I was raised Mormon. That's a religion that dictates just about every aspect of the followers' lives. Most of my social life was constructed around the church. I still have a lot of friends there and went to the activities for the college students. I assume they all noticed that I don't go to church anymore, but they never brought it up. I  was president of the SSA this spring and I'm pretty sure they had no idea. I don't want to stop hanging out with the Mormon student group because the couple in charge has helped me out a lot this semester. They're good friends regardless of the religion. I'm still scared to come out to them, even though I was completely comfortable representing the SSA to school officials and campus ministers. That might be because my church friends have known me as a faithful Mormon for years and everyone else is meeting me for the first time. It's as scary to come out to them as it was to my parents.

Has anyone else tried to be an active advocate of atheism and remain at least friendly with their religious community at the same time? It's a strange situation to be in

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I was also raised mormon, but when I finally saw the truth and overcame my fear of satan, I came-out quickly.  I didn't have many mormon friends, but my family are all still mormon, and I told them all the truth and let the chips fall where they may.  

I just can't stand to hear the religious stupidity anymore, and it makes me too sad to hear my family still in the brainwashed state, so I don't try to associate anymore.  Sorry I'm not much help to you.

If you were president of the Secular Student Alliance (right?), you are out.  People who have known you for some time may not realize what the SSA is, but the information is at their fingertips.  Friends and family may rationalize your absence of religion (Oh, he's just going through a phase.  He'll get over it.  He's still Craig.) and convince themselves that you haven't changed, or at least not much.  I'm not sure it's necessary for you to "come out" publicly and specifically to your friends.  I assume if asked, you'd tell the truth -- or as much truth as necessary, or a version of the truth -- but not bash Mormonism.  It sounds as if you have, at least for now, about as good a situation as you need.  Unless you feel you're being dishonest, I'd let it ride for now.

Yeah my family is sure that it's just phase. My aunt says "he's an atheist... well, he likes to call himself an atheist." That's a bit irritating. 

I had the missionaries come to one of the Secular Student Alliance meetings and talk about their lives. Now that they know word might have gotten out. 

I have to be friendly to the religious community for employment purposes. Everyone knows I no longer go to church, and a few know I once studied for the ministry. Some know me as atheist, and some do not. The thing now is that I am still very vocal on religious subjects. While some may suspect that I am atheist, most just think I have turned into a comedian.

However you wanna do it, I have to cause people to think.

Did any of your religious teachers say faith is a gift, and perhaps add that the gift isn't given to everyone?

Several nuns said that during my twelve years in Catholic schools.

They made my quitting easier because I was able to tell people that I didn't have the gift.

Yeah I heard things like that. Stuff like "you have to want to believe. Pray harder for the gift of faith." A lot of my friends even told me that in my high school days I was an example to them because of my faith and that it was a shame that I was throwing it away. Their reasoning is that if I prayed and didn't receive the gift of faith, then I was obviously not being sincere.

Yes, that wonderful gift of FAITH. That's the thing that you just cannot define. If god didn't give you faith (or didn't heal you) probably you have hidden sin in your life. Faith is the essence of doodly doo. Bet you don't know what that is either? It doesn't matter. I had faith in a mustard seed one time but it didn't grow. Once I had the faith of the rising bread, but a kid came in, looked in the oven and quickly slammed the door. There went that loaf. Yes, faith! That thing that you just cannot put your finger on!

I empathize with you D Craig. In this small AZ town, I am active with the local LGBT rights/support group, PFLAG and I am an out Lesbian and Atheist to PFLAG and my family, friends. There is only 1 true Open-And-Affirming church here (UCC) and they are active, visible, card-carrying members of PFLAG :) Because UCC truly accepts and empowers LGBTQ's and PFLAG and PFLAG works often with them on projects, I try to remain respectful to their members who are nice folks. But, at meetings they always find ways to talk about UCC or 'faith' and one of refuses to believe I can be good without having a 'seed of faith' in me... which they often kindly/slyly tell me. I will often respectfully tell them not to say things like that to me as a person can be 'good without god'. Also, at business meetings, they always find ways to talk about UCC and indirectly plug UCC into our business meeting agenda. I bite my tongue and again, respectfully, tell them unless it's directly-involving PFLAG, we should not be bringing up religious topics. PLEASE know.... if you decide to keep religious friends in your life, they will always find clever ways to sneak in mentions of faith, religion etc... maybe they just don't think about their impact on your... or maybe there's a hidden 'agenda' of those friends and churches to someday convert you into religion once you see how 'good and caring' they are. If you can bite your tongue and supply respectful responses back to them, then you keep good friends who hopefully are not trying to psychologically-convert you. If it becomes too much of a struggle to endure their religion-related talk, it might be best you directly state you do not want to talk about 'faith, religion' and you are a proud non-theist - if they respond negatively  to your request, might be best to X them off your friend list as they were probably 'staying your friend' in hopes of getting you (& your pocketbook) back to the church.

I became an atheist 3 years ago, during my last year of saturday russian school at the orthodox church where I grew up. I got a job there as a teacher's assistant/teacher for two years, and now I'm going off to college. I'm kind of glad, because the hypocrisy of pretending to be religious while actually an atheist is awful. After the very first day of work, I came home and came out to my mom. No one at the church even got a hint though. Throughout those two years, I was very open and vocal about my lack of belief in my personal life, but pretended to be a good pious christian girl at work. I didn't really teach in any of the religion classes--mostly russian language and arts & crafts for the young'uns, although I did substitute occasionally. Especially in the beginning, the cognitive dissonance was excruciating, but I also kind of enjoyed being "undercover" LOL. I had an inside look at the inner workings of a religious institution, and I could mentally scoff at, analyze and criticize things in my head. I actually had quite a lot of fun with this, heh.

There were a few incidents when I had a moral choice to make--do I teach these kids this bullshit, or do I encourage them to question it? I had to accept the fact that it wasn't really my place to be trying to counter-propagandize them--their parents were sending them to this institution to learn about their language, religion, history and heritage, and that any subterfuge on my part would just be douchebaggery--not to mention, quite pointless anyway. It simply wouldn't have much effect on these kids  since everything in their surroundings reinforces their faith, and they were too young to really be capable of any critical reasoning either. When they grew up, if they were curious, they would find out anyway.

So I did my best to earnestly fulfill the obligations of my employment as if I whole-heartedly believed in everything. I don't regret those two years--it was an interesting experience, and I believe I made the right decisions regarding my behavior, so my conscience is clean, and I didn't burn any bridges either.

Thank you so much, it really means a lot to me. Although I don't plan to make a career out of it, teaching is something that I realized I enjoyed.

In fact, I actually was able to teach the way I wanted to for the past year because I also held a job at a tutoring center teaching English and math and also as a private violin teacher for a family friend's child. 

Thank you for your kind wishes.




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