Reader Gryph offers a suggestion for new atheists (having recently left their faith) who are in relationships with Christians and want to come out to them:
I’ve read several stories about how to deal with being in a relationship with someone after your own deconversion. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to convey my thoughts to my Christian wife without making her feel like I was attacking her. See, there’s a fine line between attacking someone and attacking someone’s faith; generally, the faithful are not able to make that distinction.
My solution, while obviously not perfect, was to write up a missive on my thoughts; what I do and don’t believe, just what exactly an atheist is, and why I moved from Christianity to atheism. For instance, a couple things I offered thoughts on were the problem of evil and some of the inconsistencies of the Bible. This format allowed me to gather my thoughts and present a more well-organized statement. I tried to keep from sounding accusatory or argumentative in an attempt to keep this from becoming an adversarial situation.
It also allows her to read, or not read, at her convenience. She doesn’t have to tell me she read it. It even gives her time to think about some of the comments without feeling the need for immediate response. In other words, it allows her a safe environment to take in what I have to say. I have no delusions that this a perfect solution for my situation or for others, but maybe, just maybe, it’s a first step to building a dialogue as opposed to an argument.
I remember writing up a similar statement when I became an atheist. I wrote it to no one in particular and I don’t remember if I even showed it to anybody. Still, it was good for me to get my thoughts on paper. It helped me gather ideas for when I was confident enough to talk about atheism with friends.