This is a guest post by Ed Clint. He is a senior at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and a member of the Illini Secular Student Alliance (ISSA).
A letter to Interfaith, from ISSA (Illini Secular Student Alliance)
It’s over between us.
Here’s the thing, Interfaith: I tried. I really tried. Two years ago I knew nothing at all about you, but I felt obligated to at least get to know you. I went to your dinner with Eboo Patel. I not only attended an Interfaith potluck, but I baked for you! (Banana bread, because you asked that we bring food representing our “faith tradition” and bananas well-describe the atheist’s lot of abject confusion and bewilderment). We had a fine time at the potluck; had some great food, played some Apples-to-Apples. I invited you to come over and talk about service projects, and you did. We had some laughs, talked some turkey. Things seemed to be going so well between us.
But then some guys were using fear to silence people they didn’t like. I couldn’t do nothing. I knew you wouldn’t like my standing up against them, maybe I even suspected you wouldn’t understand. Since we were friends and all, I thought maybe we’d talk it over. You’re always so careful to emphasize the need for dialog, and trying to see it from the other person’s perspective- I assumed you’d at least hear me out. It really hurt when you didn’t even try. You had my number, but you didn’t call. Worse than that, your only response was to belittle me in front of everyone. You told our friends I was a jerk and a bigot. You implied I was thoughtless and rash, even though I had agonized over those choices and discussed them exhaustively with everyone I knew.
That’s when you lost me, Inty. Not before. You pushed me away. I had never said a word against you. I had no interest whatsoever in fighting. It wasn’t about disagreement. It was about the lies of mutual respect and tolerance. It was that you proved how little our friendship meant to you, after all your promises to the contrary. Even after your hurtful words, I did not seek retribution. I moved on, made new friends, and focused on trying to do good work. That was fine, but I started to realize you were hurting others, too, some of them friends of mine. You were even getting in the way of the work we’re trying to do, the cause we believe in. That was the last straw. It’s over. And just so you don’t hear about it from someone else, I’ve found something new, Transfaith.
Transfaith understands me and my needs; especially my need not to be ridiculed for honest disagreement. Transfaith doesn’t tell me who to like or how to work. I feel so free now, I can finally focus on everything wonderful while letting go of all the friction and guilt you so needlessly heaped on my life.
I want you to know, in spite of everything, I’m not bitter. I wish the best for you and your new partners. Really. I know you’re capable of doing great good and will never deny it. But you can’t be a part of my life anymore. Please don’t call.