My "coming out letter"
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17-05-2013, 12:41 PM
My "coming out letter"
I have not sent this yet. Any feedback will be appreciated. I am a mom of 3 boys 20,17 and 12. My husband is still a christian. He knows I'm no longer a believer. He's the only one. I am a former church leader, worship team singer etc....In the interest of personal integrity I feel it might be necessary soon to release this. I dont want to be fake and appear fraudulent with the people I love and care about and it's hard to go from a very devout church going christian to not and not get some questions. So far I have been able to skirt the issue while I gathered my thoughts together. But it's coming close to time to let it out.

For over a year now I have been going through a "crisis of faith." Searching for truth I took a really deep dive. Asking BIG questions. These questions led to more questions and difficulties eventually leading to a full-blown, year-long study of the basics of my christian belief.
I wasn't looking for a reason "not to believe." I was looking for the truth. I wanted to fulfill my obligation in 1 Peter 3:15 and "always be ready to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you." I wanted to find out if my beliefs were true and justified and if I was able to give good reasons for believing what I believed. To better defend my faith.
Applying the same set of critical thinking skills I used against all the religions I rejected, I analyzed my own beliefs as an "outsider." Doing unto my faith what I did to other faiths. I pushed myself into uncomfortable places, seeking alternative viewpoints. Not just viewpoints that agreed with what I already believed. Not afraid to be wrong. No matter where the evidence leads.
Here are some examples of christian claims I wrestled with: (simplifying a years worth of study notes is hard but here goes)

The reliability of the Bible -- God promised to preserve His word but He didn't preserve it or protect it from revision, or protect it from being interpreted in hundreds and hundreds of ways. Depending on what scriptures you pay attention to, you can legitimately construct thousands of theologies.

Evidence for the miracle claims of the Bible -- Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Hard evidence. God performed astounding miracles to rescue Jews from the Pharoah in Egypt, but would not do any of these miracles to rescue the Jews from the most murderous tyrant to ever come along - Hitler. 6 million Jews died. The miracles took place then and they don't take place now.

The problem of evil and suffering -- Why an "all-good" God unleashed satan on this world and why an "all-powerful" God simply won't decide to stop him. End his existance. Seems an easy task for God!
-- Why God doesn't lift a finger to stop all the disasters, massacres, and wars.

Gods chosen people - The Jews - rejected Jesus as Messiah -- Christianity claims to be a continuum of the Jewish faith. Judaism never believed that there would be a supernatural virgin-born messiah who would be killed as an atonement for sin. Jesus did not fulfill the job description of "The Messiah." Looking at christianity through the lens of Judaism it's quite clear why for Jews it is a SERIOUS sin to accept christianity.

The christian plan of salvation -- I'm going to sacrifice myself to myself to satisfy rules that I wrote. The church tells you that you're sick, then sells you the cure.

Biblical church or man-made traditions? -- Tired of going through the motions on Sunday morning, becoming painfully bored, I dared to ask myself the question "Why do we do what we do?" If you search the bible for most of the common practices in church today, you will rarely find them. It was a rude awakening to realize how massively ignorant I was as to how the church is rooted in artificial, man-made traditions and christian dogma.

The failure of prayer -- Every christian learns the scriptural promises of prayer and then we are fed the excuses of why prayer doesn't work. When prayer is answered that's the power and love of God. When it isn't answered, that was God's plan. It seems as if prayer is just a shot in the dark. A game of chance.

The "Hiddenness" of God -- He allows for his existance to remain easily debatable. Why does a loving God who wants a relationship with us play "Hide-and-Seek" with his children? I exist, and the way I am going to show you I exist is not by showing that I exist.

Most of the christian answers to these christian claims really don't hold water for me. It seems I am asked to "believe" regardless of verifiable evidence. It boils down to"you just have to have faith." Faith is generously and desperately applied as the "cure-all" solution when there is no solid evidence.
It's important to explain that my doubts resulted from a desire to learn more. Not from a moral or spiritual issue. I wasn't looking for a way to "live as I please" or not be "accountable" to some "ultimate moral authority." Nobody hurt my feelings and I'm not mad at God for anything.
I have arrived at this place of non-belief not because I wanted to, but simply because I can no longer accept my former christian beliefs in the God of the bible nor do I believe there is enough evidence for any Gods.
At times, I have felt a deep sense of loss and pain over losing my faith of 20 years. It was hard, really hard not to just retreat back into what's comforting and familiar. I desperately wanted my faith to be true, but the mental and emotional gymnastics I would have to perform in order to hold onto it - I just could not do.
Who am I now without these old beliefs? Without religion am I now going to descend into immoral CHAOS? Become a rotten person? No, I am still the same person whether there is a God or not. I still have the ability to distinguish right from wrong. I believe humans have an innate sense of common moral decency and we don't need a Supernatural "Being" to give us moral guidleines or to govern us.
Re-building a worldview and re-learning things ingrained in me has not been an easy process, but I am very happy and feeling comfortable and at peace seeing things in a new light, a new perspective. I don't pretend to have all the answers to lifes unexplained mysteries. I'm okay now with just saying "I don't know." Like "I don't know" what will happen to me when I die and that's okay. I want to make the most of the life that I DO have.
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17-05-2013, 02:00 PM
RE: My "coming out letter"
To whom are you going to send the letter? I understand the need to make a declarative statement but I am not sure this is the best way. My first reaction is that it will cause a flurry of unwanted attempts to restore your faith. I would simply stop attending services. If the subject comes up, no need to run from it but I really don't see any great need be as overt and confrontational (from their point of view) about it. In the latter half you appear to be making excuses and to have doubt. If you must send that communication out, I would strike the last part. Just my 3 cents (2 cents isn't worth what it used to be).
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17-05-2013, 02:29 PM
RE: My "coming out letter"
First of all, welcome to the skeptical community. I'm glad you were able to shake off the shackles and breathe free. My situation is similar to yours. I was prominent in church till the foundation for my faith collapsed and my entire worldview changed. My immediate family remains intensely religious.

I "came out" to my family individually and took the time to answer their questions and comments. A letter would have seemed cold, but I'm not sure what your circumstances are. I have not bothered telling anyone beyond my immediate family as I don't see what purpose it would serve.

Your letter itself is very good and shows that you have put some thought into it and that your thoughts are sound. But remember, this will be read by people who will be hurt and angered by your decision and that does not bode well for reasoned thought. Be prepared for a backlash.

What do your husband and boys think of your apostasy?

Good luck in your new life. Remember, we are all here rooting for you.

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17-05-2013, 02:30 PM (This post was last modified: 17-05-2013 02:39 PM by Bows and Arrows.)
RE: My "coming out letter"
(17-05-2013 02:00 PM)devilsadvoc8 Wrote:  My first reaction is that it will cause a flurry of unwanted attempts to restore your faith................. In the latter half you appear to be making excuses and to have doubt.

I agree. This letter will tell everyone you are sending it to that you are in CRISIS (your title) and that they should come explain everything that you don't know. i.e.: come back to their way.

To me it seems like you are in a place of doubt, rather than a person who has reached a new conclusion. --- (impression from the letter- I read your post in intro's)

I don't understand the need for letters to a group, but maybe I just don't understand church dynamics. It seems to create more drama than I prefer. I would just stop attending and deal with anyone who inquires on a one-to-one basis.

"Life is a daring adventure or it is nothing"--Helen Keller
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17-05-2013, 02:38 PM
RE: My "coming out letter"
I did this too, when I realized I no longer believed. I wrote a long ass letter to my parents explaining everything. I never sent it and eventually just deleted it, but it was very cathartic. I spent a few months revising and adding to it until I had the perfect argument down, then I read the whole thing and realized that the perfect argument was not going to work on my parents and my coming out would have to happen in it's own time and on it's own terms. And I would deal with it when it happened.

Still hasn't happened, but it will. And I am ready for it, but it's not something I feel a need to push at the moment.

Keep writing your letter. Don't send it unless you are absolutely sure that you are ready for the consequences. But keep writing, it's just as good for you as it is for anyone else. Just my thoughts...

But now I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.

~ Umberto Eco
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17-05-2013, 04:58 PM
RE: My "coming out letter"
I feel you on the "you just gotta have faith" thing. If I had a dollar for every time I've heard that one...

You will decide in time whether to send the letter, talk to people individually, or some combination. It takes strength and courage to go through what you have and to break with what you've known for so long. For now, welcome, and you are far from being alone. You will find a lot of journeys similar to yours, lots of lively conversation, some animated debate, and many intelligent people who didn't descend into nihilism or lose their morals without religion. Glad you are here.

Godless in the Magnolia State
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17-05-2013, 08:14 PM
RE: My "coming out letter"
Quote:I wasn't looking for a reason "not to believe." I was looking for the truth.
Well, you anticipated a common response in the "looking for reasons not to believe," but I really don't think religious people are looking for truth in any honest way. I think they are scared to question their faith, and that they see people who do question it as weak or tempted by the devil. That's why faith is held in such high regard, because if you're pushing a belief system contrary to real world evidence, you HAVE to tell them they don't need evidence, and that, indeed, they are stronger and better if they are able to believe such things. I tried to ask one relative why faith is a good thing, and she had no good answer for that, she said because christians need faith. Well, I'm not a christian, I see no use for it..

That, and they get warm fuzzy feelings in church and they think this is somehow evidence for a deity.

But I agree with some others here, keep writing it, it'll make you feel better whether you send it or not. It's good to think your own views through thoroughly. It also helps when religious people ask you why and helps you counter their arguments (not really necessary, but I do hate it when a religious person thinks their POV makes more sense than mine, so I make a point of being able to debate with them).
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17-05-2013, 08:40 PM
RE: My "coming out letter"
Remember the proverb "Words fly, writting remains".

To reiterate what others have already said:
Continue rewriting what you think, it works as a catharsis and it prepares you for the discussions.
A one on one or even two on one face-to-face "coming out" is preferable than a letter.
Explain only on a need to know basis.

Be strong.

“I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man’s reasoning powers are not above the monkey’s.”~Mark Twain
“Ocean: A body of water occupying about two-thirds of a world made for man - who has no gills.”~ Ambrose Bierce
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17-05-2013, 08:53 PM
RE: My "coming out letter"
^I agree with Full Circle. Unless you are prepared emotionally for huge debates and maybe shouting matches, and unless you have a lot of time to devote to this, sometimes it is best to "come out" on a need to know basis, or start out with only a few people you really want to be open about it with. (I'm a bit more "in your face," but that's how I know it can be exhausting.)
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17-05-2013, 09:12 PM
RE: My "coming out letter"
As much as I enjoy the "I don't believe this, I don't have to believe this and you can't make me" sentence it's too easily thrown back in a way that has others not believing in what I just said. Probably because it's something you'd expect a child to say. It does convey the baseline but with something so complicated as this, it's good to get all your ducks in a row.

At any moment if you're hit with something you don't know, it's okay to say that you will get back to them on it, do the research you need to do in what they said and get back to them. Otherwise it's just a point for Jesus.

And don't let it ruin your sanity or take up too much of your time. They don't need to know all the details in why you're not a believer. If it's something you're willing to do then all the power to you: might I suggest a caffeinated beverage, because it will be a long haul.

This isn't something that's going to go away in the next couple of weeks. Or months. Or years.

You're doing what feels right, and that's what matters. Even if it's for just a moment, and then it's a pain in the ass for a long while, knowing that you were being true to yourself during that moment can free you in ways you cannot imagine.

Just remember: you're looking out for #1 in this situation: you. Know yourself. Know your limits, know what you will and will not handle. Know that you're not alone and that you are worth it.

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