Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Upside of Cutting Ties With Atheists

In becoming more involved with the atheist movement, I've heard many sad stories of people whose family and friends have basically let them go when they shared that they were identifying as atheists. My immediate thought is how unacceptable of them. Believers let a label destroy what was once a good relationship or let a non-believing family member no longer feel safe in the fabric of their immediate fold. All because religion and faith had no meaning for them. Christian love seems to be lacking there.

I wish that someone could explain to me how a person who feels there is no evidence for a god makes them less than the person they were before that revelation or how they are any different now versus how they were before they found out that piece of information. The atheist still has the same personality, same empathy, same caring, same level of humanity that he/she had before that was announced, so why should it change the relationship with the believer?

Human babies make connections involuntarily, the bond only growing deeper with each shared experience and the strength of that bond being a good one depends on the level of love, nurture and caring received and given to each other. As we get older and venture out into the world, we have the opportunity to make voluntarily connections on our own. Friendships start to develop as soon as commonalities are revealed and an ease is felt when spending time together; the more experiences are shared, the deeper the connection.

Being out and proud as an atheist, I've made many, many connections to people specifically because of my atheism. It has drawn many people to me and what I feel many wonderful associations because of it. I can see that some will be life-long friends just because of what they have shown me in addition to their atheism. And that is my point, connections we make are not really determined because of what we think or don't think, it is who we are as people, our character and our personality that keeps those connections alive.

This is what I keep coming back to - why would someone who has an already established relationship with a closeted atheist just let go when they find out that they are out of the closet atheists? It certainly doesn't have anything to do with the friendship they established or family relationship they are in. When you take that piece away they would still get along. The person who is belittled or betrayed because of that admission is not the one at fault nor are they reason. What causes the disconnect is not the atheist, but the other person. Sadly, I think this speaks more negatively about the person who detached themselves from the atheist than the person who spoke honestly about their feelings and what they thought about things.

Not all who believe in the supernatural do let go of valued relationships, but I've personally experienced it and many of my friends have shared similar stories. It seems to me that the people who choose to remove themselves from the lives of the atheist never had enough courage to be honest about their level of caring. Their support, love and admiration is contingent on rules dictated by someone else, not what they themselves believe it means to have and maintain a relationship. The person they choose to abandon is still the same person as before but because they now identify as an atheist, they are no good. Sitting in judgment of them seems to be easier than standing firm with that connection and defending the person.

When relationships are discarded, what makes that even slightly okay in their book? How can they just end it and dismiss this relationship of value without any hesitation? I feel it's really a stretch to call them family or a friend, close or otherwise, when some believers would eliminate someone they love from their lives because of a label. The bible says "The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good." (Psalm 14:1) As if everything they thought about the person before is apparently based on a lie, a lie they think the now out atheist has perpetrated. They seem to feel justified in that decision to end what was once a good thing because of their religion. Again, how christian and loving of them. No compassion, just rip out the hearts of the non-believers in the hopes of gaining good favor with their lord. How disgusting and repulsive this is.

In my life, I've had to let go of relationships if they were damaging to me personally or we both had lost mutual interest in each other, but I've never let one slide because I've disagreed with their ideology. I really can't imagine how my life would be better if the person I love and respect would suddenly just have to stop being a part of my life upon the discovery that they think differently than I did. There are plenty in my life now that do and the person and their genuine goodness is intact, regardless of what they believe.

Any way you look at it, it stinks. For the person who reveals it, for the person who lets go and for the relationship itself. Every segment of this equation loses. And for what? A close personal relationship with a non-existent being is supposedly intact because of this action at the expense of a perfectly good human. That's disgusting to me. But maybe it's really a benefit in disguise. The non-believing person at the receiving end of this shameful action is better off. They are free to pursue more real relationships that are based in reality and truth. That should equate into more honest and healthy relationships for them and probably more satisfying ones.

So, actually... kind of a win-win. :)

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