Fugitives from Fundamentalism

The Musings of Adult Missionary Kids (MKs) & Former Born-Again Believers

Just when I thought I was out… they pull me back in.

Posted by Paulo on August 12, 2009

I really have a hard time dealing with run-ins with people from my parents’ missions organization. Now, as a non-religious adult who has distanced himself from that whole circle of people, I still run into them occasionally. Growing up in a relatively small missions organization, everyone knew my parents and coincidentally knew who I was. It’s always an uncomfortable feeling when you run into these people that you don’t really know and haven’t seen for years and you’re forced into conversation.

In the mission, many people know me as one of those MKs who has drifted away from the Lord. This one guy in particular is the designated psychologist for the mission. Part of his job is to look out for the mental and spiritual well-being of the missionaries and their kids here in the US. More than once when I’ve seen him at cousins’ weddings and stuff he’s come up to me and offered to “sit down with me and buy me a cup of coffee,” presumably so we could “just talk” and he would probably try to establish some sort of rapport so he can witness to me and win me back to the Lord. He would never admit that, but I know these people and their tactics. It’s part of his job.

I’ve politely declined every time with a “Yeah, maybe sometime…” but I’ve never given him a firm “Yes.” But he just doesn’t get it. I’ve got nothing to say to this guy. I don’t even know him personally. And I certainly don’t want to sit down and have a conversation that I know will lead to the prodding of my unbelief and maybe ending with him telling me that I’m gonna get prayed for. But they are a persistent lot, these Christians. So recently he finds me on Facebook and friends me. I, not wanting to be rude, accept, and leave it at that. But sure enough, on my birthday (which I don’t have announced anywhere on Facebook. He must have a special missionary list of all the birthdays) I get a message from him asking me again to have that cup of coffee. Geez. Luckily I don’t have to put up with this shit… > Remove from Friends > Click.

19 Responses to “Just when I thought I was out… they pull me back in.”

  1. The Chaplain said

    It’s hilarious that this guy is stalking you. You should meet with him! Come ready with your arguments to de-convert him, and spend the whole time aggressively dominating the conversation — which is what his plan is.

  2. Brandt said

    Naw, just lead him on for a long intimate conversation and then dump him at the end. 😉

    So far I haven’t had any serious stalkers. But that’s probably because with my personality, it’s going to take awhile before a lot of people know about my apostasy. I’m not inclined to announce my status, and I’d rather not spend the energy trying to “argue” with a believer who wants to lure me back to the fold.

    • Jerry said

      I’m sorry you have to put up with that nonsense. They just hate the idea that they can’t keep their grip on you.
      I can definitely relate. One Facebook “friend” from college started posting articles on the sins of homosexuality once he actually read my profile carefully, which went over really well with me, as you can imagine. I deleted him as a friend and then I got an invitation from another one who specialized in converting the gays back to the church. “Ignore” and “delete” are great options on FB.

      • Paulo said

        Good for you. Who needs “friends” like that.

      • It’s hard to put up with the people I want to keep in my life who are religious. Can’t just delete them.

        When I was in grad school, a student in my program gave a presentation on LGBT issues and counseling. He started out by telling us what it was like having conservative Christian parents who forced him into conversion therapy when he came out to them. They had even convinced him for a while that he could be converted to heterosexuality.

        Sexuality exists on a continuum, and, although I’m definitely much more heterosexual, in some way, I am bi-sexual (meaning I find females attractive, but I don’t want to be sexually intimate with women). Sexual differences are normal and shouldn’t even be an issue we have to address in our society. We are forced to differentiate by sexuality (or a myriad of other differences), versus understanding and enjoying diversity. Instead we have to make announcements of our sexuality, or our non-belief, to our family and religious friends and then deal with the aftermath.

  3. stephy said

    This is exactly what happens to me too.

  4. Considering he’s a psychologist, I doubt he’s overly aggressive in his tactics. It’s all about rapport in this field. Depressing that religious therapists use their skills to find inroads for conversion efforts. It’s enough that therapists, as humans, already bring in all of their values and their “selves” into a session which cause all kinds of interplay that’s unconscious. But then to actually have plans, beforehand, to impose their religion on purpose, while smiling and thinking “this person’s going to hell if I don’t convert him”, that’s just plain bad. And passive aggressive. Religious psychologists and therapists who operate this way are typically licensed by religious licensing boards. I prefer aggressiveness. It’s honest. And, in the long run, less harmful.

    How about being upfront, stating what you believe or don’t believe, think or don’t think. Or what’s also known as assertiveness. I’ve heard assertive people have happier lives. True, he’s not respecting you, but that doesn’t mean you have to jump in the muck with him.

  5. JN said

    I don’t think people like that really understand your side of the story. They see their way as the road, and your way as the gutter. They think that if they know the right way, it’s their job to help you, or pull you, out. They see you as a rebel who is running away, lured by the temptations of ‘the world.’ Maybe they see you enjoying a beer and feel sorry that you’ve turned to indulging the flesh (14% ABV may have been OK for Jesus, but 5% ABV beer is devil’s drink). When they’re working under this framework, it’s no wonder they want to ‘get you back.’

    See Paulo, I understand you. And I want you to know…
    Ha! Just kidding.

    • Paulo said

      Haha! Yeah, you’re right, JN.

      You know, maybe if he offered to buy me a beer instead of coffee, I might consider…

      • Brandt said

        Hell, I’d talk to anyone if they bought me a beer!

      • JN said

        Maybe it’d be a beer with a tract on the back:

        This beer is a free gift, just like salvation. The black label represents sin, which separates us from the love of God. The red bottle cap represents Christ’s sacrifice for us on the cross. The removal of the bottle cap represents the stone of Jesus’ tomb being rolled away, which offers you the reward of eternal life. The frosted mug represents our sins being washed white as snow. The pouring of the liquid from the bottle to the mug represents a the outpouring of Holy Spirit, who is your helper in times of trial and tribulation. The froth rising to the top of the mug represents your undeniable growth as a Christian. The smooth, golden color of this malty beverage is a true representation of heaven, in all its glory.

        Please drink responsibly. Ephesians 5:18.

      • Brandt said

        Ha ha, nice JN.

  6. Jerry said

    Charity Ann brings up an interesting issue, “It’s hard to put up with the people I want to keep in my life who are religious. Can’t just delete them.” I find that true, also. I have relatives whom I love, neighbors and friends who are decent human beings, and even people with views similar to mine, but who are very devoted to their mainstream churches. To many of them, believing in God, Jesus, and the Bible is so ordinary that I don’t think they can imagine differently. They invite us to their neighborhood gatherings and include us in social events. Fortunately, they’ve never invited me to a Bible study, which is a huge plus. It’s a little uncomfortable when people want to pray to God before a meal, but that’s about as far as I’m willing to go. I guess I’ve decided that as long as my friends respect my boundaries, I won’t delete them, but part of me wonders how long that will last with some of them. Sounds like Paulo’s stalker is constantly trying to sneak across those boundaries, but these other pre-existing relationships are not so clear to me.

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