostal genre which made the rounds at Jim and Tammy's

Bakker's religious amusement park.


I was definitely quite religious at one

time. We're talking speaking in tongues, casting out demons, the works.


"Being slain in the spirit" was really popular in the 80's. It

was so prevalent that people would be in private prayer groups and people

would fall down ("slain in the spirit").. and someone would be behind them

to catch them as they fell. So in order to stop this, the leader of the

prayer group said that from that moment on, nobody would be behind anyone

"slain in the spirit" to catch them as they fell. If God was causing them

to be "slain in the spirit", He would protect them from being hurt if they

fell. Suddenly, this practice stopped. :)


It is like many other uninhibited

activities. A person is assembled with others, and sees others speaking

in tongues. There is no rhyme or reason to it. It is assumed to be holy.

The person is told to want it, because it is a gift from God. It becomes

a have-to type of thing, because if the person does not eventually speak

in tongues, the person is not as spiritual, or as good a Christian.

Finally the person realizes only a few loose, unattached, syllables are

required, and begins to speak. It really isn't very hard.


As somebody who used to speak in tongues as a Christian, and who can

still do it when he wants to, perhaps I can shed some light on this.

Mind you, it's been nearly six years since I've been a Christian, so

my theology might be a bit rusty.

At its most basic, speaking in tongues is just babbling incoherently.

In Christian belief, there are generally two types of tongues:

"interpreted" and "uninterpreted". Interpreted tongues is where a

person speaks in tongues, and then somebody (perhaps the speaker,

perhaps somebody else) translates the "message from God" into

English. This message could be an exhortation, a prophecy, a "word

of knowledge", or even a warning. Interpreted tongues are nearly

always public, since there is the presumption that the tongues are a

"message", and there's no point in delivering a message when there's

nobody around to hear it.

Uninterpreted tongues are just that; the nonsense starts pouring out

with no interpretation. Different Christians will give you different

interpretations as to the point of this version of tongues. Some

would say that the person is using a "spiritual language", unique to

each person, to pray to God. Others would say it's simply a form of

worship, like singing or dancing or normal praying. Some charismatics

believe that uninterpreted tongues are not of God (and thus are of

the devil) because there is no message in them, and therefore no

point in it. Others say that while there is no cognitive message,

uninterpreted tongues form a vital component of worship. Very few

would say that tongues are a necessary condition for salvation, but

I'm sure such Christians exist.

The "secular explanation" is that the people are babbling

incoherently. And that's it. When I first became interested in

speaking tongues, I was under the impression that God was supposed to

"possess" the speaker, take control of his/her body, and speak the

syllables without any effort on the part of the speaker. Sort of

like being demonically possessed, only backwards. :-) This

impression is common among both non-Christians, and Christians who do

not speak in tongues. It is this idea of involuntary babbling that

makes speaking in tongues seem so difficult to explain.

The reality, though, as any tongue-speaking Christian will tell you,

is that the person must deliberately speak. God (so they say) will

not take control of you; you have to deliberately speak yourself.

God (allegedly) will give you the syllables as you start to speak,

but it is you who must do the speaking. Think of it as a faucet;

once you turn it on, the water will flow, but the water doesn't force

its way out of the faucet. When I attended a class on learning to

speak in tongues, we were told simply to open our mouths, start

speaking, and trust that God would give us the syllables to say. It

was pretty bizarre, at first, since there is the usual embarrasment

factor ("I feel like an idiot doing this"), plus a guilt factor ("if

I can't do this, is it because I lack faith or have some sin in my

life") and even a fear factor ("how do I know this is God's tongues

and not a Satanic counterfeit"). One trick that my teacher

recommended was to praise God in a foreign language, and use that as

the "jumping off point" to get into tongue speaking. Since I knew

some rudimentary Spanish, I took this approach, and was able, after

an hour or so, to get about three syllables of gibberish out of my

mouth while speaking a sentence in Spanish. According to my teacher,

that was the start. Later that night, I managed to get a whole

sentence (about 12 syllables) out while praying. It wasn't long

before I could babble on at length.

So the secular explanation is simply that you begin deliberately

talking nonsense, after first overcoming the natural embarrasment

factor. It gets easier with practice, especially since when you

speak in tongues in a worship service, you are surrounded by friends

who encourage you and respond positively to your success in tongue-

speaking. That, and the positive emotions that flow naturally

during a worship service, quickly cause tongue-speaking to be

associated with feelings of happiness and ecstasy, which of course

makes it easier the next time around. Indeed, it's been six years

since I spoke in tongues, yet to this day, whenever I speak in

tongues for more than about thirty seconds, I can feel the same

"welling up" inside me that I did when I was a Christian, although

the feelings are now just an amorphous glob of ecstasy, instead of

being directed towards God. (There was a time when I was afraid to

talk in tongues for too long, for fear I might lose the sanity I

had found. I haven't had that fear in a long time, though; sanity

is now a deeply ingrained habit of mine. :-)

In case you're wondering why I still speak in tongues now that I'm an

atheist, the answer is that I usually don't. I do occasionally sing

in tongues, though. I love listening to music, and while a Christian,

I developed a habit of singing in tongues, especially when listening to

instrumental music. The habit occasionally resurfaces, and I don't

really mind it when it does. It's not something sent from God, and

it isn't particularly useful, but it can be enjoyable, so I figure,

why not? I've met one or two other atheists who can also still speak

in tongues, although I can't remember now who they are.


My Pentacostal/Charismatic friends convinced me that anyone could

speak in tongues and that it was a sign of the Baptism in the Holy

Spirit. Well, I experienced about a minute or so of great joy at a

charismatic living room service, and a few days later I tried "moving my

tongue in faith," and kept repeating whatever syllables came out, even

though they made no sense. Soon I was off and running at the mouth. The

experience for me is directed by me, when to open my mouth and start

speaking in tongues and when to finish. I don't consciously control the

exact formation of the syllables that come out. It's kind of like how a

flag waves in the wind, the way I just let my tongue riff along in jazz

like fashion, without trying to form any particular words. I've noticed

that certain syllables predominate, like the "ya-say" on the ends of

words and certain syllables in the beginning and middle are highly

repetitious. (If you "speak in tongues" then try writing it down

like I once did, phonetically spelling out everything you say, and then

look at all the repetitious endings and phrases). And there is a

definite sing-song, almost rhymning, construction to what I say. And the

length of "speech" is determined more by how much breath I take in than

by what I'm apparently "saying." If I take a deeper breath I exhale a

longer "message." I've also seen people "interpret" tongues, when a

lengthy tongue message gets translated extremely briefly, and vice

versa. That right there "shook" my faith in the truth of "tongues."

There's also a case I read about where a person in church uttered

DELIBERATE nonsense, and somebody stood up and "translated" "Cocacola

cocacola cocacola" into a message direct from God. So, it seems like

nonsense talking, and not a language. In fact, the repetitions proved to

me that the process was natural. Anyone can learn how to do it. Maybe

it's a right brain thing. But just try making a little sound, one or two

syllables, and repeat it. Just kind of whatever flops out of your mouth.

Maybe start with "Ya," ya ya ya, and add a "da," Ya da Ya da Ya da, more

syllables will follow, just repeat them over and over, and soon you'll

be varying them and making your own tongues riffs.


P.J. O'Rourke, in his recent book, ALL THE TROUBLE IN THE WORLD,

describes attending a genuine Haitian voodoo service, held by some very

nice people, where he says they "spoke in tongues" and did other things

that sound a lot like what happens at some wild Pentecostal meetings.

Also, the religious church of the WORD OVER WORLD, or "Wow," which was

founded by Weirwille (spelling correct? He also authored the

controversial book, JESUS IS NOT GOD!) in the 1970s, had an easy time

teaching its members how to speak in tongues.

Martin Gardner, who was the Scientific American puzzle columnist for

several decades, once wrote an article on "speaking in tongues."

Gardner was raised in Tulsa Oklahoma, Oral Roberts country, and was a

fundamentalist in his youth. Today he says that about the best use he

can think of for "speaking in tongues" is to enhance oral sex.


Some Christian groups view being 'baptized in the spirit,' ie. speaking in

tongues, to be more important than water baptism. To these Christians, the

way to tell if someone is truly a Christian is if they can speak (or have

spoken) in tongues.

What they choose to ignore is that 'tongue speakers' who leave the faith,

still retain the ability to speak in tongues, proving it is a natural event

and not one from any god.


Actually, glossalalia IMHO could be used in just about any religion

that had shamanic or "personal-experience-of-the-divine" overtones.

I understand that the activity leads to a kind of ecstasy similar

to many other practices of this nature, such as ritual dancing,

drumming, or chanting. Of course, the effectiveness of these

practices does not depend on the particular religious system;

glossalalia works just as well for Voudoun folk as it does for

Pentecostals, and has much the same effect.



"tongues" spoken by an individual reflect the normal

language of that individual. A Japanese person speaking

in tongues is not going to have any "L"'s in their

babbling. I've heard that a trained listener can tell

the difference between a New Yorker and a Southerner

speaking in tongues.


Actually this is true only for those who have never studied


Those who have studied Engrish, consistantry have "L"s whele

the "R"s berong and "R"s whele the "L"s berong. That could

totally change the meaning of the babbling couldn't it?

Obviously, "ugabalirakafulu" and "ugabarilakafuru" are two

entirely different things, right?


Speaking in tongues in NT times was simply speaking in other languages. When

the apostles were baptized in the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, they

"began to speak with other tongues (plural) as the Spirit gave them

utterance" (Acts 2:4). There were people from all over the known world

present in Jerusalem to celebrate Pentecost, and "every man heard them

speaking in his own language" (v:6-8). The NT doesn't seem to teach that the

apostles spoke a gibberish that everyone heard as his own language but that

the apostles actually spoke in other languages through the power of the Holy



Even though I felt strongly I was making it all

up, my parents urged me not to let "Satan" tell me I was making it all up and

encouraged me to say whatever syllables came to mind, because that was "the

spirit" descending on me. The pressure from them was incredible, so I

babbled away to please them. Always hated it and felt like a fraud. Now I

seriously wonder how anybody out there speaking in tongues can honestly

believe that it is anything other than in their own head.


I spoke in tongues too, and still can. Today I'm the author of LEAVING


testimonies by former tongue speakers like myself.


Some years ago, when I first encountered "tongues", I read an article in a

sociological journal about studies done on glossolalia. In the article,

the researchers found that recent converts to a glossolalic church were

urged to mimic the language of the more experienced members. This would

seem to make it a learned behavior rather than something spontaneous.

World Harvest Bible College here in Ohio (pastored by the one-and-only Rod

Parsley of "Breakthrough" fame) actually has a class on how to speak in



Ugh! I have a hard time with Ass of God churches. ;) I took the UU high

school youth group (which i co-taught one summer) to see a faith healer at

an Ass of God church once and that was pretty freaky to see all the people

falling on the ground and the guy speaking in tongues and getting people

to "roar like lions" and then asking people to "give a day's pay" at the

end of the meeting and put it in a gold bucket right in front of him so he

could "annoint their hands for prosperity." (the UU kids all decided to go

up and very litterally put their two cents in the bucket. The faith

healer's face got all contorted and red when they did that. You could

just see his jaw clench.)


I "experimented" with tongues. I certainly wanted it, so I bought the

book "How to Speak in Tongues" by Larry Christenson. I read the whole

thing, and at the end his conclusion was basically just start bablling and

accept by faith that it is tongues (those weren't his exact words). I was

kind of shy, so whnever people around me spoke in tongues I just kind of

babbled to myself, not very loud.


The first time

I did it, I was 13 years old, and I thought for a half-second how stupid

it was and that I was probably just producing nonsense. My fears were

alleviated when I was done as a lady in the back "interpreted" my

nonsense! I believed at that moment that I had truly spoke from God,

and was congratulated at the end of the service by several church members

for having been "priviledged" enough for God to use me as a vessel of



Say this 10 times real fast..."Should have bought a Hundai" and then

you've got it brother...you're speaking in tongues...Double-plus fun,

this tongue-speaking!!!


>> How exactly did you speak in tongues? Did you learn it, or did you feel it

>> was some type of "supernatural" experience?


It just happened one day while I was praying to God. The pastor , later during

my baptism, tried to make it sound like it happened then and due to the baptism,

but I'd done it for soem time.

The result, I believe, of a planned suggestion better known as mystical



We were all seated in chairs in a large circle. When the leader

gave the cue, everyone pulled out paper bags. Everyone, that is,

except me. It was at this point that I realized I had been

operating under erroneous assumptions. I had assumed we would be

doing a Bible study on deliverance; that we would examine the

Scriptures to learn more about what it means for us today.

Everyone else there, especially the elders, assumed that everyone

had come FOR deliverance. Oops...

Luckily someone had brought an extra paper bag and gave it to me.

Then it started. You might say all hell broke loose. About half

a dozen elders were inside the circle, going from person to person

to do the actual casting out. Those seated were now coughing,

gagging, screaming, falling from thier chairs, and doing generally

uncontrollable convulsing on the floor. An elder would slam his

hand on someone's forehead and command Satan to leave: "LOOSE your

hold! In the name of Jesus LOOSE your hold!" I quickly realized

the paper bag was to catch the demons that were coughed up,

expelled, cast out, whatever.

Wow! This was exciting! Otherwise normal adults were convulsing

uncontrollably on the floor... even little kids were crying and

coughing up their demons. Of course the little kids had little

paper bags, I guess because their demons were littler.

This was great! I was praying leaning over my paper bag, ready for

God or the elder or anyone to cast out my demon. I prayed, "God,

I'm ready!"... nothing happened. I waited, sincerely believing a

demon was about to leave me. Nothing happened. Soon an elder came

over and asked me "Which one is it?" I looked at him. "What?" I

asked him. "Which demon do you have?" he replied.

I didn't know which demon I had. Just a few minutes earlier I

didn't even know I had any, and now how was I supposed to know its

name? Fortunately, he pulled a sheet of paper out of his pocket,

with an alphabetized list of all the demons. I looked at the list,

praying "God, show me which demon I have!" The list started with

the basics: Demon of Alcohol, Demon of Laziness, Demon of Lust...

wait a minute... yeh, that one. I was a healthy (physically,

anyway) 21 year-old male. "Demon of Lust" I told him. He thrust

his hand on my forehead and screamed "LOOSE your hold!"

Nothing happened. But I believed, and I waited... He tried again.

And again. Nothing happened. He called another elder over. They

tried together. I was ready (but my forehead started to get a

little sore from their constantly hitting it with their hands).

Nothing happened. One of them asked me how I felt. I told the

truth: I felt calm. They looked at each other. Obviously, that

was not the right answer. I was supposed to be gagging and

convulsing. Then one said "We've been in this ministry for 15

years, and it's always worked before!" I started to feel bad for

ruining their perfect record. I really did.

They tried again and again, but nothing happened. So finally they

gave up and told me I could try to cast demons out of someone else


I was still pretty excited about all this. I got up from my chair,

carefully stepping around thrashing bodies, and gently placed my

hand on someone's forehead. I prayed that God would cast out

whatever demon this person might have. I remember an elder coming

up to me and scolding me: "COMMAND them out, don't PRAY them out!!"

But it was hard for me at that time to be too aggressive, being a

Norwegian bachelor farmer and all.

Finally everyone started to regain composure a little and return to

their seats. I still felt pretty good, just mildy embarrassed

about my reluctant demon. We began to sing again, and I felt more

at ease. Then an elder asked "How many here don't speak in tongues

but would like to?" Like an idiot, I shot my hand up without

thinking. Two of us raised our hands. Then the elder said

"Hallelujah, we haven't missed in 15 years!" and I started to feel

a little sick, worrying about blemishing their perfect record


The two of us knelt on the floor, the others surrounding us and

laying their hands on us. They prayed that we be filled with the

Holy Spirit. I prayed, "God, I'm ready! Give me tongues!" The

other guy kneeling by me immediately broke out into a

"Hallabalulasmabalukasnabalabala..." and everyone was ecstatic.

Fortunately they didn't hear my silence.

But it wasn't over yet; we may have been FILLED with the Spirit,

but we hadn't yet been SLAIN in the Spirit. So we stood up. An

elder hit the guy next to me really hard in he forehead with the

palm of his hand. The guy fell to the floor, slain in the Spirit.

Then it was my turn. The elder hit me in the forehead, knocked me

off balance a little, so I fell to the floor. Again, everyone was

ecstatic over this new miracle. I had been slain in the spirit.

I just lay on the floor and went with it, but I really thought the

elder had pushed me over...


I did the whole spectrum. I spoke in tongues and all that. I agree with your

premise about competitiveness in feeling good. They want their god to make

everybody happy, whether they like it or not.


When I read Randi's "The Faith-Healers" on David's advice, I noticed

Randi called it the full equivalent of an incantation. It's not even

that--it's just good old-fashioned stuttering! There are some instances

where we can't find the words to express our feelings about something. As

a result, monosyllables or otherwise unintelligible speech comes out of

our mouths. It's the same way with charismatics. For them, going to

church is like being on an incredible high. They get so excited that

they can't find the words to express their praise. The result--what we

call stuttering, what they call "tongues."


As I think back about the many things I used to believe (and practice!),

I'm often amused at my own self. But tongues is one of those things

that's absolutely embarrasing. Of course it doesn't make sense, but you

almost have to have practised it yourself in order to understand.

Is it just emotional babbling? Yes and no. Yes, because in order to begin

learning to speak in tongues you almost always have to have an intense

emotional experience. Once you've picked up the habit though, it's

surprisingly easy how you can "intellectualize" it. I remember many times

praying in tongues because the situation seemed to call for it, but doing

it in a solemn fashion with my emotions tightly under control...

The funny thing is, I can still speak in tongues! Halleluja!! Ohn da ri

mimikese, oh ah ri kikishi! ;-) I can even do it in three different

dialects! And it sounds just like it always did. Kind of like learning to

ride a bike, even if you never ride much, you never forget how.... ;-)


We have had a

few instances of speaking in tongues. Has anyone else heard of "holy

laughter"? It's interesting...The congregation starts to laugh

uncontrollably, supposedly under the influence of the holy spirit. It sort

of feels like being drunk because you lose control of yourself. It is

amazing what can be done with a mass of people who are all thinking alike

and allowing themselves to lose control.


The Toronto Blessing is known for behavior so bizarre it appalls even

people whose worship normally encompasses the manifestations of talking in

tongues and falling down under the power of God being slain in the spirit.

In Toronto, behaviors that are called manifestations include: uncontrolled

laughter, roaring like lions, crawling on all fours and barking like dogs,

and flapping arms like eagles.

"In Toronto, any manifestation is allowed to occur at any time," Dager said.


I've actually been "slain in the spirit." The idea behind it is that when the

Holy Spirit comes upon a believer, the believer is "overcome" by the sheer

power of the experience, and in a sense "faints." Its not a real faint that

I've seen.

At any rate, due to the euphoria generated by such gatherings that have such

"slayings," its really a trick of the mind, though I have some evangelists

actually used some force when they "touch" the recipient's forhead (pushing

them into the arms of a waiting usher). Same with speaking in tongues. You

just "let go" and seek the experience. You'll be surprised at how obliging

the body and mind will be to this type of delusion if you just "let go" and

not think or question. Seriously -- it requires an almost total blanking of

the mind with mindless chanting and praising. Very hypnotic reaction in a



it was in this church that I was baptized with/in the Holy Spirit.

(By the way, if you weren't careful you could get chewed out for saying "in

the Holy Spirit" instead of "with the Holy Spirit" by some people.) Shortly

thereafter I began expecting to be "used by God" in various ways, meaning that

I would be having a lot of wild experiences. I spoke in tongues (of course),

prophelied, had visions, and the whole can of mixed nuts.

Now for those of you who don't understand how all this works, let me fill you

in. I don't know how it works either. Well, I don't completely understand

it. I do know that if you tell people to expect something enough, they will

get "it" in some form or another. When I was a kid growing up on _Unsolved

Mysteries_ I saw UFOs and Grays all over the place. So it's only natural that

if you tell people that God is going to start showing them things, they *will*

see things.

One occasion that sticks out in my mind like a nun in an orgy was a time that

I was "slain in the spirit". A lot of times this is a result of hucksters who

practically sucker punch proselytes to get them laid out on the floor, but my

experience has been that people have needed to use very little human agency to

knock me over. With the suggestion that I might fall over at any moment

coupled with the mind-numbing effect of speaking in tongues and praying in

that "Yes Lord, Yes Lord, Yes Lord" monotone, I was "sucking carpet" (to use

their own words) in a few.


This is a big one in the Pentecostal church I used to attend. We were always

going to the altar to get "more of the Holy Spirit". People would speak in

tongues, get slain in the spirit, and have other bizarre things happen to

them, and it was all "spontaneous"--it only happened when people's minds were

prepared for it.



instance, when I was at church for the second week of my infiltration, my

feet gave out from standing in one place for so long. Had I not grabbed a

chair, I would have fallen on my face. Two people behind me laughed--and

I knew why. They thought I was being "slain in the Spirit." And then

there's this business of speaking in tongues. I've said it once, and I'll

keep on saying it until my face turns blue--speaking in tongues is nothing

more than stuttering. For pentecostal/charismatic types, going to church,

praying, or anything spiritual gets them on an incredible high (as I'm

sure you former charismaniacs will agree). It's so

intense that they can't find the words to express their thanks to

"almighty God." To save them the trouble of struggling through the words,

they speak in gibberish.


Speaking in

tongues is the only evidence most of them hold onto as definitive, and we've

already been through the true nature of speaking in tongues here.


It sounds like one of Robert Lifton's criteria of mind control, the element

known as "mystical manipulation/planned spontaneity." This, according to

Lifton, refers to events which appear to arise spontaneously out of the

situation, but actually have been orchestrated. This applies to altar

calls, speaking in tongues, "faith healings", and the like.

This type of thing has uses in other areas besides religion -- for example,

a TV studio which films its programs before a live audience to generate

laughter and emotional reactions, and make the show more appealing. I

don't feel this is necessarily wrong in and of itself; however, when it is

used to inordinately influence someone's feelings and views (as in

religion) it can be detrimental.


I once saw a woman get "slain in the spirit", falling

onto a toddler who was hurt, if only temporarily. Neither the toddler nor the

church at large was given an explanation for why the Holy Spirit directed

something so awful to happen.

********End quotes************

As you can see, none of these people were so impressed by the "miracle" of the

across-the-religions psychological phenomena of glossolalia that they remained

Christians. They can also still "speak in tongues" as atheists, so it's not a

miracle from any god. The early Muslims did it as do Moonies and practicers of

Voodoo. Even Plato writes about it.

Have you ever seen someone have a missing eye grow back? That would be a

miracle, psychological behaviour is interesting, but I would not call it


Much to your probable disgust, there are some people who engage in what is known

as "recreational Christianity" partly because their home life is so surrounded

by religion that they can't avoid church, and have to hide their true beliefs

from their family through fear of repercussions, even though they are not

believers. So they try and make a game out of an otherwise oppressive

situation. Maybe others are more impish. Some people have tried making

up speaking in tongues in church only to have Christians "interpret" pure

made up nonsense, with no inkling that the "miraculous tongue" was just

made up!

If you are a Christian who believes each message has one meaning (there

are different Christian beliefs on this as on pretty much all of Christianity)

then tape an instance of "speaking in tongues" and play it for a different

interpreter. See if they give the same interpretation as the original

interpreter. Alternatively get a number of interpreters to write down their

interpretations as they are listening to some "tongues." Then compare

what they have written.

<< I 'm not trying to convert you. >>

Do you think it is wrong to evangelise? Why then are you writing to me?

<< I just don't like that you haven't given enough

creedence to people's testimony. >>

Goodness me! Of course I have, as have the vast spectrum of diverse

ex-Christians! We once were Christians and lapped up Christian testimony with

great sympathy! Have you given credence to the testimonies at my website? Have

you given credence to comparative religion or even psychology? If so then why

did you think that "speaking in tongues" should be seen as evidence of anything


<< All my friends are not crazy, they pray

in tongues, and they instantly got the gift basically the same way (a

pastor or person who prays in tongues laid their hands on them in

prayer). >>

So? It happens in other religions too. Of course, some Christians (e.g.

Nazarenes) claim tongues are "of the devil" so it is impossible to please all

Christians. Baptists and Pentacostalists are also at loggerheads over speaking

in tongues.

Are you familiar with any psychology of religion? Have you seen what hypnotists

say about these religious behaviours?

From http://www.royhunter.com/HYPNOFAQ.html

"In my opinion, religious cults often control their membership through group

hypnosis. This belief is partly based on my own past experience as a member of a

religious cult. It took several years for me to overcome the guilt and to become

fully "de-programmed" from all the manipulative subconscious programming done by

my former church. So it is now my opinion that some religions regularly

hypnotize their membership without their ever knowing it...One religious

organization actually has practitioners who employ hypnosis under a different

name while telling its members to avoid using hypnosis! "

Did you know that Cult de-programmer, Steve Hassan

http://www.freedomofmind.com/resource/srmind.htm lists speaking in tongues as

one of the thought stopping techniques characteristic of cults? He used to do it

when he was a Moonie. See http://www.freedomofmind.com/groups/branch/waco.htm

<< sorry, but I think your research was off the mark. >>

Good - if you are right then that will give me an opportunity to learn something

new. Tell me what is wrong with my research and present the evidence that shows

why I am wrong.

As you do this remember what I have written already and what I am likely to

say in response. That way, if you really do know something I don't then you

might be more likely to tell me something new or present it in a novel way that

neither I or the other ex-Christians I have collected thoughts from will have

heard (or even said themselves) before.

Please do remember that there is more to leaving Christianity than just me. As I

said (did you read my links?) at http://www.eclipse.co.uk/thoughts/slocks.htm

"It is a common misapprehension to claim that those who leave Christianity never

understood what Christianity was "really about." The full range of Christian

types leave Christianity, from all denominations, doctrines, and persuasions.

From the most liberal to the most fundamentalist. The philosophical liberal, the

conservative orthodox, the born-again and the hyper-charismatic fundie."

Also, as I said at my email page:

"Despite my plea on my homepage, ..." [snipped quote from above URL]

Best wishes,



Leaving Christianity: