Part of it is a personal feeling of mine that there should be separation of religion/politics and the workplace. If you need to work with people, it's best not to potentially have them turn on you because of being outspoken about political or religious beliefs when there really isn't a need to discuss it in the first place. I just want to get in, work, do my job, and go home (and enjoy a paycheck every 2 weeks).
I've come out to a few people, mostly when during the course of the day, a conversation comes up about one's beliefs, and I try not to be obnoxious, or practically walk around with a sign that says "I'm agnostic". I find it annoying when religious people exhibit that kind of behavior, so why should I do it to other people? I don't hide my beliefs, but I feel no need to let it define me.
I'm different on the internet, because well, it's the internet. It's a place made for discussion and sharing, and it's my outlet for letting it all out.
He is the kind of guy that his faith influences his lifestyle to the point that it oozes out of him in ways so subtle, even he probably doesn't realize it's happening.
He never talks about any specifics of his faith, and it fact, his calm, polite demeanor, and his sense of fashion had me wondering for a while if he was a Mormon (it turns out that he is a fundamentalist Pentecostal).
Apparently, one of the people that I have told around the workplace about being an agnostic had told him that I was, and in the last week he has begun to ask me about it whenever he sees that work has gotten slow enough that I have the time.
One day, he came by, and worked his way up to the questioning about my beliefs, by asking me about home schooling, he had heard that I had been home schooled as a kid, and he said he was considering it for his children. I tried to keep my response truthful, but not too extreme, most of you probably now how I feel about home schooling
I expressed to him my ambivalence about home schooling, and he asked about my family back ground, was it a religious family I grew up in? (I think he already knew that I was agnostic or had heard people say that I was, but he wanted to know directly from me). I told him about the beliefs of my family, and that it used to be my beliefs as well, I believed it all, knew it all, experienced it all, yet here I am today.
Fundamentalists usually have two reactions to former fundamentalists who have given up Christianity altogether, either they attack or get defensive because of their own insecurities (what if that could happen to me? Oh the horror!), or they are downright puzzled, and want to know more. How did this happen? How could someone who was just like me leave the faith?
He wanted to know more about my past, what led me to this point. I told him as honestly as I could, the contradictions in the Bible, the barbarity of the Old Testament (and the fact that according to fundamentalism, god approved of it at that point in time), the fear and hate towards outsiders such as gays, people of other religions, etc.
I also talked about my depression and how I was blamed for it. He seemed genuinely unsettled and concerned. Perhaps he was worried about what the image is of fundamentalism to outsiders. (It isn't great). He asked me about what denominational groups I was a part of, I told him about the two more well known fundamentalist groups I was a part of, and then my limited exposure (as well as my sister's long involvement with) the Independent Fundamental Baptist organization.
His shock definitely increased then, and without me saying anything about the cult label that group often gets, (and deserves), he agreed that it was in fact a cult, but he started on criticisms of the entire collection of Baptist movements (one thing about Protestant fundamentalists, even though they may all share about 95% of the same beliefs, they like to think their various denominations are very different from each other, and they like to criticize each other's denominations).
Judging by his surprise and deep reflection when I told him about why I left Christianity, hopefully this will at least make him think about why people leave, and what fundamentalism looks like from the outside. You have to start small here.
At least his attitude towards me hasn't changed at all, which is rather fortunate for me, he's still his cheery self. I can only hope it had an affect on him.....
Sheldon's note: For the last update in this series, click here, for why I am the "undercover agnostic, check out this post.