Hardest thing about coming out Atheist....causing pain to my religious family

First off, these first 2 paragraphs are an intro to me and my stance since I haven't posted here before.  I come from a very Christian family.  My mom attends church every weekend, and church get-togethers and everything like that.  She plays guitar in church.  My younger sister is damn near just as devout as is the rest of my family.  As for me, I only went to church when I was young because I had to, because it made my family happy.  I never truly submitted to any of it.

I was always skeptical of religion even though I never said a word of it the first 22 years of my life so I got to thinking:  This isn't right, I should be able to voice my beliefs to my family and friends.  At the ripe age of 23 (two months ago to be exact)  I did, and so far the results of doing so have been tough to say the least, more so for the rest of my family, but if it hurts them, it hurts me.  I love my family and I hate putting them through this but I just couldn't stay quiet any longer.  I couldn't keep going to church and thinking how ridiculous everything was. I couldn't keep pretending I was a Christian when I wasn't, and never truly was.

This has truly been hell for me seeing what I've put my family through by coming out Atheist.  I know I've really hurt them, but there was no other way to do it.  It had to be done.  My mom and sister came to visit me this weekend for the first time since I graduated college and I have discussed my decision and the religion topic in general a few times with them over the past few days.  I can tell they are devastated.  To me, it's my decision and is no big deal of course (at least it shouldn't be) but what is tearing me up is the fact that they're actually crying over it and making me feel like I'm lost, like I don't actually know what I believe in.  My mom asked if I would still go to her funeral, being an Atheist.  I was like 'WTF?!  Of course I will'.  She said she couldn't stand the thought of me being at her funeral and not believing she was in heaven.  They made it so that I honestly didn't want to defend myself, not that I couldn't.  I just didn't want to defend my Atheist stance because I knew whatever I said would just hurt them more.

Anyone else have advice for me that isn't cold and unrealistic?  I know my family is ignorant and I love them, so I don't want to abandon them or anything.  I also don't want to cause them pain because of my stance.

~Brady


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James, see how far throwing 12-year old insults will get people to better understand what you're trying to say...not very far at all....
Sorry about hijacking the thread, but I could not email James as he wont be friends with me :(

Good luck for the future. Your last post shows you are actually getting somewhere and you handled an awkward situation admirably without being over confrontational just firm (unlike me with James). It is a difficult situation but its very obvious your mum loves and worries about you very much. I'm sure its the same for all your family.At least you can take some solace from that :D
Hi again James.
Thanks for reminding me of all of my failings. I now concede .You are absolutely right about everything you say. I am an arrogant fool and I did think everything had to be my way. I was completely intolerant of anybody else's opinions and so on.
I am ashamed of myself for being an intellectual coward and for being a disgrace as a human being.

I wish I could be like you since you are such a fine example of what a tolerant, deep thinking human being can be.

Oh btw.I thought Brady made an observation, not an accusation but again.. I must be wrong since everything you say is 100% right and i will redefine my understanding of both words according to your comment.

You really are such an admirable and none arrogant person.
Yawn. ....
I knew you could not resist hitting me again.

I wish I could be like you. You are so smart. Your IQ must be up there with Einstein.

Anything else I can do to accommodate you James?
Perhaps you could send me your address, then I can visit you and you can beat on me for real. Maybe even shoot me? I'm sure you would enjoy that.
Ha ha ha .. You are very funny.
Physical violence is not for you then. That's not really surprising. Still you more than make up for it with the mental abuse you dish out.
Gosh I admire you so much.
OH I was wrong again. What a surprise. You really would like to beat me up for real as long as you have a good excuse. Very admirable qualities you display James.

Seriously. You need help. Bullying people and assigning your own shortfalls to them wont ever make you feel any better. Have you not worked that out yet? After all you must have been doing this for some time and you are no dummy.
I know what you mean, lately my mom has been trying to get me to read all these religious books that argue against Atheism. I read a few paragraphs, and couldn't stomach their ridiculous arguments. My mom called again later and said "I'm going to send you another book" and then I flat out and said don't do it, because if you do I guarantee I won't read it and you're wasting your money. She was a little bit upset but she isn't going to send me books anymore. I'm starting to realize sometimes there is no being nice about it, I had to come out and say STOP sending me this crap. I then used the phrase: "If you really believe in God, you must put the situation in God's hands". I think that put her at ease.

It's kind of funny how using religious arguments that I know well because I was once religious can actually get my family's religious ranting off my back :)
Sheryl..
your comment:
"dude! u are trying to bring the concept of sin into an atheist website! WTF did u expect! I see a motive here. your young. and very smart.
take care for your own actions. then look at the result."

Was that directed at me?
Keith
The reason I wasn't sure you were talking to me is because you said I am young. Nice of you to say but in fact I am 48.

For some reason I cant link a reply to you comment so I'll post it here:

"dude! u are trying to bring the concept of sin into an atheist website! WTF did u expect! I see a motive here. your young. and very smart.
take care for your own actions. then look at the result."


Where did I try to bring in the concept of sin? That is a mind control tool. Nothing more nor less. Something I am very much against. Please explain so can see where my thinking is wrong and do the relevant therapy to ensure I do not make the same mistake again.

What motive do you see? My only motive is to try to find a peaceful, simple method way to change the thinking of religious fundamentalists and Evangelicals. If we can do this, among other things, we can stop all this pointless suffering that families such as Brady's are going through. I know this seems like an impossible task, but there really must be a key. We should be searching for it.

I do not feel name calling and sitting in the sidelines, laughing at other peoples flaws is very productive. In fact from my observations it only seems to make things worse. Very much worse. There is enough division among people and as rational thinking beings we owe it to our species to try to change that rather than add to it.

All the issues boil down to one issue. Behavior modification. All religious fundamentalists and evangelicals have been subjected to very rigid behavior modification by the religious leaders and community in which they live. The have been programmed. There must be a way to reverse this damage and free these people from the tyrannical control of their unprincipled megalomaniac leaders.

For the past 30 years or so I have watched a lot of atheists complain about religion, and try to make rational arguments with the victims/faithful. Its time to realize that this strategy does not work and a new one must be found. The method I suggest is one I have had some success with. If this method were applied by a majority and actually worked it would solve all the issues.

Of course it may not be as effective as I suspect, but it is very effective on psychiatric patients with delusional disorder. Since there are great similarities between this disorder and the thought processes of the deeply religious I suspect it will work.

I would at least like to see some research done to find out.
This site: http://home.cc.umanitoba.ca/~altemey/ is an excellent place to look at the research findings about the mind set of fundermantal and evangelical religious groups. I recommend reading the free ebook “The Authoritarians” by Bob Altemeyer. After reading that I am in no doubt that the Fundies and Evangelist are very sick people.

Basically I would like to see some attempt made to make a change rather than the apathy which seem to be the current tactic.
Sheryl,
I'm sorry for this late response,
I think to de program ones self is a very difficult task. For me, when I first stopped believing in God and Jesus I found I was left in a state of existential angst and mild depression. Though the depression sometimes got more extreme. I think that was a direct result of the programming. Fortunately I found Behavioral Cognitive Therapy to be the perfect way to combat these feelings and they are not a problem for me anymore. I recommend reading "Feeling Good" by David Burn. This book not only teaches you how to deal with your own negative and distorted thoughts but it also shows how to deal with all kinds of difficult and irrational people without ever becoming angry or raising your voice. It can be picked up on amazon for a couple of dollars and it is an excellent investment.
The therapy it teaches you o apply to yourself is simple and very effective, I can honestly say it changed my life.
Good luck
I just finished reading the book "The Authoritarians" 10 minutes ago and not surprisingly he recommends pretty much the same kind of action to combat this problem as I do as well as many other positive actions.
:D
You haven't hurt them as much as you haven't allowed them to hurt you.

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