I was raised as a christian and a few months ago I became an atheist. However the members of my family are all still believers.
Currently I am in the USN stationed in Spain and have not been home in almost a year.
So I have been trying to decide if I should tell them I'm an athiest before I come home, so they can try and let it sink in and accept it.
Or should I tell them face to face and see what happens?
Hoping all you people who have gone through this can give me some advice on which to do. Or just let me hear some of your stories. It has been a great help reading all the forum posts here on TA.
I chose to tell my close family here and there, but I have never told my grandparents. I figure that they are too set in their ways and won't understand, plus they will just worry that I am going to hell. I love them dearly and I would like to think they'd understand...but I kind of doubt that.
As for everyone else, I didn't bring it up right away once I knew. I could tell my brothers and my sisters-in-law but I didn't say anything to my dad about it until he brought up Jesus and I expressed the gentler side of my atheistic views, which is that I don't think there is any way that anyone can know and that it seems silly to follow the word of such an old, archaic book, so I just live my life as the best person I can be and hope that if there is a god, I won't be faulted for my (god-given) reasoning ability.
It's different for everyone and it can be really alienating, but you also can't really live a lie. A lot of people end up having shallow relationships with the members of their family who can't accept it, but you would be surprised how many people end up telling you that they've had their doubts, too.
I wouldn't say before I came home unless it came up. You probably won't be able to talk about it as much as you'd like and some subtleties can get lost via phone and email.
I hope that helps! btw I work for the Center for Inquiry which has branches and allied groups all over the country, many of which offer support services. Feel free to get a hold of me if you need anything. :)
You know your family and can make a much better guess as to how they will respond than I can. Personally, I did not take it as something that needed to be "announced"; rather something to deal with as it came up. I never directly told my family I was atheist. They would not disown me, but it would hurt their feelings. I just stopped going to church with them, and answered questions with "I don't really believe that". Nobody discusses it with me anymore, so I've left it at that. I tell other people I'm atheist if it comes up in conversation.
If you're picking one option or the other, I would go with face to face.
I agree that there is no need to walk into the door and say "Hey, I'm an atheist". Are they type of people who constantly talk about religion? If yes, then it will naturally come up. Otherwise just wait until someone asks you something religious and you can slowly reveal your non-belief.
I told them face to face but it really depends on your family though. You should listen to your instincts.