Can’t We Still Be Friends?

Religious belief is not a matter of intellectual choice or emotional attachment.  For most of us it’s a powerful legacy passed on to us and it’s not easy to leave.  However, when we do, we leave behind a community which can include profound friendships, parents, siblings, grandparents, cousins, spouses, and even children.

I did not experience the angry exchanges as other newly outed atheists have.  People were gracious to me. I wasn’t fired from my job. I voluntarily left my career.  But many people I have known and loved the longest have faded away.

It’s understandable enough. Our paths take different directions that can separate us.  I don’t work alongside them, anymore.  I relocated so I don’t run into them at the supermarket.  But there’s no denying that many have chosen not to engage with me anymore.

A few stayed with me. They know who they are and I appreciate them.  I also think many people keep a quiet watch over me but they can’t appear too friendly without risking their other relationships. I get that, and I sympathize. 

Of course, breaks in relationships are often messier than I just described.  I look back and see real mistakes I made that contributed to some of my losses.  However, it’s clear to me that I’ve lost people because I no longer share their religion.

I was hoping I could have my own thoughts, express my views, and even debate them strenuously, yet stay friends. Is that possible? I still love these people and would never reject them. In fact, I’m still here for them.


15 thoughts on “Can’t We Still Be Friends?

  1. One of my very best friends attends the Unitarian Church, I’ve gone to services there regularly. They have deep ties in human rights issues and promote justice in their communities. In many ways, I see their service more clearly than ours in the UMC. It’s not how we choose to be in service…but that we do what we can to be caring, compassionate humans. I would never condemn an individual based on religion, but neither would I condemn them based on ethnicity or gender identification. Keep up the good work, keep us examining our thoughts and ideas!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You are like family to me. I will always be your friend. I respect your need to search for truth. My hope is for you to find joy in your life that brings you full circle. I don’t think God is through with you yet. 🕯

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I, too, grew up in a conservative/fundamentalist environment. I eventually attended seminary and spent a number of years in active ministry.

    At some point I came to the realization that all of religion is a human construct (an outdated and otfen dangerous one at that) and decided on a different path.

    I experienced the range of response from family/friends . . . anger to sadness to curiosity.

    All in all, I am still much happier and fulfilled experiecing the world from an evidence-based, non-theistic perspective.

    Thanks for your thoughtful post.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Honestly, as I get older and value my free time more so, I choose to be with nonbelievers. I don’t welcome the ‘bless you’, ‘I’ll pray for you’, ‘god wants it this way’, etc. I’d rather be with free thinkers and talk about subjects like free will, the meaning of life, the cards we are dealt, choice, quality of life, etc. It narrows my circle of friends and that’s definitely okay with me.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I have family members, former church members and previous peers who still pray, and tells me so, that God would answer their prayers and I would return to my former-self. Many have, at least upfront, accepted my decision and would keep our friendships but very few have actually listened to my reasons, and in response, have looked at themselves in a mirror. Thank you for sharing and reminding me that my struggles are not unique.

    Liked by 1 person

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