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Birth and Death of an Atheist


Testimony of G. Zeineldé Jordan, Se.


 

.

I will never be the same again. I will never return. I’ve closed the door.

I will walk the path. I’ll run the race. And I will never be the same again.

-Hillsongs of Australia



Throughout my life, I observed people behaving differently in church than in daily living. I found such hypocrisy all too common in church-going Christians. I also observed they would accept "sin" in their lives, confess it or answer an altar call on Sundays, then continue it the next week. That taught me sin was preferable over God’s design. I deduced God might not even exist; if He were real, people would not discard Him as they exited church doors. If God did exist, His design for man evidenced flaws. I had my own design: sex, drugs, rock ’n’ roll, and a little bit of country.


In doubting God’s existence, I began doubting Christ’s historical existence. Let us face it: it is the most awesome story ever told. It is awesome beyond the basic resurrection aspect inasmuch as it represents love, forgiveness, and acceptance beyond man’s comprehension. After all, my high school education included "facts" about human origin conflicting with the "Holy Book." My secular government education taught me many things opposite biblical teachings. By my early twenties, I simply did not believe the gospel message. Many times people asked me how I could not believe in God. Such people amazed me. Why the confusion?


"I don’t believe it," I would answer. "I think it’s a fairy tale with moral teachings intertwined. Further," I often said, "I think the Bible is used for milking money from the masses and controlling their minds and behavior."


I would say that as if I had some grip on controlling my mind and behavior. The fact of the matter is that my drug addiction had seized control of mine. I experienced continued failures the following years. In the end, when my size 30 pants grew baggy on me, and my eyes were ringed in that which remained of my eye sockets, I had failed my travel business, my clients, my family and friends, and my creditors. One drug buddy, Eddy, put a gun to his head and ended his agony. I considered following suit. Other drug buddies had either over dosed or were in prison.


One day, I took a ride, a long ride, up the California coast. I thought a lot, a whole lot. Still high as a kite on speed, I was arrested and the car impounded. I had lots of time to think throughout my stay in that northern California "County Hilton" that almost two-decade ago trip. More importantly, I had time to cry. For the first time in many years, I managed to shed a tear. Then I shed more, and more, and more. I thought of every person I had harmed. If tears had never "made the man," they made this one that day.


Possessing nothing but shame, disgrace, and unpaid bills, I appeared at Ma’s doorstep. She and my brother Tony nursed me back to health. I did not work for weeks. I ate, slept, and read. I survived. My drug addiction was behind me, and it has stayed there since. Praise God.


I had always enjoyed reading, particularly history. I found American history especially tantalizing. The more history I read, the more I despised Christians. I learned of my ancestors, the Portuguese. I learned of their conquering and enslaving African tribes, and their brutal treatment of peaceful natives who welcomed them as friends. Apparently, their Catholicism failed to circumvent their evil nature. I learned of the Spanish conquistadors doing the same in South America, and of the Spanish and Italian Inquisitions robbing the masses in the name of the church and Jesus Christ. I learned of the English Crusaders conquering, raping, and pillaging distant lands and claiming their spoils in the name of Christ. I read about America’s Christians massacring American Indians who had welcomed them with open arms. Surely, I wanted no part of the evils of what following Christ represented. Christianity repulsed me. I was so repulsed I chose to battle it. I grew outraged at Christianity. I felt conned.


At age 28, I joined American Atheists, a national organization of like-minded infidels. I learned so much that soon I banned Bibles from my home. Someone could enter my home with muddy shoes, but Bibles had to be left at the door.


I described myself as philosophically agnostic, for I believed there is not enough evidence to prove or disprove the existence of God, and a practicing atheist, meaning I lived on the premise no God existed. As far as an outright label, I identified myself as a "freethinker." I retain that label today, second only to "Christian."


American Atheists offered me an outlet from which to spew forth my venomous anger about Christianity. American Atheists rented space at the Arizona State Fair in 1990, which provided me an opportunity to vent my anger publicly.


After a personal encounter with American Atheists president Madalyn Murray O’Hair, I decided American Atheists was not worthy of my time and energy. I sensed ugliness and evil in her that her printed materials masked. I canceled my membership.


For family reasons, I relocated from Phoenix, Arizona, to Marietta, Georgia, in 1991. There I met up with the Atlanta Freethought Society (AFS), another group of infidels. It was a local chapter of the national Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF).


FFRF seemed to offer what I pursued. I strongly desired to be a part of Christianity’s destruction. I wanted to contribute my small part in "restoring the wall of separation between church and state," a wall I would later learn was nonexistent. It was merely a phrase coined by America’s third president, Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to a Baptist congregation assuring them the federal government had no power to interfere with their religious practices.


The AFS seemed to offer the ideal activism. Their first pro-active event after I joined them was to display a "Jesus Christ is a Myth" banner in the park on the square in McDonough, Georgia in 1991. Being there made me feel a part of the educating of America. The event made national news.


One problem I encountered with atheistic organizations is that they seemed to require a religious reverence for their non-religion. When O’Hair visited Phoenix for a solstice celebration, members argued over which blessed atheist would buy her dinner, drive her around, lay out red carpet, etc. Her papal arrival had me wonder if I could cure my cigarette smoking addiction by touching the hem of her garment.


I let my AFS and FFRF memberships lapse because I tired of the continued bickering amongst members about what "freethought" should mean. The local AFS chapter later severed its tie with the FFRF after its president, Tom Malone, pouted over a disparaging remark made by the FFRF. Later, other members split off to form Humanists of Georgia, while others stayed behind to argue about trivial matters as if they were of national interest. I would join again, lapse again, and so on. I grew unfavorably impressed by how the "intellectual elite" couldn’t seem to get along even on a local level. I often described them as the "Catholics and Baptists going at it again."


I did not like Christians, and I would have nothing to do with someone once I learned of their Christianity. Then in 1992 I met a man named Jim. I learned of his Christianity, but I liked him anyway. I respected his honesty, intelligence, and good character. We became friends despite our disparate theistic positions. He made an example of not condemning, but trusting his light to shine onto me. That shocked me because I had grown accustomed to "religious fanatics" attempting to force other people to conform to their religiosity or spewing forth condemnation on dissenters. Jim accepted me as a friend and left the rest of the work to the "Holy Spirit." His attitude and obedience to the Lord opened the door for someone else who would show me just who Jesus Christ really was, is, and will always be.


It happened one day as I scanned the radio dial. I came across an argument between an atheist and a Christian. The Christian was former U.S. Congressman-turned-radio-talk-show-host Patrick L. Swindall. The caller expressed his venomous anger towards Christians. The host behaved much like my friend Jim. The Christians I usually heard debating atheists cut off callers very quickly when the callers spoke outside a "Praise the Lord" direction. Not that Swindall fellow, though. He treated the caller with utmost respect and patience. To me, Swindall won the debate hands-down merely because of his manner. I listened to the rest of his show. Then I listened daily. His politics intrigued me. Every political solution he espoused met the concerns of atheist activists and honored the rights of Christians. I grew to admire Swindall. I eventually sent him a letter commending him on his show, his politics, and his religiosity. He responded with an invitation to my wife, Vickie, and me for lunch, and drove half way across the Atlanta metropolis to meet us. He shared his personal testimony. He did not convince me of God’s existence at that luncheon, but he demonstrated true Christian outreach. I grew so impressed with his politics and religiosity I decided to write about him, for I felt even we atheists should support his show and, ideally, his run for a return to office, if ever he decided to run again. Hence, Perjurer or Saint? (A Freethinker Introduces Pat Swindall) was born. I titled it such because Swindall had been charged and convicted of perjury in a case my lay investigation convinced me was a frame job to remove him from office. The more I looked into his innocence, the more certain of it I grew. More importantly, the more I looked into his case, the more I learned about the Jesus Christ Swindall worshiped.


In my research (for Perjurer or Saint?), I closely examined Christian and atheistic political propaganda. I compared those two versions of American history. To illustrate that America’s history is being rewritten, I include the following excerpt from my manuscript: The atheists, Ed and Michael Buckner cited a 1975 edition of National Geographic as their source in citing Benjamin Franklin’s words in their publication Quotations that Support the Separation of State and Church (1993, page 27).

I believe in one God, Creator of the universe . . . . That the most acceptable service we can render Him is doing good to His other children . . . . As to Jesus . . .I have. . .some doubts as to His divinity.


In America’s Real Religion, Gene Garman (1994, page 110), presents the same quotation citing Albert Henry Smyth’s Writings of Benjamin Franklin (1905). The omitted phrases follow.


         After universe: ". . . that He governs it by His providence.

         That He ought to be worshipped."


After children: "that the soul of man is immortal."


After As to Jesus " . . .of Nazareth . . . I think the system of morals and His religion, as He left them to us, the best the world ever saw or is likely to see."


After I have: " . . . with most of the present dissenters of England."


In the Buckners’ defense, they presented other Franklin quotations expressing a value for religion. Quite possibly, the omission came from their source, and they merely trusted it.


Patrick L. Swindall’s personal relationship with his Lord and Savior ultimately changed my life, literally forever. His example of walking closely with his Lord, yet honoring the rights of non-believers, sang to my political soul.


G. Zeineldé Jordan began changing. I changed so much I submitted an article to the AFS newsletter entitled “My Appeal to the AFS.” I did not expect it to make print. I was right, but I felt good that I made an attempt to open some eyes. I charged AFS with committing the same poor ethics they charged Christians with, such as using government-funded (public) schools for proselytizing their religious faith (Humanism). I reminded the AFS I was a member because I opposed religious tyranny, including our anti-theistic religious tyranny. I claimed they rejected a God of spirit only to embrace a God of government. They applied a double standard in what they battled Christians about because, after all, they "had it right."


At that point, despite my lack of belief in the existence of God, I decided the Christian movement in America was worthy of support. My "net results" orientation led me to question America’s current state of affairs. I had no doubt America was better off when up was up, down was down, good was good, and bad was bad. It became clear to me that America’s revolutionary morals shift of recent decades produced infanticide, fatherless children, increased drug use, and violence in classrooms.


Then a friend of a friend put Tim LaHaye’s Battle for the Mind in my hands. LaHaye did not convince me a God existed, but he clearly depicted I believed what I believed merely because I had been indoctrinated.


In an attempt to gain cross-cultural insight, I decided to visit a Christian church. I was convinced I could better understand Swindall’s religiosity by witnessing a Christian congregation first-hand. I chose West Cobb Baptist Church because I knew a member. I enjoyed the service and the sermon. A few days later, its pastor, Scott Beasley, and a church member visited us. We had a delightful time with them. They appeared quite sane. The congregation drew Vickie (also a philosophical agnostic and practicing atheist). She expressed a desire to return. I consented. I encountered none of the "religious fanatics" I expected to encounter. The congregation exhibited warmth, love, and, to use Vickie’s term, a "fuzziness." We continued our learning expedition for seven weeks. I experienced serious intellectual battles over the attraction. I felt my brain would break at any moment because the sermons were making sense. However, to accept such realities meant to discredit all of my cherished beliefs. Also, what I had been hearing on the Pat Swindall show about theism kept validating the sermons in practical terms.


When Jim learned of my West Cobb Baptist Church visitation, he supplied me with a New King James Version Bible to use as a reference source to review scripture first-hand. A Bible finally made its way to the Jordan library. I used it to look up scripture referenced in my atheist literature and "Pastor Scott’s" sermons.


Vickie and I discussed Christianity and Jesus almost every night throughout our seven weeks of church visitation. One evening, I confessed to Vickie that despite my years-long venomous disgust toward Christians, I had to admit, "Anything that Jesus fella actually said or did is not particularly offensive. It is what has been interpreted about it that is harmful." I went on to deduce, "Vickie, it reminds me of the old saying, ‘The only thing wrong with Christianity is not that it has failed, but that it has never been tried.’ That statement was actually made in opposition to Christianity, but let’s examine it. Christians claim this Christ fella is without blemish. They worship Him and claim no one can match His purity. Actually, if there is any truth to the Bible, it demonstrates how much the conquistadors and other barbarians would need that Christ figure. I have to ponder this further because, viscerally, I am beginning to think that Jesus fella took a bad rap, and sadly, mostly because of those who claim to follow Him. After all, I have always admired Mark Twain’s claim that ‘If Christ were real, there is one thing He would not be, and that is a Christian.’"


I considered perhaps He would be -- a God?


"At this point, I would be lying to you, myself, that congregation, and their God if He exists, if I were to claim I don’t believe that congregation has something from on high. I’m not saying I believe in a God, or I can anthropomorphize that force. I’m saying there’s more to it than I have knowledge to explain. Don’t expect me to run up the altar. However, they deserve a new respect."


Vickie responded with, "You realize if that Jesus is anything, He is everything." Her observation stuck with me unshakably.


I obsessed over Christianity and atheism. I disliked what was happening. I began thinking I had been wrong and had unfairly blamed Jesus Christ for what humans had done in His name. I felt somewhat shamed and remorseful. After great agonizing and investigating, I determined:


1. Unconstitutionally, Secular Humanism is America’s governmentally established religion despite the "wall of separation" value secularists espouse. I devoted years of support to organizations that professed to be protecting that wall, while in practice were actually forcing a non-theistic religion onto the public.


2. Humanists control mainstream media, politicians, and the entertainment industry.


3. Religiosity was a factor in America’s history. That history has been re-written or omitted in some public [government-run] schools. For example, some public school texts omit George Washington’s religious references from his Farewell Address.


4. Currently, American governmental entities have grown totalitarian and coercive, whereas Jesus still seeks voluntary hearts.


5. Jesus endured attacks from His corporeal visit through today yet survives. Christianity flourished against all odds.


6. Jesus’ teachings do not support the Christian atrocities I have condemned throughout my atheism. Jesus should not be charged for those atrocities. Further, atheistic regimes have committed equally and worse atrocious acts in the name of "the people." Both atrocious histories merely demonstrate just how much Christ’s teachings are needed.


7. I reject the idea the apostles allowed themselves to be persecuted over something they knew to be false. I also reject that the apostles and the 500 witnesses to His ascension into Heaven experienced joint hallucinations. Science has yet to prove such hallucinations are possible. The apostles had everything to lose by practicing their faith and nothing to gain. Cultists are convinced of a future happening; W.W.II Japanese kamikaze pilots (similar to other religious and political martyrs) were youth indoctrinated from birth regarding the Empire/God unity concept. The disciples were neither cultists nor kamikaze styled religious fanatics, for they were steadfast over something they personally witnessed.


8. If Jesus and His apostles (authors of the New Testament) existed and were truthful, His absent body is beyond secular explanation if kept in harmony with secular explanations for His followers’ visions. If Jesus and His disciples did not exist, who wrote the New Testament and why? I reject that some loonies wrote it, then ignoramuses followed their insanity for 2000 years. There had been other virgin births and saviors in actual religions that died. Why would a fantasy version live on? Why would lives be changed by it?


9. Bible prophecies have come to pass against enormous odds.


10. Women are not the subjugated male-inferiors that non-Christians perceive the Bible teaches. Husbands are to sacrifice themselves for their wives as Christ did for the church (Ephesians 5:25).


With those 10 points in mind, I further determined that, even if Jesus had been a mere man, I could support His teachings with vigor and zeal, if the supernatural aspects were applied figuratively. Later, I questioned whether I was correcting the teacher by omitting the supernatural of which He spoke. Still fighting it, I owned up that following is following, whereas tailoring is tailoring. Deep down inside I knew He actually deserved to be accepted and followed by His standard, not mine. I questioned that millions of people have accepted Him via a sinner’s prayer of admitting guilt and repenting. Was I the insightful sage who knew what millions of others did not? I thought not.


I knew decision-making time was approaching. I strongly felt called. It was beyond my intellect and I did not want to give up my cherished intellectualism. Little did I know I would not have to give it up, just be willing. I began thinking I was. I could not go so far as to say "Jesus is Lord." However, I felt I was being called to accept Him and the rest would take care of itself.


Vickie and I went through this intellectual turmoil together. She was going through definite changes. I felt it was wrong to have married her as an atheist, then embrace Christianity. However, I sensed her own altar call growing near. I decided I may have to answer the call without her, but I doubted it would come to that. Then, on March 1, 1998, on the way to church I put my hand on her knee and said, "Don’t be concerned about me. I’m pretty sure I’m ready, if ever you are. I don’t want to hold you back, and I don’t want to entice you."


That morning, I felt Vickie’s hand tap me during the invitation. Hand in hand, we walked the aisle. I reached into the congregation and pulled Sam Rothrock, the Sunday School teacher, out and told him, "We want to get this right. Help us out." There on the altar of that tiny, mobile West Cobb Baptist sanctuary, Sam led us through the sinner’s prayer of repentance and acceptance.


The moment I rose from my knees, Jesus Christ became my Lord. I could speak it; I could shout it; I could sing it; I could write it. Jesus Christ is Lord.


Standing there, only Hollywood’s special effects could paint a picture of what happened to me inside. I asked Him in and He entered. I felt an unknown peace flow through me. I did not know I lacked peace until peace flowed. The Gaither Band describes it best in It Is Finished with: "These were battlefields of my own making; I didn’t know that the war had been won. Oh, but then I heard that the king of the ages had fought all the battles for me, and that victory was mine for the claiming; and now, praise His name, I am free. It is finished; the battle is over. It is finished; there’ll be no more war. It is finished, the end of the conflict. It is finished, and Jesus is Lord."


Then thoughts of my atheistic former colleagues flowed through my mind. Throughout my metamorphosis, I had developed an animosity toward them and what they represented, but that disappeared. A love and compassion only Jesus could feel for them, and us, flowed in. I felt wise. I felt insightful. I enjoyed the peace. I knew I was saved. A few weeks later, Pastor Scott Beasley baptized us.


There were immediate character changes in me, and there have been more changes over time. It was not a conscious effort to "clean up" my language, but expletives lost their usefulness. My taste in music changed. There really just is not anything worth singing about other than Jesus. Being saved is, in fact, a born-again process. Now, over four years after my salvific experience, God’s Word continues gradually replacing layers of Secular Humanism.


One morning shortly after my salvation, Vickie and I began intellectualizing over morning coffee in bed. The conversation went in such a direction that I said, "Hey, let’s go through my atheist magazines and find the articles that challenge the Bible’s historicity and present its contradictions."


Surprisingly, locating such an article required searching. I had never noticed until then that the articles primarily simply bash Christians. Eventually, I found one.


"Okay, let’s look up these passages," I challenged. We did. The claims were false.


Then a thought occurred to me and I turned to Vickie saying, "For many years Christians claimed I accepted my atheism by faith. I argued with them. Now, I realize that I read these articles without ever looking it up myself. I took it as a given that the scholars were the ones exposing the truth. Remember, I would not allow a Bible in my home. I thought these ‘contradictions’ were factual. I have the feeling that God, early on, began shaping me (the freethinking, Christian-bashing, atheistic agnostic) into a writer for Christ. Well, so be it."


Weeks after I embarked on my new path, my mother mentioned to me that although she always considered me a wonderful son, and considered Vickie the finest daughter a mother-in-law could have, we were even better after committing to Christ. Indeed, she began evaluating her own religiosity. A couple months later, I sat in the congregation at Sunset Hills Baptist Church with camera in hand to snap pictures of my mother’s baptism.


So goes the birth and death of an atheist. What I want atheists to know is that we have been lied to, my friends. The religion of Secular Humanism has infiltrated America’s schools, newspapers, magazines, and television networks. Its adherents use taxpayer dollars to indoctrinate an unsuspecting populace with their religious tenets. Unfortunately, they are succeeding.


What I want Christians to know is that your walk, your example of living the faith, or swaying, is crucial to the salvation of others. If you live in hypocrisy and duplicity, a lost person will see our Lord Jesus Christ as phony, impotent, and useless. He shed His blood on a cross that all may have eternal life. How will you serve Him -- by making a poor example?


I came to know Christ as my personal Lord and Savior because devout Christians accepted me and did not condemn me. They loved me. They followed Christ’s teachings of loving their neighbor as themselves, and allowing their light of Jesus Christ to shine so brightly I could not deny it. Keep in mind, at the heart of my atheism and now at the heart of my devotion to Christ lies the fundamental, life-changing, salvation-grabbing principle of distinguishing Christ’s teachings from "Christian" behavior. Please make His example your daily-living guide. He works. Meanwhile, I pray I remain the same at work, home, and play as on Sundays. To God be the glory!


I now share what Swindall shared with me in my cherished autographed copy of his A House Divided:

 

Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in Him, which is the head of all principality and power.

-Colossians 2:8-10


For skeptics, I recommend reading Scaling the Secular City, by J. P. Moreland (1987), Baker Book House. For a succinct delivery of its principles, read Know Why You Believe, by Paul E. Little (1976), Inter-Varsity Press, Downers Grove, Illinois 60515.


Obtain a copy of Dr. Hugh Ross’ audiotape, Beyond the Stars: An Astronomer’s Quest, from: Life Story Foundation, P. O. Box 79, Forest VA 24551-0079, 800-661-1141.


No political library is complete without a copy of Tim LaHaye’s Battle for the Mind (1980).


Pat Swindall’s A House Divided (1986) provides an understanding of religiosity in American politics.


No non-believer has made an informed decision without knowing Lee Strobel’s legal-journalist investigation results revealed in The Case For Christ (1998)


Use care when reading anti-God literature. It can be convincing when claiming, for example, "There is not enough secular evidence to confirm Christ’s existence." Before lending credence to such claims, bear in mind that our nation’s heritage has been rewritten. I remind you, many public school textbooks have George Washington’s godly references omitted from his Farewell Address. Also, Congressman Swindall reported a public school student challenged him on the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment, claiming it mandates a wall of separation between state and church. He then opened his textbook displaying a "wall of separation" rewrite. The teacher defended it as a paraphrase. Do not think secularists only began altering history here in America. Enemies of the cross have always attempted keeping the greatest story ever told untold, or changed. Be wary of intellectualism; it led Eve to the apple. Any true intellectual would value Albert Einstein’s words, "We should take care not to make the intellect our God; it has, of course, powerful muscles, but no personality."

 

About G. Zeinelde’ Jordan, Se:


G. Zeineldé Jordan, Se. (Age 43) is a former member and drama ministry performer of West Cobb Baptist Church in Powder Springs, Georgia, from his salvation, March 1, 1998 until October 2001 when he relocated to LaGrange, Georgia


Jordan’s wife abandoned Christianity and found the unequally yoked environment too much to cope. After rejecting professional psychiatric advice, she pursued divorce. He has since (November 05, 2001) remarried. His new wife, Melinda, is a former co-worker while they resided in metro-Atlanta and are on-going visitors of New Community Church, a Willow Creek ministry.


Jordan has no formal schooling beyond high school and considers himself self-educated (Se.) by books, seminars, educational television, home study courses, and membership in various educational organizations. He is a former member of The Atlanta Freethought Society, American Atheists, and the Freedom From Religion Foundation. His personal testimony, Birth and Death of an Atheist, serves as a succinct account of his religious conversion.

 


Faith & Reason Forum would like to thank G. Zeinelde’ Jordan, Se for his testimony. He can be reached at JordanDELETETHIS(AT)theism.net.