Monday, January 9, 2012

Trapped in the Closet Pt. 1-Telling my Parents

I have followed the path of reason now for about eighteen months. However I have only shared my deconversion with a few close family members. I have felt, to quote an R. Kelly song, "Trapped in the Closet." I come from a strong, close knit,christian family where I have many relatives who are pastors, evangelists, and church leaders. My parents are also ministry leaders. My mom is a preacher(who says she hasn't been called yet) and my father is a deacon. My parents are well respected in the baptist church community here in the Motor City.

So out of respect for my parents' notoriety, I have kept silent. Keeping silent has proven to be most difficult. When I would visit them, they would talk about god and how he sits on the throne. I would just nod my head. However, I would really want to say, "No he isn't because he does not exist in reality outside of your thoughts!" But I don't want any trouble or be accused of disrespecting the faith of my ancestors who trusted god.
My sister(who is a non-christian deist) advised me against telling my parents. She said the devastation could potentially send them to an early grave.

Let me give a bit of context. My parents reared and trained me to be a church leader, i.e. a pastor. I was giving speeches(mini sermons) at the age of five. By the time I reached eight, I was teaching bible lessons to adults and children. I was being prepped for church greatness. In my early twenties, I was chosen to go to Zimbabwe and perform christian rap at the World Baptist Alliance Youth Conference. Until 2007, I worked in church as a ministry leader, sunday school teacher, and director of the music ministry. My parents know that I no longer attend church, but they think it's just a phase...So for me to tell my parents, that I no longer believe would be difficult at best. What is even more difficult is sharing that I no longer believe any gods, christian or otherwise.

In my community(the African-American community) like in many other communities, folks don't attend church on a regular basis, but they believe in jesus and pray often. At a minimum, they believe in some type of higher intelligence that designed the universe and everything in it. christianity in the black community is tied to the legacy of slavery as well as the hope for freedom. To step away from that emotional baggage takes lots of courage. I am free from faith, but I fear; like many others who have similar stories, that I will lose the respect of my parents,, family, and loved ones. I know they will love me, but what good is love without respect?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Using a Dating Website as a Black Male Atheist

After ending a long term relationship in 2008, I started toying with the idea of getting on a dating website. After many months of having a basic profile, I decided to upgrade to the paid subscription. The first thing I noticed was that there were very few females who identified as atheist, and none of them were black. This didn't surprise me because I am the only black atheist I know. Many black women identified themselves as Christian who were looking for other Christians. I also ran into this phrase while reading their profiles, "He must believe in God or don't contact me..." The market for successful Black Men who are atheists is quite slim. Not surprisingly, my profile did not get a lot of hits. So I tried a different approach. I changed my "faith status" from atheist to spiritual not religious( I don't even know what that really means, but I think it is a catch all phrase to make some people feel good about no longer going to church) Once I made that change, my profile started blowing up, I was getting all types of winks, emails, and IM's from all over the place. Inevitably once I told them that I was faith-free, the conversation would go no further. I enjoyed getting all of the attention, but I wasn't being true to myself. So I put my status back to atheist and my page has become a barren wasteland.
I made a bet with a close relative(who is an ex christian, but more of a deist), that I would not be able to get a date due to my freedom from faith. She believes that women just want a good man, regardless of their beliefs. So far, we both are correct. If it is a person from my past, my faith-free lifestyle really doesn't matter. However, if it's a new person, then it's a BIG deal...often they will give me the polite cold shoulder. I usually don't bring up my humanistic values unless I see potential. It seem like it would be easier for me to say that I have a criminal record than it is for me to say, I just don't believe in your god, or any god for that matter.
I wonder have any of my fellow free thinkers have run into these challenges. I will talk more about dating in future blogs...


Greetings, I have finally decided to create my blog. I will be talking about the struggles of being an atheist in a very religious community among other things. At some point, I will share my deconversion story, but parts of it will always come out in my blogs. I hope you enjoy reading it.