If you were a Baptist and you silently deconverted it would be easy to pretend to be a Baptist. All you have to do is give lip-service to the beliefs, go to church for 1-2 hours a week and slowly disassociate yourself with Baptist activities. Seventh Day Adventist silent deconverters have a much bigger problem; they have to deal with the Sabbath.
Sabbath can be such a pain, because it ruins both your Friday and Saturday. On Friday, your day will always be cut short. On Saturday, you can only do activities in the evening. Even worse, if you live in the UK like I do, during the winter the sun can set in the afternoon. This makes it a pain to find jobs; because you will have to leave work early on Fridays for a large portion of the year. In a competitive job market, that can be the make-it-or-break-it for choosing an employee. Sabbath is a big reason that Adventists get jobs with other Adventist institutions/businesses, further encouraging Adventism exclusivism. NOTE: If you are caught actively breaking Sabbath, you will face a bucket load of questions – and if you are a teenager, you could very well find yourself in the middle of a intervention meeting. When I say something is dangerous, I mean it.
Step 1: Get a Laptop.
Get a laptop, and start using it on Sabbath. Sit against a corner in a wall, and use your laptop to browse non-Adventist sites and have fun. Put your ear buds on and pretend to be listening to a sermon – when you are actually listening to your favourite TV show. This is the easiest way to pretend to keep Sabbath. Make sure no one can see your screen and don’t leave the offending material up if you ever leave it. It pays to have a panic button set up in place – I have used this a lot in my time. You can Google for programs that let you hide your screen at the click of a button.
Step 2: Get an ipod.
Get an ipod, and listen to your own music, while claiming to be listening to Christian songs. Be ready to be able to turn it off at a moments notice. NOTE: Some MP3 players will keep playing the music if the headphones are accidentally knocked out through the speakers. This is dangerous; I suggest you find an MP3 player that doesn’t do this.
Step 3: Hide “worldly” material.
You can hide worldly material in Adventist books and magazines. This is pretty risky doing it in a public space like a sitting room (though I have done that before!). It is especially useful if you are reading in a space like a bedroom and you don’t have the door locked. Sit in a corner, and hide your book in an Adventist magazine. If someone comes in, they won’t think anything of it.
Step 4: Take a shower or a bath.
This is just a good idea for your body anyway. Being a silent dissenter, you will likely have a lot of stress on your shoulders. You can whittle away some of the time by rejuvinating with a long, hot bath.
Step 5: Go for weekly nature walks.
Now we are getting into serious suggestions. If you weren’t interested in nature, you are going to get a sudden interest in it. Start going for a weekly “nature walk”. It is a good idea to make them a permanent fixture of your Sabbath day. You can do this by simply talking about it like that. Say to your spouse/parents/friends “I have decided that I am going to try and go for a walk each Sabbath. I am going to go for a nature walk and use that time to pray and reconnect with God.” There is nothing suspicious about this – in fact, you can even frame it as though this is something that you are going to work hard on, if you don’t want to sound too eager.
In reality, your “nature walk” is your ticket to freedom. Is there a movie you want to go see? Go see it. Do you want to hang out with your friends? Go now. You can extend the length of time you have by taking a car and saying that you are going to drive out to a more secluded spot. Avoid eating or drinking anything that smells, or going to an area that smells (i.e. don’t be around friends that smoke) as you will smell of that, and you risk your spouse/sibling/parent becoming suspicious.
Step 6: Use the bathroom for privacy.
If you are in the house, and you need privacy, then the bathroom is a great way to get this. Go into the bathroom, lock the door, close the windows and turn the shower on. This will give you privacy from both eyes and ears. I would use the bathroom to hide the following things:
> Noise. If work called, or a client called, or a prospective employer called, I would go into the bathroom and use this trick.
> Wandering eyes. At times I had reports I had to do, and it required I lay papers around the ground so I could see all of my information at once. Since I couldn’t hide this inside a Adventist magazine, I would go into the bathroom and use this trick to pretend I was showering.
On a sad note, I would also use this trick when the pressure of being a silent deconverter would get to me, and I just wanted to crumple on the ground and cry.
It is important to keep up the illusion, so make sure you hop into the shower quickly and then dry off to create the illusion you were in there. Keep in mind, you have about an hour max for this.
Step 7: Tips for having entire days to yourself.
At times, you may need several hours free on Sabbath during the day; sometimes, you may even need the entire day free. The problem is, you can’t just up and leave your family home. If so, you will look suspicious. It is Sabbath, where do you have to go – especially by yourself? If you can’t do what you need to do in the time set aside for your weekly “nature walk” then here are some tips for you.
When I needed to disappear for extended time periods, I would use the following excuse; my non-Christian friend was interested in doing a Christian event, and they wanted company they trusted. Perfect! However, as you may have already guessed, this is a problem in-of-itself. Remember, Adventists don’t like The World. So how can you get away with it? Well, while they don’t like The World, they will put up with you engaging in non-Adventist activities that don’t go against Adventist ideas. The following things you can get away with, safely:
- Church plays (other denominational churches)
- Hymnal Services
- Intelligent Design Events
Now this doesn’t have to actually be on. You don’t have to pick something a church is actually hosting. Your Adventist family member will probably be skeptical/somewhat disapproving of you going anyway, and they won’t be interested in learning about it, since they probably don’t want to go anyway. They will likely tell you something like, “it is good they are interested in Christianity. Next time, try and get them to come to an Adventist event.” Play along with this, and assure them that that is your goal.
Pick a friend they know about if you can, or make one up (but start referencing them a few weeks in advance in general conversation). It is best to warn your friend if possible in case they get asked by your spouse/parents about the meeting next time they see them. Imagine how awkward it would be if they didn’t know about it but were asked about it?
Step 8: Avoid going to church events.
Your church will almost certainly have events going on after Church. Avoid these as best as you can, as it is difficult to ‘slack off’ while sitting in a pew. You are surrounded by Adventists who are constantly watching each other, and you have someone you are supposed to be interested in – the speaker. There are a few things you can get away with though:
- You can actually get away with sleeping. Even good Adventists go to sleep. Its not exactly a good thing, but nodding off during services is so common that the gossip train won’t be bothered by you doing it.
- You can get away with reading Adventist material. Bringing in a book could be frowned upon, but reading the magazines/newsletters your church offers is perfectly fine.
- If you get to sit alone, by yourself, you can use an ipad and browse other things. If asked, pretend your ipad is your portable Bible/Ellen G White library. It is good to set this up in advance. Show your Adventist friends/family it and talk about how you use it in church because it saves you carrying heavy books. You can then use your ipad as you please, especially if you have mobile internet. This is only safe if you sit by yourself.
If you make your “nature walk” a weekly thing, and insist it has done good things for your “walk in Christ”, then that is a good excuse to not stay for these things.
Do note, while all of these tips can be very useful, they are not the end-all. The end-all is coming out, and actually being a public dissenter. All of these actvities are stressful, as being found out has disastrous consequences, and it is not fun to live a lie. You will always be watching your back, and if your family members get suspicious, they will start to ask you a lot of questions. Do not use this list as an excuse to stay silent forever.
This always makes me laugh! I wish I had had Adventist All-Star Trading Cards.