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My friend and aspiritual leader, Jake recently wrote a post on his blog, AfterFaith.com, that reminded me about an issue I’ve been wanting to write about for some time. Lately, I have been getting a lot of e-mails from recent de-converts from religion and I wanted to talk about the betrayal many of them feel.

Jake’s blog post was an open letter to new atheists, not to be confused with “New Atheists.” In it, he talks briefly about the resentment and betrayal that many recent de-converts feel when they break free of the indoctrination and manipulation of religion. This feeling of betrayal is natural. It can be helpful sometimes to motivate atheists to fight back against religious oppression, but it can also cloud our judgment and prevent us from thinking rationally.

One recent de-convert messaged me on facebook telling me that he was de-friending all the Christians on his page. I can understand the anger and frustration he feels, but it just isn’t productive to do that. It is easy to de-friend someone on facebook, but you can’t really de-friend someone outside of facebook so easily. We have to live in the world together whether we like it or not. If someone recently leaves religion, they probably still have a lot of friends and family members who are still religious. Shutting them out is not helpful.

Another re-cent de-convert wrote me saying that she feels that her whole community lied to her. Loved ones who are still in the religious community didn’t lie on purpose and they are not stupid either (I get a lot of those e-mails). They were indoctrinated the same way many atheists were at one point. It takes time and a great deal of thought to de-convert and for a long time people begin to doubt while they still consider themselves believers. Leaving religion is hard and we have to realize that it isn’t going to be any easier for anyone else.

Anger toward those in the religious community is misplaced. Religious people aren’t to blame here. It isn’t their fault. They are victims of the system. Don’t hate the play’a hate the game. We need to use the anger that we feel about being betrayed and focus it on the system of religious belief. Education and critical thinking are the solutions. Jake said it well when he said, “Just be a good person, do good things, be helpful and kind, and eventually, they will wonder how someone with no god, can be such a great person. That’s when a real discussion can take place.” It is okay to be vocal about your disbelief, but don’t go looking for a fight. Let them come to you and address their questions thoughtfully. You might inspire someone to start down that long road of doubt.

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  • http://www.socialinjustices.net dlevitt

    And lose some acquaintances along the way. A lot of people do not want to be around other people who do not share their beliefs in fear of having to question their beliefs, and their religion is too intertwined with their self esteem/ego to risk that separation.

  • http://www.dangeroustalk.net Staks

    That’s why it is really important to try to stay connected.

  • Pingback: Random Update: Letter to Self | Just Another Anonymous Witch