Apparently this needs to be said.
When people write about being a former Christian or a deconvert, it generally means that they went to church frequently, paid attention to sermons and Sunday School, and believed in what they were taught. We were people who helped out with potluck dinners, mission trips, church fellowship, church music, and damn near anything else that needed doing within a congregation. Some of us were even former clergy or lay clergy, with a few that even went so far as to actually study The Bible professionally.
In other words, we were once the people sitting next to you in the pews on Sunday. We sang along, even when the hymn wasn’t totally appropriate for the particular part of the church year. When your family got sick, we brought by food and sat with you all night worrying about your loved ones. When you lost a loved one to whatever unfortunate circumstances befell them, we carried them to their final resting place. No thanks was needed or accepted, because that’s what decent human beings do.
Now that we’re no longer there, the only thing that has changed is our views of supernatural beings. Some of us might have become atheists, others might just avoid the subject entirely. A few go to a different religion. It doesn’t matter where we land after walking out the door, because it was our choice to make and our path to walk.
Being a former Christian, apostate, deconvert, or whatever term you prefer doesn’t negate that part of our lives that we spent genuflecting and contemplating the divine. We didn’t forget what happened to us in church; we certainly didn’t forget what was drilled into our heads. Leaving the faith doesn’t magically change the fact that we can anonymously go into any church and say the right things to get people praising our godliness or our authentic Christian values.
You know, if we were the lying pieces of trash that we’re frequently accused of being.
When you talk about how real Christians believed this or that, you’re forgetting that we were once there when you picked up that nice little phrase. We didn’t forget it at all. We can’t really, because we get reminded of it all the damn time. Sometimes, it would be nice to forget some of the things we’re reminded of.
What all this boils down to is the notion that someone can hear the same sermons, go to the same congregation meetings, and take the same proverbial fruit from the same proverbial vine and end up saying, “No thanks.” It is entirely possible, and it actually happens a lot more often than you care to admit. But since we left Christianity instead of hopping to a different denomination, we have to get told about how wrong we were. There’s no difference between a Catholic becoming an agnostic or a Southern Baptist becoming a Methodist or a Lutheran becoming an atheist; all it means is that there’s a change in some beliefs.
Therefore, unless you treat people that leave your particular church/congregation/belief niche the same way as you treat people who leave the faith entirely, you are barking up the wrong tree. Treating us like we are forgetful, stupid, misleading, or just plain awful isn’t appropriate just because we’ve rejected the same Sunday hobby group as you have. Unless you are prepared to treat everyone equally, all you’re going to accomplish is reminding everyone why they left.
Above all else, please stop selectively enforcing your scrutiny towards former Christians. Some of us don’t want to go back. We’re not notches for your spiritual bedpost. We’re not lost, misguided, or misinformed. We’re not inferior beings who need explanations for what we experience in life. Instead, do something silly, and treat us like human beings. When that happens, there will be less crap like this written about you.
Thank you, and may the compassion of Puppykins go with you.