I'm glad you found my blog and hope you will stick around to join in the conversation! Start by reading my story and then check out the other posts.
Also, feel free to email me at thesecretatheist at hotmail.
Last year I finally became free of the church. The music director position at a local Baptist church I’d been in for five years ended and I did not apply for the new position. One year into that job I finally admitted to myself that I am an atheist and spent 4 years living a secret life, suffering on Sundays and Wednesdays because of the facade I had to constantly live behind, feeling free once I got home and could be who I truly am, worrying constantly that someone from church would find evidence of my double life–either see me with the local freethought group, find this blog and somehow connect me to it, or just call me out on my failure to stand up for my faith or evangelize. A year and a month ago that ended. It wasn’t quite how I’d hoped it would end–I had hoped to have found a new job to replace it with before I quit, but that wasn’t the case.
I knew what was coming in advance, the pastor had told me they would end the interim position and create a permanent position (I was unsure the details on it at the time, it turned out they wanted to hire someone for 29 hours rather than the 20 I was working, at less pay than I currently made). I knew then that I could not, in good faith, apply for the new position since I would have to actively lie to them about my beliefs (the fact of the new position requiring more hours and responsibility for less pay just made it all that much easier to walk away). I had put aside as much money as I could for six months prior, and the church members also took up a “love offering” (to the non-churcheese fluent: just a collection) for me that was equal to about a month’s pay. I figured I had 4-6 months of money to live on.
Six months later I had still not found a job, or had any interviews. My car died. I could not afford to fix it, and it wasn’t worth fixing. I had no idea what I was going to do. I began to prepare myself for the reality that I may have to move in with my (very religious) parents. I was becoming more and more depressed. My parents fundamentalism aside, they are some of the few Christians who actually live the love, charity, and grace that they preach. They are also some of the most loving parents ever and readily sacrifice for their children. They bought me a car (used, in great condition though) and when my old one got sold to a junkyard for scrap they even gave me that money (I’d planned to just let them keep that). Crisis averted. I began living off of my low-interest credit card, money from birthday gifts, Christmas, and a semi-regular house-sitting job I have. The money stretched out into 2015.
I did not set foot inside a church, aside from rehearsals with the choir I sing with and a few performances, from the last Sunday of May, 2014, until Easter of this year. I visited my family that weekend and attended church with my sister, brother-in-law, and nieces because I didn’t want to explain why I wasn’t going to church anywhere and didn’t want to go to my father’s church. I knew their church would at least be less fundamentalist than my father’s. Outside of rehearsals and performances I have not set foot inside a church since Easter. This has been the most freeing aspect of the whole transition.
I realized in April that I would probably not be able to pay rent and my credit card bills after the first week of June. I had no idea what I was going to do. I knew that I could move home, and with my grandmother having moved to an assisted living facility last winter I would be able to move into her house where my sister and her family live, and take up residence in my grandmother’s bedroom. It would be more space than at my parents, and more privacy, and though my sister and her family are Christians too, they aren’t quite as crazy. I know for a fact my brother-in-law is not a young earth creationist, for instance.
One Friday I was hanging out with a friend, he told me they’d had to fire his supervisor, was celebrating because he’d hated him. The following Monday morning I got a call from him with a job offer! Part time, hourly. He asked me to come in to talk about it the next day. I worked a half day that Tuesday and full days the rest of the week. I’ve been getting 29 hours a week since then and just found out from the owner that he’ll be offering me a full-time position in the next month! It’s not anything I had ever seen myself doing–mostly because I never knew anything like what we do existed (I have a hard time even describing what the product we make is), but I’ll be getting training on programming the robotics we use and will basically be in charge of the automation part of our production, so that’s pretty nifty. Things are looking up.
I’m now out from under the oppression of unemployment, and the oppression of religion. I feel the freest I have ever felt before.
Add to this the recent victory for marriage equality in the US, and the recent victory for racial equality in South Carolina (10 hours ago the Confederate battle flag was permanently removed from the statehouse grounds) and I am feeling very happy this summer!
This may be the last post I make here. I started this blog to work through my deconversion, to get it out in the open in some form, since when I made my first post I had no one in my life I could talk to about these things. Through this blog I connected with a local group rather quickly and became heavily involved in it. I run their website now. I have made friends who think like I do, and I gained the courage to come out to some of my older friends (some of whom I told by linking them to this blog). I found out quite a few of them were also unbelievers, and the others I told accepted me regardless of our differences of belief. I have not lost any friends over this yet. (I have been careful who I come out to, however. I am sure if I were to make a post on Facebook saying I’m an atheist I’d lose a lot of my friends list.)
I’ll be unmoderating the comments, too. The only reason I had moderated them initially was because I was worried about spam, but WordPress catches most of that anyway. And who knows, maybe I’ll come back at some later date with more to say, or an update on my life. For now, know that I am doing well, and the future is looking bright. I’m working, and may have a new career forming. I am happy, I am free.
Almost 4 years ago I made this post, my inaugural post to this site and the very first time I admitted to anyone other than myself that I am an atheist. 3 years, 7 months, 21 days. It’s just a little over 4 years since I admitted to myself that I am an atheist. Tomorrow I do not get up at 8:30 and get ready to go to my job, directing music in a very conservative Southern Baptist church, as I have almost every Sunday morning for five years and three months (I missed a couple of Sundays because of the flu, or vacation, but of the 274 Sundays since I started I was probably there for 265 of them. Last week was my last day as the music director. I am finally free of that job.
I do not currently have anything to take its place, however. This wasn’t a choice I made entirely on my own. No, no one at the church has found out about my unbelief, and I wasn’t fired from the position. When I took the job I was in graduate school. It was an interim music director position–generally what a church does is hire someone on a temporary, interim, basis while they search for someone to fill the permanent position. Usually these jobs last a year or two, sometimes less. The last one I did was 10 months. For a variety of reasons this one didn’t end, and the church has not been seeking someone permanent. In fact, many of the members assumed I was a permanent employee until recently. Two months ago the Personnel Committee told me that they had decided to end the interim position, effective at the end of May, and hire someone for the permanent, still part-time, music minister position. I would have to apply for the position, and they would have to advertize it even if I did apply, but I got the idea that my application would take priority over any others.
I decided I could not, in good conscious, apply for the new position. When I was hired, just over five years ago, I thought I was still a believer. I didn’t lie to them when I told them that. I would have to lie to them this time around and I can’t do that. It’s one thing to continue acting like it in a position I already have, but to lie as a part of the hiring process seems more dishonest to me. And, of course, I have planned to leave as soon as I find a secular job for quite some time and that would not change. It wouldn’t be very fair to them to accept the position and then a couple of months down the road resign, forcing them to perform a search again. So, a couple of weeks later I told them that I would not be applying for the permanent position. (I also found out that they will be requiring more hours and possibly be giving less pay for the new position, so… Yeah, that’s not going to happen.)
I’ve maintained the lie that I am a believer. I don’t want to burn my bridges, and this is 5 years of work history that I wouldn’t want to mess up while I look for another job. So my line has been that, “I just don’t feel that this is what I’m called to do now,” and lots of stuff about how I’ve prayed about this and such. I know that to some, especially the Christian readers, the difference in lying to them about this, and all along for the past four years, and lying to the committee to apply for the job may not seem like much, but it feels very different to me and is a line I just can’t cross. I know there are those who think I am a terrible person for having kept this job for over four years without being a believer. I’ve done what I had to in order to survive.
If I had come clean to them I would have been out of a job four years ago, and I may have ended up having to move back home. It would likely have come back to my parents that I am no longer a believer, too. Now, I trust my family to not react the way some do when they find their children are atheists–cutting off all communication and support, kicking them out if they live at home–but I have no way of knowing for sure. It wouldn’t be very smart to make a move that would cost me my job and then possibly cost me any family support I have all in one blow.
Anyway, it no longer matters. I’m done. I am no longer a secret atheist music minister. I’m free of the church, free of the lies I had to maintain, and free of having to listen to my bigoted, anti-science pastor spew bullshit from the pulpit every week. I’m quite happy about it, though the prospect of not having a job does not really make me comfortable.
But tomorrow morning I get to sleep in and enjoy not going to church. I’ve probably missed church on a Sunday morning fewer than 34 times in my 34 years of life, and now I won’t have any obligation to go back.
Edit: I don’t intend this to be the last post to this blog. It’ll still probably be infrequent, but I won’t be shutting it down. The title was simply referring to my “ministry” at the church.
Today I’m sitting in church once again, the sermon topic today, through the lens of the story of the birth of Jesus, it’s salvation. Salvation is one of the central tenants of Christianity. It is taught that we require salvation because we are a horrible, sinful people who can do no good. Without salvation, it is said, we are damned to eternal torment (fire and separation from God!) In hell. How is salvation given? Since it is our sin that curses us to examination then those sins must be forgiven in order that we might be saved. How are sins forgiven? Blood sacrifice.
“For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life.” Leviticus 17:11 (ESV)
This is one of the things that I was never able to make sense of. Why is bloodshed required for this forgiveness? Why would animal sacrifice be accepted temporarily fir this purpose for a few thousand years? Why would one person’s blood be accepted for all time and all people?
It send to me a silly system to set up. If this god is, indeed, all powerful, then it seems like he didn’t have to set things up like this at all. Why make things like homosexuality or extramarital sex a sin? Why require sacrifice to forgive said sin? Why require a piece of himself/his son come to earth to be brutally killed because of this? It never food fully make sense to me…
Nite that I can look at it rationally, I see it for what it is: bronze age myth twisted to fit first century religious ideas, and then modified through the ages as changes needed to be made to outdated beliefs. If course none of it makes sense, it’s a hodgepodge of ideas from multiple cultures and ages.
Merry Mythmas, everyone!
Posted from WordPress for Android
So, first things first, apologies to the folks who made comments that didn’t get approved or replied to until today. I haven’t been paying much attention to the blog lately (uh… mostly was distracted by a new game, Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, but I’ve also not really had much new to say in a while).
Quick update on me: nothing really has changed. Still working at the church, still looking for something else (though sometimes I get discouraged and stop looking for a while), and still involved in the local freethought group. I survived Thanksgiving with my religious family and now I have Christmas to look forward to. :)
If anyone has any questions for me, or suggestions for a topic that I haven’t covered, feel free to ask in the comments and I’ll see what I can do. I promise I’ll get back to you sooner than 6 months this time!
Last week, a promotional video for a religious documentary film, Unstoppable, was released. The film and the video both feature Kirk Cameron (famously of Growing Pains, the terrible Left Behind movie, and friend of the Bananaman). In this video, Kirk claims to be a “recovering atheist” and asserts that there are two things all good atheists must cling to: firstly, there is no god, and secondly, that they hate him (the god they do not believe in).