My birthday is coming up very soon and my parents usually send me a little something every year. This year is a bit different. I received my new testament bible from 1995 (when I was 9) that I purposely boxed up with the rest of my parents bibles as they moved out of state. My father left a note saying he found it and wanted to return it to me, also saying, "Always remember your mom and I pray for you and I hope you find comfort in these pages of the bible and the knowledge of god who gave himself on the cross of Calvary."

   I know my parents mean well and do this out of love, but I am having trouble telling them that I am no longer a believer. I grew up in a Christian home since I was a newborn. I opened my eyes more once my parents moved to Oregon and I stayed in California. My parents sheltered me from the world, and once they were gone, I found so much truth on my own.

   It would hurt my parents to tell them I believe in nothing. They know I am not Christian but I never put a label on it. Once I tell them I am an Atheist, it would hurt them a lot, so I have not told them what I am in almost eight years.

   So now I was asked if I read my bible. I haven't answered back yet because I finally want to tell them who I am. I am just not sure how to say it to them.

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Comment by kris feenstra on August 26, 2014 at 3:11am

   It would hurt my parents to tell them I believe in nothing. 

Perhaps you believe in nothing where gods are concerned, but perhaps you still share some of the same feelings and ideals on life, love, family, ethics, and appreciation for life as your parents. You may also have a lot of different beliefs, and the beliefs you do share may rest on different principles. Even so (and even if it's not a great deal of comfort to your parents), having some common ground and a sense of conviction may make it a little easier to relate -- to remove the sensation that you've strayed or that you are simply lost.

Then again, maybe not. You'd know your parents far better than I, of course. If you do tell them, I hope it goes well. If you haven't seen this group, it has other people's stories which may give you some perspective: http://www.thinkatheist.com/group/yourstory? The stories aren't sunshine and rainbows or anything, but the endings aren't all bad.

Comment by John Gibbs on August 26, 2014 at 8:38am

Thank them for everything they have given you, including some really important values like being honest. Tell them it is not a rejection of them. The hardest part is going to be if they believe that you are choosing a path that will lead you to Hell. Empathize with that. Most of all, be gentle with yourself. It is hard, and you deserve a lot of credit for your courage and your integrity.

Comment by Brad Snowder on August 27, 2014 at 12:22am

Tell them "The Bible is amazing. A truly unbelievable book."

Comment by Tom Sarbeck on August 28, 2014 at 9:03am

Caila, if your parents haven't asked, they might not want to know more than they do.

Do you need to tell them?

My older sister needed to tell our dad. He had provided well for us but his domineering style left her needing some self-respect. I told him less noisily a few years later.

Comment by bongani muthwa on August 28, 2014 at 9:23am

I like your answer Brad Snowder!! Hilarious. I think I am going to use it in the future.

Comment by юри фидов on August 28, 2014 at 3:49pm

I am no expert when it comes to social situations especially parent and children relationships but here are my thoughts.  Ask yourself if anything that your parents tried to instill and foster in you can be correlated to how you became an atheist and make it so explicit in a way that they can see how some of the ways they raised you led you to where you are now including your atheism..  Go back to the fundamentals.  If your parents tried to instill in you honesty you can play on that. 

So for example you tell them you can only be honest with yourself and to them so that is why you are letting them know this and that they themselves said many times the importance of honesty.  And think of many more.  Give them back what they gave you.  Give them this beautiful symmetry and they might be move by it the way orators move their audiences by such rhetorical devices. 

By the way I know rhetoric has been given a bad rap.  It just has something to do with the power of persuasiveness and one can do this while being honest.

Comment by Yahweh on August 29, 2014 at 11:12am

you don't owe them any explanation. just say i'm an atheist, case closed. it'd be much easier than coming up with a big ass explanation like you did something so wrong..

in fact, you don't even need to tell them if it doesn't come up.

Comment by Belle Rose on August 29, 2014 at 4:37pm
You could always say, "Thank you for the gift, it was very thoughtful of you. As for whether I've read it, I prefer not to discuss if you don't mind. Again, I appreciate your thoughts. I know you love me, and I love you."

Then drop it. Subject closed........I don't know, just a thought I had. it's difficult since I don't know your parents. The thing is you have to establish boundaries of some kind. Christians don't have any boundaries, and they invade people's space and private lives. You must show them they cannot do that to you.

Happy Birthday!!!!!!
Comment by Lewal on August 29, 2014 at 10:35pm
I'd read a little bit of it, and then tell them you read it and thought it was silly. It may be important to them, but it doesn't have to be important to you. All that matters is that you love them, even if they are a little silly.
Comment by Strega on August 30, 2014 at 9:14am
I had an aunt who used to send me hideous knitted sweaters for Christmas. I used to donate them to any local charity that would take them. When she asked me if I wore them, I told her I did, but only on special occasions.

It's no different, bible or hideous sweater. For the giver, they believe they are giving you something of value to you. Carry the thought that your parents gave you something to represent their love for you. That's what matters.

My mother kept all my school reports (hideous things) and then presented them to me as souvenirs about 40 years later. I can't tell you how horrified I was. However, I took them because I wanted to honor her gift, and then hurled them into the nearest trash bin as soon as I left her house. Of course she doesn't ask me if I reread them, which is just as well...

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