The decision to "come out"
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06-09-2013, 07:24 AM
The decision to "come out"
After spending most of my life as a Christian, I abandoned my faith in favor of reason about two years ago. I can truthfully say that I am happier, I no longer worry about whether I'm good enough to avoid eternal damnation, and I focus more on the here-and-now than some mythical promise of immortality.

But I'm still not at ease. Not because I worry that I'm wrong in what I believe, but because I'm still mostly living in the closet. I feel like I'm living a lie by not coming out. I don't pretend to be faithful anymore - I gave up church several years ago, and I don't bother going through the motions even for the sake of appearance.

I have confided in a few people, including my wife and my business partners, all of whom are devout Christians. However, because nearly everyone in my family and circle of friends is Christian, and I'm very worried about the impact on my family, friendships, and business if I live transparently as a nonbeliever. I know for certain I'd lose many friends. And I fear that my coming out might literally kill my 80-year-old grandmother who raised me.

I suppose I could leave well enough alone and simply ignore the issues of faith and religion. After all, I don't go out of my way to say that I don't believe in fairies or Santa Claus or Bigfoot. However, the longer I've been away from the faith, the more I see the damage it can do. On a personal level, I think it's damaging to individuals to tell them that they're born broken and deserve to burn eternally because some naked dude 6,000 years ago ate an apple at the urging of a talking snake. On a global level, religion has been one of the most destructive forces in human history. George Carlin nailed it when he said, "... if you read history, you realize that God is one of the leading causes of death." So it's very difficult for me to simply let it go.

I do a good deal of writing and public speaking in my business. To some extent, I feel guilty that I'm not using these skills (I almost wrote "spiritual gifts" there - a relic of my fundie upbringing) to fight irrational belief in mythology. I have a very rational (in my own mind, anyway) fear of the personal and professional repercussions of publicly beating the drum of antitheism, but I worry that I'll never feel fulfilled if I don't speak out against this nonsense.

I know this is a bit of a rant, but I'd love to get feedback from others who have walked - or are walking - this same path.
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06-09-2013, 09:55 AM
RE: The decision to "come out"
There's no real reason to tell everyone, and you've told the people that need to know (people you're close to) so I don't really understand what your goal is or what "coming out" actually entails for you. As you said, you don't go out of your way to denounce other beliefs, so why do so with this one?

“One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid,
and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision.”

- Bertrand Russel
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06-09-2013, 10:08 AM
RE: The decision to "come out"
I think I understand the passion that comes with the realisation of the bullshittiness of it all.
A bit like a grieving process when at some point you just feel the need to scream.

I suggest... SCREAM HERE!

Smile

Reserve that passion for when you see an injustice being done; some kind of religion-based bullying within your local community. That's the time to decide how overt you want/need to be.

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08-09-2013, 08:43 AM
RE: The decision to "come out"
Thanks Eksyte and DLJ for the input. I suppose the only reason I must share this with some folks has to do with my kids. My wife is very much a believer and takes my kids to church. They are believers by immersion (as was I, at that age) but I want them to understand that they should make up their own minds about what to believe. I'd rather have a difficult conversation with my family than to have one of the kids blurt out, "Daddy doesn't believe in God" to let the cat out of the bag.
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08-09-2013, 04:13 PM (This post was last modified: 08-09-2013 04:29 PM by Skippy538.)
RE: The decision to "come out"
Mitch you are in a tough place, and I empathize.

To me, one of the best things to do is to be honest about your search for meaning and answers. This is hard to do, but as you correctly present - what happens when the kids say something they shouldn't? On the other hand, do you want to tell the kids to "keep it from grandma" as if there is something wrong with your belief - something that should be hidden? The smart way, if this is the way for you, would be to use it as a lesson in discretion, which is an important skill in life that I use all of the time. See below re: workplace etiquette.

One method to do this may be - not to say I do or don't believe, but to approach the believers who you want to understand you and present it as a faith dilemma you are dealing with. "How did you deal - with this thing Paul said" or about the existence of God. I was lucky because I started going through this when I was in training to be a pastor at college, and I would come home and say "How did you guys know..." and then ask my hard questions. My folks just said, those are good questions son, you should ask the Pastor. After going to the Pastor, and knowing no one will have those answers, eventually you just leave the whole thing sitting there in front of everyone. After they can't answer two or three of your questions, or end up with "you just have to have faith," you can honestly say, "dad, I'm not sure I have that faith." This is easing into it. The problem with easing into it is that you are inviting a whole slew of personal testimonies to come your way. It's a bit disingenuous if you already know that you know that you know. But it is one method that tends to be the most gentle on family members.

The other way is the good whole fashioned sit-down, Mom, Dad, I'm gay. Haha. Just kidding. You will wish you were telling them that you were gay. It they are hard core, the response may be harsh to unbearable. At present I am not allowed to visit with my nieces and nephews who are young college adults without direct supervision. And I am by a mile the most successful member of my family of college graduates, valedictorians, and all-state athletes. Crazy.

I empathize with your situation. I have business partners who are devout as well, and many clients who are. I remain "in the closet" to these people because I don't talk about politics and religion at work, at all. I am a tax lawyer and a lot of people assume from the type of clients I have that I am a staunch Republican, conservative christian. Any assumptions they make are their problem.

I have a wide range of views, but politically I'm libertarian and religiously I am some form of atheist (igtheist, AA, whatever). I also meditate. All of these things I feel are private, and I simply don't share with clients if I know they have faith. We always typically have something in common, and I really try to focus on that. "Oh your fiscally conservative, me too. I fix my own cars." Stuff like that. I really try to focus on connecting with business partners and clients on the positives, not the negatives. To me its about finding what is common in our human experiences.

Since we are speaking the same language, I have a "heart" for people in your particular situation, and would be happy to discuss with you or just be an ear to vent to. Usually I'm over debating theists on the Atheist/Theist board. Best of luck. If there's anything we can do, just shout.

EDIT: Also, one thing you need to take into consideration that I didn't have is the wife situation. You need to gauge the impact to your marriage if you become more vocal in your family about your new beliefs about the world. I say this because this type of change can, not always, but can have an impact on your marriage. How old are your kids? It's important that whatever you do, you gauge what the impact will be and then, if you choose to come out, you need to do so with eyes wide open about the damage. I would not underestimate the impact in your family life. Regarding friends, well personally I think if friends stop being friends they aren't the kind of friends to have. They are also the kind of friends to abandon you if you accidentally get on the news for an honest mistake and won't be there when you need them. IMHO. You can get new friends, and most clients won't know and may not care, but family is where the damage is done. You may just want to wait until Grandma "goes to meet the lord." But it really depends on your facts, which we don't have a lot of.

Don't sell yourself short Judge, you're an incredible slouch.

Martin Luther was the "father" of two movements - The Reformation and Nazism.
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08-09-2013, 07:42 PM
RE: The decision to "come out"
What earthly good would it do to come out to an 80 year old grandma?

Does not compute, no point..... just drama.

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Science is the process we've designed to be responsible for generating our best guess as to what the fuck is going on. Girly Man
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09-09-2013, 12:36 AM
RE: The decision to "come out"
(06-09-2013 07:24 AM)mitch Wrote:  After spending most of my life as a Christian, I abandoned my faith in favor of reason about two years ago. I can truthfully say that I am happier, I no longer worry about whether I'm good enough to avoid eternal damnation, and I focus more on the here-and-now than some mythical promise of immortality.

But I'm still not at ease. Not because I worry that I'm wrong in what I believe, but because I'm still mostly living in the closet. I feel like I'm living a lie by not coming out. I don't pretend to be faithful anymore - I gave up church several years ago, and I don't bother going through the motions even for the sake of appearance.

I have confided in a few people, including my wife and my business partners, all of whom are devout Christians. However, because nearly everyone in my family and circle of friends is Christian, and I'm very worried about the impact on my family, friendships, and business if I live transparently as a nonbeliever. I know for certain I'd lose many friends. And I fear that my coming out might literally kill my 80-year-old grandmother who raised me.

I suppose I could leave well enough alone and simply ignore the issues of faith and religion. After all, I don't go out of my way to say that I don't believe in fairies or Santa Claus or Bigfoot. However, the longer I've been away from the faith, the more I see the damage it can do. On a personal level, I think it's damaging to individuals to tell them that they're born broken and deserve to burn eternally because some naked dude 6,000 years ago ate an apple at the urging of a talking snake. On a global level, religion has been one of the most destructive forces in human history. George Carlin nailed it when he said, "... if you read history, you realize that God is one of the leading causes of death." So it's very difficult for me to simply let it go.

I do a good deal of writing and public speaking in my business. To some extent, I feel guilty that I'm not using these skills (I almost wrote "spiritual gifts" there - a relic of my fundie upbringing) to fight irrational belief in mythology. I have a very rational (in my own mind, anyway) fear of the personal and professional repercussions of publicly beating the drum of antitheism, but I worry that I'll never feel fulfilled if I don't speak out against this nonsense.

I know this is a bit of a rant, but I'd love to get feedback from others who have walked - or are walking - this same path.

Live a life that you want. Life is short-lived, and there are no do-overs. Do what will bring you the most happiness. If this means keeping your mouth shut, so be it. If it means speaking your mind in spite of the repercussions, so be it. I am reminded of a quote that I live by.

"All you can hope for in life is a few friends, someone to love, and the rest of the world be damned!" Smile

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