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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What so now we have to be careful what we say to atheists in case we upset them too?
I don't think so.
When we start to censor debate, then we are not debating anymore.

If someone is intolerant then I will say that. Its that simple.
I know in his post he was encouraging intolerance. He claims he is not prepared to tolerate the attitudes and ideas presented to him by his family as well. That is pretty good evidence that he is an intolerant person. Therefore I conclude he is intolerant.
It really is a simple as that.
I am quite capable of recognizing humor if it i written as such- If that was your intention I suggest you go back to English class and study writing since you obviously do not have the skills required to communicate your intended message.

Either that or write.. I'm Joking at the end .
As for the ill founded thing....Are you saying my comments, or your comments are ill founded?
Again you really do need to learn how to write with clarity James. Its quite difficult to understand what you are trying to say.
Yes you told me about stem cell research being blocked. I completely agree that this is ludicrous. But what has that to do with the question being asked here? What in fact has that to do with Brady or his family? Is it guilt by association?

I'm sorry if you cannot take criticism of your stance, and I am sorry you are upset by my pointing out the intolerance and xenophobia expressed in your first comment on this thread.
I am not sorry you do not see it.
Please stop flaming and try discussing and you might learn something.
Perhaps you may even change my mind.
Also I have to say that if a member of my family tells me they are praying for me I am not offended at all. Though I find the concept of prayer rather silly to them it is a serious thing and they only do it with my best interests at heart. Since them praying for me wont hurt me I see no reason to ask them not to. They love me and this is their way of showing that. Why should I attack them for loving me?
"Hey Keith, what part of don't bothering to reply don't you understand?"
So you are trying to bully me in to not answering now?

I am pretty sick of this. I criticized a post you made and offered my opinion on somethings it seemed to be bringing up. Since that point in every post you have insulted me. You don't want to discuss. You just want to preach. Obviously self esteem is a serious issue for you. One that rivals your bigotry. But you know something I really have no interest in anything you have to say now.
It would appear your head is so far up your own ass that all you can see is your own shit and I do not wish to share in that vision anymore.
James this is really getting us nowhere. Shall we continue to insult each other like a pair of morons or shall we attempt to start a reasonable dialog?

I prefer the latter so here follows my attempt.

I apologize if you felt in my first post I was insulting you. I found myself appalled at the tactics you were suggesting Brady uses when dealing with his family and perhaps I responded with more anger than rational thought. It was not my intention to insult you personally but rather to question your advice.

Let me explain my point of view a little further. First of all the way I see it there are two kinds of religious people.
The first is an elite.
They use religion as a tool to control people. With it they commit all kinds disgusting acts. You know what I am talking about here, soliciting donations in order to increase their wealth, encouraging people to become suicide bombers, gaining enough support to force their own prejudices in to law, and so on. These people are despicable and I seriously doubt they even believe what they preach.
Then there are their followers. These poor people are subjected to mental conditioning. The elites tactics are so insidious that they have even managed to get their followers to brainwash their own children. But of course you know all of this and I m preaching to the choir.

From my perspective, what your post seemed to imply was that you had forgotten these people are also victims. Their ideas are not their own, their belief system is implanted. When coming out as an atheist to a family like this there are bound to be problems. But you still have one thing on your side. In most cases they will still love you. This is the only thing you have as a point of contact. To take an antagonistic stance against their beliefs is not a particularly good tactic if you wish to remain in touch with them. And certainly not a good tactic if you wish them to still love you, listen to you and eventually deprogram them.

When dealing with them, first and foremost in your mind you should keep the thought that they are your family and even though they may have said hurtful things to you, it is not them speaking, it is their conditioning. They still love you. If you wish to help them recover from this conditioning (and it is unlikely that they will wish to do this) you must be able to speak with them about religion.
Now any relationship councilor will tell you that when dealing with disagreement in relationships
it is important that your communications are not accusational, confrontational or critical. Using any one of those tactics will be interpreted as a personal attack on whomever you are dealing with.
Basically to be able to deal with your family and begin a process to de-convert them, you need to find common ground. If you can not do this then you are in for years of pain and possible separation. I think you yourself have said this is something you have gone through.

Finally with regard to the other points you made which for the most part have nothing to do with this thread.

You said:
“This may come as a huge shock to you, but I am not posting to feed your personal beliefs.”

I never thought you were and I do not need any such food. I am open minded nd quite willing to change my view if given good reason.

You said:
“How can you say I am intolerant when I have specifically stated that I do not care what other people (including you) believe?”

But you obviously do care or why would you say something like the following:
When someone tells me that "they'll pray for me" I am deeply offended. What I usually say is something like, "That;s terribly offensive. What if I were a devil worshiper and said I would sacrifice a coupe of babies for you? Would you find that offensive? What you are saying is no less so to me."
Incidentally that paragraph describes a very antagonistic and critical way of dealing with the faithful and is not really the best way to communicate if you wish to keep an open dialog.

You said:
“What I have stared is that, when they attempt to force their ideas on me by making them the law, it is time to fight back. Am I angry? Yes I am.”

I agree that in this situation it is time to fight back but not from a position of anger. All that ever achieves is further conflict. The real key is open communication and education.

You go on to say you are angry about a lot of other religious related things. While I understand your reasons, I feel anger is always going to hamstring any possibility of resolution.

You talked about the effect religions have on law:
“f you were paying even cursory attention to what is happening in the world, you would know this. Stem cell research being restricted in the USA, blasphemy laws in Ireland, Islamic protests and violent actions in The Netherlands, so many places, so many incidents, so many laws. That you could even think this way is a very sad comment on how you see reality. “
I know all about the religious problems in Ireland since a great deal of my family live there and believe me in the last twenty years great progress toward reason has been made and most especially in Northern Ireland.

BTW Islamic protests and violent actions are not the same a laws being passed. They are a completely different issue.

I said these incidents of law are rare and so they are. Perhaps not so much in the USA but certainly in Europe and Britain where I am originally from. If they were not rare, the US and Europe would be religious states similar to those in the middle east. Exaggerating the issue is not going to help solve it.

Incidentally, here in Mexico the situation has totally reversed, with Gay marriage becoming legal, abortion and the morning after pill legalised, and the Catholic church (who up until recent years held great sway over political policy in Mexico) recently being told by the Mexican Senate in a very public speech to keep out of politics. So while some places appear to take a step back, others move forward.

I offered this “Up to now all the evidence I have seen shows the biggest growth area is that of unaffiliated with any religion. It is a solid and exponential growth and it indicates that within 60 years the majority of the population of the US will feel this way.
The world wide statistics are even more encouraging.”

You made no comment on it. For me these growth rates are pretty compelling evidence that “the religious reich” as you describe them are in fact loosing.

I know I have not addressed every point you made but I hope I have addressed the key ones.

Perhaps I am guilty of ignoring certain points you made but no more so than you are of ignoring points I made.

Finally, I do not wish to be in conflict with anybody and perhaps I am, as you say a moron, but regardless of that I know this is true: Good communication and education are the key to our release from the curse of religion. Conflict is the barrier and can only ever make things worse. History has proven this. Taking an aggressive confrontational approach is a mistake, and can only ever lead to greater division, pain and hatred.

I suggest you put the anger aside and use reason and open, non-confrontational communication to encourage change since you are obviously intelligent enough to do so.
You are correct when you said using should statements is a mistake and sounds like preaching. It was a stupid error and I apologist for that. It is not my intention to tell you how to behave. I simply wished to make an observation and share my own experience with you.

First of all do not think that the stance I subscribe to is one of weakness. It is anything but.
It is also not a stance of compromise. It is simply a very effective and powerful tool of education.
And most of all it is certainly not giving in. It takes patience. One needs to think deeply before saying anything in order to remain none confrontational. It takes a lot of strength to remain calm when dealing with people influenced by such profound delusions.

To put in in terms you may find easier to understand.
This is a war. We are vastly outnumbered on the battle field. The only way to win is to use our intelligence. Guerrilla tactics are the best way. Infiltrate the enemies ranks and create disenchantment and loss of confidence in their leadership.
Its is one of the most effective weapons and is a technique that has been, and still used today, by all the most powerful leaders in the world. I am sure you have heard of it. It is known simply as “Divide and Conquer”

And I know it works.
Twenty five years ago my sister was a Christian fundamentalist. She regularly went on religious retreats and came back more brainwashed each time. It seemed nothing anybody could do would help her. She wallowed in her own badness and sin, went to church whenever she coulfd and read her bible constantly. And she began to infect my younger brother and Mother with her extreme beliefs. I knew something had to be done but rather than simply confront her as my father had done (it simply made her worse) I went to the library and studied. I looked in to mind control techniques since I felt that was what was being used on her. This led me to psychology and specifically Behavioral Cognitive Therapy. Around that time it was coming into the mainstream and was being used to treat mainly depression and panic disorders. I noticed how similar these symptoms were to the symptoms my sister displayed and decided to try and apply the techniques when dealing with her.

I found it very difficult to remain calm and had to walk away many times at first but I persevered and soon manged to master my emotional responses to the things she said. I discussed her ideas of God and what she felt God expected from her. I talked about the bible with her basically probing for the parts which she found a little troubling and used these as levers. After moths of these gentle discussions I finally began to break through and get her to begin questioning the validity of these stories when compared to her ideas of God and morality. From that point on the work became easier and eventually she became agnostic. She had many friends in the church and many of those followed her away from the church I assume because she spoke to them about the things we discussed.

Another good example is my wifes 82 year old Mexican Grandmother in who's home we live. She has always been a good catholic. She had no doubts about the Pope, the church, and all the catholic bullshit. She would go to mass three or four times a week and had no respect for atheism what so ever. Her attitude was so extreme we did not dare tell her of our position at first . Since we moved in almost 2 years ago, my wife has spent a lot of time with her and they often discuss the church and God. And something extraordinary has happened. She recently stopped attending church. She says she still believes in God but is disillusioned with the church. At some point my wife told her of our position and her response was that she respects our position because she now understand s that being agnostic or even atheist does not make anybody a bad person.

She has many friends and she talks to them too. It will be interesting to see what happens when they ask her why she has stopped attending church.

These are only two examples. I know had we simply attacked their beliefs they would still be caught up in the lunacy today and they would not be speaking to us now.

The there are bigger examples too. Take for example the troubles in Northern Ireland. Many thousands of people died and even now some still do. There was terrible bitterness and hatred on each side. But since they started to actually talk and listen to each other the violence has been vastly reduced with only sporadic incidents (and much of that is very likely drug related rather than political).

I am on the front lines, but you just do not see it. I am fairly sure I do not really understand your approach and would be interested to know how many of the faithful your methods have de-converted? And exactly how you do it.

I have a great respect for your knowledge. You obviously are very well educated and well informed.
Your comments regarding the USA religious status, though I find them a little on the extreme side are obviously valid and enlightening (and I suppose the numbers you give are not surprising really when you consider that literacy is only around 50% there to).
I also understand your fears regarding the oppression of free speech. I have the same fears.

Perhaps we could find some middle ground here.

I suspect that in the political arena perhaps you are correct and a more aggressive stance is required but my fear is that we create a Jew/Islam situation. I believe we should avoid that at all costs. There must be ways of taking a strong political stance without germinating the seeds of hatred and causing genocide

I really would like to be friends with you since I think I could learn much from you. With this in mind I have sent you a friend request.

I would also like to further discuss tactics for de-conversion if this interests you as I believe this is the core of the battle we face. If as Atheists, we can all work together and create a real strategy we may actually become far more effective and have a real chance of stopping this potential human disaster.

What do you think?
I suspected this would be your response.
The tactic is not yielding,
You completely prove every thing I have said about your tactics.

You don't want to change anything. You just want to name call and then stand to one side feeling superior.

So we have established that I am an idiot and you are nothing more than a bully, a coward and a hypocrite.

Good luck with your self esteem issues.
also "End of story, end of "dialog"."
Telling me to shut up does not change the truth of my words.
oh and while my personal experiences my be nothing more than cutsey little stories to you, the events in Northern Ireland are not. They prove that the only way to resolution is through communication and you do not know what you are talking about.
Yes james you are right. I am a silly little boy. I am also a moron, an idiot and what else did you say? Oh yes a Liar and a hypocrite. an intellectual coward

Do you want my lunch money now or are you just going to hit me again anyway?

You don't do anything to change anything. You just sit on the sidelines and complain like an old woman.

Hit me again then... Go on .. your stance is so impressive.

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