So recently there was an email sent out (by my father, to the rest of the family) and it was basically saying that all Democrats hate god and blah blah blah, nation dying blah blah blah, here are some bible verses.  After some intense discussion where most of my family shat on my beliefs and called me stupid, I started a discussion with my father asking him to not include me on these types of emails in the future.  He then said that I need to change my ways and I emailed him back instances where religion has failed and should not be involved in government.  This was his response:

>Hi Hon.  Well, my question would be when did I ever “force” my beliefs on you?  You may have been required to go to church when you were under our roof, but you were never forced to pray for Christ to be your Savior.  You were told what the Scriptures said and then given the opportunity on your own free-will to either accept or reject that.  Salvation is a choice, not a forced belief.  No one has come into your home and dragged you off to church against your will.  I don’t call you up and yell at you for not going to church.  I may not agree with your choice, but I won’t force you into going.  I can recall you kids asking me “Am I saved?”.  I can’t answer that because it is up to you to come to Christ on your own.  I must chide you though on your statement that if you were to see God you would tell Him just how much you disagree with Him concerning His stand on homosexuality.  Once again, please create for me anything from absolutely nothing with just using your voice.  The day that you can call into existence a world, then I may think you might have some ability to govern the universe.  Until then, my idea will be that you are far less than God and since He knows what is good and evil I will obey what He says is right.  I am not a Calvinist who believes that God controls the lives of all individuals.  He did give you a free-will.  Along with that free-will is a guide for living your life in a way that will be blessed.  You will make the choice on how to live it.  You will be responsible in answering to Him how well you listened.
 
You seem to think that a nation based on religion must be bad. You cite the Middle Eastern countries.  Let’s take a look at countries based on non-religion such as China or Communist Russia.  While they may trumpet a woman’s equality, in practicality it just isn’t true.  Countries such as that restrict you even more so and keep a closer eye on you than you would have found in your life.  I admit that our government is not the same as what I grew up in, but that is because they are becoming more socialistic and communistic with each passing election.  The nation is turning away from its freedoms and demanding that the government run their lives.  What is wanted is a government that will oversee everything and punish those who have worked and become successful.  So, what trend will you be voting into office?  Amanda, I have only been alive for 57 years, but I can tell you that the moral slide and subsequent degeneration that I see in America is shocking.  We will not survive as an influential nation for many more decades.  Probably by the time you are my age this country, if still in existence, will be a non-factor in the world.  It is what the people are going to vote into office.  You say that if the people demand a new social norm then shouldn’t that country comply.  It is, and it will not turn out well.  You grew up in a country based on religion.  You were given an education.  You were encouraged to be the best you could be.  You were not denied anything that would make you a better person.  So, what is your argument?  It doesn’t have a leg to stand on.  You can point to other countries as to just what is wrong with them, but you cannot point to the privileges that were given to you and demand a religious free government.  It is because this nation was founded on the beliefs in the Bible and the God of that Bible that you have what you have.
 
Concerning the Pledge of Allegiance.  The words "under God" were added in 1954 by then President Eisenhower, who stated at the time, "In this way we are reaffirming the transcendence of religious faith in America's heritage and future; in this way we shall constantly strengthen those spiritual weapons which forever will be our country's most powerful resource in peace and war."  This change came from a president who went to war to fight for our freedoms.  The world threat at that time was communism, and as they state in their manifesto they do not believe in God and want nothing religious in their form of government.  Interesting to see how far America has moved from its heritage and is running towards a communistic and socialist form of government.  What form of government will you be voting into office?
  
You say that if I can accept your beliefs and if I don’t push my beliefs on you then we will get along just fine.  I wish you could hear your statement as I hear it.  I couldn’t think of a more disrespectful thing to say to my Dad.  While my Father was not a Christian, and his ways were so completely different from God’s, I knew that my goal in life was to honor him.  I did that because God said “Honor your father and mother that your days may be long upon the earth”.  I did to his dying day.  If you want to know how much I love my Dad and respect him just ask me and I will gladly tell you.  I pray your children will never speak to you in that way.  You don’t understand that right now and you may never understand it.  I don’t agree with your beliefs, but I have not and will not push my beliefs on you.  However, I will not be silent when I see you headed towards what I know will not end well.  My daughter, I love you.
 
I'm....without words about this and since I've been wanting to share this situation for a while I decided to share the end of the discussion.  So thoughts?  I'm sad that I hurt his feelings but honestly I feel like if he can't see how he is pushing his religion on me every time he sends me an email with a bible verse in it or calls my actions/beliefs amoral, then he deserves it.  Am I a horrible person? (Please answer honestly...also would it help if I posted what I wrote to him?)
 
Obviously, they don't know I'm an atheist. 

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When I was growing up, my dad was pretty religious, too. There was a lot of pressure from him to go to church and to be active in it. Even though he said I had a choice in going, I really never really felt like I did. If I had said no, then his disappointment would have been obvious. My father, being a man I respected, was not a man I wanted to disappoint. So yes, I felt like I was forced to go as well. Eventually, I wanted to go. I got pretty wrapped up in it, but it was more along the lines of "if you can't beat them, join them."

Venturing out on a limb, I'd say you might feel a similar way and that every time he attempts to convince you that he is right it comes back to feeling like you don't have a choice if you want his respect. It might help if you explain to him what your ethics are and where they come from. It's hard for many religious people to contemplate how to live life without it. My dad told me that without religion he wouldn't know what to do in life. They think that the same goes for everyone else that without the guidance of the divine, a person liable to go all crazy and the world will fall apart, which we can see is silly, but to him, that's how the world works.

It sounds like his religion is a very important part of who he is. I'd imagine he thinks it was one of the greatest things that happened to him. Telling him that you don't want to hear about a part of his life that he thinks is the greatest thing since sliced bread is probably pretty disheartening to him. He may feel that your rejection of religion is a rejection of him.

Assuage his fears. Let him know that you are still an ethical person and you certainly going to lead a life like that of his father. Help him understand you and where you are at and how you view life. He's concerned about you. He thinks that he's found the best way to live life and that (probably because of his experience is life) he thinks that any other way will lead to ruin. And he wants that best way for you because he cares. So when you say that you disagree with him about matters of faith, I imagine he might also take it as a rejection of a gift that he's trying to give you out of love.

I know it's seriously tempting to combat these fallacious ideas about a Christian country and the Biblical basis of America and how the world will end if Jesus isn't important and all that other nonsense, but leave it for another day. That's not the battle you need to fight. Don't get distracted. The battle you need to fight is acceptance. You won't do that by standing apart, but by reminding them that about values you still share. If your family wasn't important to you, I don't think you'd be arguing with them or worrying over this enough to ask a bunch of people on the internet their opinion.

Here's an example right here that I couldn't help but notice: "He then said that I need to change my ways and I emailed him back instances where religion has failed and should not be involved in government." Your dad is saying that he is concerned for your future and you respond with politics? I can see your point in there (religion can be detrimental to people's lives), but that's the wrong way to go about explaining it especially to someone who is likely to never experienced how it can hurt others. That's a point you can start from: by explaining how their actions are hurting you. That you want to be a part of the family, but that you feel that being religious is part of that requirement.

It's a fine line some of us have to walk. I hope it works out for you.

Well, I do what I can!

Hi,

imo, the very first sentence is suspect:

Well, my question would be when did I ever “force” my beliefs on you?  You may have been required to go to church when you were under our roof, but you were never forced to pray for Christ to be your Savior. 

Children model strongly off of their parents in a natural and automatic way; to the point of overriding external cultural influences. That's not wrong by itself, but this is a dicey subject you have to be really, really careful about, imo. I think taking you to church should have been presented to you a little more objectively, by allowing you to ask to go after speaking to people of different faiths and, of course, atheists. As long as you do this due diligence, what you teach by example isn't bad by itself.

- kk

Welcome to the 'A little more light Zone'. As an atheist/humanist, we often rant at theists, find fault with other beliefs, and net-pick at details. Atleast, you are more free to change your mind, and allow yourself the opportunity to try the options from column B, without too much condemnation. What condemnation you do received can be mostly ignored, unless they are from the sysop. LOL

Wow, really sucked to be you as a child! That whole "home-school/Christian school" thing is nothing more than an effort to keep any other ideas out of kid's heads except for the ones Mom and Pop want in there - a combination of brain-washing and Stockholm Syndrome.

In this country, that constitutionally separates church from state, Bush II established vouchers - taxpayer money - for parents to use as tuition for private (i.e., religious) schools, relieving those parents of the burden of paying for their decision to indoctrinate their children in a plastic bubble, isolated from real life, and placing it on us.

Hey Amanda - this is what bothers me about the whole religion concept ... it is almost impossible for a devout adherent *not* to abuse their children. I used to discount the mantra about religion using fear tactics, but the more I hear the more I think its true. Thankfully I was never told I was going to hell, especially as a child. That's horrible.

- kk

"Am I a horrible person?"
That is an interesting question. Are you? Am I?

Amanda, how do you answer that question for yourself? Is that really what's important?

Isn't your question more; How do I love my Dad and myself at the same time?

Or maybe; How can my Dad love me as I am and not how he wishes me to be?

Amanda, does your life belong to you or to someone else? Who will experience the joy and the sorrow in the journey that is your life?

I have three children, two are not theists one is, I love them all. Their lives belong to them, my life belongs to me. I sometimes ask their opinion, they sometimes ask mine, we each decide for ourselves. I would have it no other way.

I wish you much happiness and love in your life, unfortunately neither are guaranteed.

RE: "neither are guaranteed" - that may be true, Greg, but I think that you will agree with me that the love of a parent for a child should never be conditional upon that child's belief system - if it is, it isn't love.

RE: "RE: "neither are guaranteed" - that may be true, Greg, but I think that you will agree with me that the love of a parent for a child should never be conditional upon that child's belief system - if it is, it isn't love."

I sometimes dream of such a world but then I wake up. I have heard the phrase "unconditional love" many times, but as of yet have not seen it displayed. I would say even conditional love is love, for conditional love is better then no love at all.

I do agree with you about the "should" part, I love my adult children apart from their world views.

I feel sorry for Amanda's Dad because his faith clouds the vision he could have of his remarkable daughter, there are many like him in our society, which is a sad realization.

Amanda must decide for herself what path to take in life and with her family, none of us can make that decision for her, we can only wish her the best.

RE: "conditional love is better then no love at all" - I can only reiterate, conditional love IS no love at all.

It's love of an image that you hold in your mind, and if your child can step into that image, and fit it perfectly then you will love it, but your love isn't for the child, it's for the image, the child is an incidental. And you DO realize, I'm sure, that I mean only the metaphorical, "you."

WOW...there must be a tragic story behind all that pain, you must have really been hurt to end up seeing love as an all or nothing proposition.  I wish I could help, but I can't, I'm a very flawed individual, I've taken my lessons in life by riding the ebb and the flow of it, experiencing the pleasure and pain of my own journey.

It's left me battered and scarred and maybe a little wiser.  I wish you much luck in finding perfect unconditional love, for myself I'll take what I can get, I've seen the other side of the coin and it's not so pretty.

Gregg, I think that everyone has a different capacity for love.  I loved my father unconditionally. We disagreed on some points and agreed on others, but that did not impact my love for him.  I also love my mother, and we have had an extremely tempestuous relationship - it doesn't affect the fact that I love her completely.

I love my brother and my sister unconditionally.  They happen to both be truly remarkable people, but I will love them whatever they might say, do or be going forward.  In case of an organ requirement, I will gladly give them one of any of my body parts they might ever need.

I would really like you to understand that for some people, this is not a difficult concept.  I also am taking from your post, that it is not applicable to everyone.  That is fine by me, I hope its fine by you also. 

I happen to agree that there are some people I love conditionally.  I love my wife, but should she go careening off in search of multiple partners outside our marriage, that might impact my love.  I am pretty sure she won't, mind you :)

Trust this clarifies.

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