I came out as an atheist three years ago when I was a senior in High School and my parents keep telling me its just a phase that I'm going through and they hope that I will eventually realize my mistake and come back to god...It drives me insane to say the least...Also my mother begs and pleads with me to pray with the extended family on holidays at my grandmother's house because she says it will hurt my deeply religious grandmother too much if I refuse. So I go along with it at family gatherings for my grandmother and because I kind of feel it would be rude to make a scene and excuse myself from the family prayer but at the same time I feel like I'm betraying who I am as and atheist and a person by pretending to be someone I'm not. Luckily my older brother is also an atheist, but he says its just easier to not make a big deal out of this stuff. Are there any tricks to dealing with a deeply religious southern family? Has anyone else had similar situation with your parents?

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I am 26 and my mother still tells others I'm rebelling or i'm on that No believe in god kick. She does not really ask me to pray but sometimes does ask me to attend church with her and attend family functions. She does not get to upset when I refuse because my aunt is very critical of how I look and I do not want to go through that every time I visits. Sometimes it is not that they get it is that they were always told that not believing in a specific "their" god is rebellious. Some people may disown their kids but in some cults they may kill you for not believing in the god of your father. That is ultimate scary.
I am sure there are quite a few of us here that definitely can relate, including me. Hell, I have my co-workers huddling together before work wanting to pray, and I am put on the spot. I just stand there and watch them do their thing. I used to be like them and there is no snapping them out of it, at least not with conflict. It's a personal journey, they will either see things clearly on their own one day or they may not ever, sad to say.

I think the most important thing to consider with being a part of a close knit family is when the teenagers come to an age where they must be considered an equal, but the more tightly knit the family is, the harder it is for the teen to set himself apart as his own individual. When they do try, most parents see this as rebellion. But in ancient tribal stories, the teens are forced into a rite of passage into manhood or womanhood at early ages. They are ususally sent off out into the wilderness alone for long periods of time. But this is a good thing, this helps them find out who they really are. Parents in today's society do not let their children find their own way, families are becoming more and more enmeshed or entangled to where you don't know where you end and they begin as a person.

And honestly I think most parents just see their own reflection in their children and deny that it's their own life that needs changing. In other words, they see the things that you need to change about yourself but they don't see that the same judgments they make about you can be applied to them as well. When you are with your family, don't let the time you have with them be about blame, judgment or and intervention, just let your mind focus on the quality time you do have with them. Alot of the conflict you might be having with them could be a lot worse in your head more than it is in reality. Just enjoy the small things with them, find what does bring you together as a family but keeps your individuality intact and focus on that!
For the first year or so, my mother thought I was just buying into what I've been reading. Little did she know I hadn't been reading. I kinda figured it out on my own. I don't believe in santa, so what would make god so credible? After about a year, my mother, who loves me very much, finally started to listen to what I had to say. Not so much what I said, but what it implied. She began to think critically. I started off by asking how she found out santa wasn't real. She, like me, figured it out. (or is that she, like I? I digress) I began, without the mention of god, or the bible, or religion, slowly forced her to examine the way she really sees the world. Now, nearly ten years later, she is agnostic. She's a very smart woman. My father? Still acts like he's never heard the word atheist. He's also not the brightest stick in the pond. Catholic, non practicing.

Some people can come to, and others, I just don't think have that capacity. I was fortunate, as my mother has always remained open-minded. You on the other hand, out of love for your family, should play along. What's it gonna hurt? At most it's comparable to singing a fictional song, or saying please and thank you out of courtesy. I still say thank you when my father says "god bless you". Only because I love my father, and receiving his praise is more important than anything else.

Your family loves you, and I hope you love them. At this juncture, I suggest you put you atheistic ego aside, and remind yourself that showing respect, and love for your family is more important than keeping your theist mask off cause it's too hard to breath. I do the same when I go home to visit the grandparents. If for nothing else, just do it to make your mother happy, and keep your family gatherings peaceful.
I have always been confused by the hole "Catholic, non practicing" idea. It may be I am not getting it but to me, to be something you have to practice it. The whole Oh I believe in jesus and god I just do not practice the teachings they set forth. Would that make them a xion or just someone who believes but just does not practice it so not really a xion? A non-practicing atheist would be what someone who believes in god part time when it suits them?

I brought this up on a podcast once but never really got a answer that I could wrap around to form a better opinion.
The catholic, non-practicing thing means that they follow the ideas of the catholics, but don't feel the urge to go to church, attempt to convert others, or pay 10% of their income... In other words, they're lazy theists. People who like the camaraderie of being under the 'Catholic' banner, but don't wanna do anything to help the churches or causes.
A non-practicing atheist (the actual term is 'Apatheist') isn't believing in god on a part-time basis. It's just a total disregard for religion in general. An Apatheist would rather talk about baseball than debate whether god exists or not, for example. They find that debating goes nowhere most of the time, so they just save their breath. If you need more clarification, feel free to ask.
I can relate, the majority of my family are still firm believers, and stubborn to boot. Fortunately, mine arent as bad as some that try to rub it in everyone’s face all day long. If the topic comes up and I get sucked into the conversation, I try to reply with an answer that doesn’t necessarily deny them their belief, but makes them think about that situation in a different way. An example from recently:
Someone was telling a story about a little toddler kid that got lost in the woods recently, and it survived a few days all alone before it was found on a highway. She was saying how amazing it was and how that child was certainly being taken care of by God. I simply stated that I was amazed at the resilience of the human body and especially at such a young age. This seemed to make her think for a second and then agree with me. The same person a few weeks later was telling another story, and then instead of being all "God was watching over", she said something similar to what I said to her. So, maybe getting her to think about something critically instead of always assuming God was responsible for things happening, actually stuck..

During holidays there is usually a prayer, I stick around, but usually scan the room and try to see if there are any other family members who may not be drinking the Kool-Aid either. Its a bit uncomfortable sometimes, but as Joe says below, its your family. Its the only one you have, so you will just have to learn patience. Learning that, and knowing when to just let something go will really help keep the peace. Regardless of what happens don't be the one to loose your cool either, that just helps their argument. Again, learning to get them off the God subject by making them think about a situation in a different way will keep everyone calm.

Knowledge is power, knowing ways to counter the typical arguments can help, just make sure your answers aren’t condescending or flat out rude.
Although I don't generally talk about my atheism at work (because I am afraid of the predjudice affecting my job) My family and my BF's family are aware of my atheism. My family loves me anyway and has never tried to "save me". However, he and his family worry about my soul. I ask to be left to my beliefs. I have been a non beleiver for at least three decades and don't care for my bones to be picked
My family is not southern and not nearly as religious as yours sounds, but I have been out to them as an atheist for over 20 years now and my mother still thinks it is a phase.

My dad asks me to "say the blessing" when we have family meals for thanksgiving and things like that, and I just go along with it. I obviously don't believe the things I am saying, but I feel like it is just better sometimes to keep the peace within the family. It is just a fight I want to avoid, especially in front of the grandparents and young cousins. I have been in the biology field for six years now, and I just feel like I know things they wouldn't understand about the world. It hurts sometimes that I have to hide my lack of belief, but just like it is not my place to trample on their beliefs, it is not their place to try to convert me. Which they would do. For the rest of my life. Maybe one day I can tell them. But I'm not there yet. 

I hate to tell you, Jake but I'm 62 and they never stop. I had to move across the country. 

No, they'll never get it.  

They'll always think it's a phase. In my case, my family thinks I'm ignorant... 

And the funny thing is that they don't understand one simple thing: we've been there. We know how the brainwashing works. They haven't been where we are. So who is really ignorant?

Exactly! but your case is much better than mine! my family is a muslim one and they became extremely aggressive when they found out that I am an atheist.. They fought with me, they slapped in the face lol and they expressed all of their extreme hatred towards me now!! they even think that satan is controlling my body and brain...They also say that they are waiting for the day to see my skin and bones melt in hell while they are there laughing at me! Welcome to the islamic world!!


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