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Switching religions


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Old 26th December 2017, 12:50 AM   #1
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Switching religions

This is not something I am dealing with in my spiritual life, but something others have been. Forgive my ignorance about certain things, I am not making generalizations about men vs women, and this is in no way bashing either faith as mentioned in the following stories, but I have encountered this in three women. Two I know/have known personally, another that I know of...

A girl I went to high school with decided she was going to be a Muslim (she was/is white and some Christian faith don't know which growing up). I don't know what lead her down this path, but she converted at some point. Then she married a Muslim man from Pakistan after they had known each other for about 6 weeks. Old story ensued then, but there are/were a variety of other reasons behind this - They barely knew each other, he started to hit her, etc. They divorced. Eventually she regretted her want / need to be a Muslim herself and no longer liked Muslims. A guy friend of mine who is also a Muslim, by complete coincidence as it turned out a few years ago, dated her. He said she was a complete train wreck and got out once he realized how crazy she was. I asked how he knew, he said she told him her opinions about religion (he did not go into details). Unfortunately I did not see this side of her until later, but I didn't know how far she would take it. I have no idea what happened to him but she went on a downward spiral of drugs, alcohol and mental illness. After she was arrested for a few too many "misunderstandings" about her being drunk in public, trying to pass a bad Rx at a pharmacy, I washed my hands of her.

The other I know personally is a friend, I am moreso friends with her daughter (which is another story) who is 18 years younger than me. I know her daughter better than her. Apparently at one point, her mother was a devout Catholic and, for reasons I am not sure of, she later decided to change religions and became a devout Muslim. Last year, apparently, she was in a relationship with a Muslim man. SHe traveled overseas to be with him, I could see by her Facebook posts she was living in Egypt with him. Then, one day she returned to the US. I don't know details, and it's not my business, but I think she may have experienced what the first mentioned woman did. She's not with that guy anymore, but she is still a Muslim. Her daughter is not religious, her mom does not inflict her beliefs on others.

The third I just found out about today. My sister is going out with this new guy who I met at Thanksgiving. He is divorced, has two children (girls ages 13 and 9). The little I know of him he seems like a good guy. I asked my sister minimal questions about him (I knew nothing about him save for his first name from that one meeting we had). He was married for about twenty years to a woman originally from Spain. Then, one day, she decided to shop around for a new religion and decided that she was going to be a Muslim. She then wanted the kids to attend a Muslim school, dress in the garb, convert, etc. He said "no". THe kids are not happy with this, they are now old enough to start saying they do not like this and they don't want to dress in the garb. Hence his side of why the marriage ended.

There are clearly some deeper issues at work with these people sighted, and I'm not saying that this is the case with all who change religions, but why would someone want to change their religion? Are they looking for answers? Are they trying to find them thinking that if I change my religion this will help me? Curiosity is one thing, experimentation is another, but what causes someone to do this?
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Old 26th December 2017, 7:28 PM   #2
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There are clearly some deeper issues at work with these people sighted, and I'm not saying that this is the case with all who change religions, but why would someone want to change their religion? Are they looking for answers? Are they trying to find them thinking that if I change my religion this will help me? Curiosity is one thing, experimentation is another, but what causes someone to do this?
Yes to all of your questions. Let us also include for the sake of marriage. I'm not sure if it's coincidence that all of the negative examples involve Islam, but I have a friend who converted to Islam to marry her husband. They are very much still together and have three beautiful children.

Such conversions are common in all religions, denominations. The transitions are much easier when the traditions are more similar than dissimilar. For these people who obviously come from a more traditional 'christian' background, making the leap would be challenging.
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Old 26th December 2017, 8:51 PM   #3
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There are clearly some deeper issues at work with these people sighted, and I'm not saying that this is the case with all who change religions, but why would someone want to change their religion? Are they looking for answers? Are they trying to find them thinking that if I change my religion this will help me? Curiosity is one thing, experimentation is another, but what causes someone to do this?
Those are good questions and should make for a good discussion!

Psychologically, religions helps people model their experiences. One main reason people change religions is if they study a religion they may feel one resonates more with them than their current belief system. For example, you may have grown up catholic and as you get older, you find another belief system speaks more to you. In some cases, religious beliefs can be something you are grown up with and you may not really think much about it or question it. From that perspective, its more cultural. But as you mature and start contemplating the big life questions for yourself (e.g. what's the purpose in life), you may begin investigating different religions only to find that one particular set of beliefs stands out and helps provide you with meaning and direction.

Socially, some people may not be particularly religious but do it more for cultural reasons.

Personally, I believe I had a conversion experience. I like to think of conversion as a convergence of free will and pre-destination. I could get more into that if you would like (it gets a bit theological), but I don't want to derail your thread.
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Old 26th December 2017, 9:07 PM   #4
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It's interesting to me that all three of these people in your post converted to Islam. I don't think I know of anyone who has converted to Islam, although I knew a few Muslim families.

I have one friend who, in the last few years, converted from Christianity (although a loose version of it I believe; her parents are my age and they were never strict Christians) to Judaism. I think, for her, she simply found the religion beautiful after studying WWII history/Judaism/Holocaust studies in college. I believe she even has her master's in holocaust studies. It's been kinda cool to follow her "transformation" on FB since I've known her since she was about 8 .

I also have another Christian friend who is partners with a Jew, now they have little kids so I love seeing how they celebrate both Jewish and Christian holidays.

Finally, I have one friend who converted from Lutheran to Catholic when she got married. It was kindof a tough decision for her and required a bit of work, but once she realized the similarities in the denominations, she fully embraced it. Now she "talks" like "me...." an evangelical protestant!
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Old 26th December 2017, 9:09 PM   #5
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If not done for marriage, I think a lot of people just find that as they age and their world views change, what they believe evolves and changes from what they might have been taught (or indoctrinated with) as a child.
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Old 26th December 2017, 9:41 PM   #6
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Curiosity is one thing, experimentation is another, but what causes someone to do this?
I really don't know...
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Old 26th December 2017, 10:48 PM   #7
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Leaving aside the issue of Islam (which I object to in so many ways), I've been going through the religion-switch myself.

I've always had a bit of Christian background, but my belief in God just hasn't been central to my life. I've been pretty much a non-believer, as far as most Christians are concerned. In a couple of weeks I am getting married to a guy who is part of a Christian sect with a number of unique beliefs. My GF#1 has already become a believer, and my GF#2 is sort of working on it. We're all in this together.

So why the change? First, I'm marrying someone I've loved for half of my life. I've finally gotten to the place in my life where I can "have my cake and eat it too" - I get my girlfriends, and I get to be married, and in the process I become part of his large family. The only issue is religion, so why wouldn't I convert if I don't object to most of what it teaches?

Second, I'm starting to wonder if there is something actually TRUE behind his faith. I'm watching my GF#1 work with it in her life, and she believes. I've seen people healed by faith, or at least gain a peace with what they are going through that seems unavailable elsewhere. I trust in logic, but I see things going on that I cannot explain. It doesn't convince me, but it interests me.

I think people come to a change in religion for a variety of reasons, but I doubt that anyone who is a firm believer in their first religion will easily convert to another one. That is a process that takes time.
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Old 26th December 2017, 11:18 PM   #8
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but why would someone want to change their religion? Are they looking for answers? Are they trying to find them thinking that if I change my religion this will help me? Curiosity is one thing, experimentation is another, but what causes someone to do this?
Well, here's my 2 cents. (btw -- I dont know much about Islam or being Muslim)

I am a non practicing Christian Catholic which basically means I go to church once in a blue moon and on special occasions. I didn't chose the religion, I was born into it and I inherited it from my family. I have no issues with Christianity but sometimes do have my doubts as to its real purpose and usefulness and there have been times when I heard some things said by a priest during mass -- not the part where he reads passages from the bible but the part where he goes into some story about something that is currently happening in the world -- and I had some serious issues with what he said.

I have been considering converting to Buddhism mostly because a) obviously there are a lot more valid religions out there than just Christianity and b) I know quite a few friends who have converted and it seems that it might be a more useful religion of sorts in the modern world because it seems that it helps you become more calm and deal with stress and life better (the people that I know who have embraced Buddhism definitely seem to be that way to me).

But I don't know. I haven't converted because I am too stuck to my family roots I guess.. but I do read some stuff on Buddhism and am still considering it. Time will tell.

So in my case it's a combination of curiosity and also a desire to become a better and more peaceful person -- whatever that might mean.
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Old 26th December 2017, 11:24 PM   #9
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FWIW.. I don't personally know anyone who converted from Christianity to Islam. Most of the people I know who are Muslims just married other Muslims. I also have a feeling that there are a lot of different types of sects (or branches) of Islam aka Muslims. The Muslims I personally know are quite liberal in that they dress very Western and they drink alcohol.
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Old 27th December 2017, 12:46 AM   #10
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I realized a bit too quickly that the examples sited were of women who converted from a presumably Christian background to Islam. I do know of two men who were Jewish and converted to Catholicism. The first I don't know of his reasons behind, the second did it so he could marry his wife who was Catholic - I have no idea if either of them is practicing but they have been married for many years. Come to think of it, if I know of any others out there who have converted from one to another I don't know of them.

I myself have left my religion - I was raised Catholic but I don't attend church save for XMas / Easter, as well as funerals and weddings. I tell people should they ask me what my religion is or is not that I am Catholic but not practicing. I have dabbled with other eastern religions because they are on the outside more exotic than boring western Catholicism but have their issues as well. Otherwise I'm not very religious or spiritual and could care less about it. I guess I look for answers elsewhere. After all, what are forums like this all about? Ha ha ha ...
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Old 27th December 2017, 3:23 AM   #11
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I think people come to a change in religion for a variety of reasons, but I doubt that anyone who is a firm believer in their first religion will easily convert to another one.
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Old 27th December 2017, 4:47 PM   #12
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I think people who switch religions are doing so because they had no personal stake in where they were and what they believed, and may have been searching for something they were unable to find. As for me, I am a person of faith and talk to the Lord daily, which means there is a personal side to my “religion” It isn’t about the rituals or the buildings or the rules, but about faith in the One Who loves me the most. It's personal for me. People are designed to go looking for God. Some people find Him.
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Old 27th December 2017, 10:36 PM   #13
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I think people who switch religions are doing so because they had no personal stake in where they were and what they believed, and may have been searching for something they were unable to find. As for me, I am a person of faith and talk to the Lord daily, which means there is a personal side to my “religion” It isn’t about the rituals or the buildings or the rules, but about faith in the One Who loves me the most. It's personal for me. People are designed to go looking for God. Some people find Him.
That's kind of what I find striking about my fiance's faith, and what drew my GF#1 to it. The word "religion" ends up being defined as a set of rules. The word "faith" seems to indicate more of a personal relationship with the divine. Yeah, there are a fair number of rules (and some unique ones at that) that are involved in my fiance's religious experience, but underneath it there is this idea of a genuine, personal relationship with God...something built less on rules but on something else I can't quite explain. I haven't been around him much when he prays since he usually hides when he does it or prays silently, but he talks to God like he was talking to a neighbor.

I'm not really sure where I will end up with this conversion thing. I'm outwardly conforming in order to make the marriage work in the eyes of his fellow believers. Inside, it is a bit more difficult, and I haven't hidden that from him. I think love will help it work out somehow.
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Old 27th December 2017, 11:53 PM   #14
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I think those that change religion are better than those who simply believe in their religion because they were born into it. Why would someone accept the one they are born into when others are available and more ancient? Accepting a religion by an accident of birth is no way to accept anything.

We are following the words of ancient books written by men who did not know as much as a ten year old does today and yet we accept their writings as gospel. Yet we do not follow the medical books of ancient times. Most are unaware that the Bible was put together by the church and not all written to be in the Bible.

There have been 300 religions before ours that have come and gone so why do we think ours is the right one? Each society since the dawn of man has believed that their religion is the one true religion to the point that they would kill and commit genocide to prove it.

In takes more courage to change your religion than to just stick with it because your family does, born into it and know little about other religions.
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Old 28th December 2017, 5:34 PM   #15
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This is not something I am dealing with in my spiritual life, but something others have been. Forgive my ignorance about certain things, I am not making generalizations about men vs women, and this is in no way bashing either faith as mentioned in the following stories, but I have encountered this in three women. Two I know/have known personally, another that I know of...
I've studied all faiths deeply. Islam as practiced in the western world is not the same as Islam practiced in other cultures.

Many women who are lost or feel rejected by their own culture/religion group find their way to Islam here in the west. They begin practicing a liberal version of western Islam and are very unprepared for a more traditional or orthodox version. This causes MASSIVE conflicts for western females who find strong Muslim men attractive, but can't deal with the reality of living the lifestyle.

Perhaps the vast majority of Western Women are taught to be dominants. They are best suited to weak submissive men.... which can be found in droves in left wing circles. When a dominant woman tries to get into a relationship with a dominant man... the women tend to be happier if it works, but the relationships can often go nuclear. It's very hard for western females to give up control of things.

So, I tend to be a dominant type guy. I really don't think this issue is Islam itself, but more a clash of cultures. When I try to date liberal western women the results are often less of a relationship and more of a power struggle. It creates a very good sexual dynamic, but the drama is awful. I'm not willing to put in all the work to force some woman into giving up her controlling tendencies. When I encounter it... I walk. Traditional Muslim guys will slowly grind a woman down and at the end stage I see most women MUCH HAPPIER in this arrangement.
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