I just stumbled upon this site after a quick google search...it seemed like a good place to seek advice for my problem.

I am a 16 year old male, brought up in a wealthy and devout Catholic family. Recently, I came clean with my atheistic beliefs, and at the time, it seemed like a really good idea. I felt as if a weight was being lifted off my chest. I genuinely felt like a free thinker when I told my parents.

That's the only positive thing that came out of this experience. I know, I know, I should have expected a negative reaction...but what really happened was worse then I ever expected.

My mom started crying. My dad came in and said I was scum, destined for hell. My mom said I was a sinner, and that I had psychological problems. They believe that my friends have had some sort of rebellious effect on me (and in all honesty, each one of my friends are EXTREMELY religious). They took away my cell phone. They expressly forbade me to talk/hang out with any of my friends, ever. It got worse.

They started to threaten me with private school...far away. My mother wants me to get a counselor, apparently my first meeting is next week. I have been getting the silent treatment for the last few days, and my parents have been acting really weird. For instance, we always have breakfast together on Saturday mornings. My mom usually makes something nice. Today, they didn't give me any, and they wentout for lunch and didn't take me. I'm scared that they actually might be attempting to starve me out of my atheism!

Yes, it got even worse. My dad talked to me today, an he erupted into a curse-laden tirade. He called me crazy, psychopathic, and he mixed in some religious insults (stuff like I hope god gives you hell, etc...). Then he told me that he had talked to my mom, and they had settled on completely ostracizing me from their entire family, begining with my college tuition. They said they would not pay for my college education, and that I was on my own. This was pretty devastating to me-- I have worked my ass off for the last 2 years in high school. 4.0, all honors/AP, NHS officer, Spanish Honor Society Officer, Science Fair Award winner, Model UN, etc. Now that's all down the drain??!

I need advice, help, ANYTHING, on a way to get my parents to rethink their stance with me. ANY HELP?!?! I'm seriously desperate.


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Wow, that's about the worst reaction you could get. My initial thought was to give them some time to cool down and take it in. But, you have given them some time and it sounds like they will never accept your Atheism. Trying to explain yourself to people like that will only make things worse. They are so consumed by the dogma, that no amount of reason or proof will ever reach them on this matter. So, I'll have to agree with Nelson on this one (but Nelson usually does have awesome answers and suggestions all the time). It will sting, but it looks like the best course of action will be to convince your parents that you've 'seen the light' and have changed your ways. Perhaps tell them that you were rebelling (or had a lot going on). Go to a service with them and act as interested as you can so that you can reaffirm your faith with them. But whilst at school, you can be who you are and once school is over and you have your life in order, feel free to let the truth fly again if you wish. Good luck. I hope you can get them to respect you again, but if my parent reacted like that I'm not sure if i could ever see them in the same light again. The reaction you received was completely uncalled for and a prime example of how much religionn can blind people.
That...really sucks. With a reaction that extreme, I don't think that it is likely that your parents are going to become rational in any timeframe short of years. The first thing I'd recommend is don't slack off on the schoolwork. It's certainly not all for nothing, and with a high-quality application you may be able to get a full scholarship to college, negating any need for you to be dependent on your parents for your education. Do be careful about your applications, though. If you can get a P.O. Box to use, I'd recommend it, as irrational as your parents are acting, they might well throw away any college acceptance letters to 'teach you a lesson'.

However, since you have two more years until college is an option (unless you're taking advanced classes and graduating early), I'm afraid that Nelson and James may be right. It's not right, and it's not fair, but you may have to screen your beliefs until such a time as you are not subject to your parents' whims. Go to the counselor, pretend to be drawn back into the faith, etc. This may be enough to at least let your parents allow you to live with them with minimal hinderance until college. Don't count on any college tuition from them, though, as they are going to remain suspicious of you, even if you pretend to be an ardent believer.

It is tragic both that this kind of deception is needed, that religious belief can turn parent against child in such an ugly manner that hiding ones' self and putting up a false front to avoid parental abuse are the only defenses available. Even more tragic is the loss of the parent-child bond, as no matter what happens, even if they somehow become accepting of your lack of belief at some point in the future, they've revealed that their love is completely conditional on your conforming to their beliefs.
I'm going to agree with everyone here.
If there is no heaven or hell, then what do you have to gain by coming out right now?
On the reverse, what do they have to gain by "bringing" you back?
Your immortal soul. (That you don't even believe in)
In this case, any devout parent will pull out every trick in the book. You should do the same, and even feel lucky that you've got such caring (though rather scary and crazy sounding) parents.
Do what it takes to get back in their good graces. Go to school somewhere away from them and get your education. Document everything from your coming out to your 'reaffirmation' to your re-coming out once you no longer legally and financially rely on them.
If you feel like you've sold out the atheist community for self gain, then do something with those documents. Write a book, tell your story.
If you feel like you've lied to your parents and used their money, then keep things to yourself as a silent gesture of respect.
How very Christian of them
Yeah, that sucks. What happened to loving the sinner? And "Let he who be without sin cast the first stone"?

For better or worse, you are young and depend on your parents for support. Unless you think there is a good chance they will relent soon, I agree with the rest and think you are better off giving in.

But there is no need to feel bad that you will be taking their support under "false pretenses". My opinion is that they owe it to you. When a couple has a child, it is with the understanding that they are going to provide for it and do their best to send it off into the world with the best start they can. So don't feel like you are taking anything from them that you don't deserve. (Anyway, you can never pay back your parents. You can only do your best for your children in the future.)

So play along. Go ahead and meet their councilor. Let him "talk you out" of atheism. For now, go back to being a good Christian. Maybe you were going through a bad time, you suffered some disappointments, you became frustrated and disillusioned, you were confused. Or whatever.

They are forcing your hand at this point. They are requiring that you lie to them. I don't see much upside for you right now in standing up to them. You gotta know when to fold.

You can come out once you are really on your own. Or don't. Personally, I feel no need to "come out" as an atheist to relatives or other people who'd be upset by it. Once you are out of the house, maybe it will be easier just to not discuss religion at all, and then you can still have a decent relationship with them.

It's like if they were hard core leftists and you were a hard core neo-con (or whatever). Sure, you could argue politics with your parents all the time, even after you move out. But then visits and holidays would be hell. Or you could just decide not discuss politics (or religion), and enjoy the little time you do spend together.

But that's just me. Certainly I admire those who are completely "out" about it in spite of hardships it might bring.

No matter what, don't jeopardize your future by missing out on getting the best education you can. That will do nothing good for you or for what you believe it. You will be a better atheist (or better whatever it is you really want to be) if you take full advantage of school now.

Just make sure you go away to school -- hopefully out of state, and hopefully not to a religious college!
I agree with all that has been said. Pride is good when you are safe in having it... sadly.
Don't fear, you are 1) not alone (thanks to the Internet!); 2) able to regret and start your domestic 'acting career'.

I think they are behaving really bad, there is no excuse for this kind of selfishness. If they were talking to a priest I'm quite sure he would tell them to stop immediately and apologize.
(by the way: why didn't your parents take some advices from their priest? Weird thing)
They probably will understand later, when seeing you as a good, friendly and clever atheist adult. But now they are scared because in their minds you may end in hell, so you have to swallow everything you said, and calm them down with some lies.

I'm on facebook and there are 40,000 people like us. They love to help young people in trouble! I've seen a few discussions in which people called help for this same reason, and always a lot of members try to give advices and encouragement. They are a special group, very brilliant individuals I must say. The link is below.


Be cool, we totally support you <3
You need to talk with your parents. Bring them with you to "counseling." I apologize, but I must disagree with Nelson. Your parent's stern reaction to your coming out was to be expected if your in a religiously strong environment. I believe that the key to coping with your situation might simply be communication with your family. You should stay away from absolutes and agree to compromise often in an attempt to reestablish a solid trust with your family. Please do not take our words for truth, but instead, take everything we have said into consideration and use it to make an intelligent decision for yourself. =)
Wow. I'm so sorry this is the kind of situation in which you have found yourself. Despite what's happened, I still admire your bravery. For your sake, I hope they come around, but this may have to be a battle you save for when you're out from under their roof.
Contact your state department of family and child services (or whatever you have in your state) and ask for child protective services.
I'm so sorry this happened to you. I basically agree with Nelson.

Perhaps you could suggest that the three of you meet with your priest. Tell them that you feel like you're just really confused right now and you think the priest might be able to help. Then toss the priest some softball questions that he likely has canned answers for: "How could God let bad things happen to good people?" "I've prayed for faith, but I don't feel like it's coming. What can I do?" "I have doubts about God. Does that make me a bad person? What should I do?" Etc. And just pretend to listen carefully and solemnly to his answers and seem thoughtful and a little ashamed afterward. And your parents can watch all of this.

My next suggestion is that you be very careful about coming to this website from your home computer. It sounds like your parents could very well be monitoring what you do on your computer. You might want to go to the local library and use the computers there.

My next suggestion is that you buy "Mere Christianity" by C.S. Lewis or some similar book and read it at home, where your parents can see you. Highlight passages. It will be educational for you because you'll see the silly arguments used to justify the existence of God. You can read it carefully and think about how you would argue against each of those things. But your parents will just see you reading it carefully and highlighting passages.

Apologize to your parents, even though they don't deserve it and should be apologizing to you. Suck it up and say you're sorry anyway. Ask them what you can do to make it up to them. Tell them you're working hard on your faith, and ask them to pray for you.

Get out your rosary and keep it on top of your nightstand. If you don't have one, pick one up at a thrift store. This will mean major bonus points for you from mom.

Finally, if you have any hope of your parents paying for your college, you're going to have to go to a Catholic college. From what you've told us, there's just no way they're going to pay for anything else. But this is not the end of the world. I myself went to a Catholic college. While I wasn't an atheist at the time, I didn't exactly believe in God either. :) Make sure that the college allows in students of other religions - then you'll know that they're not going to try to force you to believe anything. You'll probably have to take a theology class and a class about the Bible. That's okay! You'll learn things that you'll be able to use later in life as an atheist. Learning more about the Bible will come in handy! You can feel free to argue with your professors in theology class - and one or two students might start thinking about what you're saying. And for all of your other classes, you will probably have teachers who just happen to work at a Catholic school because that's where they were hired. Just do your research on the school ahead of time. Make sure you pick a Catholic college that's more on the liberal side, and you'll be fine there. You can always go to grad school someplace totally secular.

If you insist on going to a secular college, your parents might just cut you out completely. And while this may happen anyway someday, you should at least get your education first. They have no right to be doing this to you, but they are. So you'll just have to be dishonest. I have had some experience with this myself, with an older Catholic relative who disowned me when I didn't get married in the Catholic church. Though I'm a pretty honest person, I wish I just would have lied to her. Sometimes others force you to lie to them, and it looks like you're in that situation.

Come back to this site often for support! But again, not from your home computer. Because that would be a disaster. Good luck!


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