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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Why do these deeply religious people have to control us (mostly as we are in our childhoods) I never believed and just didn't pray when they prayed and never sang when they sang, I never forced my belief ( of non belief on any one)  as an adult if it comes up I will speak of my beliefs but I am very secure in myself and don't have to go around preaching my non belief. if your parents really Love you they will accept you as you are , if they don't then yo

u will have to risk moving on as an adult on a different road then they have taken. Sometimes you just have to make a stand. its your life and don't waste to much time trying to please...... Be your self , sooner the better .... Time  keeps ticking away.......  Peace <3

I would not engage in a battle with them. Maybe a better wording would be to not allow them to escalate it to a battle. You do not need to explain why you don’t believe or what you may believe instead. You just no longer believe what they happen to believe and that is all you need say. Whether or not you are now viewing the world form a scientific perspective is not important for now. You got where you are by thinking about it and are humble enough to not claim that a god do not exist and you don’t claim to have all the answers yet could be a useful approach.

Remain calm when challenged. If anyone wishes you ill tell them you will turn the other cheek this time. If anyone talks about bringing shame to the house ask them not to judge others so quickly. You are forcing them to challenge their own beliefs and they will do this over the coming months. Then hopefully, one by one, they will all want to talk to you about it on a mutually respectful basis. Good Luck.

Tell them that you don't believe in God, but if it is the case that he exists and is the creator, he constructed the genetic sequence that has eventually led to your own genetic makeup--the proximate cause of the way you process information, and therefore of your atheism. He has endowed a certain number with the kind of intellectual faculties that inevitably lead to doubt, and since this was his work, it should not be shunned. Furthermore, you cannot choose your beliefs, only your actions. Let your family down easily by saying that you are searching for the way to expel the seeds of your doubt (God's existence is theoretically possible so this might not be a complete lie), thereby remaining faithful to God through your actions if not your beliefs.

Well I'm new here and already like it!  I have a similar dilemma though with a few more complicating factors, namely my 3 beautiful children (ages 8, 5 & 0.7).  I have ALWAYS had doubts in christianity even as a teenager but like most "christians" just went with the flow.  I attend a "non-denominational" church every Sunday in support of my wife and of course our 3 children go to Sunday school.  For the past 2.5 years, I have been attending a bible study group every week at the crack o dawn.  At first I though I was agnostic...  the more I sincerely looked into it; the more I talked to religious "experts" at the church;  the more internet searching I have done, the more convinced I am, without a doubt, 100% atheist, borderline anti-theist.  I have watched NUMEROUS religious debates and have yet to hear one (1) thing that even starts to make me thing religion has ANY merit.  With that being said... 

My dilemma...  My wife is "willfully" ignorant.  She finds solace in religion and refuses to talk about it.  She once asked if I HAD to do so much research...  I stated no, I could also stick my head in the sand and ignore reality (maybe not those exact words as I have been married for over 15 years).  My dilemma is my children.  On one hand, I understand the security they derive from believing in an all seeing "god" when I am not around for comfort but every time I pick them up from Sunday school, I tell myself that is one more thing I will have to "deprogram" when they get older.  I have only gone "ballistic" once...  The the Sunday school told my son that dinosaurs and people lived at the same time.  Needless to say, I adamantly refused to return to that church and told my son that if he if ever told that again, that he has my permission to inform the "teacher" that they are ABSOLUTELY wrong (with respect of course). 

I think if your family loves you, they will accept the fact you are atheist.  Call me severely optimistic, but I truly think that if comparative religion was taught in school, there would be many more confirmed atheists...  I think most "religious people" have a lot of SERIOUS doubts way down deep which is why they get SO defensive when we start questioning their belief.  I agree with Richard Dawkins that we are on the cusp of a Atheism outbreak.  I think it is important for you to state your beliefs and lead my example.  Show them that "Objective Morality" is a joke and be a great person and STILL not believe in god.  I think the more people that come out of the atheistic closet," the more others will be willing to do so.

Now for my hypocrisy:  I live in a VERY conservative Texan town and own small business.  As much as I would love to scream from the top of my lungs that I am a PROUD atheist, I am worried that it would hurt my business.  If I were single, I wouldn't care.  I have a wife and 3 kids to support so I tell people I am "agnostic" and do that whole song and dance to be more "acceptable" and I still go to bible study to ask the hard questions and make them think.  THAT is the key... to make them THINK!

I have babbled enough.  Just a lot on my brain and no place to release it.  I look forward to intelligent, grounded thought and debate.  I pray I see the death of religion in my lifetime (pun most definitely intended!)


Thats a good point. Feels easier to say than suddenly declaring you're an atheist. Hmmm I never thought of that

I would maintain your current stance. Ultimately, "coming out" is only a good thing if it serves an obvious purpose; it is unlikely you are going to convince your town of the merits of atheism, so the purpose must be your family. I have no idea what it is like to live in such an environment, but if you think that the damaging effects of revealing your beliefs will be more significant than the beneficial effects (intellectual freedom, honesty etc. for your children and yourself) then you shouldn't declare atheism. Immediate financial concern is more pressing than ideological issues, which can ultimately wait. I think you are on the right track trying to sow the seeds of doubt in your children's minds. Pride in and of itself is meaningless, it is the effects that matter. I think you have done the right thing.

I was about to say something, I thought witty, but held back.

Any where you go, if you have any difference of opinion or even perspective, the local folks can make it hard for you. They want some degree of metaphysical certainty, if all you have is questions, this cracks their little cosmic egg, punctures their bubbles, and throws their certainty onto a vast rubbish heep. The few responses they have left, is to make you an outcast, a herritic, a fool, a sinner, ignore you, etc. Some will quietly see you as a person of courage and principle, but they might/might not come to your aide. Some might throw stones, actual or symbolic, or marginalize to the point of near death. In my experience, being an atheist or humanist can be a difficult walk, but if honesty has any value, and the persuit of truth any virtue, it could be atleast one walk left to us.

I suggest that you speek your truth as best you can. Express your misgivings as clearly as possible. Of all the people in the world, I think our families need our honesty the most. The fellowship of other free thinkers, might be of some help. Pursue your questions, expose yourself to new and challenging conditions, seek solutions, find wonder in the mysteries that still remain.      


It sort of depends...if you're still young and living under your parent's roof, I'd advise against "coming out" out all. It's horrible, but for some people, religious parents can be absolute monsters when they find out. Keeping the secret is, admittedly, a painful way to go. I did it for several years, and I bit my tongue so often on so many subjects I thought I was going to bite it off. Thankfully, my mother is far more moderate than my father or grandparents. I was able to go to her and tell her about my without too much fear of any sort of yelling or shouting. She was hurt, I could tell, but she was supportive, and she kept it from the rest of the family until I was ready to openly admit it to everyone.

The only advice that I can give, if you're ready to come out, is to do it to one person at a time, and start with your most moderate/liberal friends and family. Don't go shooting right for the die hard fundies in your social circle. You want people who can back you up when the time comes, and if worst comes to worst, will support you if your parents cannot reconcile with your decision. For many, it's easy, but for people surrounded by religious family, it can be a very tough battle, and one many don't win.

Stand strong in your convictions, and don't let them shout you down. Remember that their anger comes from concern and hurt. They love you and are genuinely worried. No matter how loud they scream, no matter what they say, they say it because they want you to be safe "in heaven" with them. In the end, if you can't make them accept your choice, then all you can do is say "I love you." and walk away.

I think a lot of it will be if they are religious moderates or fundamentalists. If they're moderates they already don't demonize other religions and beliefs. If they are fundamentalists they demonize everyone different from them, including atheists. Their personalities, and yours, also are a big part of the equation. Check Shays post and the comments. If you and they are all confrontational people, and they are fundamentalists, better call a SWAT team.  Good luck.

Mason - Gary and his parents are from Singapore - I've had friends on Singapore, and their "conversion" came from when they were an English colony, hence they don't share the Puritan ethics we Americans, regrettably, have inherited from those most fundamental of fundamentalists, the Puritans. Though I've no doubt they're sincere in their beliefs, they, fortunately, don't share our history, which has created Santorums and Bachmans and Palins, oh my!

pax vobiscum,

Thanks everyone for the advice and encouragement. This really means a lot ! 3 Days left before the visit . Lets see how that goes.....


Gary - you may live on the other side of the globe, but you're only a keystroke away --

pax vobiscum,


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