Quote

“Team Jesus Forever, Right?”

scarlet_A

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.

Gallery

Coming Out as an Atheist

atheist photo: atheist 333b66826e470a613bbbda23515cacb218a.jpg

So it’s true, I have come out as an atheist to my close family and friends.

BUT, there are extended family members, co-workers and some friends who do not know about this huge change I have made in my world view. There are people who were in my conservative Christian college group who still send me letters requesting financial support for their ministry (I don’t even take the time to read these letters anymore because they make me angry). There are a whole lot of people I know who think I’m a good Christian girl. They don’t know that I now find myself a more compassionate, moral, mindful, truthful and confident person then I have ever been before in my life. All that, plus I’m an atheist, and I am proud of it!proud atheist photo: Proud Atheist proudatheistfig.gif

A few thoughts:

  • Coming out seems challenging because I used to be a hard core Christian – I thought it was my responsibility to evangelize and bring the inerrant, inspired Word of God to the ends of the earth and many know that about me.
  • Being a conservative believer sold out for Jesus is what people expect me to be and that is part of why I feel the need to proclaim “No, I think that God, Jesus and Christianity are harmful, wrong, immoral and false at best”.
  • I really don’t want people assuming that I agree with their world view when I don’t.
  • I fear the affects this could have on my immediate family, my husband Matt and I’s work environments, my extended family dynamics, etc.
  • With Matt’s family in particular, an emotional chasm has formed between them and us. I fear that coming out as an atheist will only fuel their anger.

    After almost two years, it's time to come out

    After almost two years, it’s time to come out

In the end, I think that being brave and being who I am is the right thing to do. When I’m ready, I plan to take the opportunity to come out as an atheist as needed, every chance I get!

Follow-Up: Check out my follow-up post “Team Jesus Forever, Right” where I share a story about coming out to a colleague.