Preparing to come out

It all started with the best of intentions.

First, there were a lot of issues that were flying around my head. My previous beliefs were becoming ever less secure, but I’d been through this before. Most people find their beliefs wax and wane, so this wasn’t anything I was going to bring up out of nowhere to people who I wouldn’t normally be discussing my theological positions with. It was just business as usual.

Coming OutThen I started to drift away, losing my fear of unbelief and increasingly exploring those areas and imagining a life without religion. It was different, but possibly no more than increased empathy and openness to different arguments. I stayed put in the church, and nothing really changed. Still nothing that was worth specifically mentioning to anyone.

But then there was That Day. Tuesday 12th June, 2012, and the church put itself undeniably on the wrong side of the big issue of the day, in a way that wasn’t just wrong, but spiteful, disingenuous and vindictive. That could have been the moment, but there were problems. I didn’t want to walk without giving myself time to reflect, and it’s an issue on which many people would vehemently disagree with me, turning my reasons into fighting words rather than an explanation. So I waited.

And when I eventually did decide that I couldn’t continue to have anything to do with the church that produced such a nasty, bigoted statement in my name, the issue was no less divisive, but it wasn’t fresh enough to make it a natural topic of conversation, and I still (probably foolishly) imagined that it might be a temporary blip. Again, nothing was said.

Once something’s been going on for a while, it becomes difficult to mention it in conversation. The longer it’s been going on, the harder it is, because if it’s that important, you should have said earlier. Some things you’d rather not talk about (divorce, illness, bereavement) become obvious, and people can fill in the gaps. But some need to be specifically explained, and worse, are all about you and your thoughts and feelings, inviting people to dissect and challenge your reasons.

I’ve already had slightly awkward conversations in the street with acquaintances who assumed that I still believed what I did when we last spoke. A very reasonable assumption, and one that’s hard to correct without an overly long conversation, making a bigger deal of it than it ought to be. I’ve let it go so far, but I can’t carry on like this, and it’s high time to go public.

Rooster

Me, yesterday

The first and most daunting step is the in-laws. They care about this – it’s not like casually mentioning that I’ve bought a new pair of shoes. They also support the Church of England’s line on same-sex marriage, so that explanation isn’t going to be helpful or productive. And the encouraging news that they actually know the odd atheist is tempered by their constant reference to one couple as “our atheist friends”.

The plan is to find a way of engineering it into conversation when they’re here over the next few days. I don’t know how, but I need to do it, before the whole situation of not talking about it starts to look like a bad sitcom. I’m telling you now because it reduces my chances of chickening out if I might then have to explain my cowardice.

For better or worse, I’ll see you on the other side.

Images courtesy of coolza and aljabak, used with permission

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About Recovering Agnostic

I'm Christian by upbringing, agnostic by belief, cynical by temperament, broadly scientific in approach, and looking for answers. My main interest at the moment is in turning my current disengaged shrug into at least a working hypothesis.

90 responses to “Preparing to come out”

  1. Ileftthefold says :

    Wow. Good luck. I know the feeling. My situation is slightly different and I have justified it by telling myself that since my parents still believe I’m going to he’ll because I’m not in the right Christian church, and because I divorced, I don’t need to tell them I don’t believe the Bible is infallible, that I believe science, that I don’t believe that Jesus is who they think he is. (Because I don’t want to grieve them?) And because this might truly cause them to truly disown me this time. I’m still seeking… Today is one of those days that is easier to say what I don’t believe than what I do believe. Your blog today is making me wonder if this is the root of my deepest worst anxiety in years. Hopefully meds will help. Thank you for your post.

    • Tom says :

      Where does the need to believe come from? I think it’s based on insecurity and a fear that what we have been led to trust might have rocky foundations. Don’t worry, it’s really more reassuring and definitely more honest to explore the world as an enquierer than a believer.

  2. violetwisp says :

    Good luck with that. I have no memory of telling my parents, so I guess it must have come in a gradual way over a long period and they weren’t massively surprised. Maybe you could start with a gentle, ‘I’m questioning things’ and work on it from there?

  3. sixpointnineme says :

    I hope all goes well when you decide to make the move and tell your in-laws. The decision to come out is difficult in many cases. Although it should not be so, coming out can have dire consequences for some (loss of a job, friends or even family) and these possibilities must be considered. After following your blog for some time, it seems to me that you have considered all this in depth.
    Wether you come out now, later or never, as a fellow non-believer I bid you welcome. Best of luck.

  4. Sabio Lantz says :

    Wishing you to very best. This is tough.

  5. afellowunbeliever says :

    Good luck. Having gone through a “coming out” period for my own unbelief, I know how challenging it can be. Hopefully, your inlaws value your honesty the way mine did. For me at least, coming out was a major relief, and (although the relationship is different) I feel much more relaxed around them now that I have nothing to hide.

  6. Recovering Agnostic says :

    Thank you all for your kind thoughts. It was awkward trying to work around to the point of bringing it up, but in the end it was surprisingly painless. The in-laws didn’t grill me about it (it might have been better if they had, instead of asking my wife later), and we seem to be getting on as well as ever.

    It’s not an experience I’d particularly like to repeat, but after this, everything else should be comparatively stress-free.

  7. awax1217 says :

    I can not imagine that a religion would be such to go against the rational desire of its people.

  8. allthoughtswork says :

    Come on in, the water’s fine.

    Funny thing about faith-based religions: because they have no visceral facts to point to–“See? There he is, there’s God. No, the one on the left. The one sneaking the French Fries”–they’ve got to find something else to convince people to toe their line. Scary stories make good use of people’s imaginations, so they’ve got fear working for them, there. But that’s not quite enough. You can’t keep a person in a state of terror 24/7, eventually they’re gonna get hungry or tired or horny and do something about it. How to monitor them around the clock, hmm….

    Ah, yes, crippling social pressure, just the ticket! They will live under the constant scrutiny of church members (who will conveniently be everywhere once we convince them not to associate with anyone “not of the faith”) and the second they step out of line, we’ll encourage the people they love and trust to shame, belittle, shun, and even corporeally punish them until they get back on track–in fact, we’ll call it their DUTY and tell them God will love them even more for battering each other into submission. Why, it’s positively brilliant!

    Don’t get me started on the tax-exempt status of churches.

    • Galt Church of Christ says :

      I have many reasons, good reasons, for believing Jesus is the Son of God. In the Bible, faith is trust, but it doesn’t mean trusting something to be true without evidence. God’s word is evidence. Rom 10:17; Jn 20:30,31; 1 Thess 5:21; 2 Pet 1:16. The OT was written hundreds of years before the days of Jesus and it foretold that “the Prophet” God would send would be just LIKE Moses. Deut. 18:15. The OT specifically records how Moses attempted to persuade God to blot HIS NAME out of God’s book of life and forgive the people of Israel after they had sinned. Moses attempted to be a sacrifice for the sin/guilt of Israel. Do you think this is just a lucky coincidence when you compare this to what Jesus did for the sins of the world? Dozens of other good reasons are found in the scriptures to put my trust in Jesus the Son of God. I hope you will not turn your back on God and the Bible and die in your sins. John 8:24. When you are done talking with your family, spend the same amount of time listening to them! They might just have something to say that you ought to hear.

      • Recovering Agnostic says :

        Thanks for the sermon. I know all the arguments and spent many years believing as you do. I started this blog to work through all these issues, and it’s been a long and difficult journey. For you to respond to that by preaching to me and strongly implying that I have no idea what I’m doing is deeply insulting.

        I could dissect your arguments, but this isn’t really an appropriate place for it, and I generally prefer to address more interesting matters. Demonstrating the flaws in your appeal to Scripture and fulfilled prophecies would be like shooting fish in a barrel.

      • bdallmann says :

        Essentially, what you’re saying is, “I know the Bible is true because it says so in the Bible.”

        This is not a valid argument.

        Besides that, I’m willing to bet that someone who grew up in a religious community has spent plenty of time “listening to them.”

        -Brita
        Book Lust

      • jwolff3232 says :

        How did Jesus talk to folks (that’s rhetorical)? This comes off as finger pointing disguised as supporting evidence. What this guy’s going through and his relationship is to Jesus is up to him and Jesus. I wish the church came off as it was intended in the 1st century – supportive, community, people helping and lifting each other up, etc and not as Stained-glass, steeples and judgment. Dang, Christians make being a Christian hard.
        http://jwolffblog.wordpress.com/

    • jwolff3232 says :

      Hey allthoughtswork, how are you? I read your comment with some interest. I am a Christian and so I reckon that would fit into your faith based religion, category. I find it curious when people say things like you are saying, implying scary stories and fear and all of that traditional churchy stuff. I understand a long history of less than stellar behavior by the church. The church and the people therein have been, can be and will be shitty. People that aren’t in the church are often times shitty too. That doesn’t make them not real, or invalidate them does it? Steve Jobs was a jerk from what I hear, but I don’t dislike folks at the apple store or stop blowing all my money there. I’m not a bible thumper or trying to convert you or anything like that. I am just curious. I perceive a real disdain for all thing church in your comments and comments like them. I haven’t really ever experienced any of that crazy negative stuff naysayers often complain about. I am non-denominational, maybe that’s part of it; less baggage than the BIG Religions. I am involved in ministry, but I don’t see those things, or perpetuate them. I get tired and hungry and horny. I like gay folks as long as they are nice to me. I don’t oppress anyone (I don’t think), neither does my church. We help a lot of people though. Often times I am an ass. I try and live Christlike… I fail always, but I keep trying. I guess I just want to say that there is another way, apart for the broad stroke perspective of the church.
      http://jwolffblog.wordpress.com/

  9. coffeegrounded says :

    Better to accept what is true for you, than to live a lie and be all the more miserable. To those that would say otherwise, I would hope they would remember that they are not in a position to judge.
    I think it takes strength and courage to find your voice. May we learn to accept everyone that thinks differently than we do as long as each of us lives in peace and harmony.

  10. sonatano1 says :

    Really interesting post. The gay marriage issue (and attitudes towards homo/bisexuality in general) is one of the problems I’ve always had with the Abrahamic religious approach.

    Still, I can’t say I’ve lost any of my own beliefs for that reason. I’ve always felt like I had to separate belief in God from membership in a church. It’s probably just a result of how I grew up – Catholic mother and Muslim father, both religious believers but neither one all that fervent when it comes to following the rules. I never was a member of a congregation and never gave a damn what some Pope, bishop, sheikh or imam said about issue X.

    I can see how being a member of a religious community can really sting, though, when the community leaders say such terrible things and show their intolerance. Most of them are either do-nothings or disgusting hypocrites (or both!)

    • peterwone says :

      The who same-sex marriage thing is just plain absurd. Marriage is a breeding contract that says nothing about love and everything about inheritance rights and rearing obligations. A same sex marriage is as silly as a contract of sale between two parties who are both sellers or both buyers. It’s not immoral, it’s just daft.

  11. Cristina says :

    Good luck! I normally don’t talk about religion or politics. Sadly it’s hard to talk about one without the other anyway these days. People get offended, friendships break, people judge. So i just don’t mention my beliefs, I don’t even comment on posts that circle around atheism, although I read them. The other month I found myself in the position you are fearing now: in-laws and religion talk at the table. So, this time, I didn’t pretend I didn’t care, I didn’t let it go, and I just told them what I thought: that I am an atheist, that I don’t think anyone should impose others what to believe in, sleep with, or marry. It felt refreshing and liberating and, amazingly, we are still on good terms (helps that I don’t see them that much). I hope you feel the same liberating feeling I felt when/if you chose to, as you say, come out. 🙂

  12. Britt says :

    Thoughtfully written with much heart-wrenching conflict… so obviously, a fantastic read. I’m sad that (backwards, unkind) politics are pulling you away from Church, and yet, I couldn’t stay there, either. I am a strong believer that we cannot divorce ourselves from God– especially when humanity and good common sense drive us from Church. But anytime you get a group of people involved in this discussion, He is there, too. Bravo, you.

  13. roopost says :

    Hmmm…Coming out?? Well, due respect, you may believe as you wish – today certainly, there’s very few who would persecute you for it… And, given your ready dismissal of the ‘sermon’ above, I suspect you wouldn’t be that fussed if confronted anyway. Though, I think your euphemism ‘coming out’ is perhaps a little grandiose, if you’ll forgive my saying so. It seems the group to whom that term generally does apply, and who do face real persecution, might be take this application of the conditions you are overcoming as well, a walk in the park by comparison…

    Kind regards, and best wishes to you anyway.

    • Recovering Agnostic says :

      It’s a common enough use of the term, which has taken on a far more generic meaning these days than its origins would suggest. I mean no offence to anyone, but I must confess that I’m quite surprised this is an issue.

      I don’t claim to be suffering terribly, and certainly not to be persecuted, but it remains a difficult process to explain my new position to people who are likely to find that news distressing at best.

      • roopost says :

        Thank you for your reply. I am perhaps perplexed by the notion that the beliefs or lack thereof of another person should warrant distress in the first place. I take your point though and truly did not wish to raise an issue per se. I hope the future of this transition is smoother…

  14. jjwalters says :

    Personally does it really matter what we believe? If you took the Bible away and ask any Christian “what is God?” You would get a zillion different answers. . . . is that a thank God we can read?

    ask a zillion different people “what is kindness” they’d all say pretty much the same thing. . . . even if they can’t read.

    Why not practice right now being kind . . . being gentle . . . being empathetic. How could a guy get any closer to his God than that?

    • Marcia says :

      Well said! Who said fervent Christians had the corner on being a good human being? My mother and I battled over this for years. She went to her grave trying to bring me into the light. It always hurt me so much that she wouldn’t believe I was a good person unless I was just like her and in very deep.

      • jjwalters says :

        being decent is a choice . . .
        being kind is a choice

        There . . . that’s all the religion you need .

        Pretty damn simple if you ask me . . . . .:-)

  15. SegmentedWhale says :

    I can relate to this situation pretty well, I’ve been forced into church activities my whole life. Only recently have I been able to finally say no. (I am 18 now). I’m quite glad to be getting away from it all

  16. carlylynn says :

    Here’s my opinion. I’m religious, but I actually don’t judge others for their beliefs. As long as you are comfortable with your beliefs then I say go for it. Not everyone will be supportive; I have just made the decision to convert to Catholicism after being raised in a Baptist community and environment all of my life. Not surprisingly, most of my family and friends are not supportive at all.

    Hopefully your spouse is supportive because besides yourself, that is the most important person! Besides, a lot of people do not want to marry someone who has drastically different beliefs than them for obvious reasons. Good luck! And hopefully they’ll come around. can’t please everyone, so why try?

  17. rameyontheroad says :

    LOL @ “our athiest friends”. I always find it so interesting when people don’t allow us to change. They assume we believe what we believed the last time they talked with us about it, or they assume we are still as slovenly as we were when we were 17, or whatever it might be. We are all changing all the time, and our beliefs should be dynamic and open to change, too. Good luck forging your way forward!

  18. Ashana M says :

    I think there are books and websites out there now that offer tips on how to tell your relatives you are gay. Haven’t they made anything for the newly atheist? If not, maybe the gay-focused advice would help.

    I believe my coming-out to my own parents about being an atheist involved tearing up my Bible and stomping on it i front of them. So, you can at least do better than I did. (I am not an atheist anymore, however, but I didn’t ever go back to their church…)

  19. ritakowats says :

    I’m with Allthoughtswork…Come on in. The water’s fine. I wish you well and send encouragement.
    One ‘s integrity is sacred.

  20. moodsnmoments says :

    well done. congratulations

  21. Pastor James Miller says :

    Well, unfortunately you’ve worked yourself into a bit of a predicament. Your critique of the Church is primarily a moral one. Yet if you jettison God, you really have no basis for claiming objective moral values by which to criticize. The most you can say is that you prefer one sentiment or another, but your absolutist view of the church being “wrong” is simply ungrounded. In other words, you’re acting like there’s still a God.

    • DysthymiaBree says :

      James Miller: so you are saying there is no non-theistic basis for moral philosophy? Hmmm … I can’t see Karl Barth agreeing (well, actually, he probably *would* agree, but his works speak otherwise) nor his fellow authors of Barmen Theological Declaration.
      Christians like to claim the need for a God to uphold an objective moral framework. I know, because I used to be one. This is simply not the case; however, I understand that you will probably need to cling not only to your theism but also to your own personal moral framework, because the existential shock of trying to live without either would be too painful.
      As you continue to live within your finely woven nest of self-comfort, please do not use faulty logic to condemn those of us who have flown free.

    • peterwone says :

      I guess he’ll have to use an ethical framework instead. The difference is that a moral person abides a set of church defined rules of conduct for fear of divine retribution, whereas an ethical person develops a sense of right and wrong and does the right thing because it seems like the right thing to do. Moral people are frequently vindictive, self-righteous and (if we are to believe the old testament) perfectly happy to do appalling things any time god gives a green light, ranging from genocide to ritual infanticide.

  22. DysthymiaBree says :

    KEEP GOING! DON’T TURN BACK! DON’T EVEN LOOK BACK!
    Come out – get out – and stay out.
    Remember Lot’s Wife? If you turn back to he church despite your new insights, you will be caught up once again in its vortex of self-belief, self-justification and self-preservation.
    It’s hard, I know it’s hard, but for the sake of your own integrity, KEEP GOING.
    For what it’s worth, I’m always available for a shot of moral courage, a word of encouragement, or a kick up the butt – whatever’s needed.

  23. waverider says :

    My Christian walk was short lived, two years to be exact. What was reiterated to me over and over again was love, faith, hope and CHOICE. If The Bible and the word of God is love and choice, why can’t the church and it’s believers also adhere to this and allow you to make your own decisions and choices without condemnation, threats of ‘the Evil One’ and sermons on how your choice is wrong and they will pray for you to see the right way! If you believe in the Holy Trinity then you know it is your God given right to CHOOSE. If you don’t have a faith then it doesn’t matter anyway! So choose your path and walk proudly. Listen to others, take what you want to take, hand back what doesn’t work for you and be strong in the knowledge that your path is built on the choices you are making.

  24. greatredwoman says :

    Much harm has been done through the ages in the name of religion. it’s a hair-trigger topic which inflames many. People of the church may interpret the Bible in ways it never was meant to be and be harsh and judgmental as a result. Not all Christians believe the same. There are many who love and accept others whom they view as different from themselves. But, there are many who do not understand nor do they wish to try to understand.

    Please consider keeping your faith and relationship with God even though you may walk away from a church…

  25. Feather Girl says :

    Hello! 🙂 I don’t mean to start an argument. I know you’re entitled to your own decision, and respect that. I don’t know what’s led you to this decision so of course won’t go into it. Just one thought that popped into my mind when I read this and wanted to share – the church stuffs up. All the time. The church is meant to be God’s hands and feet, but they are not perfect, often FAR from it. But God is bigger than the church. Just found in my own life that regardless of all the differing and contradictory ways people represent God, etc., God is pursuing, me, relentlessly, out of love and grace. This is a God who wants not adherence for the sake of it, but relationship at it’s purest. That’s what I’ve found anyway. If you wanna know more about the kind of church I go to, this is it: http://www.edgechurch.com/
    Anyway all the best.

  26. billpokins says :

    Hey nice job with a tough situation. Each case is different, as is each person with belief, ideas, opinions and just life itself. I have been up and down throughout my life with religion and finally in these later years I have come to realize the most important thing for me is…….
    I have accepted God, don’t need any affiliation with any church or special religion as my thoughts are my own on the subject and always will be from now on. I don’t need anything else and knowing this I can now carry on with my life and enjoy the things I was meant to enjoy. That being life itself in all its glory. I am a very happy man. Good for me. And good for you my friend, enjoy your life as well!

  27. EB 50+ says :

    Growing up in a catholic household it became a habit to go to church every week. It wasn’t until my late teens that I realized I can say ‘No I am not going today’. I felt guilty for years…..only because I was constantly reminded that I ‘should’ go. My mother did a great job that way.

    I am in my 50’s now and I am still getting it! But now I have a new approach. Rather than justifying my reasons for not attending church, my responses are positive. I usually say how happy I am for her that church brings so much peace to her life and that she is so fulfilled….and truly I am. I would never try to talk my mother or anyone out of their decision to attend church because it is a positive experience for her (or them).

    Then I just finish off the conversation by saying that attending church doesn’t do the same for me. That is it.

    I have also been very clear that, should she continue to lecture me on my decision, I will simply choose not to visit as often because I don’t need to be subjected to those judgments.

    I always tell her that I love her and continue the positive attitude. That way, I am not ‘fuelling the fire’ and remaining positive. People will back off when you remain positive, calm and refuse to shoot negative back. I don’t need a heated argument when I have repeatedly had the same discussion too many times.

    So try not to be afraid to speak up. I suggest you approach it calmly and with a positive attitude, letting the other party know how happy you are for them and why it does not work for you.

    • shaylanicole06 says :

      I am a religious person, but I must say I am sick of being treated poorly for being a ‘believer.’ Atheist always talk about how people are ‘preaching to them’ or trying to ‘convert’ them. But aren’t you doing the same by trying to disprove my beliefs? Sure, maybe some of the things I stand up for aren’t backed with proof, but what proof is anything really backed with? The proof you talk about is science, which is a ‘man-made’ explanation for the otherwise unexplainable. People tend to forget that people of God rely not on the word of man but the word of God. It’s a little known word called FAITH! Not everything can be explained, and the sooner the world accepts that truth, the better off we will all be! I believe in something because of my own experiences, just as you believe in nothing because of yours-is there really a right or wrong here? Sure, I could go on and on about heaven, and how you will never get in if you don’t believe, but wouldn’t I be just a judgement cow if I tried to shove my beliefs down your throat? But yet, it’s okay for you to tell me I am delusional because of what I believe.. I’m unintelligent because I don’t believe the way you do, Einstein was a Christian… Where is the logic in that?
      The issue here is not only that Christians are judge mental people, because any TRUE Christian knows it is not up to us to judge. The issue is that people who believe in something stand up for their beliefs, and when everyone is telling you your wrong for believing in God, ‘preaching’ his word is the only argument we need to Stand up for ourselves… But oh yes, we are the judge mental ones. I personally have no problem with what anyone believes or doesn’t believe. In fact, my boyfriend of 5 years is an atheist, I still pray next to the bed where we sleep. He respects my beliefs, and I respect his. If we could only all be so open-minded.

      • EB 50+ says :

        I am not sure if your comments were directed at my response or at the original post. Nowhere in my comments was I trying to disprove your beliefs (as you state “But aren’t you doing the same by trying to disprove my beliefs?” You also state “I believe in something because of my own experiences, just as you believe in nothing because of yours-is there really a right or wrong here?”…..Again, nowhere did I mention that you were wrong to believe in what you do.

        Like yourself, I also have no problem with what anyone believes in either, and if you read my comments, I clearly say how I would never try to negate anyone’s beliefs if that is what gives them peace of mind. My entire reply was based on how I choose to respond to negative judgments that I receive and how I have learned to turn it into a positive. Rather than argue with my mother on the topic and develop ill-feelings, I chose to tell her how happy I was for her that she finds so much peace of mind in her faith. I also told her I loved her and kept the conversation positive.

        So — again, I am not sure if your comments were directed to my response. If they were not, then just disregard this reply. If they were, I suggest you re-read my original response to see that I was suggesting not to fuel the fire, but simply remain positive when interacting with judgmental people.

      • shaylanicole06 says :

        My comment was not directed towards you. I apologize that you thought it was. I did read your post and realize that you are as open-minded as I. That being said, my comment was directed only to people who are not open-minded. I’m sorry about the confusion. I enjoyed reading your post, and thank you for your response.

  28. ultraman says :

    it’s kind of sad to think that there are still people who judge a person about their religion. I just think that anybody can believe in anything they want as long as they don’t hurt other people.

  29. The Simple Life of a Country Man's Wife says :

    Wishing you all the best. I have shared my atheism with a few people that I trust are secure enough in their own belief to not be threatened by my reality-based life. You and I have the same “realization” timeline, mine being Easter 2012. I wish people could understand how much more beautiful life is on this side, how precious life is, how it’s too short to waste time on issues like “is homosexuality real” or “whose belief is the most rightest?”

    Anyway, wishing you much love and acceptance as you move forward in life.

  30. rubble2bubble says :

    Hi. Just a mom of an almost 14 year old boy here. At thirteen he went into a tailspin…and, at some point, announced he didn’t believe in God. I’ve never NOT believed it God… I did at one point feel like I had to lay down the fact that I’d ever truly been a Christian… That didn’t last long. Believing is just what it is. You can’t change a belief until there’s a reason compelling enough. Then, a change in belief just…happens. Regarding my son, my husband and I are older…and quiet (when serious stuff is happening). I don’t interfere with my son’s journey. I pray…and I’m in it for the long haul. I love him with all my heart. But, like I’ve taught him since childhood…I love God MORE…because love comes from God. By loving Him MORE…He helps me love my son more and more….more than my own stingy ability to love can do.

    You need to stay in integrity. Even God Himself says that he’d rather you be hot or cold than lukewarm.

    You life is important to God. He loves you. And like He’s taught me to wait patiently, with much prayer, for my son…..

  31. analitaism says :

    Research. Research. Research. I couldn’t stress it enough. I am in your position as well, but even I can’t come up with any way to blog about it. (Major kudos to you)
    My boyfriend is a atheist and I was raised a confused catholic (I say ‘confused’ because no one ever answered my questions). My boyfriend is really big into research so whenever we would talk he would cite sources like he has done research. I have become alot more comfortable with my standing and I can assure you the more research you do the better you will feel.

    I hope that when I do come to terms with myself and have the guts to blog then I can most definitly say that I am a atheist as well.

  32. Anonymous says :

    I totally respect your and other’s choices when it comes to religion and God and your perception of the world within those contexts, for what you believe in and don’t is really a personal preference. There is not a single person in the world that should have any control over that decision, and I’m happy that you’ve been able to mull over it and come to decent conclusion.

    I do have one question, however. While Christianity is a religion, religion is not Christianity (or Abrahamic ones) so why is being “not Christian” automatically being atheist/agnostic? When people start to question their beliefs and begin to research about religion, do they only care to look up the Bible? I’d love to know your answer; especially whether you decided to study other religious beliefs in some capacity.

    • Recovering Agnostic says :

      I think this probably needs a specific response. I partly covered this some time ago, when I originally left the church, but there are a number of reasons why rejecting a single religion amounted to rejecting religion in general. Essentially, most of the arguments and reasons for one also apply for all. If I reject the concept of an eternal soul, for example, that doesn’t just cast doubt on Christianity. There are a few religious practices that I quite like, but I don’t see any evidence for a god, however he’s defined, and whoever’s telling me about him.

      And in truth, I spent some time hanging on within the church because of habit. Inertia kept me there until I couldn’t stand to be associated with the church anymore. I could have headed for a more liberal church if that was the only issue, but I wouldn’t want to go anywhere separate from my family, they didn’t want to move, and the CofE line on same-sex marriage was the catalyst, not the sole reason for leaving.

  33. solivagi says :

    Today the sermon at my church (Allen Ave Unitarian Universalist – lovingly called A2U2) was on Earth Appreciation, specifically the concept of bio-mimicry and how nature has pretty much come up with an awful lot of good solutions to problems and how we as a species can choose to use Nature as a teacher and mentor and use Nature’s solutions to solve our own problems. Case in point, making hospitals less hospitable to the really nasty bacteria we’ve created by over using anitbiotics and encouraging bacteria to evolve resistant strains which thrive and spread in hospitals. Mimicking the microtexture of snakeskin (I think, or was it some aquatic species), engineers and scientists have created new materials for use in hospital settings which are surfaces that like the natural material (skin of certain species) resist the growth of bacteria and therefore cut down the prevalence of MRSA bacterial strains in hospitals. There were other examples. We sang songs of appreciation and wonder for the mysteries and awesome beauty of Earth and Nature, there was a story and a few readings, then we all had a potluck lunch, a sing-along and broke up into groups to discuss how we could apply permaculture theory and practice on our own church property. This is agnostic/atheist religion and it works for me. I would encourage you to seek out science/fact based spiritual paths. There is wonder and mystery, there is opportunity for good works and community connection, and there are churches and paths that honor facts and science while being prayerful and expressing gratitude to the ineffible. Good luck!

  34. melanielynngriffin says :

    Totally agree w/ the folks who suggest not throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Ever seen those bumper stickers, “God, Please Save Me from Your Followers?” God’s still around, and She/He is WAAAAY bigger than an organization or a system of doctrines. Don’t let “the church” chase you away from being open to the Spirit of Love. That’s why you ran – the spirit you saw was not loving.
    Peace to you – if you’ve never read Brian McLaren or Rob Bell, you might check them out.
    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed – good luck, or blessings, or whatever you want to call them, on your journey!

  35. indianchristianvoice says :

    We tend to discuss religion in ways that seem to bring us to the point of mocking the very nature of the infinite divine GOD. Man has created religion to be a ritual, a ceremonial ceremony that demands a “religious” presence on days assigned or set forth by some so called established church. God never created a religion. In Old Testament times, he demanded obedience. In the arrival of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, he showed us the way to life, to be his followers, not organized religion. GOD is an experience, not a religion.

  36. pabloalbv says :

    Where do I begin, I think it is very convenient to label ourselves as agnostic, in that case we do not create such a big rift, but when we come out in the open and we say we are atheist hell breaks lose. In any case I feel amazed that the world pays so much attention to the afterlife and remains indifferent about the suffering that millions experience every day, be it famine, war, poverty, exploitation or discrimination, not to mention unspeakable violence carried in the name of imaginary and arbitrary gods.

  37. ystungar says :

    Reblogged this on ystungar's Blog and commented:
    Reblog..

  38. danesegrandfield says :

    Being true to your own heart is always hardest, but once there it is an amazing place of freedom. Funny thing is, for some people freedom may look like strong religious beliefs, for others, like yourself, atheism. I just wish whatever our beliefs we could all appreciate more our differences, instead of pulling into our own little groups, judging everyone else. Religion is quite good at that.

    I am looking forward to following your blog, and commend you for being open to changing and growing as a person. Glad your in-laws handled the news so well!

    The gay issue threw a real wrench into my view of Christianity also, especially because my oldest son is gay. Ironically, that son is now going to seminary to become a priest, openly gay! Thank God for change…

  39. fireflyby says :

    I’m sad that the church has issued such divisive statements that have, in effect, driven so many towards atheism. I’m a Christian but lack the Pharasaic fervour that so many seem to embrace.
    I think that one important factor in this whole debate is that The Church is different from Jesus. It is possible, just possible… that The Church might have misrepresented this guy.
    I hope so anyway.

    Wishing you all good things.

  40. AkKoutoulas says :

    Reblogged this on Anthony Koutoulas.

  41. paramorbid says :

    Over the past several months I’ve come to an atheist position. I’m comfortable in leaving my faith in most regards and have actually been happier since abandoning and lingering attachments to religion. Its now easier for me to deal with the negative side of life and the sorrowful events of my life. Yet, I still find myself not fully out in the open. Most of my family and friends don’t know my exact position and more than likely still assume I’m a believer in some form or another. Then there’s my boyfriend’s parents who have no clue what I believe and never really did. I shudder to think what their reaction will be when I finally clue them in to my lack of belief.

    Thanks for sharing the blog and good luck!

    • EB 50+ says :

      When I read your reply, I just had to ‘re- reply’ to you specifically. The reason is because my response relates directly to your problem — addressing the issue with family members. And…..my apologies to those who have already read this — it is a repeat of what I said a few days ago when I commented to original post.

      Growing up in a catholic household it became a habit to go to church every week. It wasn’t until my late teens that I realized I can say ‘No I am not going today’. I felt guilty for years…..only because I was constantly reminded that I ‘should’ go. My mother did a great job that way.

      I am in my 50′s now and I am still getting it! But now I have a new approach. Rather than justifying my reasons for not attending church, my responses are positive. I usually say how happy I am for her that church brings so much peace to her life and that she is so fulfilled….and truly I am. I would never try to talk my mother or anyone out of their decision to attend church because it is a positive experience for her (or them).

      Then I just finish off the conversation by saying that attending church doesn’t do the same for me. That is it.

      I have also been very clear that, should she continue to lecture me on my decision, I will simply choose not to visit as often because I don’t need to be subjected to those judgments.

      I always tell her that I love her and continue the positive attitude. That way, I am not ‘fuelling the fire’ and remaining positive. People will back off when you remain positive, calm and refuse to shoot negative back. I don’t need a heated argument when I have repeatedly had the same discussion too many times.

      So try not to be afraid to speak up. I suggest you approach it calmly and with a positive attitude, letting the other party know how happy you are for them and why it does not work for you

  42. ruth says :

    Just read your post but none of the comments, so I’m sorry if I’m repeating someone. But I would just like to say that ‘the church’ is not a synonym for being a believer.
    What I mean is that ‘the church’ as we see it today is a man made thing, with man made rules and traditions, trying to put God and everything we ‘should’ believe about him and how we should live life, in a little box.

    God is much more than that. Don’t let your disappointment/frustration/disagreement with the church (which is: with people) turn you away from God.

  43. maddienmaxdad says :

    There’s a huge difference between Mass Religion&Spirituality,faith is not self-will run riot,it is individual and intangible.i can have faith and not be guided by people who expound it,whatever their motives

  44. shaylanicole06 says :

    But what do I know?

  45. anonbarbie01 says :

    I feel like this is old but still, I know how you feel. Society typically labels atheists as rebellious delinquents who have no sense of direction, which is why it’s so difficult to tell people.

  46. rubble2bubble says :

    Boundaries and love are not human seeds, but find their rooting system in God Himself. When people feel distress over your choices, be clear, your boundaries must be respected. GOD respects those boundaries. He’s consistent. The distress, however, reveals “love” and “relationship”. The distress simply shows the tenacity – and long suffering of love. Love aches to “restore” that which is lost, or in the process of being lost. At the end of the day, this is precisely what true believers have come to know: love ultimately has to let you have your way. Your choices create a path that takes you either closer, or farther, from Eternal Love. Hence the chaos, the pain, the suffering in the world. That’s NOT the choice of the One in whom love is found. It’s the culmination of OUR choices, collectively. We’re ALL helping to create this chaos. Yet (go figure!), in Jesus (who’s death and life now bridges the gap twixt God and us)…we continue to be loved…and wooed. It WON’T always be this way. But true longing makes a Lover…wait…

  47. monsieurtorres says :

    Religions come and go. Just ask the Romans, the Greeks, the Egyptians, the Aztecs etc. The current religious fads are mono-theistic Middle Eastern-based cults known as Christianity and Islam. And as history shows us again and again, they’ll more than likely have their day before long. Tick, tock…

  48. ScifiGirl1986 says :

    Congrats! I grew up Catholic, even went to Catholic school from 1st-9th grades, but I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t questioning the entire Christian belief system. I remember one time when I was 12 or 13, sitting in church and wondering if we were all sitting there listening to stories someone wrote for the fun of it and never intended anyone to actually read any more into it than we do other works of fiction. I never told anyone how I felt because I was afraid that they’d laugh at me or call me stupid–because face it, that is exactly how many so-called Christians react when someone points out the flaws in their logic.

    I think the reason it is so hard to come out as Atheist is that to some of the older generations, religion is just as much a part of them as their culture is. They never questioned what they were taught because they weren’t taught how to question. Religion was accepted as fact and anyone that believed differently was labeled a heretic and killed because of their beliefs.

    My grandmother, for instance, identifies herself as Polish, Catholic, American, and to her being a Catholic is just another identifier. Her father was a Catholic, so she too is a Catholic. It is much the same way with politics. My Grandfather was a Republican, so my aunts are Republicans too. No one ever stopped to wonder why they think a certain way; they just did. I refuse to be that way. If I believe something, it isn’t because someone told me that I should. It is because I have analyzed the different sides of the issue. My family thinks I’m stupid because I don’t blindly follow the tenets of a 2000 year old book. I think they’re stupid for doing just that.

  49. waltsamp says :

    You and all your commenters will something of interest on my blog http://waltsamp.wordpress.com. It might be “Finding God: A Guide for Atheists” or “The Reformation of American Christianity” or even some of my other thoughts.

  50. thegodsarecrazy says :

    Thank you for your blog and congratulations! It took me over five years to finally break away from religion. If like me you were indoctrinated with religious views since birth it is a hard journey. Most of my family of origin are still believers, and are, no doubt, horrified at my heresy. I had documented my journey at the time, but it has taken me another five years to, finally, have the courage to ‘come out’ as you so aptly put it. I have converted (pun intended) my account of my deconversion process into a novel. It is called, “The Ghost of Old Tom Joad’ and is now available from Amazon.
    There is also an interesting documentary (not by me) called ‘Deconversion’ it is available to watch for free on topdocumentaryflims.com.

    Like Joseph Campbell said, ‘We were meant to be born from the womb of myth’, not to get suck in it.

  51. thirdworldcountrygirl says :

    I believe in God- I’m not religious and I haven’t been to church for a while. I could definitely be consider as a sinner because on a daily basis I do things that goes against God’s word: I lie, I have sex with my boyfriend without being married, and I could list a lot more. I’m really against religion but not against God because it’s two different things in my point of view.
    However, you shouldn’t be forced to believe and you should be free to choose 🙂 my boyfriend doesn’t believe and I love him just as well. We can’t all be the same.

    • rubble2bubble says :

      You talk of God like He’s your puppy. I believe you love Him…but do you love Him….m o r e ? i.e. more than yourself…more than your boyfriend. Who is it that your life SHOWS you really love…the most? Life will invite you to grow…deeper.

  52. jwolff3232 says :

    Good luck on your Journey. I hope you found what you’re looking for. I am always fascinated by the arguments about “the Church.” I have been lucky I guess to not have encountered that sort of discontent and disconnect in my spiritual walk.
    http://jwolffblog.wordpress.com/

  53. lsf289 says :

    Hello, I enjoyed reading this blog of yours. I don’t know if you’ll read this comment because it’s been a while since you posted this blog. Its understandable that there is a lot of confusion about the Church because a lot of people claim to be a part of it. I know that it is not a bad thing to have doubts or questions about certain traditions or things people do concerning “church” or God.

    I am a Christian. I have been for 9 years now. I grew up with both of my parents as Christians but when I was young I was sure that it was all fake. If it wasn’t fake then God was dead. I believed it was all a routine and because some people thought or acted the way they did I didn’t want to follow this Jesus. But then when I was 15 years old my whole life changed. This Jesus, who I thought was fake or dead was suddenly more alive then I had ever been. I wanted to forget everything I had learned growing up and find out about Him for myself.

    In whatever you have decided, I hope that you search earnestly for Truth.

  54. wherearetheelephants says :

    I love this concept. I still haven’t “come out” to my family. I know the disappointment there would be and it’s just not worth it. Congratulations

  55. My Heathen Heart says :

    I can’t help but feel that you’re possibly putting far too much pressure on yourself. You’ve no need to explain yourself to anyone.

    Me being me, I’d be inclined to say absolutely nothing until someone eventually asks why I’m not jumping to the beat of the same drum anymore…and then I’d simply reply with, “because I changed my mind and there’s an end to it”.

  56. sfchapman says :

    I was terrified of telling my parents and it ended up being a complete anti-climax!

  57. aceejuice says :

    its your life and you need to live it what ever way makes you feel comfortable and happy .

  58. coldwaterblog says :

    Brother I sport both the labels of Gay and Christian. I have some questions about how those two coexist, but i’m willing to take the journey. What I thought my faith said about my same sex attraction nearly brought me to suicide. I even quit my job as a flight nurse because the temptation to jump was too great ( and who wants that nut job for a nurse?) The surprising thing is that my faith ultimately saved me from myself and is somehow really helping me deal with my sexuality. You’re a thinker and it’s good that you don’t buy into cookie cutter answers. In many respects I understand more now than ever the “mystery of my salvation” as the Bible puts it… and I like it. : )

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