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I Tried To Come Out To My Friends


VeryBerry
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I attended a wedding ceremony at my former church yesterday. I carefully chose to wear a dress with a plunging neckline just to see the reaction of the older women (sorry, the devil told me to do it ;-) I was a little nervous about seeing the choir members whom I sang with for about ten years. I must add that before I went to the wedding, I decided to tell the church members the truth about my deconversion. However, I found myself avoiding the topic of religion altogether. When some concerned ladies asked me where "I worship", I informed them that I don't go to church anymore. To my surprise, most of the women quickly changed the topic; whereas others offered to counsel me. One woman hugged me after she heard the news and she promised to pray for me.

 

It was very difficult for me to tell the people that I used to pray, sing, and worship with that I have abandoned the faith. I only told them that I don't go to church anymore. I hope that some day I will muster the courage to tell those who are seemingly concerned with the "1 current state of my walk with Christ" that I am no longer a Christian.

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I attended a wedding ceremony at my former church yesterday. I carefully chose to wear a dress with a plunging neckline just to see the reaction of the older woman (sorry, the devil told me to do it ;-) I was a little nervous about seeing the choir members whom I sang with for about ten years. I must add that before I went to the wedding, I decided to tell the church members the truth about my deconversion. However, I found myself avoiding the topic of religion altogether. When some concerned ladies asked me where "I worship", I informed them that I don't go to church anymore. To my surprise, most of the women quickly changed the topic, whereas others offered to counsel me. One woman hugged me after she heard the news and she promised to pray for me.

 

It was very difficult for me to tell the people that I used to pray, sing, and worship with that I have abandoned the faith. I only told them that I don't go to church anymore. I hope that some day I will muster the courage to tell those who are seemingly concerned with the "1 current state of my walk with Christ" that I am no longer a Christian.

 

I pretty much just tell people I am not attending church. Beyond that there is no discussion. I don't know that I really want any. I know what I would hear.

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I'm the same as you - I often go to situations where I fully intend to be open and honest about my loss of faith but then end up totally avoiding it and only saying 'oh I no longer go to church' if asked. I think that really that's all that people need to know.

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@ Freespirit and Dichotomy,

 

I thought I was prepared to tell people that I don't believe in the biblegod anymore, but I didn't want to get into heated debates with devout Christians. I found that I used avoidance strategies when people try to "minister to me" because if I tell them the truth, they will be crushed.

 

Last week, I had to listen to my mother's speech about how important it is to go to church. She told me that the neighbors will know that I lost my testimony. I answered that " I don't give a flying fart about what the neighbors think of me. They don't pay my mortgage." My mother can't believe that I am still 'blessed' despite the fact that I stopped attending church. I guess Christians expect the lives of those who have abandoned the faith to fall apart. I still can't believe that I used to be convinced that backsliders will suffer great if they leave the faith. What a load of crap!

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Unless there is an innate need to come out and tell them, I would simply move on.

 

Church friends are no better than pub friends.

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I think that making a point of telling former friends who aren't that interested how you're no longer a Christian can be kind of of pushing your beliefs in other people's faces. If a friend who you were no longer close to told you she had become a Christian and you weren't really interested in getting into a discussion at that time, so changed the subject, you wouldn't want her to keep pushing you to understand the exact extent of her belief.

 

Responding honestly to questions, standing up for yourself when you're challenged, and declining "counseling" is respectful without seeming ashamed of your non-belief. When people ask if you want counseling or if they can pray for you, it would be appropriate to let them know that you no longer believe that way or that you've thought carefully about your need for church and decided it shouldn't be part of your life.

 

As far as your mother and people who are more nosy or intrusive are concerned though, developing the courage to tell them you're no longer a Christian would be a good thing, IMO.

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IMO, a wedding, funeral, or other event (unless it's my own lol) is not the time to be making a proclamation of my beliefs. I avoid the topic if it comes up or just say that "I'm not attending any church." Granted, I also don't pretend to pray or sing religious songs - I simply sit there quietly until things are done.

 

I've actually never had anyone confront me at one of these types of events, or they go with the pat answer and leave it at that. Then again, I'm not the warm and fuzzy time to begin with, so most people don't feel the need to have lengthy discussions with me about it, or feel the need to get all personal :P

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I attended a wedding ceremony at my former church yesterday. I carefully chose to wear a dress with a plunging neckline just to see the reaction of the older women (sorry, the devil told me to do it ;-) I was a little nervous about seeing the choir members whom I sang with for about ten years. I must add that before I went to the wedding, I decided to tell the church members the truth about my deconversion. However, I found myself avoiding the topic of religion altogether. When some concerned ladies asked me where "I worship", I informed them that I don't go to church anymore. To my surprise, most of the women quickly changed the topic; whereas others offered to counsel me. One woman hugged me after she heard the news and she promised to pray for me.

 

It was very difficult for me to tell the people that I used to pray, sing, and worship with that I have abandoned the faith. I only told them that I don't go to church anymore. I hope that some day I will muster the courage to tell those who are seemingly concerned with the "1 current state of my walk with Christ" that I am no longer a Christian.

 

Hi VeryBerry! Glad to have you with us! Welcome. I am still in your position. My replies always have to do with how much I know this person, if I am in the mood to talk, do I have the time to talk and how much do I want to tell them? Sometimes, I tell them I am taking a break from the church; sometimes I actually tell them (If I have the time and I am in the mood) that I am a 'non - believer' with the 'Doubting Thomas Syndrome'. Sometimes I say nothing and let them pray for me. I never use the word atheist. Just can't do it right now.

 

Maybe there will come a time when all the folks in my town will know......:shrug: (and yours) You tell one... and then they tell one..... and then they tell one and on............And then..............We won't have to tell anybody!!! :grin:

 

Best of wishes to you, my friend.

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I think that making a point of telling former friends who aren't that interested how you're no longer a Christian can be kind of of pushing your beliefs in other people's faces. If a friend who you were no longer close to told you she had become a Christian and you weren't really interested in getting into a discussion at that time, so changed the subject, you wouldn't want her to keep pushing you to understand the exact extent of her belief.

 

Responding honestly to questions, standing up for yourself when you're challenged, and declining "counseling" is respectful without seeming ashamed of your non-belief. When people ask if you want counseling or if they can pray for you, it would be appropriate to let them know that you no longer believe that way or that you've thought carefully about your need for church and decided it shouldn't be part of your life.

 

As far as your mother and people who are more nosy or intrusive are concerned though, developing the courage to tell them you're no longer a Christian would be a good thing, IMO.

 

 

I should have been more specific in the original post. I wrote the post on my Iphone, so editing it wasn't easy. I didn't make it a point of telling my former choir members that I don't go to church anymore. I was prepared to tell them that I don't attend chuch anymore. I knew that the question would come up since most of the members who have left the church ended up attending other churches. I didn't want to lie by telling them that I just visit a different church every Sunday. I wanted to be honest. Interestingly, the women I sat with did not mention God or Jesus in their conversatiosn. They mostly talked about other couplse who were on the brink of divorce; who had a baby out of wedlock; who is who and so on. Well, it was mostly gossip.

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I attended a wedding ceremony at my former church yesterday. I carefully chose to wear a dress with a plunging neckline just to see the reaction of the older women (sorry, the devil told me to do it ;-) I was a little nervous about seeing the choir members whom I sang with for about ten years. I must add that before I went to the wedding, I decided to tell the church members the truth about my deconversion. However, I found myself avoiding the topic of religion altogether. When some concerned ladies asked me where "I worship", I informed them that I don't go to church anymore. To my surprise, most of the women quickly changed the topic; whereas others offered to counsel me. One woman hugged me after she heard the news and she promised to pray for me.

 

It was very difficult for me to tell the people that I used to pray, sing, and worship with that I have abandoned the faith. I only told them that I don't go to church anymore. I hope that some day I will muster the courage to tell those who are seemingly concerned with the "1 current state of my walk with Christ" that I am no longer a Christian.

 

Hi VeryBerry! Glad to have you with us! Welcome. I am still in your position. My replies always have to do with how much I know this person, if I am in the mood to talk, do I have the time to talk and how much do I want to tell them? Sometimes, I tell them I am taking a break from the church; sometimes I actually tell them (If I have the time and I am in the mood) that I am a 'non - believer' with the 'Doubting Thomas Syndrome'. Sometimes I say nothing and let them pray for me. I never use the word atheist. Just can't do it right now.

 

Maybe there will come a time when all the folks in my town will know......:shrug: (and yours) You tell one... and then they tell one..... and then they tell one and on............And then..............We won't have to tell anybody!!! :grin:

 

Best of wishes to you, my friend.

 

Hey Margee,

 

Thanks for the welcome. I am not that new to the forums. I have been posting here for about a year now. Thanks for your advice I used to tell people who inquired about my walk with God that I was a "church hopper," but I couldn't lie any longer.

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IMO, a wedding, funeral, or other event (unless it's my own lol) is not the time to be making a proclamation of my beliefs. I avoid the topic if it comes up or just say that "I'm not attending any church." Granted, I also don't pretend to pray or sing religious songs - I simply sit there quietly until things are done.

 

I've actually never had anyone confront me at one of these types of events, or they go with the pat answer and leave it at that. Then again, I'm not the warm and fuzzy time to begin with, so most people don't feel the need to have lengthy discussions with me about it, or feel the need to get all personal :P

 

 

I did try to avoid the topic, but it seemed like everyone wanted to know which church I am attending now. They even asked me why I had a glow--"there must be a new guy". I still receive prayer requests, countless emails from concerned christians, and text messages about the goodness of Jesus. I ignore most of them. One woman claimed that God gave her a burden for me and she needed to speak to me ASAP. I ignored her emails. I don't have a facebook page anymore, so I am kind of hard to reach.

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IMO, a wedding, funeral, or other event (unless it's my own lol) is not the time to be making a proclamation of my beliefs. I avoid the topic if it comes up or just say that "I'm not attending any church." Granted, I also don't pretend to pray or sing religious songs - I simply sit there quietly until things are done.

 

I've actually never had anyone confront me at one of these types of events, or they go with the pat answer and leave it at that. Then again, I'm not the warm and fuzzy time to begin with, so most people don't feel the need to have lengthy discussions with me about it, or feel the need to get all personal :P

 

 

I did try to avoid the topic, but it seemed like everyone wanted to know which church I am attending now. They even asked me why I had a glow--"there must be a new guy". I still receive prayer requests, countless emails from concerned christians, and text messages about the goodness of Jesus. I ignore most of them. One woman claimed that God gave her a burden for me and she needed to speak to me ASAP. I ignored her emails. I don't have a facebook page anymore, so I am kind of hard to reach.

 

Ya, thankfully I haven't had to deal with too many people from previous churches, even at these kinds of events (at least not yet) and since I have "come out" to family and close/lifetime friends (and on FB), I haven't had to deal with too much of it outside of those experiences.

 

My In-Laws (and my entire "in-family") still may present a potential issue since my DH hasn't bothered to inform them that we are no longer Christians - even though he's still a diest while I'm an atheist, it does get a little annoying to still be getting "christian" cards, emails, and well-wishes from his family. He claims it never comes up in conversation with them...I think he just doesn't want to deal with it, and doesn't care if it annoys me to still get that stuff. Oh well, it's his family - I deal with mine, he deals with his. I must say that I'm NOT looking forward to the first time we actually see anyone of them again (haven't seen his family in nearly 7 years), since I'm sure it's going to come up then...and I wouldn't be surprised if I end up being the one having to deal with the situation.

 

Sorry to get off topic, though it sort of applies. Once I "came out" to family, I ran into a LOT less questions from other people. Some are still annoying about it and bring up all kinds of topics where they start talking about what "god did for them" but I just ignore the conversations and move on. I don't feed them, but I don't confront it all the time either unless it's a direct question.

 

"I'm content with where I'm at" works well too - they read into it, but hey, that's on them.

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Unless there is an innate need to come out and tell them, I would simply move on.

 

Good advice, LivingLife. I told my mother I was agnostic, and I've regretted it ever since, just because of the awkwardness and such. I'm certainly not going to tell her or any of my other family that I'm an atheist. I would say only tell people who you know can be accepting of your deconversion, instead of trying to get you involved with christianity again. In my experience, I've found friends, true friends, to be far more accepting than family, but your experience may be different.

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Hi. I'm new to the forums. I'm so glad I found this site, I think it was linked to from an Atheist Experience clip on Youtube.

 

I am very lucky that my family are all atheist or agnostic. However, pretty much all my friends, including my best friends, are Bible-believing Christians, some you would probably call fundamentalist. It's been about 8 months to a year since I properly gave up my faith, which was an Evangelical Christian one, complete with adult baptism about 7 months in.

 

I've been working through telling family and friends gradually, and still have a lot of people I haven't told. It is really hard especially when you remember what you used to think about what happens to people who die a non-believer. But then believers also learn to deal with it, because the majority of people in the world supposedly have this fate and they manage to get on with their lives not actually worrying too much about them, bizarrely. I have found that although it is hard to muster up the courage to tell people you love, it is also incredibly healing to do so, and a weight off of your shoulders. Sure, they find it upsetting initially and offer to pray for you, but then they get used to it. Remember that Christianity is all about (false) hope, so they will be OK because they will continue to believe there is a chance you will be saved, right up until your last moments. I do not think this is the ideal way for them to deal with it, however. I think the only healthy long-term solution is for them to give up their beliefs, only then will they truly be relaxed about you and other non-believers. But I'm just saying this to put you at ease so that you don't think they will suddenly plunge into depression if you tell them. They will be able to handle it, just as they manage to handle the fact that many of their friends or people they know are in the same position. It's not that they don't care about you, it's just that their faith is irrational and there are a lot of in-built ways of handling scary truths, in the faith itself and in the support system of Church and whatever other Christian groups.

 

It's probably been mentioned already, I didn't read all of the posts in detail, but I think it's so important to talk about guilt feelings associated with telling others. This is something I struggle with but am working through. Sadly, one way that people do deal with hearing that a friend no longer believes is to become more of a distant friend or even to cut off friendship altogether, as many on this forum seem to have experienced. I have had the greater distance phenomenon, though this is perhaps partly me not wanting to get into deep discussions that revolve around god, but thankfully haven't had anyone cut me off as a friend (yet). I think this is an awful thing to have happen to you and anyone affected, as with any of this stuff, should not be afraid or embarrassed to seek professional help to talk about it. However, this is absolutely in no way your fault, responsibility, because of you, or down to you. In my view it is completely and 100% due to the religious ideas that have got into your friend's brain, and possibly what they choose to do with those ideas. I personally don't know how much the friend is to blame, would be interested to hear what others think, but the main thing to stress is that you are not the one in the wrong. If anything happens to the friendship, if there is any weirdness whatsoever, it is not your fault for being a freethinker. In fact, it is the moment they decided to commit to christ. In that moment they committed openly to lots of things, including not minding that other people do not share their beliefs, and taking that burden upon themselves. I think this is an incredibly important fact to realize. It was not you that made them believe you may go to hell, it is the belief in hell that is at fault, and they have decided to take on that belief in full knowledge of the consequences. I can't stress this enough.

 

Finally, I want to say something about telling secular friends or family. I can't begin to imagine what it's like to tell believing family members especially if they have strongly held or fundamentalist beliefs. But it was also hard to tell my non-believing family. I think this was because it was like an admission that I was wrong all along about something I claimed to be so sure of and had tried to argue that they adopt. I had said I would believe this for the rest of my life and had staked everything on it being true. To then admit that it was all BS was hugely embarrassing, and made me feel so stupid. I still haven't really told my brother officially, cos he used to mock me about my beliefs sometimes, I am just assuming that he has heard from the others or worked it out. I do want to clear this up at some stage though.

 

Thanks so much for the opportunity to chat about this stuff with people that understand and are going through similar things as me. I hope some of the things I've been saying have been an encouragement, since what I've been reading on this site has been so encouraging to me.

 

 

Max

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Hi. I'm new to the forums. I'm so glad I found this site, I think it was linked to from an Atheist Experience clip on Youtube.

 

I am very lucky that my family are all atheist or agnostic. However, pretty much all my friends, including my best friends, are Bible-believing Christians, some you would probably call fundamentalist. It's been about 8 months to a year since I properly gave up my faith, which was an Evangelical Christian one, complete with adult baptism about 7 months in.

 

I've been working through telling family and friends gradually, and still have a lot of people I haven't told. It is really hard especially when you remember what you used to think about what happens to people who die a non-believer. But then believers also learn to deal with it, because the majority of people in the world supposedly have this fate and they manage to get on with their lives not actually worrying too much about them, bizarrely. I have found that although it is hard to muster up the courage to tell people you love, it is also incredibly healing to do so, and a weight off of your shoulders. Sure, they find it upsetting initially and offer to pray for you, but then they get used to it. Remember that Christianity is all about (false) hope, so they will be OK because they will continue to believe there is a chance you will be saved, right up until your last moments. I do not think this is the ideal way for them to deal with it, however. I think the only healthy long-term solution is for them to give up their beliefs, only then will they truly be relaxed about you and other non-believers. But I'm just saying this to put you at ease so that you don't think they will suddenly plunge into depression if you tell them. They will be able to handle it, just as they manage to handle the fact that many of their friends or people they know are in the same position. It's not that they don't care about you, it's just that their faith is irrational and there are a lot of in-built ways of handling scary truths, in the faith itself and in the support system of Church and whatever other Christian groups.

 

It's probably been mentioned already, I didn't read all of the posts in detail, but I think it's so important to talk about guilt feelings associated with telling others. This is something I struggle with but am working through. Sadly, one way that people do deal with hearing that a friend no longer believes is to become more of a distant friend or even to cut off friendship altogether, as many on this forum seem to have experienced. I have had the greater distance phenomenon, though this is perhaps partly me not wanting to get into deep discussions that revolve around god, but thankfully haven't had anyone cut me off as a friend (yet). I think this is an awful thing to have happen to you and anyone affected, as with any of this stuff, should not be afraid or embarrassed to seek professional help to talk about it. However, this is absolutely in no way your fault, responsibility, because of you, or down to you. In my view it is completely and 100% due to the religious ideas that have got into your friend's brain, and possibly what they choose to do with those ideas. I personally don't know how much the friend is to blame, would be interested to hear what others think, but the main thing to stress is that you are not the one in the wrong. If anything happens to the friendship, if there is any weirdness whatsoever, it is not your fault for being a freethinker. In fact, it is the moment they decided to commit to christ. In that moment they committed openly to lots of things, including not minding that other people do not share their beliefs, and taking that burden upon themselves. I think this is an incredibly important fact to realize. It was not you that made them believe you may go to hell, it is the belief in hell that is at fault, and they have decided to take on that belief in full knowledge of the consequences. I can't stress this enough.

 

Finally, I want to say something about telling secular friends or family. I can't begin to imagine what it's like to tell believing family members especially if they have strongly held or fundamentalist beliefs. But it was also hard to tell my non-believing family. I think this was because it was like an admission that I was wrong all along about something I claimed to be so sure of and had tried to argue that they adopt. I had said I would believe this for the rest of my life and had staked everything on it being true. To then admit that it was all BS was hugely embarrassing, and made me feel so stupid. I still haven't really told my brother officially, cos he used to mock me about my beliefs sometimes, I am just assuming that he has heard from the others or worked it out. I do want to clear this up at some stage though.

 

Thanks so much for the opportunity to chat about this stuff with people that understand and are going through similar things as me. I hope some of the things I've been saying have been an encouragement, since what I've been reading on this site has been so encouraging to me.

 

 

Max

 

Max, thanks for sharing your thoughts. It is not easy tell people that I used to pray and worship with that I am not a Christian anymore. Like someone on this forum noted, I don't have to let everyone know I don't believe in the biblegod anymore. It's none of their business. I will try to write a more elaborate response tomorrow. I am a little light headed from a new medication.

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Unless there is an innate need to come out and tell them, I would simply move on.

 

Church friends are no better than pub friends.

I think this is delightful LivingLife.

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I have three options of reply when people ask about if I go to church.

 

If I know them well enough to know they wouldn't be bothered by my atheism I say "I'm non-religious" or "I'm an atheist"

 

If I sort of know them and they know my parents and I know they're quite religious (and talkative) I say "I was raised Lutheran." True, but only past-tense.

 

Otherwise, I use the "I don't go to church (anymore)" and usually that works fine, too.

 

I haven't told my older relatives (My Mother, Aunts, Uncles, some older cousins) or most of my old Christian friends from high school, aside from the ones I knew weren't Christian.

 

But most of my college friends (Who thankfully either are themselves non-religious or way more open about it than any of my friends from high school might've been, being the area I'm from.) know I'm not religious. Aside from a select few. And my younger cousins know I'm non-religious (I'm pretty tight with my Buddhist cousin.)

 

I don't plan to come out to my mother for a while still. I don't know what she'd think about it, yet. She's not very religious, but has confessed in believing in a higher power, even though she's not a big church goer or anything like that.

 

Do stuff in your own time, really. If you're not comfortable with coming out to someone, just wait.

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Sorry if maybe some bits in my previous post were insensitive to some people reading and going through this. This is all still quite recent for me. I think I am learning that people are in different situations even though we have a generally shared experience, so I can't assume to speak for others. So I will try to just talk about my own situation. I think for me I am realizing that I am refraining from contacting people who are close to me who I haven't told, because I am scared about their reaction or what will happen to our friendship if and when the topic comes up. And lets face it, for most of my friends who are believers, faith is such a central issue that everything is framed by it and we can't really have a conversation about anything deeper than what I've been up to recently (but not what they've been up to, because well the friend I am thinking of is gathering support at the moment to go on long term overseas mission), without it coming up and then I would have to say something. So this means that surely I just have two choices. Either I have the courage to tell them or I just lose contact with them. Maybe I'm being blind to other options, but I can't really see what else could happen. Of course I don't want to lose them as a friend, and this is effectively what would happen if we completely lost touch and I ignored their emails etc. But I feel like it's a lose-lose situation because our friendship is based and centered around our faith "walk", so even after getting through the initial "coming out", would we have nothing to talk about? Or if we try talking about something, they are gonna see it through the lens of their faith and interpret it in that way and I will interpret it in mine, so would there be a lack of connection that was once there?

 

I am quite active on social network sites like Facebook. I feel like I can't be myself fully and express myself how I want to on there, until I have told the people I love about what's happened. Because they will see me posting I dunno, photos of me with alcohol, music that is considered of the devil, or political causes that I care about like Gay rights, not to mention atheistic articles or video clips. It's partly for that reason I want to tell even people who are not close to me, so that they don't find out that way, which I think would suck. I don't know if this is a lame reason, maybe it is. Maybe I should just tell those who are close to me and not bother with the rest (mostly people who went to my previous churches), unless they ask me. But I think I do wanna tell the people close to me because of the above reasons. I don't wanna just lose contact with them because I am afraid to tell them. That would be just as sad as the friendship being affected or even ruined by my telling them.

 

Also part of me still hopes that somehow me telling them could help in their deconversion. Is this just unrealistic hope? I have been told I was quite persuasive and influential when I was a christian, I was quite active in evangelism in various different kinds, so I think I must have an affect on people when I talk about this stuff, and I see myself as a good debater. But I suppose everyone is different, and you can't just expect that one conversation will convince them that there's no good evidence for God, just as before I didn't expect that from one conversation they would become Christian.

 

Max

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I can help out a little with the facebook question. I wanted to add some facebook pages for atheist sites and such, like The Thinking Atheist, Atheist Experience, etc. but I knew that all my friends got those popups like "so and so likes JCPenney." So I locked down my profile like fort knox. I have everything set at "self only" or whatever it's called so that not even friends can see what pages I like. That allows me to add all the pages and atheist friends I want (like Mr. and Mrs. Dark Matter), communicate with them, write on their walls, etc. It's a compromise.

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I think you have to deal with people realistically, understanding that they have a cult mindset. I try to highlight the positive affects of leaving and skip any arguing by talking their language, and by pretending to still believe in their god, but not being a part of their world. I do that because I understand I'm talking to a person who's mind isn't right, they aren't going to understand if I tell them the truth, so I try to slip in some truth when there's an opportunity so maybe it will help them.

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