OK, so here is the deal.  My family is really, REALLY, religious (Southern Baptist) and I slowly separated myself from their beliefs for the past 5-6 years until about a year ago where I am a full blown anti-theist.  As one might expect, this has caused tension with my family (they don't know that I no longer believe in god, they just think that I am a horrible Xtain).  This came to a head about 8 months ago when I posted on facebook (oh wonderful facebook, the place to go for drama) that I support gay rights and that they should have the right to marry and such.  While this got a lot of positive feed back from my friends, my two (lets call them Cain and Able lol) brothers started posting things such as its a mental illness and that god does not approve and such.  Their posts of course received a lot of negative responses and while Cain backed off (to fight another, less public day), Able kept right at it, even going so far as to call my friends and myself some kinda ugly names (liberal crap head [lol], embarrassment to the family, dumb, unintelligent, etc) After the name calling started it got really ugly as one can imagine.  Able is also a police officer and he also said things like how the police are anti-gay and other things that could really get one in trouble.  Believe it or not, Able's facebook was then "hacked" and he had to delete his account. 

All this led to a phone conversation I had with Able were he called me more names (little bitch being the most common) where he decided that we just weren't going to see each anymore.  Time went by very peacefully for me, except for my father telling me that I needed for forgive Able and such and me ignoring him and telling him that if Able wants forgiveness then he has to call me and apologize. Anyway, a couple of weekends ago I come to find out that my aunt and uncle were up to see my step-mom graduate, I couldn't go to the graduation because it was mother's day and I didn't think that my mother would appreciate me going to see my step-mother on her day.  They had a huge family dinner, and since my bother was up, I didn't find out about my relations even being in the state until after they had all left.  I confronted my father about keeping me in the dark and basically lying to me and he said that it wasn't to hurt me, just to not cause drama. 

I happen to feel that they are taking his side after all the shit he said about me and I am the one being punished, not him.  Should I not be feeling this way?  I am just...I don't know how to say what I am, just...empty...over this experience.  I feel let down and abandoned by my family, I wanted to "come out" about my atheistic beliefs (I knew it would be a big deal and I would probably loose them, but I had hope that they would just love me anyway) but I feel that after this experience I really can't because then I really would be viewed as the worst person ever and they would shun me.  And while I love my husband and his family (they are much more open minded, my husband is an atheist as well) I don't know if I could stand being cut off from everyone in my family.

So I guess, what do you think about this situation and is there any advice on how I should deal with them? 

(Sorry for the book)

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I was thinking that Mrakovich was Russian.

It most likely is - I was being facetious --

So then your people are Texan? Ouch - that makes it even more difficult. Those people take their Christianity pretty seriously. My ex-mother-in-law (Texan) offered to blow my head off when she learned I was atheist. Talk about being between Iraq and a hard place!

Texan is the only language I know that turns one-syllable words into two-syllable words. "Jim" becomes, "Jee-um"!

Being from Texas is not a bad thing - being far from Texas is an even better thing.

Have you considered re-titling this discussion, "The Ties That Blind"?

Hey hey hey now ... I may not be from Texas, but I got here as fast as I could!  I love the area.  Of course, I live in Houston, which is considerably more socially liberal (for the most part) than most of the rural areas.  We are the largest city in the US to have elected an openly lesbian mayor, also.

I got more surprise from revealing my non-heterosexuality than revealing my non-Christian side.  Of course, I have a reasonable open-minded family (from what I can tell, at least).

Hey Davyd (sorry for the "David," I didn't notice the different spelling) - I don't consider any part of any state having a seacoast to have any connection to Texas. (dated a girl once in Galveston, and spent a week with another in a motel (Cody's) in Port Aransas - had dinner with the Mayor, who drove me to the airport - think he was trying to tell me something?) - I love coastal Texas.

"alcohol and ribs"? Add sex to that, and speaking from experience, no man could resist! (Face it, we're weak!!!!!)

arch

Best of luck to you, Amanda.  Please, let us know how it turns out.

Not to sound trite:

Above all else, to thine own self be true

--"...then it follows, as the night, the day, that thou canst not be false to any man."

Polonius, to his son, Laertes

Hamlet

Shakespeare

As Gary suggested:  To thine own self be true.

It is important for you to stand your ground and do that which keeps you at peace with yourself.

I always suggest that a 'coming out' atheist approach family members one on one or in very small numbers, otherwise they will usually gang up on you. I would avoid a religious debate and just express your fundamental reason(s) for becoming atheistic.

Finally, it is important to stress that you are the same person inside and still love your family very much but want them to respect your decision as an adult who thinks for herself. Love should not be conditional or predicated on one following the rules, regulations, and beliefs of others. I would consider it superficial and petty on their part to ostracize you from the family. In the end you must do that which provides YOU with self respect. Family harmony is not the key issue here. Remain resolved and hopefully they will come to accept your lack of belief.

Peace,

Ed

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