Jump to content
BlindFaith

How to build an Ex-Christian Life

Recommended Posts

I am hoping someone here can relate and might even have some answers. 

 

Some background. I am 50+. I broke free of fundamentalist christianity more than five years ago after a lifetime of being everything from somewhat religious to over the top preachy christian wackadoodle. I was even involved in ministry for a minute... I am still married to a believer who does not accept my deconversion and hopes that with the right hocus pocus I will be brought back into the fold. 

 

The problem is that I am having trouble developing a life away from religion/church, which has always been at the epicenter of my friendships. I've found that making new friends at this age is not as effortless as it was in my youth when any roomie, neighbor, or coworker was a potential friend. It is also not helping that I live in the buckle of the bible belt, where nearly everyone is religious, most are christian, and 'I go to this or that church' is often the thing people share right after their name. It's also a disadvantage that I am an ex-christian, because unlike the garden variety heathen or those of another faith I am unlikely to be won or proselytized. In other words it's not that I don't know what I'm missing and what a great deal salvation is...  While I am not advertising my deconversion with T-shirt and bumper stickers,  I am also no longer interested in religious discussion and will either try to politely steer a conversation in another direction or quietly excuse myself..

 

Further complications are that I live a more rural/agrarian lifestyle, although I do work 'in town' so have some human contact, I just seem to be missing connection. I've thought about something like a UU church but I am not even particularly spiritual anymore. I tried joining a women's travel and adventure group but found the facebook events page loaded with prayer requests and disproportionately large number of the membership evangelize at events. Homesteader and farming groups- super religious. I've joked that even our local bars are full of christians. 

 

So... for those of you who have moved away from church attendance, etc., were you able to maintain old relationships on new terms? Find new friends? Learn to deal with being alone more?  I'd love some suggestions. 

 

TIA

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Howdy! My social circle disappeared after leaving church. I started doing things that I enjoyed and ended up finding a new circle of people. I'd call a few of them friends, most are still at a social level. About 12 years ago, I took voice lessons and at the nudge of a friend started singing at a jazz club, piano bars, jazz jams, and such. It was fun, scary, challenging, and got me out with other people doing creative things. There are a few Christian-Lite (mostly Catholic or Lutheran) people, but most are not. I've only encountered one mostly-fundy (who is an outstanding jazz singer) but that's rare. I never hear from the old crowd at all, or even most of my believer family. I'm fine with that for the most part. 

 

The cult has a lot more power down where you live, and is so part of the social culture that its hard to escape it. Besides bars, you might try the arts communities and see if you click with anything. Artists tend to think more freely. 

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't know why church has such a hold on people once they've left. Leaving a church "family" is no different than leaving college behind, moving to a new city or country or losing interest in a hobby club. If one finds himself in need of a structured group of instant friends there are plenty of service clubs (Elks, Eagles, and so on) and of course one can always join a "secret society" like the Masons. Or, just join a bowling team or bird watching group. You can do anything you want now!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Your experience is pretty normal Blindfaith. I was Church of Christ. Shunning is just part of who they are, so our social structure disappeared when we left. Our situation is similar, I’m in my 70’s now and a non-believer but my wife is still a Christian. She’s a member of the Methodist Church now and they are pretty liberal and definitely not dogmatic. 

 

She has accepted my apostasy and it isn’t an issue any more.  I haven’t made any effort to rebuild my social structure, because I live in the Bible Belt too so I know what that’s like. I’m retired and have no trouble finding things to keep me occupied. There are atheists groups everywhere if you want to find some likeminded folk. 

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I left the Church of Christ, as well. I am in my late 50s, still pal around with relatives a bit -- some of them are pretty "churched up", but we can generally have a good time if we avoid religious topics. I have a good friend at work that I go to lunch with on weekdays. I get together with another friend from childhood every few months. Plus, i communicate with several "internet friends" from time to time. That pretty much satisfies my need for socializing!

 

If you feel a need to reach out, try to find like-minded people on the interwebs! Ya never know -- some of them may be within driving distance....

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, florduh said:

I don't know why church has such a hold on people once they've left. Leaving a church "family" is no different than leaving college behind, moving to a new city or country or losing interest in a hobby club. If one finds himself in need of a structured group of instant friends there are plenty of service clubs (Elks, Eagles, and so on) and of course one can always join a "secret society" like the Masons. Or, just join a bowling team or bird watching group. You can do anything you want now!

 

Church doesn't actually have any hold on me. I have not attended in 7 or so years and will never go back. And it's not that I'm surprised to be shunned, actually I'm happy about that part because without it I'd have people harassing me to come to 'friends day' or some other such shit. 

 

OTOH these are the people that have known me since I was a kid, the ones I went out to dinner with, played board and card games with, went to their weddings, baby showers, graduations, and funerals. And while in my perfect world there is another group of people that would babysit for me when I got called in for an extra shift with no notice, or come to see me in the hospital, or clean and cook for my family when my husband had health issues I needed to be elsewhere to manage, that are not religious... well, there just isn't. I've moved several times over my lifetime and there was always another group, just waiting with open arms to replace those that were far away. Now I can't seem to find a friend in my own town. No matter what hooey religion is full of, my hat is off to them for building community and they get an extra gold star for jerking the rug out if you question anything. 

 

Bowling leagues and birding are sure to be taken over by the religious here... and that is exactly the issue... there is no place that people in Texas do not feel like it's ok to want to put you on their prayer chain when you have a cold, if they don't want to just lay hands on you right there and claim your healing in Jesus name. I don't know anything about Elks, I thought Eagles were a 70's band, so maybe there are some possibilities there, thanks. The Masons are creepy AF with all their bizarre rituals. I'm not looking to turn in one set of crazy in for another but again I appreciate you tossing an idea my way. :)

Quote

 

.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 minutes ago, BlindFaith said:

Church doesn't actually have any hold on me.

I meant the idea of the old familiar church community, not the dogma or belief system. If everything from birding to bowling is infested with religious nuts, you'll just have to move! Or...... have you looked into meetup groups? Freethinker groups? Maybe even a Unitarian church might be a place to find people who aren't totally crazy. The arts is a good place to find freethinkers and non-religious people, so maybe a theater group? Good luck, it's a tough place to be.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You are correct Blindfaith. The one thing organized religion excels at is socializing. They are great at building social net works and if you’re new in the community going to church will provide you an immediate list of potential new friends and contacts.That is because they have a recognized time and place to meet. Just show up and you’ll be warmly welcomed.

 

Non-believers have a difficult time getting a significant number of like minded folks together at a specific time and place for a specific purpose. Therefore, their social networks, such as they are, tend to be loose and disorganized. Sites like this are helpful though. 

 

 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've always advocated community college classes. While that doesn't filter out the fundies, there are also people there who are thinking and searching. A class related to a hobby interest might be a good choice.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Bowling leagues and birding are sure to be taken over by the religious here... and that is exactly the issue... there is no place that people in Texas do not feel like it's ok to want to put you on their prayer chain when you have a cold, if they don't want to just lay hands on you right there and claim your healing in Jesus name.

 

I’d recommend picking up a vice. Something other people don’t do. Something that’s sure to scare off the religious. Have you tried coming out as gay? Worked for me. 

  • Like 3
  • Haha 5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 hours ago, Samuel said:

Bowling leagues and birding are sure to be taken over by the religious here... and that is exactly the issue... there is no place that people in Texas do not feel like it's ok to want to put you on their prayer chain when you have a cold, if they don't want to just lay hands on you right there and claim your healing in Jesus name.

 

I’d recommend picking up a vice. Something other people don’t do. Something that’s sure to scare off the religious. Have you tried coming out as gay? Worked for me. 

 

Best idea yet! I haven't tried it... but there is this hot barista where I get my coffee in the morning :)

  • Haha 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey @BlindFaith,

 

Finding/building a new social fabric is a toughy when one spouse is still a completely indoctrinated, over-the-top, no other life than Jebus, in-your-face, obnoxious funday-ass! (Where did THAT come from?   :rolleyes:)  I'm not social myself but Mrs. MOHO is the social director and she, her adult son from a previous marriage, his entire family, and a few Jesus freaky folk comprise the all of it.

 

DougTucky co. OR is the Bible Belt of the Pacific Northwest and it's hard to avoid them here too. I think I'll just watch this thread and see if I can pick something up too.

 

 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Inasmuch as church seems to have replaced actual community (i.e. the people who live on the same street as us), I think getting to know our neighbors might be the thing. Not that I'm any good at that. At church, we had built in relationships. If nothing else, we had someone to go eat with on Sunday.

 

Most of my "socializing" is done at work. It isn't actually socializing, but working with people seems to satisfy whatever need I may have for friendship, even though I never see my coworkers outside of work.

 

My wife, on the other hand, is lonely. The church we've been at for the last 2.5 years is sort-of an out-of-sight-out-of-mind kind of a place. (Long story as to why I still go.) If she's going to socialize with any of the women there, she has to be the one to make the phone call. Nobody even called her when we were new there. So much for a built-in social group!

 

We need to get to know our neighbors. I know there are women on our street who don't have jobs, and even some retired folks. We're old enough to hang out with them!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 6/6/2019 at 4:19 PM, Lerk said:

Inasmuch as church seems to have replaced actual community (i.e. the people who live on the same street as us)...

 

We need to get to know our neighbors. I know there are women on our street who don't have jobs, and even some retired folks. We're old enough to hang out with them!

 

My next door neighbor is a 400 member Cowboy Church which I currently have a dispute with about impounding the run off from a huge arena they just built in violation of county ordinances and without proper permits... So I probably won't be making any friends on my street, lol!

  • Haha 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, BlindFaith said:

 

My next door neighbor is a 400 member Cowboy Church which I currently have a dispute with about impounding the run off from a huge arena they just built in violation of county ordinances and without proper permits... So I probably won't be making any friends on my street, lol!

Good luck with that. I hate to be negative, but my money goes with the church. They'll get to the politicians and get an exemption to the rules.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi BlindFaith. I have been exchristian for 56 years now but I retired 4 months ago and in so many ways my work life was my social life so I too am looking to find at least a few friends that I can connect with in my retirement. My wife created a social network through an interest in distance cycling in her late 40's after we moved to a new community. She joined a couple of clubs all on her own and the months turned to years and she cycled (haha) through the Jesus types but found some really good friends and even wound up doing a great personal training job for the last 4 years or so working for a very nice couple she rides with. 

   I don't need many friends but a couple of good ones would be great. My best idea to spend time with people I have things in common with is to start a Recovering From Religion support group here where I live. There are a ton of meetup groups out there and you can also start your our. Atheists are typically underground in religious communities and especially at work in order to keep from possibly causing friction but if they think it's safe they'll come out to a fellow non believer. From what I've seen on this site I'm quite sure that atheists and nones are living throughout all the states. If you happen to move again consider Austin. I think I could be happy living in the political climate they have going there even if it is Texas. 

    Keep us up with the actions you ultimately take to address your concerns and how they work out as this issue you have raised comes up regularly here. Whatever happens you are free to use clear reason to help you find your way now that you have stopped trying to make yourself believe things that clearly are not true. Congratulations for choosing to walk away from the nightmare world of double standards, logic fallacies, patriarchy, etc.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote

BlindFaith, Try sports, painting classes and volunteer work like CASA.  Tennis, pickleball, yoga or cycling are fun sports done at any age.  There are competitive groups that play tennis and pickleball which makes for a great way to get to know others and build comradery. These are super fun activities and I have found that there is a huge mix of religious and non-religious people in sports which is nice.  Painting and yoga is so therapeutic and you meet quite a few people that are non-religious.  Volunteering for things that require you NOT to share your beliefs are perfect because Christians rarely want to be involved in things that don't involve evangelizing (just doing good and being kind is not enough and almost pointless to them if it doesn't involve them converting or sharing their faith).  Good luck!  It took me quite a while to find a new friend group.  I still have Christian friends but they know I am agnostic so I am free to be and say what I want.  I live in Oregon which does make it easier.  I used to live in TX and in the south it is much harder to find religious free friends.  

 

 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 6/27/2019 at 8:37 PM, Salemite said:

 

 Yeah definitely agree: “(just doing and being kind is not enough if it doesn’t involve them converting or sharing their faith)”. And it’s the most painful thing when the religion rears it’s ugly head and you realize the only reason that they have been treating you right is because of their religious beliefs.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Searching for freethinker groups on www.meetup.com helped me a lot. You could do searches in your area for that and/or other things of interest. Good luck!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 7/6/2019 at 8:22 PM, Citsonga said:

Searching for freethinker groups on www.meetup.com helped me a lot. You could do searches in your area for that and/or other things of interest. Good luck!

 

Thanks! This was a fantastic suggestion. I just found a local meeting of atheists/agnostics/humanists on Saturday... at the same time my husband teaches his bible study at the church, lol! If I didn't know better I'd think there'd been divine intervention. :D

  • Like 1
  • Haha 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Guidelines.