A big part of why this group was started was give those trapped in the SDA closet an outlet. One of the problems than many face is the fear of their spouses divorcing them and taking the kids if things were to become known.
That is a very difficult position to be in, one that I am fortunate to have not dealt with. By the looks of it we now have people in the group at all points of the process, single and out of the church, married with kids and stuck, and the hole family leaving the church. What advise would those who managed to make the exit a family affair have for those who are trapped in the closet?
i think having a loving relationship to begin with is key, if you don't get along with your family then, you announcing your change of heart will magnify those problems...when your family knows that you are still the same loving 'christ-like' person, that you haven't started eating babies or worshiping the anti-christ (by going to catholic church, lol), when they can see that from the time you stopped becoming a believer and up until this point as an atheist, your morals and character have in no way decreased and in many ways have increased (i strangely enough became vegetarian after i left the church) then that will make things a bit easier to swallow...i think letting them approach you is the best way too because some family members know but would prefer to pretend that you are still christian so just let them think that
i am personally out to my sisters and mother who are all pretty liberal and don't really care...i talk to my dad on the phone and he always says he's praying for me, i want to talk to him about it but i'm going to wait until i get to visit him in a few months and have a heart-to-heart, i don't think it's a skype-type of convo, i feel like i owe it to him to open up, he is an elder and is very well 'educated' in adventist doctrine, could give a bible study off the top of his head, i went to adventist academy k-12 and adventist university too, i was supposed to become an elder and a leader in my church, i'm not quite sure how he's going to react, i hope he's positive and respects me now as a 36 year-old man whose rational can no longer lie to him, i hope that the idea that we both still are holding true to the principle of truth is enough to maintain our relationship
my well-wishes to everyone out there who is also still struggling with it all
We've 'come out' to a few of our friends and it didn't go well at all. We even framed it as a doctrinal disagreement- (and these are people who are not well-versed in their doctrine, even though they've been partaking of it since babyhood)- and yeah. No go.
So, I'm cautious. We have other friends in our neighborhood who are mostly evangelicals of varying stripe. Also stressful. Feel we have to keep the peace and keep quiet.
My husband and I are basically on the same page. He leans a bit more to the Sam Harris view of moderates in religion- while I am always delighted to find someone moderate enough to not have a cow when I explain myself to them.
So, mostly in the closet I stay- except to my husband and a few friends I've made on this journey.
Outing myself to my mom would be... awful. I just know it.
The closet is simultaneously a haven of refuge and an intolerable prison.
I was never in the closet as an atheist. My transition to being an atheist has been open.
My experience in being in the gay closet is another matter. It is living the life of a lie. It is the wrestling with one's very identity. It is fear of exposure. For some, it ends in death.
I attend a small PFLAG chapter in Walla Walla, WA. I don't know all of the PFLAG protocols on how to deal with the closet and how and when to come out.
But one thing I have learned, as far as gay kids coming out is concerned, is to advise them to NOT come out until they are for certain that they have a support mechanism ready for them. It cannot be predicted with any certainty ahead of the coming out if the person will still be accepted, or severed from all connection. There are incidents of parents/family expelling the coming-out person, ripping up the birth certificate, dis-inheriting, prohibiting contact again with the family. It can lead to loss of employment. Being black-balled. Ostracized. The coming-out person must have a pre-arranged place of support and safety in the event of those kinds of hazards.
With atheists being a hated minority, it is not unlike the hated gay minority, and to be both gay and atheist is one difficult set of circumstances.
To come out frequently means a total change in one's activities of daily living, the location of habitation (typically moving to a larger setting with a known community of like-persons), and frequently a change to one's means of support.
For individuals married (gay and/or atheist), it frequently means the end of the marriage. And the process can be bitter. It may mean the loss of custody or even contact with children. It may mean total separation. It is like a death where the parties don't have the decency to die.
For some, it is the burning of all bridges to the past. A past that can never be regained.
It can be a horrible decision.
If it is a decision of choice, that is one thing. To be "outed" as an atheist is quite another. Frequently, the lies have to be intensified to maintain one's very existence.
Sam Harris is right. Even moderate religion can have evil consequences.
When I listen to the experiences and stories told by gay people who have come out of the closet, all most without exception, it is a story of pain but eventual triumph. Frequently, there does come a reconciliation. What seemed like a living hell at the time, in time, became healed.
As a popular initiative proclaims, "It Gets Better."