I Think I Just Lost My Best Friend b/c of Atheism + Facebook

I have always lived my life with a very open-book philosophy--wherever I was at, if you knew me and you asked, I'd tell you the truth.  Over the years, I went from being raised Catholic to exploring Mormonism (don't ask, I was young and in love), Judaism, Buddhism, all kinds of New Age stuff, and checking out several conservative churches, as well as Episcopalian, whatever, you name it.  I moved away from home when I was 17, across the country to Los Angeles, where I lived for another 17 years before relocating to Georgia (again, don't ask, another love story).  Meanwhile, I kept all the same friends, one of which, who I would term my "best" friend, went from Catholic to born-again christian.  Needless to say, we've had a few debates over the years, the seriousness of which increased as my beliefs fell farther away from religion altogether, to agnosticism, and finally, after delving deeply into scientific study, atheism.  Even then, I only admitted or "came out" as an atheist a year ago, around the same time I got involved with Facebook, a little after that.  

In all this time, my friend and I have maintained a very close relationship, talking on the phone almost every day and joking back and forth online, emails, and of course visiting one another.  We've both had children and our kids call each other "aunt."  Most of our relationship, I'd say 95% is or has been wonderful--we finish each other's sentences, laugh hilariously, cry to each other if life gets hard and share everything.  Except religion.  After a couple religious debates that escalated practically to name calling, we backed off from discussing science and/or religion.  Except for Facebook.  Being the outgoing, opinionated people we are, we each post articles, quotes, etc. related to all the things we care about.  Long story short (too late) this led recently to an epic and semi-public online knock down drag out after I corrected her on an insanely right-wing propaganda article that claimed Obama "admitted" he was Muslim (like it matters which mythology he believes anyway, but the point was it was false) that stopped short of total name calling--I did, however, say she was entirely ignorant when it came to science, etc. and suggested she read a book.  I can be very biting and sarcastic. 

After that, we didn't talk for a week--I needed to calm down and reassess and felt sure she was on the same page.  I wrote to her yesterday to suggest that we block each other from all "controversial" posts in order to protect our friendship (I'd already suggested this once before but she didn't want to).  She wrote me back a very hurtful letter, won't get into everything but saying that while she still had to "pray more about it," she was pretty sure she didn't want to continue on with our friendship any longer b/c essentially she didn't want to have to hide the essence of who she was and that atheists were not very nice people anyway.  

After over 30 years of friendship and all we'd been through together, I didn't think this would be a serious option, but it sounded as if it really wasn't that big of a deal to her.  She even used the phrase "dust her feet off" and move on.  I know our philosophies are diametrically opposed and it pains me but never would I have considered ending our friendship b/c, as I stated, if not for Facebook, we don't argue at all and talk for hours, agreeing and laughing, etc.  It's all complicated by the fact that I already feel so insanely isolated here in the bible belt, but even if my life were surrounded by atheist friends, I would still miss her incredibly.  

I'm just in shock and incredibly sad, like facing the death of someone close and I'm not really sure there's anything I can do to change it.  I actually cried like a little baby when I got her letter/email back.  I certainly can't pretend to believe something I don't.  But I was more than willing not to talk about it anymore.  That's the most I can offer.  But it may not be enough.  Has anyone else gone through anything like this?  I admit I am very outspoken and probably can be annoying at the very least with my Facebook "activism."

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Wow, thats horrible. My sympathies go to you. Perhaps you can get together and offer to rekindle things? Maybe offer a gift? Emphasize that religious differences shouldnt tear you apart and that your friendship is built on more than that. Maybe also bring up the kids and how close they are with each other and with their parents? I would also try and back off of religion for awhile so she can cool off. Religious types always feel that they should play the martyr even if it means destroying or sacrificing friendships, loves, ect for their religious beliefs. Not bringing up religion allows for her to get out of her defense zone for awhile and not feel like she needs to play the devout christian follower. Hope things get better!
thanks olga. that sounds like good advice. i think you're right about the martyr thing b/c she alluded to that in her email. i've already backed off but maybe in a few more days i'll try to call. we live in different states so getting together won't be possible. thanks for taking the time to read and respond. i really appreciate it.
I have the exact same issue with my parents, and we have our blowups but often end up returning to a peaceful coexistence after some time passes. If your friendship was as strong as you say, it may be that she will realize friends are more important that being "right" but if not, you might be better off, as she is willing to put her imaginary friend before her real friends.

Id say just remain loving and try to reach out to her whenever you can, and make sure she knows she is always welcome at your door. That might just grate at her and make her realize that grace is not exclusively a "christian" concept since you, an "atheist" appear to be full of it. To use their words, your best option is to "be a light" in your community, and that is nearly impossible for the religious zealot to cope with - since their faith hinges on the belief that morality is exclusive to evangelicals.

Best of luck with all this, you are not alone!
thanks ryan. more good advice. :)
That sucks! My parents recently found out I was an Atheist, by looking through my Facebook Profile. Under religion I wrote "Thank God for Darwin". It was bad at first, mainly for them because I was heavily prepared to debate .But then It got serious so I lied and said I would convert back even if I didn't believe any of it in order to keep my family together. I think that's what got them. So were all good now. Did your friend ever realize that her religion teaches her to forgive and that we are all brothers and sisters? Sooo...Does she not read her own text? That's exactly what religion does-Divide.
yes, i mentioned the seven times 70 thing--i'm sure she didn't appreciate it. besides the fact, she has a little forgiveness to be asking as well. haven't heard back from her so i guess god told her she should ignore me for now. i'm joking but yes, it's sad. thanks for the support :).

I had to google the 70x7 thing to find out what it meant!

Good luck fixing things with your friend.
thank you :).
So sorry you had to go through that. I sincerely hope you can be friends again soon.
thank you. me too. life is short.
I sincerely hope that your friend learns the meaning and value of friendship before her guilt and pride prevent her from continuing your long lasting relationship.

It always pains me to see how friendship can be pulled apart because of religious differences.
Thanks everyone for the kind words and encouragement. Still haven't heard back from my friend (maybe God hasn't answered her yet, he must be busy or something) but I'm holding out a little hope that she'll come around.




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