Does anyone have any advice on how to come out( as an atheist) in a deeply religious family?

I live in a deeply religious family and in our culture family bonds are very strong.


Now that I've become an atheist I often wonder if its a good idea to tell them this and cause problems or just keep mum and pretend I'm still religious? 

 If this is not the place to post this I'm sorry but could you direct me to some relevant posts? 

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I too have many "religious" relatives- I have found it easier to be Socratic without being overtly atheistic or challenging when religion comes up at family gatherings. 

By now, most know I am a non-theist but occasionally I am in a family setting where they do not know I am non-theistic (I have a large extended family).  I usually try to be as non-confrontational as possible, but it isn't always that easy to refrain from attacking an invalid argument.

Hi Gary,

 I noticed that you are from Singapore , how old are you , that might make a difference?  I have some Asian

 friends and understand how religion is very important to them  and their family. 

You said your parents might not take the news well. You can start small: if you normally would pray together before a meal, next time you are over, apologetically tell them you can't pray with them but you will respect their belief and sit quietly while they make a normal prayer. If they press you, calmly politely explain that you don't feel comfortable with prayer and other religious activities - using your own words and feelings but downplaying it. If they press you further, say it more bluntly and more honestly but staying polite.

As for them not believing in science, you can point out to them that science is not something to believe in, it is a body of knowledge. It provides the understanding that allows the creation of TVs, cell phones, computers, etc. Be sure to point out items they use every day.

Obviously we do not know your parents so you need to read all the advice and use what you think will work best for you and them.

Thanks for all your advice. Probably I'll break it to them the next time we visit them.

Well I for one will tell you to really consider keeping this quiet.  As they say you need to really decide if this juice is worth the squeeze.  perhaps you could initiate some kind of conversation that contains atheism in it and try and gauge their reaction to the subject in general.  that would at least give you real insight that you could consider instead of hoping for the best.  cause c'mon, how often does that work out?  I say it's not worth the hassle  we really need a good pr firm. 

i would avoid walking into the living room like ted levine in "the silence of the lambs."  

in the case of my family, i just started pointing out the contradictions and inaccuracies of religion whenever it came up in conversation or on tv or in the car on the radio. eventually, they got the message.  there was no big curtain unveiling where i announced my lack of belief.

i still take my mom to church on xmas, but she's fully aware that i don't believe in any skybullies.

First, you don't have to tell anyone.  If you live in a deeply religious culture--as you do--you don't want this sort of thing to become known because you will face discrimination or worse.  I would suggest not coming out until you have softened them up with skeptical comments and observations. At opportune times, when you can tell they are receptive, throw in a comment or question that forces them to think about their religion more objectively.  You might have to do this for years before they are ready to accept your apostasy.

As others have said, you could admit to skepticism about the particular religion if you have to admit to something.  As you do come out, make sure they know it is for moral reasons, such as honesty, that you have stopped believing.  They have been taught to think that atheism is a front for immoral desires, so don't get caught in their subconscious trap.  Also, make sure you are extra careful with family members who are gossips.  You really don't want to become the talk of the neighborhood.

Actually Gary, this is exactly the place to post it. But the answer is that there's no easy solution. There have been members who posted here that were completely cut off from their families after their announcement, and no one wants that.

One way might be to not tell them anything for now, but over time, ask them questions their religion can't answer, such as how could there have been a global flood 15 cubits higher than the highest mountains, when there isn't enough water in, on, under or above the earth to accomplish that? Why do the first five books of the Bible say they were written by Moses, when they were actually written a thousand years later, by four different groups of people who weren't even there when the events supposedly took place? Who knows, maybe you can get one or more of them to question their own beliefs.

Or, you could tell them you have terminal cancer, with only six months to live, then, once they've gotten over the initial shock of that, say, "No, I'm really just an Atheist --" Maybe they'll be relieved - if not, then at least you'll know they'd rather see you dead.

pax vobiscum,

ahahahah right..... 


That's too funny!


Even as deeply religious as my extended family is (both Dad and Mom's sides are Catholic).. many are open-minded enough that if I did come right out as an Atheist many would ask me about it,but wouldn't hold it against me. I think it helps that many of them know my Dad questioned religion for many years. He had many discussions with his mom over the years about it. In his case he was always searching for the best fit for him. For me.. I don't feel I needed it at all. 

Prior to losing him in '03, whenever I was up for visiting my Dad- he'd make the drive from MI to MN to pick me up and drive me back. During that 17+hr drive we'd talk about a many things. My one regret in regards to him was that I came to embrace my Atheism after he passed, so it was a conversation I never got to have with him.. I don't doubt It would have been one of the more interesting ones we could have had -- especially with I now know.. .  


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