Dear V

Dear V: After rejecting God, my friends and family rejected me. Where can I find support?

Dear V,

Recently I came out as an atheist, and feel very alone. My parents keep telling me how disappointed they are that I am going to hell, and many of my friends and family have distanced themselves from me. I wish I could keep pretending that I believe in God, but over the years I have realized that I can’t. One of my former friends even told me that they hate me because they hate atheists since they have no morality! I am a good person; I am a vegetarian, I help people, I pay my taxes. I’ve come to realize that being an atheist is like being gay; people are nice to you until they find out. This is supposed to be a secular campus but there’s no SpectrUM for me. How can I cope? Is there anywhere I can go for acceptance?

-Feeling Alone

Dear Alone,

Religion is the ongoing struggle to figure out whose imaginary friend is cooler. But your issue is that you don’t have an imaginary friend!

People resort to religion for a number of reasons: to give themselves a source of motivation in life, to make sense of their surroundings, or to seek acceptance within a community of common beliefs. It seems like you’ve accomplished the first two things, but as an atheist, the third part can be tricky.

If the world were full of Vs, beliefs wouldn’t define people. The fact of the matter is that everyone disagrees on at least something. If our families, friends and loved ones were people that we agreed with everything on, well, there would be no families, friends or loved ones – or just a very boring existence. However, we live in a world full of interracial and interfaith relationships. Looks like they’re making it work.

Unfortunately, not everyone possesses this spirit of tolerance. I am not sure where you found your friends, but they don’t sound like very good friends. As far as you’re concerned, you’re still the same person as you were before you “came out.” That being said, ask yourself why you felt it was necessary to make an official renouncement of your beliefs in God. Do you think that it defines you as a person? If it does, does renouncing a belief in God heighten your belief in yourself as the high power? Furthermore, if this is the case, you should accept yourself for who you are and what you believe in. Then others will follow.

There is no atheist organization on campus that I am aware of, but you could always start one! All the steps and application information for starting a new student organization can be found on UM’s Web site. You can also look into the Atheists of Florida. They have a chapter in North Miami.

It might be shocking to the people closest to you that you have changed your religion, but being a person who takes pride in their own beliefs (and starts a student organization) is nothing to be ashamed of.

Best of Luck!
-V

To consider starting a new student organization, visit www.miami.edu/student-organizations.

March 11, 2009

Reporters

V

Advice Columnist


5 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Dear V: After rejecting God, my friends and family rejected me. Where can I find support?”

  1. David Sargent says:

    Dear Alone,

    I am saddened, disappointed and angered by the way people of faith have treated you. As a Christian, I would like to apologize to you on behalf of my fellow brothers and sisters of my faith. We have wronged you (and no doubt many others on campus) in our failure to show you the love and kindness that Jesus Christ has taught us. In that, we have been poor representatives of who we believe God to be and what the Christian faith is about. Please forgive us.

    Jesus said that it was the “sick” and “sinners” that he came to call; and that is who makes up the body of Christian believers. We are a faith of people whose souls are still sick with pride, hypocrisy, unkindness and even hate. However, we believe that God still acts to genuinely heal people’s hearts of these dark inclinations. Sadly though, many non-Christians rarely, if ever, get to see this process of healing and growth in us. Rather, it’s often the opposite they see. Again, let me apologize and ask for your forgiveness.

    I want to say that I admire you in your honesty with yourself and others. In it, you have shown the courage to face your heart in spite of the subsequent rejection of your family and friends from that choice. If there is a God, I don’t think that he delights much in us merely pretending to believe in him. I believe that he always wants us to be real with ourselves and honest as to what the deep convictions of our hearts are; and that takes bravery. You have gained so much of my respect in your refusal to continue to simply play a religious role. May I continually be more like you in that regard!

    I feel obliged as a believer, if I may, to encourage you to continue to do what you are already doing: be open and honest with your heart. I don’t expect I can persuade you to believe in God from this letter. Nor, do I wish to. (I don’t think you should believe anything this important just because someone tells you to.) But, I would encourage you to still consider the thought that perhaps there is a God here who fully shares your frustrations with religious hypocrites; and he is more loving, forgiving, accepting, and real than we could ever imagine. Perhaps there is a God who blesses those who, upon a sincere spiritual self-examination, find themselves utterly bankrupt. Perhaps he was more tired of your pretending than you were, because he actually loves you. Perhaps you’re not alone; perhaps you just haven’t met him yet.

    Many blessings and much love!

  2. Vinny says:

    sympathizer

    Since you have determined there is no God, please present some facts to support your premise. Are we to believe that all science is the result of two rocks colliding in space ? Did the human body, the heart,DNA just pop up one day from some primordial protoplasm ? The thing I find most annoying about atheists aside from the fact they find it necessary to impose their beliefs on the many is that you people are malcontents who’s only goal is intolerance for those who believe in a God.

    Mt grammar is just fine, devil-boy! The hatred is all yours!

  3. Sympathizer. says:

    Vinny,

    Before you accuse others of idiocy, perhaps you should aquiant yourself with English grammar. I am confident that even those incapable or unwilling to put themselves in the shoes of others are capable of learning things 10 year olds are capable of, such as punctuation. I also know for a fact that most Christians – as I assume you are, correct me if I’m wrong – are tolerant of other people’s religions or lack thereof – love thy neighbour is one of Christ’s best known lessons.
    Next, your ‘wall socket’ test is absurd. One might respond ‘Christians believe God will save them, why not jump off the Empire State Building and see if he catches you?’. However, most atheists and Christians are not so deluded, blinkered, ignorant or hateful as to suggest that one harm themselves to affirm their faith.
    Perhaps next time you should consider your hateful words and attitude more carefully, or perhaps come up with a more persuasive reasoning or argument to try and convince someone that they have erred. Any Christian I know would. Your incendiary comments and half-thought suicide encouragement (isn’t suicide a sin? Why would any good Christian advocate this?) have no place in modern society, nor in this newspaper. Please refrain from hatred in future.

  4. Vinny says:

    Hey feeling alone,

    You should feel alone , you idiot!

    So you don’t believe because you do not see, or feel.

    Tell you what loser, you can’t see the electricity in a wall socket either, why don’t you sick your finger in there and see if it is real ?

  5. Sympathizer. says:

    FA, as a fellow atheist, I too know that there are sometimes problems with not having a faith, and when I have told people have seen many reactions, from disbelief to mistrust, and have indeed seen anti-Atheist bias in this very newspaper (the grossly offensive cartoon wherein Hitler and Stalin are thrilled by thr living rejecting God, both historically inaccurate and incoherant, as well as poorly drawn). However, I agree partly with what V says: these friends are not really worth it. My religious friends don’t have a problem with my lack of faith because, at the end of the day, it’s just a minor difference.
    I am unsure as to whether an atheist society would be useful however – what would we do? Whereas faith-based unions can discuss scripture or personal religious experiences, our faithlessness requires that we cannot do these things. I’m not trying to be confrontational, I just literally can’t see any purpose for the society.

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