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.