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“Team Jesus Forever, Right?”

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The Out Campaign

When I began blogging last summer, one of my first posts was about Coming out as an Atheist. I mentioned there were extended family members, co-workers, and some friends who after 2 years still didn’t know about this huge change in my life. I had a lofty goal of taking opportunities to come out every chance I got. Well, after 7 months, I can’t say that I’m as far along as I want to be in this regard, but I have certainly made some progress. I wanted to take an opportunity to share with you one instance of coming out to a colleague.

Enter Shannon. I first met her when I was involved in a Christian ministry in college. She is an extremely bubbly, nice, goofy, beautiful, and yes, very devout, woman. Post college, we both remained in the same town and would catch up with each other occasionally. Many years later, prior to quitting my job last summer, we became colleagues for a few months. During those months, even though I was an atheist the entire time, she still knew me as “sold out for Jesus”. Even though she talked about god often, I just didn’t feel comfortable mentioning my lack of belief in a work setting.

file0001113911603When it was my last day at work, she gave me a big hug, passionately exclaimed how much she would miss me, and said, “It’s OK, team Jesus forever, right?” This statement took me SO off guard. I was absolutely not prepared for her to say that to me (in front of other people, mind you) so I had no response at all. I just sort of felt sick to my stomach, said goodbye, and turned around to leave. My issue is that so many people know me as a person that loves god and spends a lot of my time and energy pursuing god and his interests. Well, now that I’m an atheist, that obviously isn’t the least bit true anymore.  I want people to know that I no longer believe the things I use to believe, but how are they going to know if I don’t tell them? I can’t expect them to read my mind, that’s for sure. But the reality is, this can be an entirely awkward topic to bring up depending on how well I know a person and the context in which I encounter them.

So, after having this weird encounter with Shannon, I went home and felt sick about my inability to say something in the moment. I absolutely HAD to respond to “team Jesus forever, right?” Because, um… no, NOT team Jesus… not even if I was a Christian would I feel comfortable with that statement!

_DSC0835Below is the email I sent her that same night. To some, this may seem too soft and lovey dovey. But, this is me. I am often very sensitive to the feelings of others, it’s a part of who I am.

So, this email emerged:

Dearest Shannon –

I just love you and our budding friendship. I have felt the need to be honest with you in regards to my faith or lack there-of, although it is challenging for me to share because of reactions I have had from some family and friends.

In the past couple of years I have realized that I don’t believe in any gods. I look back fondly on all my Navigator (college ministry) memories, friendships, etc. but I have went on a journey of doubt, questioning, then realization that I don’t have enough evidence to believe there is a God. I value my relationships, family and morals immensely and I feel that I am in a good place and a good person without any faith in the supernatural.

I appreciate your spirit, compassion, and emanating love. I hope that we can continue forward in fondness for each other. Take care and seeya soon,

Vanessa

I am not sure how many times I will need to have this conversation with people, probably for the rest of my life to some degree. I do know that I will choose to be honest with people when it becomes necessary, just like it became necessary with Shannon.

Your Turn

Share an awkward moment when someone thought something about you that wasn’t true.

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11 thoughts on ““Team Jesus Forever, Right?”

  1. I think it was perfect too. You are honest about yourself and not at all hurtful towards your friend. I really hope she received it in the tone you sent it and that you are able to still be friends. I admire your courage and your honesty.

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      • Well, I have it good compared to most people! My good friends have all stuck around. It is mostly family relationships that are weird.

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      • I still think it’s crazy. Their.loss. I admire your honesty and courage. I may not agree with your conclusions but I really relate to your thinking process. I take my hat off to you. Maybe these people have never had to stare the tough questions in the face and so you scare them. Still sad though.

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  2. I’m so interested in this topic and this journey of yours. In a way, its very foreign to me. I grew up in a Catholic family who went to church twice a year and I dropped out of sunday school before I was 13. Not exactly religious. That was a plus for me because it allowed me to think more critically than I might have done otherwise.
    I knew I wasn’t really Christian anymore by the time I was in my late teens, but I called myself ‘agnostic’ for a long time. You know, just in case. LOL When I realized how faulty that logic was, I admitted that I was really an atheist and had probably been for a long time. The good thing is that I live in Canada and being an atheist isn’t much of a deal. Or maybe its that most people in my life aren’t super hyped up on Jesus.
    So hearing about how your life has been and the process you went through is really interesting. Thank you for writing about it and perhaps maybe write sometime about how and what you’ll tell your kids (and when) and more about how people in your family and friends are dealing with your ‘coming out’. HUGS keep on writin’!

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    • Hey Lisa – I appreciate hearing a bit about your background, I certainly know people who had similar religious upbringing to you and sometimes I’m surprised religion is such a big deal to so many in my area. I think as a result, coming out of religion is a really big deal for me. It’s nice to know some specific things that you would like to hear about, I will definitely try to touch on those topics at some point. Also, thanks for the ongoing encouragement 🙂

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