I’ve heard the stories firsthand, all too many of them, about friends and even family lost. The threat of “social suicide,” as one friend put it after leaving our old church, keeps many more unbelieving believers in their pews every Sunday.
They sit there making empty, fearful professions of a faith long gone dead and stale because they cannot imagine life as an “unbeliever,” rejected or at best cooly tolerated by the intricate network of beloved people the church has woven them into since childhood. Countless similar stories are available online, from people questioning and leaving various other denominations of Christianity, Mormonism, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Islam, to name a few.
To those of you who have borne this loss because you could not pretend to believe that which you know is not true, you have my respect. There is hope: A whole world–yes, the World–of wonderful people awaits you. Get out there and find them!
To those of you still and perhaps forever trapped by the social walls–or content to remain within them, with or without a genuine belief in what you hear and preach–you have my understanding. If you had my friendship and want to keep it, it is yours, no matter what.
To those of you hounding, demonizing, and marginalizing the people you claim to love in the name of a faith you yourself do not understand, you have my contempt.