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)
I have been trying to gradually back out of the church activities, and while these decisions have not been met much much hostility, it has been met with hurt and confusion. This, of course, makes me feel like an ass hehe.
If you havent already I would suggest that you talk to your parents alone, explain to them what happened(they need to hear both sides of what happened). Let them know just because you dont believe in the same thing doesn't make you any different than who you were yesterday. Tell them that you dont want to be excluded from the family and that this "drama" that your drama queen brothers have set forth is just that, drama. If your parents are understanding they should see that this is just one of your beliefs and respect that and who you are. As for your brothers be strong and don't show them they have won, be cordial and show them that you are better than they are because you are strong!
You have every right to be upset with them all, but as family the bond that makes us family should accept you for who you are.
You might point out that Jesus preached l things like forgiveness and to turn the other cheek and let him who is without sin cast the first stone, but you'll probably just hear back that The Devil can quote scripture to his ends.
Someone once said that "the first virtue of a family is to get along with each other." Obviously your family doesn't get that, so you might as well divorce your family for now and wait for them to notice that you're not around.
Thank you all so much for your responses. I think that I am going to "come out" sometime soon (might be hard since my husband is pissed at them and refuses to see them and says that they can suck his left..inappropriate response here ...and while funny, it's not very helpful).
I really cannot downplay how serious my family is in their faith, this is because I received an e-mail from my father (in response to one I sent him about all this...I find I am more able to get my point across without having to deal with the incessant questions and prods while on the phone) where he told me that my relationship with Jesus is "on shaky ground" (lol if only he knew) and quoted the bible at me twice. My father is an elder in his church, my eldest brother the youth pastor at my mom's church and my mom is an elder in her church, my other brother (police officer) I don't really know what he does, but I am told that he is super religious as well (its all a lie, oh the things I could say about him and his antics). Growing up I went to church twice on Sunday and also on Wednesday nights, not to mention any other day they had any type of function including but not limited to "revival week" (oh yea 7 days and 7 nights of church), vacation bible school, and bible camps I would be sent to.
I know that when this does happen it's going to affect my relationship with my step-sister (whom I have already told and she is cool with and coming this way), step-brother (who probably already knows due to my step-sister), and my sister, who loves me unconditionally and is on my side in this whole thing lol and I think is moving away from religion. It probably won't affect my relationship with my non-police officer brother since he will see it as an opportunity to shove his faith even more down my throat but he is basically a good guy and is just misguided. But my parents (and step-mom) and aunts and uncles will probably cast me out (at least for awhile) and my police officer brother will take this opportunity to pour the poison in their ears so to speak.
Once again, sorry hehe.
Not sure if there is a local group where you are, but look up Recovering From Religion (they are expanding their outreach more lately) or Life After Faith LAF groups and see if they have a local (low-key support) group you can join. I have been looking into going to some of the meetings in my area because I have had some hard times just figuring out how to relate to my family that is still religious without it stirring up the hatred I have for so many of the things they still believe. I want to keep the somewhat good relationships I have with my parents but I still have some fair amount of the negative feelings/insane ideas to get over about the religion I grew up in. I occasionally have ambushed my dad or mom with a bunch of questions until they get frustrated trying to "reason" with me but I have stopped doing that since it is not helpful in the long run. It is sort of a quiet truce now and they still like me for the most part so as they say "it gets better." hehehehe Anyway, I hope this helps. :)
Thanks I will have to look into those!
If they made such a big deal out of supporting gay marriage, I don't want to imagine what they will do when you tell them you are an Atheist. The consequences can be awful.You are basically putting yourself out there for them to cast their stones at you and do all the manipulation tactics that are known to men. They can't accept that you have a different opinion on a trivial subject, and much less they will be able to accept you after they find out you don't share their same beliefs. Also they won't side with you against your brother, that would be going against all that they preach, at least they are being truthful to it.
So if you really don't care about severing your bonds with them and the amount of drama that comes with it, then go ahead and drop the bomb. Now don't expect that they will act all supportive, applaud you and support progressive beliefs. They will do all the opposite. Specially your brother. At least, you would be free to not go to church and keep up with their delusions. So some weight will be taken off your shoulders, also you now are an adult and have a family of your own. And at the end of the day the family you create is the one that matters.
But if you want to keep them in the picture and "belong", keep your Atheism to yourself, and now and then put the show they are expecting to see from you.. Make that relationship frivolous, and laugh at them with your husband when they are not around. You can call it being PC.
In my case since I don't really care about people that complicate my life, I don't need anybody to breath, and I already got from my family everything I ever needed (a womb, a house, food, education, love and support when I was growing up) I would just tell them straight.If they accept it fine, I would really appreaciate it since is not their obligation, if they don't fine.
But this is me and my opinion.
I appreciate you posting this, it is defiantly food for thought.
It makes me wonder what kind of relationship I can actually have with them if I am lying to them all the time and not being who I really am. Is it worth having a fake relationship but still being rejected for not agreeing them them on the little things, or having an honest (if non-existent) relationship where they reject me for my beliefs? Eh things to think on.
I personally think that you must live your own life and believe what makes you feel most comfortable in your own skin. Really, REALLY Religious people will almost NEVER see things the way an Atheists see's them. It is there BLIND Faith that clouds their minds and hardens their hearts. Remember one very important thing, if your family Truly LOVED you they could overlook this situation and let it go, never talk about it again and move on. Your Brother on the other hand my not have the ability to apologize to you because of his MACHO image as a Cop and his commitment to "GOD". How Humans react to something that can be detrimental to their own way of thinking/life is almost impossible to overcome and or accept. There are so many people on this site that have very similar experiences as you it's not funny. I guess I am one of the lucky ones, my older brother (he's 58) kind of paved the way for me (I'm 50) with my Parents, he told them he was Atheist a long time ago and they accepted him for who he was so when I found my own path and truly became Atheist they had no real problem with it. One way to approach your family is to ask them not to talk about your beliefs and respect/accept you for who you are, their Daughter and sister...
You may have to let your family go if you want to live a peaceful life without God in it. Choose your own path and do not allow anyone to influence your mind.
Good luck and please keep us up to date with any further developments. I'm going to send you a friend request.
That would be a good tactic and one I might think about, at least to build up to the big reveal.
Amanda - I can't help wondering how someone with a fine old Irish name like Mrakovich, wound up in Southern Baptist territory in the first place.
We've had this issue before, and there just is no pat answer. The truth is, that theists, for reasons no one can explain in a nutshell, identify so strongly with their belief-system, that to reject that - in their minds at least - is to reject them. That's what they feel you've done, and they've childishly rejected you right back.
My only advice would be to just continue being a good daughter to both your mother and father, but stay fast in your beliefs. It will either pass or it won't, but you must accept that it may not.
As for your brother, Able, if your Dad is so concerned that you two make up, it must be important to him. I would consider this a signal that your Dad doesn't want to see you separate from his family. I would offer to do a sit-down with Able, with your Dad present, so he can see you're making an effort (and so that later, there can be no exaggerated, "he said/she said" tales told back and forth), that should give you an opportunity to explain, in front of your Dad, that your decision is a personal one, and is not intended to be, nor should it be considered too be, in any sense disrespectful to any of them.
Best I can do, Kiddo - good luck!
I was thinking that Mrakovich was Russian.