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AltarEgo

Are You A Wolf In Sheep's Clothing? Living A Double Life? Do Tell.

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I lived sort of a double life for a while. Or at least there was a period of gray for about a year and a half where nobody really pushed the issue, and therefore got no definite answers from me. My dad had been worrying about me for a while before this. I used to work for him, so we'd talk all day about the Bible and spiritual things. He was some sort of christ-figure in our family as he was the one responsible for waking everyone (his brothers, sisters, mom, cousins, etc...) up to realize the world of "spirit" was real and that Jesus was real. Of course I was naturally inquisitive and would ask all the questions about the gaps in the bible's reality. My dad and I would hash these issues out using the Bible, but I couldn't help but notice his reluctant spirit about it all. He worried that satan was playing with my mind, giving me perspectives that relativized the christian faith.

 

About 2 years after I moved away and had a child, my band (of which I am the songwriter), came out with an album. Some of the lyrical content and attitude gave allegorical clues to my loss of faith in Faith, and my general distaste for organized psychotic behavior that evidently brought me to a place of extreme mental distress. When I sent the CD to my dad, I didn't hear from him for 3 weeks (he said he was going to call when he got it and listened to it). Finally I got a hold of him. He was sorry, but "it took me a while to get up off the floor after hearing the album." We had a 3 hour talk where he finally realized that I was done with Christianity. A lot of crying on his part and then of course the whole, "well I just have to trust in the lord that this is just a part of your path to a greater faith in Jesus."

 

As earth-shaking as it was to my dad, he's been the "coolest" of the serious christians about it in my family. For instance, my wife suffered a mental breakdown and stayed at a mental ward for a couple weeks. Her mother (a strong psycho-christian) accused me and my friends of destroying my wife's mind with our "occult practices." "Occult practices" turned out to be the fact that I possessed books by Carl Jung, Ram Dass, some anthropological books about shamanism, etc... She wanted to "clean" our house of all evil objects that are doorways for these demons that are apparently possessing my wife. My mother also believed ( and still believes) that my wife is harboring demons, and everything would be better if someone just drove the demons out!

 

Of course this all sucks now because we're getting a divorce (we still are best friends) and all this "spiritual warfare" is making our parents turn into very neurotic, paranoid nuts who are determined to fuck over the other family.

 

I know that there's no way we could've kept our deconversion quiet, but if our families still thought we were under God's umbrella, 3/4 of the bullshit that's sucking the life out of our lives would be gone. And it sucks to think that the custody of our kids hang in the balance.

 

Christians! jeez!!!

 

Sorry to ramble. I guess my main point is that we should be as wise and patient as possible when dealing with people operating under paranoid christian delusions.

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I wish I could be so out about my life! Props! I am Bi and my partner right now is female. I came out to all my family and friends twelve years ago about my sexual orientation which was easier for me than telling them I'm not a Christian anymore. I am working up the nerve to tell them I'm an athiest now. I'm also a Democrat and we finally have a lesbian mayor in Houston! It seems like the religious people will really have it out for me now LOL. I don't see any point in telling people at work though, it only gives them ammunition (I live in the Bible belt).

 

How did your family take that if you don't mind me asking? And are they accepting, even begrudgingly? I'm just asking since that would seem to be a foot in the door already. Their god calls you an abomination flat out. You can simply follow the line that you obviously believe there is nothing wrong with homosexuality, and that you can not and will not abide an deity that is such a bigot.

 

I live in Tennessee, so I know how bad people in the religious south can be. I'm right there too.

 

Oh yeah, as for the people at work. If they are non affiliated with your family then by all means keep them in the dark. It's your right to not be discriminated, and a don't ask don't tell policy is the best way to keep that from happening.

 

Well my family thinks my bi-sexuality is wrong and that I'm going to hell. They said they love me and but don't like it or agree with my lifestyle. They accept it for the most part especially since they found out it's not a phase. I'm 40 years old and have slept with both women and men since I was 17. My sister is more accepting than the rest and my teenage daughter accepts it 100% and doesn't think it's wrong. Not all christians are against it. There is a group called SoulForce with an interesting take on the bible and homosexuality. Most of my family takes everything so literally and it drive me crazy because I was never a fundamentalist even before becoming an athiest. Although I'm not 100% an athiest because I don't think you can prove a God doesn't exist either. I think we just don't know and can't prove it either way.

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I lived sort of a double life for a while. Or at least there was a period of gray for about a year and a half where nobody really pushed the issue, and therefore got no definite answers from me. My dad had been worrying about me for a while before this. I used to work for him, so we'd talk all day about the Bible and spiritual things. He was some sort of christ-figure in our family as he was the one responsible for waking everyone (his brothers, sisters, mom, cousins, etc...) up to realize the world of "spirit" was real and that Jesus was real. Of course I was naturally inquisitive and would ask all the questions about the gaps in the bible's reality. My dad and I would hash these issues out using the Bible, but I couldn't help but notice his reluctant spirit about it all. He worried that satan was playing with my mind, giving me perspectives that relativized the christian faith.

 

About 2 years after I moved away and had a child, my band (of which I am the songwriter), came out with an album. Some of the lyrical content and attitude gave allegorical clues to my loss of faith in Faith, and my general distaste for organized psychotic behavior that evidently brought me to a place of extreme mental distress. When I sent the CD to my dad, I didn't hear from him for 3 weeks (he said he was going to call when he got it and listened to it). Finally I got a hold of him. He was sorry, but "it took me a while to get up off the floor after hearing the album." We had a 3 hour talk where he finally realized that I was done with Christianity. A lot of crying on his part and then of course the whole, "well I just have to trust in the lord that this is just a part of your path to a greater faith in Jesus."

 

As earth-shaking as it was to my dad, he's been the "coolest" of the serious christians about it in my family. For instance, my wife suffered a mental breakdown and stayed at a mental ward for a couple weeks. Her mother (a strong psycho-christian) accused me and my friends of destroying my wife's mind with our "occult practices." "Occult practices" turned out to be the fact that I possessed books by Carl Jung, Ram Dass, some anthropological books about shamanism, etc... She wanted to "clean" our house of all evil objects that are doorways for these demons that are apparently possessing my wife. My mother also believed ( and still believes) that my wife is harboring demons, and everything would be better if someone just drove the demons out!

 

Of course this all sucks now because we're getting a divorce (we still are best friends) and all this "spiritual warfare" is making our parents turn into very neurotic, paranoid nuts who are determined to fuck over the other family.

 

I know that there's no way we could've kept our deconversion quiet, but if our families still thought we were under God's umbrella, 3/4 of the bullshit that's sucking the life out of our lives would be gone. And it sucks to think that the custody of our kids hang in the balance.

 

Christians! jeez!!!

 

Sorry to ramble. I guess my main point is that we should be as wise and patient as possible when dealing with people operating under paranoid christian delusions.

 

I'm so sorry you are having to go through that. Sometimes I think the hypocrisy and hysteria of the blind leading the blind is just so unbelieveable.

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And get this! I still go to church. Just for the choir. I like the singing, and I like the people. Plus, I think they've picked up on the fact that I'v got one foot out the door, so everytime I miss a week everyone says how much they missed me. But the moment when I realized I wasn't going anywhere for awhile? There's this sweet old man with Alzheimers in the bass section. One week, he was having a particularly bad day: confused about where to sit, what music to pull out, etc. When he shook my hand during the peace, I could tell he was trying to think of something. Then he told me he'd missed me the week before. So yeah...I'll be in this choir for awhile yet.

 

 

One thing i really miss about church is corporate singing. Now I have to go to concerts to get it - its no where near the same.

 

Me too, I miss it a lot. I used to "lead the worship" with my sister and husband years ago and really miss the elation it gave me. I actually sang for my mum's wedding (she's an xian) in the Spring 2008 which was the first time in a number of years and it was a very very strange feeling. in fact I'd go as far as to say it tempted me to return to church.

 

All my immediate family and close friends know my husband is an atheist and that I've been struggling with church and faith for years, but I haven't told many of them specifically that I no longer believe. I can't tell if they have figured it out or not, but non of them ask me about it anymore so I haven't told them. I am beginning to think that I may need to tell my mum and sister though as recently they've said a few things in a way which suggests they think I'm still a Christian but just don't attend church (which was the case for over 18months). I find it really hard as telling them I'm an atheist would obviously upset them and it also makes it more final which I don't feel ready for yet!

 

As for all the people we've once worked with or attended church with I can't be bothered to tell them so if I bump inot them on the street they assume I'm a Christian and I just leave them with that assumption.

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I've been following this thread for weeks now and have found all your posts to be very interesting. I have nothing new to add to all you've already said, except to highlight what so many of you have already noted, that so much of the "bad stuff" that our deconversions have generated is actually from the side of the believers. I'd like nothing better than to live in peace and mutual respect with all my believing friends and family, but they won't let that happen! I'm willing to respectfully tolerate their beliefs. Even though I consider them nothing more than elaborate fairy tales, I don't harp on that when speaking with them. But they never hesitate to make it clear to me that I'm living a delusion authored by the Prince of Evil and designed to lure me to eternal damnation. Some of my old friends still treat me with a modicum of respect, but some literally turn their backs on me now. It happened just the other day at a funeral. I think the guy felt extra spiritual for having the courage to snub me in public. Being proud of being an asshole? Illustrates for me how out of focus some of these people are. He wouldn't have treated just any old "unbeliever" that way, but I'm an apostate, so that makes me exponentially evil and open to special shunning. Ah well, that's his problem, not mine.

 

I will add here that having been in the full-time Christian ministry for close to forty years, my exodus from this evangelical world took a good many years. I kept looking for answers to the many questions that fed my incipient unbelief, but I couldn't find any that rang true with my sense of intellectual integrity. They all sounded like constructs, not genuine answers. My job, my marriage, my family, my livlihood, my role in life and my reputation were all tied up in my being able to come to terms with my questioning and maintain my faith, but in the end it was a choice between honesty and hypocrisy. So, yeah, I spent a number of years putting on the fuzzy fleece every morning before I finally had the cojones to admit openly what I had known for some time was true: I just don't believe that stuff anymore.

 

What still amazes me is how so many of my Christian friends treat my defection from the faith as an act of my will, something evil I chose to do to them and to my parishioners. They're the first to preach that faith is "not of ourselves but a gift from God." If I couldn't muster it no matter how hard I tried, it wasn't MY fault. It was GOD who just wouldn't give me the gift, right? God knows, I WANTED to believe! I surely didn't WANT to do all this damage to my family, my church and myself. But if it's not "of him that strives, but of the Lord who has mercy", why do they blame us for not being able to obtain that mercy, for just not being able to keep it up once it's become a charade? Ah well, I'm delighted to be free of the whole self-propogating delusion. It's five years now and I've never regreted it for a moment!

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I came out to my teenage daughter and told her that I'm an athiest yesterday. She took it well and said she still loves me. I told her that she didn't have to go to mass anymore if she didn't want to. She said she likes church and I told her that I would still go with her if she wants me to (once I didn't want to go, said I was tired, and she said she didn't want to go by herself). I took all the crosses down in the house. I went to the bookstore and bought a book "godless" by Dan Barker. It is really well written. He was a prominent minister who became an atheist. I was amazed the bookstore had a huge long row of christian books. I had to hunt and peck the philosophy and nature/science section to find books on atheism.

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Congratulations on your exodus. It's no small thing.

 

I agree with your post. I didn't have to live my apostacy quite as out-loud as you did. I wasn't a clergy member, and I'm in my mid-20s so people primarly treat me like this is a twenty-something crisis I'm going through. :) Except, it's been 6 years, and I'm the happiest I've ever been without the Christian god. So in my mind, I'm not likely going back.

 

Your comment about the choice between "honesty and hypocrisy" - that's dead on. I think a lot of people in these forums feel the same way. My Christian friends think I've left largely because of the church and church people (how backstabbing and gossipy it all was), but I've had a fundamental change in my belief structure. I can't cede to the thought of an all-knowing, all-divine entity anymore. This may not be exactly PC of me to say, but I feel like I've had a come out of the closet experience about my faith (akin to a homosexual's coming out). I recognized something that was inside of me that was different than the convention of the rest of my life and I struggled with it and finally I was honest.

 

I've been following this thread for weeks now and have found all your posts to be very interesting. I have nothing new to add to all you've already said, except to highlight what so many of you have already noted, that so much of the "bad stuff" that our deconversions have generated is actually from the side of the believers. I'd like nothing better than to live in peace and mutual respect with all my believing friends and family, but they won't let that happen! I'm willing to respectfully tolerate their beliefs. Even though I consider them nothing more than elaborate fairy tales, I don't harp on that when speaking with them. But they never hesitate to make it clear to me that I'm living a delusion authored by the Prince of Evil and designed to lure me to eternal damnation. Some of my old friends still treat me with a modicum of respect, but some literally turn their backs on me now. It happened just the other day at a funeral. I think the guy felt extra spiritual for having the courage to snub me in public. Being proud of being an asshole? Illustrates for me how out of focus some of these people are. He wouldn't have treated just any old "unbeliever" that way, but I'm an apostate, so that makes me exponentially evil and open to special shunning. Ah well, that's his problem, not mine.

 

I will add here that having been in the full-time Christian ministry for close to forty years, my exodus from this evangelical world took a good many years. I kept looking for answers to the many questions that fed my incipient unbelief, but I couldn't find any that rang true with my sense of intellectual integrity. They all sounded like constructs, not genuine answers. My job, my marriage, my family, my livlihood, my role in life and my reputation were all tied up in my being able to come to terms with my questioning and maintain my faith, but in the end it was a choice between honesty and hypocrisy. So, yeah, I spent a number of years putting on the fuzzy fleece every morning before I finally had the cojones to admit openly what I had known for some time was true: I just don't believe that stuff anymore.

 

What still amazes me is how so many of my Christian friends treat my defection from the faith as an act of my will, something evil I chose to do to them and to my parishioners. They're the first to preach that faith is "not of ourselves but a gift from God." If I couldn't muster it no matter how hard I tried, it wasn't MY fault. It was GOD who just wouldn't give me the gift, right? God knows, I WANTED to believe! I surely didn't WANT to do all this damage to my family, my church and myself. But if it's not "of him that strives, but of the Lord who has mercy", why do they blame us for not being able to obtain that mercy, for just not being able to keep it up once it's become a charade? Ah well, I'm delighted to be free of the whole self-propogating delusion. It's five years now and I've never regreted it for a moment!

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I was open about leaving christianity to my family, because I was under the impression that it wouldn't really upset anyone. My mother decided to become very concerned though, and didn't like me trying out the baha'i faith (said it was "too muslim", despite the fact that many baha'is in Iran have been killed for not being muslim...hm). Then she found out later that I was pagan and studying witchcraft - and all of a sudden, my hippie, pot-smoking, Reagan-cursing mother was all hellfire on me. I did try to hide my pagan books and things, just because I was having a rough time with my mom, and somehow knew she wouldn't get it, but I didn't think she'd kick me out of the house. I was 17.

Even if it was rough telling my mom I didn't want to be baptised, and seeing my sister's confusion about me not believing in the bible, after years of lying to myself about believing that crap, I just couldn't lie any more. In any case, I'm an extremely bad liar. I can only be me.

My family is now pretty well fine with it, weird pagan tattoos and altars and all. My current boyfriend has only known the openly pagan me, so no problems there. I never really made friends at church or at the fundie school back in jr high and half of high school. At this point in my life, I figure if someone can't handle me the way I am, they can screw off. Not that I needlessly bring up religion in conversations or anything, but I don't hide it, or lie about it at all. I just don't see a point.

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I don't pretend to be a christian, I just try to avoid the issue. I rarely go to church anymore, although I do go when visiting family. I guess some may consider church attendance in that scenario to be deceptive, but I don't act religious at all, I simply don't want to make an issue out of it and rock the boat, so I go.

 

So, I wouldn't say that I'm a wolf in sheep's clothing (or a sheep in wolf's clothing), but neither do I express what I really think now.

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What still amazes me is how so many of my Christian friends treat my defection from the faith as an act of my will, something evil I chose to do to them and to my parishioners. They're the first to preach that faith is "not of ourselves but a gift from God." If I couldn't muster it no matter how hard I tried, it wasn't MY fault. It was GOD who just wouldn't give me the gift, right? God knows, I WANTED to believe! I surely didn't WANT to do all this damage to my family, my church and myself. But if it's not "of him that strives, but of the Lord who has mercy", why do they blame us for not being able to obtain that mercy, for just not being able to keep it up once it's become a charade?

 

Logic isn't exactly the greatest asset of christianity, is it?

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I went to the bookstore and bought a book "godless" by Dan Barker. It is really well written. He was a prominent minister who became an atheist.

 

I just read that book a month or so ago. It is indeed well written, for the most part. I did find the chapter "Dear Theologian" to be a bit corny in approach, so I skipped over parts of it. As far as his reasoning, though, other than a bible text or two taken out of context, I would say that his arguments are good and solid.

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My extended family knows nada and its probably best to keep it that way (considering they're unfortunately stereotypical Hispanics with Virgin Mary/Jesus shrines in their houses).

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I just read that book a month or so ago. It is indeed well written, for the most part. I did find the chapter "Dear Theologian" to be a bit corny in approach, so I skipped over parts of it. As far as his reasoning, though, other than a bible text or two taken out of context, I would say that his arguments are good and solid.

I've tried to find Godless at the bookstore but I haven't found any copies of it yet. I do listen to the FFRF podcast regularly though and I enjoy Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor's discussions on religion and they always have interesting interviews. As for me, I'm out to my sister as an atheist but I haven't come out as gay to her yet. For some reason, it's harder for me to come out as gay to her than it is to come out as an atheist even though I know she's supportive of gay rights and she would accept me. My sister accepted me for who I was but she's a liberal Christian who doesn't believe in hell and she's also hiding her beliefs from our parents. I'm in the closet to my parents and the rest of my family. Most everyone in my family are fundamentalist Christians who would hate me if they found out I'm gay and an atheist, so I have to keep it hidden from them. I don't really care for most of my family anyway so I don't care if I ever tell them. I have to keep it a secret because I'm afraid my family will kick me out of the house and I won't have anywhere to go and I would have to kiss my college education goodbye. I am in college now though and trying to get out of here to be on my own. There's one guy at my parents' church who knows I'm gay. He was one of my former Sunday school teachers and I came out to him as gay when I started doubting my faith and was trying to keep my faith. I also came out to this other guy who used to go to my parents' church who was a psychiatrist that claimed to be able to "cure" gays, but he moved and doesn't go there anymore. Other than those two Christians, nobody else at my parents' church knows I'm gay and nobody other than my sister knows I'm an atheist. I also came out as gay to my best friend when I was in high school but I was still struggling with my faith then and wasn't an atheist yet. I haven't seen her in a long time so she doesn't know I'm an atheist. She was a Presbyterian but she was a very open minded and non-judgmental person but we rarely ever talked about religion.

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I've tried to find Godless at the bookstore but I haven't found any copies of it yet. I do listen to the FFRF podcast regularly though and I enjoy Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor's discussions on religion and they always have interesting interviews.

 

I bought the book online at Amazon.com.

 

I haven't gotten to listen to their radio program, though. Maybe I should search for it on YouTube, I'd bet there are postings of it there.

 

As for me, I'm out to my sister as an atheist but I haven't come out as gay to her yet.... I'm in the closet to my parents and the rest of my family. Most everyone in my family are fundamentalist Christians who would hate me if they found out I'm gay and an atheist, so I have to keep it hidden from them.

 

Other than my wife, I haven't come out as a nonbeliever to any of my family. I don't pretend to be a believer, I just avoid the subject. One nice thing is that we live 500 miles away from my family, so it's easy to avoid the issue, since I only see them a couple times a year. My wife's family is closer, but I've still avoided the issue with them. They're all well-intentioned people, but I don't want to rock the boat by making an issue over their silly beliefs (beliefs which I used to hold myself, of course).

 

Ironically, I can't even come out as an atheist to myself! Haha! I keep calling myself an agnostic, which is technically true, but the concept of god has come to sound rather superstitious to me. I'm currently reading a deist book that challenges the bible ("God vs. The Bible"), and so far most of the biblical arguments have been good. The existence of god is just assumed, though, and while I like the book, I'm not impressed with such god-assumption. I guess I'm pretty close to an atheist, I just have trouble admitting to myself that I am an atheist.

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I haven't gotten to listen to their radio program, though. Maybe I should search for it on YouTube, I'd bet there are postings of it there.

You can listen to their radio show for free from the official Freedom From Religion Foundation site at ffrf.org

 

Ironically, I can't even come out as an atheist to myself! Haha! I keep calling myself an agnostic, which is technically true, but the concept of god has come to sound rather superstitious to me. I'm currently reading a deist book that challenges the bible ("God vs. The Bible"), and so far most of the biblical arguments have been good. The existence of god is just assumed, though, and while I like the book, I'm not impressed with such god-assumption. I guess I'm pretty close to an atheist, I just have trouble admitting to myself that I am an atheist.

You don't have to rush yourself into accepting the atheist label. When I first deconverted from Christianity, I had identified as an agnostic too before accepting I was an atheist. It was mainly for two reasons, one being that I couldn't understand at the time how the universe could exist without having been created. The idea of God had been ingrained into my mind for so long that the idea of the universe just existing on its own seemed too incomrphensible to grasp but at the same time, I didn't have any evidence God existed. I also was afraid of using the atheist label because I had misconceptions of atheists being just as dogmatic as fundamentalists and I didn't want to jump into something that was going to be just as dogmatic as what I had left behind and be more or less the same. But I didn't know much about atheists then and was basing this on misconceptions I had of atheists being the stereotypical angry atheists. I started reading more atheist literature and interacting with the atheists at ex-c and realized atheists were just oridanary people like everyone else and there's nothing about atheism in itself that's inherently dogmatic. Without evidence for the existence of God, I saw no reason to keep holding out hope. I'll change my mind if I'm presented with evidence of God's existence, but until then the atheist label fits me best. But it was a gradual process that I didn't try to rush, so just take it one day at a time and don't worry about the labels.

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I just came back from Sweden, and I learned that only a few know, but many of them suspect. My mom kept on saying, "You know the way back," with some religious undertone to it.

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You can listen to their radio show for free from the official Freedom From Religion Foundation site at ffrf.org

 

Cool, I shoulda thought of that. Thanks.

 

You don't have to rush yourself into accepting the atheist label. When I first deconverted from Christianity, I had identified as an agnostic too before accepting I was an atheist. It was mainly for two reasons, one being that I couldn't understand at the time how the universe could exist without having been created. The idea of God had been ingrained into my mind for so long that the idea of the universe just existing on its own seemed too incomrphensible to grasp but at the same time, I didn't have any evidence God existed. I also was afraid of using the atheist label because I had misconceptions of atheists being just as dogmatic as fundamentalists and I didn't want to jump into something that was going to be just as dogmatic as what I had left behind and be more or less the same. But I didn't know much about atheists then and was basing this on misconceptions I had of atheists being the stereotypical angry atheists. I started reading more atheist literature and interacting with the atheists at ex-c and realized atheists were just oridanary people like everyone else and there's nothing about atheism in itself that's inherently dogmatic. Without evidence for the existence of God, I saw no reason to keep holding out hope. I'll change my mind if I'm presented with evidence of God's existence, but until then the atheist label fits me best. But it was a gradual process that I didn't try to rush, so just take it one day at a time and don't worry about the labels.

 

I fully agree that many atheists don't fit the stereotype that theists project onto them. The ones I've met personally are pretty nice people, and (with only a few exceptions) the ones I've encountered online seem to be as well.

 

I've been calling myself an agnostic for some 6-7 years now, so I haven't rushed anything. I am definitely atheistic regarding the gods of religions, so I would imagine that if a god exists, it would be something along the lines of deism. Yet that seems unlikely, because if there was a creator god, why wouldn't he/she/they/it want to have continued involvement with his/her/their/its creation? Yet the religions claiming that god is involved in the world are, as best I can tell, all just putting forth man's creation of god. So, in that sense I guess I am an atheist. Maybe I'm beginning to admit it to myself now.

 

The next book I plan to read is The God Delusion, which I just got last week. Since that's supposed to be one of the definitive atheist books on the market now, it may very well push me to accept the "atheist" label.

 

What I dread the most about atheism is how it's perceived by theists, and how difficult it would be to admit to others that I am an atheist. But, in reality, perhaps it wouldn't be so difficult after all, since all the theists I know personally are christians, and I'm already an atheist with regard to the christian god. So, whether or not I come out as an atheist or an agnostic, I don't believe in their god either way.

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I just came back from Sweden, and I learned that only a few know, but many of them suspect. My mom kept on saying, "You know the way back," with some religious undertone to it.

 

I assume you didn't tell her about your position on these forums?

 

I'm sitting here shaking my head at my own sister's very confident statement not so long ago. She told me--didn't ask but told me--that I haven't yet blasphemed the holy spirit. She reiterated the assurance that there really was still hope for me because I had not yet blasphemed the holy spirit. How she knows what all I've written on these forums and elsewhere is far beyond my comprehension.

 

For me, it's just good to know that she still--or once more--believes in me as a decent human being. I say "once more" because there was a time when I first deconverted when my entire family seemed to be against me.That was three years ago and attitudes have changed since then. They still think I have to reconvert but they trust this will happen in due time.

 

Okay-doke, if that is what it takes to allow them to sleep at night.

 

I do not understand the concept that my personal convictions are anybody else's business. Thus, I am very much a "wolf in sheep's clothing," if outward appearance is what makes a person a "sheep" or a "wolf." I continue to wear aspects of the traditional Mennonite garb with which I was raised. For me, it is a cultural identity thing and I love my cultural background. Normally, Mennonite dress=conspicuous orthodox believer of some sort. I don't care. That's not what it means for me. People who really want to know ask me and I tell them.

 

However, I don't allow my dress to keep me from doing the things I really want to do. I have made enough changes so as to indicate that I am no longer a devoute horse and buggy Mennonite. I dropped the religious head covering mandated by Paul. That was a traumatic enough change of my personal identity made five or six years ago and I don't see myself making a bigger change any time soon. Probably never.

 

People who don't want to know what I believe are wise not to start a discussion on theology, God, or the history of the Bible or Christianity. The day is coming (as I become better educated in evolution) when creationists are best off not mentioning origins of the universe. Jesus as a mythical versus historical figure is also a contraversial issue that I am increasingly willing to take up.

 

Sometimes I decide to choose my battles. I find that mostly, battles with Christians end with most of the mud on myself. On the other hand, if we take Richard Dawkins's perspective, for atheists and agnostics to make their non-theistic beliefs known is a major step in the right direction. It clarifies for theists and atheists alike that theism is not the only viable option in life.

 

Given the world-wide movement of Intelligent Design (ID) and the general devaluation of the progress of knowledge, I see this (promoting the viability of non-theistic beliefs) as perhaps one of the positive things individuals can do on the grassroots level for the good of humanity. I may be wrong, but I see ID as worse than deluded and dishonest--I see it as destructive.

 

The time has not yet been right to share my convictions about ID in face to face conversation. The one time that I wished to do so, I was talking with a person more knowledgeable in science than I was. I realized that I could not defend my position if he wished to attack it, and I was sure he would. I considered it wiser to let it go than to appear to be defending an indefensible position because I knew that my position was defensible. My family, the creationists I talk with on the most regular basis, has taken the position of "Don't talk religion for the sake of family peace."

 

Another paradoxical/contraversial part of my identity is my education. I suppose for most people their education might not be so important. For me to get education beyond Grade 8 was social suicide. My family and former church--which I had to leave in order to get this education--thought I was going to hell so I did not think deconversion from religion altogether would change anything for them. Incredibly, it did. Apparently, deconverting from religion altogether was worse than just going to hell for leaving their church.

 

For me, the discipline of university education was the therapy I needed to get on with life. I chose courses for two purposes: 1) to meet my chosen programs, and 2) to understand what happened to me. Understandably, perhaps, there was a major focus on religion and its role in the life of society and the individual. I was at a secular liberal arts school for one degree and seminary for the one in theology. This seminary differed fundamentally with the ones attended by most members of these forums (who attended seminaries) in that it accepted the scientific method of biblical interpretation. Fundies would not accept this seminary as "brothers in Christ."

 

So when I tell people that I have a Masters degree in theology, I think they automatically assume that I am a Christian. Well, the horse and buggy people don't because for them any extra-biblical sermonizing is suspect. But I am living in the city now and the average person equates the study of theology with serious religion.

 

I think that completes my "wolf in sheep's clothing" profile.

 

  1. I wear Christian clothing minus one item.
  2. In face-to-face relationships I keep my personal beliefs mostly to myself. (I live alone; my father and siblings know; mother passed away but did know.)
  3. By way of introducing myself, I might tell people that I did a degree in theology.
  4. I do not enlighten people in their probable assumption that I am a devout Christian.
  5. I participate in public low-key (non-activist) humanist/freethinker events in the community.
  6. My standard "coming out confession" is worded thus: My search for truth has taken me outside Christianity.

I have felt a certain degree of obligation to alert people of my atheism--a sort of "unclean" warning on one hand, and a sort of "sharing the good news" on the other hand, but as time passes this need also seems to pass. I want to just be accepted as a person in my own right. Whether or not I am given the right to think, my brain persists in doing so. I've been trying to figure out, if this were the Middle Ages, whether or not I would have survived the stake despite my woolly fleece. Those carnivorous teeth might have given me away. You know, as in the story of Little Red Riding Hood.:shrug:

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Only my husband knows so far and he is a hardcore Xtian and my mother knows I am "over the church thing" but she still thinks I believe. I guess I am technically a wolf in sheeps clothing because I still go to church on Sunday and next week I am hosting a women's bible study at my house. If I had it my way, I wouldn't even waste my time with any of it. I still stay involved for my husbands sake to keep the peace so I don't lose him too. It's kinda funny because I had a friend over the other day and we were drinking beers in the garage and I was paranoid someone from church would drive by(they always do) and I would get the boot from the women.

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I told my Mom, and tried to be as kind and benevolent as possible. She cried, and when she spoke from her faith, I listened quietly, and expressed my desire for a continuing relationship. I haven't told anyone else yet. I'll probably start drafting a letter after this.

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I have felt a certain degree of obligation to alert people of my atheism--a sort of "unclean" warning on one hand, and a sort of "sharing the good news" on the other hand, but as time passes this need also seems to pass. I want to just be accepted as a person in my own right. Whether or not I am given the right to think, my brain persists in doing so. I've been trying to figure out, if this were the Middle Ages, whether or not I would have survived the stake despite my woolly fleece. Those carnivorous teeth might have given me away. You know, as in the story of Little Red Riding Hood.:shrug:

You live in Canada right, Ruby? If you don't mind me asking, how do people in Canada react if they find out you're an atheist? I've just always wondered if atheists don't get as bad of a reaction in Canada as in the U.S. since I always hear people talk about how godless and liberal Canada is but I've never lived there to know what it's like. I've only known from this one lady at my parents' church who moved from Canada down here to the bible belt that she said up there it was considered impolite to discuss religion publicly with people. Then again, this lady is also a fundamentalist, so I don't know if her perception of how people perceive religious discussion differs from liberal Canadians.

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I always hear people talk about how godless and liberal Canada is but I've never lived there to know what it's like. I've only known from this one lady at my parents' church who moved from Canada down here to the bible belt that she said up there it was considered impolite to discuss religion publicly with people. Then again, this lady is also a fundamentalist, so I don't know if her perception of how people perceive religious discussion differs from liberal Canadians.

 

Depends on where you are. (In fact, I have a PDF of a really good academic journal article about fundies in Canada that happens to be sitting somewhere in my hard drive, if you're interested.) They have about half the number of fundies/evangelicals that we do, which is still astronomical by world standards unless you count certain nations in Sub-Saharan Africa. The main difference is this: they know their place. Fundies/evangelicals in Canada frame themselves as a "minority" among minorities (religious, ethnic, sexual, or otherwise) who are just as worthy of respect, protection, and consideration as any other. Whereas in this country, the Yoooonited States, they act like they fucking own the place. That's the difference.

 

Also, this one Canadian friend of mine, she went to a small college in some inland rural stretch of British Columbia. The way she described it, it was very much like our Bible Belt. For example, she went into a hair salon to get her hair done. The hairdresser was all chatty and friendly and then she dropped "where do you go to church?" Well, she's an atheist. She gave a diplomatic answer, and the hairdresser instantly went cold and quiet as a statue. Just like in the South: "so where do you go to church?"

 

Also, Alberta is their version of Texas, but with less guns and no death penalty. Everything else -- cows, oil, and Jebus -- is there.

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The hairdresser was all chatty and friendly and then she dropped "where do you go to church?" Well, she's an atheist. She gave a diplomatic answer, and the hairdresser instantly went cold and quiet as a statue. Just like in the South: "so where do you go to church?"

I just thought of another possible response to these invasive questions. "I go to a very private church. I'm both the minister and the entire congregation." I wonder what the response would be. :)

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The hairdresser was all chatty and friendly and then she dropped "where do you go to church?" Well, she's an atheist. She gave a diplomatic answer, and the hairdresser instantly went cold and quiet as a statue. Just like in the South: "so where do you go to church?"

I just thought of another possible response to these invasive questions. "I go to a very private church. I'm both the minister and the entire congregation." I wonder what the response would be. :)

 

I like that :HaHa:

 

I'm so glad I live in the UK when I read some of these threads. Whilst my family and old xian friends are clearly upset about the fact I no longer go to church and am on my way to hell, no body else gives a shit. I don't think anyone has ever assumed or asked me where I go to church, except for when I've been visiting a church and they understandably think I'm one of them!

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I just thought of another possible response to these invasive questions. "I go to a very private church. I'm both the minister and the entire congregation." I wonder what the response would be. :)

 

I guess it would be going a bit too far to add, "Hell, at my church I'm even God!" :grin:

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