To Go Public Or Not?

I am tired of people not knowing what I believe or why I believe it. But why am I tired of this? Why do I keep being tempted to share my views and my beliefs with the world? I know that I share my views with you all on here, but you have found this blog and you have decided to read it, there isn’t any way I can share it with you without you wanting it to be shared with you.

If I collated my current position on religion and why I left Christianity, and then shared this with everyone I know personally on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, I would be forcing my point of view onto their timeline for no other reason than wanting those who know me, to really know where I am currently at within a very specific area of my life.

I am not saying this is wrong. Most of my social media feeds are full of individuals sharing their views and thoughts on certain subjects and topics. I think we live in a world which demands that we articulate our thoughts by pushing them from our own daily world and into the digital world of those we have connected with.

So, I decided to ask people in a few private Facebook groups for those who have left their religious beliefs behind. I wanted to know what they thought about me telling the world in a big band way online. Further down you are going to read my post followed by the responses, all of which are anonymous.

It’s important to realise that I decided in the end to not tell the world I am connected with in a big bang way. Mostly down to the following comments, but also down to the realisation that those I really care about will either find out when they talk to me, or as in the cast of my parents, they already sort of know because of the things I do and do not chose to now talk about now.

Whether you have or have not told the world about your religious or lack of religious beliefs, it is completely personal, and I wouldn’t for a moment want to convince anyone of the right or wrong thing to do. Rather I wanted to ask some people who have gone before me what they thought. I honestly found it really revealing.

Most of the older contacts I have seemed to advise against telling everyone online, going on to share about their own experiences and how few people really care enough to ask how they are doing with religion when they begin to realise, they no longer believed. Whereas many of the younger generation told the world and told them loud, burning bridges and sealing friendships in the process as they pushed some people away and brought others closer with their honest words and updates.

I can’t help but think the answer is both and neither. We can’t attribute one thing to one person, rather that person must ask the question themselves and move along the path that seems most right to them.

My one reflection on deciding to not share my ‘none’ world view was that I am now able to share it with people one to one, and if I ever want to, I can then tell the world on social media. The internet isn’t going away any time soon.

I hope you enjoy the responses and I hope it helps you to reflect on your own decisions, or at least gives you some food for thought if you did, have or are pondering the following:

I am trying to weigh up telling the world on my personal social media that I am no longer a believer; they all still think that I am.

It’s really hard because I don’t want to be shouting ‘Hey Look at Me’, but I also want people to know the truth.

PAINFUL to weigh it all up.

  • Tell the people that are important to you, privately.
  • People have the audacity to tell the world about their cats on social media, so why not something interesting like this? Depends on how you might cope with all the fun it provokes. Or maybe the reverse, and your social network isn’t interested. I’ve a few immigrant Buddhist friends. If one of them told me they weren’t so sure about Buddhism anymore I’d be kind of interested,… for a few minutes.
  • Whatever you decide to do, you have to take into account the possible reactions you might get. If you feel that those who think you are still a ‘Believer’ will react fairly indifferently, then go for it. If there are those close to you who will be shocked and saddened, then perhaps a one-to-one with those individuals would be a better format, rather than doing it via social media (which may come across as crass and uncaring). I’m sure there are some Christians here who can also offer good, sympathetic advice (they are our brothers and sisters in love, after all).
  • Do what’s right for you at the time.
  • Maybe make your Unbelief as a contingent condition, pending further investigation and answers (or lack of them)? That way it doesn’t sound so final and irredeemable.
  • Give your believing friends and family something to pray for and ask about.
  • You are old enough to quit worrying about what other people think about you because they are not thinking about you anyway. Not everyone on the bus wants to see your vasectomy scar. You see the desire to tell people what you believe is a continuation of religious fanaticism that asserts people must share the same beliefs. Nothing changes until we quit trying to convert others.
  • I have never declared my atheism unless somebody asked me to. And the only person who ever did was my brother – 20 years after I stopped believing.
  • It’s a tough decision about when to come out. I thought that I’d already come out, but I guess not as many people read my posts I as thought. I like to post quotes and one day I posted an anti-biblical quote from Thomas Paine and then went on to explain that the murderous god of the bible is one of many, many reasons why I don’t believe any more. I was surprised at how many people still didn’t know. So even when you do post it, it may take some time for word to get around. It may be something that you have to do from time to time for people to actually get it.
  • Personally, I keep my social media bland. I feel I have nothing to gain and a lot to lose by “coming out” there. Especially living in the south where “everyone” is an evangelical and atheists are viewed as slightly better than child molesters. Face to face I don’t trumpet my atheism but if the topic comes up, I’m not shy on sharing. I guess I don’t really want to be an “evangelical” again? Something that I think about from time to time for sure. And not saying this is the best way to do things. Not certain really. Just how I’ve approached it.
  • I appreciate your struggle as we are currently having the same one. But our approach has been to sit down and have conversations with people with whom our relationship was solely built upon Christianity and we knew it would come up very soon. Other than that, we are only addressing it as it comes up, i.e. how’s church? Etc. So we are very honest and happy to tell people, but at the same time, we aren’t announcing it to the world.
  • We have quickly found that almost all of our Christian friends, while varied in response, have had one similar response, and that has been, “why didn’t you talk to me first?” As if they were entitled to try to stop our deconversion. I imagine that would only be worse over social media.
  • Life is about what you do, not what you think. When people keep wanting to tell you what they think they are politicians, ministers, or nuts. Actually, they are all the same.
  • My experience was from the social position where I had resigned and left “Jesus is Lord and God is needed to live well” churches. At first, 20 years later, my kids thinking I really believed but just left my social post – doc research demonstrated the scientific evidence that Jesus of the superman book did not exist. The biggest challenge I had was when I told my son directly, “I do not believe Jesus rose from the dead.” ‘Why are you telling me’, he said. Later my daughter gave me the book: Case for Christ. As she was going, she said, ‘What will you tell the kids (my grand-kids)’, I, being too direct, said quickly, “That he is not real”. Then I gave her my beginning post doc work on scientific morality, the immorality of a god like Jesus/father, and she left, never to speak civilly or caringly again. Nowadays I would just say things like, ‘People are not born sinners, because sin does not exist’. Then explain the science of how we know and why it is better not to have a supremacist running out lives. Good luck. Really know your stuff.
  • My family just thinks I’m a liberal. My parents asked me a couple years ago if I thought that there is a hell. They didn’t think to ask me any follow up questions when I told them no. I explained that hell is just medieval barbarism. Eventually it will dawn on them that I haven’t made a single profession of faith in the last ten years. They even ask me to say prayers before meals now and then. I do. But I don’t address a deity directly or indirectly. I express gratitude for the food, those who prepared it, and say amen. If it strikes them odd, they don’t mention it. I guess it really doesn’t take much to be taken for a Christian these days.
  • You got a strong answer from wise people. Congratulations on finding the truth…..you don’t need to advertise it.
  • If it’s too painful to weigh it all out…… maybe take today off ….. just enjoy the day……
  • Breathe the air, anticipate the seasons changes……smell the flowers you pass… pet the dog. My 2 cents….🧡
  • It’s hard, too, because I know the moment I come out as a nonbeliever, I instantly become a “project” for my Christian family and friends. They’re going to intensely try to change my mind, and/or think of me as some kind of devil-worshipper evil human.
  • I had tons of people who wanted to go for coffee or beers after I came out and quit church. I just stood my ground. I knew exactly what all of them would say and I had a response for every rebuttal and question they had. I even bluntly told people, “I’ll be your friend, I won’t be your project.” I didn’t come out until I was ready to put up with all their bullshit and push back against all of it.
  • It’s going to be different for everyone, but I did it recently, and I’m really glad I did. I felt like I was hiding, and now I don’t. The responses were more positive than negative, and I’ve had people reach out to me to say they want me to know they’re my friend no matter what, and people reach out to me to meet up and talk because they had also deconstructed or were going through serious doubts. So, it’s been an overall positive experience.
  • This is a good talk on making that decision whether to come out publicly as atheist/non-believer, and how to go about it if you decide to go that route.
This really is a good video by the way! 🙂

So, there you have all the responses collated and anonymised.

They gave me a lot to think over, I hope they do the same for you.

_End of Blog Blurb_

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog. It has taken me a few years to get to a place where I am able to share my loss of faith and to start writing about the journey that I am still on for you all. I hope you find it useful.

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Grammar, spelling, capitalisation and punctuation: I am massively dyslexic. It has taken me years to get to the level I am currently at with writing and I have done this mainly through reading. I want to be better and ask you, reader, to please forgive any errors in my writing. I hope you notice improvement upon improvement over the coming years.

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I’ll see you back here at the same time next week 🙂

-Sam

When Belief Dies #68 – 'An exchange of monologues…' with Daniel Kelly When Belief Dies

This week Sam is joined by Daniel and together they reflect on the last few conversations they have had together with other guests on the show. In short, we dive into Christianity and its sway upon the world today. The video version of this conversation can be found here on our YouTube channel 12 hours after the audio version goes live. This is the first episode recorded on the new PC, please bear with me as  I get used to working on Windows (used to be Mac OS), and also new audio & video editing software. Steep learning curve incoming 😉 Notes & Corrections:   I say 'Theodicy' in this conversation when talking about reading the  person of Jesus back into the OT, the term I meant was  'Theophany' Article about Neanderthals, art & jewellery You can find/follow Daniel here:   Twitter We hope you enjoy our show. When Belief Dies aims to honestly reflect on faith, religion and life. Your support via Patreon enables us to cover the costs of running this show and look to the future to make things even better as we build upon what we already have in the works. Please take a look and consider giving. Alternatively, you can support the show with a one-off gift via PayPal. Use the following link to navigate to the website, to find us on social media and anywhere else we might be present online. #Podcast #Deconstruction #God #Agnostic #Christian #Atheism #Apologetics #Audio #Question #Exvangelical #Deconversion #SecularGrace #Exchristian
  1. When Belief Dies #68 – 'An exchange of monologues…' with Daniel Kelly
  2. When Belief Dies #67 – 'Psychedelics, History & Hope' with Pat Smith
  3. When Belief Dies #66 – 'Social Contracts' with Kane B
  4. When Belief Dies #65 – 'History for Atheists' with Tim O'Neill
  5. When Belief Dies #64 – 'The morality of an Infidel' with Simon Blackburn

7 thoughts on “To Go Public Or Not?

  1. I deconverted many years ago. But I have never made a big announcement.

    I have not hidden my status from people I know. When asked by strangers, I sometimes tell them that my religious views are private.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Sam,
      Thanks for sharing. A very interesting topic. I actually just told people 2 weeks ago. I had already had seperate conversations with my family.
      I was in a leadership role in church and I decided to write a short informative email to the people in my church and the closest 25 or so Christians I’ve known from my past. I just informed them and affirmed by desire for relationships to continue. I told them that if anyone wanted to know my specific reasons then to request a longer second email which I had prepared. I also requested that if they didn’t want to receive this second email that they then respectfully forfeit their right to assign their own reasons to why I am no longer a Christian.
      It’s been rough but I’m glad I did it this way. I felt the first shorter email gave people the right who are satisfied in their faith the opportunity not to engage with my reasons. Yet those who wanted to know or engage with me got my full 9 page email 🙂.

      I personally would not want to completely tell everyone on social media. I feel Christians there who do not know me so well will just bombard me with unsubstantiated dogma. I at least don’t have the emotional energy for that right now.
      Then I feel my non Christian friends will be puzzled as to to why someone needs to justify their personal beliefs publicly, alas, they have not been a fundamentalist 😁.
      Also my wife’s journey is still open
      and she teaches at a local Christian school and I don’t want to cause her problems.
      Because cognitive dissonance had been such a major part of my life I needed to tell the people I was closest to. Others I owed a response because of my role in the church. To be healthy I cannot do anything I don’t believe in.

      On the otherhand I also respect and admire people who raise awareness of agnostics and atheists. It will never be more acceptable and normal untill more people “come out”.

      On the otherhand there is also this very modern desire to “come out” and declare oneself as a victim. So for myself I don’t have peace with coming out on social media but I don’t judge anyone who does. On some level I admire them.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hey Sam, love this, thank you!

        ‘On the otherhand there is also this very modern desire to “come out” and declare oneself as a victim.’

        This is such a massive subject area, and rightfully something to think about before social media etc.

        I am delighted you found what works for you, and it sounds like a really smart method.

        I hope this comment helps others who read this desiring insight.

        Cheers,
        sam 🙂

        Like

  2. “You are old enough to quit worrying about what other people think about you because they are not thinking about you anyway. Not everyone on the bus wants to see your vasectomy scar. You see the desire to tell people what you believe is a continuation of religious fanaticism that asserts people must share the same beliefs. Nothing changes until we quit trying to convert others”

    I find this comment someone gave very interesting….. I’ll have to think on this….hmmm

    Like

  3. This is extremely helpful. I’m planning on coming out to my friends and family in a week or so. It’s been a deconstruction for about 3 months now. The cognitive dissonance has been real and seriously weighing on my mental health. I’m a “leader” of a house church plant in California and basically all my friends and family revolve around Christianity.
    My serious planning and thought into coming out has led to an 18 page paper and sleepless nights.
    I really appreciate this post and it’s quite comforting knowing others have gone before me. Thanks Sam.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hope you find the right way and time for you Jacob. Make sure you capture the experience to share for others in year’s to come ✌️

      Like

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