This post is part of a dialog, In Two Minds: The Anatomy of a Christian Hate Letter, between former minister Brian Worley and psychologist Valerie Tarico . In the series, Brian Worley, an ordained Baptist, describes some of his encounters with Christian friends and family since he deconverted. In Letter 1, he asks Dr. Tarico to comment on an exchange with his brother.
Dear Dr. Tarico,
The last time I was with my Christian father, he cussed me out because of my beliefs. I looked him in the eye and said, “I got what I needed to know from you today.” (I had traveled a long way just to visit.) Then, I just turned and walked away. Below, I have posted a letter from my brother. Our relationship has never been the same since I left the faith.
I feel very privileged that you chose to send me your propaganda I know that you hope to win converts to your dark world but what I choose to do is add you to my blocked senders list. I believe that most of your old friends and family have come to the same conclusion about you as I have that you need help. I don’t want to get into this hate fest with you like you want, so please make a choice to forget that I exist. One day we will all know what the truth is about life, if you’re right then it wont matter, if I’m right it will. I am happy with my life and I believe that most Christian’s are. For you to tear down what your old friends and family believe is unbelievable and I am sure that it must bring you a lot of joy.
I pray for your soul and especially you new family
Since this family member has suggested that I need help, I have decided to ask for a professional’s opinion on the matter.
I have grown accustomed to this type of behavior from my family. But that doesn’t make it any easier to deal with. I wish that it were only my family that feels this way, but unfortunately old friends and acquaintances share similar views. These are what I would classify as uncomfortable but yet civil. They just usually ignore me. I wrote the following letter after receiving my brother’s reply. I did this to clarify my intentions on why I had written to them. All of them are Christians.
My reasons for emailing you about my website and the posting I had to www.exchristian.net is partly due to your silence that I perceive to be prejudice because I had left Christianity. I am in no way trying to pick a fight with you. Obviously, I am writing several people at once with this email and everyone I am certain has their own ideas about things. You can believe what you want to believe and that is fine with me until you cross the line. To me that line is William James axiom, "Does your belief make you a better person?". The bible commands it's followers to: 1) examine yourself to make certain that you are in the faith 2) To be able to give a reason for the hope that lies within you 3) To love people.
Two of you (I won't embarrass them) wrote me a nasty letter in their Christian love[sarcasm] (they should read my post , Christian Do You Really Have It?). It is the year 2007, not the Stone Age. There is no need to view me as an enemy or to be hateful and/or rude and ignore me when I write to you. One of the reasons I started the site was due to this very type of negative "Christian" behavior. I was true and sincere when I was a Christian, not one of you could honestly deny this. My discoveries (about the Christian myth...my thoughts) are not new to the world; they have been around for quite some time. I didn't read someone’s book and make a change. I changed because of what I personally found when reading the bible for myself. I didn't want to live a lie and ask others to follow something that I could no longer subscribe to. What I did was something honorable, if you don't approve of what I did then in your eyes should I be a phony and live a lie? You need to answer this. We all should realize that I have had a much different path than you have had in life. I set aside many years in a university and many afterwards trying to master my life's passion, which was the Christian message. I always studied hard and did so with confidence because I thought the truth was always on my side as a Christian. I never expected to find what I found and to leave the faith.
I myself wouldn't challenge, say a scientist when I don't have a scientist's background. I can understand you not challenging me because most of you have little bible training. Like I said, I am not trying to pick a fight, embarrass, or convert you to my way of thinking. You are getting this email from me due to either silence or being ugly about things. We were either family, friends or acquaintances in the past and I hope that we could have continued. I can be friends with people who see things different than I, several of you it seems cannot do this. I am writing to try to clear a few things up that could be misperceived about my intentions. I can tell you from personal experience that prejudice is a very ugly expression. Abandoning faith and being an agnostic brings out prejudice from Christians. Prejudice is judging a matter before you hear the other side. It can be both passive or aggressive in nature. Silence is passive but it is still prejudice based. Maybe it is because you don't know what to say to me?
One of you challenged me in the past, not with their own opinion or facts but with someone else’s. I considered this case to be very weak because it was and I said so to them. What should have been an open dialogue turned into a manipulative effort to control how another person thinks. Since I didn't agree with that person's (their friends plagiarism of someone else’s thoughts) that they had written to me about. Can I not be allowed to think for myself by those who hold a different position than I without some controlling type of "punishment" for doing so?
I'm trying to clear up a few things here. The world would be a better place if there weren’t prejudice and hatred around. I can understand being uncomfortable and not knowing either how or what to say. I understand silence speaks, but what it says about you as a person isn't admirable. If a person cannot be civil then maybe you should just say, "We should just avoid the religion subject". I can accept your verdict, that is if you express it. I can and do walk away from hopeless cases when necessary. But before I do so, I want to make sure that I have accurately gathered enough facts to do so properly.
Looking forward to your reply,
The response to this last letter was what I expected it to be. A few still ignored me, a few stepped forward and affirmed our relationship and no more mean responses were sent back as a reply. Now, keep in mind that I am writing and sharing personal experiences as a way to reach out into a world that is divided. If you think that this is a plea for pity or sympathy then you are mistaken.
I have enough experiences from my site to realize that Christians will write to me to explain or justify what they think that I am blind to. Instead of trying to persuade me of something, I would rather you take this as material to use in a discussion group on how to relate to those outside of your churches walls.
Finally, Valerie will you review this letter and give a professional's viewpoint?
Want to review another letter in this series? Click here for Part II