A friend recently told me, out of nowhere, that she didn’t think she could be an atheist any longer. I waited for the inevitable “because”. It seems she is no longer able to stand up to being socially ostracized. She also believes she didn’t receive a promotion at work, that everyone thought she was in line for, because she was an atheist. Yes, she wasn’t a hidden atheist, as some are; but she also didn’t proselytize atheism to anyone she met. Yes, people around her knew she was an atheist, but that’s the extent of it as far as I ever knew.
This is someone I’ve known for over a decade and was one of the first atheists I came to know in my area. She’s never been involved in atheism online, or in any atheist related groups locally. She never appeared to be someone that had any angst being an atheist. So it was curious when she just decided, or at least it seemed to me, to decide she was not going to be an atheist any longer. So I asked her what she was going to do, become a Christian or some other religious or spiritual person? Her answer was yes, but it was what she continued with that bothered me: in name only.
Wow. So she’s going to pretend to be something she isn’t, pretend to believe in something she hasn’t believed in for a long time, just for social acceptance. I wondered if this might include attending church services or was this going to be in name only? I name only. Well, there’s a lot of “Christians” I know that haven’t been to church in years, even decades. So what’s the problem with making pretense?
To me it’s all about being honest not only with yourself, but with those family and friends that surround you. Is there any harm in what she’s decided to do? Maybe but just to herself, and will she wake up one morning in the future and see that she is no longer able to pretend yo be someone she’s not? I don’t know but I suspect all of this is because of the current stress she feels in life and that, if she were to just stay strong with herself, eventually these feelings would pass.
What will she do if those she is preparing to deceive discover that she in fact is not a believer? I’m disappointed of course but in a way I can understand. We live in a society where being a non-believer is only beginning to be accepted, but also where atheism is blamed for all of societies ills. Pretending to be what I’m not just to make my life easier? I don’t think that’s something I could ever do.