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Bethlehem Church of the Brethren – Boones Mill, Virginia


During my 34 years in Christianity, I made my last church home a small place called Bethlehem Church of the Brethren, located in a small rural community called Boones Mill, Virginia. This area had two distinctive notorieties: it’s sole traffic light was a speed trap, and illegal moonshine was made in great abundance. In fact, Franklin County Virginia is known as the moonshine capital of the world. My former home had a great water spring near a river, and we understood that it once had a sizable moonshine still.

I regularly attended Bethlehem Church for 6+ years. I was an active member, with roles that included Sunday School teacher, Board member, Head of Music and Worship, and occasional worship leader and pulpit speaker.

Like many small rural churches, there were plenty of gracious, kind-hearted people there. The pastor, Bill Hinton, was (still is, I’m sure) a good preacher, filled with a lot of common sense and wisdom. I enjoyed talking to Bill. He was a good pastor.

I’ve not been through those church doors for more than four years. While my former church family likely knows of my split with my ex-wife (though she no longer attends there), they probably do not know of my departure from the faith. While they would be welcome to read my story, most probably wouldn’t want to do so out of fear. They knew me as a kind, patient man and as a sincere believer. But Christians hate hearing of someone who has left the faith. It’s like a frightening knife wound. I remember that feeling. I would rather think the person was never a true believer than to believe they once were but then left the faith. To realize that someone stopped believing tears at the fabric of Christianity. Former pastor Samuel Kee referred to ‘former believers’ as liars. I can’t speak for others, but my faith was true and sincere. But I can honestly say that life is far better without that tattered cloak.


  1. Ronna

    You speak with tenderness of your former self. I wonder about the emotional reaction of believers to those who transition. It’s never just accepted or respected or seen as something everyone has a right to do. You are right, transition to disbelief (or the admittance of it) is treated with fear. Or pity or anger. But mostly fear.
    I want to hear more from you:)

  2. maecurrell

    Just stumbled across your blog, and I like your tone so far! I wish more Christians would embark upon self-examination; I’m looking forward to reading more.

  3. Dennis (sinned spelled backwards!)

    I am the son of a fundamentalist Baptist Pastor. I spent my life conflicted as I could not reconcile my faith with the knowledge I gained as a science major. Biblical teachings often made little or no sense. I lived a Christ -centered life and sought God’s will in all that I did. Nevertheless, I became profoundly disillusioned and left my faith behind. For sure, once the threads of faith are woven into the fabric of who we are, it becomes nearly impossible to remove them, lest we become unraveled. I did become unraveled and was eventually diagnosed with religious trauma syndrome. I’m on the road back to sanity now. Writing a book as part of my therapy. I titled it “Holy Deception.” Thanks for putting up a great website! You are not alone.

    • Logan

      Hey Dennis, thanks for the visit and I commend you for writing a book about your journey! That’s awesome. I wish you well, and stop back by when your book is out to let us know.

      • Dennis

        I will, Logan. By the way, my prreacher dad was close to Jerry Fallwell. He spoke at Thomas Rhodes BC at least three times as I recall. He and Tim LaHey helped rope Jerry into leading the Moral Majority back in the 70’s.

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