I began to question the idea of God long, long ago -- I'm 24 now (25 next week - WOOHOO!), and started to query religion and God when I was 7 or 8.
It wasn't until a few years ago that I truly began to acknowledge myself as an Atheist. A few years ago I think I was scared to admit to it, and I often to referred to myself as an Agnostic because I guess I wanted there to be a God.
I also think that fear was driven by fear of exclusion by my family and friends. Now that I have come out and admitted to be my beliefs, I am not excluded per say, but I definitely feel like an outcast when I showcase my beliefs.
Case in point, last night I visited my mother and she actually started to detail how "worried" she was about me and that I "needed to stop reading".
Great parenting right there. I grew up in a Roman Catholic household but not a strict household, and my parents have never, ever been religious, only when it suits them. I guess that has contributed to my Atheism; seeing a half-hearted or "vague faith", as Mr. Hitchens put it.
I never, ever try to force my beliefs onto others, and the only time I discuss it is when it's brought up by someone else. I have a group of friends that are, I think, too scared to look up and take notice of what's around them, and I admit that I do pity them because of that. I know that is arrogant, but my friends often make me feel like an outcast because of my beliefs, often querying as to "how someone cannot believe in God", like as if it's such a bad thing...
In regards to my family, my parents are very, very delusional. My mother last night said "You're wrong Gaetano, there is a God", and there was a sense of desperation in her voice, like as if she was trying to convince herself. It was a very sad, demeaning thing to see, and I don't like it.
I never directly call someone delusional or crazy for believing in God, but I do feel it's my right, or duty, to project what I believe to be the truth, in the same way a person of faith does to me. My family can't believe that I'm not interested in directly celebrating Easter and going to Church (although I'm happy to have lunch and do all the family stuff).
I don't think it's so much that I don't believe in the church as it is my disbelief in God that worries my friends and families and can turn them against me. I think most people can accept the disbelief in religion, but when it comes to a complete disbelief in God, it is somewhat a taboo rationale.
The reason for this thread I guess is to see if anyone here genuinely feels excluded by friends and family because of their beliefs. I know I'm not alone, but I want to see how people respond.
PS. I love this community. I'm so glad I came across it :) I'm glad there are others out there that aren't all about bashing religion and God, but instead constructively counter it like adults.
I know exactly how you feel. I was raised in the Mormon church. Since I have made my lack of beliefs public, I have been shunned by my friends and family(98% are Mormon).
My mother will not leave me alone, and keeps trying to get me active again, despite me telling her flat out that I wish to be left alone. She has told me repeatedly that reading non church approved histories and documents has led me to become corrupted.
I am ostracized pretty much everywhere I go since I live in the heart of Mormonism.
Finding this site has given me some hope though.