Have you or your children lost friends over your atheism?  I'm encountering this and it hurts. My daughter told her best friend that we no longer believed in God, her parents are devout Christians.  My daughter's phone calls are now not being answered or returned, they spoke daily!  I suspect this is the reason because their daughter said we were inviting Satan into our home because we let our daughter read Harry Potter and we played D & D.  Another couple that we went to church with and used to go out with all the time stopped making plans with us recently.  I was very good friends with the mother, we went for coffee regularly and on playdates.  I have called, we used to have long friendly conversations and now she is quick to find a reason to hang up the phone.  I've tried to be positive and to seek out other friends, I'm still looking for someone to have coffee with but it still stings.  Anyone else had this happen?

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My best friend, while I was growing up, was also an Atheist, now he is an apologist for the Catholic church, he never has offered me an explanation, though I have asked, and no longer answers my missives.

Another archived discussion - I can still smell the mothballs, well, I could if I were so inclined and could figure out how to spread his little legs apart --

Actually, Janelle - assuming that after a year and a half, you're still here and interested - there have been a lot of people on TA with the same problem, and I do empathize with you, but there's another, similar issue that bothers me just as much.

I've discovered that most atheists tend to hold a list of things in their minds that they expect other atheists to believe - I won't list these because a) I don't want to point fingers and, b) each atheist has his/her own list that, while often similar, is not always exactly identical.

BUT - and here's the thing - I've discovered that when an atheist believes, let's say for the sake of argument, 90% of all of the things that atheists are reputed to believe and stand for, if the atheist in question admits to not adhering to the remaining 20%, he or she can expect to be shunned by other atheists, just as quickly as an atheist can be expected to be shunned by a Christian.

One would hope that other atheists respect that we are what we are because we're free thinkers, and as such, can hardly be expected to adhere to a herd mentality, but all too often, that would appear not to be the case. Should we, having overcome "coming out" to friends and relatives regarding our lack of religious beliefs, have to concern ourselves with "coming out" to our atheist friends that our own beliefs may not be exactly the same as theirs?

Ayup. I lost two childhood friends on the same day when I was 17. Stewart had started proselytizing lately, and I innocently told him, quote, "I don't believe in god." He made me leave his house and never spoke to me again. Worse, his GF Jessica at the time was an even closer childhood friend - very important to me. She called me "the Devil" and wouldn't speak to me again for years (after dumping Stew and the Baptists). By then, we'd grown in completely different directions. Two out of three of my best friends lost in a day.

Losing those two friends over five little words radicalized me, and it took having kids and thinking on it all to mellow my extremes. At the time, I read the Bible cover to cover and then reread the parts that weren't numbingly dull (Kings, anyone?) - along with any other "sacred" or "mystical" texts I could get my hands on. For a while I was even a believer - not Christian maybe, but I believed in one capital-G God.

Now I have two teenage sons, the oldest just turned 17 himself, and I think all those experiences have helped me be a better, more understanding, but still staunchly parental parent. My default is always to defend my boys in the face of adversity in this world, if I can. I can't, but when I get the chance, I do. Then we talk about it. I didn't raise them to be atheist. Rarely talked about it, except when they wanted to. Same with my atheist Dad - never came up while I was growing up.

They just figured, like I do, that I would learn the truth myself if left to my own devices. That I did. So have my boys (with one brief spiritual interlude at a local ashram, of their own choosing). They haven't had that problem so much since they're living in a particularly diverse and in most respects open-minded community (Taos, NM).

I guess my point is that atheism doesn't require indoctrination, like religion does. All you have to do is let them get their own bumps and bruises -- sure, put band-aids on 'em, but don't worry. If you worry, they'll worry. Just let them sort it out and supply them with info and always have their backs. They'll be stronger for it, and happier for having acquired their own strength of character.


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