Warning: this post is long. Specifically it's about 26,000 words long or about 44 printed pages. I thought about breaking it up into a few different posts, but that wouldn't really fit my purpose. I'm mainly just looking for a place to dump this on my blog, so here it is. I apologize that after almost a year without posting I'm marking my return with something like this, but I had a recent, unexpected, and encouraging phone call from someone from my past that brought all these events to mind and prompted me to do it.
A few times on this blog I've alluded to the response my wife and I received from the PCA church we were active members of at the time of our deconversion. Outside of work and home, it was pretty much our world. I've also mentioned that not a single person from that church remained friends with us in any meaningful sense. At least one former good friend stated he would never set foot in my house or even meet with me in person until we repented. Others unfriended us on Facebook. A couple of my wife's friends seemed to be willing to at least correspond, but they said they needed some time first. That was three years ago.
I saved nearly all of the correspondence we received during that period. I've been hesitant to share much of it on this blog, but I recently had a conversation with someone who was privy to some of the things that were communicated to the congregation of the church by the session of elders in the aftermath of our departure. Based on that person's recollections, it would seem the elders told the congregation not to interact with us lest we poison them. In light of that unsurprising revelation, I've decided to publish the exchanges I had with the elders, the details of which they no doubt withheld from the congregants. I've redacted names and places. Mainly I'm excluding them so people performing Internet searches on those specific names won't end up getting linked here.
In retrospect, now three years removed from these exchanges, I think it was a mistake to allow the elders and the senior pastor in particular to control the narrative fully in the way we did. If I had to do it all over again, I might be tempted to avoid phone conversations, stick strictly to email interactions, and then cc everyone in the church directory on the entire exchange so they could see for themselves how it all went down. Something like that had briefly crossed my mind, but I never seriously considered it. At the time I didn't want to risk burning bridges, nor did I want to fit into the narrative of being out to deliberately hurt people. In the end, the elders were going to burn plenty of bridges for us so it didn't really matter.