Studies by Pew have shown that African Americans in the US are the most religious demographic and this is true. The church is the cornerstone of the African American community. Civil Rights movements began in black churches. MLK was a preacher. They are the places where most African American children meet their first friends, have their first music lessons and experience their first public speakings. Leaving church is often seen as a betrayal of heritage even more than it is seen as a betrayal of God. So I forced myself. For years, I forced myself to continue living the lie for the sake not being ostracized. After I married and had a son, I continued the lie in front of my husband. I kept the lie going until one day, over lunch at a Mexican restaurant, my husband blurted out that he wasn't religious and that he was only attending services with me for the sake of our relationship and the relationship with his parents. I paused, laughed, and cried. Thank god.
Have I lost friends? Yes. Some days I feel guilty for not raising my child in the church because I'm aware of the sense of community he will be missing out on. However, I want him to choose religion when he's old enough to do so, not grapple with fear and doubt when he makes the choice to break free from it. My family know and they are ok with my decision. My husband hasn't told his family, but it's probably better that we keep it that way.