In a previous life, I was a Bible-thumper, and I lived in Nashville, the buckle of the Bible Belt. After three years of life amongst my believing buddies, I began to ask a few too many questions. Before I fully lost my faith, however, I moved away (another story) and most of the people I knew were none-the-wiser to my doubts.

I've kept in loose contact with a select few, and one of them is attempting an internship at a university in Washington DC, which is very near where I am. She's really looking forward to our reunion, and so am I. In reality, she was one of the most intellectual Christians I knew; she was what kept me sane when everyone else just floated through their faith without any critical thought. Most of my friends told me I thought too much.

Without going into any more detail, my real question is whether I should bother to tell her I'm now atheist. Should I wait and let it come out in conversation? I feel like if I write her a message, it should be at least somewhat explanatory rather than just, "I'm atheist. Just thought you should know before you get here."

I'm not really afraid she's going to turn on me, I guess I'd just like to know if it's appropriate. Would you be weirded-out in a similar situation?

-awaiting friendly advice-


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I would wait until it comes up in conversation Cara. I think a preemptive comment might backfire and by doing so you are making suggesting that is a precursor to you two becoming reacquainted again, which it is not. I have no doubt it will come up in conversation because of how much atheism is a part of your life ie

friend - so do you go to any churches here?

friend - so what you invovled with these days?

Any numbers of questions could lead to that topic. So treat is as a natural part of the conversation and then go with it from there and deal with her reaction in real time. If she reacts in a negative way and tells you to enjoy your time in hell then maybe a follow-up letter would be worth your time. However, if she is as intellectual as you say, I'm hoping she would respect where your journey has lead you.

You're probably right, hence my hesitation to click "send". I want to tell her... I don't want that awkward moment... but something doesn't seem right about putting it in a FB message. Ha!

When the questions come BAM! Shoot her down! In the nicest possible way.

Agree with earlier replies - definitely should be a face to face moment. E-mail or FB or whatever leaves way too much room for misunderstandings.  And who knows, maybe she's developed some doubts along the way as well and having a friend "on the other side" could help her out of the religious quagmire. Yeah, I know, that's a long shot and a dangerous route to try without an obvious invitation.  I guess I'd try and focus on the things the two of you have enjoyed in the past and let things play out as they might.  Wait for the appropriate time to tell her.  Good luck.

Definitely wait and have it come out naturally, if it even has to it at all. It shouldn't have any bearing on your friendship, let it stay out of the way until it needs to be addressed.

I think you should wait and tell her to her face when in conversation, that way you can report back to us about her reaction. Have a camera in your hand as you tell her, then we can have a snap of the big moment........

You; "So I guess you have not heard that I am atheist now and have put all that god and bibble silliness behind me - SURPRISE !"  <Click !>

Nina van der Roos.

Ha! I wish I could "like" this. I think she's one of those whose reaction wouldn't be too entertaining. She was pretty fascinated by atheists at one point. That was back in 2006 or 2007. She wanted to gain admittance to this atheist site, but only other atheists were allowed. She thought they were super intellectual and she wanted to prove she was up to par. You'd think she would be someone that might be won over to atheism, but after I moved away, she converted from a pretty charismatic denomination to Episcopalian. 

Anyway, I think she'll be cool. Of course, she'll be concerned for my now-damned soul, but she may just decide to interview me! :)

If she is already interested in the topic of atheism (or was) then I don't think you have much to worry about.  The conversation will come up on its own sooner or later. 

I recently went through the same thing with a friend I had lost touch with and recently found again.  She's a Catholic (and gay..I have no idea how that works) that still regularly attends service.  Her reaction was a non-event.

I agree with the other responses.  I just want to wish you good luck and let you know that it wasn't nearly the big deal I thought it would be when I told my very catholic friends.  :-)  I kind of worked myself up to the point that I couln't imagine it being anything other than a giant, conversation ending I was at a bit of a loss when the topic changed afterward.  Anyway, I'm trying to let you know it went just fine, except for the part where my brain went, "wait, that just went fine!? uhhh..."

i lost my last fundie friend last week, it sucks, but once she found out i was no longer a 'believer' she dropped me like the plague.. 20 years i had known her... each person is different, but hiding it is dishonest, and if you can live with it, then don't tell, just don't pretend to be a christian either! if they ask, tell them, if they ask you a question about what you should be believing, politely tell them the truth! if they ask, they must still care on some level about you! be honest!!

imho.. be honest, respect their views and share what is happening in your life.. it is too short to live ashamed or in fear of others narrow opinion of your right to think for yourself!

I'm definitely not ashamed, but it does feel weird to have to insert it into conversation where there's this unspoken understanding you both believe the same thing. So, she'll be talking along about all the things God has done in her life, and that seems like the wrong time to say, "Oh, I don't believe that stuff anymore." For one, it seems as though I'm asking she stop talking about it. Also, it's just unnatural. The only thing to do is smile and nod, but that seems dishonest, too. Well, I mean... the "smile and nod" probably happens more often than we realize; this just happens to be a topic we're more sensitive to. Oh well... I'll figure it out.

I don’t see why it would be important to “confess” your atheism. If it comes up, it comes up. If they are there to visit Cara, then it should be an unimportant detail. If they are there to visit a Christian, then maybe you should offer a forewarning.


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