Matt Slick’s Daughter Rachael Shares Her Story

By Rachael Slick, via The Friendly Atheist | Thanks to TriteStatic for finding this!

I was born in 1992. My parents named me Rachael, after the biblical wife Jacob loved.

Rachael (right) with her parents
Rachael (right) with her parents

One of my earliest memories is of my dad’s gigantic old Bible. Its pages were falling out, its margins were scrawled over with notes, and the leather cover was unraveled in places from being so worn out. 
Every night, after we stacked up the dishes after our family dinner, he would bring it down and read a passage. I always requested something from the Book of Revelation or Genesis, because that’s where most of the interesting stories happened. After he was done, he’d close the Bible with a big WHUMP and turn to me.

“Now Rachael,” he would ask, “What is the hypostatic union?” 
and I would pipe back,“The two natures of Jesus!”

“What is pneumatology?”  The study of the holy spirit!

“What is the communicatio idiomatum?”The communication of the properties in which the attributes of the two natures are ascribed to the single person!

Occasionally he would go to speak at churches about the value of apologetics and, the times I went along, he would call on me from the crowd and have me recite the answers to questions about theology. After I sat down, he would say, “My daughter knows more about theology than you do! You are not doing your jobs as Christians to stay educated and sharp in the faith.”

Conversation with him was a daily challenge. He would frequently make blatantly false statements — such as “purple dogs exist” — and force me to disprove him through debate. He would respond to things I said demanding technical accuracy, so that I had to narrow my definitions and my terms to give him the correct response. It was mind-twisting, but it encouraged extreme clarity of thought, critical thinking, and concise use of language. I remember all this beginning around the age of five.

Rachael receives an award from Awana for being the most ‘godly’ student. She would later complete the Awana course, memorizing over 800 Bible verses along the way.

I have two sisters, three and seven years younger than myself, and we were all homeschooled in a highly strict, regulated environment. Our A Beka schoolbooks taught the danger of evolution. Our friends were “good influences” on us, fellow homeschoolers whose mothers thought much alike. Obedience was paramount — if we did not respond immediately to being called, we were spanked ten to fifteen times with a strip of leather cut from the stuff they used to make shoe soles. Bad attitudes, lying, or slow obedience usually warranted the same — the slogan was “All the way, right away, and with a happy spirit.” We were extremely well-behaved children, and my dad would sometimes show us off to people he met in public by issuing commands that we automatically rushed to obey. The training was not just external; God commanded that our feelings and thoughts be pure, and this resulted in high self-discipline.

Rachael (bottom row, second from right) and her fellow homeschooled friends know to obey!

I recently came across this entry in a workbook I wrote when I was nine:

I’m hopeless.

Oh boy. I’ve got a lot to work on. I try to be obedient but it’s so hard! The more I read, the more I realize how bad I am! My problem is that when things don’t make sense to me, I don’t like them. When Dad gets mad at me for something, everything makes perfect sense to me in my mind, so I tend to resent my parents’ correction.

I have just realized that I yearn to please the lord, but why can’t I? I just can’t be good! It seems impossible. Why can’t I be perfect?

At this point, my dad was working at a tech job during the day and working in his office, writing and researching, at night. He developed a huge collection of books, with bookshelves that spanned the wall, full of Bibles and notebooks filled with theology. This was the early stages of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.

It became a sort of game to watch him go “Mormon hunting”; if he saw them on the sidewalk, he’d pull up in the car to engage them in debate. After the Mormons visited our apartment a few times, they blacklisted us, and none of them ever visited us again. My dad was always very congenial to those he debated, and most viewed him as charismatic — though his debate tactics were ruthless and often more focused on efficiency than relationship-building.

We moved to Idaho when I was 12. My dad worked at Hewlett-Packard for a while but eventually made the big decision to make CARM his full-time career.

It was around this time my dad began receiving death threats — though I didn’t find this out until later. Someone was sending him graphic pictures, descriptive threats of rape against his family, and Google images of locations near our house. He got the FBI involved. They eventually determined it was someone from across the globe and likely posed no risk to us. My parents installed a home security system after that, but it only reinforced the “us vs. them” mentality he already held. My dad spoke frequently about the people “out to destroy him” and how his “enemies” were determined to obscure and twist the truth.

I wasn’t privy to a great deal of what went on behind the scenes at CARM — likely because I too young to fully understand it. A few times a year there would usually be an “event” that would capture most of his ire. For a while, it was the Universalists who were destroying his forums. Another time, it would be his arch-nemeses in the field of women in ministry or “troublemaking” atheists. Beyond these things, I knew little, except that I was immensely proud of my dad, who was smart, confident, and knew the Truth more than anybody else. I aspired to be like him — I would be a missionary, or an apologist! (Though not a pastor; I was a woman and thus unqualified for that field.) God was shaping my destiny.

As my knowledge of Christianity grew, so did my questions — many of them the “classic” kind. If God was all-powerful and all-knowing, why did He create a race He knew was destined for Hell? How did evil exist if all of Creation was sustained by the mind of God? Why didn’t I feel His presence when I prayed?

Having a dad highly schooled in Christian apologetics meant that every question I brought up was explained away confidently and thoroughly. Many times, after our nightly Bible study, we would sit at the table after my Mom and sisters had left and debate, discuss, and dissect the theological questions I had. No stone was left unturned, and all my uncertainty was neatly packaged away.

Atheists frequently wonder how an otherwise rational Christian can live and die without seeing the light of science, and I believe the answer to this is usually environment. If every friend, authority figure, and informational source in your life constantly repeat the same ideas, it is difficult not to believe they’re onto something. My world was built of “reasonable” Christians — the ones who thought, who questioned, who knew that what they believed was true. In the face of this strength, my own doubts seemed petty.

There was one belief I held onto strongly, though — the one that eventually led to my undoing. I promised myself “I will never believe in Christianity simply because itfeels right, otherwise I am no better than those in any other religion I debate. I must believe in Christianity because it is the Truth, and if it is ever proven otherwise, I must forsake it no matter how much it hurts.”

Twice, I attended protests. Once, in front of an abortion clinic, and another time, at the Twin Falls Mormon Temple. I went to public high school for a few months, where I brought the Bible and a picture of my parents for a show-and-tell speech of the things we valued most. I befriended Cody, a World of Warcraft nerd, for the sole purpose of telling him he was going to Hell and that he needed to repent. Every time I heard someone swear in the school hallways, I would close my eyes and pray.

I informed my parents that I wanted an arranged marriage because love was a far too emotional and dangerous prospect, and I trusted them to make an informed choice for my future far better than I ever could. My romantic exploits through puberty were negligible.

I ran away from home when I was 17 (due to reasons not pertinent to this post) and went to college the following year. I must have been a nightmare in my philosophy and religion classes, raising my hands at every opportunity and spouting off well-practiced arguments. Despite this, my philosophy professor loved me, and we would often meet after class, talking about my views on God. Even though he tried to direct me away from them, I was insistent about my beliefs: If God didn’t exist, where did morality come from? What about the beginning of the universe? Abiogenesis? There were too many questions left by the absence of God, and I could not believe in something (godlessness, in this case) that left me with so little closure. My certainty was my strength — I knew the answers when others did not.

This changed one day during a conversation with my friend Alex. I had a habit of bouncing theological questions off him, and one particular day, I asked him this: If God was absolutely moral, because morality was absolute, and if the nature of “right” and “wrong” surpassed space, time, and existence, and if it was as much a fundamental property of reality as math, then why were some things a sin in the Old Testament but not a sin in the New Testament?

Alex had no answer — and I realized I didn’t either. Everyone had always explained this problem away using the principle that Jesus’ sacrifice meant we wouldn’t have to follow those ancient laws. 
But that wasn’t an answer. In fact, by the very nature of the problem, there was no possible answer that would align with Christianity.

I still remember sitting there in my dorm room bunk bed, staring at the cheap plywood desk, and feeling something horrible shift inside me, a vast chasm opening up beneath my identity, and I could only sit there and watch it fall away into darkness. The Bible is not infallible, logic whispered from the depths, and I had no defense against it. If it’s not infallible, you’ve been basing your life’s beliefs on the oral traditions of a Middle Eastern tribe. The Bible lied to you.

Everything I was, everything I knew, the structure of my reality, my society, and my sense of self suddenly crumbled away, and I was left naked.

I was no longer a Christian. That thought was a punch to the gut, a wave of nausea and terror. Who was I, now, when all this had gone away? What did I know? What did I have to cling to? Where was my comfort? 

I didn’t know it, but I was free.

For a long time I couldn’t have sex with my boyfriend (of over a year by this point) without crippling guilt. I had anxiety that I was going to Hell. I felt like I was standing upon glass, and, though I knew it was safe, every time I glanced down I saw death. I had trouble coping with the fact that my entire childhood education now essentially meant nothing — I had been schooled in a sham. I had to start from scratch in entering and learning about this secular world. Uncertainty was not something I was accustomed to feeling. Though I had left Christianity intellectually, my emotional beliefs had yet to catch up.

Eventually I worked up the courage to announce my choice on Facebook — which generated its own share of controversy. I’m fairly certain I broke my mother’s heart. Many people accused me of simply going through a rebellious stage and that I would come around soon. Countless people prayed for me.

I don’t know how my dad reacted to my deconversion; I haven’t spoken to him since I left home.

There was no miracle to cure me of the fear and pain, no God to turn to for comfort. But it did heal. Eventually. I only barely fear Hell now, and my instinct to pray only turns up on rare occasions. For a while now, I’ve been educating myself in science, a world far more uncertain than the one I left, but also far more honest.

Rachael Slick

Someone once asked me if I would trade in my childhood for another, if I had the chance, and my answer was no, not for anything.
 My reason is that, without that childhood, I wouldn’t understand what freedom truly is — freedom from a life centered around obedience and submission, freedom to think anything, freedom from guilt and shame, freedom from the perpetual heavy obligation to keep every thought pure. Nothing I’ve ever encountered in my life has been so breathtakingly beautiful.

Freedom is my God now, and I love this one a thousand times more than I ever loved the last one.

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24 Responses to Matt Slick’s Daughter Rachael Shares Her Story

  1. MichaEl Mcilwrath says:

    I’m so happy to hear that you where able to leave the shackles of religion after being indoctrinated day after day by your father it’s too bad your father doesn’t have the sense and you come to learn. After reading your story there is hope for everyone but they’ll be able to brush you off their delusion.

  2. Jef says:

    I hope you come back to Christianity, but having read your fathers hateful comments regarding me as a gay person, I can see why you left the asshole, and left religion. that’s why I left.. they stained the name of God so bad and treated me with such hatred and disrespect that I have been messed up in the head for 35 years. Even this day, after becoming Christian again two 2 1/2 years ago, I still can’t believe that I am saved. Even though I am trying to live my life as a celibate gay christian. All due to the hatred and rhetroic spewed by people like your father, who use Jesus to hate.. where they got that notion.. it sure wasn’t from Jesus.

  3. Uncles Charlie & Aunt Debbie says:

    Loving you Rachael.

  4. akins says:

    I have been coming to this page from time to time in the hope that I will see a re-think on your decision to abandon your Faith in God. I admired your courage though for it takes a great deal of courage to do what you did, but I will always pray that God will show you the reality of His existence. Head knowledge cannot comprehend the awesomeness of God.

    • AtheismDefended says:

      Ah yes, that infernal ‘head’ knowledge such as science, empirical observations, actual historical records from antiquity, Quantum Mechanics which is now showing no cause & effect, and so on. Need I continue? I laugh when I see theists talk about the ‘reality’ of a god. No, it’s called a ‘fantasy’.

  5. Duane says:

    Matt Slick’s logic is flawed in nearly every debate I had been involved with on Paltalk. Now the answer to the Law question has to do with the differences between THE Ten Commandments, SPOKEN by God Himself from Mount Sinai, and put in stone by His finger, then given so Moses; according to the request of the people of Israel that He not speak but rather have Moses tell them. FEAR. Fear rather than unbelief in the God who was delivering them from bondage with miracle after miracle. Israel showed there love for bondage over their new found FREEDOM so God gave them some REAL bondage to deal with. Through Moses He ADDED to the Spiritual Laws 603 more laws for them to FLESH out their “faith”. Only God is AWESOME and had much to show them in these WORKS of law. Some of the laws were dietary, and of course had the purpose of health and well-being; others were for governing the people with an IRON FIST, being that’s what they asked for (similarly they asked for a king later on and look what that got them). Sinful people, even God’s people need to be cared for like little children, sheep, etc. and God of course had this for the Nation of Israel while at the same time was using Temple Law, and others in the “hand writing of ordinances” to FORESHADOW the Savior, Jesus (Ioshua) Christ. We Gentiles were not a part of the NATION of Israel, so certain laws did and do not pertain to us, as shown by Peter and the sheet, three times, “take and eat”. Jews even then, in Acts, were blinded to the truth that GENTILES would also have part in SALVATION. The differences would be, minimal and yes, Gentiles are to keep the Ten Commandments as these are SPIRITUAL, and are shown in through the gifts and work of the Holy Spirit, of which there is no Law (a statement Paul liked to say, that actually means, no CONDEMNATION. The Commandments are the beginning and end of the Gospel. There to show men they are sinners, and need the Savior; and once saved is there Way of Life. Christians DESIRE to keep the Commandments for they are the ONLY way to understand TRUE LOVE for God and Neighbor. Now, all the other laws delivered unto Moses were there to CONTROL a rebellious, fearful, and hateful people. Despite ISRAEL’S continued unbelief throughout Scripture, GOD REMAINED FAITHFUL. To finish, Christ took not only the penalty of His peoples sins upon himself, but took MOSES’ LAWs, NOT the Ten Commandments–Moses’ “hand written ordinances” and nailed them to the cross, mainly because He IS THE END of the Law, or ALL of the LAW points to HIM, either in the care for His people or in the FORESHADOWING of Himself, i.e. Scapegoat, Sacrificial Lamb, Bread of Life…even the Pascal Seder is FULL of Christ in EVERY detail. Don’t know if this will help you, but true freedom is in Christ, NOT your daddy’s idea of God. Not doing wrong for fear of HELL is actually the complete opposite of Christianity…but, the “heart wants, what the heart wants”. Try reading THE FATHER I NEVER KNEW. Think it is out of print but, I found a bunch of used copies, I’m sure you can too.

  6. dcn says:

    seems to me if one wants to follow ANY manmade religion , then this is a natural outcome. Freedom in YHWH through Yeshua does NOT equal lawlessness. This is where MOST go over the bridge. In fact Yeshua Himself stated law would not pass till ALL has been fullfilled. Well, pretty sure ALL has not been fullfilled YET. Yeshua NEVER came to destroy torah(law). He came to fulfill , that is to make full. Remember, Yeshua did what NO man could do(keep torah in thought(heart) and deed. The new or renewed covenant is spiritual and is written on our foreheads and our hearts.Most CHOOSE religion or NOT(Atheist) to suit or conform to or compliment their liking or lifestyle.What I can say is if you do that you have already made a big mistake(first commandment).And you are now on a road FULL of untruths(Everything Can’t be Truth)Remember, The fear of YHWH is the “BEGINNING” of wisdom and a good understanding have those who guard HIS commands(keep HIS commandments). Wonder why Rachaels father could not get it through his head YHWH is the same then,now, and forever. MOST in “babylon” are ignorant of The Master’s Holy Feast Days, that is His appointed times. For all the atheists out there would like to say there is a way that SEEMS right in the mind of man, and that way leads to death. Though you may reason you have freedom, you are actually shackled and bound in a babylonian system of lawlessness and your “freedom” as you say is short lived, then comes the judgement. If you are happy with ceasing to exist after this life, well that is your choice, and you can never scream you were not given choice.MOST have been duped from the time they were born(me , included) being devoured by pagan customs and traditions of men(manmade religion). And MOST remain in chains(manmade chains).Truth is there is One Who can destroy both body and soul and it is HIM Whom we must fear. YHWH our Elohim, Our redeemer from Everlasting, Our Almighty Father, The Master. The end of this present age is at hand, even at the door. Now is NOT the time to be arrogant and self centered, though I will defend anyones right to free choice(even if choice leads to death). To all you unbelievers, YHWH would that all would be saved. So the choice remains yours, Eternally apart from YHWHs Kingdom(second death) or Forever with HIM. We were made to glorify YHWH. May His Holy Name be above all names and be praised forever. HaleluYAH and Halelu YAH’s way. My prayers and love are with ALL.

  7. jr says:

    To Rachel Slick: Good for you! You did what was best for you. Everyday I wish I would have done what you did. My life would be so different if I would have had the strength and ability to believe in myself to be able to leave my abusive home and never look back.. I was so scared to do what you did. I really hope your story helps others. Best wishes.!

  8. Rob says:

    Rachel, I’ll be honest with you. Your story scares me. Not because you have caused me to doubt my faith in God, but because I too am the father of three girls. We have tried to raise them “in the fear and admonition of the Lord”. I have often wondered about the future of my daughters as they grow up and leave the home. Many times I have heard my girls speak of a spiritual concept that they claim that they had learned from our Pastor, a friend, a song, or a visiting preacher. All too often it is a truth or idea that I had explained to them in the past. I think that we all have a difficult time respecting the wisdom of those with which we live (familiarity breeds contempt). I can’t speak to your specific situation. I was surprised to read your words of your journal entry at nine; “I have just realized that I yearn to please the lord, but why can’t I? I just can’t be good! It seems impossible. Why can’t I be perfect?” The reason that this surprised me is that I have learned more about the ongoing effecatious work of the cross of Christ from your Dad in the last year, than in my entire life combined. I have learned from him that the Christian life is not secured by my perfection, but by that of Jesus Christ’s. I am not sure why I have told this to you. I have no reason to think that you hate your Dad. Maybe I am telling this to you because I would hope that someone would edify my reputation before one of my little girls if we should ever become estranged. Last thought, and you may not like it, but in reading your article I could not help but notice how much you’re thinking patterns and writing skills are very much like that of your Dad. Hmmm. I wish you well.

    • dog bee says:

      YES!!! There may have been a REAL Jesus in the Bible! But so WHAT?

      The name “Jesus” is a common name in Israel at the time, like Mary, Joseph, James, Peter, Mathew, Luke, etc. etc. There were probably Hundreds and even Thousands of “Jesus” alive at the time.

      However, the “Jesus” is NOT the same as your “Jesus.”
      Christians always get things mixed up like that. They are dying to find “proof” every which way that they can.

      So whenever a common name turns up in some ancient writing, they right away says that they have “proof” that this person exist, which is TOTALLY NOT true!!

      The thing that make it even more confusing is that people in those days don’t use First Names, Last names, AND Middle Names like we do today. They usually have only one name. So if there is a “Peter” from Jerusalem,
      then that is even more confusing, since there may be hundreds of “Peters” from Jerusalem.

      There may even have been a Jesus that was actually Crucified, but there may be also many Jesus who were as crucified since Both the name of “Jesus” and the punishment of Crucifixion were so common in those days.

      This is why it was so difficult to verify anything in those ancient times! And even if Jesus REALLY Did, it is Difficult to prove that he did ALL those things that the TRADITIONAL Bible said he did.

      That is why everyone should read books written by Bart D. Ehrman. Ehrman has written some 30 books about the Bible is is the World’s foremost expert on the Bible.,

      Bart D. Ehrman’s books are so valuable because they as it tells of the massive FRAUD, MISQUOTATIONS, and Forgeries that Occurred in writing the Bible! Everyone should take the Bible and throw it in the nearest TRASH BIN.

    • AtheismDefended says:

      Her thinking patterns couldn’t be so far away from her father’s as you argue. She is a critical thinker living in reality. I’ve seen his debating style and let’s just say it is lacking in every possible way. An Atheist with a mere smidgeon of knowledge about Logic and especially the bible could destroy any strawman he concocts.

  9. Paige M says:

    I am not of the mindset “Believers vs. Unbelievers”. What is certain is that when you die you will know the truth. There will be no other answer and as no one has come back from the dead saying there is nothing there, I will hold steadfast to my faith in the one true God. I cannot say that I agree that your journey of theological study and logical thought lead to unbelief and atheism. I have seen theology and truth, scientific study and logic lead only to a deeper belief in the God of the Bible. I have also seen it prove it self through the Old Testament and the New Testament. Nothing that is stated as a sin in the OT is announced as not a sin in the NT. So I was at a loss at that point in her journey. I am sorry that she was paraded as an example of Great Parenting and I am sorry that she was beaten without remorse or grace. I am sorry that she was given a God that was not near to her, but far away judging her and scaring her. I don’t know that God. I know the one true God of the Bible that is full of mercy, grace, peace and love. That his judgments are righteous and true, and any punishment is through the steadfast rebellion of a sinful person, who was called with mercy many times. I am sorry that Rachel never knew this God. And I am sorry that she does not have a God to lean on when she is uncertain. The certain thing is that she will die, and her youth is beautiful on her now but will be gone one day, and withered and decrepit, she will enter into death. And like I said earlier, no one who has come back has said it was empty and void, nothingness of which they were not aware. And science and archaeology bear out my beliefs. I won’t pray for her, it seems there are enough people doing that already. Thanks for sharing your harrowing story. I am sure that it of great benefit to many.

  10. Sean Gerety says:

    Hardly an insurmountable logical problem you faced, but it’s tragic that you were brought up believing you can only please God by your performance (an impossible notion in itself).. I don’t know your Dad or CARM, but it seems to me that your rejection was that of legalism and not Christianity. Last I checked the Gospel isn’t performance based.

    • AtheismDefended says:

      Ah yes, here’s another Christian who knows the real truth.. LOL Sorry but your special pleading (a philosophical term) has no validity.

  11. Bradford says:


    As a former ministerial student at Westminster Seminary California (and even acquaintance of your father on Pal Talk), and now a thoughtful, deliberate atheist, it was encouraging to read your delightful essay. There are many others like you (and me) out there. Please remember you aren’t alone.

  12. Carlos says:

    I would like to say this as gently as possible. The Christianity that you grew up with is a sectarian Christianity and is only believed by a small portion of those Who call themselves Christian, and even they Who hold to this form of Christianity don’t agree Among themselves. The One ancient Christianity of the apostolic Church doesn’t believe most of the things you listed, in fact, Eastern Orthodox Christianity is something altogether different. I don’t blame you for rejecting that kind of Christianity; I would point you east go east young lady.

  13. David says:

    Many apologists spend so much time Mormon (and their ilk) bashing that they have ignored and are completely caught off guard by the growing strength of the new atheism. The tactics used to attack Mormons and others are useless against atheists. Better pick your poison.

  14. This article doesn’t give me hope. NOW if Rachel is able to escape death and then can tell us all about her new liberty, than there is something to feel “free” about.

    • Grant C says:

      Fine illustration of one of the most widespread motivations for religious belief… fear of death + denial. People can’t cope with their mortality so refuse to deal with it at all and pretend they’re magically immortal instead. Now there’s a solid basis for a philosophy to base your entire life on.

    • AtheismDefended says:

      A book from 1807??? Are you serious? Really? Kind of desperate aren’t you? LOL

  15. agnophilo says:

    I called into matt slick’s show once and he hung up on me. I thought he was kind of a douchebag. Though to be fair he was sick at the time and everyone has bad days. His daughter has more courage than I need to lose faith, not having been made so that my entire life revolved around it.

    • AtheismDefended says:

      Actually, he does that when he’s not sick either. He follows the presuppositional script and if anyone tries to get him off of that, the discussion ends immediately.

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