Well, hello everyone. I just found this site approx. 20 minutes ago, and ironically, I found it through a post a former boyfriend (and former mutual "uber Christian") put on Facebook.

To give you some background, I grew up in and have lived in the Midwest for the majority of my life.  I lived in a couple of big cities (Seattle and Las Vegas) for about two years, then came back to the Midwest. I was raised Christian (Lutheran), and almost everyone I know identifies as Christian, with a few awesome exceptions. I've been leaning towards Agnostic for quite some time, but after the death of my grandmother last summer, and after a super-secret conversation with my father ("I don't think I believe in God anymore" / "I don't think I do either"), I've decided Atheist fits my views best.  

I've been slowly "coming out" to various people in the past year, and reactions have been mixed. Mainly, those few who are Atheist/Agnostic have been very receptive, and any other (mainly Christian) friends usually affect a silent shock and sadness. Poor me, going to Hell after all. Shit, I had a waaaaaaaay better reception when I came out as bisexual over a decade ago. My Mother is now trying to get me to go back to Church, even though she herself hasn't attended regularly in the past 10 years. My father pretends to be Christian when my mom's around, and then gives me silent affirmation when no one's looking.

The place where I struggle the most is with my nieces. I have two adorable nieces, ages 12 and 13, who are smart as a whip, and adore the heck out of me (the feeling is mutual). Every time I see them, they always wait until we are alone, then hit me with a barrage of grown-up questions they are dying to know the answers to...they know that I will never lie to them and never make them feel ashamed or embarrassed for their inquiry. I wish their mother, my sister, could fulfill this role, but alas, she's more of a woman-who-happened-to-have-kids, and not a nurturing mother. Anyway, a lot of their questions have started to veer towards political and religious opinions...political questions I never have a problem answering, but religious ones, I tend to balk. As strongly as I feel the Christian religion can discriminate against so many, I am NOT their mother, and I know she would not agree with me sharing my Atheist views. Hell, she's one of the last few that I have not openly shared my Atheism with, mostly because I fear she might go as far as to limit my time with them. My brother and his family would be another one with whom I have not openly shared my views with, but that's because he is a Missionary Baptist minister. Pretty sure they are all confident I'm hellbound already.

So, what do you think? How would you approach discussions with young, impressionable minds on the topic of religion, when you know what they are currently being taught is so far from what you believe?

Thanks all,

Lita

"I don't believe in God; I believe in people."

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Show them some pictures from the Hubble telescope, showing that most of the stars they see in the sky are not really stars, but whole galaxies.

I am not sure here but it sounds like you might be claiming that if I go outside tonight, look up, and see the naked-eye stars, most of those are in fact galaxies.  Not true; they are almost all stars (the exceptions being planets). 

(If you didn't mean to say that, then I apologize, yet if I got confused perhaps someone else did too, so this was not in vain.) 

Only a handful of (other) galaxies are visible with the naked eye and they all look like smudges.  Our galaxy of course is obvious since we are actually inside it (once you get beyond "can't see the forest for the trees" syndrome), but there is also the Andromeda galaxy, and (for you southern hemisphere folks) the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds.  Plus others perhaps but I don't know them off the top of my head.

For whatever reason, most of my exposure to the stars has been from pictures rather than looking up in the sky. You are right, and I have fallen for mass media compromise. Good catch.

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