Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Coming Out About My Unbelief to My Sister

As I've said before, I'm really growing weary of the charade I have to keep up in order to remain in the atheist closet. I had been talking to my fellow ex-fundamentalist bloggers on Twitter about whether I should come out to my sister, who has always been there for me in my life (she even helped to raise me as a young boy, long story there I won't get into right now.

On Sunday, I was debating whether or not I should come out, but then lost my courage at the last minute. Well, finally, Tuesday night, I finally worked up the courage to finally come out to her.

My sister in recent years, has gone from the Independent Fundamental Baptist cult to what would be considered more mainstream beliefs in the fundamentalist/evangelical world, (beliefs more along the lines of the Southern Baptist denomination).

I'm glad she's out of the IFB, she fell into that group because of the influence of the IFB ran "school" I went to in my elementary years, she was there too, though because of the age gap between us, she was in her high school years at the time, and fell prey to them pushing Hyles -Anderson College as a great place to go.

Still, I wish she would give up fundamentalism altogether, especially for the sake of her kids, right now, she is homeschooling her kids with ACE, the same awful curriculum I grew up with. I talk to my nephew and two nieces on the phone, and when I'm visiting her in northern Indiana , and it kinds of breaks my heart to see how they just seem more childlike, than other children their age.

They do get to spend time with other children at their church, and with some young neighbors, but still, the isolation inherent in fundamentalist homeschooling is taking it's toll, and she doesn't even realize it, and she doesn't realize the effects of that because she wasn't home schooled herself.

I'm wondering that if in 10-15 years, I'm going to be getting that coming out call from one of her kids. She means well, and isn't hostile or abusive towards her kids by any means, like our mother was, she just doesn't know the difference, really, it's unfortunate, and I wonder how many young fundamentalist mothers like her are out there.

I called her, and I just spilled it to her, I didn't use the dreaded "A word", I didn't know if that would distract from the whole conversation, I didn't use the dreaded "A word" (Atheism), I didn't know if that would distract from the whole conversation. She was surprised as I expected, and she said that it would have “blown her socks off if she was wearing them”.

I started from the beginning, from the nervous breakdown, being told that my depression was "guilt" and not having a “right relationship with god”, the unfortunate falling for that cruel lie, doubling down on Christianity, soaking up as much as I could about the Bible again, studying it and the works of various theologians, and eventually coming to realization that I couldn’t believe in it anymore.

It worried her to some extent, she seems to think that it’s just a time of questioning, despite me repeatedly telling her that it’s been 4 years now since I came to the conclusion that I can no longer believe. She told me to be sure before I eventually have to approach my mom and dad about this, and warned me about how that she is likely going to throw all she has been doing recently for me in my face.

She knows what she is like, my sister had the worst end of the abuse growing up, because she was the only one willing to stand up to her. I just tried to survive as best I could, staying out of her way, avoiding anything I knew would trigger her anger, though it didn’t often work, she would invent any excuse necessary to take out her anger on us.

My sister doesn’t seem to understand what it going on, that this is not something I came to lightly, but the important thing is, she’s standing behind me. She has made it clear that she will stand behind me, even after this, and won’t let her beliefs get in the way of family.

In some ways, she can see how I reached this point, she said at times that he has questioned everything, and she says at times she doesn’t feel as close to God as she used to feel, but she always ended up coming back.

I had told her, looking at it now, when I’m “undercover” in the church  I am in, (the one I am a member of still, and have attended since I was 12), that I hear what people are saying around me, and I can’t understand how I possibly believed it in the first place. She said it was because that was all I ever knew from birth, had I been raised in another nation, the predominant faith there would have been all I knew.

In some ways she gets it, and in some ways she doesn’t. I hope that the more open I become with her, that it will help her gain more of an understanding of why I came to this point, and that it’s who I am now. I told her that I’m growing weary of all this, I can’t keep hiding who I am now, and that I’m not looking forward to dealing with my mom.

It really will show my mom’s character (or more than likely, lack thereof), when I finally come out to her, I could lose the financial help and help with rebuilding my house, and taking care of my dog that she is currently doing, which would be hard to deal with, but I can learn to cope, the rough road ahead will be worth it.

 I want to finally be able to live openly, and if that means losing the relationship with my mother, or being forced to cut her out of my life for my own sanity, then that is worth it, in fact, it sounds horrible, but that’s probably the best outcome in the end, the one that will help me to heal over time.

I wish my mom could be more like my sister, willing to accept me for who I am, even if she doesn’t understand it. In fact, I wish more families, and parents especially, would follow her example.

You don’t have to agree with your family members in order to love them, and if you are putting your faith, your dogma, over love for your family, it’s showing that your religion (or more than likely, your interpretation of it), is more important to you than the people you are supposed to love.

It reveals to me, especially if you are a parent, that you are using your faith as means to control and manipulate people, and that if your children/family members are rejecting that, then they are worthless to you as a human being. If someone feels this way, then they are not someone I want in my life, and I have no respect for them at all.


  1. I've noticed that the sibling who has taken the most abuse typically identifies/emulates the abusive parent.

    1. That's what my mother did, she had a violent father, and she feels it gives her the right to do whatever she wants to, to anyone else. "You don't have it as bad as I did". As though that makes anything she does right.....

  2. WOW. I too was raised evangelical and in HS went to a christian school. ACE - booyah, where they teach lies as truths and you have to practically memorize the whole bible a few scriptures at a time - and you have to read the entire thing for Old Testament Survey and New Testament Survey. I LOVE it when people ask me if I've read the bible as though I am just "back-slidden".. I LOVE that I can say, YES, have you??? Hang in there Sheldon.. my parents were not happy and they don't even TRY to understand where I am coming from, but they STILL love me and haven't withdrawn any type of support from me. :)

    1. Good for you that you found some acceptance from them.

      Oh yes, Old/New Testament survey, I remember that. If you want to connect with fellow ACE graduates, check out Jonny Scaramanga's blog, Leaving Fundamentalism (, or Lana Hope's blog, Wide Open Ground (

  3. It sounds like your sister responded well to the news. I'm relieved.

    Tell me more about the situation with your nephews. You wrote that they seem more childlike than children their age, and that the isolation of their upbringing is takings its toll. Can you elaborate?

    1. Two nieces and a nephew.

      Right now, they are 9, 7, and 5. I look at them, then I look at the children in my neighborhood/in my town that are about the same age, and I realize that they don't have as high of maturity levels, and that I don't know, they just seem naive and more child like than they should even for their age.

      So many kids I see around me are so much more independent, and worldly wise, they know things at their age that I didn't know until I was a teen, and sometimes, not even until adult hood.

  4. First of all congrats on making that call Sheldon. I applaud your courage. I so resonate with this ...

    "You don’t have to agree with your family members in order to love them"

    ... It took me a few years to understand that my son and daughter did not need another person to judge them - enough folks out there (believers, agnostics and atheists) to do that. For the past ten years I have had a great relationship with the both of them. I believe in them and try to tell them that by what I say and do.

    Hope your Thanksgiving is a good one.

    1. I'm glad that you came around to that realization, where you still evangelical/fundamentalist at the time?

    2. About ten years ago I was beginning to make the transition from in/out, black/white thinking. I was pretty well on my way out of fundamentalism by then. I am not sure what one might call me these days as I see myself somewhere between the extremes of the religious left and right.

    3. I'm glad you found your way out of that mentality.

    4. I think that it was probably easier for than most. As a software designer I never wanted to be bound by the limitations of the rules. I found that the best designers were musicians and artists rather than engineers and mathematicians. In like manner manner who are wire for engineering have a difficult seeing things like life and religion in gray terms. It is why so many go from narrow fundamentalism to narrow atheism.

  5. That's great that your sister reacted so well. Hopefully when it comes to telling your mom it won't go as bad as you are fearing.

    1. It was go as bad as I'm fearing, it will go worse than anything I could imagine. ;)

      In all seriousness, it may come to the point where she might disown me, or I will have to cut her out of my life (which is something I probably should have done years ago, but I never was able to).

  6. Sheldon, I am not sure if you have thought about this. But you should put this journey of yours into a book format. I say this as it is a story which a lot of ex fundamentalists go through and you are putting it in a fashion many people understand.

  7. I don't know if I would have the time or patience (as well as the access to a PC) to write a book.

    Although, if I could put the blog posts together, along with some details I haven't talked about yet, I wonder if I could put into an e-book on Amazon as I have seen some bloggers do.

    I definitely need money....

    I just wonder if anyone would want to read it, no less pay for it. I can only get 1,500-2,000 people a week to read my depressing drivel on the blog for free, and that's after over a year and half's time to build an audience. ;)

    1. I think you would be surprised. But the biggest problem is format and patience.

      Building an audience is difficult I must agree.

    2. Maybe after some time, who knows.....


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