Husband and I have been hosting a once a month game night for almost three years now. It is a nice time to get together with friends and an interesting mixture of people show up each time. Sometimes there are only three or four of us, sometimes there are ten. Some of the people who come know about my deconversion, some don't. We play games, so it's not like the subject comes up often and it's certainly not a church-affiliated event so no one cares. I recently invited a friend who admits that he really separated himself from friends due to a controlling wife and some depression issues and now that he is divorcing said wife he is trying to reconnect with old friends. He is also an open atheist, which I am a little jealous about, but it seems to have caused him a great deal of heartache in the beginning.
So there we are, learning a new game, and a friend asks how we know each other. I told the truth, we met at a youth group we both used to attend. To me, this was all the information they needed and it would have made him more accepted by the group if he had left it at that. But he couldn't. I'm not sure why but he apparently felt compelled to tell them all about his deconversion, the problems it caused, and his issues with the Bible.
Holy fuck people. It was awkward. They were uncomfortable. He was uncomfortable. I was uncomfortable. I felt torn between completely agreeing with everything this guy is saying and trying to shut him down because I could feel the tension from two of the ladies at the table. They were NOT okay with him speaking against the Bible. One quipped, "Well, you can believe in science AND the Bible." Another added, "I studied those things and still found faith." You could tell they felt attacked even though all he was doing was stating what he believed. But here's the thing, it was an attack of sorts because no one asked him why he wasn't a Christian anymore. No one asked him to go on a rant against the Bible and their religion. And they are looking at my like what in the world and I'm in panic mode because I'm thinking, these people don't know I'm not a Christian anymore and I don't really want them to know. I ended up changing the subject back to the game and he apologized later stating that he never knew what to say in those situations.
So here's the advice I would give him if I was a bit more confrontational: Nothing. You say nothing. You nod your head and say, "Yes, we met at youth group. I definitely don't go to that church anymore because I had some issues with it." And then you leave it the fuck alone. You play your games. You laugh and joke and you don't offend people you don't know. And here's the thing, I would expect the same from my Christian friends. No Christian at any game night in three years has gone on a rant about religion and why they are a Christian and what they believe. Ever. That's not what that night is about.
And I wondered, is this what it's like to be openly atheist? Feeling the knee jerk need to tell people that you don't believe and why? Or is it this guy's experience and insecurities that leads him to do this? Now, don't get me wrong, I had an hour long conversation with one of the girls after game night in the parking lot and she didn't say anything about him. It was a blip on her radar. But if you feel the need to interject your beliefs or non-beliefs into a situation that doesn't call for it....well, don't. You aren't going to earn brownie points for making sure everyone knows you are an atheist/religious/liberal/conservative/etc. I know there is a case to be made about being up front with who you are, but a simple, "I'm not religious anymore" would have sufficed.
This is a personal, but secret, blog archiving my deconversion from a Christian to a non-believer.