When I quit the seminary and left the church I tried to slip as quietly out the back door as I could. At this point my theology professors from college, many of my college and seminary friends, and most of my extended family know I'm an atheist. I officially resigned my membership with the SDA church almost two years ago. Now I'm an atheist blogger and I've talked about the SDA church on the Chariots of Iron podcast a few times.
I'm as out of an atheist as I can be, both with those inside the SDA church and everybody else.
I'm out to everyone and make no bones about what I think. (Though of course I avoid discussing religion at work, just as I avoid discussing politics.) I'm lucky in that my family, while still trying their hardest to save me, is overall a very loving bunch. I'm sure they believe the best way to save the apostate children is by showing them how kind and loving SDAs are, which I'm OK with.
Other than my family, I don't associate with my former Adventist community. This is mostly due to the fact that I don't go to church, but is compounded by my ex-husband having been in the Air Force which led to us being out of the country for about 5 years. Nothing like physical distance to help you forget about 'em!
Even though I have lived in the Adventist ghetto of College Place, WA (Walla Walla University) for the past 2 years, I have as little contact with them as possible.
Only two times have I set foot on the campus of my alma mater. The first was a year ago when the Walla Walla Diversity Council held one of their events, hosted by WWU, which involved showing the National Geographic DVD on the Human Genome Project. A presentation that illustrated human history for the last 60K years. The WWU representative on the Diversity Council introduced the showing by conceding that people have different perspectives as to the reality of human history.
The second time was about a month ago. Prof William Cronon , a leading expert in the history of environmentalism, was invited to give the WWU distinguished scholar lecture for 2011. This appointment had been arranged for nearly 2 years ago. But since the flair up in Wisconsin (Cronon is at the Univ of Wisconsin) over the gutting of collective bargaining rights, etc, and his editorial in the NYT eviscerating what the Republicans were doing to his state, and his being the nephew of a good progressive friend that I meet with at a Quaker fellowship, I decided to attend.
I left in disgust. Such pandering to YEC/YLCists! It was awful. The prayer at the beginning, the prayer at the end. I attend lectures all the time at the heathen college in Walla Walla (Whitman College), and that kind of nonsense NEVER happens. I couldn't believe this guy held the beliefs he espoused. Or else he was one disingenuous liar.
It so happened that a week later, there was a showing of "Green Fire" at the Whitman Campus. I had no idea what I was getting into with that presentation. But it is documentary made by the United States Forest Service and the Aldo Leopold Foundation on the life of Aldo Leopold. I had never heard of him, only to discover that he, Henry David Thoreau and John Muir make up the trinity. Aldo Leopold was also on the faculty of the University of Wisconsin, and in the documentary, there were many testimonials about the work and legacy of Leopold. Conspicuously absent, was any reference to William Cronon, who is supposedly America's best expert on the history of environmentalism. I can now see why.
It reinforced for me how disingenuous this creationism nonsense is, and how the SDA education system buts a bag over their student's heads with respect to reality.
In my interaction with people on various social justice projects in and around Walla Walla, and when and if the subject comes up, I will let rip with my contempt for the SDA paradigm, how I am, mercifully, finally, liberated from that nonsense.
Most people either completely agree with me, or know enough to keep their mouth shut. I
In the process of my "coming out," I was initially quite sympathetic toward "sane" religion, and with the secular humanism of the U-U's and the total lack of doctrinal emphasis with the little Friends group (Quakers) at Whitman College. I enjoy the Quakers because the hour of pure silence is refreshing, but the follow-up discussion is all things politically progressive, and social justice oriented.
But after reading Sam Harris in particular, I am realizing more and more the inherent evil that even mainstream religion is with respect to social order and justice. I guess this is what "New Atheism" is all about.
Man the church board at my old church would be on you like blood hounds the second there was a whiff of atheism from any pathfinder leader. They would oust you pronto.
Why do you continue to support that organisation? Pathfinders was such an awful, humiliating experience for me, I had no friends there and didn't enjoy a second of it.
I have a sneaking suspicion that the main leader, who was also librarian at the adventist school, was deliberately picking on me and laughing at jokes made by 12 year olds at my expense, because looking beck on it all it was all highly irregular, like the way she always made a spectacle of me and how I was "sucking on my hair" CONSTANTLY in library class, when I WAS NOT sucking on my hair in any capacity whatsoever. Whatever, put it in the we will never know basket, she was probably mean to a couple of other kids too. Explains how none of my badges never showed up for pathfinders but everybody else's somehow did. For years on end.
Sorry to hear that. I've heard both extremes in Pathfinder experiences. My mom's experience as a kid was also kinda crap. Mine was mostly good (minus the attempted indoctrination) because I liked outdoor activities and we did things like rockclimbing and caving instead of just basket weaving or edible plants.
I'm pretty sure no one else in the involved churches knew I was an atheist. Most of them didn't know me at all, and probably assumed I was just from some other church. I only really kept going back to help after growing up because the Pathfinder leaders continually begged me to and I cared about the kids. I didn't see it as supporting the organization so much as undermining the bad parts while bringing good into it, and the kids are stuck in it regardless.
I'm still Facebook friends with some of the kids even though they're in college now. I love teaching kids how to do things and leading on adventures. I'm not doing it now because, in addition to taking care of my own needs, I felt I wasn't making as big an influence as I wanted and it doesn't seem to be the most effective or important way I could use my time.
I'm out to all my current friends and immediate family, though I think I'm still a member of the Montana church on paper. I moved to a different state over 20 years ago but never formally resigned. My mother knows I'm an atheist but refuses to believe it; she keeps sending me the Gleaner and other Adventist publications and sends donations to ADRA in my name. She is convinced I'm just pissed at God and she worries obsessively over whether or not her children will be saved with her. I've often asked her why she would want to spend an eternity with a God who would deprive her of her children (and this begs the question of how she knows that she herself is going to be saved). Instead of spending her time enjoying the company of family, she just makes herself sick worrying about their imaginary future (eternal death or salvation!). She is impervious to all logical arguments against the existence of God or the truth of the Bible (or EGW), and can't wrap her head around the fact that I can't be pissed at something I don't believe exists. The rest of my family is fairly accepting and my sisters both lean agnostic if not totally atheist themselves.
I'm more careful coming out in to those who could impact my employment. I'm a new RN, and have unfortunately found that my profession is riddled with christian sentiment, probably because nursing started out as a service to the sick performed by nuns and christian women. Unfortunately, in spite of striving toward a scientific, evidence-based mode of practice, we are still saddled with the effects of our religious roots. Many nurses openly profess their christianity and I've been confronted by colleagues who come right out and ask if I'm a Christian upon first acquaintance. I used to feel like a freak when I was an Adventist because of their more bizarre beliefs; now I'm a freak because I'm an atheist. I've had to develop a pretty thick skin and a whole lot of tact!