V's Take

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


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