All my life up until now I've been an agnostic. But I recently made the move to atheist and I am happy where I am. It has brought a sense of relief to my life. But now there is a new challenge I am faced with. Telling my loved ones. I know I have nothing to be ashamed of, yet I am scared of being judged and treated with dismissal or negative reactions. I told my mother who stays quiet at times and others says she fears that I won't be in the afterlife with everyone else. I mentioned it to my sister and she said nothing.
Besides other friends and family, I need to tell my boyfriend. He is the person whom I wish to marry and have children with one day. He was raised catholic and holds to those beliefs. I don't mind our future children being raised with those beliefs as long as it doesn't negatively impact their lives. And I don't have reason to suspect this, but I fear he won't accept me.
Does anyone have any advice or experiences to share on this topic?
While I have not "come out" yet, I think I may be able to help.
You can try a humorous way by saying "I'm a ______ (insert something they might find appalling), just kidding, I'm an atheist!"
In seriousness though, let them know what you believe in an appropriate manner. Then, if they get upset remind them of the good teachings of compassion and acceptance that Jesus preached.
With your boyfriend, have a serious discussion. Explain your beliefs and let him know (if he doesn't already) that Catholicism has no problem with evolution and more recently the big bang theory (even though it is not "officially" sanctioned). Let him know you are still the same person he loves and admires, you just believe things a bit differently.
I would like to end with a little philosophy from Wayne Campbell : "If you blow chunks and she comes back, she's your's. But if you spew and she bolts, it was never meant to be."
I've been slowly coming out to my immediate and extended family over time. I've told each one separately, depending on that particular relationship. My mother is catholic and what I did with her was to very slowly talk with her about my beliefs regarding separation of church and state. This gave her a pretty clear idea of my beliefs, but not directly as it relates to belief in gods. So when I finally came out and used the word "atheist" I don't think it was much of a surprise to her. Although one time she actually said she thinks she failed me, she's never been negative towards me again and we get along just as well as we ever have. We just don't talk about her god. There's really no reason to. I still talk to her about fundies and politics as it relates to religion, but that's as close to belief and god as we get.
This gradual coming out really worked well for me. It was slow and wasn't so much of a shock to anyone.
I hope however you end up handling this that it goes well for you. GOOD LUCK!