This is probably a little more of a ramble than usual. I felt the need to write about this and get feedback from others who may or may not be in a similar situation.
I was a fairly active member of a wahm community that I liked a lot. More of a lurker since the kids went back to school, but before lurkdom I would read and comment on member posts and blogs, search out members when I wanted to shop, and so on. It is a supportive group for the most part, and I liked being a part of it. Recent group changes have changed my feelings on it.
I tend to keep religion out of business for the most part. I don’t scream about my path from the rooftops, but I don’t hide or pretend to be something I’m not either. I tend to stay away from groups with religious undertones because the focus tends to stray from business to religion. I personally believe that the two should not necessarily mix, but there is something comforting about the common bond. But what if a group starts one way and becomes another?
When I joined, the group was not religion-based, just wahm-based. Over time, however, the change became clear and became part of the group description and mission. While I enjoyed my time there, I could not in good faith remain a part of it. I was not excluded or made to feel unwelcome; I felt somewhat like a fraud for being there. I did not feel comfortable in a group that gave me a label that did not fit.
Before anyone sees this as an attack on religion-focused groups, let me assure you that it is not. This is about my take on the subject. If one chooses to make religion a factor in how one advertises, so be it. I’m fine with that. I have issue with someone refusing to do business with a potential client or customer because of religion, but that’s another story. It’s a question of character for me. I will continue to be the person that I am and treat my fellow man as I wish to be treated. I will continue to network and shop with other independent business owners, both on and offline. I will market my business as I have in the past. I will not knowingly participate in these activities under a label that does not reflect my true beliefs.
If leaving the group affects my relationships with the wonderful women I met there, then it will happen. I would rather lose contact with them than live a lie and lose respect for myself.