A Coming Out Atheist Story
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17-05-2012, 07:28 PM
Smile A Coming Out Atheist Story
My reason for this post is that maybe it will help some closet atheists. You might hear or read an atheist's account of how it went, but rarely do you get to see the entire conversation. Well I'm here to share with you the whole thing. I changed the names and all that for privacy; but everything else is intact. In the end, I am glad I did it. This was on Facebook by the way, as a public post. When I posted it, I was terrified that my response would just be lack of response from everyone. Just ignored and hidden from people's feeds, or unfriended, who knows, I was freaking out. Then the responses started coming in, then I felt overwhelmed with support and love. Then a day passed or so. It was awkward for a bit. It's been 2-3 days now, and it's already wearing off. So yea, in the end, I'm glad. I'm glad I'm not worried about what I can't post or share anymore, or being careful about who I follow on twitter, stuff like that. It doesn't matter now, because everyone knows who I am now. It feels great.

Granted, I was one of the very lucky ones, but I think some might be lucky and not know it, and the fear of disapproval might all be in there head if they approach it carefully and respectfully. I think that's the biggest thing is that you always need to be respectful and understanding. Here it is.

To my family and friends,
(You in this case means my family and friends)
Our relationship means a lot to me. I wouldn’t be doing this post if it didn’t. The main reason I am doing this post is because I may not be the person that you think you know; and it feels like I’ve been keeping a secret, even though I personally feel that this issue just shouldn’t matter, and needn’t ever be considered a secret. But I understand that for some of you, it does matter, and this may upset you. But I am sharing this with you because I don’t want to pretend to be somebody else to the people who matter most to me; and I imagine--I hope--that you wouldn’t want me to pretend to be something I'm not while I'm around you.
It is not my intention here to spark a heated debate, nor upset anyone, nor offend. I only want you to know me better and I want to stop feeling like I am pretending to be something I’m not around the people who mean the most in my life.
With that being said, it’s time to lay it all out on the table. Here’s what I want to tell you. I’m an atheist. I don’t believe. I find it highly unlikely this will ever change--I’m saying that now, because I don’t want to give you any false hopes that it will. And also, I wouldn’t want it to, because I appreciate this life much more now, because for me, the only life I am certain I will get is this one, and my (indeed, our) time is certainly limited. That, to me, makes it that much more precious and beautiful. That’s not the defining reason behind it though; what I am trying to say gently is, I’m not just an atheist, I’m glad I’m an atheist. In other words, I’m not disappointed or regretful about it. The reason I say this is because much like you might celebrate your Christianity, I may at times want to celebrate my atheism. When I see Christian related posts, be it Bible passages or something similar, my reaction is this.. I see someone I love who gets fulfillment from what they believe, and they want to share it with their loved ones....I want you to understand that I get fulfillment as well, directly as a result from not believing. I’d like you to have a similar reaction if I post a positive message that just happens to directly conflict with what you believe. So I’m asking you to accept that not only that I am an atheist, but that I may occasionally want to share inspiring words that are atheist in nature, otherwise I’d just be continuing to hide who I am. I wouldn’t want that for you and hopefully you don’t want that for me.
I want you to realize that other than that, I am the same person--nothing has really changed. I didn’t ask to be put at odds with the majority of my family and friends, that is just where I found myself at. That on top of not knowing how you might react, fearing the worst...it’s not a pleasant place to be and I really don’t care for it! It’s just on this one issue though, we still have much else in common to treasure. But if you think this must change our relationship, I can tell you that it doesn’t have to. I have--at present--strong, close friendships with quite a few Christians, both of us aware of the other’s beliefs, and it is completely a non-issue, not just a topic we avoid--we fully accept each other’s position, and don’t hold it against each other. It literally has no bearing on the relationship. So I ask you to please not make it a barrier between us.
Your reaction might be... “so? who cares?” and if I hadn’t made it clear yet... that’s what I’m hoping for. I hope you see this post as completely unnecessary. I hope you ask for the five minutes of your life back. That’s the best reaction I can hope for.
This wasn’t easy to do, as I told you, our relationship means a lot to me, and that’s what makes this tough to do. It’s a risky move because it will either hurt or strengthen our relationship, so it is a bit of a gamble, but again, I feel it necessary, because I feel like I’m hiding something from you, and that shouldn’t be how things are.
I hope you think this was unnecessary. Phew, this was tough. I love you. At least there's no more secrets. Think I’ll let the dust settle for a bit. Now how long can I stare at the post button before I click it do you think???
It took about 20 minutes, FYI. Unless I call it out specifically, I think every response you see here is from a Christian, but at varying levels of commitment and belief.
Quote:STEPMOM: I love ya no matter who or what you are !! You are a awesome guy, a great stepson and a fantastic husband to WIFE!!!
Quote:ME: Thank you so much for your support, STEPMOM. It really means a lot to me, thank you. I love you too, and I am glad to call you family =D
The next response from my uncle is kind of awkward. They are a very Christian family, and it was hanging out with my cousin and his family that led me to Christianity early on in my life. So to tell him this might have been kind of awkward to hear.
Quote:UNCLE: I love you too Brian, thanks for your honesty and openess...
Quote:Thank you UNCLE. I'm glad that i have such a great family. I am really lucky, many do not get the same reactions i seem to be getting. Perhaps my fears were imagined and/or unjustified. Either way, i love you guys.
Quote:STEPMOM: I just love the way you poured your heart out and just wore your heart on your sleeve
Quote:ME: Thanks STEPMOM. Its ...not sure the word, maybe humbling, to feel this vulnerable right now. Your support means a lot.
this next guy's response is confusing. didn't i say that i felt it at least should have been unnecessary? eh, whatevs.
Quote:SOMEGUYIUSEDTOWORKWITH: You believe what you believe... or not. That you choose to reveal your beliefs to others is also a choice. That you felt the need to air this 'issue' is admirable, but, in MY belief, unnecessary. How you treat others should be the most important concern. What other people think of you is their opinion and NO ONE should feel the need to spend their time 'adjusting' it for fear of upsetting them. Don't let it worry you. We are your friends because of how you treat us, not because of what you believe...or not. Hope this allays any fears. We are still friends
Quote:STEPMOM: I understand it is not always easy to bare our souls to anyone, so humbling yes maybe, but showing who you are deep down and sharing what you believe with those that LOVE you...... yea you will always have the support I am just amazed at how you have such a wonderful way with words.... deep like your dad Smile I love the crap outta u and don't care about the who, what, where, when and why's !!! love, LOVE
can't squeeze this into her name, but i haven't talked to this girl in years, and barely knew her anyways. but always liked her as a person.
Quote:FRIENDOFMYSISTERS: PARSONF - I wanted to let you know I am proud of you for standing up for you beliefs no matter what they are. I know this wasn't easy to write. Smile I hope life is treating you well!
Quote:ME: GUYIUSEDTOWORKWITH, i agree. Unnecessary. At least it should be. I agree with you what truly matters, how you treat others. Good advice to live by. Thanks for the comment. Lol STEPMOM yes i keep hearing how much like my dad i am. Its scary how much alike we are lol. I hear it in myself sometimes.
no idea what this next post was about, but whatevs.
Quote:STEPMOM: that is "OK"
Quote:STEPMOM: btw.... thanks SOOO much for the lovely gift from you and WIFE for Mother's Day love it !!!
Quote:ME: You're welcome! Glad you like it!
Quote:ME: FRIENDOFMYSISTERS, hey! Good to hear from you! Thanks for your comments. Life is good, actually.
next up: best aunt ever. she has always been amazing, its unfortunate i dont get to talk to her much.
Quote:AUNT: Dude! I admire and love you for this. You are still my nephew and have everyone right to speak for how you feel. Doesn't matter you are a good person. You are welcome on my front porch anytime!
Quote:ME: Lol thank you, i miss you AUNT!
i have a few best friends, and this guy is one of them. he's a hardcore fundamentalist christian..
Quote:FUNDAMENTALISTBESTFRIEND: PARSONF, I don't think this will change our relationship although it appears our beliefs about God couldn't be much different. I respect your openness and honesty. You know what I believe and because I do care about you I will continue to pray for you and look forward to some interesting conversations.
Quote:FRIENDOFMYSISTERS: Awesome! I haven't talked to you in forever it seems but your sis updates me when we chat Smile glad life is good! Ps remember that quote "people who matter won't mind and people who mind won't matter" or something like that Smile
my younger sister likes to joke a lot Tongue
Quote:YOUNGERSISTER: And here I am. Awkward. Just kidding. PARSONF- you're disowned. Hahaha. Too soon? Oh, but just to let you know, this was shared to public if you want to change that. Smile
same aunt here. to make sense of this post, it's helpful to know that her husband, my uncle, passed about a year or two ago. I've learned this week that I'm pretty sure he was a loud atheist. We probably would have gotten along well, based on that and other things my family tells me about him. I didn't know him well unfortunately.
Quote:AUNT: Man i know UNCLE would just love the vugoo outta all this! Love ya and my porch light is on! Come visit when you head back this way!
Quote:ME: FUNDAMENTALISTBESTFRIEND, glad this wont affect our friendship as your friendship means a lot to me. I consider you one of my closest friends, and i was pretty worried about your response to be honest. I think of you a great friend, and still want to do lunch this week! I do look forward to open debates with you lol Smile
Quote:ME: Lol FRIENDOFMYSISTERS, not familiar with that quote but i love it! Hope all is well with you.
Quote:ME: No, YOUNGERSISTER, actually it was intentional. Its not really coming out unless its public, right? Glad you can make light of it. Miss you, sis.
like I said, she likes to kid.
Quote:YOUNGERSISTER: oh, gotcha. I Miss you too, wish I could've seen you in HOMESTATE. P.S. I really thought you were going to say something like you were an ax murderer or switching your soda brand. Something really tough like that. This obviously does not affect my opinion about you. Smile
Quote:ME: LOL i miss your sense of humor. Its a shame things didnt work out to see each other recently. Love you YOUNGERSISTER. Glad that you are you.
my older sister and i have always been really close. she already knew, i told her maybe about a month before this. Of all the people commenting, she's the only one on here that I can confidently call not Christian, but is more along the lines of spiritual.
Quote:OLDERSISTER: Dude, you're awesome, you'll always be awesome & I'm so proud of the way you stay true to who you are. Love you PARSONF.
Quote:ME: AUNT, lol, you are making me smile. Next time I get the chance I definitely will! Hanging out on porches turns out to be one of my favorite activities!!
Quote:ME: OLDERSISTER, thank you, that's actually one of my favorite qualities in you as well. Love you.
Quote:SOMEGUYIWORKEDWITHBRIEFLY: PARSONF, you know what bro? much RESPECT to you my man. Im a proud Christian, and to see someone do this , THIS , and put it all out there freely, --- hey man, My respect to YOU has just gone up 5 levels. I dont care if you believe or not, what matters to me is that you feel good about yourself and who you are and to be honest, its something of much admiration. Bless your heart man !
been wondering where my parents were much???
Quote:DAD: No barrier here, PARSONF. We're still good. For anybody else reading this who doesn't know, I changed from a devout atheist to a deeply faithful Christian in Dec 1999, so some might think that to be an interesting dynamic between us. But as I said...that is not a barrier between us. I love you very much and am very proud of you.
Quote:SOMEGUYIWORKEDWITHBRIEFLY: PARSONF.... i think right about now... its a good time for a group hug and a shot of something strong. what do you think? cmon now.
Quote:ME: DAD, glad to see a response from you. I had no idea you ever considered yourself atheist! We have more in common than i realized. Im glad we can talk about this. I love you, dad. Thank you.
Quote:ME: SOMEGUYIWORKEDWITHBRIEFLY, lol, trust me, i started drinking right after i posted it! Too stressful! But the responses have been better than i could have hoped for. Thank you, man. Hope all is well.
Quote:MOM: PARSONF, love you always. Life is a journey. Everyone has to pick their own path, and see where it leads. You are truly a blessing to me, and are a wonderful man. I am here for you, always. Nothing could change that.
next is my mother in law, who already knew, because my wife told her... even though i asked her not to. but apparently it didn't matter.
Quote:MOTHERINLAW: we each have our own personal beliefs about everything in life, that is what makes each of us special and unique...and why we live in this decade...you are an extremely special person and we respect your beliefs and as a family any secret you have his welcome when you want to share it.....proud of you, love you and respect you for sharing......as always
this guy is seventh day avenist, we were friends right from the start, and were basically best friends for about 2-3 years, until we moved away, but we keep in touch sometimes.
Quote:AWESOMEBESTFRIEND: PARSONF! I so miss our iintellectual discussions lol. I don't think it matters if God is real or a myth. It is something that makes people happy. In your case God may not be needed but I know you have a good heart. We really miss you guys and am honored to share a few years of our life with you'ins.

I responded to the rest of the responses in personal messages because at this point I was getting tired of this post, and didn't want to cause people more notifications and keep bringing people back to it. But I hope this story helps someone.

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20-05-2012, 03:27 AM
RE: A Coming Out Atheist Story
Wow nice story! You are really look to have friends and family that gave you such a great response Big Grin! But I don't see why you were worried in the first place. They weren't super religious, because then they would have hated you, which obviously didn't happen. Or were they?
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20-05-2012, 10:04 AM
RE: A Coming Out Atheist Story
Some are pretty devoted, but I wasn't sure if any were hateful towards atheists. I was pleading with them not to put up a wall, and after all that happened, I began to wonder if I was the only one putting up a wall. But if I was, I broke down the wall that I put up by being open and honest.

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20-05-2012, 05:30 PM
RE: A Coming Out Atheist Story
(20-05-2012 10:04 AM)parsonf Wrote:  Some are pretty devoted, but I wasn't sure if any were hateful towards atheists. I was pleading with them not to put up a wall, and after all that happened, I began to wonder if I was the only one putting up a wall. But if I was, I broke down the wall that I put up by being open and honest.

All in all, you're just another brick in the wall. Wink

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21-05-2012, 06:58 PM
RE: A Coming Out Atheist Story
I can't imagine how it would be like to live in a region full of devout believers as an atheist. I'm lucky to have grown up in a place where religion or atheism is rarely discussed, and if it is discussed alot people claim to be atheists so it's not really a problem. My parents are atheists, my aunts and uncle too. Except my grandparents are still believers and they had to accept the rise of atheism. The only moment in my life someone had problems with my atheism was when I was around 6 years old and my religious teacher asked me why I don't believe. That happend more than 20 years ago so I can't remember it all that well but afaik I just said "It doesn't make sense!", at a young age I loved watching the national geographic channel (back when I was good, informative and didn't had ads every 15 min.) so I heard about the big bang theory. Infact when I had to do homework for my religious class (srsly why is it still a standard course in schools?) I would constantly disagree with it, God didn't make everything, the big bang did! I was the only one who was an obvious atheist back in the 90's though, most people just kept their believes to theirself. Ofcourse now the church has fucked the average joe up so many times it's cool to be against religion. At least here in Belgium.

chan chan ki sikin aman
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22-05-2012, 02:07 AM
RE: A Coming Out Atheist Story
Very glad to hear everything went smoothly. One day I hope we don't even have to think twice about telling others what we believe but before that I hope everybody is able to be honest and receive the positive feedback you were given. My coming out story went well. The issue I have had recently is when I try and share news or stories related to my atheism. It seems people are accepting but do not want to hear about it again. Just the other day I listed a few very famous atheists and the feedback was horrible. Lost a couple friends. Was asked why I would do such a thing. Oh well.
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03-07-2012, 08:55 PM
RE: A Coming Out Atheist Story
Some folks just don't like to have what they believe in questioned. Maybe that is because they put so much of their own identities into what they believe without adequate questioning.
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