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Awkward Questions Around Friends That Don't Know


JoeFriday
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So what denomination are you?

Are you a christian?

You going to keep "the faith"?

 

Recently I was downtown and ran into an old friend that I don't see often. He was there doing street witnessing with a group of other people.

 

I had a great time talking to him. And I'm interested in things like cold approaches, religion, etc. So I was interested in hanging out with them and talking about their experiences. "Debriefing" lol, I felt like a spy :woohoo: . But when these questions come up around people I haven't told it's really tough, I don't know what to do. I hate compromising my integrity, I hate lying but sometimes you can't avoid the question. But I worry (perhaps wrongly) that by talking about my non-belief, it won't be a friendship of me and you anymore, but me, you, and my soul heading for hell. No longer "US" but now I'm one of "THEM" the others. Even though all the people I've told it (family, close friends, liberal people) it really hasn't been bad. Some were saddened, grief stricken, but in general they understand and know me. I just hate thinking that people will prejudge me falsely because of some false dogma that they've been taught all their life. This is the reason I haven't posted a public letter type thing, etc. Maybe I shouldn't worry about this?

 

Or that them finding out secondhand would be a slap in the face, and disrespect to our friendship.

 

Anyway besides "becoming" a unitarian universalist, and using that to expound my ideas about what God should be, if God exists(I'm not an atheist: I believe the experience of God exists but that the personhood doesn't). And I've had enough of "GOD experiences" for a while. Whether that experience is only in our heads who knows :) .

 

Or besides just saying I'm apostate, or a scientologist, or "non affiliated", how should I handle it?

 

Anybody have any advice or encouragement for me? I'm ok with telling my friends if they ask, but I guess I don't usually bother to correct their mis-assumptions about me. Of course hell, it's only been four months and I've been away at school. But I run into problems when others I don't really care about, or don't want to get stuck into "those new people who should be witnessed to and be careful around to put christ in good light" or start off a massive debate(which I like sometimes but all the time).

 

argghh.

 

Joe

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Guest Shiva H. Vishnu

What are you? The Earl of Jism who stands to lose a substantial inheritance should any word you ever utter resembled the truth? This sort of question has been easy for me (except with breaking up with girlfriends). Tell the truth, and even if it sucks, it was probably the best thing to do. Unless you're hiding a felony. Then deny til you die. Nobody has the slightest obligation to their government. Not a fucking one of us. :thanks:

 

I forgot to whom I was responding. It is an indellible mystery!

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:Hmm:

 

I'm sure you feel an obligation to disclose your conversion to this person, seeing as how they knew you while you were a Christian. If in passing you run into them, you're certainly not reqired to say anything. Sometimes having *that* conversation is just tiring. They may try to witness and the whole thing can just turn into a mess. I still have a very close friend that I haven't told yet. That's a long story...

 

 

 

 

 

Calm down...

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If it's not something you feel comfortable talking about, just shrug. Then immediately change the subject. It keeps them off balance so they can't needle you more. Or at least most won't, except the very persistant, and if they aren't going to let it go, tell them the truth and be prepared to walk away.

 

It sucks, but people that are going to put themselves in the "US" and "THEM" mindset about you are going to figure your out anyway and think that way regardless. And those are not friends you need.

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I have to agree that honest is the best policy.

 

The question is, how to phrase that honesty in such a way that your relationships do not become adversarial.

 

One good response might be: "While I'm fulfilled in my faith, I'm not into discussing it because I have to deepen my understanding before I can talk intelligently about it."

 

If they want to "share" or "witness" to you ~ simply reiterate that you're uncomfortable discussing it and change the subject.

 

At that point, if they persist, simply point out that they are being rude and walk away.

 

Sometimes the best defense is a good offence - and that can be taken in both senses of the word.

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How long since you deconverted? I've been out 3 years now, so it gets easier.

 

At first..and way back on the first board, I posted a thread similar to yours, I had issues with people who wanted nothing more to do with me.

 

I got great advice then..and its still great advice:

If they don't want to be your friend now that you are no longer in the "club", they either never were to begin with. (that's a paraphrase)

 

The thing is, after it all calmed down, many of them came back around, accepted me for who and where I am now. Not to say they don't on occasion try to evangelize..but it usually leads to very good discussions.

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A few months ago I was going on a field trip with my students. As I was waiting for them to arrive my old youth pastor showed up to drop his son off -- who was going on the same trip -- and he saw me. Probably the second thing out of his mouth was, "How is your spiritual walk?"

 

With barely a thought I beamed and responded, "Excellent."

 

As soon as I said it, I knew it was the truth. My spiritual situation has never been more secure or on such a firm and well laid foundation. And I knew what he had really been asking and that it was a very dangerous situation for me. I live in a very conservative area and I was surrounded by parents, students, and fellow teachers. A wrong step here could possibly cost me my job.

 

I know, I know... everyone is thinking that I can't be fired for my lack of faith but I can be let go for any reason until I have a professional contract -- which requires three years of working for the same county. I'm on an annual contract until then and they can just choose to not renew it without any explanation. A couple of complaints from parents or teachers that I'd never hear about would be all it would take to have them let me go. The probability of that is unlikely as I am well-liked by the administration and the teachers all around the county but when choosing between a teacher on an annual contract and a horde of irate parents, I would lose.

 

He started asking other questions about where I was going to church and so on. I knew, from talking to a friend of mine, that he had started a new church in the area and was trying to build up members. It was also made up (at the time) of people from the time I was in youth group. Even my Christian friend who told me this admitted he had been through that time of his life once and he wasn't going to submit himself to that garbage again. So I kept answering the questions in the slimiest way possible. God himself, had he existed, couldn't have pinned me down enough for an invite to make sense.

 

But I really just wanted to tell him where he could put Jesus if he wanted me to watch. I couldn't but it was constantly on my mind... probably the only thing which kept me smiling.

 

After he left, the aide from another class (who was also going) came up and commented, "You just had the weirdest... look... conversation... whatever that I have ever seen. What was that about?"

 

I explained the contents of the conversation and she just stared at me until she could muster, "What kind of person starts a conversation like that?!"

 

And when she said that it suddenly made me realize that most people don't care and aren't going to ask about your spiritual state. They're not going to run up to you on the street and demand to know if you've verbally jacked-off their lord lately. Those who do that, and I have known a few, aren't people worth your respect. Sure, if you're surrounded by people you think might react badly then you have to step carefully. But if you're just worried about pissing those people off... don't.

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I explained the contents of the conversation and she just stared at me until she could muster, "What kind of person starts a conversation like that?!"

 

And when she said that it suddenly made me realize that most people don't care and aren't going to ask about your spiritual state.

 

Bingo. :woohoo:

 

Most people are normal - what (if any) religion they have is nobodies business but their own. Busting in and asking how 'spiritual' you are is like asking how many times a week you have sex. Excuse me? :Hmm:

 

A lot of newbie de-converts are still dealing with the social rules of their former life, though, and it's like an ex-con adjusting to life on the outside. You don't need an 'excuse' for not attending an extremist church, or not believing. You have no idea how freeing it is to look them in the eye and tell them the truth (in my case, I say 'Im Pope of the Cute Bunny™ Church now, and I've never been happier!'). :wicked:

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All of this sort of ties in with what I was ranting about.

 

Why do we let these folks get away with it? They *do not* have the moral high ground.

 

If someone were to ask (inappropriately), how one's love life was going, they'd be fobbed off. Why give countenance to these religious cretins? Why not tell them the same thing?

 

I'm *not* saying that those of us who left Christianity should be boors. But a polite: "I'm sorry, my spiritual life, or the lake of it is not a topic for conversation." should be enough.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks for all the responses.

 

After some time, I decided to go with the public announcement type thing on facebook. I realized that I couldn't live with pretending to be something I'm not, to some of my friends and not to others. Controlling the reprecussions was impossible without sacificing something I value like honesty or integrity. And that I was demeaning myself by hiding it like something shameful.

 

Anyway honesty feels good, like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I haven't got any response yet, but I'm ok now with dealing with whatever comes.

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I hate to admit it but I am a real hypocrite. Before, when I was a christian, I never lied. Now, I am mastering the technique.

 

The thing is that there are a few truths in christianity which are universally true. For example, Paul's definition of love is quite good. Jesus said some interesting things that could also be said to be universal truths.

 

So when I talk with a christian, I use those universal truths using secular terms. If they say, "Everything will work out for good," I may respond, "Yes, problems have a way of resolving themselves."

 

If they are nagging about somebody they don't like, I may say, "Well, God loves everybody, doesn't he? Doesn't everybody enjoy rain and sunshine?"

 

If they are judging someone, I say. "Well, nobody is perfect. Everybody is doing their best."

When my sister talks about being submissive to her husband, I say, "Paul believed like that 2000 years ago. A lot of that stuff no longer applies."

 

So I try to stay agreeable using my own moral standards combined with secular wisdom. I don't come out and say I am not a christian anymore, but I express my own opinions in subtle ways.

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