Well... okay. I need advice.

I have been an in-the-closet atheist most of my life after be chastised and treated badly at school for being the "anti-christ"

I really officially came out of the closet in college.

My grandparents raised me, and they respected me. But various other family members disowned me, haven't spoken to me in years, etc because I "shamed the family."

The one family member I've never talked to about this is my dad. He's been out of my life pretty much since I was 4 and he went to prison.

He has now been clean of drugs for 4 years, and now I am beginning to be his daughter again.

Of course like most people in his situation, he turned to church and prayer and religion. (My dad's side of the family is also deeply religious anyway, with Jesus posters all over the house and Jesus bumper stickers.)

He's been trying to get me to come to church with him, and I'm not sure how to explain my atheism to him. I've really missed having him in my life, you know. I don't want him to leave again because of my religion (or rather, lackthereof.)

Do any of you have any advice for me?

(also feel free to move this topic if it's in the wrong section)

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I don't know if it would work but someone who has used religion (though not Christianity) as a crutch to get through difficult stuff I can say try to be understanding and so all i can think to say is "Dad, I understand how the church has helped you and I'm glad but it would be disrespectful of me to come with you when i don't believe and I have no wish to disrespect you or your choice."

It might not work but at least it's polite?
my dad left me when I was 13 and before that he never been around
that makes me feel empty for a long time
anyway
try not to lose him no matter what it cost
he has been out of your life since you were 4, you should pay more attention to people that cared for you and raised you, than him. if he doesn't like it tough shit. he wasn't there when he could have been a dad, so why give him that much importance later in life.

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