An Open Letter to an Evangelical Christian Friend,
Thank you for sharing your life with me. I enjoy the time we spend together and value your friendship. I sense your disappointment each time that I decline an invitation to visit your church. I have tried to explain briefly that my relationship to religious things in complicated. I am open to a deeper conversation about these things, but it has not transpired.
Thus far you have merely insisted that your church is not like those churches.
It is a lovely thing that you have found a church where you feel welcomed and supported. I am truly happy that you have you have a faith which comforts you and I understand the instinct to want to share your joy. I remember it, even. But from time to time, I am concerned that our relationship is predicated on you trying to save my soul.
Which is not going to happen.
It seems like you think that if I just heard the Good News, I’d be in.
I believe in neither Hell nor Heaven. I accept the possibility that they may exist despite my disbelief. But I am done living my life in fear of the one and pursuit of the other.
I can still recite the names of all the books of the bible and there are hymns that will always have the power to make me weep. I appreciate prayer in its many forms, and am fascinated by theology and religious expression. Losing my faith was one of the greatest losses I have ever experienced. I can no longer believe in some great plan, or a benevolent benefactor in the sky, and if my eternal damnation is a result of that loss, so be it.
I describe myself as an engaged agnostic because it’s easier to explain than a mystical atheist.We could talk about that more, if you'd like, but just to be clear, I have no interest in trying to convert you to my view. I think faith is a lovely thing for those who can afford it. I no longer can.
And so, my friend, I need you to accept my eternal damnation and decide whether or not you’re interested in being my friend in the here and now with no agenda – no expectation.
I really hope you are.
[cross-posted at DailyKos.com]