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Announcing De-conversion To The World


Whindian
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My question is: How do you announce to the world that you no longer believe in God?

 

The vast majority of my friends are Christian. I have some friends from other religions and freethinkers/apathetic, however they are not that close (with like 1 exception). We've just had different interests up to now, so uni/work/running was the only thing that brought us together. Thus basically, telling people I no longer believe in God will most probably be like committing social suicide.

 

Even with respect to non-Christian friends, its going to appear weird. I'm kind of a person that appears secure in what I believe. I'm a lawyer-in-training, so I can debate my points fairly well. I've even got a lot of my non-Christian friends consider Christianity through my discourse. I'm going to appear like a insecure, hypocritical loser, and lose any sense of credibility. It's not going to go down well.

 

Surely some people would have been in a similar predicament to what I'm in now. How did you handle it?

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The only thing I've done so far is change it on my Facebook and tell one friend who is a Wiccan. I can't really help with the talking to xian friends part. I dropped all of those friends when I moved out at 18. I had been hanging out with people who I guess you could call Goths, and I don't think any of them were religious. One was an atheist, but I don't know about the rest because it never came up. I moved to TN a year after that and I'm trying to find friends here, but all of those xian friends are in PA and only one is my friend on Facebook. I don't talk to the others because my life would shock them and the news that I'm an atheist would probably shock them more and they probably either wouldn't want to have anything to do with me or they would try to convert me, which I don't want. I don't know what anyone else would say, but my advice is to come out to them. If they don't like who you really are and discontinue your friendship, then that's their loss. If they like you enough to like you as an atheist, then those people are worth having around. If they don't, well, then they weren't truly your friends in the first place. That's just how I see it.

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Many of us have chosen not to announce it, just to live it and see what happens. I have several families I know that are Pentecostal believers, and it would cut them to the heart to announce that I don't believe. Instead I try to ask questions and get them to think and express their own ideas rather than just regurgitating verses. I sent one young woman a paper I wrote on cults and she asked me "Then how is Christianity different?" "Ah, that is the right question!" I do my best not to give them my opinion since they are used to an authority telling them what is right, but instead try to get them to wrestle with it.

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Best wishes as you continue forward. It's difficult, "being yourself" with people who know you, people you care about. I guess because we do care about them, and we care about what they think about us -- we want them to continue loving us or liking us. Totally normal and human, to want to hang on to love, approval, fearing being "cast out into the outer darkness" (so to speak).

 

With some people especially church people I've explained it along the lines of "My opinions have changed a lot over the years, and I'm just not able to believe some of the things I used to believe." But it's always just sort of "in passing" as neither they nor I feel comfortable really getting into any sort of actual conversation or in-depth discussion. I'm usually too much of a coward to even say anything. You just have to gauge the individual person and individual moment, in deciding whether to be honest or just nod in polite, dishonest silence.

 

There are a couple of people to whom, during a private and emotional conversation about something going on at church, I've actually said (in trying to explain my point of view about whatever it was they were talking about) "Several years ago, I began to lose my faith, and now I'm just not able to agree with [whatever doctrine or issue the conversation is about]." Those two people were really nice at the time of the conversation, but since then all conversation has been "small talk" about non-controversial stuff.

 

It's difficult to figure out how to tell people, and how to phrase it. No one set formula, although I wish there were, because then I'd know how to manage it. At any rate, best wishes as you make the attempt!

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Instead I try to ask questions and get them to think and express their own ideas rather than just regurgitating verses. ...

... I do my best not to give them my opinion since they are used to an authority telling them what is right, but instead try to get them to wrestle with it.

 

Brilliant! What a compassionate and intelligent approach.

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I'm a lawyer-in-training, so I can debate my points fairly well. I've even got a lot of my non-Christian friends consider Christianity through my discourse. I'm going to appear like a insecure, hypocritical loser, and lose any sense of credibility.

 

Maybe certain of that group would appreciate a private conversation with you, sitting down together and just laying it on the line so to speak. You're concerned about how you appear to them, because you like them and value their opinions -- and that include valuing their opinions about you personally. So maybe you might consider prefacing the conversation along those lines? And then ease into explaining what's happened to you.

 

Because something has happened to you. Something's happened to all of us, or perhaps I should say to most of us -- it just seems to me that believing isn't a choice, it's not something anybody does, and same goes for losing the ability to believe. I think we didn't choose to lose our faith -- I think it happened to us. Like, people don't choose to be run over by a bus -- it's something that happens to them. wham! It's sort of (kind of) a type of death, isn't it -- several people here at ex.c have posted about going through the grieving process. We've lost something that was an important part of our lives for a long time.

 

And so it seems to me that if we can explain this aspect of it, when we're talking to Christians, maybe it'll help them view us with a bit of compassion instead of hatred -- at least long enough to have a real conversation and say what we want to say, as we struggle to be brave and honest and real.

 

Maybe?

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My question is: How do you announce to the world that you no longer believe in God?

 

The vast majority of my friends are Christian. I have some friends from other religions and freethinkers/apathetic, however they are not that close (with like 1 exception). We've just had different interests up to now, so uni/work/running was the only thing that brought us together. Thus basically, telling people I no longer believe in God will most probably be like committing social suicide.

 

Even with respect to non-Christian friends, its going to appear weird. I'm kind of a person that appears secure in what I believe. I'm a lawyer-in-training, so I can debate my points fairly well. I've even got a lot of my non-Christian friends consider Christianity through my discourse. I'm going to appear like a insecure, hypocritical loser, and lose any sense of credibility. It's not going to go down well.

 

Surely some people would have been in a similar predicament to what I'm in now. How did you handle it?

 

Ok in the first place, there really is no need to make any big announcement. I would say just deal with it on a case by case basis depending on who you're talking to. My deconversion was a very long process over a lot of years. And I have to say that I haven't lost a friend or a relative over it yet. Everyone in my immediate family now is pretty much aware of me being an atheist; my three daughters know it and all three are fine with it. Hell my oldest just married a Turkish guy from a nominally Muslim family. He considers himself completely secular. Doesn't do the 5 prayers a day thing, hasn't been to a mosque since he was a boy and not much then. My youngest daughter is marrying a Catholic boy, but they wanted to have a secular ceremony. The logistics didn't work out so they are having a Christian minister do the ceremony who has been the pastor of a close friend for many years. Basically none of them ever bring up the subject of religion and I'm content to leave well enough alone.

 

As for your social life taking a hit---------you may need to reconsider who is really a friend and who isn't. What you are describing is referred to in deconversion circles as "conditional" friendship. In other words, some people will only associate with you if you say you believe the same things they do. Trust us all on this-------------you really don't want them as friends, because they aren't.

 

Recently I was sent one of those lame email forwards we've all gotten. This one was sent to me by a woman I've known for over 35 years and who knows I'm an atheist. It was the one most of you have seen about the Texas court case over prayer at a high school football game. It accuses atheists of pissing on the Christian majority in a mostly fundie school district. Only it didn't happen. The people who filed the suit were two religious families who had objections to the specific prayer being used. I hit "Reply All" and sent out a scathing rebuttal, in which I "outed" myself to everyone on her mailing list as an atheist. She sent me an apology for sending me the email. Not for sending it to all the others mind you, just for sending it to me. She still hasn't gotten the message.

 

I got no feedback from any one else that got that message, and there must have been like 40 or more on the list.

 

As one of the other posters in here has already said--------go ahead and send out an email announcement if you like, just be prepared for the flack you might trigger and deal with it. Then sort out who is or isn't a friend as a result. If some don't want to associate with you because of your honesty-----------just say --ta muchly --and move on. You have your whole life ahead of you now, and you will make other friends and acquaintances.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Recently I was sent one of those lame email forwards we've all gotten. This one was sent to me by a woman I've known for over 35 years and who knows I'm an atheist. It was the one most of you have seen about the Texas court case over prayer at a high school football game. It accuses atheists of pissing on the Christian majority in a mostly fundie school district. Only it didn't happen. The people who filed the suit were two religious families who had objections to the specific prayer being used. I hit "Reply All" and sent out a scathing rebuttal, in which I "outed" myself to everyone on her mailing list as an atheist. She sent me an apology for sending me the email. Not for sending it to all the others mind you, just for sending it to me. She still hasn't gotten the message.

 

I got no feedback from any one else that got that message, and there must have been like 40 or more on the list.

 

 

Brava! Same thing has been happening to me and some other exc's -- it's almost a relief to start taking some action against the crap, and what better way to fight it than with the actual facts! Snopes is a great resource for some of it and also a site called BreakTheChain.

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I agree there's no need to make an announcement. As situations arise, just stand your ground. There is nothing wrong with changing your mind about something.

 

If someone should (God forbid!) ask you to pray, you can just say that you've done a lot of thinking and studying and simply don't believe in those things anymore. When invited to church, just say no thanks, I don't go to church anymore.

 

You don't need to win them over, and you don't have to defend your position. You have simply come to a conclusion that you no longer can benefit from the religion. You respect their belief, and demand that they respect yours.

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I agree there's no need to make an announcement. As situations arise, just stand your ground. There is nothing wrong with changing your mind about something.

 

If someone should (God forbid!) ask you to pray, you can just say that you've done a lot of thinking and studying and simply don't believe in those things anymore. When invited to church, just say no thanks, I don't go to church anymore.

 

You don't need to win them over, and you don't have to defend your position. You have simply come to a conclusion that you no longer can benefit from the religion. You respect their belief, and demand that they respect yours.

 

I like this position muchly. But I will disagree with one minor point. I don't respect their beliefs------I only respect their right to hold those beliefs, whatever they are. Because you can certainly count on the fact that they don't respect my beliefs or yours.

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I don't respect their beliefs------I only respect their right to hold those beliefs, whatever they are.

 

That's what I meant. Sorry I was imprecise.

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Surely some people would have been in a similar predicament to what I'm in now. How did you handle it?

 

I told my closest friends over the phone or in person. I told my family personally. I announced to my employer (a leading pastor in the church) that I no longer believed in the Christian God. I resigned my job as a youth pastor. I changed my facebook status. I launched a blog to cover the fallout. Did the whole "debate with Christians" thing for a month. Now I just live my life trying to find the perfect cup of coffee, the most nostalgic rock album, and geographical place thats perfect to experience them both at the same time.

 

Leaving the faith is not easy. Just get used to ignorant people thinking you are ignorant. Once you can be ok with that, and are able to live your life without "winning the argument" with them, you will be fine and they will back off into their self-deluded self-righteous world.

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I don't respect their beliefs------I only respect their right to hold those beliefs, whatever they are.

 

That's what I meant. Sorry I was imprecise.

 

No problem-----------we're good. :grin:

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Leaving the faith is not easy. Just get used to ignorant people thinking you are ignorant. Once you can be ok with that, and are able to live your life without "winning the argument" with them, you will be fine and they will back off into their self-deluded self-righteous world.

 

This is a nice summation of why I don't debate religious people any more. I did it online briefly, and then stopped. I have come to the conclusion that if someone is going to leave their religion, it has to be because of their own doubts and the search for answers to the questions those doubts always generate. Like you did, they have to do their own homework. One of the things I liked about UUA was that they don't do missionary work. For the most part, neither do atheists or agnostics, deists or pantheists as near as I can tell. I will answer honest questions if they are put to me, but I don't evangelize my position to anyone.

 

On the other hand, my background and deconversion was a lot different than yours, and I have to say I've not had any kind of serious fallout over it from anyone either. After reading here and elsewhere some of the horror stories about people getting cut off from their families, or getting a hard time at work or school, I have to say I was pretty lucky in that regard.

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I generally don't announce anything unless the topic comes up and I say I am not religious.

 

It actually did come up at work last Friday, but my coworkers are fairly open-minded and did not freak out. That is perhaps the one thing I actually like about my job besides the cafeteria - my coworkers. My work director, on the other hand, is another story - he is a total micromanager.

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