Basically, I've been creeping on the forums/blogs/everything else here for quite a while. I live in a very strange place. Orlando, FL is definitely part of the south, but there are so many cultures here, either by emigration or vacation, so the variety of people keeps this city from the fate of so many other southern cities. However, 20 miles out and you can bet there's a church on every street corner. It's a weird place for sure. Quietly liberal. I'm very lucky to have called Orlando my home in an otherwise very red region.
Anyways, I grew up in a Christian household. Barely went to church though, that may have helped me ask more questions than the average 9 year old regarding religion. I always wondered why mine was the correct one. What made Christianity more valid than Buddhism? Or paganism? Why did everyone [that I knew] assume the Bible was right when there are facts that are so blatantly wrong? How could I trust a book that said the sun was made for the earth and mentioned talking snakes? No one could ever answer my questions, so I decided to make my own philosophical decisions. Studying international relations and cultures throughout high school and into college, I started to very much dislike the violence that almost always resulted from religion. Why can't my two gay best friends get married? Why must the default position in the US be "we are all children under the same god" (per Romney last night)? I have respect for other people, I have integrity, dignity, therefore I can trust myself with my own moral decisions.
I've come to find it to be very frustrating being an atheist in America these days. My family is mostly hardcore Republican and ANY mention of liberalism makes their heads explode. They seriously believe that Obama is a Muslim and from Africa. They seriously believe that he is evil and hates America. And they seriously believe that atheism automatically means that someone cannot be trusted and has no moral compass. Yet, they tell me all the time how proud they are that I'm the first in the family to graduate with honors from a university and attempt to go Ivy league for graduate school. But, god forbid that I bring up my distaste for religion and all hell breaks loose. Apparently, I've been exposed to too much "liberal propaganda" from college and thus have been brainwashed by the machine. I can't take it.
Just thought I'd share a bit of my back story. I really enjoy reading the discussions here and am very impressed by all this intellectual discourse. Keep it up!
By the way, my name is Jennifer!
Lol... wow... other than where you live, our situations are practically the same. It took me a while longer to slough off religion, but yeah... my family is uber hardcore, far-right, Christian-conservative. I had a fairly decent conversation with my mom the other night; it was mainly about how each of us feel now that we disagree on just about everything under the sun. I've felt sad they can't really, really be proud of me since I became atheist. Yes, my mom is proud of my "wordly" accomplishments, but... I feel like she should be proud she raised a free-thinker who fought her way out of indoctrination. Alas. She can only worry that I'm going to Hell and isn't able to appreciate the hard-won conclusion I came to.
Anyway... good luck in your neck of the diverse, yet strangely southern woods. :)
When you figure out the riddle to getting Mom to stop fretting about our hellbound status be sure to let me know. :^ )
I am not in your position but if I was, I would not expect my family to appreciate me for my atheism and my dissent of religion or my liberal 'outside of the box' thinking. If they do appreciate you for things outside of religious issues then you are getting more from your family than some other atheists would get.
That's why sites like these are created, so you can appreciated for who you are. And maybe some day you can meet other fellow people like you in your area.
Ah, the whole college ruined you sentiment. Just makes you feel all warm and fuzzy. Maybe this Daily Show clip will at least give you a laugh.
Welcome Jen, just don't creep here - fling your arms wide open - shout - (lack of respect from your family sucks) but say what you will. Here, it is all good, the place to vent and purge, with a bunch of think alikes.
@Jennifer - RE: "I've been exposed to too much 'liberal propaganda' from college and thus have been brainwashed by the machine. I can't take it."
What worries me, are kids UNlike you, who haven't figured it out, once they get out into the world. Many will stay in their comfort zones, with those who think as they do, but of those who go on to college, with all of their theist ideas and run into facts, and into others who believe differently, either there are going to be some eyes opened (and hopefully, minds) or there are going to be some feelings hurt.
I recall in 7th grade Biology class, the teacher asked the question, "How many ribs do humans have?" - as usual, I shot my hand up, was called upon, and gave the right answer, but because of my religious upbringing, I quickly added that men have one less than women, because Adam had had a rib taken out to make Eve. The teacher looked at me with a sad smile, which I've since learned to interpret as, "You poor, deluded idiot --" having seen it a number of times since then, and he informed me, and the rest of the class as well, that all humans have the same number of ribs.
But I too, in elementary school was questioning my mom as to all of the different religions of the world, and how we could possibly know we had the right one. "We just do." was the only answer I could ever get.
My active Christian family (spouse and my parents) criticism and worries of atheism have gone from vocal to silent once I put the burden on them to explain and justify their immoral religious views. It’s just simple questions that they should easily be able to answer and justify. Try it. Now they are the ones carrying this pillar of immoral views that they don’t wish to discuss because it’s embarrassing.
The one that really silence my father was – “would you ever want to cast me into hell if I stopped loving you or I didn’t accept you as my father?” - Because that is exactly what Christianity entails. You must believe and accept that if you are a Christian. You must accept and approve of this dictator that demands your love and acceptance and if you refuse it- you will burn in hell forever. This is love? So put the burden on them. Because the burden is on them- They just don’t know it yet.
For me, it was when I was about 7. I took a good long look at Santa Claus and God and decided that they seemed like the same thing! I never gave it serious thought, though, until I was out of college. From then until now (I'm 77), the evidence has kept piling up: Santa Claus and God? Same thing.
Jennifer, WELCOME to the land of those whose parents think we're going to burn in hell! My family is like yours and Cara's and I assume Ed's...in fact in May of this year my son, who I unwittingly allowed to be brainwashed by my parents before I became an an atheist, decided that because I am 'living in sin' with a man (I'm a woman and not married), and am obviously not living according to God's will, we can no longer have unsupervised visits with the grandsons--who adore us as much as we adore them. We were told that, essentially, we're 'worse than crack addicts' because, since the boys obviously love us so much now, when they're older, we might influence them to the point that they, too, end up burning in hell. My son insists that he's not worried about sexual abuse, that our time together in no way will be decreased (just supervised) (Huh??).
This event was unbelievably overwhelming to me since I'm a pretty new atheist (2 years) and hadn't 'come out' (in fact I'm not all the way out)--my family just thinks I'm sinful and stupid (despite being successful professionally with 3 successful children). My 88 year old mother got in the mix, forcing a discussion I was hoping never happened--pointing out to her how excruciating it is to know that my own mother can't really be proud of me so we can't ever be really close--like someone on here said--she's proud of my accomplishments but thinks there is something in me or my own stubborness that is causing me to reject Christ and therefore will burn in hell forever. So here I sit in South Carolina, with a family full of Rush Limbaugh lovers, Fox News, born again, leading others to Santa Claus I mean Jesus, creationists--and it's much harder than I thought it would be. This site is a soft place to fall (now watch a troll say something smartass). I never realized how 'bad' things really were. But even with all of that, having been raised a fundie, I'm soooooo thankful that I'm 'here' and not 'there' anymore!
What you said about Orlando is so true! I live over on the space coast..a bit to your RIGHT (LOL). Romney will sweep the polls here for sure, even though his mormons perpetrated the original 9/11. Look up MOUNTAIN MEADOWS MASSACRE if you have time. The slaughter of a wagon train of some 120 people in southern Utah on September 11, 1857.
I'm new here too..so far..it's been REAL.
Robert - one of our TA members, a former Mormon, Blaine Leavitt, is an actual ancestor of one of the infamous perpetrators of the Mountain Meadows Massacre - realizing, realistically, that he was in no way to blame by virtue of his ancestry, he is not reluctant to share the story. You should contact him for further info, which I'm sure he will freely provide.