Growing up as a Seventh Day Adventist

AtheistSam's picture

A brief history:

My dad who was a great thinker, saw himself as agnostic (the term atheist was probably too radical for him) and taught Math and Science so that even kids considered "stupid" passed their matric with flying colors on the higher level; got suckered into the SDA church when he questioned my baby baptism (my Gran wanted him to be an Anglican priest).

He bought into the whole belief system, based on his (correct) understanding that babies can't make decisions, opting for a dedication without questioning that it was essentially the same thing.

The SDA movement convinced him to leave his job as a well paid researcher for a local rubber manufacturing company and work for the church as a teacher. The pay was below minimal wage and the hours excessive. We didn't have a family life as the boarders became his first priority.

To say we were dirt poor is an understatement. However, he religiously paid a tithe (10%) as well as a sacrifice (additional 10%) of income to the church, after taxes. Somewhere along the line my mom was moved by the message to put all her jewelery into the collection plate, including her engagement ring which had cost my dad many months' salary before they joined this cult.

I grew up as a god-fearing child. Literally. I completely believed god was watching my every move, especially with regard to keeping the sabbath ... from Friday night sunset to Saturday sunset had to be the longest day of the year, every week. 

The above aside, the damage that was done by not allowing any reading material other than that proscribed by the SDA's is incalculable. An even bigger affront is that the church library, which was also the only library, had restrictions and many a book had words blacked out by internal censors.

More later - it is a long story and I haven't felt the freedom to express it in a blog before. Just wanted to get the early parts down and hopefully someone in a similar situation won't feel alone. Thank you for reading Smiling rgdS

What Would Jesus Drive? Well, God preferred an old Plymouth, "God drove Adam and Eve out of the garden of Eden in a Fury"; Moses was said to ride a motor bike, "the roar of Moses’ Triumph is heard in the hills", while the apostles would carpool in a Honda, "the apostles were in one Accord".

Christ, I thought my

Christ, I thought my evangelical up-bringing was bad.  That sucks, Sam, and I'm glad you made it out.


Everything makes more sense now that I've stopped believing.

harleysportster's picture

I am rather glad

I am rather glad that you brought that up.

It makes people like me realize that there are scores of us that have come from the dogmatic fundamentalist backgrounds and successfully managed to jettison the god belief.

Thanks for sharing that.

“It is proof of a base and low mind for one to wish to think with the masses or majority, merely because the majority is the majority. Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people.”
― Giordano Bruno

ex-minister's picture


Former SDA here.

Became a minister and ultimately left it. Heavy struggle to throw off all that shame.


Gramster is an active SDA. He is only on one topic "Just ask Grandpa...."

And if you had to guess what topic he is all about - The book of Daniel, no surprise. It is really gone into great depth with johnpaultheskeptic whose knowledge is quite impressive.

Just did a track and see you found Gramster and shared LOLcat Bible translation with him. That is funny. I hadn't seen that before.

Religion Kills !!!

Numbers 31:17-18 - Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

Atheistextremist's picture

Thanks for sharing that, Sam


Yes, you're correct. It's an affront. A manipulation. Religion is a curse for which there is no complete cure. Talking it out sure helps, though. 

I had no idea the SDAs were so bad. Why are they afraid of knowledge? It's just a flat out cult, isn't it. 




"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck

ex-minister's picture

SDA a cult?

Other protestant religions such as baptist lump Jehovah Witness, Mormons and SDAs together as cults. I think it might be simply a case of the pot calling the kettle black. The baptist usually ping SDAs for following the law more than Christ. SDA following the dietary Levitical laws (no pork, shellfish, etc) and they go to church on Saturday like the Jews, sundown to sundown. They think the Pope is the anti-christ and the mark of the beast in the last days will be going to church on Sunday (like the polytheist pagans of old). They also don't believe in eternal hell fire, but eternal destruction of the wicked. When you die there isn't any spirit that floats about. God just remembers your personality and will put you back together again at the resurrection. If you are wicked you will get to see God pissed off at you with your own eyes (no hiding like now) and he will fry your ass til you are dead and are no more. So they don't have that issue of people in heaven watching their loved ones fry for all eternity, but they will be dead in the sense like we know it today. We would never see them again. They are also big in the temple stuff, because instead of Jesus returning in 1844, he went from the first part of the temple to the most holy part (Yom Kippur) where Jesus has opened the books and is judging every living person from Adam down to the last kid born. It apparently is a long process and is the cause for his delayed return. Seventh-Day (Saturday) Adventist (Lord, come quickly enough with this judging). Ellen White was their only prophet who lived into her 80's or 90's and wrote a ton of books. I have read every one of them. More fucking rules after more fucking rules. Quite the burden. SDAs do lean towards the law but I don't think that makes them a cult anymore than the Jews are a cult.

SDA are just as afraid of knowledge as any other fundie group. They twist and turn around science trying to figure out how to make it fit their theology.

There is a video on youtube of how to identify a cult. I posted a response months ago to the video which the guy has not approved. Here is my post. First the cult identification and second my response:



1. Cults have a single, powerful human leader who becomes the cults messiah - Jesus - CHECK

2. Teach commandments of men - men wrote the bible - CHECK

3. Force you to make a decision - burn in hell if you don't believe - CHECK

4. Each cult denies Jesus is the divine son of god - why not Krishna? - will allow 1/2 Point

5. Cults urge their converts to leave their families - Jesus said you must hate your mother and father more than him. He also said he did not come to bring peace but a sword - CHECK

So you can see why I don't regard SDA as anymore of a cult than the Baptist or any other fundamental Christian group. Jim Jones stuff is a full blown cult. They are quite that bad except for offshoots like David Koresh, Michael Travesser and the like.


Religion kills!!!


EDIT: Getting a new job after you become an Adventist is not uncommon. You must not work on the Sabbath. Before I became a minister I had to quit a few jobs because they wanted me to work on the Sabbath. The hard part is Friday night sundown in the winter. Most employers didn't like you quiting early every Friday.

Oh yeah, tithing is a must. 10% or more. And don't worry God will give it back to you ten-fold. Lots of testimonies on this. 

Religion Kills !!!

Numbers 31:17-18 - Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

ex-minister's picture



Did you do any colporteuring? Asking for donations for biblical material. I didn't that multiple summers. Also, every Christmas I would go door to door asking for donations to support our effort. We didn't talk about the religious stuff  but how it was to help our hospitals and the poor. I remember going into rich neighborhoods and get next to nothing, but it was a rich harvest in the middle class to poor neighborhoods. One woman had a bunch of kids running around and was all distracted. She asked me to wait and she hunted everywhere in the house until she found some silver dollars which were obviously part of a coin collection and gave it to me. I felt really bad, but for Jesus sake I got over it. HA!!!!

Religion Kills !!!

Numbers 31:17-18 - Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

AtheistSam's picture

childhood revisited

Thank you all for your comments and support. This is harder to write about than I thought it would be - it is to do with my memories: how much of it was real and how much perceived with hindsight? 

In a sense I feel that a part of my childhood was stolen. Growing up with limited books which had fantastical tales portrayed as truth and no access to a different viewpoint is an excellent tool of indoctrination.


Some of the things I believed, completely as a result of Ellen G White and Arthur C Maxwell:

Human beings amalgamated with animals (cross bred) and that is why there are so many different races today.

We used to be giants - twice the height of people today - and live for nearly 1000 years.

Woman over 700 years couldn't have children but when she stopped being wicked god blessed her and gave her a baby. It was OK that her husband got her servant pregnant in the mean time.

The Levitical laws. All of them - I felt guilty about anything just in case I was breaking the laws.

People could survive being cast into a furnace. Therefore hell would be the worst punishment because you burn forever.

The Sabbath had to be strictly observed and people who didn't were just wrong and wouldn't go to heaven.

As SDAs we were also part of god's chosen people.

(As a prophetess EGWhite's word was virtually scriptural and Maxwell dumbed down the stories to child level. It seriously never occurred to me to question how all those beautiful animals fitted into the ark. The illustrations were aimed at a child reading level - the really vile parts of the bible skipped over and stories that children could swallow presented as facts.)

The countless bible studies of the kind we're being subjected to in "ask grandpa" were part of the process to keep SDAs focused inwards. Cults use tools like keeping you constantly busy, constantly surrounded by judgmental elders, constantly praying, constantly feeling guilty for not praying, reading, praising more. Add to that being part of a community segregated from the outside world, on a strict diet with many rules, no secular publications, music or art and you have a perfect setup for indoctrination. Bring to the mix a prophetess and some writers who endorse your particular message - make the members feel that they are being persecuted ... yes, if SDA isn't a cult then it sure was trying for cult status!

Colporteuring was another way of keeping us busy during any precious free time that might be left. My dad tried to supplement our income by going door to door selling books and magazines the church printed. We also had to reach out by visiting sick people or those in old age homes - typical to choose soft targets...

I wish I could say that at age 10 or whatever I was an atheist. I wasn't. As a child I was not encouraged to think, reason or debate - blind belief was all that was necessary.

I will add though that hearing all the missionary stories I would be very envious of all the heathen people, dancing half naked around fires, painting their bodies, living in the jungles and having so much free time. Then I'd feel instantly guilty for breaking the commandment and being envious ...

This is quite a journey for me, to try and get insight into what shaped me - thanks for listening: will continue blog when I can.



What Would Jesus Drive? Well, God preferred an old Plymouth, "God drove Adam and Eve out of the garden of Eden in a Fury"; Moses was said to ride a motor bike, "the roar of Moses’ Triumph is heard in the hills", while the apostles would carpool in a Honda, "the apostles were in one Accord".

ex-minister's picture



It really brought in floods of memories reading your last post. They really do fill up your life and close ranks. The world is evil and you can be easily lead astray. It is not that this is so much a sin but what it can lead to. Read all these books, evangelize evil doers, visit the sick...  Exactly. Quite cultish. I remember when I was young being so completely bored out of my mind on the Sabbath. We could do nothing interesting, just do things for God, stroking His almighty ego. That is what heaven will be like per Ezekiel, etc. I hope the NRA is strong in heaven and they have lots of alcohol because I would blow my brains out after a bender. 


Wonder why we have not found any super-giant humans in the fossil record. Perhaps because it was just made up.


Religion Kills !!!

Numbers 31:17-18 - Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

Yet another former SDA

 Really appreciate your post. I was brought up in an SDA family, and my folks are still devout. I have to say that I believe my family's unhealthy attitude towards money is the main reason we were poor growing up. Why did we grow up with those beliefs? Partly because we tithed faithfully for sure. The other thing is that if you buy in to "storing your treasures in heaven", and that everything will be taken from you during the time of tribulation, you're probably not going to invest too much time in acquiring wealth.

Religion really screwed us... I've been out of it for about 6 years and I've never been happier.

ex-minister's picture

Welcome. Glad to hear it.

Welcome. Glad to hear it. Please stay around and tells us more about your experience. I have learned a lot here.



Religion Kills !!!

Numbers 31:17-18 - Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

 i grew up an adventist and

 i grew up an adventist and even though we were admonished not to partake in ungodly activities. The reading materials were never restricted and we were also able to read and search the bible to discover the truth. we were also thought that your family (first flock) should also be attended to  and should not suffer because of ones work in the church. Everything must be done in moderation.